News from the homefront

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Reflections, Updates at 10:39 pm by Libbie

It’s been a while since we posted anything, so let me catch you up to date on happenings around the Groves household, medical and otherwise. Some of this is just newsy stuff about the household, but I’ll mark the paragraphs about Al’s medical condition with *** so that if you only have time or inclination to read those you can find them easily. Read the rest of this entry »


From Eowyn, again

Posted in General, Reflections, Updates at 10:08 am by Libbie

Hello all. I don’t know how other people are handling this situation with my dad, but I know that God has really blessed me with faith during this time, and I would love to share this faith with you.

Many people see death as an awful thing, and outside of Christ, it is the worst thing imaginable. However, my dad knows Jesus Christ to be his Lord and Savior. Frequently, people have come up to me and voiced their anger and frustration that “all of this” should be happening to “a good family like yours.” As much as I appreciate the reference to my loving family, I would like to strongly state: DON’T BE ANGRY WITH GOD ON OUR BEHALF. I think I speak for my whole family when I say that I know that God has a perfect plan, and that He is accomplishing His will with my dad’s cancer. And for my part, I feel like God is giving me a glimpse at that plan.

Throughout my dad’s cancer, so many people have been blessed by his faith through suffering, (myself included in that count). Jesus calls us all to serve Him with all our hearts, he just calls us each to serve Him in different ways. I believe that God is calling my dad to serve Him in the last part of his life by worshiping Him in the midst of suffering. God is using His dutiful servant to then bless everyone else. What greater calling is there than to serve the Lord your God in everything you do? And what greater honor is there than to die for your Lord in a way that will bless His flock?

I am deeply moved by everyone’s prayers for all of us during this trial. I appreciate the prayers for healing, but I would also encourage people to pray that God will complete His purpose with my dad, understanding that He is capable of healing, but that He may have something entirely different in store for my dad. The last thing I would want to see (or that I’m sure my dad would want to see) would be for people to be so caught in praying for healing, that if Jesus chooses to take my dad Home, that people will be bitter and angry with God. I feel that being angry with God on my dad’s behalf would be a disservice and dishonor to my dad, and his willingness to do his Lord’s bidding.

So take heart! Don’t fear death! As Christians, death is really the best gift you could ever receive! My dad will get to go Home to worship His maker, and my dad will feel no pain for all of eternity. He won’t be weighed down by the burdens and sins of this world and longer! Because Jesus died on the cross, death truly has lost its sting. So instead of being sad, please rejoice with me in our loving Father who is perfect, and who has a perfect plan for my earthly father.

With much love and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, your sister Eowyn

Here is some scripture that I’ve found very helpful during this time. It deals mostly with suffering, especially death, and the hope we have in Jesus Christ.  

James 1:2-8

John 17:3

Psalm 62:1-2, 5-8

Psalm 84:1-4, 10-12

Isaiah 40

Romans 5:1-3 (esp. 3)

Romans 8:1-2

Romans 12:1-3 (esp. 3)

1 COR 15:50-58

Matthew 6:19-21 (I found this one to be special in that I think my dad really grasps and lives the concept of storing up his treasures in heaven.)

I hope that God might speak to some of your hearts through some of these verses as well, bringing comfort, peace, and hope.


From Alden

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Reflections, Updates at 10:52 pm by Libbie

Well I was told that people were interested in hearing from my sister and me, so I decided to write in. My sister has already written in, but I just thought I’d let you know how I’m feeling. I haven’t read my sister’s entry, so sorry if I repeat.

Way back in January, I was told by my parents that my Dad had gone for his routine x-ray, and the doctors had found two “spots” on his lungs. Less than a month later, we discovered as we’d somewhat been expecting, that they were in fact melanoma. We gradually gained information about it, and I became more and more nervous about it. Normally I am not an emotional person, and I’m pretty laid-back, but my dad’s whole situation really made me express some of my emotions. Often my emotions would stay pent up inside me, but sometimes I would let them out. My dad’s always struggled with fibromyalgia, but it’s still difficult to see him in pain so often.
Read the rest of this entry »


From Eowyn

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Reflections, Updates at 9:31 pm by Libbie

All right, I’m writing in because I have been informed that some people would be interested in knowing how the younger members of the Groves family are holding up with this situation God has put in our lives. So I (Eowyn) will try to put into words how life has been, and what I’ve been feeling.

