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!
One year ago today, I walked in to a small yellow room with 3 cribs and 5 babies. In the crib directly in front of me laid my sweet sleeping daughter. Her little face was facing away from me, at first glance, I could only see the shiny black hair I stroked when she was 3 weeks old. I will never forget that moment. I will never forget the raw emotions, and overwhelming joy, what it felt like to hold her again after 8 months, the answered pray that she knew me when I picked her up and she looked at me, smiled and then nuzzled her face in my shoulder. I will never forget the tears rolling down my face and her special Mother as we were reunited, the softness of her hair on my cheek, the tininess of her hands and feet. I will never forget the smile on her Daddy's face when he held her that first time in 8 months, the desperateness of our reliance on God, and the relationship we grew in Christ. I will never "never forget what God has done, for it is marvelous in our eye's". It has been the sweetest year despite all we have been through.
It was not the day I planned or hoped for. Our morning started off slow, and quickly abrupted into busyness. I had planned to dress Bella in a special outfit, meet Daddy for lunch in celebration of this day, read books, play at the park and lay in the sun beam in my family room on the floor with Bella in my arms praising God as I did so many day's while praying and believing her home. Instead, I found my self in the car dealership for an apt. I forgot about, running around town for Electrical plugs, showing the handyman around my home for all the "little things" that needed repair, driving the boys here and there for all their events, finalizing details for a listing sold and dealing with a crying and emotional baby girl on steroids. One year ago the day was magical and utterly joyful, a year later...I was still blessed and much is to be praised, for Bella is home. Yet I find myself at the end of the day disappointed that I was not able to enjoy this special day more in the physical realm, but I know that I know that my spirit is rejoicing with God and all His angels in what was accomplished one year ago today and what has been manifested since.
I am so tempted to pick that sweet little girl up and rock her back and forth and sing... "I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as I'm living, my baby you'll be".
This is from the book "I'll love you forever", I read this to all my babies and made a tune to go with the words and I sing it to this day to all of them.
On Sunday we will celebrate our Forever Family Day. This is the day one year ago that Dave and I brought Bella home to her brothers, grand parents, cousins, all extended family and friends. I have a video from that glorious moment that I have never posted and plan to do on Sunday. We are still trying to figure out how we want to celebrate that day as we also have a "First Communion" to celebrate with my niece. I am confident God will show us the perfect way to glorify Him and celebrate in the victory and promise that He did.
One year ago today.....I am still crying and standing in His glory. How great is our God!
For all those following my blog since last year....can you guess what tomorrow is? Yes....tomorrow is clinic day for Bella, she has a physical, bone marrow aspiration (spinal tap) chemo, and we have our consultation regarding maintenance, but there is something even more important to celebrate tomorrow, leave me a post and tell me what you think it is?
I was hoping to upload a few pics of Bella with her boys and new toys, but my son downloaded them and now we cant find them. So tomorrow I will post pics. :)
Yes...it's true, we received official word on Monday that Bella will begin 1 1/2 years of Chemo maintenance on Monday the 27th! I find it interesting that Monday is also the one year anniversary of the day we left to pick Bella up for good. We will begin the day with a physical for Bella, discussion on what maintenance will entail and then she will have another spinal tap and chemo. Maintenance will still involve chemo, but not as often. By mid June, we will go from twice a week apt's to once a month with a few blood counts in between. According to our nurse, our life will start to resume a little more normalcy. Dave and I are just so thrilled to have the toughest part behind us, Bella is so herself again, strong, happy, laughing and walking. It's good to be "normal" again.
Today, I was finally able to take Bella to the park. She has not had any chemo for 2 weeks now, so I took advantage of her normal blood counts and we spent some time climbing and swinging. I just feel so incredibly blessed and hugged by God to have had this last year with Bella. I am not sure what our life would have been like with out Leukemia her first year home, but I do know that God gave me back all the time I lost with her when she was in Guatemala.
Today is our 1 year anniversary of receiving our PINK from US Embassy....will post more later today.
Bella with "her boys" and cousin Collin Easter Morning.
We had a nice weekend with family over Easter. Bella really has been doing well other than a cold and low Hemoglobin. I knew over Easter Weekend that she would most likely need blood on Monday morning and I was right. She was looking pale, and although she is a very good baby, she was exceptionally calm. Her hemoglobin was the lowest its been since December, 6.6. So hour 1 hour apt turned into an all day affair at the hospital on Monday.
The big news is.....her team of doctors are discussing starting MAINTENANCE!!!!! Could a more normal life and schedule be around the corner? We are so excited. Irregardless, the worst of the the chemo is over. We are also discussing with doctors on removing her broviach and replacing it with a port so that she can be active in the water this summer. About 6 more weeks till "The Cottage" opening....we are counting down the days.
We are also talking about our "Forever Family Day" and what we want to do for that. For us, that day is May 3rd, that is the day we walked off the airplane and placed Bella in to the arms of her brothers, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and Cousins. I think that pretty much sums up "family day".
Pray....we hear this all the time, "pray for me, pray for others, pray, pray, pray. In the last couple of years, I have really come to understand what prayer is, but never have I heard it put so simply until recently.
How simple....it's not the ritual prayers we speak, its not church every Sunday, but ever day relationship with our Creator and Father.
P raise R epent A sk Y ield
Exactly how Jesus instructed us to pray through what we now know as the "Lord's Prayer". I loved this simple explanation of how to pray, and I can't help but think how many more of us would spend time in prayer if we simply took a few minutes to praise, repent, ask and yield. I know the world would be better for it.
Bella and her new Easter Basket....I think it's one size too big.
Susie and Jake
My Jacob celebrated his 12th birthday yesterday and I celebrated my 41st today. I don't feel 41 and my baby still feels like my baby even though he is twelve. God did promise that "my youth was renewed every day", so that's my story and I am sticking to it.
Bella continues to do well, she has a little cold and kindly passed it on to the rest of us. Last week she had an unexpected transfusion on Wednesday...the day after I had the stomach flu. It was a long day at the hospital, but today, her blood counts were great other than her ANC (absolute nutrifil count) which is to be expected from the chemo. So its a low key Spring Break for us as she is highly susceptible to catching germs. We do our part, God does the rest...its all good.
I placed a descent order last week from the "pretty lady" line at Gymboree and it came today. I am not a big Gymboree girl, Baby Luly is my favorite, but the Lady Bug line was all to perfect and PINK. It all came today and it was a wonderful birthday present. Cant wait to spend a morning trying the outfits on her. She was walking around the house this afternoon carrying them all around in her arms...that's my girl.
I hope to post tomorrow on something I heard about PRAYER this past weekend, it brought it all in to perspective for me and made praying so simple and perfect.
Oh ya.....these our boys! Are they awesome or what?!!! I am so incredibly proud of Nate and Jake as well as their other band members Luke and Brian. They performed for their school last Thursday for the middle school and rocked them out. Nate is the guitarist (black hat with purplish shirt on) and Jake is the drummer. The boys actually performed the same song twice as the first performance was for "You Tube". The second performance was because the kids were screaming for more and the teachers approved. Nate and I worked on a mix of both those videos. They had way too much fun that day and so did I. I am one proud Mama.
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 email@example.com 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!