Harder Family

Harder Family

Monday, September 28, 2015


Psalm 139:13-16 "For You formed my inward parts;
    You knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are Your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them."

I know I wrote a post once about life being precious, but I can't help but write one again in light of the sermon I heard on Sunday. The sermon was titled "The God Who Gives Life". I love it when you hear a sermon on a passage of scripture that you've read many times, but you learn something new and move to a deeper level of understanding. Yesterday we looked at Luke 20:19-26. When I initially was reading the passage of scripture I thought to myself, "How in the world does this passage of scripture tie into God giving us life?" Luke 20:25 says, "He said to them, 'Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.'" Just as the people who carried the denaris around with Caesar's image pledged their allegiance to Rome, God has put His stamp (His image) on humanity. We are His image bearers and we are to reflect Him. Since we are made in the image of God, we owe Him all our allegiance...He created us and He owns us. Choices of life aren't ours to make because He is the giver and sustainer of life. God is the author of every human life, as Psalm 139 so poetically states. God is involved in the life making process and He has our days numbered. Not only has God created us and numbered our days, He also created us for a purpose. Isaiah 43:7 says, "everyone who is called by My name, whom I created for My glory, whom I formed and made." God made us for His glory! Ephesians 2:10 says, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." We were created by God for good works. The work we are called to do is tied to His glory. Every life is precious and valuable...both young, old, and the unborn. God created each one to fulfill a purpose that He has for them.

It breaks my heart to hear stories of people celebrating "their right" to terminate their babies' life. Who are we to chose who can live and who can die? God has a plan for each life that is tied into His glory. We have no right to end a life for which He has a plan. Where we see an inconvenience, He sees benefit. Where we see defects, He sees a purposeful life to bring Himself glory. My cousin has down syndrome. Many today would terminate this life. Over the course of my cousins life, I have seen him bless more people then many "normal chromosome" people. The depth that he has in his love for God is amazing, his prayers are heartfelt, and the love he shows everyone is beyond comprehension. Man may see an extra chromosome, I see someone with extra love and compassion. God uses each life, each defect, each disability for His glory. We may not be able to understand why, but God uses these lives in amazing ways. Throughout the scripture there are countless examples of God using the least among us to bring about mighty things.

The final example given in church was end of life (euthanasia). Once again, we are made in the image of God and we are to be His image bearers. Who are we to end life because we deem it too difficult to continue? God uses pain and suffering in our lives, caused from living in a fallen world, to bring glory to Himself and to be a witness to the world. The world watches us constantly. What better way to show them the image of God then to hold tight to our faith as we walk through deep waters. He promised that He would be with us. Isaiah 43:1-3 says, "But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, 'Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior.'" Our difficulties, suffering, and pain can be used as powerful pictures to the world. Instead of running, what if we asked ourselves "How can I bring God the most glory through___?" We have a chance for God to be magnified in our lives and in our suffering. How can we be the best image bearer for God's glory? Would Wayne have been better off ending his life like Brittany Maynard who has the same cancer as Wayne? We would both argue no. It has been our prayer from the beginning for God to get all the glory in this, regardless of the outcome. After hearing the sermon yesterday, we are both committed to this even more. We want to be the best image bearers that we can so that God gets all the glory!!

C.S. Lewis said, "100 per cent of us die, and the percentage cannot be increased." We are all going to die one day. For some it may be today, others it may be fifty, a hundred years from now. The bottom line is we are all going to die. We have to ask ourselves what are we going to do with our lives. Are we going to live lives that bring God glory? Are we going to be reflections of Him (an image bearer) to the world around us? AW Tozer said once, "We can never know who or what we are till we know at least something of what God is." In order to be a reflection of God, we need to understand who He is and learn more about His character. How can we reflect God when we don't know who He is? The place to start is by opening God's Word and read what it teaches us about God. Study God's names, His attributes, earnestly seek God in prayer and ask Him to teach you about Himself. I still have a LONG way to go in my understanding of who God is. I could spend my entire life studying God and barely touch the surface of all He is. I was challenged yesterday to know God at a deeper level so that I can be an image bearer that fulfills my purpose in being created and bring Him glory. My challenge to all of you is the same. Let's passionately pursue God, to know Him more intimately, and to reflect Him brightly to the world around us. The world is in great need and we are to lovingly and compassionately be God's hands and His feet. Let's allow God to use us as His image bearers!!


Wayne starts his 5th chemo round on Thursday night. We are 10 days from being done with chemo!!! God has been so good to us through this whole process. Wayne traveled again for work. He is feeling so well that on Saturday we took a 6.5 mile family walk. I told the girls that they are more then ready for the 5k we are walking on Saturday. If you want to join us, we are doing the Christmas Without Cancer 5k in Evergreen Park. This organization was started by one of Wayne's radiation nurses. 

Below are some pictures from school the last few days.

Sophia working on her spelling

Micaela working on her letter of the week

For Sophia's birthday, Wayne and I purchased her a painting class. On Thursday night, Sophia and I went to the art studio. When we showed up, we discovered we were the only two people in the class for the night. Sophia had a blast. She wants to be either an artist or a baker (or an artistic baker) when she grows up. She was in heaven painting!