We’re all going to die someday. However, it still came as a shock when, back in January and February, we found out “for sure” that my dad is going to die. Over the past 6 months, I’ve been realizing that the day we will die doesn’t change. My dad’s cancer simply gives us a better idea as to when the Lord is going to take my dad to be with Him. God is more powerful than the cancer. Though the cancer seems to be controlling my dad’s ability to live, I take comfort in knowing that the cancer is just part of God’s plan. Just like He also has a plan for you, and for me. Read the rest of this entry »

How we are doing and Psalm 23

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Reflections, Updates at 1:46 pm by Libbie

Many people have asked, “How are you doing?” and I have been wanting for some time now to write an answer to that question.

Throughout this experience since January there have been times when the grief has been intense and other times when things have seemed relatively peaceful. An example of the former is the weekend that Al was in the hospital with a blood clot (which was very painful), then learned he could be released in time for a very special wedding (which was wonderful!) only because they had discovered a mass in his brain (which signified the spread of the cancer and possible awful results) and therefore couldn’t treat him with blood thinners (which meant enduring the pain for longer), at the same time that other members of the family were going through various sorts of crises (which were emotionally draining for everybody). Another happened the day of Al’s Gamma Knife procedure. We learned that same day that a friend of ours had had a serious heart attack and that his (the friend’s) long-term survival looked unlikely, and that Becky’s summer job had fallen through. Also, one of our kids was weighed down by the knowledge that the leukemia of one of their teenage friends was not responding to treatment. At such times we just had to hold on to God and keep putting one foot in front of the other. Read the rest of this entry »


Ebb and Flow

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Prayer Requests, Reflections, Updates at 12:10 pm by Al

I am being weaned off the steroids used to treat the swelling in my brain that resulted from the tumor that grew there. I am also in the process of shifting from one blood-thinning drug to another. My leg remains swollen, so I am often reclining in order to keep my leg elevated. But the primary physical challenge at the moment is that I feel constantly washed out, weak (“wobbly” as I have put it) and exhausted. The desire and need to nap are constant. Physically this is primarily the product of treatments, dyes injected into my system for tests, and lack of exercise. So far the effects of the cancer itself seem to have been related to the blood clot and the brain tumor. Depression has continued to be a daily struggle. Read the rest of this entry »


More lessons from the dentist’s chair…

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Reflections at 9:09 pm by Libbie

I said that I might write some reflections on yesterday’s successful dentist visit, and here they are. Once again I see the Lord using the dentist’s chair as a schoolroom for me. I wonder if the dentist knows that he’s using her facilities, or how she would feel about that if she did…
Read the rest of this entry »


Psalm 42

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Reflections at 9:47 pm by Al

I am (and always have been) deeply touched by this first psalm of the sons of Korah. Shaking his head at himself and exhorting his own soul to look beyond his feelings to his savior and his God (42:5, 11), the psalmist shows simple faith in the power of God’s presence and the grace that comes from that presence.

1 As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
3 My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”
4 These things I remember as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God,
with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng.
5 Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
PUT your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

6 My soul is downcast within me;
therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon — from Mount Mizar.

7 Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers have swept over me.
8 By day the Lord directs his love,
at night his song is with me — a prayer to the God of my life.
9 I say to God my Rock,
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?”
10 My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long, “Where is your God?”
11 Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
PUT your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

Only recently have I begun to reflect on who these sons of Korah were that they were so passionate about going up into God’s presence and so passionate about any separation from that presence. Doing a background check was revealing, and pointed me to a deeper appreciation for the various psalms attributed to them. Read the rest of this entry »


Seesaw of Emotions

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Reflections at 9:34 pm by Al

Like a seesaw, my emotions have been up and down from day-to-day lately. Yesterday was a particularly “blue” day, perhaps one of the more depressed days I have had in years. Today started similarly as well.

