I Could Go for a Biscuit About Now – A Significant Update

When we were kids, on Sunday mornings about once every couple of months, Mom would make bakin’ powder biscuits from scratch. She would begin before we were up and timed it so just before the aroma of the biscuits climbed the stairs to our rooms she would sit at the piano and play these hymns which signaled the coming treat. Then the single word command “Biscuits!” was followed by the sound of ten or twelve feet swiftly rushing down the stairs to gather under the kitchen table.

Hymns have always been part of my life. From the earliest moments of Sunday morning biscuits, to family devotions, to children’s choirs to college choirs and beyond, hymns are the mortar of a spiritual foundation.

In the trying times I often find comfort in the hymns of the faith. The rich soil of their language is solid ground upon which to regain a foothold and re-center. Do you ever go there?

I’m not talking about the “Look at me, You’ve got me feelin’ real good lately” show tunes that pass as worshipful today. (Sorry, I haven’t been able to make the switch.) Rather, I’m speaking of the meat and potatoes hymns served with hearty sauces and beefy words you can sink your brain into with rich chords that bind them to our hearts. Add in some gospel songs written with complete paragraphs and it’s there I find a higher ground.

When I checked in as a patient on the fifth floor of the cancer wing at the Cleveland Clinic in 1988, it was clear this area would be a set aside space for my lengthy stay. It was a highly restricted area. Visitors were carefully screened to reduce the possible risk of infecting the vulnerable patients. Every guest was special because they made it through the screening but mainly, as I was so far from home, each one brought the fragrant memory of my family and my young children whom I missed so much.

In that hospital room that would be home for the next seven weeks, I set up my props from home: photographs, a leather notebook, some books and my electronic keyboard. (I couldn’t play much but thought I could brush up on my chords to keep myself occupied. Turns out just laying in bed was a full-time job.) The nurse gave me a funny look when I brought in the keyboard. She wasn’t concerned the sound might bother other patients, she was worried about theft in this big city hospital. She warned me it would likely be stolen and maybe I should have the family take it home. “It’s OK,” I said. “You’re going to hear my mom play this thing and the music will be worth far more than the keyboard. I think I’ll keep it here.”

When Mom came to visit, to give Sue a break to return home to the children, I asked her to play some hymns while I was bed-fast. She’s amazing at the piano – she can arrange most any tune and play it masterfully by ear – no notes. Even today, at 87, it’s a remarkable thing to hear and to watch her cover all the keys. When she plays, the hymns become a part of you – it’s always been that way.

Now, in my hospital room in Cleveland, she started out at the keyboard with the volume turned very low so as not to disturb the other patients or evoke the smell of biscuits. “Louder, mom. Crank it up a bit,” I said. “I don’t want to bother the others, she replied.” “Mom,” I added, “I’ve been here for weeks. If I can listen to their vomiting all night long – they can listen to my hymns.” Mom became a favorite visitor on the floor as they loved her music and even sent requests to my room.

Having been on this medical merry-go-round for a number of years, I’ve been back to the hymns many times. Sue would often read them to me in the hospital room in Cleveland. Here’s a short sample of one written by Hank Spafford with music by Phil Bliss. It’s always been on the top ten list when I find myself near the bottom.

When Peace, Like a River Attends my Way
When Trials like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
It is well it is well with my soul.

Well, tonight, I’m lost in the hymns again and I could go for a biscuit about now.

I received the one phone call for which I had been both hoping and dreading. Nurse Becky phoned and I heard the news in the tone of her voice before she finished her greeting. The report had just arrived and the viral load is climbing again.

On top of last week’s blood test to monitor my anemia, an HCV count was added ahead of the official one scheduled for late March and the numbers now reveal that the bad counts, once dropping dramatically, are climbing again. A few more weeks on the medicine won’t make a difference and Dr. Bacon is pulling me off the protocol. The stubborn virus won again.

During these few months when the virus count was dropping, my liver received some momentary relief from the steady assault of the virus. But for now, as the numbers climb again, we’ll get back in the waiting line that leads to the promise of the next drug to break the code and beat the virus.

Sue and I began this leg of the journey on November 30th last year. We’ve been through chemotherapy often enough that the emotional and physical routines are almost familiar though each one presents new challenges. As I reflect on this most recent chapter, I can’t say I know what new thing I’ve learned, but I can say I know what I know. And that is that in times of uncertainty and discomfort and illness and pain, that simple touch, the card, the call, the smile, the email, the blog comment, the “how ya doin?”, the “what can I do to help?” – each of these are His hands in my care. Sue and I are so grateful for the kindness of your many expressions of support. When you reach out to someone in need you may wonder if you said or did the right thing – You did.

Thanks for stopping by the blog. I believe it was key in keeping me mentally tough against the potentially serious depression side effects of the medicine. The creative outlet and your kindness in checking in – over 5,000 hits on the site – gave me a sense of companionship and encouragement.

