This blog was created to keep all of our family and friends informed of what is going on in our lives as our dear husband, father and Opa battles ALS. May God receive the full glory as we walk on this path He has chosen for our family. "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." 2 Corinthians 12:9
A friend and former colleague of Jack's sent us this meditation by Jerry Bridges. It is beautiful and so "right on". Please pray for us that we may continue to receive this gift of contentment in the difficult way that God has set before us. God's grace has been and is and will always be sufficient for us.
Today's Scripture: 2 Corinthians 12:9 "My grace is
sufficient for you." Read it online at the
Bible Gateway: (NIV) (NASB) (KJV) (The Message)
grace is not given to make us feel better but to glorify him. Modern society's
subtle, underlying agenda is good feelings. We want the pain to go away. We want
to feel better in difficult situations. But God wants us to glorify him in those
circumstances. Good feelings may or may not come, but that's not the issue. The
issue is whether we honor God by the way we respond to our circumstances. God's
grace—the enabling power of the Holy Spirit—is given to help us respond in such
grace is sufficient. The Greek verb for is sufficient in 2 Corinthians 12:9 is
translated "will be content" in 1 Timothy 6:8: "If we have food and clothing,
with these we will be content" (NIV). This helps us understand what sufficient
means. Food and clothing refer to life's necessities, not luxuries. If we have
the necessities, we're to be content, realizing they're sufficient.
it is with God's grace in the spiritual realm. God always gives us what we need,
perhaps sometimes more, but never less. The spiritual equivalent of food and
clothing is simply the strength to endure in a way that honors God. Receiving
that strength, we're to be content. We would like the "luxury" of having our
particular thorn removed, but God often says, "Be content with the strength to
endure that thorn." We can be confident he always gives that.
Blanchard said, "so he [God] supplies perfectly measured grace to meet the needs
of the godly. For daily needs there is daily grace; for sudden needs, sudden
grace; for overwhelming need, overwhelming grace. God's grace is given
wonderfully, but not wastefully; freely but not foolishly; bountifully but not
blindly." - Jerry Bridges
This morning as our family read from the online devotional Our Daily Bread (www.odb.org) we came upon a piece that reminded us of Dad and we wanted to share it with you. The first reason we loved it, is because of the text it was based on - 2 Corinithians 12, which has become "our" text. Whenever we hear it read or spoken about it seems to be a special encouragement for our family on this journey. The second reason it spoke to us is because Dad has a biology degree and loved teaching science. He used to write meditations for his class (some are published in the Messenger) on aspects of creation and how they show how great our God is! Here is another lesson from a small part of creation that I know he appreciates.
Like many towns, Enterprise, Alabama, has a prominent monument. But the monument in Enterprise is unlike any other. The statue doesn’t recognize a leading citizen; it celebrates the work of a beetle. In the early 1900s, this boll weevil made its way from Mexico to the southern US. Within a few years it had destroyed entire crops of cotton, the primary source of revenue. In desperation, farmers started growing another crop—peanuts. Realizing they had been dependent on one crop for too long, they credited the beetle with forcing them to diversify, which led to increased prosperity.
The boll weevil is like things that come into our lives and destroy what we have worked hard to accomplish. Devastation results—sometimes financial, emotional, or physical—and it is frightening. We witness the end of life as we know it. But as the people of Enterprise learned, the loss of what is old is an opportunity to discover something new. God may use hardship to get us to give up a bad habit or learn a new virtue. He used a thorn in Paul’s flesh to teach him about grace (2 Cor. 12:7-9).
Instead of striving to preserve old habits that are no longer effective, we can view every hardship as an opportunity for God to cultivate a new virtue in us.
O much-tried saint, with fainting heart, The thorn with its abiding pain, With all its wearing, ceaseless ache, Can be the means of priceless gain. —Anon.
God often uses bitter experiences to make us better.
In Paul’s letter of 2 Corinthians, he repeatedly bares his soul. In the early portions of the letter, he is forced to defend his role as an apostle, while later he shares the heartaches of all he suffered for Christ. Paul concludes by describing how a painful condition (an undefined “thorn”) is being used as God’s instrument to teach him lessons about grace (12:7-10). This is indeed a very transparent and pain-filled epistle.
