Our life is nothing short of an adventure...

Wind in our hair and screams of delight but also unpredictable turns and unknown outcomes. We are a family of six; Dave, Susie, Nate, Jake, Sam, and Bella.

God has been faithful in our marriage and through the birth and blessings of our boys.

God has been faithful during our adoption journey and united Bella with us in May of 2008. We were privileged to visit with Bella's birth mother; therefore, Bella's family in Guatemala will always be dear to our hearts.

On October 16, 2008, Bella was diagnosed with ALL Leukemia. We are now battling the disease with 2 years and 3 months of treatment. We believe God will continue to be faithful!

Our family is committed to living life to the fullest...even on the hard days. Thank you for checking in and journeying with us!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Walking by Faith, Not by Sight

Sweet Baby Girl in her Princess Hospital Bed

Bella eating lunch after 2 blood transfusions. This is the first time she has truly eaten in 10 days! She was so impressed to be eating off that big tray in a bed. She looks like a little bug.

Two years ago, we stood at the gateway to international adoption, we knew that this would be a physically powerless situation, therefore, we had two choices, trust God or trust this earthly world, we chose God. We chose to "walk by faith and not by sight". Today, after only 5 months of bringing our Bella home from Guatemala, we were faced with that same choice, but truly, this is a daily choice. And we stand true to His Word, we know we serve a mighty God, the Great Healer, Miracle Maker, Storm Breaker....and like Peter, we will keep our eye's on Him and walk in His blessings.

We are humbled and awed again by God's provision, faithfulness and favor. From the outside looking in, many may ask, Why? Yet we know that this diagnosis is not from God, nor was it His "plan", yet its a way to show His glory and an opportunity for us to grow deeper in our Faith and Trust in Him.

Thursday evening we were admitted in to the childrens hospital. I remember very little of this evening...it's a blur, but I do remember sitting in the admitting room while nurses scrambled around and Dave was parking the car, rocking Bella in my arms while soaked in my own tears pleading to God to surround Bella and our family with an army of angels. In this moment, I had no physical words to pray, and this was all I could speak out of my mouth. We quickly began to notice God every where in the "crisis" of the moment. The quick and immediate reaction of the pediatrician just on the sight of Bella's skin color, the expedience of the lab with results of the blood test with in 1 hour. The gentle and empathetic hearts of the hospital staff. Learning very quickly that our hospital is one of the top hospitals in the country for pediatric Hematology and Cancer as well as our Doctor. Our friend and Home Study Social Worker Trish who with in moments of finding out we were at the hospital was standing in the door way of our room to assist us and comfort us (she is medical social worker as well). The nursing staff's loving care to both Bella and Dave and I. The nurse who at 6 am in the morning came in and prayed with me before she left for the night as she knew I was grieving and not sleeping. The nurse who noticed us blowing up an air mattress to sleep on and offered to take out the crib we called "the metal cage" and bring Bella and I a large comfy hospital bed to sleep together in...we slept 10 hours together with out waking once. And lastly, and likely most importantly, is the hundreds of emails, posts on our blog and phone messages offering helping hands, prayer, support and love. I cant even begin to express the immense peace and comfort that has brought us. It has filled our minds and hearts with hope. Knowing were not in this alone has made all the difference to Dave and I and our boys. God has shown his presence in big and small ways, no detail has been left unturned, and we know that He will continue to carry us on the victory in Bella's perfect healing.

We have confirmation that Bella's diagnosis is "Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia". As horrible as this may sound, it is the lesser of 2 evils and the prognosis is good and hopeful. Bella will receive a port in her chest Monday that will allow her to no longer be poked and prodded by needles for Chemotherapy and blood draws. She will have this port for 6 months. She will also start a
two year program of Chemotherapy on Monday as well, the first 6 months being the most intense. Bella has received 2 blood transfusions and will continue to receive them for the first month until her body is completely cleansed of the Leukemia and her own body can again begin making healthy blood. The treatment is designed to kill the Leukemia and then over the course of the 2 years, kill all remaining cells of Leukemia. We will have weekly trips to the hospital for transfusions and chemotherapy as well as oral chemo at home, antibiotics, and several other meds that I cant even remember at the moment. We have been told that she will most likely loose her beautiful shiny black hair, but I am choosing to believe that will not happen. Now of course, all these facts are from the Doctors, we of course serve a big and mighty God and we are believing for a super natural healing, however that may come. In all this storm, we continue to find joy in seeing the glory of God revealed in us and through us.

