Birthday Dinners at Grandpa and Grandma’s

We love hearing a grandchild tell us that he knows his birthday dinner at our house is coming up and that he is excited about it. The first year we moved to giving our grandchildren dinner with us for their birthday present, they didn’t know what to expect. Now they have experienced a couple of them and look forward to them.

The first half of the year has the majority of the birthdays of our grandchildren and then Covid pushed a couple back a bit, so we have had almost weekly birthday dinners for the past couple of months.

Our time is relatively simple. We start at 5:30 and end about 8:00. During that time we eat, talk, play games, and have Bible time. Most of what we do with our grandchildren is not individual time so this plan gives us the opportunity to focus on just that one grandchild.

We are trying to think of some more creative things to do at home with our grandchildren on their birthday dinner nights. Do you have any suggestions?

Trusting in Jesus,

Joshua’s Evening
Abby’s Evening: here we’re playing a game of Bananagrams
Danny’s Evening
Christina’s Evening
Drew’s Evening

“I have no greater joy than to hear that
my children walk in truth” (3 John 1:4).

4th of July at the Maxwells

We had a wonderful gathering on the 4th, including the newlyweds and the newborn. The only person missing was Anna Marie.

I love this big, happy family and am grateful for God’s mercy.

Family events don’t just happen. Mom puts the work into planning and shopping for it, Mom and the girls prep food, Dad grills, AND Gigi provides the finances for holiday meals. Our family is now 30+ strong, and that’s a lot of (little and big) mouths to feed!

We started out with big people chatting, and little ones enjoying activities in the yard and hanging around. It was a humid, warm evening, and storms began to pop up. So, the guys called for the decision to move into the garage. This family set in motion like a well-oiled machine. Old and young alike jumped into gear, moving people, food, chairs, and things all the way to the front. We made quick work of it!

The rest of the evening we enjoyed great fellowship, more outside time, and then Joseph brought out some pop-its, smoke balls, and sparklers for the kids. Everyone gathered and watched the little show.


My wonderful sisters!
Elliot and Mom
Axton is adorable and well-loved!
Sisters, sisters-in-law, and nieces–happy times!
Pop-its for Kyle
Anna (our new sister-in-law), Mary, and Anna 🙂

“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High
shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty”
Psalm 91:1.

Anna Marie Update: Delayed Trip Home

Anna Marie shares her update which is a twist no one wanted, but we trust the Lord! Love, Sarah

Anna Marie and Simon Peter

Well, we faced another delay yesterday. My platelets (the blood cells responsible for clotting) dropped significantly this past week to the point that it was safest to hold off on one of the chemo medications (the one that particularly impacts those blood cells). My oncologist said that typically those blood levels would climb back up fairly quickly after not getting that drug this week, and so he would anticipate my levels being good enough next week to get that final dose and then able to fly home on Friday, the 24th. Though disappointed with the extra week, I can’t say I was really surprised because I’ve been getting nosebleeds randomly this week, and my parents have especially been noticing my energy levels are lower, too.

Because I was able to get all my other chemo today, he said it was up to us if we wanted to just skip the last dose of that one and fly home this Friday as previously planned. However, as we were working through the decision, the oncologist estimated that it comprised about 5%-10% of the efficacy of the treatment. While he said that is somewhat low, it still seemed significant enough to us that we felt it would be best to get it. A whole lot of time and effort, by a whole lot of people, has gone into making this treatment not just “an option,” but helping it be as successful as it can be. We don’t want to negatively impact the results or, later on, wonder about that last dose. Many who are here at the clinic are getting 16 or 24-week treatment courses, so with me getting only 12 weeks, we want it to be complete.

So once again, we find ourselves with more opportunities to trust God through changing circumstances. The sermon on Sunday at my family’s church was from 2 John, on the topic of evaluating the treasure and joy of your heart. “What brings you joy tells you what you have been living for.”

Since hearing that, the song “Jesus, Priceless Treasure” has been ringing in my mind. Written in a time of trial and turmoil by one who was acquainted with suffering, the words have tremendous depth of truth and are perfect for helping “talk my spirit” into a place of rest and joy in Christ; for those who love the Father still have peace within, whatever storms may gather—in any age.

Jesus, priceless treasure,
Fount of purest pleasure,
Truest friend to me:
Ah, how long in anguish
Shall my spirit languish,
Yearning, Lord, for thee?
Thine I am, O spotless Lamb!
I will suffer naught to hide thee,
Naught I ask beside thee.

In thine arms I rest me;
Foes who would molest me
Cannot reach me here.
Though the earth be shaking,
Ev’ry heart be quaking,
Jesus calms my fear.
Lightnings flash and thunders crash;
Yet, though sin and hell assail me,
Jesus will not fail me.

