Family

Family

Monday, April 27, 2015

Halfway!

Psalm 118:24, 28-29 "This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. You are my God, and I will give thanks to You; You are my God; I will extol You. Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever!"

Yesterday was a big day at the Harder household. Wayne reached the half-way mark for his treatment. It's hard to believe, but we are now done with three of the six weeks of treatment! So far Wayne is taking the treatment well. He is fatigued at times and is losing hair where the radiation beams hit, but overall he is doing amazing. We are so thankful for all the prayers! Please keep them coming, we still need all the prayers we can get. Please specifically pray that we take one day at a time, especially me. It is hard to always stay positive and optimistic when you read about so many people dying from this cancer, even young people like Wayne. Just pray that God continues to allow us to focus on each day that He gives us.



In light of the tragedy taking place overseas in Nepal, our situation doesn't seem so bad. I know that if God decides it is Wayne's time to go, we know that Wayne will go home to be with God. We also know that one day we'll be reunited with him. That isn't the case with so many in Nepal. My heart breaks to think of so many people who have died. Many have never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ or about the love of God. The sermon below by David Platt is one of the things God used in our lives to get us focused on what our calling is here on earth. American Christians have gotten too comfortable in our lives here. We like our safe homes and our safe lives. Safe isn't what God called us to though as believers. He called us to go and make disciples, to tell other's the Good News. 

A missionary who spoke to our children's Sunday School class this last year (our theme was Missions, Orphands and the Persecuted Church) gave an excellent illustration. He was given a bag of candy to give the kids, with instructions to give the candy to the kids. The kids heard this and were very excited. He then told the kids, "I don't think I'm going to share this candy with you. I think I want it all to myself." The kids got very upset and said, "But you were told to share the candy with us." He said, "I know, but I don't think I want to." He then went on to explain to the kids that many Christians are like that. They have been given the Good News of the Gospel of Christ and have been commanded to go share that with others. Instead of obeying, they decide to keep the Good News to themselves. It reminds me of a missionary story the girls and I read last week about Hudson Taylor in "Hero Tales". Here is an excerpt from the story: "Hudson Taylor was discouraged. He had been praching in the city of Ningpo for a year. The Chinese were polite and enjoyed gathering to hear Taylor speak. But no one seemed to take the Gospel seriously. No one believed it. Then after one message, when Taylot felt most like giving up, a respected man stood up and turned to his Chinese countrymen. 'I have been searching for the truth for a long time. My father and my grandfathers before me searched for the truth, but they never found it. I have traveled far and wide looking for it. I have tried Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism, but have found no rest. But tonight, tonight I have found rest. I have heard the truth, and from now on I am a believer in Jesus.' A few nights after the man had accepted Jesus as his Savior, he asked Hudson Taylor a very hard question. 'How long have the people in your land known about Jesus?' Hudson Taylor said, "Oh, hundreds of years.' 'What?' said the man in amazement. 'You knew the truth for hundreds of years and didn't come to tell us? My father searched for the truth all his life and died without finding it. Why didn't you come sooner?'"

That is a question I think all of us need to think on and ponder. What are we here on this earth for? What is our purpose? For those who are God's children, I think it is even a more important question to ask ourselves. Are we doing what our Father asked us to do or are we absorbed in our own lives here in America? Maybe it's time for us to do what Jesus commanded us to do. Matthew 28:18-20 "And Jesus came and said to them, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.'" 

Maybe it's time for each of us to take a hard look at our lives and ask God to cut things our of our lives that distract us from 100% surrender to Him and what He is calling us to do with our lives. There are too many people's souls at stake for us to ignore God's call. How many people are out there looking for the truth but no one is there to tell them? How many people died in Nepal without hearing the Good News of the Gospel because we are "too busy" with our American lives? Maybe it's time for us to think about our heavenly home and eternity over the temperal things of this earth. How is God calling me, how is God calling YOU to respond? May each of us prayerfully seek His will for our lives, embrace that calling, and faithfully serve our Heavenly Father who deserves nothing less then our all. 

Psalm 39:4 "Show me, Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is."



Thursday, April 23, 2015

Wonderfully Made

Psalm 139:13-17 "For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!"

The girls studied anatomy this year for science. On Monday, we were able to go on a fun field trip at Governors State University to watch Slim Goodbody. The show was not only entertaining, but also very educational. We have talked throughout the year about how God has wonderfully made and designed our bodies. When you start studying in detail how intricatly the body works, it is amazing. You can see God's handiwork in our bodies and in the world around us. 

As we have been adjusting to our new "normal", we have been trying to continue some our normal routine (including field trips). We have found a good balance between Wayne's treatment, finishing up school and daily life. The girls have been great with everything. I decided to give us all a fun goal. Since Wayne has three more weeks of radiation and chemo left, I told the girls that we'll finish up school when Wayne finishes his treatment. It is a goal that is attainable for all of us. It keeps us moving forward in school, but also gives us an end date. I figure we'll have a big party to celebrate the end of school and the end of Wayne's treatment. We will all have a reason to celebrate!

