Thursday, 28 March 2013

an update on how a friend is going

No, NOT the Chengs. This is from bloggy buddy Jean, who writes with wisdom and faith:

an update on how we're going: So how is Ben, I hear you ask (some of you literally)? And how am I?

Well, Tuesday - two weeks ago - was a turning-point, both in what was happening inside me (more about that another day) and with Ben. I think that's why I felt ready to publish a cry of hopelessness, which waited in the wings for weeks.

At that point Ben had been sick for over a month with constant headaches (it's not the first time: last year, he missed both a term and a month of school). Some days it was a migraine, so severe that he could only lie in a darkened room; other days, a headache far worse than what you or I might call a "bad headache". He stayed home from school and bore it with silent resignation.

Not easy to watch when you're a mother.

Every night I'd lie awake and pray, over and over, "Please heal him, Lord. Please let him be better in the morning." Every morning I'd wake up and think, "Maybe this morning he'll be better" - then I'd look in his eyes and see the shadow of a headache. Every day I'd sink a little deeper into discouragement.

Until that Tuesday, when he woke with a worse migraine than usual, and I rang his paediatrician and said, in essence, "We've had enough. Do something!" And she sent us to the hospital and all my Facebook friends prayed and we found ourselves in the emergency department (that's it in the picture above). And I sat in a chair in a little room and watched a drip running into Ben's arm and enjoyed the silence (rest! peace! It's a little sad, but I have a soft spot for hospitals).

While we were there, Ben was interrogated and examined by no less than 3 doctors. We saw one of the top paediatric neurologists - something that wasn't supposed to happen, Ben's chart didn't ask for it, but someone (providentially!) stuffed up along the line - and Ben got a new diagnosis and a new medication.

So what's his diagnosis? Chronic daily headaches (you can google it) as well as migraines.

Hearing that your child has a chronic condition isn't easy. I've shed many tears of shock and grief during the last two weeks. But it's also a relief. Why? How can it be comforting to discover your son is chronically ill?

Because we now have an explanation for why Ben's headaches haven't gone away. We know what to expect. We know what to do. I don't feel so helpless. I don't wake up every morning wondering if his headache has gone away in the night (although we will keep praying that it does) only to have my hopes dashed.

We know that progress will probably be slow. We know what Ben needs: a clear structure to his days, as much school as possible, good stress management, and daily exercise. We don't wake up wondering if he should go to school: we just help him to lead as normal a life as possible.

Every morning he gets his uniform on and I pack him into the car (no more time spent second-guessing his condition and wondering if he's well enough). Every morning my husband walks our younger boys to school (no more trying to do it all by myself). Most lunchtimes I get a call from the school asking me to pick him up, and he comes home quiet and pale.

And yes, he's in pain. And yes, it's hard for him to concentrate. And yes, he usually can't last the day. But he makes it through the first four hours of school, and he loves learning, and he has good friends and amazing teachers, and the year 7 coordinator and his mentor give him constant, attentive care. I am so thankful for these things.

Our paediatrician called us "A family in crisis", and she's right. But we're also pulling together, perhaps more than we ever have. My husband takes Ben swimming. I take him for walks. We pray and talk and, even, laugh. I'm so grateful for a husband who puts his needs aside to care for us at the end of every long day.

Now that I know what to expect, I also know what I need to get through this: the support of my family, my neighbour, my friends. Rest, exercise, an emptier timetable. Plenty of Bible and prayer. And the joy of having people like you say to me, "I'm thinking of you. How can I help? How can I pray?" That means the world to me.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

“He will give grace” by Charles Spurgeon

Thanks to my currently favourite blog:

“He will give grace” by Charles Spurgeon:
‘For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly.’ – Ps 84:11
“Grace is what we need just now, and it is to be had freely. What can be freer than a gift? Today we shall receive sustaining, strengthening, sanctifying, satisfying grace. He has given daily grace until now, and as for the future, that grace is still sufficient.
If we have but little grace the fault most lie in ourselves; for the Lord is not straitened, neither is He slow to bestow it in abundance. We may ask for as much as we will and never fear a refusal. He giveth liberally and upbraideth not.
The Lord may not give gold, but He will give grace: He may not give gain, but He will give grace. He will certainly send us trial, but He will give grace in proportion thereto. We may be called to labor and to suffer, but with the call there will come all the grace required.
What an ‘end’ is that in the text — ‘and glory!’ We do not need glory yet, and we are not yet fit for it; but we shall have it in due order. After we have eaten the bread of grace, we shall drink the wine of glory.
We must go through the holy, which is grace, to the holiest of all, which is glory. These words and glory are enough to make a man dance for joy. A little while — a little while, and then glory forever!”
–Charles Spurgeon, “March 19,” in Chequebook of the Bank of Faith.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

“He is the fountain which never dries up” by John Calvin

From a favourite blog. Union with Christ is the central thought in Calvin, and also in Scripture's understanding of the cross and resurrection.

