Sonidos Serranos

Sonidos Serranos: Sounds of the Sierras...
Reflecting some of my family's interests: God's wonderful creation (especially mountains and hills!), music, and language...

Psalm 121:1-2 (NASB)

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
From where shall my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
Who made heaven and earth.

27 October 2009

Enjoying the beauty of God's creation!

We went for a fall drive this past Sunday afternoon. The leaves might have been at their peak – especially since today's rain seems to be causing them to fall off more rapidly...

Every year, I'm awed by the beauty of God's creation!


And I'm so thankful for my family!

24 October 2009

Christmas in October!

Yes, the stores have started putting out Christmas trees and decorations – lest we forget that there are only two months till Christmas!

But the extended Steel family got a head start on October 10 this year, taking advantage of Dad and Mom's being in town.


We're thankful for a wonderful time of fellowship with family!

23 October 2009

October 23: Update on Jonatán

Jona attended school for two class periods before his regular Friday appointment at 10:30 this morning. After the routine tests (blood work, kidney check, etc.) he was admitted to the hospital for the fifth round of chemo which is scheduled to start this evening. This is the 4-hour type that can cause sores in the mouth and entire digestive tract. With the help of IV administered fluids, it's supposed to "wash out" of his system in three days. Please pray that it will do so – and not take longer, as it has twice previously for him.

Jona seems to be encouraged, catching up slowly but surely on school work and trying to keep up with new material presented in class. He's been going to school every day – and has also been out jogging in the evenings! We're also praising the Lord that Jona's blood levels have been acceptable throughout these chemo treatments and that he has not yet needed a transfusion.

If all continues to go as planned, Jona is scheduled next week to have the last chemo before surgery. The doctors will then run a battery of tests to check the status of the tumor in order to know just what needs to be done and how extensive the surgery will need to be. They're hoping that the chemo will kill 90% of the cancer cells and greatly shrink the tumor before surgery. We know that all things are possible with God, and we are specifically asking Him for this! Please pray for wisdom for the doctors as they prepare for the surgery, and pray for the timing of the surgery.

Jona's missionary grandpa from Uruguay is scheduled to fly up on November 9, arriving in Jacksonville to meet little Charlie, the latest grandson, on November 10 – and then coming to Greenville the week of the surgery with Grandma Pat who is already in Florida with Charlie and his family. Please pray for safety for them as they travel. Pray also for extended family in Uruguay who would like to be here at this time but cannot...

Again, thank-you for praying! We are continually in need of our Savior's grace!

21 October 2009

A preview of the (fast-approaching) teen years?!

That's what I thought as I contemplated the collage on the fridge...

A classmate's birthday party invitation, a dental appointment,
a full church calendar, a fieldtrip...

But she's only three and a half years old!

It's a good reminder to "make the most of the opportunity" each day!

And as I meditated on that verse, I took note of its context:

Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving;
Praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ...
That I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak.
Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity.
Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.

Oh, how we need Christ's grace to pray as we ought, to speak His truth to ourselves and others, to conduct ourselves wisely, to speak with grace – to obey Him!

How thankful I am for His promises:

He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;
And these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?
He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?

17 October 2009

Indiana Memories


In spite of the sadness (for us) of Gramma's home-going,
we're thankful for opportunities to spend time
with extended family and family friends...


PaPa and Grandma (and the grandkids!) had a good time
at Lemon Lake, the park they frequented with their kids
decades ago...


We spent some time strolling around the beloved plot of land...
A wonderful piece of God's creation...
So many memories there...

16 October 2009

October 15: Update on Jonatán

The Lord has graciously been answering the prayers of His own!

If you’ve been reading updates on Jona’s situation, you know that he had a very rough day about a week and a half ago. His heart rate slowed to only 40 beats per minute, and he was passing blood. We are amazed at how well he looks now – in comparison to how low he was just two Mondays ago…

When he went for his check-up a week ago on Friday, his blood test results were good; the levels were where they need to be! We're so thankful he hasn't needed a transfusion yet; this is a great answer to prayer! He does still have some "blistering" (for lack of a better word) in his digestive tract but is definitely able to eat better than he was a week or so ago, so he's slowly gaining back some strength. We are humbled by the Lord's goodness in answering prayer above and beyond our expectations!

Although Jona is still weak, he’s been going to school every day (taking naps as needed) and slowly but surely catching up with his work load. He’s enjoying being back in school. In fact, he told his English teacher earlier this week that he was so tired he would need to sleep through her class. After getting the reaction he was looking for, he told her he was kidding! He certainly hasn't lost his sense of humor – and his teacher appreciated the little joke! (She obviously has a wonderful sense of humor herself!)