We’re fine. I’m going to take some time to rebuild my energy and muscles while dropping some recently accumulated “no activity” pounds. We’re looking forward to being out and about and on the road again in a few months. I’m looking forward to romping with the grand kids.

We are loved and you are loved. Thanks for your hand in the Master’s work – you’re good medicine!

In closing, here’s a treat for you. Just a few years back at a time Mom was visiting in our home, I was experimenting with connecting my computer to my electronic piano. The software would allow me to receive the input from the keyboard and alter it to then play back as any number of instruments and I could even print out sheet music of every note played.

I asked Mom if she would help by playing something on the keyboard as I tampered with the software. It was a spur of the moment request but she gladly obliged and sat down at an unfamiliar electronic keyboard. They have a different feel than a baby grand. Without a note she began to work through a list of some favorite hymns we share. I realize that when I hear these songs they are filtered through a lifetime of her caring for my coughs and sniffles, and scrapes and broken hearts but I think you’ll agree there is both a magic and a ministry in her touch.

Biscuits anyone?

Old Rugged Cross  (After clicking on each link you’ll need to click on the next link provided.)

No One Ever Cared For Me Like Jesus

My Faith Has Found a Resting Place

Jesus Led Me All The Way

He Giveth More Grace

Fill my cup Lord

And He Walks With Me

There’s A Deep Settled Peace

Wonderful Peace

Far away in the depths of my spirit tonight
Rolls a melody sweeter than psalm
In celestial like strains it unceasingly falls
O’er my soul like an infinite calm
Peace, peace, wonderful peace
Coming down from the Father above!
Sweep over my spirit forever, I pray
In fathomless billows of love!
What a treasure I have in this wonderful peace
Buried deep in the heart of my soul
So secure that no power can mine it away
While the years of eternity roll!
I am resting tonight in this wonderful peace
Resting sweetly in Jesus’ control
For I’m kept from all danger by night and by day
And His glory is flooding my soul!
Peace, peace, wonderful peace
Coming down from the Father above!
Sweep over my spirit forever, I pray
In fathomless billows of love!
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21 thoughts on “I Could Go for a Biscuit About Now – A Significant Update

  1. Craig & Sue, our hearts hurt for you yet our Faith carries us as it does you. Continuous prayer to our Lord and Savior that He holds you & Sue in His loving hands; we know He has a plan and must trust He knows what is best, regardless of our wishes. Hope you feel our arms surrounding you in love and faith. Scott, Cherie & Alex

  2. Craig,
    Mandy sent me the link to your blog. I’ve listened to some of the songs, and I can smell the biscuits! Thanks so much! Praying for you.

  3. Craig: Your Mom’s piano playing is still part of an early Sunday call to breakfast……just toast, cereal and coffee, however. Maybe your story will result in biscuits and honey real soon. Love DAD

  4. Craig, I have had great pleasure in reading the blogs. I too am very disappointed in the development of the lack of response to the meds. Darlyne and I will con’t to pray and hold you and Sue up to the Throne-knowing that our God is able.

  5. Craig,
    I just got the news in Africa. I will share this with our prayer team when we gather in the morning. It will be our privilege to pray for you. Know that you are loved so very much by so many. We will keep petitioning the Father on your behalf — OFTEN.
    Much love to you and Sue — and the rest of the family.
    Lori

  6. Dad,
    I think it is about time we start planning that camping/climbing/backpacking trip! Upset the treatment must end, but God has perfect timing and this just is not His plan for you right now. Start drinking those protein shakes…we will need all the muscle we can get for the adventure I envision for us. So grateful I have someone like you to do this with.
    J

  7. Craig, your writing reveals a heart that loves his Lord and that trusts Him, and a human spirit that is a true fighter. I appreciate so much you sharing the way that you do, and Sherrie and I will continue to pray for your steady recovery now and for the defeat of this virus. I’m really glad that wrote out the words to Wonderful Peace in addition to the beautiful music of the great hymns. Recover well, and we look forward to seeing you again!

  8. Craig: We had a beautiful time of praying for you and Sue at the Board of Trustees meeting this morning! The prayers were so in earnest, and revealed much love for you both! We will continue to pray for God’s healing, despite this latest news regarding this round of treatment. Thanks for your writings – they have been a blessing to all of us!
    You are much loved!
    Dave

  9. My heart hurts for you, CWT. Looking forward to your return to the office. 99% of all client calls end with “how’s Craig doin?” and I always respond ……. Craig is a man of great faith. Some have commented back that your faith has been an example for them. God speed!
    Leon

  10. Craig, Dee and I are saddened by the recent results of your tests but encouraged by your possitive attitude. Your experiences remind me of when, as we were growing up at 505 East Oak Street, and I, as the older and bigger sibling, would get you in some sort a death-grip headlock and, as a requirement for me to release my ever-tightening grip on your neck, I would demand that you “say it doesn’t hurt when it hurts”.
    Sadly it seems to me you have been somewhat forced to repeat that same saying to yourself as you are faced with many disapointments and serious set-backssets but yet you are often trying to encourage your family and friends who are interested in your well-being by “saying it doesn’t hurt when it hurts”.
    We know it hurts…..and it hurts us as well down deep….but thanks for being so up-beat. Just know that I would like to put a death grip on your virus but until that happens we are prayng for your complete recovery. Our prayers from out family to you and Sue.