As for as our sweet Bella goes, she is sooooo much better. Smiling and laughing again, her sweetness is back, and her color is gorgeous. It's amazing how pale she got and we did not even recognize it. The doctors said that is normal for two reasons, one, it is very gradual and we are with her every day, and two, she is Hispanic and its the middle of Oct. It truly did look like she was loosing her sun tan. Because her little bones hurt, they give her moreiphene for the extreme pain which after the blood transfusions, she needs less and less. She is winning the hearts of every nurse and doctor just by her sincere cuteness and beautiful big round eye's. Today, she decided to grab the nurses stethoscope and place it on her own little heart. This child is so smart at 13 1/2 months of age. We are all feeling a little overwhelmed still, but we know that in time, that will pass. However we are so optimistic and encouraged by all the news we have received, and most of all, our faith sustains our heart, soul and minds and encourages us to persevere and press on.

All of you have enrichly touched our lives and Bella's, I just pray that God will shed light to the great peace your love and support has given us in the last 48 hours. You truly held us up when we could not hold our own selves up. We have felt every one of those prayers, God has heard them, and we are seeing and feeling that.

Blessings and love to all of you. We will be sure to update on Monday with more news as we are still awaiting a couple more test results including a spinal tap, but we are confident all will be well.

God Bless.


ConnieRae said...

Susie and family,

We serve an amazing and powerful God! I have every confidence that He will carry you through this with His amazing strength. We will continue praying for all of you. We will also be letting our prayer partners know, so you all will be fully covered. Wishing we could be there to hug and love on you all. Mike, Connie and the girls.

Anonymous said...

We do serve a powerful and loving God indeed... I have everyone I know praying for your bella. Trust in the Lord as you continue through this journey. Bella will be healed and this will only be a memory. PRAYING for your amazing peace. I cried reading your amazing words and a testiment to our almightly God. You will be in his favor and Bella too!
Karen another Hannahs Hope mommy

Will and Aileen said...

We are praying for your family and for a complete healing for sweet Bella.

Mary Ann said...

Susie, You all are in my thought and prayers. I am praying for a complete healing of this precious baby girl! She looks great now! But she always looked beautiful!
Mary Ann

Magen said...

I cried reading your post, you are so strong and so is your faith. Our God is powerful and he will guide you through these hard times. I will pray for Bella and I know that the Lord will sorround her in his light and watch over her. Big hugs to you and your family, and to beautiful Bella.
God Bless

Luvhannah said...

Please know you and your family and that sweet Bella are in our prayers. You were so encouraging and prayerful as we waited for our Hannah for 4 months for Mixco BC. I wished we lived closer to you. We are still right beside you in prayer.


Courtney said...

Thank you for updating your blog. I am glad you found some time to keep us posted on Bella. If there is anything you need, please let me know. Hang in there. I hope you find strength. You are so strong. I am thinking and praying for you and your family and especially sweet baby bella........(((HUGS))) Courtney

The Adoption Journey of Baby King said...

Keep up your faith, we will keep the prayers going. The pictures of Bella in the hospital bring back all the memories of my sweet Brian for the first 7 years of his life. He is now 16 yo. Prayers worked a miracle for him on his 7th birthday. It changed his life forever. Hugs to you are your family.

demp5 said...

Thank you for updating the blog. I am thanking God that her diagnosis is the better of the possibilities. Know that you and your whole family are being lifted up here by the Dempsters. We love you and are interceding for you!!

Susie said...

