Anna's Appointment

Anna had her weekly appointment today. Thankful that, the weight she had lost last week was back, though she still needs about another ten pounds. Her new medicine wasn't in yet, so we have to wait a little longer to switch over. We are working with Dr. Irwin to regulate Anna's daily schedule so as to help her regulate her pain and sleep, as well as caloric intake.

 We had asked about a more specific look at dates for the transplant and got a very interesting answer. Dr. Irwin has never before had this type of response before, but most bone marrow transplants are done immediately as most leukemia patients have acute leukemia which is fast moving, unlike chronic myelogenous leukemia, which starts out slow moving. The doctor at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance said to tell us to go ahead and pick the date! He said May, June, July, whatever we want, their schedule is open! So please pray for us to have wisdom in this decision making! Also, if Anna's new meds don't help her quality of daily living, the transplant will be moved up. Five to six months can be a very long time when you are in so much pain and can hardly walk or stand for very long. I am thankful for Anna's sweet smile and the courage she has to face each new day!
 We are currently doing all we can to enjoy each and every day! I feel a bit selfish right now as I want as much family time as possible before her transplant. This might sound like a strange prayer request.....but please pray it snows on Christmas! I think it would make the day extra special to wake up to a winter wonderland!!! To be snuggled by the fire together, drinking hot cocoa (or coffee depending on which family member) and enjoying time together reading the true Christmas story and opening our gifts...all would make for the perfect day.
Anna gets a two week "vacation" from going to doctor's appointments. What will we do? We're going to Disney Land! Haha, just kidding! It's actually kind of funny, but the more you see of someone, the more "like family" they become! (So, we might actually MISS the staff at Dr. I's office!) I really can't say what all we will do at this point, but it doesn't matter. We will enjoy being just us.
 All in all, I can say that, while it is very hard to see my little girl's health decline, God is good! He blesses us daily! We have much to be thankful for. Each day is a gift, one that we want to use well. We are learning that we MUST redeem our time. We don't know what tomorrow will bring. We can rest in the knowledge that Anna's life (as with all of our lives) is in His hands. God is sovereign and is guiding us down the path He has chosen for us. I don't need to worry about tomorrow. Yes, I do get sad at times and that's okay. But I have the joy of the Lord as my strength! This illness has been a reminder that I need to hug each of my babies tight every day. I need to make every little moment into a big moment, cherishing my children, instilling God's love in them, nurturing them in the admonition of the Lord.
 They need to see us as the Mommy and Daddy, and the big sister or big brother, allowing God to work in our lives. We need to point out God's goodness to them in everything. For He is good, and His mercy endureth forever!
 Make the most of your todays......give God the glory for every moment He has gifted you with. May the Lord of the universe bless you all!!!

Anna Update

Sorry, dear folks, for the delay in posting. One of my little children thought my computer needed more "Memory" and therefore put a "Memory" game card in the disk drive! I had to laugh when the computer was brought back home with the game piece taped to the front of the screen! Oh well, the computer is back and working well once again!

Now for the much needed Anna update......

Cool hat, Anna!
Anna's white blood cell count is down even further! Also, her red count as well as her platelets, which had lowered with the Gleevec, are up and closer to normal. Due to the extreme pain that Anna is in, the doctor is switching her cancer meds from Gleevec to something else. This will start next week. We want Anna to have a better quality of life during the wait period. If her cancer cells increase, we will immediately put her back on the Gleevec and she will have to live with the pain. Please pray that the change in meds will work well!!! We still have had no word on which brother is the closest match or the date they are looking at for transplant. We would like the date soon so we can look into housing over there. Thank you all for your love, support, and especially the prayers!

I was sorting through some papers and came across this year's ladies' retreat brochure. The theme for the retreat was, "His Strength is Perfect". Little did we know what would be taking place just months later, and that Anna's body had already started making cancer cells. Look at the color of the flower and the words "is perfect"..... Do you think that just MAYBE God knew what He was doing?

Our New Table

On Monday before Thanksgiving, our new table was brought to our home. This beautiful table was a gift from our wonderful church family, in celebration of our tenth anniversary here at Westside Baptist Church. We also were able to purchase 16 new chairs. I am amazed at how well the colors match up! Bro. Kory Mathis handcrafted this amazing piece of work! His wife and children sacrificed time with their husband/dad so we could have this one of a kind piece of furniture. We are so thankful for the hard work and all of the love that went in to making this table! We had thought of looking at Amish Touch to get our table set, but both of us decided that if Kory was willing, that we would much rather have him build it for us! You see, the family table is an important part of our home and we want it to be the center of where discipleship takes place, both of our children, and of those we bring in to our home. We are so very pleased with the outcome!

The table is 14 feet long, with no leaves, so it had to be assembled inside our house. The wood is African Sapele, a mahogany that has had it's natural color pigment brought out by a procedure called pot ash. So the color is what the wood would naturally look like 100 years from now. I call this my "castle table".  I truly feel like a queen sitting at it!

