August 31, 2011

Shelter in Christ Jesus

 In the July/August edition of The Messenger, Dr. G.M. Bilkes has a meditation entitled All My Journey Through. In this article he explains a very interesting thought with respect to the pillar of cloud and fire that led the Israelites as they journeyed through the wilderness for 40 years. “The impression you get from reading all the passages about it is that the higher the cloud got, the more the cloud expanded and dispersed, making a canopy or umbrella-like shape over the people to give them shade from the blazing wilderness sun (see Psalm 105:39).” (Bilkes, p.3)

What amazing care God provided to lead and shelter the Israelites. God is still the same today. He leads, and guides by His Word. And in that Word we can find a shelter in Christ, Who bore the wrath of God for His people. How blessed to take shelter under the shadow of His wings.
A verse in Psalm 63 has been a great comfort to me: “Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice” (Psalm 63:7) Just like the pillar of cloud and fire was an umbrella for Israel, so we too can find shelter, peace, and contentment in Christ Jesus.

August 30, 2011

Here is a link to the blog site of Chris Vandoodewaard. He suffered from ALS and passed away earlier this year. Chris was a Christian from St. Thomas, an elder in his church and a friend of our family. The blog is full of tips and helpful information for those who suffer from ALS. His wife Mary has been very helpful to us, and gave us permission to post this link.

August 26, 2011

I opened the blinds this morning and commented to Jack that we hadn't spent much time sitting in our little back yard this summer. "Next year we'll probably spend more time there since we won't be going to the trailer". He said, "you will be going there but I wont". I knew what he meant and said, "are you planning on going to a better resort?" He said, "yes, an "all-inclusive!" He always makes me smile. I said " I guess you'll find out the true meaning of "all-inclusive" there".

Today was his last day going to school and it was the end of an era for him as he slowly took down the pictures and diplomas from off the walls, removed his name from off his mailbox and unscrewed the nameplate from off his office door.(he had to ask Dick to help him with that).  I asked him if it was difficult but he said no, he was fine with it. He explains that it's like the tent strings are being cut one by one, God is releasing him slowly from all earthly ties and "that's ok".

After work we had a good visit with two deacons from the church and then we went to Sam and Cara's for a delicious supper and good fellowship. Sam,Cara and Leah sang a song for us, accompanied by Leah on the guitar. They heard this song at the Carey conference this week and wanted to share it with us. It was very touching and the song echoes Jack's desire exactly. We thought we'd share a version of it here. (You may want to pause the music player at the bottom of the blog). 

UpWords with Max Lucado (Week of August 19-25, 2011)

The following devotional was found here on UpWords with Max Lucado. 

Posted for the week of August 19-25, 2011.

Problems Have a Purpose

Trust me in your times of trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory. Psalm 50:15 NLT

God will use whatever he wants to display his glory. Heavens and stars. History and nations. People and problems. My dying dad in West Texas.

The last three years of his life were scarred by ALS. The disease took him from a healthy mechanic to a bedbound paralytic. He lost his voice and his muscles, but he never lost his faith. Visitors noticed. Not so much in what he said but more in what he didn’t say. Never outwardly angry or bitter, Jack Lucado suffered stately.

His faith led one man to seek a like faith. After the funeral this man sought me out and told me. Because of my dad’s example, he became a Jesus follower.

Did God orchestrate my father’s illness for that very reason? Knowing the value he places on one soul, I wouldn’t be surprised. And imagining the splendor of heaven, I know my father’s not complaining.

A season of suffering is a small assignment when compared to the reward.

Rather than begrudge your problem, explore it. Ponder it. And most of all, use it. Use it to the glory of God. . . .
Your pain has a purpose. Your problems, struggles, heartaches, and hassles cooperate toward one end—the glory of God.