There are many potential factors, physical and emotional: Two decades of increasing fibromyalgia pain and exhaustion have been continual companions, which cancer has not managed to frighten away. Now stir in heat, pain from the blood clot in my leg, lack of exercise, headaches from swelling in my brain, the impact of various drugs I have been on for treatment, and the steroids I’m currently taking for swelling around the brain tumor, all impacting rest and sleep. Lack of energy and pain make sitting at the computer for any stretch of time a problem. (I don’t use the computer simply for writing, but I use it very much as a help for my devotions and study of the scriptures.) What little energy I have has sometimes gone into organizing medical treatments and procedures, etc. (And Libbie does so much here as well!) Season all this with a tumor in the brain signaling that the advance of the cancer continues, and there seem to be any number of reasons for what I have been feeling.

Yesterday was a day where it was hard not to treat my feelings, whatever their source, as the ultimate reality in life. Reading a simple book about a simple truth (known from the beginning of my Christian life) reminded me that I don’t look inside for help, but to the Lord, through his Spirit in his word for the truth. That truth is found in him, in Christ—grace that is personal and comes from a glorious union with Christ. That truth comes from what Christ has done for me in his death and resurrection.

The book? C. J. Mahaney’s “Living the Cross-Centered Life.” In particular, the chapter I was re-reading was the one on listening to the scriptures, to the truth that comes from God, not to my feelings. My feelings are not good and wise authorities, but are often led by other circumstances. Bringing my heart and thoughts captive to Christ, to the living Lord, began to change heart. In any case, it comes from outside in. God used the words of several of you through email and in person to point me to God’s personal care and love.

Psalms 42-43 (the first of the eleven songs of the sons of Korah in the book of Psalms) were particularly relevant. I hope to write a blog tomorrow about the sons of Korah and these Psalms.

Blessings, Al


Graduation Day at Westminster Seminary

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Reflections at 9:14 pm by Al

Today Westminster Seminary graduated more than 125 students. Herb Lusk, pastor of the Greater Exodus Baptist Church in Philadelphia, received an honorary doctorate and was the keynote speaker (the address was excellent!) I was thrilled simply to be there and to be part of the ceremony. (Just days ago it seemed possible I might not be able to make it.)

One of my tasks was to read the name of each of the graduates as they walked across the stage to receive their diploma. There really is nothing more thrilling than to see the success of your students. Students probably don’t realize how precious they become to their teachers through the years. What a bittersweet process teaching can be–forging strong bonds and relationships with students, knowing full well that in a few very short years we will be sending them out of our lives. Perhaps forever. It’s like raising children, only on a much shorter time cycle.

For me today was special because I had the opportunity to give the charge to the graduates. Again, I cannot say enough how grateful I was to the Lord to be able to do it–even having to sit on a stool, with my clotted leg propped up. Sort of like having a fireside chat in the den or something. I was grateful that the Lord kept the pain in my leg at manageable levels. And the help from so many was just overwhelming. The president even wheeled me down the aisle and up onto the stage.

Afterwards I had wonderful conversations with graduates and alumni and parents. Gift upon gift for me.

Just wanted to share the joy of the day, undimmed by other circumstances in my life. In fact, other circumstances added something to the joy of the day! God is good.

Blessings, Al



Crowned at last!

Posted in From Al & Libbie, General, Reflections, Updates at 3:37 pm by Libbie

Thank you for praying–my tooth has a crown at long last! I honestly think the dentist was as relieved and excited as I was. I’m in a whole lot of pain right now, but I am SOOOO thankful!

After the first two and a half hours and 4 unsuccessful shots it looked as if this was going to be a repeat of the last attempts. But the dentist decided to give it 15 more minutes and one last shot, and lo and behold the area got decently close to numb. I still had sensation in the tooth, but it was pain I could live with (not that raw drilling-the-nerve kind of pain), so we went ahead. She could tell I was pretty nervous when she started drilling without it being fully numb, but it ended up being okay. And the job is done! Hallelujah!

I got to thinking about it. Last summer when I had a different tooth crowned, the jaw got fully numbed, and I remember vividly the exquisite sensation of non-feeling, knowing that I could just relax and lean back on that cushion of numbness that would protect me from pain. (With my history of problems with Novocain I was dancing dances of praise to God inside while I sat quietly in the chair.)