Hello! Its Joni here again with another picture post. Other than one trip via taxi to the emergency room when his G tube was accidentally pulled out, Dad has not left the house since last Christmas. He is most comfortable at home in his recliner, which can be adjusted to suit him. There was one trip that Dad was willing to be uncomfortable for an hour or two for though - a visit to the newly completed Hamilton Free Reformed Church.
Dad was part of the consistory when they originally decided to build a new church, and he was part of the initial planning and vision of the church on a consistory level. He became sick and deteriorated very quickly so that he was not able to see any part of the building process except via the blog ( http://hamiltonfrc.wordpress.com/) . This trip would be a chance to see the vision come to life!
Friday night (Sept. 12) Hamilton had their opening service in the beautiful new church. Mom, Willem and I, as well as my grandparents, and several aunts and uncles, were able to join hundreds of people in celebrating this special event. The singing was incredible! We experienced a little taste of heaven as the beautiful voices and powerful organ filled the room with praise. The church has that special combination of being new and well suited to modern life (climate control, handicap access, sound system etc.) and yet it creates the feeling of a sacred old cathedral, like one you might encounter in Europe. Warm, rich woods and vibrantly coloured rugs complete the effect.
Saturday morning, friends of my parents met us at the church for a private tour. At first they were just going to meet my Mom and Dad there but my grandparents said they wanted to come along as well to see their son see the church for the first time. My Aunts and Uncle were down and they took my grandparents, and Willem and I , along with our children, also wanted to be at this special event.
Since my parents almost never used their van any more, they sold it (as blogged about earlier) and called a wheelchair accessible taxi for the trip.
Dad received a very warm welcome to the new church :)
These two pictures are my favourite! I love Dad's smile, and I love to see his sisters loving him!
We toured the whole church together. Here is a picture in the consistory room.
Dad's first glance of the sanctuary, coming in from the consistory room
Walking down the centre isle.
I haven't played piano in a very long time, but it was fun to hear the sound from this baby grand. We were able to sing to a few favourite Psalters.
Uncle Henk led our family in a special time of worship. He had a short meditation prepared which he delivered from the pulpit. We were able to open up the Bibles and read the Word together, sing and pray as a family. It was such a special time. We sang Psalter 187 (my Dad's favourite) and Psalter 420:5 which we like to claim as the "Westerinkg Psalter". My Opa's family used to sing it together at the end of every family gathering, and we have often followed in this tradition.
Oma and Opa Westerink -(my Dads parents) they love their church so much.
Growing up, I looked at this carved pulpit front for years and years. It was so nice to see a piece of the old church in the new.
The Scripture we read together as a family.
We toured the parking lot and got a good look of the church from a farther vantage point.
Joanne shared a special passage from a devotional book that her daughter Madison thought Uncle Jack would appreciate.
The church's cornerstone, with its name inscribed in the stone.
Waiting for the taxi ride home
Good bye kisses.
God has been faithful to the Hamilton congregation through many years. This is their second building to call their church home. God has also been faithful to our family. It was a privilege to stand with four generations of a family that has been blessed by the ministry of the Hamilton congregation and rejoice with them at the opening of this new building.
Psalter 213:3 Let children thus learn from history's light To hope in our God and walk in His sight
Here is the meditation that Uncle Henk read to us.
Meditation for Jack*
Living in the Reality of Christ –
Imperial Christ is our Confidence
Incarnate Christ is our Comfort
Indwelling Christ is our Hope
is King - Lord over all – history – circumstances – He has the right to be King.
vs. 15 the Image of God - first born not meaning that He was born but that He
is the preeminent one – the First in importance – He is the image of the
invisible God -not a picture of
something like God but the very essence of God Himself – He is God – He has the
right to rule as Creator vs. 16. All things are created by and for Him. Nothing
is outside of His Sovereign control. He has the right to rule as Mediator vs
18-20. He has purchased the right to be Sovereign through His blood and God the
Father has sealed the approval with Christ’s resurrection. He is the Lord Jesus
Christ – the anointed One. Christ is
not His last name – it is the declaration that He is Who He says He, is the
anointed King of Glory – the Messiah! 2.Christ
is our Comfort – vs 20-22 - Jesus came on a mission – Psalm 40: 7 & 8. He
is God incarnate in our flesh. When God intends to do something it is always
accomplished! He came to save. He saves! One of Christ’s missions is to make
His redeemed like Himself vs. 22 – this too will be accomplished! 3.The
indwelling Christ is our Hope – verse 27 – the anointed One – Prophet, Priest,
and King, is our possession – Christ in you!Can you understand that?Me
neither. He was welcomed into our soul when we repented. This hope is the
expected end of our faith.The best is
yet to be for all who are in Christ Jesus but, because He indwells us, it is
not so bad now regardless of our circumstances.He is in us by His Spirit.
