Catching up on July 4

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Updates at 10:24 am by Al

I have been much encouraged by responses and thoughts from so many to our recent blog post. Thank you all.

We’ve been busy with our children moving back into the area this past week. Personally I have been mostly a couch potato, watching the moving activities, trying not to give too much advice, and providing what little bit of coordination I could provide by being in one spot while people mustered to move our children into two different dwellings on the same day. The Lord’s goodness in providing for our children has been a great encouragement–for example, Westminster closed a dormitory this past week, and the furniture in the dorm was for the taking, so Becky was able to furnish an unfurnished apartment in basically one stop. God provides!

Physically: I still have swelling in my lower leg due to the blood clot, which has meant keeping my leg elevated as I am able. I am still battling weakness and trembling, results of my body still cleansing from my earlier treatments and testing. Sleep has been more interrupted and I seem to need to need more of it during the day. I have been in desperate need of exercise and found that swimming, slowly for short periods, has been not only manageable but restorative. This has been a real mercy and grace. I actually do better swimming than walking. Our public swimming pool is six blocks from our home, so it is an easy drive over any time during the day when I find the energy to get there. I am currently almost off steroids, a process that gone pretty smoothly so far. I have also shifted medications for thinning my blood, which has meant bi-weekly blood testing. It also means I have moved from daily, self-injected medication to oral medication, which is of course more convenient.

Upcoming medical checkpoints: Wednesday, July 5, I have a routine follow-up with the gamma-knife team who radiated the brain tumor a month ago (the neurologist and then the radio-oncologist). I have been having a low-grade headache again, this time in a different place, but seems to me to more a a result of the recent sleep disruption. I don’t anticipate anything coming of these follow-up appointments. We may re-visit the issue of whole brain radiation. Friday, July 21, we have a meeting with our oncologist to discuss the future of treatments. This is a much more significant meeting, where we will weigh the downside of the impact of possible treatments vs. the possible gain in life-extension, etc. We will need wisdom. My next MRI of the brain will likely be in early August.

Spiritually: As I mentioned at the beginning, I am much encouraged through many providential means. Mostly I have been reflecting again on Psalm 138, particularly vs. 8: “He will fulfill his purposes for me—Your loving kindness, O Lord, endures forever. Do not abandon the work of your hands.” This was a psalm that had stood out to me early in February, but I had lost sight of its truth a bit in recent weeks. I have also been reflecting more broadly on God’s work in and purpose for his people. 1 Peter 2:9-10 have been a launch pad for much meditation on what it means to be the people of God, going back to Abraham and moving forward through God’s redemptive plan and revelation throughout history.

9 But you are a chosen people,
a royal priesthood,
a holy nation,
a people belonging to God,
that you may declare the praises of him
who called you out of darkness
into his wonderful light.
10 Once you were not a people,
but now you are the people of God;
once you had not received mercy,
but now you have received mercy.
1 Peter 2:9-10

The rich Old Testament background to this passage is an edifying study—Exod 4:22-23 (Israel as God’s first born son), Exod 19:5-6 (Israel as God’s treasured possession and his kingdom of priests/holy nation), Exod 34:9 (Israel as God’s inheritance—see the many other passages that use this language), Isa 43:7 (his people are created for his glory), and so much more.

The passage in 1 Peter 2 has stood out to me in its bottom-line reminder of God’s singular purpose in his choosing a people for himself: that his people might in all things proclaim his praises, his glory, his excellencies. That is our purpose corporately and individually. For me it has meant looking to the scriptures with a renewed attention to the wonders we have in Christ, our redeemer and Lord. Then taking the opportunities presented all day long to speak the fruit of seeing Christ—speaking to God himself, to others around, and even to my own soul (as does the psalmist in Psa 42). Yes, there are many moments when I fail to look for Him. And also when I fail to see. But I am finding a fresh joy in his enduring love and a joy in expressing it at all points.

Writing: While the need for rest is a challenge each day, I am able to work a little bit on the book of Judges project. Libbie and I have actually been working quite well together on this. I will post something on my thoughts on Judges one of these days soon. We have been focusing on the introduction. Once we have that right, the rest of the work will flow well. I have written some on each section already, in fact. But with the overview more clearly focused, revisions can be made and be more consistent.

Odds and ends: We are off to Florida to visit my parents on Friday, July 7 and will return the following Friday, the 14th. We are also a family of football (soccer) fans and have been avidly following the World Cup, even when we can’t see every game. Our team allegiances have been complicated: We back the USA as our national team, but our long time connection to the Netherlands (we lived there six months at a time on three different occasions) has made the men in Orange a heart favorite as well. Then stir in France—my maternal grandfather was French; I studied in France for a semester when I was in college, as did our older children; and Libbie was a French major. And in any individual game we can always like one team over another… It’s been great fun to watch together as a family.

Enjoy your 4th of July celebration!

Blessings, Al


  1. Carl Trueman said,

    July 4, 2006 at 1:37 pm


    Glad you are feeling more encouraged, but I am concerned that anyone could ever think of supporting the French in the World Cup. England may be out (combination of the boring non-strategy of a Swedish manager and spoilt brat antics of some kid who looks like Shrek); but surely that means the civilised world should now throw its weight behind the Germans!

  2. Fred Putnam said,

    July 4, 2006 at 11:54 pm

    Hi, Al.

    And that call to corporate praise that reaches the world goes back to [at least] Dt 4.5ff, which anticipates, e.g., Jesus’ prayer for the testimony of Christian unity (John 17). I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit–that if all of life/existence falls under the redemptive dominion of Christ, so that all things are being renewed into the realization of their created purpose, then our praise of and testimony to God’s grace–individual & corporate–entails all of our lives, relationships, &c.

    I’m very glad to hear that you are feeling somewhat better, and that your body is clearing some of the “chemical additives”. May God’s strength–of rock and fortress and shield–continue to be your refuge.



  3. Chris Fisher said,

    July 5, 2006 at 9:18 am

    Dear Al, you certainly are not “wasting your cancer”, I so look forward to reading your inspiring missives. Please use the pool @ any time, we’d LOVE having you all. Isn’t it time for another get-together ? Just call before you come, if no answer come ahead. Please give Libbie a hug for me ?
    Much love and continued prayers,

  4. Nigel and Caroline Atkinson said,

    July 6, 2006 at 9:54 am

    Dear AL
    I just can’t wait to read all you have to say on the book of Judges. You got me going on that book when you opened it up for me in Hebrew class back in 1984. I remember in one exam thinking that the Cananites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites of Judges 3:5 were all verbs (!!). I wasted hours in that exam trying to work out why they would not parse. Needless to say I thought you pulled a fast one in giving us that verse to translate….
    Its so uplifting to read your thoughts. Your insights into the sons of Korah was particularly illuminating. Our prayers are with you and Libbie and the children. Our Church has had great outreach on the the back of the world cup but now that we are out there is no way we could ever support the French. They are our ancestral enemies.
    With much love from us all
    Nigel, Caroline, Emma, Thomas, Luke and Imogen

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