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.

30 December 2009

Christmas Program!

There's been a lot of excitement this month! Sandwiched between the Pottery Outings was the K-3 Christmas Program.

This year's program was longer than last year's, and Elizabeth did sing out a good bit more... Perhaps the most memorable moment for me was the huge smile she flashed at her Daddy and me when she first spotted us in the audience. She then kept looking our way throughout the program, smiling widely every time she did so!

Pottery Outings!

The Annual Pottery Outing is another "sort of" family tradition – for Steel Ladies only! We varied things slightly this year...

A friend and I checked out the more northern location, hosting its Open House the week before our usual place did. We got our complimentary mugs, of course – and, as a bonus, we got to see snow!

Elizabeth was very excited!

The Steel Ladies ended up traveling in two groups this year. Here are the memories, chronicled in photos, for our group...

Fun times!

Christmas Lights!

The Lighting Ceremony has been a sort of family tradition for years. We enjoyed it once again on the evening of December 4.

The cousins enjoyed the experience, too!

As you can see, I also enjoyed playing with Picasa
– and learning some new tricks!

Pretty cool, eh?!

December 30: Update on Jonatán

A long overdue but quick update!

Jona left the hospital on Monday, December 21, having gone in for the three-day chemo on Friday, December 18. He went back for routine blood work this past Monday, December 28. All levels were good, and he did not need a transfusion. We are praising the Lord that so far Jona has bounced back fairly quickly from each chemo treatment and has not yet needed a blood transfusion!

He is now enjoying two weeks off before the next chemo, which is scheduled to take place in January.

Please continue to pray. We continue to look to the Lord, the Great Physician – and we rest on HIM!

18 December 2009

December 18: Update on Jonatán

Quick update!

We are praising the Lord! Jona was able to take final exams this week and, as far as we know, successfully finished first semester – with the one exception of some outstanding reading and/or projects for English class.

This morning he goes to see the doctors to have the routine blood test as well as the preliminary battery of tests for the next round of chemo, which will probably start this evening. This is the same 3-day chemo that he had previous to the surgery, so we are thankful to not be navigating unknown territory – yet!

Please pray for wisdom for Esteban and Esther and the doctors as they discuss the two suggested courses of post-surgery treatment. We are continuing to trust the Lord, and we know that whatever the computer might "randomize" is ultimately controlled by the Sovereign of the universe. By faith in Christ's completed work on Calvary, HE is our loving Heavenly Father! We rest on Him...

Thank-you for praying with us!

16 December 2009

first self-portrait

Two evenings ago, a little voice at my elbow, said:

"Dis is uh pitcher of me on duh gwass."

You have to look closely to see the light blue eyes!

It was, as far as we know, her very first attempt at self-portraiture. The only precursor I'm aware of was her drawing of a bear when imitating her second-cousin Hannah, during our visit to Indiana in September. (She tends very much toward perfectionism!)

Pleased with my admiration of her work, she then proceeded to enhance the self-portrait:

The finished product has been dated and is now tucked safely in my Bible, to serve as a reminder to pray, giving thanks for the little everyday blessings, and cherish the fleeting moments of toddlerhood...

10 December 2009

December 10: Update on Jonatán

We have been thinking much about King Asa of Judah, who most of his life exemplified what it means to “seek the Lord” – and only the Lord. Sadly, at the end of his life, he failed in this very area:
In the thirty-ninth year of his reign, Asa became diseased in his feet, and his malady was severe; yet in his disease he did not seek the LORD, but the physicians.
To whom does our heart first run in a crisis? By God's grace, we desire to follow Asa's earlier example of trusting in the LORD: he and his footsoldiers were outnumbered almost two to one. Judah had 580,000 mighty men of valor, but their enemies had one million men – and 300 chariots.
So...they set the troops in battle array in the Valley of Zephathah at Mareshah.
And Asa cried out to the LORD his God, and said:
“LORD, it is nothing for You to help, whether with many or with those who have no power; help us, O LORD our God, for we rest on You, and in Your name we go against this multitude. O LORD, You are our God; do not let man prevail against You!”
After church last night, I called Esther and Esteban. We talked until almost midnight. They continue to be encouraged, looking to the only One who can hear and answer prayer – the One whom we are trusting to do His perfect will in each of our lives.
Jonatán and Esteban met with Dr. Porter, the orthopedic surgeon, and with the oncologists as well. They found out that the tumor was nine inches long (?!) and that only 85% of it had been destroyed by the six chemotherapy treatments that preceded the surgery. Medically, that means that Jona was a “poor responder” (to the chemo). The doctors had been hoping that the results would be above 90%, preferably above 95%.
One of the oncologists commented that in the (ten to fifteen?) years since his medical school days until now, Jona is only the second osteosarcoma patient with results of less than 90% of a tumor destroyed by chemotherapy.