Last Friday, we took another field trip with our homeschool group to Graue Mill. The timing and location worked out perfectly. We were able to go on our tour and still make it in time to pick up Wayne from rehabilitation.

Speaking of Wayne, he is doing excellent. We met with his radiologist on Tuesday and they said that he is doing amazing, better then the average person being treated. God has been so good to us through this whole process. Wayne did notice this morning that his hair is starting to come out from radiation. He was washing his hair and chunks of his hair came out in his hands. They warned us about this, but it doesn't make it any easier to experience. Wayne is being a trouper though through all of this. Thank you for all of your prayers, we appreciate them all. Please pray that God continues to keep Wayne strong through his treatment, that the treatments work for a long time (no recurrence of the tumor), that we finish school strong (with good attitudes), and for our trip later in May up to Mayo Clinic for our second opinion. 

Here are some fun pictures from our field trips.




Learning how to weave.


Joella got selected as a volunteer.


Abigail working hard to make us lunch.


Grace working the stone.


Learning how Graue Mill was used as part of the Underground Railroad in Chicago.


Joella wanted a selfie.


The girls and their friends




Waiting for the show to start.


Our friend Alana got selected to be a volunteer on stage.


A group picture (minus Joella who was afraid to go near him).

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Refining Fire

Zechariah 13:9 "This third I will put into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them;
I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’”

Psalm 66:10 "For you, God, tested us; You refined us like silver."

Job 23:10 "But He knows the way that I take; when He has tried me, I shall come out as gold."

Isaiah 48:10 " See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction."

1 Peter 1:6-9 "In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls."



I was reflecting yesterday on the purifying/refining process. The definition of purify is to make pure: as to clear from material defilement or imperfection, to free from guilt or moral or ceremonial blemish, to free from undesirable elements. The definition of refine is to remove the unwanted substances in (something), to improve (something) by making small changes. When one thinks about purification or refining, I'm sure many people think about gold. The refining of gold is a process that removes impurities. The gold is placed into a hot fire and melted down. Depending on the process used, different elements are added to the gold to seperate out the impurities. The end result is pure gold, free from any impurities.

Just as gold is refined to remove impurities, God works in each of our lives to remove impurities in our lives to make us refined pieces of His handiwork. I have been praying for months that God would work in my life and show me any areas of my life that I have hidden or cherished sin. I wanted Him to expose anything that might be seperating me from sweet communion with Him. At times this process hasn't been too bad. It's easy to see certain things in our lives that we know are wrong (losing patience with the kids, thinking of myself before others, etc). As God keeps refining me though, the process has started to get a little painful. I'm starting to feel the hot flames of the fire as my heart is being refined. God has been making small changes in my life and showing me things that need to change. Sometimes I just want to scream "No More! I'm done!" Then I look back and see how the refining has transformed me into the person that I am today. In faith, I submit myself to the work He needs to do in me to continue this process.

Yesterday was a hard day. It wasn't one particular thing that made it hard. Wayne is doing well and life is good. Despite that, yesterday was hard. I reached a point where I told God that I can't take one more step, that I'm just done. I'm overwhelmed with my "To Do" list, with school, with Wayne's cancer, the list goes on. The final breaking point was God allowing my heart to be crushed. I told Wayne last night that I felt like Jacob after he wrestled with God (Genesis 32:22-32). I couldn't take one more step without God holding me up. I was at a complete breaking point and I told God I can't do this anymore, that I needed Him to help me. I cried out to God, as the David did in Psalm 18:6. "In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From His temple He heard my voice, and my cry to Him reached His ears." Isn't that where we should be though? Crying out to God in full dependence on Him for every step? The amazing thing is that I felt God's sweet presence right there in that moment. As Psalm 40:1-3 says, "I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in Him." I knew what my response needed to be in the situation and it was hard. The Holy Spirit laid on my heart verses and songs to point me in the right direction. Obedience isn't always easy, neither is forgiveness. The end result though is beautiful. Communion with God and restored relationships results when we obey God, even when it is hard.

God has been faithful and has been answering my prayer to refine me. Although there are moments like yesterday that are painful and hard, I know in the end it will be a wonderful thing. It is truly my hearts desire to be set apart for God and for Him to be glorified in my life. May Wayne and I continue moving forward in faith allowing God to answer our prayers to transform us into the beautiful image of His Son Jesus Christ. The following song is one that God laid on my heart yesterday evening as I was walking through the flames. 