We, you, may have confidence, comfort, and
hope because our Lord Jesus Christ is Sovereign; He is Saviour; He indwells us.
*notes taken from the September 10, 2014
chapel service at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary
given by Dr. Michael Barrett, academic dean
Hi its Joni writing here today. Its been a while since there has been a post so we thought we would update those of you who continue to hold us in your thoughts and prayers.
Many people ask us if our Mom gets a chance to rest and get away. She has help 5 or 6 nights a week so she can sleep, and twice a week she gets away for 4 hours to run errands and attend events. This weekend she is gone up north for 3 three days with Gerrit, Sarah and the kids. Sarah and I are taking care of things at home while she is gone. We are hoping she has a wonderful weekend even though its cool, and that she can be refreshed and relaxed for a few days. She works so hard and so faithfully taking care of Dad. The next two weeks will mark 2 milestones for the family. On August 20th, Mom and Dad share their 38th wedding anniversary, and on August 28th Mom will celebrate her 60th birthday!
As I look around the house I see so much evidence of the continued love and support of my parents' friends, family and church community. There is a casserole on the stove from a niece who faitfhullly brings meals and comes weekly to do physio exercises on Dad.
There is a book and a printed email on a table that a retired Pastor and his wife dropped off to encourage my parents. Every week several people drop by for a coffee and a chat. Since Dad can not talk any more, the house can be very quiet and Mom really enjoys these visits.
There is a beautiful card propped up on the dining table with a sweet reminder that they are not alone on this journey...
I found Mom's notes of what her regular visitors take in their coffee so she doesnt have to ask every time how they take it :)
Some leftover pulled pork and buns from a pig roast that Mom couldn't attend. She was not forgotten though...
Delicious muffins taken out of the freezer from a friend who prepares healthy, incredibly delicious meals regularly for Mom.
McDonalds coffee cards, from all the coffees a brother-in-law and sister drop off!
Some new plants to brighten up an area, that faithful friends maintain every week when they come for a visit.
The ramp which is was donated and used every day to take the wheelchair out to the back yard for some fresh air.
The shower installed by a loving team, is used every day and so convienient.
The cleaning tools that Karen from "A Breath of Fresh Air" uses every week to help take care of Dads' teeth in the comfort of his own home.
A comfy sheep skin, given by someone who also had a loved one with ALS and found this helpful.
The bird feeder, hung and maintained by my uncle... provides something to look at; life on display right by Dads chair. The grandkids love it too! The middle one often has gold finches on it.
An orchid, re-blooming months after its initial bloom. There are usually flowers or plants given as gifts brightening the living room.
This is how we communicate with Dad now that he can no longer use his head controlled computer. We point to the row (yellow) first , he blinks if the letter is in that row, then we go across the blue and he blinks when he wants to select that letter. We spell out each word letter by letter - it works, but its slow and frustrating. Conversations with Dad are now usually 1-3 words long. This is the hardest part of the disease without question.
This is the feeding system used for Dad. He gets 2 cans of meal replacement in the clear bag, followed by a bag of water, twice a day. Its takes 1-2 hours to complete a feed. The food goes directly into a port in his stomach, as well as his meds which can be injected with a large plastic syringe into that port.
As Ed Dobson (a pastor with ALS in Grand Rapids Michigan) says.... each bird we see reminds us that if God cares for the sparrows, He also will care for us...
Art from a grandaughter
A very large box of cards received since Dad got sick...
I think Mom said there are over 700 cards received already! What an encouragement! Thank you all for your continued love and support, both tangibly (with meals and yard work, coffee visits and cards) and for your prayers. The journey can often feel so overwhelming, but when we take it one day at a time, and we take stock of all the evidence of love and continued support that surround our family, we know that God is holding us all in His hand, and He will continue to hold us through to the end.