According to the doctors, from here on we are going into unknown territory. Basically, the doctors will now put all the data into a computer which will then “randomize” (their word) a suggested course of treatment. We know that all details are in the wonderful hands of the Sovereign King of the Universe – and nothing will happen by chance!
Per Esteban's request, Jona's next (yet to be decided) treatment will begin on Friday, December 18. Delaying one week will allow Jona to take final exams at the academy next week. Yep! He went from his medical appointment straight to school yesterday!
Jona is encouraged, trusting in the LORD. How thankful we are for God's work of grace in his young heart! And you know Where to look if you're feeling discouraged by this news. Look to the LORD, and please continue to pray fervently with us:
  • Pray that Christ's name would be made big in the earth – in Jona's life, in the lives of our extended family, in the medical community here, in the eyes of others on the oncology floor, in our churches, and in the lives of our Christian brethren all over the world who are interceding for Jona.
  • Pray for wisdom for Esteban and Esther and the doctors as they make major decisions day by day.
  • Pray that the LORD, the Great Physician, would completely heal Jona.
  • Pray for Jona as he endeavors to finish out the semester, taking final exams next week.
As we continue to rest on the only One who can ultimately heal Jona, we echo the prayer of King Asa:
LORD, it is nothing for You to help, whether with many or with those who have no power; help us, O LORD our God, for we rest on You, and in Your name we go against this multitude. O LORD, You are our God; do not let man prevail against You!
The LORD answered Asa's prayer, routing the Ethiopian army, because HE was keeping His covenant promise with Asa's predecessor, King David. There was more at stake than one battle in one time period. We who know Christ as Savior serve the same LORD! HE is hearing our prayers and keeping His Word to us:
He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.
We know that 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?
Please be encouraged in HIM – and pray! Please pray specifically.

May Jesus Christ be praised!

Our Advent Calendar

We've been thoroughly enjoying our first Christmas Season with an Advent Calendar. The frame was a prize find at a post-Christmas clearance sale last year. Because our main goal is to emphasize the Savior – and the fact that HE is our Reason for celebrating Christmas – in the little compartments on our Advent Calendar, we're placing little objects that emphasize specific truths about HIM, followed by Bible verses that state those truths. The detailed plan is posted on my bargain blog.

Confession: Most of the time, I'm barely keeping up with the day by day plan! Many of the items have been the result of very last-minute scrambling, so I've tried to introduce variety by writing the verses on various shapes, etc.

We've been enjoying the great excitement and joy Elizabeth demonstrates over the simple objects and their accompanying lessons. And it's turned out to be a great educational tool. She is remembering very well what specific truth about Christ is represented by each object – and by Monday, one week into the program, she had John 3:16 completely memorized!

09 December 2009

December 8: Update on Jonatán

Jona's follow-up appointment with the orthopedic surgeon will be tomorrow, December 9, at 9:00 a.m. – followed immediately by an appointment with the oncologists. I plan to post a detailed update tomorrow after I learn more.

Please pray! Pray, most of all, for complete healing for Jona, and pray for wisdom for the doctors in discerning the best next step.

Jona continues to be encouraged, trusting in the Lord.

And Esteban is a well beloved pastor!

¡Feliz Cumple!