I love that it is the center piece of our home!!!!

Behold! The king and queen! ;-) A very happy and BLESSED couple!

The craftsman and his beautiful bride! Thank you!!!!
That evening, Ian and Rosa came over, Ian to help with the table and Rosa who brought homemade lasagna and bread over for dinner! What a blessing that was and so yummy, too!

Before we ate, we all gathered around our newly assembled table. We held hands and Craig read the Scriptures:

"Blessed is everyone that feareth the Lord; that walketh in his ways. For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee. Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table. Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the Lord. The Lord shall bless thee out of Zion: and thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life. Yea, thou shalt see thy children's children, and peace upon Israel." Psalm 128

Then he had his father lead us in prayer, and he followed in prayer. After this, Kory spoke a few very touching words. This was a glorious dedication of our table and then we sat and ate a delicious meal, the first meal to be eaten around this massive table. 

Thank you, Westside Baptist Church for this generous and thoughtful gift! Thank you for knowing what would bless us most! We pray this gift will be used for generations to come to bless many and to give honor and glory to our most loving Saviour, Jesus Christ! Thank you also, Kory for taking your time and using your God given talent to make this for us! Thank you, Jonna and children for sacrificing your time with your husband and daddy so that we might receive this blessing! We love you all!!
Together in His service,

Craig & Emily Houston
Naomi, Anna-Rene'e, Samuel, Daniel, Nathanael, Michael, Julia, Lydia, Abigail, Ezekiel, and Selah

Praises to our Almighty God!!!!!!

I am so thrilled to report to you all that the Gleevec Anna is on has put her white blood cell count to.....


Yes, you read it correctly, I said normal!!!! We are rejoicing in this good news. Her red blood cell count and her platelet count are also in the normal range! Now, this does NOT mean that she is all better. This just means that the medicine is doing it's job and that we will be able to wait until this summer for her bone marrow transplant. Also, her weight is up just a bit...not what it needs to be, but up nonetheless. Her height is at 85% for her age and gender, her weight is at 75%. She needs all the nutrition and strength she can get before she goes in for transplant to help her body fight this cancer. 

Anna is in a lot of physical pain. Her bones hurt, a throbbing and sometimes sharp pain runs through them. Her muscles also ache as if she has just done a rigorous workout. Anna is very very tired but her body refuses to shut down at night, causing her to lay awake until 3, sometimes 4 in the morning. Her doctor has prescribed something for her but encouraged us to try melatonin first. In all of this we know that God is at work in our lives. He is molding us and shaping us into the vessels He desires us to become. We are comforted as we lean on the Lord for strength and have peace of mind as we consider that God is in control of this situation and all situations for that matter. 

I am so thankful for this bit of good news today. I ask that you all keep on praying! Please pray for an extra measure of grace to sustain Anna as she continues to endure the pain as well as the thoughts of what is yet to come in the next several months. We desire to make the most of this time we have together enjoying the little things in life. Celebrating milestones such as Anna being able to eat a  WHOLE plate of food!!! God is good.

Days of Thanksgiving

I hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving!! We definitely did! We praise the Lord for answered prayer in allowing our sweet Anna to be here for this day of feasting, fellowshipping, and, most importantly, reflecting and thanking the Lord for everything in our lives. I was reminded of the fact that just four years ago, we had the same type of prayer request as we almost lost our dear son, Daniel, to septic shock. We had been told (after he survived the worst of it) that we'd be lucky if he came home from the hospital before Thanksgiving....he came home two days before!!! I am thankful that all of my children were once again home to celebrate this holiday with us! We enjoyed time with our family, old friends, and new friends. It was a day spent around our new dining room table, another thing to be thankful for! (I'll be posting on that soon!)

Wednesday, while we were preparing for Thursday's festivities, Craig took Anna to her oncologist as she was experiencing some complications due to her CML. Blood work revealed that the Gleevec is working already!!!! After just a couple of weeks on it, her white blood cell count was down to 40,000. We are so thankful for this! However, there are other complications that have arisen as well. Her red blood cell count is low as well as her platelet count. She is now on iron, and a few other meds for regulation. We do rejoice in that Anna gets to take pain medication now. The Gleevec unfortunately causes extreme bone pain, joint pain, and muscle pain. So much so that Anna can barely move at times. She winces in pain whenever she tries to get up to do anything. It also is causing water retention and swelling in her face. We are thankful for her smile and her sweet spirit in all of this. She has been brave, though I know it's not easy for her.

