Into the Middle Ages

The blog has been quiet since January!  We’ve been keeping on with full academics, but our Tapestry of Grace Humanities Studies took a back seat as I’ve juggled new health challenges.  (More on that in a later post, but for now, I’ll just share that my breast cancer returned in other organs, and is now Stage IV.) Despite–and even amid–the health challenges, we are blessed abundantly; Life, while undeniably altered, is still rich and full, but my already lagging blog slips further into the backseat (or maybe even the trunk or hatch-back?) as academics, excursions, music lessons, dance lessons, swimming, electives, social outings, fellowship, chemotherapy, natural treatments, and often just crashing on the couch, take precedence.

Returning to our formal humanities studies, we pick up where we left off before Christmas. (I neglected to post our final set of late-Roman-empire books.)  The great Roman Empire has fractured and crumbled, and Britain is rising.  This is an exciting era to study.  The children are already planing jousts and medieval feasts!  Below is a sampling of books from this first three weeks (of ten weeks total) in the Middle Ages.

(If you are reading through a feed-reader and can’t see the widgets showing our book selections, click on through to the blog.)

Good Friday’s Perspective

The timing of Resurrection Sunday and the focus on our risen Lord was so perfect for me.  In a few minutes I’ll post Easter pictures, but first, Friday:

Friday I underwent a small procedure we planned to avoid.  Because the ultrasound diagnosis was clear on my tumor’s malignancy, puncturing the enclosed mass of cancer cells for biopsy was unnecessary.  Every medical professional involved admitted that they would glean no new or helpful information from biopsy.  It was solely to satisfy insurance which refused to accept the ultrasound diagnosis alone.  Desiring to be a good steward of my health, I fought hard for a way around it–to no avail.  Ultimately I faced the fact that to proceed toward surgery, biopsy was inevitable.

To say that I don’t accept bureaucracy and red tape well is a gross understatement.  I may look docile, but I’m also assertive and determined–even rebelliously independent.   I was raised to think for myself, with an unspoken motto of “always question authority.”  I was miffed (ok, furious might be the more honest word choice) that I’d have to have this useless, and potentially damaging procedure.  I was firmly polite on the outside about all of it, but I felt wronged.

On Friday afternoon I lay on the exam table in a hospital gown, while a technician prepared me for my procedure.  I was cheery and chatty, and my blood pressure still characteristically low, but inwardly, resentment brewed.  I was about to get a stab that might dislodge diseased cells and could infect my healthy flesh.  I wanted to scream, “This is wrong!”  Suddenly though, it hit me–it was Friday–two days before Easter–Good Friday!  Suddenly, my own pettiness was placed in perspective!  I opted into this as a bartering tool that insurance might pay for other procedures for my own benefit; Christ was stabbed (and worse) for me, with no benefit to himself.  I was concerned about cancerous cells infecting healthy tissue; but Christ took our cancerous sin upon His holy and pure spirit!   How arrogantly ironic–that I should fume about an unjust stab on this day of all days.

The radiologist’s needle went in, once, then twice, guided by ultrasound and extracting samples of the infected tissue, and I bled–the nurse was surprised at the amount–but somehow, it seemed more trivial to me now–on Good Friday.

As I changed my bandages over the next few days, my heart returned to God’s sovereignty.  How easily I become focused on the temporal and lose sight of eternity. God is sovereign over the insurance companies, the medical maze, and every cell in my body, and He lovingly reminds me to focus on the eternal.  We serve a risen savor!  Christ has conquered death!  I don’t know his plans for me on this cancer journey, but I can trust Him.  My prayer remains that He will be glorified in each step of the process.

A Dark and Stormy Night

It was a dark and stormy night….

No, actually, it wasn’t.  It was a fresh, bright, balmy morning, unseasonably warm for early March in Wyoming.  I walked across well-kept grounds toward my appointment and checked my watch.  Ten minutes early; just enough time to enjoy the fresh breeze and watch the ornamental grasses dance!  I walked around the building a few times, just drinking in the sunshine and enjoying rare moments alone.  Ken was home, serving breakfast to the children, and moments of silence–even for dull appointments–are music to a busy mom.

