Not feeling so well…

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Updates at 11:23 pm by Libbie

A quick update so as not to leave you hanging.

Al has been feeling under the weather again these past few days. When he had such a good day last Thursday we hoped that perhaps the Sunday-to-Wednesday low period was an aberration and that the return to feeling pretty well on Thursday was a return to a continuing norm. But over the weekend he felt unwell again, and that has continued since. He is coughing up blood consistently, which hadn’t been the case for several weeks, and except in the moments right after he clears some blood from his lungs he feels all-over yucky, not just breathing-wise, but in his stomach as well. A lot of smells and tastes–even ones that are ordinarily pleasant–are starting to bother him. Every now and then he runs a low-grade fever, and fever or no, he is extremely fatigued all the time. He also said on Monday that he is starting to sense that his cognitive faculties sometimes play tricks on him. It’s not that he is out of touch with reality, or that he loses track of who and where he is, or anything like that, but he can have trouble tracking conversations, and his mind makes odd connections that don’t make sense, or some such thing. He couldn’t quite put into words what it feels like when it happens. The good news in all this is that his headaches are not severe, or only occasionally. (I think that is accurate. I’ll check that with Al tomorrow—the headaches may be worse than I realize.)

Al’s youngest brother Bryan came up from Florida this weekend, which was great. Alden and I were in Lancaster most of the weekend for a soccer tournament, so it worked out especially well that Bryan was here with Al and that they had the time together. Al has continued to be able to spend special time alone with each of the kids this week, as in the past, though this week they’ve done that at home rather than going out someplace.

The kids are chomping at the bit to be out of school for four days. We have decided to spend Thanksgiving Day at home with just the family (except for church—my favorite service of the whole year), hanging out, eating, watching mobile movies, and generally “cocooning.” Sounds heavenly! And we hope to do more of the same for most of the rest of the weekend. At this point in time, four days to just be together and enjoy each other is a gift that we plan to savor.

We have been able to keep working on filming Al’s thoughts on Judges in small segments (still lots to cover), and I’ve been taking care of some of the business issues related to Al’s situation that have to be dealt with. Alden’s science fair project is progressing (we are still planning a big party when it’s done), and Eowyn has been dressing up in one crazy outfit after another for “spirit week” at school. That’s been a fun distraction, which helped to counter a couple of discouraging, if not hurtful, interactions at school yesterday.

Not much else to report, except that the Lord is faithful, and good, and with us all the time. For that we are so grateful. It’s hard to see Al move into a time of feeling lousy, but it’s a huge comfort to know that at some point in the near or distant future he will be heading for a place and a life that will be wonderful beyond anything we can imagine.

Alden and I were at a very chilly soccer game tonight while Becky, Melissa and Eowyn were home with Al, and now I can’t wait to climb into a nice warm bed! I’ll try to keep you posted in the days ahead. Thanks for caring and praying.



  1. John Oliff said,

    November 22, 2006 at 6:40 am

    Libbie and Al: Thanks for the updates; we continue to pray that the God of glory would strengthen both of you as you serve him together. By the way, Al, Rylee (our 7 month old) came throught surgery well. They had to remove the overy but the mass came back negative for cancer – praise the Lord. Thank you for taking the time to pray for and be concerned for our little lamb in the midst of your situation. The Lord bless both of you and keep you today.

    Happy Thanksgiving; Grace and peace

    John Oliff

  2. Fred said,

    November 22, 2006 at 7:38 pm

    Dearest Libbie & Al,

    A few years I read this poem by Dylan Thomas and, following my normal custom when I can’t understand something, memorized it (and then ended up reading it as part of a poetry reading, dedicating it to my student assistant, who had Stage 4):

    And Death Shall Have No Dominion
    Dylan Thomas

    And death shall have no dominion.
    Dead men naked they shall be one
    With the man in the wind and the west moon;
    When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
    They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
    Though they go mad they shall be sane,
    Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
    Though lovers be lost love shall not;
    And death shall have no dominion.

    And death shall have no dominion.
    Under the windings of the sea
    They lying long shall not die windily;
    Twisting on racks when sinews give way,
    Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break;
    Faith in their hands shall snap in two,
    And the unicorn evils run them through;
    Split all ends up they shan’t crack;
    And death shall have no dominion.

    And death shall have no dominion.
    No more may gulls cry at their ears
    Or waves break loud on the seashores;
    Where blew a flower may a flower no more
    Lift its head to the blows of the rain;
    Though they be mad and dead as nails,
    Heads of the characters hammer through daisies;
    Break in the sun till the sun breaks down,
    And death shall have no dominion.

    With reference to Ro 6.9 (of course!). I like to accent the word “no”, rather than read it as a merely iambic line. I’m not sure what Dylan Thomas believed about life and death (“Do not go gentle into that good night” was written for his father, who was dying, and so sounds quite different), but this is a great one.

    Thank you so much for thinking of us and for letting us know how we can pray for you. May the grace of Christ fill your hearts with thanksgiving and the hope of heaven and life and peace eternal. And may he be Eowyn’s strong refuge, even in these hurtful things.