The day after Thanksgiving, we stayed in our pjs just laying low. We enjoyed a turkey hash brunch which has become a tradition for Craig to make. I helped this year as I didn't do much cooking the day before.....ahh, the joy of reaping from your children what you have taught them! We did a bit of cleaning up after Thursday's events, and then went on over to the study for family movie time. I chose "The Ultimate Gift", though I must confess that I wasn't as ready to watch it as I thought I was! For those who haven't seen it, it deals with a little girl who has leukemia and eventually dies at the end. Ok, bad choice on my part, but it's a good movie. We ended with "It's a Wonderful Life", then with a reading in the book of Psalms and a time of prayer, it was off to bed with the little ones, and now I am off as well.

Here's to each of you, may you all have a blessed weekend!

Last But Not Least....

Last but not least, it's Samuel's 15th birthday today! Samuel is the last Houston birthday of the year. So, what can I say about Sam? Let me just start with the fact that he won my heart from the very first moment I laid eyes on him!!! If you know him, it won't be difficult for you to believe me when I say that he was the sweetest little guy from day one.....ok, he wasn't so little at 9 lbs 7oz!!! He was a "little" chatter box, always with a sweet spirit as he'd play and gurgle at everyone who would pass by him! Rare it was to see him without a smile. He would be content to play quietly (and sometimes not so quietly) for hours.

Samuel is still a good natured, fun loving, adventurous, young man. We are so proud of our son who has had to wait for his turn to go on a missions trip with dad. He has done so with the greatest attitude and spirit. I know it's been hard for him to have to wait, but I know that when he does get to go, the trip will bless many! We are also blessed by his extreme joy over the fact that he is one of two matches to his "big" sister, Anna, and may get to be her bone marrow donor. I think he and Daniel may have some arm wrestling to do over it.... ;-) we'll see!

Samuel has a love for God that shows in his countenance. He also loves and honors his Dad and Mom. He is an awesome "little" and "big" brother to his ten brothers and sisters. At this point in his life, he desires to become a Navy Seal, though he is open to whatever the Lord leads. He is enthusiastic in his endeavors to grow in grace and knowledge, even when it's difficult. He loves Boy Scouts and is very close to obtaining the rank of Eagle which is the highest rank that only 3% of all Scouts get to. Samuel serves at church as an usher and also is learning in the sound tech ministry. He has learned much through serving and is developing his leadership abilities as well. 
I love this young man immensely!!!! I pray that Samuel will continue to grow up to serve, honor, and glorify our loving Saviour, Jesus Christ, in ALL he does! No matter what! 

Happy Birthday, Son! We love you and are blessed by you!!!!!

Samuel's 11th!

Samuel's 10th birthday! (wow, 5 years ago!)

Good sushi, even better company! Dad and son in L.A., CA at a conference

First Boy Scout camp! FUN!!!!

I just thought this was an awesome picture of him!

On my honor, I will do my best..........

A top the Parche sail....ahem, I seriously doubt you are actually supposed to climb this, but hey, it was worth it for the pic!!!

So handsome!

Love his smile!

Horse back riding at the Bradrick farm

His goofy side! ;-)

At the shooting range at men's retreat last year.

Shooting the AR15

His 14th birthday.... seems like yesterday!

Loving his baby sister

Always up for a challenge!

Wow! So grown up AND handsome!

Happy 5th Birthday, Abigail!!!!!!

Abigail came into this world, five years ago today at 7:19 am. She weighed in at 8 lbs 3 oz.

Abigail: Hebrew, "my father rejoices" or "source of delight"
Faith: Latin, "to trust"

Abigail is a spunky little girl that really is a source of delight to our entire family! She loves life!! Abby is excited to have a princess themed birthday party this Thursday. For her special day today, Abby has chosen to have German pancakes for breakfast and pizza bites for dinner.

Abigail loves school and is learning her letters very well! She is eager to read and write. I can't believe how fast she is growing up! FIVE?!! Where does the time go?

Going through her pictures, it's amazing to me just how much her little sister, Selah looks like she did!! And I am reminded how life is as a vapor. While I miss the days of her babyhood, she is a wonderful girl that I look forward to the many years ahead if the Lord gives them! I pray that she will come to a saving knowledge of the Saviour, Jesus Christ and serve Him and love Him with all of her heart! I pray that she will be used in a mighty way to bring honor and glory to the One true and living God! I know that God has a plan and a purpose for each of my children and I will enjoy watching His plan for Abigail unfold in our midst.

Enjoy the smattering of pictures that I chose to share of our precious daughter, Abigail Faith Houston.

Abigail, in my tummy

Newly born, getting checked by our awesome doctor!

My sweet baby girl!

look at those chubby cheeks!

Abby's first Christmas!

Missing those days....

Cute little punkin!

Looks like Selah here!!!

So photogenic!

Abby loves her siblings!

Always ready to say, "cheese!"

Such a sweet picture!

Getting so big!

Helping mommy study for ladies retreat!

A typical Abby look!

Such a fun little girl!

loving having the camera aimed at her!

Such a serious look! 

A great shot from her sissy, Anna!

Our 5 year old!
A very Happy 5th Birthday Abigail Faith!!! We love you so much!!!!!