Finally, I entered the doors of a beautiful, downtown building.  Leisurely, I filled out some forms, gazing out the window.  So enchanted was I with the weather, that when the technician came to walk me back, I chatted with her, inquiring whether she was able to take her lunch-break outside.

I had an ultrasound that morning.  The monitor revealed a large (3cm x 4cm)  breast tumor, with every indication of malignancy possible.  Walking back out into the sunshine, many concerns flooded my mind, and yet, in surreal juxtaposition, there was peace.  Somehow, despite swirling thoughts of treatments and statistics, God enabled me to still register the beauty around me in all it’s sparkling vividness.  Ornamental grasses still swayed in gentle testimony to beauty and order in the universe, and the morning sun glinted on the windshields in the parking lot. Yes, I was surprised–staggered even–at this diagnosis, but God, loving, sovereign and omniscient, was not surprised.  It is part of His design.  Just as I’d done upon entering, I strolled around the grounds once more, amazed at the blessings in my life, at my loving husband, dear friends, and the beautiful children who fill our hearts and home!  My eyes misted with tears at the unknowns, yet, I knew I was also smiling; poignantly aware of myriad joys.

I don’t mean this to sound like I’m blithely floating on euphoric clouds.  There is, however, a gift of eternal perspective that accompanies such life-altering news.   A wise friend’s note in my morning inbox expressed it so poetically:

“We understand the mindset you might be in right now… clinging to God, taking every thought captive, striving with self to not be overcome with the “What if” possibilities. Everything is in focus: the little blessings of home life, all that the children do & say. Clearly you could count your blessings from the rising of the sun til it’s setting! Oh! That we could be this aware of our standing in Christ daily. But we get bogged down until times like this come along and we are reminded that we live and move and have our being by God’s good pleasure and to fulfill His timing and purposes!” -S

My deep assurance is that God is sovereign and loving even amid the moments of just plain weariness when I’m so aware of my own insufficiency.  Indeed, awareness of my insufficiency reminds me of God’s supreme sufficiency. I’ve played the song, Worn, by Tenth Avenue North almost daily, for it captures both the gritty, in-the-trenches aspects, and the assurance that redemption wins!

(*Scroll past the video to keep reading, but then, scroll back up and hit the “play” button, because it’s a beautiful song.)

In the few weeks since that early morning diagnosis, I’ve had other appointments to formulate a treatment plan. It’s a serious condition, and we are taking it very seriously–yet, we can’t ignore the beautiful sunshine of truth that there is sense and order in this–even if the purpose eludes my finite comprehension.  God is faithful and good.

We’d appreciate prayers as we navigate the turbulence ahead.  We have a great team of doctors, both in conventional practice and in our amazing naturopath.  Most importantly, we ultimately rest in the knowledge that Our God is the Great Physician, our loving Father, King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Dark and stormy nights may bluster, but even the wind and waves obey Him.

Apologies: Blog Cleaning Cyber Dust

If you subscribe to this blog, you may have just gotten notices of 75-100 “new” posts here–Oops!  they aren’t new posts, but actually, very old.    I’m done with the blog tweaks that caused this issue, and it should be safe to resubscribe if you unsubscribed in overwhelmed horror!

See, I should have been cleaning my physical house this week. My office area is starting to accumulate stacks and clutter, and my windows haven’t been cleaned in…way too long.  So, rather than doing something practical and tangible, I did a virtual cleaning and redecorating on the blogs. I switched up the themes, tidied up the sidebar, and even updated the static “about us” pages a bit.

This led to RSS feeds on several posts getting updated, and thus those who subscribe to my blog via email or through a feed reader have been inundated by “new” posts… most of which are really very old posts, in which my teen daughter was 5 years old!

What happened is that after changing up the themes, I became motivated to neaten and organize. In my organizing, I discovered that some of my earliest blog posts were never assigned “categories” and were dumped into a category called, “uncategorized”.  I proceeded to put those poor, homeless posts in categories. I also fixed some internal link problems on a few of them.  Once upon a time, this blog wasn’t hosted on WordPress, so when I moved the blog here, those posts in which I refer to one of my other posts, now have the wrong address. So, being me, I had to fix them as I came upon them. I’m sure I’ve missed some, but if I found them while recategorizing, I had to cinch up the link.

