Posted in From Al & Libbie, Updates at 6:08 pm by Libbie

Back again with a little time to fill in a picture of our life over the past few weeks.

Several things have come to a close: Alden’s soccer season is over (they finished first in their division, which is great for a newly formed team), our family’s very last science fair project ever was completed and duly delivered to school last Monday (we are pooling ideas for how best to celebrate; so far the only definite thing is that there will be lots of French fries involved…), and the Lord enabled me to spend all of Monday Christmas shopping, so that by late Monday night it was 90% done (amazing!).

Some other long, long, long overdue tasks are being taken care of as well. There was an enormous spruce tree in our back yard that has been an infernal nuisance for as long as we’ve lived here, but last week we finally had it taken down. It was a fascinating process to watch. And the garage, which has (literally) been falling down for a long time, is about to be replaced.

It’s been busy preparing for those tasks, especially the garage, but friends have helped transplant shrubs and clear the last items out of the garage. I even had no less than ten junior high boys show up on short notice to help me move stacks of wood.

Also, some friends decided that we needed a new sink/kitchen counter, so they came and put it in. It looks beautiful! I still feel as if I’m messing about in somebody else’s kitchen. It’s even inspired me to keep the area picked up and cleared, and those of you who know my messy house will testify that that’s remarkable in itself.

People continue to be so kind to us! If I told you about all the things people have done for us, I’d be here all night, and so would you. But let me just mention one that left us speechless. The auto mechanic who has doctored our cars for many years and helped us out with all kinds of automotive issues, frequently going the extra mile, knocked on our door Thanksgiving morning with a homemade apple pie he had baked for us! We were flabbergasted. We are blown away again and again by the thoughtfulness and generosity of people we know. We are blessed indeed!

There have also been things in the last few weeks that have been hard. A very good friend of Al’s, who is a lawyer, has been helping us with the process of being sure all our legal affairs are in order, particularly changing from joint ownership to having everything in my name, so I started working on that. Somehow, when you hear someone say that your spouse will simply be “marked as deceased” on the account, even when that is said with explicitly stated respect and sensitivity, it has a note of finality to it that’s hard to hear. I’m thankful to be able to start taking care of these sorts of details, but I also did a lot of crying that day.

Last week was hard for Eowyn. She is extremely compassionate, and when her friends are hurting she hurts with them pretty intensely. Last year she learned about something really hard that one of her friends was dealing with. Recently everything in this friend’s life started hitting the fan, creating a burden that was enough to crush someone. Eowyn was trying to support her friend and was emotionally stretched to the breaking point by the enormity of what her friend was going through. Added in on top of our own situation, the burden was overwhelming her (Eowyn). This situation is one of the things that has contributed to making this a tough fall for her. However, last week it turned out that the whole thing had been fabricated and that the friend had been lying to Eowyn for a year.

Oddly enough, this is the second time this has happened to Eowyn in less than a year. (The first time, for a number of reasons, was much, much harder to go through.) I guess I must have missed out on part of the teenage girl scene during my youth and Becky’s, because until last February I had never run into this sort of thing. I have to assume that when kids do this they have absolutely no clue what impact it has on the friends to whom they tell these whoppers, because I would hate to think that they knew just how much pain they were inflicting on their friends and went ahead and did it anyway. Maybe it’s just Eowyn’s problem for sympathizing too much with her friends; maybe other kids don’t care about their friends that much. But I don’t believe that. Plus, I know for sure of at least one other teen who was as chewed up by the first situation as Eowyn was.

With forgiveness and commitment, the relationship that was traumatized last winter has been restored, and Eowyn wants to still be there for this friend who must be struggling with other hard issues in her life–different than the ones she made up, but that maybe prompted her to fabricate them. Meanwhile, the truth has taken a huge emotional load off of Eowyn’s shoulders and made her much lighter of heart, and we’re thankful for that.

