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!
We celebrated the last day of summer at the Big Lake today. We are sad to see summer go, but looking forward to a beautiful fall. The boys are already asking when we can get out the Halloween decorations.
Bella is showing signs of becoming a toddler, and I am totally not ready for it. I remember celebrating every accomplishment with the boys, eager to see the next one, but this time, its different. I am so conscious that this time is short, soon the word "Mama" will become "MOM!" (hear that yelling behind this word). I am not ready to give up the bottle or stop picking her up. I'm not ready for the infancy to be over, but she's growing...and gaining her independence and she is letting us know. A high pitched scream lets us know when she is not happy when you take things away from her like the remote control or my cell phone, at her brothers when they are constantly in her face wanting to kiss her or pick her up, or when I sit her down on the floor and she wants to be held. Today, for the first time, she wanted to play at church and walk along the chairs, needless to say, I enjoyed my first service ever in the back vestibule watching the service on tv. This is all minor to the absolute joy this sweet little girl brings us not to mention laughter. She loves to read books, dance, play in the tub, ride on her brothers shoulders, be held by Mama, and kiss her Daddy. She does not like getting dressed, having her hair done (she pulls out every bow and pony tail within minutes of me getting it in) or her diaper changed . She doesn't flinch at the constant "rock band" of her brothers going on all day long but covers her little ears every time the garage door goes down when were coming in the door. She wants nothing to do with vegetables now that she is on table food. She lights up our world...all 22 pounds of her.
My Mom got Bella this outfit for her birthday, its so cute.
Grandma, Grandpa, Bella and cousin Max
Bella, Her Boys, and Max
Bella and her arranged marriage partner, Josh at the AGCI Picnic
Very special friend, Jenifer and Ana
Friends at Hannah's Hope Orphanage and in life
Sissel and Tiffany at the cottage after the Picnic
Our ND cheerleader
Let me just start by saying "How great is our God!". No other reason than to praise Him. To give Him glory, that's always my number one goal....all of Him, none of me.
So this is my effort in getting caught up on my blogging of Bella. Thankfully, it was a busy week in Real Estate and I chose to give my free time to my sweet family.
We had one more birthday gathering for Bella with Dave's parents. They purchased Bella her first set of wheel's....I have to say, this was one of my favorite gifts. There is a PINK car in my garage! How fun is that?! Bella is now crawling all over the place, going up and down the stairs, walking along furniture, standing and squatting with out support, she could totally walk if she wanted, but she doesn't. She now weighs 22 lbs and is 30" long, in the 75% on the US charts, so I have a BIG Guatemalan, however, she is still in size 2 shoes, boarding size 3, she has the tiniest feet. According to her Pediatrician, she is ahead of schedule with her development and is now starting to say several words and associate them appropriately; Mama, Dada, Boo (book), Ba (ball), she say's Mmmmm for Moo like a cow, can point to pictures in a book when I ask her "where's...." and my favorite new Bella thing-she is giving kisses! Oh my heart...she just lays her little head on our shoulder, puts her arm around our necks and gives us pats on the back and then looks at us and gives us kisses. Its just the best.
The boys are really taking off with their music, in case I have not shared this yet, Nate play's Electric and Acoustic Guitar and JAke is on the drums. Sam is just learning Piano. The neighbor boy plays base, so I have a constant rock bond going on at my house, its a little loud. They are really quite good, they scary part is that I know their music. They are playing songs from "Guns n Roses", "Metalica", "VanHalen". Fortunately, they do not sing or know the words, but they love the Rock. I am holding out for a little Christian Rock and believing it will come in time. I would love nothing more than to see them playing in our church's band.
We had our Adoption Agency's picnic last weekend, it was so wonderful to meet all the families and to see old friends again. We spent last weekend at the cottage with our adoption friends and then said good bye to the cottage for the season. Sad.... We love that place so. We can head up any time, but its just not the same with out the whole fam, both cottages lit up and "Jimmy Buffet" playing. I miss you fam!
This weekend was quiet and wet, my goodness, it has been raining for 3 days and many areas of town are flooded. Cant even imagine what it is like in Texas. On a fabulous note, Notre Dame beat Michigan this weekend, Go IRISH!
May the Lord bless all of you, here is to a wonderful week full of joy.
One year ago today, at around 8 pm, Dave, the boys and I gathered around my computer to capture the first glimpse of our daughter....Elisabella. We waited 9 months to receive our referral...funny....pregnancy is 9 months. I remember sitting down at the computer after receiving the call from our case worker and being nervous to open the email. Dave and the boys were anxious and saying "hurry up, open it"....and I said "this is it". The second I opened it, I burst in to tears. Not only did we wait 9 months for the referral, but we waited 7 months to come up with the initial payment to start the process. And in all that waiting, I would pray daily "may she beautiful to our eye's". In that very moment, I seen my daughter for the very first time, and like the boys, she took my breath away. I couldn't stop the tears, the boys were squeeling "she's so cute" and my husband said "yup, she looks like one of our's".
As I look back at the last 2 years and 4 months....I am amazed at our God. I am always amazed by Him. I stand in awe of everything, even the little things. I miss the quiet physical dependence and closeness I had with him through the process waiting for Bella and bringing her home. But I rest in my spirit knowing that we have never been closer.