What I didn’t think about was that all the recategorized or re-linked posts will be picked up in the RSS feed as being updated, and subscribers will think I’ve posted something new and riveting, when instead, it was just an old, forgotten post about some meal we had in 2005–which apparently seemed riveting to me at the time.

Many of my early posts seem closer to “status updates” on Facebook than blog posts–even more random and trite slices of life from my posts in recent years.  I’m still fairly random and trite, so it was interesting to see that I could be more so!

Today, even after realizing I was flooding the RSS feed, I still felt compelled to categorize the last 20-30 of the uncategorized posts.  It had become a neurosis, and I couldn’t leave the few stragglers alone in a bloggy “junk drawer”.  The good news is, I’m now done.  I’m sorry for the deluge of updates in your feed readers or email boxes!

Then Pealed The Bells More Loud and Deep

Longfellow has been running through my head this season, and these words especially. May this Christmas reveal true and lasting peace to longing hearts!

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 1867

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.  John 8:12

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. John 8:12

He is the Light of the world

He is the Light of the world

Anticipations

Baking, cooking, wrapping, advent readings, Christmas songs of wonder and joy, and anticipations of family gatherings–Christmas is coming!    I place presents under the tree, shiny and taunting for weeks before Christmas.    Christmas is about anticipation; anticipation of the Savior’s coming, realized in the birth of a wee babe in a humble stable.   The much awaited Messiah is born, but it isn’t finished–Christmas looks forward–forward to the cross, forward to the ascension, and forward to His second coming; Fullness of Time in a continuum of fulfillment.

Kiffanie spent quiet play on a rug in front of the Christmas tree yesterday, contentedly playing with a nativity.  She enjoys acting out the Christmas story, and gets into heated debates with Kieran as to whether the scene should include a cow.  They each have very determined, but contradictory, stances on bovine inclusion.

Summer Blur and Phone Photos

It’s been another month in which blog posts composed in  my brain never reach my fingers, the keyboard, or cyberspace.  Here’s a choppy, scrambled, collection of snippets from our life.

  • I’ve forgotten how to use (or even that I have) a camera.  In a desire to “travel light” on family outings and have enough hands to help the children, I’ve left my camera home on too many memory-making jaunts.  If Ken’s along, I rarely even have my phone to snap a quick shot.  (For some reason my brain considers the phone as a dedicated “phone home” device.)  This has got to change.
  • Kiffanie is doing absolutely, amazingly, great!  It’s hard to believe she’s only been here 3 months.  I have a post in my head about her delightful progress integrating into our home–we’ll see if I actually get it posted.
  • Our little flock of chickens has increased from 8 to 30.  We’ve been amazed at how fascinating these rather stupid animals are, and are enjoying the fresh eggs.  (More on them, and maybe even photos in some future post–if I remember I have a camera and a blog, that is.
  • We’ve gone to picnics, festivals, the fair, a swimming party, parades and a number of other summer delights.  I don’t have much photo evidence, but we’ve been enjoying the summer.
  • Light-summer schooling has been going well.  We’ve used the summer months to review and catch up in areas that were lagging behind PrairieFrog goals.   Again, it’s a whole post that may or may not get typed.
  • Summer’s bounty has been rich; I’ve been baking pies and making jam as we enjoy the fruit of the season.
  • While mentally composing this post in the shower, I had ten bullet points.  This says something about my retention ability but I’m not…  er…  Where was I?

Here are a few, rare, photos (mostly with my phone on the rare occasions I had it) from this summer.

The dentist:  For some reason all my children love going to the dentist.  This was Kiffanie’s first visit so she watched the hygienist clean her siblings teeth first.  She was fascinated with every detail and eager for her turn.  Speaking of summer blur; I need to learn to change the settings for faster shutter speed on my phone’s camera.

The Dentist

The Dentist (Click to enlarge if you really like seeing children in dentist chairs)

Face painting.  I don’t know why Kieran looks grouchy, he loved his dolphin, and wasn’t actually grumpy at all. Freeze-frames can be odd.

Face Painting at the Carnival

Face Painting at the Carnival

Finally, a snap as I lagged behind the family a few paces walking back from a parade.  I always enjoy seeing Ken walking with the littles.

