Chemo Starting Again

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Prayer Requests, Updates at 10:09 pm by Al

I am beginning my second round of chemo tonight (it’s oral and done at bedtime). It will last for five days, as it did at the end of February. Covet your prayers that there would be no nausea. [This more traditional chemo therapy and different from the targeted molecular therapy which I have been having the side-effects.)

Also, could you pray for my friend (and former student), Greg Hewlett? His website is accessible on the right. He has fought cancer off and on since high school. In the last three years he has battled tumors in various places. Today he had a biopsy for nodules in his lungs. His faith and courage (and sense of humor) have been a beacon for me.

Blessings, Al


The Two of Us

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Photos at 11:29 pm by Al

A photo of Libbie with some old guy taken at the Edgar home after Peter Enns’ inauguration as Professor of Old Testament on March 15.

Al & Libbie

Numbering Our Days

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Prayer Requests at 10:53 pm by Al

A very simple prayer request: How to prioritize? In other words, ask the Lord to give me eyes to see and ears to hear what he wants me to do with the time that is left, time of which he alone knows the amount. And then to give me a heart filled with his spirit to strengthen me for the tasks.

It is clear that top priority is my family. I love spending time with my family. But so many other things can crop up and crowd out time with them. (By the way, by mid-summer, our older children will have moved back to the area–Becky to look for a job after having graduated from college and Alasdair and Lauren to begin studies at Westminster in the fall.)

Westminster and church: making sure that my tasks are being covered in both communities. We are making good headway.

Friends. Here, I am most grateful that I have heard from many people and had time with a number as well (though we have moments when we reach limits of available time).

One area in which I feel the most struggle is sorting out how to handle writing projects. In particular, how to approach two writing projects (book-length) that are at mid-stage–a commentary on the book of Judges and a more popular book on Isaiah (The Gospel According to Isaiah: God with Us.)

So, please pray for wisdom about:

1. Making sure the priorities I mentioned play out in daily life

2. Prioritizing the writing tasks amidst everything else

3. Then, finding the time for them, without compromising family

4. Having a clear mind when I do have the time

Blessings, Al

Still Waiting to be Crowned

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Updates at 10:13 pm by Libbie


Thank you to many of you who prayed for me today that the Novocain would be effective in numbing my tooth. I regret to report that the Lord must have had other things in mind, because once again the Novocain didn’t take.

To be more accurate, the problem is not so much that I don’t respond to the drug as that it’s just really hard to locate the right nerve. It is not uncommon for nerves to be rearranged during wisdom tooth extraction (in fact that may be done somewhat intentionally to protect the nerves from permanent damage during the process), and it seems that mine must have gotten quite substantially relocated when I had my wisdom teeth out years ago. Wherever the nerve in question ended up, it is apparently not anywhere near any place where it should be. There is also some complication from a reaction I have to one type of anesthetic, and the other alternative is one that diffuses more generally through tissues rather than staying concentrated in one small area. So after five shots I was numb or tingling from my mouth up past my temple, back behind my ear, down the side of my neck, and over my whole cheek up to my eye, but the lower left jaw remained stubbornly sensitive. For those of you who are old enough to remember Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, you’ll be amused to hear that because parts of my throat and tongue were out of commission, when I tried to talk I sounded like Lily Tomlin’s telephone operator character on that show—only worse.

I felt badly taking up valuable real estate in the dentist’s office again for hours, but she was patient and encouraging as ever. We’ve re-scheduled for Friday if my jaw is ready for more, but at this point I’m in a fair amount of pain, so it could get pushed back to Monday.

Thank you for your concern and support. Don’t know what the Lord is up to, but it’s nice to have company on the journey!




Posted in From Al & Libbie, Updates at 9:46 pm by Al

God setting our feet on a rock (Psa 40:3) is a great promise in the Psalms of God bringing stability and security into our lives, a promise of his providential care. In the past this has been a most powerful image of encouragement to me. Two weeks ago, however, my feet were so painful that the thought of setting them on any kind of rock was not a pleasant picture! It’s funny how our circumstances can Read the rest of this entry »


Needing to be crowned…

Posted in From Al & Libbie, General, Prayer Requests at 3:16 pm by Libbie

Dear Friends,

A quick prayer request unrelated to Al’s melanoma.

I (Libbie) have to have a tooth crowned that I cracked apart back in February (the day after we learned Al’s definitive diagnosis of melanoma). For some reason my body sometimes doesn’t respond to Novocain. I’ve experienced that in other places besides in my teeth, but that’s where it most frequently poses a problem. This has been an ongoing problem for years–sometimes the Novocain works fine the first time, and sometimes it just won’t take.

Read the rest of this entry »


Friday, March 24–One Week back on Targeted Molecular Therapy

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Prayer Requests, Updates at 10:43 am by Al

Just a brief update on the re-try with the targeted molecular therapy.

It has been a week and my feet tingle, itch and even have hot spots, but so far no blistering or severe redness. However, each day they are a bit worse. I have been staying off my feet as much as I am able, even using a wheelchair when I go out. I’ve also been icing them.