On Thursday, we had someone special come for a visit. Jeff Graves, who was the College Pastor at the church where Wayne and I met, came over for a visit. Jeff and his wife Jody have a very special place in our hearts and our lives. It was fun to catch up. Thank you Jeff for taking time to come see us. We all enjoyed our time with you!

Friday the girls celebrated their friend Giana's birthday. The great thing about homeschooling is the flexibility that it offers. We were able to get almost all of our work done by Thursday. Friday morning we took spelling tests, vocabulary tests, read our history, and got our math done. Whenever we have an incentive, it is amazing how quickly school work can get done. We went out to lunch and had pizza and cake. Afterward, we headed to Extreme Trampoline for some jumping fun (aka P.E.). Above is a picture of Naomi and her best friend Giana.

Joella, Olivia, and Micaela

Grace rock climbing. 

Naomi rock climbing



Impromptu science class (today)...watching two different size ants fight one another.

We are studying Egypt and are learning about preservation/decay. We dug a hole and put a stone, a piece of wood, two carrots, and two apples in the hole. We dig it up in a week and will write out our results

We also had to do a science experiment with bread. I now have 5 baggies of bread hanging up in my window! How can you tell a homeschool mom? By the number of science experiments and books lying around the house. :)

We also learned about reed boats that the Egyptians built. I told the girls they could just draw a picture of what they thought the boats looked like. My creative Grace decided to cut up a paper towel roll into strips and create her own reed boat. She sure doesn't get that creativity from me!

The last thing we needed to complete from last week was a play about Upper and Lower Egypt. We had done a quick run through last week, but the girls wanted to make costumes and do the play again.

King Menes beating Upper Egypt

For your entertainment! They spent almost 2 hours making their costumes, doing makeup, and practicing.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Catching Up and a Huge Praise

Psalm 27:7-8 "Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud;
    be gracious to me and answer me!
You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to you,
    “Your face, Lord, do I seek.”

Seeking God's face is something God is continually teaching me. I am so thankful that I worship and serve a God who hears my cries, who answers me, and who never leaves my side. God has been so good to us. Not only has He been gracious to us during Wayne's journey with cancer, but He is generous at all times. We are so blessed. God has been so good to us, both in the good and bad times. One huge praise this week is that Wayne has been feeling so good, he was able to take a few work trips. On Sunday night he traveled to New York City for a meeting on Monday. From there he flew to Orlando, FL for a meeting Tuesday morning. He arrived home last night and left again Wednesday night for another meeting on Thursday. What a blessing it is that he is not only working, but that he is well enough to travel. His crazy schedule this week makes me tired just writing it. God is so good! Thank you for the continued prayers for God to be glorified in all of this and for Wayne's complete healing. God is Jehovah Rapha, our healer. He can completely heal Wayne if that is His will. Please continue to lift us up in prayer. 

Here is an update on what the girls have been up to:

Grace kneading the Challah bread for  our Rosh Hoshana dinner. We had our celebration on Friday night (we started our holiday a week late). Next time I hope to time Rosh Hoshana with the actual Jewish holiday.

Making honey cake

Everyone working hard to shape our bread

Sunday night "girls movie night". We had pizza, candy, and watched the new Cinderella movie. Whenever Wayne travels, we try to have a fun "girls only night" (Note to self: next time do not have a movie night on Sunday night...it makes for some tired, difficult students on Monday)

Sophia was jealous that her sisters get to do science experiments in their Apologia science books, so we decided to do an experiment together. We took 4 slices of bread. One slice is taped up in our kitchen window that is plain. Another piece of bread is hanging up in the window, except it has been sprayed with thieves spray. There is one piece of plain bread in a dark cabinet and another piece sprayed with thieves in the dark cabinet. Sophia is trying to see if thieves spray keeps mold from growing on the bread. I'm interested in seeing the results myself, especially since I hope to offer a Essential Oils 101 class in the next few weeks. I'll keep you posted on her results. She has a spreadsheet tracking the results.

This week we have been studying early civilizations, Egypt, and Pyramids. We created some fun projects for science (like which structure has more strength).

Naomi measuring her "pyramid" vs her "cube"

Micaela and Joella have been working hard at school as well. This week we were learning about the sun.

Micaela and Joella practicing "writing" the letter S. 

Micaela and Joella singing a song they've been learning in class. I thought it was too cute not to share.

My favorite part is when Micaela holds up her finger to "pause" so she can sneeze. I love their laughs too when she accidentally says butterfly at first instead of dinosaur. 

I love teaching my children. I love getting to see them discover new things and learn. As hard as some days are, I'm so thankful for the opportunity to teach my kids and be with them all day long!

Psalm 96:11-12 "Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy;"

Thursday, September 17, 2015

MRI Results

Psalm 31:1-5 "In you, O Lord, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me! Incline Your ear to me; rescue me speedily! Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me! For You are my rock and my fortress; and for Your name's sake You lead me and guide me;
You take me out of the net they have hidden for me, for You are my refuge. Into your hand I commit my spirit; You have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God."