Another thing that has been challenging has been seeing things in my own heart that need to change. I see once again that in many ways I don’t have a clue about how to love: how to love God, how to love people, or how to love the amazing and wonderful man whom God gave me to be my husband. Being an independent New Englander, and not natively inclined to vulnerability, or to sharing my heart readily, or to intimacy, I am so bad at nurturing relationships of any kind. The Holy Spirit has made some progress in me in that area over the past 2 years, but I think I’m still barely taking baby steps. “They say” that just before you die your life passes before your eyes. A couple of weeks ago I felt as if the years of our marriage were passing in review before my eyes, and I saw how much more deeply I could have shared my heart, my life, myself with Al in these 28 years. There is so much I want to say to him even now, but I struggle to, even though I know I will wrestle with regret for a lifetime if I don’t. I’d be grateful if you’d pray for me about that. I also see how selfish, self-oriented, and self-absorbed I am.

As Al has said, having terminal cancer (or in my case, living with someone you love who does) doesn’t exempt you from the process of sanctification. The Lord still works slowly and patiently at making us more like Jesus, one infinitesimal step at a time. He’s committed to that goal, and he keeps on transforming us—tenderly and gently, but persistently. I’m thankful for that, and (being so very far from being like Jesus) I’m SO grateful for the complete forgiveness that he bought with his blood!

There is more that I’d like to share, but I’ve been writing this in bits and pieces over a couple of days, and to keep that from going on indefinitely I should probably just post what’s here and write more another time.

To fill you in quickly on the rest of the family:

Becky’s commute is still very long, and her work continues to be both demanding/stressful and satisfying. We hear good reports about her performance.

Alasdair just finished the exams for his first semester at seminary, and he LOVES it.

The company Lauren is working for was successful enough this year that they are taking all the employees and spouses to the Bahamas in February, which she is very happy about.

And Alden is busy with play rehearsals, enjoying friends and school, and looking forward to Christmas.

We hope you’re enjoying the anticipation of Christmas as much as Alden is…




  1. Abby said,

    December 16, 2006 at 10:55 am

    Hey, Lib.
    Wow! I read your entry last night and wanted to reply right away but was a little stuck on what exactly I wanted to say. First, I am so glad to hear all the good news, ie Eowyn feeling lighter and home projects and all the love you’re being surrounded with… It’s hard not being close enough to do things I would love to do with and for you and so I am so blessed by hearing about the wonderful people God has placed around you.
    Now, for the New England thing… Being a fellow New Englander, I know what you’re talking about when it comes to relationships. Oddly enough, it’s an area God has been walking through with me in the past year plus. So much to learn… and some days it seems like I’ll never learn. Anyway, let me say that I would LOVE a much deeper relationship with you and would love to walk side-by-side through the learning with you. Maybe share revelations and struggles… I’ll be praying and hoping that God will make that possible… in His timing. I LOVE you! Know that you are in my thoughts and prayers constantly.

  2. Jennifer White said,

    December 16, 2006 at 12:42 pm

    Oh Libby, my cherished friend…while my heart aches with yours, I am rejoicing in how God is working in you and through you. I know that these new “revelations” will bring forth sweet intimacy with Al that will bless you both richly and open the door to a deeper and broader intimacy with those God has put around you that love you so dearly.
    This is the spirit at work in you. He LOVES you Libby. He rejoices over you.
    I pray God’s rest for you, friend. I pray peace and hope beyond your circumstances, and an inner joy that can only come from Him. Jennifer

  3. Fred said,

    December 16, 2006 at 2:07 pm

    Hi, Libbie (and Al),

    Thanks for writing again. It’s good to hear how you all are from your heart, and to know that you see the Lord’s goodness and kindness in your lives.

    Filled with NE blood myself (back to the Mayflower!), I find myself much more comfortable with what my wife (a former preschool teacher) calls “parallel play”, which is when young children sit at a table or in a sandbox, each doing roughly the same thing, but side-by-side, rather than together. Normal development leads gradually to “cooperative play”, where they plan, build–do things–together. There’s a parable in there somewhere, but I’m not sure that I like what it may imply about myself. Thank God that his perseverance is both eternal and infinite.

    I just got a phone call asking me to “fill in” for a sick pastor, and so have decided to preach an Advent message on light and darkness, based on the book of Isaiah. Never even looked at this before, but what an amazing thought. The greater the darkness, the greater the effect of even a very little light (think of a single candle in the depths of Carlsbad Caverns [or even your darkest closet]). And Christ is a lot more than a candle!