    The blessings of Christ are yours.

    In peace,


  3. Kent said,

    November 22, 2006 at 8:29 pm

    Dear Al and Libbie —

    You’ve been on my mind off and on today, and I wanted to send you a note wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving together as a family. I was so delighted to read that you’re “cocooning!” You are among my reasons for giving thanks to our God, who is good and whose mercy endures forever.

    Much love, Kent

  4. Donna Jennings García said,

    November 23, 2006 at 11:55 pm

    You are on our hearts and minds. what a great thing to be reminded of- the hope that we have of heaven, of a future without pain or sin or tears, thank you for sharing with us. it is so important to remember these truths in the midst of this crazy busy life.

    i love you guys

  5. Fred said,

    November 24, 2006 at 1:36 am

    Hello again, friends.

    On this day set aside for giving thanks, I trust that you are thankful that so many of us are thanking God that he has touched our lives through you.



  6. Jeff and Nina McRobbie said,

    November 24, 2006 at 3:26 pm

    We are thankful for you two, as well! You have been such a consistent encouragement to us as you share your journey through this blog (and I think you know how much of a HUGE blessing you were in our lives even before that!). It is amazing how God has gifted you both to bring us to tears of mourning and tears of joy all at the same time as you point us to the truth in Him. Thank you, dear Libbie and Al.
    We are thinking of you and praying for you this weekend.
    With much love,
    Jeff, Nina and Jonas

  7. Mark A. Stone said,

    November 27, 2006 at 8:45 am

    I hope that the weekend of “cocooning” was special. Every moment that the family spends with Al will be remembered in the future. We will continue to lift up Al and the family in prayer as you continue the trek down this rather uncertain path. May God continue to be glorified by your words and deeds.

  8. Craig Combs said,

    November 27, 2006 at 1:12 pm

    Dear Al and Libbie,
    I breezed by you this weekend and felt a little closer though I could not manage to make contact. We spent the holidays in Baltimore with my wife’s family — her widowed father is getting married again in January.

    Yesterday morning we drove through Philadelphia headed for Vermont, and worshiped at New Life Glenside in the second service (got to hear Eowyn make her wonderufl ptich for more youth workers). It was a blessing to us to be with the saints there; I got to show my five kids to Rosemary Green.

    Today I am just now reading your post from 11/21.

    I continue to remember you in your pilgrimage, and I still bring your name before the gracious seat of the One who always remembers, and hears, and answers.

    My love to you, for Jesus’ sake,

  9. Shelah said,

    November 28, 2006 at 4:34 pm

    Dear Al and Libbie,

    I am praying for you as well today – how great is the steadfast love of our Lord… to carry our fragile hearts through all the waves of life. What a joy to think of being with Him – to savor his presence and enjoy his goodness in such overwhelming measure that life as we know it pales in comparison – oh, how I long for it! =) And yet, as I considered 1 Cor 15:50 today, it is with this precious recognition of what is to come that makes my daily living sweet. Each step, each word, each thought of my Father’s home is one step closer to him. Onward, then! Until we hear “well done!”


  10. laurie said,

    November 28, 2006 at 5:14 pm

    Dear Groves Family,
    I too pray that your weekend of cocooning was delightful!
    I was particularly struck by the interplay of Al’s condition with the “normal” issues of family – soccer, science fair, spirit day, tough school interchanges…… I’m glad that you are willing to challenge your children to live with their Father’s situation in one part of the brain AND their “work” in another. May you be filled with grace and blessings beyond measure. And, may you have even more for the science fair project! 🙂
    Love you! – Laurie

  11. Hannah Powlison said,

    December 6, 2006 at 12:51 am

    Al, Libbie and all,
    I have been encouraged and challenged, as always, by reading these various reflections and responses – what a delightful gathering of dear souls this ‘blog’ (and such a funny, awkwardly-named thing!) has fostered.
    My Mom asked me to post the following poem for her (she and my Dad are currently in Hawai’i…’family duty’ Dad said, but I know better ;). An Easter poem, but timelessly fitting:

    Seven Stanzas At Easter (by John Updike)

    Make no mistake: if He rose at all
    it was His body;
    if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules reknit,
    the amino acids rekindle,
    the Church will fall.

    It was not as the flowers,
    each soft Spring recurrrent,
    it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled eyes of the eleven
    it was his flesh: ours.

    The same hinged thumbs and toes.
    the same valved heart
    that –pierced–died, withered, paused, and then regathered out of
    enduring Might
    new strength to enclose.

    Let us not mock God with metaphor,
    analogy, sidestepping, transcendence;
    making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the faked credulity
    of earlier ages:
    let us walk through the door.

    The stone is rolled back, not paper-mache
    not a stone in a story,
    but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow grinding of time
    will eclipse for each of us
    the wide light of day.

    And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
    make it a real angel,
    weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair, opaque in the
    dawn light, robed in real linen
    spun on a definite loom.

    Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
    for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
    lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are embarrassed by the
    and crushed by remonstrance.

    what sweet reality of this Love!
    and much love to all of you, from all of us.
    ~hannah for the Powli’s

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