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Update on Wayne: We are in week three of chemo and radiation. Besides some fatigue, Wayne is doing amazing. He is still going to rehabilitation three hours a day and we see a lot of improvement in his physical strength and his speech. God has been so good each step of the way with Wayne's recovery. When we look back and see how far we've come in just this short time, it is amazing to see God's hand upon our lives. We know we can trust the future to God because He is faithful and good. We are thankful that His mercies are new every morning! He truly is the one that is helping us each step of this journey.

Deuteronomy 31:6 "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." 

Even in the midst of being refined, God is right by my side every step of the way. May each of us allow God to refine us into the people He desires us to be!

Monday, April 13, 2015

When God Wants a Man

Isaiah 64:8 "But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand."

Romans 9:20-23 "But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—"


As we have been navigating through Wayne's diagnosis, there have been many moments of great peace, but at times I have had questions. Sometimes I have asked "Why Wayne?", "Why our family?", "Why this cancer?" Although I think it is okay and not wrong to ask those questions, it is part of being a human, God has gently reminded me of who He is in those moments. In the book of Job, Job questions God about why things have happened in his life as well. Do you know how God responds? God asks Job a bunch of questions like where was Job when He created the storehouses of snow or where was Job when he put the stars in the sky? God never answers Job's questions, instead He points Job to Himself. Let's be honest, we humans want to think that we have it all together and that we know better then God. Why else would we question why He allows certain things in our lives? Don't we know better? Don't we think that if God only XYZ, things would be better? God's ultimate purpose in everything is to bring Himself glory and to fashion us into the model of His Son. Parents don't want to hurt their children and yet there are times that we know better then our kids when certain issues arise. We see the bigger picture of what lies ahead and we are preparing or protecting them. God is the same way. He allowed Satan to test Job to draw Job's heart closer to His. God allows things to happen in our lives for our good, even if we can't see it. God never promised that life would be easy. The bottom line is that we live in a sinful world. This sin-filled world is full of death and disease. God allows these things to continue as part of His plan to draw people to Himself. What is even better is that God's plan included a redemptive plan for mankind!!

On days that are harder and I start to question God and His purposes, I have to step back in faith and remember that He has our ultimate good in mind. Sometimes His ways aren't our ways, but we have to trust that His ways are the best. Last night Wayne and I were listening to a sermon by Ravi Zacharias called "Is There Not a Cost". In this sermon, Ravi read part of a poem called "When God Wants a Man". I thought it was beautiful. It speaks to this notion that sometimes God uses means and methods we wouldn't choose to mold us into the person He desires us to be.


"WHEN GOD WANTS A MAN"

When God wants to drill a man, and thrill a man, and skill a man;
When God wants to mold a man to play the noblest part;
When He yearns with all his heart to create so great and bold a man that all the world might be amazed;
Watch His methods, watch His ways.
How He ruthlessly perfects whom He royally elects.
How He hammers and hurts him,
and with mighty blows converts him,
Into trial shapes of clay that only God understands,
while his tortured heart is crying and he lifts beseeching hands.
How He bends but never breaks, when His good He undertakes.
How He uses whom He chooses and with every purpose fuses him,
With mighty acts induces him to try His splendor out.
God knows what He’s about.

-Author Unknown


How wonderful is that? God is molding each of His followers into beautiful pieces of art that reflect His glory. May we be pliable mold in our Potter's hands!!

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Update on Wayne:

We are entering week 2 of radiation and chemo. Tomorrow we meet with the radiology oncologist after Wayne's radiation treatment. Wayne is doing great so far on his treatment. He took four one hour walks this weekend and then came home and slept. We have read that staying active is key in staying healthy during treatment. To avoid getting sick, we decided to listen to the doctors and stay home from church for the next few weeks. We had church as a family yesterday. We sang songs, read the Bible and listened to a sermon. It was a special time of worship as a family! 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Be Still My Soul

Psalm 62:5-8 "My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be shaken. On God my salvation and my glory rest; The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God. Trust in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us."


God is good all the time, and all the time, God is good!! God gave us the strength to make it through Wayne's first week of treatment. It was a rather crazy week juggling rehabilitation three hours a day, timing medicine and meals, and radiation treatments, but we made it! Wayne has five more weeks of radiation and 35 more days of Temador (chemo). God is continuing to teach me to take one day at a time, to depend on Him and be still before Him. There have been some hard moments, but overall it has been a good week. 

The song that resonated with me this week was "Be Still My Soul". Here are the lyrics. I've underlined the parts that God used to speak to me this week during difficult moments. After the lyrics is a beautiful rendition of this song.

"Be Still My Soul"

1 Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heav’nly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

2 Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.

3 Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
And all is darkened in the vale of tears,
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
From His own fullness all He takes away.