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 »


Molecular Therapy has been restarted

Posted in From Al & Libbie, General, Updates at 8:36 pm by Al

I started the targeted molecular therapy on Friday night. My feet began to tingle by the next morning—last time it took a week to have any reaction. And then it was a few days before it became severe. So, like the old early warning system that was used during the Cold War (yes, I am that old), we are treating the tingling as an indication to head off and intercept the attack before it becomes severe. To that end I have been staying off my feet (even though I could still be on my feet for now), even using a wheel chair. I have also been icing my feet and keeping them elevated. So far, nothing worse than tingling and feelings of heat on the bottom of my feet. No blisters or deep redness. 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 »

Going Back on the Targeted Molecular Therapy

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Prayer Requests, Updates at 8:05 pm by Al

Tomorrow morning (Friday) I will begin the targeted molecular therapy drug again. My feet are 90% normal—trying to catch someone, I even ran through the library and then across the parking lot today. The prayer is that I won’t have the same reaction this time. I may have blisters, but perhaps without the severe sensitivity.

I am not spiking a fever anymore as of yesterday, but I am fatigued. I really feel it if I am not timely in getting an afternoon nap.

As always, thanks so much for your prayers. Your constant words of encouragement are well appreciated.


Comments Welcome!

Posted in General at 3:55 pm by Karyn

Just a quick note to encourage friends and family to feel free to leave comments to the posts here. We’ve removed the extra step of registering first so that it is easier for you.

To leave a comment, just click on “Comments” (below the post you are responding to) and you will be taken to a screen that will allow you to write your message. When you post a comment you will be asked to provide a name and email address, but this is just to help keep “spam” comments out! Your email address will not be displayed with the comment. Your comments and thoughts are a great encouragement.

Prayer Requests: Timing for Restart of Therapy and A Clear Mind

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Prayer Requests at 7:14 am by Al

Just a quick update today. I have continued to be a bit more fatigued than usual and to run a low grade fever each evening. Both products of the chemo therapy I had and signs of ongoing work of the chemo in my system as toxins are cleared out. Not the end of the world at all!

The first prayer request for today is that we need to decide about when to restart the targeted molecular therapy. The six or eight deep blisters on each foot (like the ones on the balls of my feet and big toes in the photo) are much better, but some still make walking and standing unpleasant (though NO COMPARISON to what I was experiencing Thursday and Friday). In some cases the reaction does not repeat as the drug is restarted. That is our prayer request.

Related: Rash and scalp problems remain as irritants. With foot pain abating I am discovering that the itching and pain on the rest of my skin is enough to keep me awake at night. There are some medications that can help me with these. But I would still appreciate prayer.

Second request: As I have experienced in the past, I am finding that my underlying fibromyalgia (a syndrome I have had for years) still acts as an ampliphier for pain and discomfort. So no relief there. The real issue is that when I am not feeling well I find it hard to concentrate on anything, most significantly reading scripture. So I would ask that you pray that even in the midst of pain that the Lord’s word would penetrate through. Indeed, his word is able to create a universe and holds up that universe now. It can surely penetrate through this pain.

Blessings, Al


A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Posted in Photos, Updates at 7:28 pm by Karyn

Evidence of God’s love through his people: we needed a wheelchair, and
suddenly we had four of them!

Groves Family Wheelchair Portrait

See additional photos (Al’s poor feet!) which have been added to a previous blog post here.


Reaction Update and Praise

Posted in From Al & Libbie at 4:20 pm by Libbie

Dear Family and Friends,

Another update. Al’s feet are greatly improved today!

Last night they were throbbing and burning as if they were being held in a searing furnace, and it occurred to us that they might be infected. But this morning between 9 and 10 the pain began to back off and the purple swelling to go down, and Al can walk again-slowly and tenderly, but he can walk. He says that for the first time in a while he’s not processing the world through a red haze of pain, and he can think clearly and feel like a human being again. He is so relieved! Thank you for praying!!! (We did see our family doctor today, and he said the feet are not infected at this point but prescribed an antibiotic to protect them from possible infection that could easily develop.)

So, just wanted you to know that the Lord answered your prayers.
Thank you!


Update (WTS work)

Posted in Prayer Requests, Updates at 11:43 am by Karyn

The aggressive treatment therapies have been producing difficult side effects and leave Professor Groves in a state of considerable weakness. Many of his administrative and academic responsibilities at Westminster Theological Seminary have been delegated to colleagues.

Please pray for healing. And pray for God’s grace, sustenance, and mercy to Al, to Libbie, to their family, as well as to the extended Westminster community. Messages for Professor Groves are being received by his assistant, Martha Dunson.


Reactions to treatment

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Photos at 2:32 pm by Libbie

Dear family and friends,
Libbie writing this time—
It’s been a little while since we sent you an update, so I thought I’d fill you all in.

The short version is: this past week Al has had severe reactions to the targeted molecular therapy drug he’s taking (not the chemo, ironically), so the doctor wants him to stop taking it for a few days or however long it takes to let the reaction pass and then start up again and see if the symptoms recur. Hopefully this means he’ll be feeling markedly better in a few days. Please pray that this break from the medication will improve his pain and ability to function.

The long version, for those of you who are interested in more detail, follows. Read the rest of this entry »


Chemo Begins

Posted in From Al & Libbie at 2:31 pm by Al

Dear praying friends and family,

Just a quick update tonight.

Yesterday night I added chemo therapy to the targeted molecular therapy I had already been taking for a week. Good news: I have had no nausea! Many of you had told me that you had been praying for me about side effects from the chemo. Thank you! So far the prayers have been answered. Off to my next dose now.

The drug for the targeted molecular has begun to produce some predictable side-effects, however—rash, burning sensation on the soles of my feet, and arthritis-like pain in my joints and feet. So far it is tolerable.

Thanks again for all the notes, encouragement and prayer.

Blessings, Al