  11. There’s nothing like the love of the Lord and nothing like the love of a mother. My thoughts and prayers are with you and Sue.

  12. Craig, thank you for sharing so freely as you have travelled this path. I am sorry to hear that you must cease the treatment and you are ceasing your blogging. I have been inspired, moved to tears as well as laughter with many of your blogs. You truly are a gifted writer and many of your blogs should be published! Many mornings I have awakened early and prayed for you. Thank you for being so open in your thoughts and actions.
    Carolyn (Bastian) Gonyou

  13. Craig,

    Your blog is an inspiration and your mom’s music is beautiful. We are disappointed that you will be terminating this round of treatments, but pray the next different treatment works. Our best to you in your efforts to regain your energy. Let’s meet again in Warsaw soon.
    Lyn and Steve Van Voorhis

  14. Hi Craig,
    After listening to your mom’s beautiful rendition of the hymns, I know now where that musical talent originated. Jan and I think of you and Sue often and miss our occassional dinners and chit chat. We must have another “Wabash Burning” encounter soon.
    Just remember that great Irish blessing….May the road rise up to meet you, the wind be at your back……..
    and, may God hold you in the hollow of his hand, And, He will
    Royce & Jan

  15. As always, your blogs have been uplifting and inspirational. I’m sorry beyond words that this protocol has to be discontinued, but remember “The best is yet to be!” God has a plan for your life and it will be exciting to see what He comes up with next! And how special to hear Bonnie play–you have marvelous parents who’ve impacted my life, as you well know. Those are some of my favorites hymns, too, and I can readily say “Amen” to your comments about the “meat and potatoes” content of the solid old hymns; they have helped me through the recent weeks–especially at night–bringing peace and comfort to my spirit. You will be in my prayers, of course–that’s what Christian friends are for! Eat well, rest lots, and make plans for your next excursion while you enjoy your lovely family–especially the grandkids!

    • I add a hearty AMEN to Loraine’s comments! Craig, you are a true inspiration to many of us. Thank you for sharing your thoughts…they always lead us to the awesome power of Christ! Lou & I will continue to pray for you and we will ask the folks at church to pray also. One thing that we know is God is faithful. God is sovereign. God loves us and knows what is the best plan for us….yes, the beautiful hymns of faith continue to remind us of all these truths and lift us up. May you be lifted up and encouraged, Dear Brother in Christ!! –Diane & Lou

  16. Craig:
    Robbie and I have read your reports and played most of the sound and video links. Our Tidball friendships go back to before your parents met and married, and we celebrate the Warsaw-Winona Lake connections that brought you into our network!
    Your decision to fill your time with creating this documentary is consistent with the character of God and the incarnation of suffering and and risk of being human as revealed in Jesus. I will embrace my next year [84] if I remain in this clay body on August 20 this year, and Robbie is hanging in there at 15 months behind me.
    We expect to enjoy several days with Phil and Marianne Smith and Rex and Lorabel Wildman in April. We often swap accounts of the huge circle of witnesses and accept that all reunions are rehearsal for eternity when our mortal puts on the celestial. Robbie and I have been astonished and enthralled by Randy Alcorn’s book Heaven.
    We will expect to visit you on our next visit to Warsaw!
    Don and Robbie Joy

  17. Craig,
    I have so enjoyed your blog. From your most recent post it sounds like you will be discontinuing them in order to move on to other pursuits which I certainly understand. Please know, though, that I have thoroughly enjoyed the memories that you shared and the edification I received from each one of them. I’m so “bummed” by your recent news that this virus has won another round, but encouraged because you know Who wins untimately. Thank you for your willingness to use all of your health challenges in a way that benefits so many others. May God’s peace and grace continue to sustain you and Sue.

    Oh, and congratulations on becoming a great uncle again.

  18. Craig,
    We continue to pray for your healing. You are a gifted and talented communicator. Through the sharing of this disappointing development, your faith, and words, lead us closer to our Lord. Bon Bon’s beautiful music is a blessing within your post. Love to you and Suzie. Al

  19. Nevertheless, we’ll keep praying for you and taking comfort in those same hymns. It would be wonderful if your travels could bring you back to Asheville. Karen sends her love and prayers, too.

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