—from It’s Not About Me

Pigeon Lake August 2011 - Photo Credit: Nell deVries (Lena's Sister)

August 25, 2011

Last Saturday we celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary. We woke up that morning at our trailer and my first thought was, "Is this our last wedding anniversary?" We enjoyed a peaceful breakfast together and packed up and headed home. On the way home we listened to the latest Hosanna/Mattaniah cd, "With a Joyful Song", which just came out. It is very well done and I think, the best cd they've made yet; nice variety and well worth purchasing! We had the sunroof open and the volume cranked, going down the 401 singing along with the choir, the beautiful words of Psalm 42, "As the hart about to falter, in its trembling agony..." and the words sank deeply into our hearts as we sang, "o my soul, why art thou grieving....Hope in God....Let Him still thy refuge be... He has ever turned my sorrow into gladness on the morrow. " The tears were streaming down our faces as those familiar words held so much more meaning for us now.
We made it home on time to go to the pig roast put on by our church family. We enjoyed fellowship with many members of the church but did not eat because our children were putting on a dinner for us. We went to our daughter's house at 7:00 and ate a delicious dinner of chicken and ribs, twice baked potatoes, salads, wine and yummy creme brulee for dessert,(made from scratch by our multi-talented son, Gerrit:) It was so wonderful to enjoy a peaceful adult only dinner with our children and their spouses. We laughed and took some pictures and made a wonderful memory together.
I did not sleep well Sunday night, probably because I knew I had to go back to work the next day, wondering how that would go after being off for 8 weeks and worrying about leaving Jack alone after being together 24/7. So far it's going well. Jack is spending this week at school with the vice principals preparing for the new school year. Tuesday he was invited to go salmon fishing on a chartered boat with a group of guys and had a great time, enjoying the weather, the fellowship, the food, etc. It would have been even more fun if he would have actually caught a fish! :)
Today we had an appointment at Medigas to pick up his bipap machine. His first piece of equipment. There will be many more. We'll see how his night goes attached to that thing.
We are very thankful that, except for some cramping at night, he does not have any pain.
Jack's walking is getting worse and he's starting to use the walker around the house. He's been holding off using it as long as possible, putting off the inevitable day when he has to be seen in public for the first time with it. It's humiliating and embarassing to be dependant on it but yet when he does use it there's an element of freedom attached with it because he regains his balance and the fear of falling is eliminated.
The bathroom renovation is progressing nicely. Jack was worried about deforming the house and making it difficult for resale, but actually it's turning out much nicer than the bathroom we had before!. The porch lift was easily installed in the garage and is a great hit with the grandchildren and the great-grandparents. The grandchildren take turns with the controls on opa's electric lazyboy, tipping it forward all the way until they tumble out onto the floor. Opa always has a way of making everything fun for them and that is why they love him so much.

August 24, 2011

ALS Article in the News August 21, 2011

On August 21, 2011 the journal Nature published a study on recent ALS research and many news sources have published the findings. 

The ALS Society of Canada ( has an overview of the article. You can find the full article if you click on the link below.

August 20, 2011

35 Years Together

Happy 35th wedding anniversary!!  Joshua 24:15 "As for me and my house we will serve the Lord".

August 17, 2011

Greetings dear friends and family,

I am writing to you from our trailer on Pigeon Lake near Peterborough, Ontario. It is a beautiful day here and we are enjoying a few quiet days together. This is week 8 of Lena’s vacation from work. She took four weeks of paid vacation time and four weeks of unpaid leave of absence. We have enjoyed many one on one personal visits with friends and family at our home, and here at the trailer.

Jack with his parents, brother Doug and sisters Margaret and Joanne.

The time sure has gone fast. Lena will be going back to work on August 22nd. We spent 8 weeks together, 24-7, and it will be a big change for us again when she goes back.

In June, we decided to wait until the end of the summer before making any major decisions and changes in our lives. I think that this was good because it gave us time to think things through, and we did not want to run ahead of God. In the mean time, the ALS has continued to progress quite rapidly, and I can notice an almost daily regression. The time has now come to make these decisions and we thought we would bring you up to date on what we have done.

Last week we prepaid the costs and made all of the arrangements at the cemetery where we have our grave plots, and the funeral home. All that is left to do is write the obit for the Hamilton Spectator. It may sound strange to you, but it was good for me to be able to walk into these places, make the choices, and sign my own name. It is something I really wanted to do this summer.

Last week I also met with the elders and minister of our church. I retired from active duty as an elder. This past Sunday, our minister Pastor Procee addressed me personally, my wife, children and grandchildren at the end of the service. It was a very emotional event for me and I really appreciated the way in which our Pastor spoke. He truly has been a kind, caring, loving Pastor and friend. I have served in the consistory for 21 years, and always considered it a great privilege and honour to be part of the work. However, I must confess with scripture, that at best, I have been an unprofitable servant. My official work needs the cleansing blood of Christ, and there is nothing there to build on. This chapter in my life has come to a close.