We just got back from our doctor appointment downtown. Wayne's MRI came out clear again...praise the Lord!! The doctor said there wasn't any change in his MRI again this month. It was an early morning. We were out the door with all six kids by 5:30. Thankfully we had a friend who was willing to get up a little early and take the girls for us. The girls are now resting while watching a movie on electricity for science. They were able to get most of their school work done at the Oakley's house this morning. We are so thankful for friends like the Oakley family who have stepped up to help us during this ordeal. This is what I found when I arrived:

If taking care of my kids all morning wasn't enough, she also fed us lunch. I am so blessed to have so many amazing friends in our lives. Thank you for all of your prayers!! God held us up during the whole morning. I had an amazing quiet time in the Word this morning while Wayne was in his MRI. I'll have to share later what God was teaching me and showing me this morning. Thank you again for all of your continued prayer for our family!! We appreciate all of you!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Pre-MRI Jitters

Isaiah 12:2 "Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and He has become my salvation."

If I'm completely honest, tomorrow's MRI scares me. Every time we get ready to do this, I get nervous. I know God is sovereign and I know that He has this in His hands, but sometimes it is hard to get my head knowledge to match what my heart is feeling. I guess in light of hearing so many bad stories with GBM, I'm just tainted and I keep wondering when the ball is going to drop (hopefully I used the right analogy...I'm notorious for getting sayings mixed up). 

Today I realized that deep down I was nervous. It came to my attention when I realized how I've been keeping myself extra busy the last few days. I've been doing extra school projects with the girls and I've had the cleanest house (more then one reason for this, but I'll explain that another time). I think I've been staying busy to not think about "what ifs". Again, I know all the theological facts about God and I've seen them lived out in my life, but it is so hard to rest in that. Instead of being a Martha, who is busy running around, I should be more like Mary, who sat at Jesus' feet and just listened to Him. How much more peace would I be experiencing now if I would just lean on Him? Why do we battle letting go and trusting God 100%? Maybe it's just me, I don't know. It's something I've been battling with since Wayne's diagnosis in February.  I'll have good spells where I am confident and at peace, and then other times of desperate worrying about the future.

I am currently doing a Bible study by Kay Arthur called "Lord I Want to Know You". It is on the names of God. Last week we studied God's name El Elyon, the Most High God. He is sovereign and fully in control. Once again, it was perfect timing by God to orchestrate things in my life. It was a message that resonated in my heart. I needed to hear again how God is in control. Despite the outcome of our situation, God has a plan in place for our lives and one that brings Him the most glory. The hard part is resting in that plan and trusting God regardless of the outcome. God never promised us perfect lives free from suffering. All He promised us is the knowledge that He is sovereign and that He is always by our side.

On the way home from church tonight, the girls started talking about Wayne's MRI. It is weird to see them each process everything so differently. Many times we make jokes about the cancer as a family, that may be a bad way to deal with it, I don't know, but it helps relieve some of the stress that cancer brings into your life. You can see each one processing it differently. Abigail prayed at dinner that they wouldn't find anything in Wayne's brain, Grace made jokes about it, Sophia ponders the depths of "why", and Micaela announced in the car tonight that "I want to poke my eyes out from this death conversation". Somehow the girls started talking about how they would want to die in their sleep vs being hit by a car...which came about when someone said something about how Wayne could die from cancer. Sophia piped in, "Well, I could be smashed by a car tomorrow". Yes, fun conversations to navigate around here. We do our best to be transparent with the girls and to answer their questions, but sometimes it is hard. It's hard and sad to hear conversations between your kids like these: "I hope Papa is around when I have kids", "I hope Papa is alive to walk me down the aisle", "Do you think Papa will be alive for my next birthday?". God has been so good to us throughout this whole ordeal. I know that He won't leave our side. I know He has our daughters in His hands and has a plan for their lives as well. As Isaiah said, God is my strength and my song. I will choose to rest and find peace in God tonight and not fear what tomorrow may bring. God is sovereign and I will rest in His perfect plan.


Some pictures from week 3 of school:

Science experiment about light - we tried to get this paper to catch on fire from the magnifying glass, but it didn't want to participate. I tried for 30 minutes and finally gave up. We still learned a lot from it. At one point the paper looked like it was changing colors, but I now wonder if it was my eyes after looking at the paper for 30 minutes.

Keeping the "little" ones busy while we did our work.

We found a dead cicada and decided to study it under our magnifying glass. You never want to pass up a learning opportunity.

Grace and Naomi working on English grammar and diagramming sentences

Spontaneous recess/art break while the "tablets" were baking

We made cuneiform tablets from sugar cookie dough after studying Mesopotamia/Fertile Crescent today for History.

Our tablets after they came out of the "brick kiln"

Grace decided to "doodle" while we read history. She drew this map of Africa just looking at the map on the wall. I love all the vibrant colors she used.