Satan, I defy thee;
Death, I now decry thee;
Fear, I bid thee cease.
World, thou shalt not harm me
Nor thy threats alarm me
While I sing of peace.
God’s great pow’r guards ev’ry hour;
Earth and all its depths adore him,
Silent bow before him.

Hence with earthly treasure!
Thou art all my pleasure,
Jesus, all my choice.
Hence, thou empty glory!
Naught to me thy story,
Told with tempting voice.
Pain or loss or shame or cross
Shall not from my Saviour move me,
Since he deigns to love me.

Hence, all fear and sadness!
For the Lord of gladness,
Jesus, enters in.
Those who love the Father,
Though the storms may gather,
Still have peace within.
Yea, whate’er I here must bear,
Thou art still my purest pleasure,
Jesus, priceless treasure.

Johann Franck, 1655; Tr. Catherine Winkworth, 1863

And again, we are so thankful for all our family’s support since this is one more week further from getting to a more normal routine. My sister will be flying home with Simon Peter and me when we come home, and staying for about a week. She’s been with us for four out of six months of Peter’s life, so I am guessing he will appreciate her familiar face as he transitions back to life as a sixth born instead of an only child. 😉 We don’t know what the future looks like beyond that but are so grateful for our huge support network through this time—my family, Christopher’s family, neighbors, friends, and our worldwide prayer support. We love and are grateful for all of you!
Anna Marie

“I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth,
as we have received a commandment from the Father.” 2 John 4

Here’s a Gentle Nudge

We keep encouraging you about the benefits that come from using a schedule. Here’s a testimony to motivate you in that direction:

Hi! I jumped in with Managers of Their Homes and a schedule in the spring. I have children ages 12, 8, 4, and 2. I focused on the portion of our day that is filled with school, and I was amazed at how much smoother our day went.

My son (12) struggles a lot with anxiety and anger outbursts that we are working through, and prior to the schedule, dealing with those issues took up a large part of each day. Once we implemented our schedule, he experienced such relief to know what to expect each day. Before he had been experiencing anxiety when he looked at his assignments and was worried he wouldn’t have time to get things done. When we started scheduling, not only did it relieve some of that stress but I was even able to schedule a chore time and a time for him to play with his littlest sister. This took an hour of school time, but he still got more done!

On top of that, it felt like we had a miracle in our house when we started school after a week of spring break. Monday morning came and for the first time EVER the kids jumped right back into the school schedule without any complaints! Jenn

Trusting in Jesus,

Managers of Their Homes
Managers of Their Homes

“And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water,
that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also
shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” Psalm 1:3

A Day in the Life of Helping at Christopher and Anna Marie’s

During the 3 1/2 months Anna Marie has been in Washington for her specialized chemo treatments, we set up a schedule here at home to provide Christopher with a support base in the absence of his greatest support.

Anna and Mary are the mainstays of the schedule while I pitch in a bit. One of the girls goes over at 7:30 a.m. to help get children up, dressed, fed breakfast, chores accomplished, and Scripture memorized. Now that it is hot, they also have a morning walk. When the weather was nicer the walk was late in the afternoon.

[Sarah’s note: All the pictures below I took Wednesday, so this is a very current peek into the life of helping at Christopher and Anna Marie’s!]

Reading to the little girls after they woke up
Tidying up the girls’ hair things
Hair time
Guarding her banana from Ellie 🙂
Cleaning up from swim lessons with Grandma the prior afternoon
Elizabeth likes to start off the walk walking (or rather a little run!) beside Ellie
Walking crew (Sarah and Ellie join them some days: Joshua was with Steve doing a brush dump run this particular morning)

Christopher does a workout at his home gym in the basement from 10 a.m. to 11 and the children get to play and work out with him so no helper is there at that time.

At 11 a.m., I am there for an hour of school time, and then one of the girls comes over from 12 to 1 for lunch prep, eating, and cleanup. Then I am back for another hour of school. 2:00 to 4:00 is nap time for Danny and Elizabeth and quiet activities for the older three so no helper is needed.

Flashcards with Lydia
Listening to Ruthie read aloud

At 4:00, Anna or Mary goes back to supervise children and prepare dinner. One of our wonderful neighbors brings dinner over every Wednesday. What a huge blessing that is! The afternoon helper stays through the evening until the children are put to bed, about 8:45 or 9, and then she heads home. (The day Sarah took pictures, Anna and Mary traded off so Anna could go babysit at Nathan and Melanie’s.)

Anna with the kids at the 4pm time block.
Peeling hardboiled eggs and making pickles.