Thanks for the update--I'm so glad you're feeling the prayers being sent up for your family, and especially sweet Bella. When this is all over, it will be yet another miraculous chapter in the story of your family's life together. One that will no doubt strengthen parts of each of you more than you ever knew possible. You keep the faith, and we'll keep praying.

Three2Five said...

We are praying for you guys! We are praying for your precious little girl during the next 2 years of treatment. May our God of mercy Bless you guys with peace!

Pam L said...

Dear Friend,
I know that God brought us together for more than just the circumstance of our little ones sharing the same Civil Registry for their birth certificates. Originally, that's how I found your blog, by searching for Mixco Birth Certificates. Now we share children who have been diagnosed with the same disease. Quite remarkably so, the same type of Leukemia. Joshua also had ALL. I prayed that if this was truely the fate she had been dealt, little Bella would also have ALL. One of the easiest to treat with the greatest success rate.
God brought this sweet angel baby to you because He knew her future and He knew you were the perfect family to love her and pray her through this next two years of treatment. I will continue to pray for Bella and your family.
If I have any advice it's just to take one day at a time and rely on your friends and family for support when you need to be lifted up and always, always rely on God for your strength and healing power for Bella.
Love to you and your family

Robyn said...

Please know that I am praying for Bella and you!!


The Jeltemas said...

What an amazing, strong family God has built with all of you. Standing in that room with you all and feeling the strength, love and faith of all of you is truly a blessing Susie...
We love you and will continue to pray along side these other warriors for God's healing power.
Love to you all...
K & D

Brian and Jenifer VanZanten said...

Once again, God will be victorious over yet another challenging cirumstance. Our family is praying for you daily. She is healing as we speak. Just like with Mixco, everyday we say, "It is done! Bella is healed." And we know she will be. This will be another amazing story to share with her - to show her how God brought her right to the place she needed to be to receive the very best care in the world. Sleep well, dear friend... God is holding her, and keeping her strong.

Love, Jenifer

Steve & Amy said...

Sweet Bella and your family will be in our prayers. Peace be with you.

McMurrays said...

We will be praying. . . daily for sweet Bella and strength for your family to get through this.
The McMurrays

Ann said...


We will continue to pray for sweet sweet Bella and your family. Our thoughts are with you during this difficult time.

Love and prayers

Jim, Ann & Sarah

Michelle Riggs said...

Praise God that she has ALL instead of AML. Is she standard risk?

She looks like such a big girl stting in the bed eating. Thank you for taking the time to post an update and pictures. She is beautiful.

Praying for Bella and your family.

Vanessa said...

Praying for you and Bella!! PLEASE let me know if there's anything we can do to help! Also please email me your address! I'd love to send Bella a little something to brighten her day! vbayouangel@aol.com

jeck said...

Still Praying

Joanna said...

Although reading about your sweet girl brings tears to my eyes, please know that I'll be praying for you and thinking of Bella often. Please let us know if you need ANYTHING at all.

Much love,

Joe and Erin said...

Hello All,

I am Susie's youngest brother, and I just have to say that I am so floored by your prayers, hope, love and support for Bella, my sister's family, and our whole entire family. It truly shows how wonderful our God is. There's no doubt in anyone's mind that Bella will be completely healed from this. Thank you for holding all of us up in such a difficult time. I know Susie appreciates immensely. "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart." ~Psalms

God Bless,
Joe Harmon

Terri said...

You are truly an amazing person! Bella is so blessed that she has you all as her family and you are blessed to have her. I will keep Bella in my prayers!
God bless

Amy said...

I followed your blog while you were waiting to bring Bella home. I lost track of you and was directed back to your blog today by a friend. Your precious baby girl and all of your family are in my prayers. My son, also born in Guatemala, was recently in the hospital for 2 days for nothing too serious, it was so hard to watch him have to go through IV's etc. I know it must be so hard for you and your family to see her going through so much. And of course for her to have to go through so much and to be in pain. I am so glad to hear that you have wonderful caring doctors and nurses blessing you in small ways. They really do make a difference. Praying for God to heal Bella and for strength for your family.