Bella's birthday was August 28th, and of course, we will always celebrate that as her birthday. But quietly or with a loud bang or even in my quiet time with God, I will always celebrate this day as her birthday. This is "our gotcha day" as they say in the adoption world. Most would say that's the Embassy Apt day, but not for me. This was when I gave birth, this is when the Lord revealed His promise to us. This "was the day the Lord had made". And we absolutely "rejoice and are glad".
We love you sweet girl, you are a joy, delight, and gift to all of us and we celebrate in the gift of you.
P.S. Slide show of her birthday to come...I'm working on it.
The Babies (all cousins) of 08'. Joe Joe, Bella and Donnie
The Boat...for the first time, it never broke down! AMEN!
Annual Cousin Picture taken the last day of summer vacation.
My son the snake charmer.....yuck!
Nothing better than big brother
Lovin the little sister.
Daily cousin fun, they think of something different every day.
It's hard to say goodbye to summer. We are fortunate and blessed to live our summers at the family cottage. For us Midwesterners, summers are magical. For 3 short months, life comes to a complete halt and we do our very best to abandon structure and daily life to enjoy the great lakes, beaches, boating, camping, etc. For winters are long, and spring is brief. For my family, it means life at the cottage...surrounded by all my siblings, parents, nieces and newphews, friends and extended family. My kids experience their cousins in ways most people cant even imagine. For 3 months, we eat, sleep and drink family, and amazingly enough, we all get along and are generally sad when its over but celebrate in the time we enjoyed.
We spent the last 2 weeks at the cottage beaching it, skiing, tubing, bonfires, cooking, catching snakes and frogs, laughing, making new memories and taking endless photos. There are not enough words to express what my family means to me. This was a summer of challenges, change, transition and joy and they were there for our family through every step. My heavenly Father, thank you for every one of them....all the way down to the youngest, Joe Joe. I love you all so much and I treasure you always.
We celebrated Bella's 1st Birthday on August 28th, I plan to post photos and updates Friday as that is our "Referral Day" and in my eye's, her Birthday. For she was born to our family on that day.
So on to Fall! We love fall and Halloween is on of our very favorite holidays! It's just so much fun to be someone else for a day.
We have been so blessed with emails and calls of people who want to help us through this time of treatment for our daughter. Per suggestion of our social worker and friend, we are posting here what we feel will be most beneficial to our family at this time. Although the help is easy to give, its hard to receive, but we have been told by medical professionals an social workers that we will need it. Your love and support mean so very much to us, thank you.
1. Prayer, please see "Pray with Us" 2. Meals 3. Car Pooling from school 4. Continued emails and blog posts with encouraging words. (This means more to us than you can possibly know.) 5. Loving on our boys, this will be a time of sacrifice for them. 6. Child Care 7. GIVE BLOOD! Where ever you live, please give blood in honor of Bella. Save a life!
We want to personally recognize and thank all of you who have graciously helped us in one way or another. Whether its through meals, house cleaning, driving, errands, donations, gifts, etc. We so appreciate you and recognize the blessing from God in all of you. Every moment of every day we are privileged to see the face of Jesus in all of you. From our home to yours, thank you and "May God bless you and hold you in the palm of His hand." Please note, your emails and posts are greatly appreciated and needed just as much as any monetary blessing, please continue to do so as they lift us up daily.
The Stanley Family (Gretchen and Gillibean) Candy and Kya Blue Michelle and Abby Riggs Deb Vangorder All God's Children International http://www.allgodschildren.org/ Kentwood Community Church Kitty and Larry Jerard The VanderZwaag Family The Angerbauer Family The Infante Family Annie Bulthuis The Edwards Family The Ambrose Family The Claeys Family The Fabro Family The DeMarchis Family Peter Harmon Joe and Erin Harmon Mary and Dejan Vukic Keith and Daphne Edwards Susie Harmon Betty Harmon Courtney and Stella Sue Marvin Beth Hartlien Pam Sult Keller Williams Realty Grand Rapids KW Cares Grand Rapids Sue and Rob Harkema and Family Jenifer and Brian VanZanten and Family Action Chemical of Grand Rapids Celebration Entertainment-Brad Eley Trish Borgdorf-http://www.vangels.com/ John and Michelle Lawrence Larry and Kitty Girard Stacy and Bella Gail and Johanna Pam and Rick Foster Amy, Fred and Grace Nagel John and Tiffny Harmon Tom and Sandra Harmon Nancy and Don Harmon Ray and Linda Ferrick Helen Devos Childrens Hospital Dr. Deanna Mitchell Dr. Ron Hoffman Jenifer Gerwig and Family Jane and David Lautenbach Greg and Shannon Ferrick Karen and Chad Janney Cheri, Donnie and Malaena Harris
Our Home Address
Many of you have asked for our home address, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like this information. Again, we appreciate all the support and prayers. It has meant more to us than we are even able to put in to words.
Our Praise from Psalm 103
With all my heart, we Praise the Lord, And with all that we are, we Praise His Holy Name. With all our heart, we Praise the Lord, and we will never forget how kind he has been. His kindness and love are a crown on our heads. Each day that we live, He provides for our needs and gives us the strength of a young eagle. For all who are mistreated, the Lord brings justice. You oh Lord are merciful, kind and patient, your love never fails. How Great is our God! You are kind to all who worship you, You keep your promises to those who faithfully obey you All of you who serve and obey God, come and Praise your Lord! With all our hearts, We PRAISE the Lord!