The girls vary who goes over at which time so that they each get some evenings to be home with us. They have a plan but it changes depending on what they need to get done at home and other places.

Trusting in Jesus,

“As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men,
especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:10 

Anna Marie Update: Getting Close

Below you’ll find another update from Anna Marie. Watch for a post tomorrow on a behind-the-scenes look on home life while she’s been gone. Love, Sarah

Anna Marie and Simon Peter

Hello All!

I got my second-to-last chemo yesterday and am really in countdown now! Just one more chemo on Tuesday and then fly home next Friday!!!

My blood levels are declining but with the booster shots and good nutrition, it looks like I should be ok to get the final chemo next week. It’s somewhat a cumulative effect; the two weeks off around my hospital stay gave my blood a chance to recover somewhat but numbers have been going down steadily since resuming chemo. Practically speaking, this means I’m more tired and easily fatigued, and more nauseated. I’m also more prone to nosebleeds with my platelets being so low. Not that long ago the children and I learned about white and red blood cells and platelets, so it is neat to have a real-world application for the newly-acquired knowledge.

Christopher and I had a really good remote consultation with an oncologist in Kansas City on Monday. He was very attentive, listening to and understanding my journey to date and our needs looking to the future. We liked him, and he was willing to provide my ongoing anti-HER2 therapy. In addition, he is familiar with the newly approved HER2-blocker subcutaneous injections and thought it likely that I can do those at home. It was an encouraging meeting and it is a blessing to now have a plan in place for when I get home.

Yesterday presented a good test-run to implement keeping a quiet heart in the face of concern. Of course, throughout chemo, a number of lab tests are being run each week. The results of one cancer marker test came back Tuesday and were showing an elevated number. Turns out that marker was in the “low” range when chemo started and has been checked a few times since then. It has been steadily climbing but wasn’t really something we noticed until yesterday when it was officially in the “elevated”/out of range column. While I know it’s very possible that my cancer can recur and that these treatments are not the end of my cancer journey, I was still surprised and concerned at the thought that I might have cancer growing or metastasizing right now. It was quite an opportunity to practice taking thoughts captive and remind myself of the truths I’ve been studying in the Quieting a Noisy Soul Bible study by Jim Berg. God is always good, always in control of all things, will always give me the grace I need, will always love me personally, etc. I often can’t sleep much the night of chemo anyway, so Tuesday night was a good time to meditate on Scriptures about that and hymns that directed my thoughts to those truths. At the end of the blog post, I’ll share one of the hymns that really blessed me.

My Seattle oncologist was unavailable to talk with me while I was at the clinic about that lab result, but Christopher and I had a Zoom appointment with him yesterday. He said right away that it’s common for that number to go up during chemo if it has started low, as mine had, and that it almost always goes down and normalizes once treatment is over. He’s not concerned about it at all and would be very surprised if my cancer would recur while on chemo. Even though I know God will give us the grace to deal with whatever comes next, I was so thankful to hear that metastatic cancer doesn’t seem to be likely for right now.

As far as the lump in my wrist, the antibiotic doesn’t seem to be making much difference. They had some other ideas on what might help and we are working through those now.

I will be getting a baseline MRI of my brain this morning. While my type of cancer, caught at this stage, has a somewhat low recurrence rate, it does have a higher likelihood of metastasizing to the brain than other cancers, and our oncologist thought an MRI would be prudent.

So, a few ups and downs in this update! But I’m thankful that we can rest in the joy of Who our Savior is as we find out the greatness of His loving heart!

Jesus, I am resting, resting
in the joy of what thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
of thy loving heart.
Thou hast bid me gaze upon thee,
and thy beauty fills my soul,
for by thy transforming power,
thou hast made me whole.

O how great thy lovingkindness,
vaster, broader than the sea!
O how marvelous thy goodness
lavished all on me!
Yes, I rest in thee, Beloved,
know what wealth of grace is thine,
know thy certainty of promise
and have made it mine.

Simply trusting thee, Lord Jesus,
I behold thee as thou art,
and thy love, so pure, so changeless,
satisfies my heart;
satisfies its deepest longings,
meets, supplies its ev’ry need,
compasseth me round with blessings:
thine is love indeed.

Ever lift thy face upon me
as I work and wait for thee;
resting ‘neath thy smile, Lord Jesus,
earth’s dark shadows flee.
Brightness of my Father’s glory,
sunshine of my Father’s face,
keep me ever trusting, resting,
fill me with thy grace.
          Jean Sophia Pigott, 1876

Thank you for praying!

Anna Marie

“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor
principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor
height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us
from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:38-39