08 December 2009

The Beauty of Providence

“To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven…
He has made everything beautiful in its time…”

“We must make the best of that which is, and must believe it best for the present, and accommodate ourselves to it: He has made every thing beautiful in His time (Ecclesiastes 3:11), and therefore, while its time lasts, we must be reconciled to it: nay, we must please ourselves with the beauty of it.

Note 1:
Every thing is as God has made it; it is really as He appointed it to be, not as it appears to us.

Note 2:
That which to us seems most unpleasant is yet, in its proper time, altogether becoming. Cold is as becoming in winter as heat in summer; and the night, in its turn, is a black beauty, as the day, in its turn, is a bright one.

Note 3:
There is a wonderful harmony in the divine Providence and all its disposals, so that the events of it, when they come to be considered in their relations and tendencies, together with the seasons of them, will appear very beautiful, to the glory of God and the comfort of those that trust in Him.

Though we see not the complete beauty of Providence, yet we shall see it, and a glorious sight it will be, when the mystery of God shall be finished. Then every thing shall appear to have been done in the most proper time, and it will be the wonder of eternity.”

from Matthew Henry’s Complete Commentary

04 December 2009

December 3: Update on Jonatán

We are, once again, in a holding pattern, waiting to hear results of the pathology analysis on the tumor...

Most of all, we are waiting on the LORD...

Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the LORD,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
But those who wait on the LORD
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.
(Isaiah 40:28-31)

Jona is such a blessing to us; we're thankful to be his extended family!

Speaking at a Thanksgiving Banquet on the day prior to surgery

Recuperating at the hospital on Thanksgiving Day

What a loving big brother and cousin!

Christmas Cheer

We’re getting ready for Christmas, and Elizabeth and I had opportunity to review Christmas Cheer, a Custom Designed Project Pack from Hands of a Child, a premiere lapbook provider since 2002. This was our first experience with the idea of lapbooks, and I enjoyed exploring the concept. I have a vested interest, of course, since we’re planning a four-month trip for next summer – and I’m intensely interested in projects that can be done in a car seat!

It was good for me to slow down and enjoy these projects. (There’s something therapeutic about coloring!) Elizabeth and I enjoyed some real quality time, working on the projects together, looking forward more than ever to the joy of the Christmas Season.

I like the e-book format because pages can be easily printed instead of photocopied. Wherever the laptop might be, the e-book is there, too!

Although we did not yet complete all the activities, our favorites so far are:
  • Mini Book: Decorating the Tree
  • Puppets: Snow People
  • Shapes: Santa Claus
Because of the hands-on educational value it represents, I think the Christmas Cheer Project Pack would be a great addition to a young family’s Christmas library. It can also be a tool for teaching little ones the much-needed lesson of giving at Christmas (instead of just getting) by having them make the projects for others – grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, neighbors, etc.

A complimentary e-book was provided to me, as a reviewer for Mama Bzz, by Hands of a Child, in exchange for posting a complete review on my bargain blog (B1G1, Bargains & Blessings in a “Banana”) as part of today’s blog tour. And I’m very excited to add to our Christmas Book Collection!

You can read my complete review here.

A big “Thank-you!” to the folks at Hands of a Child for the opportunity to enjoy and review this fun Project Pack!

01 December 2009

¡Feliz Cumple, Vivi!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY! my favorite Uruguayan sister (in law)...

¡Te quiero pilones, hermanita!

November 30: Update on Jonatán

Undoubtedly because of God's grace in answering our prayers specifically, Jona is doing remarkably well – all things considered...

The surgery left him very weak initially. On Wednesday, he slept most of the day. On Thursday, he walked to the end of the hall and back. On Friday, he walked a mile in laps around the nurses' station. And on Saturday, he came home from the hospital. On Sunday morning, he attended church. Today was the last day of the Thanksgiving Break – and I won't be surprised if he tries to attend school tomorrow!

I have several recent pictures to share later, but I wanted to get a quick update out tonight.

Thank-you for your loving concern and, most of all, for continuing to pray! The road of full recovery looks long... But we continue to look to the Lord, asking Him for the miracle of healing...