“He is the fountain which never dries up” by John Calvin:
“We should be satisfied with the benefits of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that when we are grafted into His body and made one with Him by belief of the gospel, then we may assure ourselves that He is the fountain which never dries up, nor can ever become exhausted, and that in Him we have all variety of good things, and all perfection.”
–John Calvin, Sermons on Ephesians (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1974), 355.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

St. Helen’s Thanksgiving service for Chappo

St. Helen’s Thanksgiving service for Chappo:
John ChapmanThe video from the Thanksgiving service for John Chapman, held at St. Helen’s Bishopsgate in London a week ago (1st March 2013), is now available on Vimeo.
Participants include William Taylor, Dick Lucas, Richard Bewes and Hugh Palmer.
The video runs for 51 minutes and is most edifying.

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Sunday, 3 March 2013

Restraining grace

Spurgeon speaks:

Restraining grace:
Your weekly dose of Spurgeon
The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, volume 11, sermon number 656, "Prevenient grace."
How many saints fall into sins which they have to regret even after conversion, while others are saved from leaving the path of morality to wander in the morass of lust and crime! Why, some of us were, by God’s grace, placed in positions were we could not well have been guilty of any gross acts of immorality, even if we had tried. We were so hedged about by guardian-care, so watched and tended on every side, that we should have been dashing our heads against a stone wall if we had run into any great or open sin.

Oh! what a mercy to be prevented from sinning, when God puts chains across the road, digs ditches, makes hedges, builds walls, and says to us, “No, you shall not go that way, I will not let you; you shall never have that to regret; you may desire it, but I will hedge up your way with thorns; you may wish it, but it never shall be yours.”

Beloved, I have thanked God a thousand times in my life, that before my conversion, when I had ill desires I had no opportunities; and on the other hand, that when I had opportunities I had no desires; for when desires and opportunities come together like the flint and steel, they make the spark that kindles the fire, but neither the one nor the other, though they may both be dangerous, can bring about any very great amount of evil so long as they are kept apart.

Let us, then, look back, and if this has been our experience bless the preventing grace of God.

Again, there is another form of grace I must mention, namely, restraining grace. Here, you see, I am making a distinction. There are many who did go into sin; they were not wholly prevented from it, but they could not go as far into it as they wanted to do. There is a young man here to-night—he will say how should I know—well, I do know—there is a young man here tonight who wants to commit a certain sin, but he cannot. Oh! how he wishes to go, but he cannot; he is placed in such a position of poverty that he cannot play the fine gentleman he would like.

There is another; he wants to be dancing at such-and-such a place, but thank God he is lame; there is another, who, if he had had is wish would have lost his soul, but since his blindness has come upon him there is some hope for him. Oh! how often God has thrown a man on a sick bed to make him well! He would have been such as he was even unto death if he had been well, but God has made him sick, and that sickness has restrained him from sin. It is a mercy for some men that they cannot do what they would, and though “to will is present” with them, yet even in sin, “how to perform that which they would they find not.”

Ah! my fine fellow, if you could have had your own way, you would have been at the top of the mountain by now! So you think, but no, you would have been over the precipice long before this if
God had let you climb at all, and so he has kept you in the valley because he has designs of love towards you, and because you shall not sin as others sin.

Divine grace has its hand upon the bridle of your horse. You may spur your steed, and use the lash against the man who holds you back; or perhaps it is a woman, and you may speak bitter words against that wife, that sister, or that mother, whom God has put there to hold you back; but you cannot go on, you shall not go on. Another inch forward and you will be over the precipice and lost, and therefore God has put that hand there to throw your horse back on its haunches, and make you pause, and think, and turn from the error of your ways.

What a mercy it is that when God’s people do go into sin to any extent, he speaks and says, “Hitherto shalt thou go, but no further; here shall thy proud sins be stayed!” There is, then, restraining grace.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Lemongrass-ginger sliders

Worth a go, maybe today, maybe not. Got to check the freezer!

Lemongrass-ginger sliders: The original Shan recipe is for meat balls made with ground beef or pork flavoured with minced lemongrass, ginger, and garlic. I’ve found it easier in a North American kitchen to flatten the balls and cook them as sliders. They cook slowly in a little oil, which gives them a slight crust and succulent interior. You want some fat for tenderness, which is why the recommended cuts are flank steak or pork shoulder.

Traditionally the meat is chopped by hand, using two cleavers and alternating chop-chop-chop, as it’s done by all the Tai peoples (the word for the technique in the Tai languages is
laap). Hand-chopped meat has a different texture from ground meat, and I urge you to try it. And chopping the meat yourself means that you know the quality of the meat. You can instead chill the meat and use a food processor to grind it.

The Shan traditionally use minced shavings of green
makawk wood (see note) in the meatballs. They help hold the meat together. I use a little leftover rice instead.

Marinating time: 15 minutes

Level of difficulty: easy