This week I met with the executive of the school Board where I have worked for 33 years (20 years as Principal). Rehoboth has a very gifted, dedicated, experienced and supportive school Board and Education Committee. I needed to make a decision concerning my future involvement with the school, and this decision will be made known to the teaching staff and membership soon.

Concerning the home that we have moved into 3 months ago, before we knew that I had ALS, we have decided to stay put and make the minimum modifications necessary for me to be able to function. As you know from previous emails, the Lord has wonderfully provided, through the generosity of a Christian family in Cambridge, a substantial amount of very expensive equipment (two wheelchairs, powered lazyboy chair, commode, special pillow, seatlifter, etc.).

This past Monday night Harry DeHaan, from Double H Construction, and our son Gerrit, came over to discuss the needed renovations to our bathroom. The next morning, yesterday, the work crew came to the door first thing in the morning, laid the drop sheets and began the work – deconstruction before the reconstruction. Plumbers showed up in the afternoon and roughed in the plumbing for the new fixtures. Wow! Things sure do happen quickly, for which we are grateful.

Last night we decided to go to our grandchildren’s soccer game. I didn’t really feel up to going to the game, but we went anyway and found out later why we had to be there. I introduced myself to a woman there and got to talking and it ends up that she bought a new house which has a chair lift in it and they plan on tearing the house down anyway so she said we were more than welcome to have it!  We had been talking about purchasing one from Kijiji, but again, God overwhelms us with His providential goodness and mercy.

On September 10th, we hope to attend the wedding of our niece in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Quite a few relatives from the Netherlands plan to be there as well. We look forward to meeting them. It is difficult for us to plan much further into the future than that. God has been so good and merciful to us.

We have had our down times here and there, but mostly we are at peace with God’s way in our life. Sometimes it can briefly seem surreal, like it is happening to someone else, but then I take a few steps and reality quickly sets in again. So many are praying for us, for which we are grateful, and we receive strength and encouragement from them.

Pastor Schoeman, from St. George FRC, had a sermon last Sunday on the apostle Paul’s thorn in the flesh, the desire to be rid of it, and the Lord’s gracious answer to him:

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”  (II Corinthians 12:9)

That has been our experience and our prayer as well. Our desire is that God would truly be glorified in all things.

Jack and Lena

August 15, 2011

August 2011, on the lake, fishing with his best friend, his wife. 


August 9, 2011

Quick update....from Lena.

We have been talking about the upcoming wedding of Amanda and thinking that Jack might not be able to walk by then and that a collapsible wheelchair might be handy.

This morning Barb called us and said that she wanted to bring that commode that she had promised us and that she also had a collapsible wheelchair, were we interested in that? She's delivering it tomorrow morning with her son-in-law.

We went to get the mail this afternoon and we got a card from Mary v/d with a beautiful letter in it. She also said that she had a voice amplifier that we could have. Her husband used it when his voice was very weak and people had trouble hearing him. Jack is starting to feel that his voice is getting weaker.

God is so good to us, He's taking care of all our needs. We called Mary and had a very nice talk with her and asked her questions and got helpful tips from her. We remembered her in prayer also as she told us that she's really missing her husband now even more.

Jack went for a Full breathing test today at the sleep cinic. That took about 45 minutes and after that we met with the doctor for his sleep clinic results. He printed off a copy of one portion of the test and went over it with us. He said, "your sleep is trash, just completely trash!!". (That made me feel better because it was me that pushed for him to have this test) So he wants him to have a bipap sleep test this saturday night and they booked him for a followup in get those results. ALS patients will eventually end up on bipap machines anyway so instead of doing a cpap he's thinking to just go straight to a bipap. They cost about 3500.00 but it's covered. This doctor is a very kind Jewish man and we had a nice talk with him also about the artwork & texts on his wall.

After that test we went to the cemetery to pay for Jack's vault, the opening and closing of the grave and the plaque and we made an appointment to see a funeral director Wed to arrange and pay for the funeral. Jack wants to have everything arranged ahead of time so that when the time comes, I won't have anything to plan or think about.

He's such a wonderful husband, he's so good to me and I love him so much. I can't bear the thought of losing him! They gave us a list of inscriptions that we could chose from, to have put on our gravestone and we chose "all things work together for good to them that love God" Rom.8:28. I'll just have to continue holding on to that promise.