Please continue to pray. Jona goes back to the hospital for the next chemo in about a week – most likely on Friday, October 23. He will then go back a week later for one more chemo and then have another week or so “off” before the surgery to remove the tumor, which will be scheduled sometime in November.

I would like to say on behalf of the family that we appreciate every expression of loving concern and, most of all, the great encouragement that so many – all over the world – are praying for Jonatán. So many have expressed their love in so many ways! We have been overwhelmed by your demonstration of genuine Christian love.

Thank-you!

13 October 2009

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09 October 2009

October 8: Update on Jonatán

Bless the LORD, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s...
(Psalm 103:1-5)

At church last night, our pastor encouraged us to begin memorizing Psalm 103 for our annual Thanksgiving Praise Service, coming up in seven weeks. He also challenged us to "forget not all His benefits" by specifically listing at least one blessing per day. We have so much to thank God for! The Lord brought the first five verses of Psalm 103 to mind as I drove home from visiting Jona and his family tonight...

The Jona I found completing a Physical Science assignment, intent on working hard to catch up on school work he has missed due to chemo and its complications, was an incredible blessing to me. God is specifically answering our prayers! Although Jona is still weak, he went to school all day today. He did take a nap while there and was (understandably!) quite tired this evening, but he is also encouraged. He even has some of the usual sparkle back in his eyes! Praise the Lord!

Thank-you for praying specifically. Please continue! Jona plans to go back to school tomorrow before his mid-morning appointment for blood tests. Please pray that his blood components will be at the desired levels so that he will not need a transfusion and so that he can keep attending classes. He loves school!

(See our specific prayer list here.)

07 October 2009

October 7: Update on Jonatán

Praise the Lord! Jonatán came home from the hospital yesterday. He is still quite weak but very happy to be home.

This past chemo treatment was the hardest one yet. Prior to starting the chemo, Jona's lung partially collapsed due to the laparoscopy to remove the second spot; he recovered enough for the doctors to go ahead with the chemo on Saturday evening. Then, besides experiencing the nausea and pain usually caused by the chemo medicines, on Monday his heart rate dropped to only 40 beats per minute! Thankfully, he was (comparatively) much improved when we saw him at his home last night.

Please continue to pray that Christ would be glorified during this difficult time. We know that HE is always good and completely in control of every situation. Esteban has had many opportunities to minister God's truths to several other families whose children have cancer as well as to some of the hospital staff who have serious questions about the character of a God who would allow such suffering...

Even those of us who are trusting HIM for salvation and are believing His Word find it difficult to focus on His truths in moments of pain. Yes, we are in pain. (We're normal, too!) It's very hard to see our Jona so sick. How often we forget that we are all pilgrims in this life – like Abraham was – "looking for the City which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God."

The Girl I Used to Be

The following poem brought tears to my eyes as I read it on another blog... I'm so thankful for the high calling of motherhood!



She came tonight as I sat alone,
 the girl I used to be…
And she gazed at me with her earnest eye

 and questioned reproachfully:
Have you forgotten the many plans

 and hopes that I had for you?
The career, the splendid fame,

 and all the wonderful things to do?
Where is the mansion of stately height

 with all of its gardens rare?
The silken robes that I dreamed for you

 and the jewels in your hair?

And as she spoke, I was very sad

 for I wanted her pleased with me...
This slender girl from the shadowy past,
 the girl that I used to be.
So gently rising, I took her hand
 and guided her up the stair
Where peacefully sleeping my babies lay,

 innocent, sweet, and fair.

And I told her that these are my only gems

 and precious they are to me;
That silken robe is my motherhood

 of costly simplicity.
And my mansion of stately height is love,

 and the only career I know
Is serving each day in these sheltered walls

 for the dear ones who come and go.

And as I spoke to my shadowy guest,

 she smiled through her tears at me.
And I saw that the woman that I am now,

 pleased the girl I used to be.

~ Author Unknown

01 October 2009

October 1: Update on Jonatán

Jona is back at the hospital for the laparoscopy procedure to remove the spot on the left lung. Pending how smoothly that goes (how much pain, etc. the surgery causes), he's scheduled to start the fourth round of chemo (72 hours worth) tomorrow. Lord willing, he'll go home on Monday.

Please remember the following requests Jona has shared:
  • Jona’s testimony to touch the many people he comes in contact with at the hospital and at school so that Christ will get all the GLORY.
  • Jona’s need for strength.
  • Jona’s need to keep well. (There’s a lot of flu going around here in Greenville!)
  • Christ’s guiding of the surgeon’s hands in a few weeks as they take out the tumor and part of the bone.
  • Jona's chemo treatment this week as it is a long and hard one.
  • Jona’s family's strength.

Thank-you for praying!

The Scriptural text of Sometimes a Light Surprises, a hymn by William Cowper, has been a blessing to me this week. The Lord is at work in the lives of His children; may He find us faithful!