    May the light of God’s grace–he to whom darkness and light are alike–illumine your hearts and lives, so that your light rises in darkness and your gloom becomes like midday.

    And may the joy of Christ be the light of the sun, giving life and light to every part of your lives.

    Blessings of peace.


  4. Meenu Hoffman said,

    December 16, 2006 at 6:46 pm

    Libbie–It’s hard to be vulnerable, even to a Godly man that you’ve loved for 28 years! But, you have to let go and tell Al everything you feel about him, for him, about yourself, and your life together and of course, all of your mixed emotions for the days ahead. It’s easier to say than to do, so I will pray for you. Thank you for continuing to be a blessing with your honesty.


  5. Eep Talstra said,

    December 16, 2006 at 8:16 pm

    Dear Libby and Al,

    While reading your last message I am listening to Bach, Cantate BWV 45,
    that starts with the quote from Michah: It has been told to you, human being, what is good and what the Lord asks from you: hold to his Word, practise love, be humble before your God. I assume the Lord is present in Amsterdam and in Philadelphia at the same moment, so I take the liberty of, while listening now to that text being sung, to hear in it an answer to your thinking about Alan, your children and yourself. I would say that what you write about other people and about yourself is fully in line with the words of the prophet: you experience all of that and you contribute a lot to that too.
    It is the classic Reformed challenge, I sometimes think. We live from grace, as a gift. Should we then want to fulfill the requirements of being holy people as a burden to be accomplished before grace is granted to us? The gift is a gift, enjoy it, it gives you the openess to be vulnerable. You just demonstrated that by writing it down.
    I most enjoy the arioso in that cantate that is a quote from Matthew 7, about the people that boast on their own capacity as prophets and excorcists. I do not know you, Jesus says. I always have wondered why Bach made such a heavenly, really swinging music for that arioso. Can you sing such joyful music in front of the throne of our judge? You can, actually it is s(w)inging about grace, I think.
    When I remember Lies, I think of a lot that I would say to her, or apologize about. In stead I listen to cantate 45, and I think she agrees.

    Blessings, Eep

  6. Mel and Justin Moore said,

    December 19, 2006 at 11:26 am

    Hi Groves Family,

    Libby – thank you so much for being vulnerable in the midst of so much going on. Know that Justin and I continue to pray regularly for you and Al and your family. We would be glad to go beyond praying and help out physically. It seems as though you are overwhelmed with help, but we are available should you need us – cooking, cleaning, moving things around – we do it all.

    Know that God continues to use your family as a testimony to His abundant grace, even in this suffering. I am blessed by this!

    mel and justin

  7. Anne Cormier said,

    December 19, 2006 at 1:25 pm

    That you are aware of your emotional shortcomings and allowing God His way in your heart speaks to the progress He is making. We and our marriages are works-in-progress. Aren’t we fortunate (and aren’t our spouses as well?) that we do not go it alone?
    Our prayers are with you both . . . that the gift of love and closeness will continue to draw you in. ANNE and KIM

  8. Allie Stryd said,

    December 19, 2006 at 10:59 pm

    Libby, Just have to say thank you. Your heart is dear. I love you.

  9. Gerard Norton said,

    December 20, 2006 at 6:07 pm

    Dear Libby,

    Thank you.

    You seem to worry about not doing “better.”
    You are doing magnificently.

    My own father died suddenly of a heart attack when my parents had been married 28 years. No preparation, no lead in , no sorting of bank details. What seems like a torture in some ways in the situation you and Alan find yourselves in, may indeed be a blessing. Twenty five years on, I don’t think my family has recovered from the brutality of sudden death. It has distorted and clouded the memory of a good man, who certainly did not intend to leave us so quickly. It has affected our relationships with one another too.

    Please give a hug to Alan from me. I think of him every time I use DEP, and other times too.


  10. Marcia Vela said,

    February 6, 2007 at 12:07 pm

    I just wanted to let you know that we are praying and thinking of you and your family..
    Please know that if anything we can do to help you.. We are right here …

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