After the Parade

After the Parade

Valentine Rambles

We enjoyed a lovely Valentine’s day yesterday!  Ken’s shift was such that he was home at lunch.  I’d been told in advance not to plan a meal because he’d cover everything, and he certainly did!  He served us a feast of  salmon, lobster tails, sparkling cherry juice, heart shaped biscuits, a huge tossed salad (made by the girls), and champagne salad for dessert.

We exchanged valentines and enjoyed some special treats from my parents (Thanks, Mom and Dad!), then saw him off to work while the children and I settled in for movie and a late-afternoon Valentine’s tea.

It was perfectly delightful.  Many deride Valentine’s day as too commercial, but we rarely buy anything (except in this case seafood) for the occasion.   I enjoy it because it’s a simple, “no expectations”,  holiday in our home.  Some years we do more, some less, but it’s usually just a fun day to reflect on God’s love for us and our love for one another.  We more often choose to do something for each other than to buy gifts.

In other news; I’ve noticed my blog posts have been fewer; all is well here and things are still on schedule with adoption preparations.  We’ve been schooling, playing, and doing our usual Prairie-Frog things.  Somehow in this strange, waiting-time of adoption, I’ve not been “reflective”.  I spend our days busily engaged in life and family and solitary moments enjoying a book or a movie rather than pausing to “reflect” and preserve our daily activities.  We’ve been making memories, but the photos  remain on my camera card, and the words describing our days remain half-baked in my mind, never reaching the keyboard.

As we embarked on the “waiting” part of the adoption journey, we desired to not let the waiting be a wasteland time, but to continue in productivity.  God’s been faithful in keeping us busy with learning and enjoying one another, and for the most part we’ve been successful in staying on course with the rest of life.  Still, it’s an interesting balance between just wanting to zone out and wait or be manically busy in some zany, impossible, desire to have life totally ordered when she arrives.   I tend to tip one direction or the other on any given day.

They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 43:31

Those who wait on the Lord, mount up… run, walk…  those are action verbs, not  a stagnant waiting!  Yet.. yes there’s a yet… it’s also not a frenzied, crazed, self-propelled busyness that ends in exhaustion:  We run, but do not grow weary; we walk and do not faint.   This is still a work in progress.  I err on both sides.   (I usually err on both sides in the same day!)   Much of life involves waiting in some respect.   It’s hard to keep my eyes on the big picture–as if viewing an impressionistic painting.  If I put my nose up too close I can’t make sense of it and need to step back.

We can’t really, truly, live in the present any more than we can balance on the edge of a razor blade; the present is too slim an edge between past and future.  Perhaps, by stepping back and seeing the past and future in perspective rather than immersing ourselves up too close to one or the other, we can best keep a perspective on the thing we call the present and best live fully as we ought, neither stagnate or frenzied.

I hope your Valentine’s day was filled with delights, and that quiet reminder that you are loved!

Quand Tu Seras Grand… Great Expectations Part II

Six years ago this month, in January 2006,I blogged the “great expectations” Keegan’s sisters dreamed for him.  He wasn’t yet walking, and had just turned one year old, but the girls believed he could do anything–they still do!

Today, the postman brought us a wondrous surprise from France!   Children’s author Nicole Snitselaar has done it again!   Nicole tells me that of her 20 published stories, 2 have been inspired by the wee Prairiefrogs!   (Click here to read about the other.)   I’m flattered and amazed that my quiet little blog could capture Nicole’s imagination resulting in such delightful books!   The girls’ names have been altered slightly for the French audience, but you may recognize them in the pages below… even if you don’t speak French!

Keegan, Enjoying "his" Book

I love the illustrator’s whimsical style!  These are just a few scenes of many from the book; a nibble.

Quand tu seras grand… (When you are grown…)

Meet the characters!

Introducing the Story

When you are grown, you’ll be a Chef; the premier in the world!

A Chef!    The premier in the world!

When you are grown, you’ll be a brave Explorer!

An Explorer!

When you are grown, you’ll be the conductor of an orchestra!
Orchestral Conductor!

And many other accomplishments… I dare not give away the whole book!    I wasn’t able to find the book available in the United States or even Canada yet, but here’s a link to the publisher’s site in Paris.

Merci beaucoup, Nicole!    Es fantastique!