It struck me as significant today that we had to proceed without knowing whether or not, or to what degree, the pain would be there. I couldn’t necessarily count on the protective cushion of Novocain.

Recently it seems that the Lord has been calling me to walk in lots of situations that feel more like that: not knowing what will lie ahead with Al’s cancer and what the details of that will be like to go through; sticking with my the seminary course I had signed up for this spring and having to take that one week at a time, not knowing whether I would in fact be able to finish it or not; wondering what life will look like if/when Al is not here anymore–will I finish my degree at WTS? Will I need to find a job right away? Which one? etc.

These are uncomfortable lessons in living one day at a time and trusting things to the Lord. I’d rather have all my proverbial ducks in a row, sitting where I want them–or at least where I know I can find them. I’d like to know specifically what hard things lie ahead so that I can prepare for them, since I generally like to err on the side of being over-prepared for things. But the Lord is setting my path through lots of unknowns that will probably include painful things, and all he will let me know ahead of time is that he is and will be right there with me as I walk that path. And that is enough. It’s not the “enough” that I might think I need, but it is enough in his economy, his way of doing things, his love. Which means it is definitely enough.

I’d rather have had the comfortable assurance that I wasn’t going to feel a thing under the dentist’s drill. And I’d rather know that whatever lies ahead won’t really be too agonizingly painful. But the Lord knows better. If those things were true then I wouldn’t need to trust him or depend on him so much. And while I might prefer that, it would be my great loss.

He is gracious to lead us through hard places where we have no other options but to put our shaky little hand in his and hold on tight, knowing that there may be scary things on the road, but that he’ll guide us safely and protect us well.

So, I’m thankful–not only that my tooth is safely on the other side of the drilling, but that the Lord gave me a concrete reminder that I can (and have to!) depend on him.

Thank you so much for praying even for this recent little subplot in our lives. We treasure your love and support more than we can say.





Blogsite was down Wednesday, April 19

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Reflections at 7:07 am by Al

Due to system maintenance on the main server, the Blogsite was down on Wednesday, April 19. Sorry for any confusion that this caused.

I had my CT scan on Monday. They gave me a copy of the films–15 pages of X-ray type pages with about 30 small cross-section images on each page. While I am obviously not a trained medical professional, I have learned how to find the images where the tumors are. My read is that the larger tumor grew and has become more erratic in its shape, while the smaller tumors don’t seem to have changed much. I don’t have earlier scans with which to make comparisons, so my memory could be faulty. I don’t know whether or not new tumors have formed. The official interpretation will come on Tuesday.

I have been reading Psalm 84 the last couple of days in anticipation of a retreat next weekend that will have that psalm as its focus. I am struck again by the longing for the presence of the Lord (cf. Psa 27:4, 42:1-2, 63:1, etc.) For the Israelite, it was a single geographical location–the temple in Zion, but for us we enter the throneroom of God in heaven every time we pray in Jesus name. And what do we find in the presence of the Lord? His beauty and his glory which lead to praise. Security and peace. Rest and joy. Even the common sparrow has found a place in God’s presence, how much more those of us redeemed by Christ and being remade into his image?

One final thought: His presence has always been a paradox–he is the one who protects his people by being present, but his holy presence is also a threat to the very people he is there to defend with his presence. His holiness will break out and destroy that which is impure and unclean and sinful and bearing death. Incredibly, through Christ God solved the problem of being in his presence. We have gone from endangerment in approaching him to being accepted by him, all through what Christ has done in his life, death and resurrection. He has done it all. In Christ, his grace, love and mercy are fresh each day.

Blessings, Al


Jesus is Alive

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Reflections, Updates at 9:32 pm by Al

Brief update: I am just now taking the pills for my fourth evening of chemo therapy. Tomorrow evening is the final evening. No significant nausea! We are most thankful. I have been more fatigued this time around, however, and felt more general malaise. And, if this course follows the patter of the previous course, I will experience fever and flu-like symptoms and constipation for the next week or so. BUT, this is hardly the end of the world!