4 Be still, my soul: the hour is hast’ning on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.


Be still my soul! God is in control and I just need to rest in Him. I'll try to update everyone a little more this week now that we have a better handle on our new schedule. Here is a picture of Wayne at the girl's soccer game today. It's hard to believe it has only been about a month since his surgery. He's doing amazing!!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Hope of Life

1 John 5:11-15 "And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.

Titus 3:3-7 "For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life."

Today is Resurrection Sunday, also known as Easter. This is the most important day for us as we celebrate the resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ from the grave. Death could not hold Him in the grave! He conquered sin and death and satisfied the payment for sin once and for all. He was the perfect sacrificial lamb, who suffered a terrible death in our place. But thanks be to God, the story doesn't end there and He rose victorious on the third day! Those who put their hope and trust in what Christ did for them, seeing their need for a Savior, to confess and believe in what He did for them, we have hope in Him! We no longer have to live under the condemnation of sin or fear death. What a peace that knowledge brings to us, especially to our family as we walk along this journey.

The past week has been busy. We met with our radiology oncologist on Wednesday. Dr. Varadhi is one of the most impressive doctors we've met with so far. He sat down and talked through everything with us. He didn't leave us hanging with unknowns or questions. He addressed everything we wanted to know and things that we didn't know we needed to know. Wayne and I both walked out of that appointment with hope. Dr. Varadhi told us that he was setting everything aside for the rest of the week so that he could focus on Wayne's radiology plan. There is a lot of work that goes into setting up how the radiation beams will penetrate Wayne's head. It is quite fascinating as you talk to these doctors and hear how they use modern medicine to help the body. We both felt that Dr. Varadhi and his whole team took Wayne's cancer serious and we attacking it with a vengeance. It is amazing how God works and orchestrates events in our lives. Dr. Varadhi works out of Christ Hospital, which is closer to where we live. The amazing thing is that he did his internship at Northwestern, so he has worked with all the doctors that Wayne has at Northwestern! So even though we will be getting radiation close to home, there won't really be any holes in our treatment because they all know each other.

After we met with the doctor, Wayne had to go get fitted for his radiation mask. (You can see the pictures below). Wayne is scheduled to begin radiation tomorrow afternoon (4/6/15). That means that chemo will start tomorrow as well. We finally received the pills in the mail on Friday. Dealing with the online pharmacy was very complicated. I have spent many hours on the phone with people about pills and treatments this past week. The Lord has been good to us each step along the journey. The chemo pills were going to cost us $630 for just the first three weeks of pills. Thankfully, Northwestern's pharmacy told us to talk to the pharmacy company about assistance programs they have. Somehow we were eligible to have our portion of the pills waved. Thank you Lord!!






As I have been talking with the doctors and taking notes, I realized that trying to time all the pills, treatments and rehabilitation was going to get crazy. I finally broke out my homeschool whtie board and wrote everything out so I could see it clearly. As you can see below, we have to time anti-nausea pills, chemo pills and radiation just perfect. Throw in rehabilitation hours and it gets complicated. I think the first week will be an adjustment, but then we'll get into the swing of our new schedule.


On Thursday afternoon, my sister and her family from Kentucky came up to Chicago to see us. It worked out perfectly with Easter. Celebrating holidays with our family doesn't happen too often with family spread all over the country. The past few days were very special for all of us. My sister's son Levi had brain surgery when he was around one years old. It was amazing to see how God has used Wayne's surgery to even encourage Levi. Wayne and Levi were brain buddies. It was super cute to see them compare scars. Levi would come in the house and ask where his buddy was. It breaks my heart to think of what Levi went through at such a young age, but I love that he and Wayne have that extra special bond now.


My sister Sarah and her husband Travis offered to watch the girls for us on Friday night. Wayne and I were able to go out for our first date since surgery. It was wonderful to get away and just enjoy being together without the kids or in a hospital setting. The first thing we did was get Wayne a hair cut. Then we enjoyed dinner and a movie. 



Below are some pictures from Easter and our weekend with family. The kids also enjoyed swimming at the hotel pool with their cousins.





















Tomorrow is the beginning of six weeks of unknowns. Please be praying for Wayne as we begin treatment that his body adjusts to it and that he has no side effects from the medicine (now or after treatment). Also keep me in your prayers as I coordinate everything with his treatment, research trials and other future treatments, and as we finish up school for the year. God is good and I know He has a plan in all of this. I just need to keep resting in Him and place all of my hope in Him. We sang this song in church today and it spoke volumes to me. Because He lives, I CAN face tomorrow, I have nothing to fear, because I know HE holds the future!!

"Because He Lives"

God sent His son, they called Him, Jesus;
He came to love, heal and forgive;
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives!

Chorus
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!

How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives;
But greater still the calm assurance:
This child can face uncertain days because He Lives!

Chorus
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!

And then one day, I'll cross the river,
I'll fight life's final war with pain;
And then, as death gives way to victory,
I'll see the lights of glory and I'll know He lives!

Chorus
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!