For a couple of days I have been trying to write a note about Jesus, and what he means to me. It has developed into a more lengthy account of my conversion to Christ, which I will save for another day. What really got me started was thinking about one thing, the thing that so captured my attention when I was first confronted with the good news about Jesus: Jesus is alive; He didn’t stay dead; He really was raised from the dead. Not just a metaphorical rising from the dead, but the real thing. A person with a real body brought back to life after being dead for three days. He lives. Plain and simple. This has been the focus of hope for me. It was the focus when I first believed; it has been the focus through the years; and it continues to be the attention grabber, especially now. He has “shared” his resurrection with me and with all who believe. He died that he might give us his life. We are raised to life with him. Incredible.

The church meets on Sunday, the first day of the week, to remember that it was the first day of the week on which Jesus rose from the dead. In that sense, we celebrate Easter each week. In fact, rarely have I been praying on a Sunday that God hasn’t brought to mind this one gloriously, incredible event and led me to thankfulness: Jesus was raised on the first day of the week and he still lives today.

Rejoice and be thankful. The cross and the resurrection are our great hope.

Blessings, Al


Be Still

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Reflections at 9:05 pm by Libbie

My apologies for not letting you know on Friday what is up with my tooth. I put off the next attempt at crowning it because my jaw was still very tender, and my mouth wouldn’t open very wide at all. Hopefully by Monday both of those conditions will be better and we’ll have another go at it.

I’ve also put off writing because I’ve been mulling over how to put into words what I’ve been thinking and learning from the recalcitrant tooth incident. Here goes an attempt at it. Read the rest of this entry »


A thought from Jonathan Edwards

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Reflections at 1:24 pm by Libbie

Libbie writing this time.

Some friends of ours sent along this excerpt from a Jonathan Edwards sermon on Psalm 73:25. Their son memorized the sermon (I’m not sure if it was all or part of it) for a homeschool Night of the Arts, which also brought back fond memories of our homeschooling years… This is just a small portion of the sermon, but a reminder that is excellent for us to hear. Trust it will bless you as well.

“…whatever changes a godly man passes through, he is happy; because God, who is unchangeable, is his chosen portion. Though he meet with temporal losses, and be deprived of many, yea, of all his temporal enjoyments; yet God, whom he prefers before all, still remains, and cannot be lost. While he stays in this changeable, troublesome world, he is happy; because his chosen portion on which he builds as his main foundation for happiness, is above the world, and above all changes. And when he goes into another world, still he is happy, beause that portion yet remains. Whatever he be deprived of, he cannot be deprived of his chief portion; his inheritance remains sure to him. How great is the happiness of those who have chosen the Fountain of good, who prefer him before all things in heaven or on earth, and who can never be deprived of him to all eternity!”

A great truth, a good thing to remember and a sure comfort indeed.


Meditation on God’s grace through His People (Part 1): Walking through the valley of the shadow of death

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Reflections at 11:59 am by Al

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” I first heard these words when I was perhaps four years old, living in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. My maternal grandparents were visiting and my grandmother was helping me learn Psalm 23 by heart. I believe it is the first text I ever memorized. I can still recall the sunny room where she was reading to me and the feeling of accomplishment that I felt in learning the entire passage. The central part of the psalm, the part about walking through the valley of the shadow of death and fearing no evil for “Thou art with me” seemed pretty distant in that sunny room long ago. In fact, I hardly could have told you what death was. Notwithstanding, these words somehow comforted even then. Shadowy valleys of whatever were banished in the warm sunlight of the moment. Read the rest of this entry »


Flossing as an Act of Hope

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Reflections at 8:08 pm by Al

Like many of the rest of you, I have been flossing my teeth for years, more years than I can count, it seems! Notwithstanding flossing every night, I still never managed to make it a habit, because I simply never really enjoyed flossing. Perhaps it’s because I try to do it last thing of the day, at a time when I’m usually tired. Who knows? Not surprisingly, any excuse that made flossing a pass for the evening, and I was all over it. Most of the time however, I had no excuse, so I dutifully flossed. Read the rest of this entry »

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