Reflections of the Day....

 As I sit here at my computer, jammies on, slippers on my feet, and a hot cup of tea next to me, I reflect on the day's events.............. 

Today we had our first consultation with the doctor at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. I must say that, as the days have seemed to settle back into a bit more of a "normal" routine this past week, it almost seemed that the whole cancer thing was just a bad dream. That is, of course, until we pulled up to SCCA. Just the sign on the wall brought me jolting back into reality. Anna really does have cancer. We walked through the halls and were witness to lots of people milling about, some with staff tags around their necks, and others with bandanas on their bald heads, and sadness in their eyes. Yes, Anna indeed has cancer. Every corner you turn there are "sanitizing stations" as well as masks for anyone who might have a cough. The knot in the pit of my stomach was very real, I'm positive that the unsure look in our eyes as well as the uncertainty of where things were gave a clue to the "veterans" that we were "newbies" here. That will change in the near future, of course. As we sat in the waiting room, we each had our electronic devices and reading material out, though I don't know if any of us got much reading accomplished at all. We paused and got a few photos in front of the window over looking Lake Union. Then we were called back. Within just a few minutes, we were meeting Dr. Ann Woolfrey who would be sitting with us for the next couple of hours to go over everything concerning Anna and her CML treatment options and risks. She informed us that she is just one of several doctors that we will be seeing as they have a rotation and whomever is on the clock will be our attending. The information she gave was thorough and sobering. Though the outlook for Anna does seem bright considering how many siblings she has! The doc showed us on the white board why her sibs are such optimum candidates for donor matches, then explained why, if none of our other children are a match, a complete stranger would be more likely a suitable donor than her Daddy or Mommy. We also were informed that no results were back yet from the blood tests being done on our four older children...a real bummer as we were so hoping for that answer! The very real explanation of what will go on with a bone marrow transplant and what risks this involves hit home pretty hard. However, we had a strength and peace that passeth all understanding from an Almighty God! To God be the glory!

We were then given a tour of the floors we will be frequenting at SCCA in the months to come. As we walked through the halls, I thought to myself what a very different mission field the Lord is bringing the Houston family to....a people who need HOPE!

After our consultation and tour of SCCA, we headed on over to Seattle Children's Hospital for yet another tour. This time we were shown the cancer floor where Anna will spend anywhere from 1- 1 1/2 months. They have a children's play room, swimming pool, family rooms, and a kitchen to store and heat food. We were shown all of the supplies that will be at our disposal while there. Each room door who has a child receiving a transplant is decorated with a sign saying, "happy transplant day _____!" The walls are graced with cancer patients' pictures. I must admit that, while I stayed strong and controlled at SCCA, I had a harder time while at SCH. My daughter is going to be a patient here and she is going to get really sick. I know she will be a patient at SCCA, but the rooms look more like a regular clinic rather than that of a hospital for really really sick people. It may also be because at SCCA, things were quieting down for the day while at Children's, family members were still wandering the halls. There was a huge line up of small bicycles and tricycles for young patients and their siblings to ride on around the halls- another reminder of how young so many of the patients here are, and another reminder of the mission field we are soon to enter.

After the tour at Children's, we went on over to the Ronald McDonald house and got yet another quick tour. We only got to see the common areas of the smaller house tonight, but it gave us an idea of what we may need in the future to consider. You all might pray that the Lord will guide us in what to do about accommodations while needing to be within a 20-30 minute drive from both places. There are so many weighty decisions that face us right now, but we know that God is in control and it is no mistake that we are facing these things. We know that we face them, not alone, but with a loving Heavenly Father at our side.

Daddy and Anna in the waiting room at Fred Hutch

Mom and Anna

Naomi and Anna
We are all so grateful for all of the help we have received already, as well as the prayers and words of encouragement from all over the world! We hope to be that same kind of encouragement and light shining in darkness for all that we come into contact with in the months to come! We treasure this opportunity and pray that many seeds will be planted and souls given a reason for hope!

On a much more "pleasant" and "playful" note, I must say with great happiness, that today I had about FOUR or FIVE people think that I was Naomi and Anna's SISTER!!!!! So that totally makes up for the vintage thing of last week! (Only once did someone say they thought we were all sisters with our Dad, cough cough, the other times it was stated that they thought we were all four siblings!)

And now, as I pillow my head for some much needed sleep, I will rest in the promises of a Sovereign God. And whether it be in this life or life eternal, our daughter WILL be healed!

"Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases....." Psalm 103:1-3

A Bit Left Out?

I'm thinking that maybe Nathanael has been feeling a bit left out lately? No, just kidding! Poor kid was wrestling with his brothers and another boy when someone jumped on his hand, breaking his finger! This all happened Friday evening.

Somehow, I think the middle finger shouldn't turn in toward his index finger......

Saturday we went in to our Doc who agreed with us, it's busted pretty badly!
Soooo, what to do? Numb the finger, and set it! Yikes!

Michael and Julia watch as he gets a shot in the finger. Ouch!

Nathanael had to wait a few minutes for the finger to be numb enough, and then the Doc came in, and pulled his finger straight! It had a nice loud cracking sound......ugh! A nice splint holds it securely and Monday we will get an x-ray to make sure the set worked, if not it's to the ortho with Nathanael!

He chose a red wrap, I guess it was better than purple? ;-) In two weeks we will get another x-ray to make sure it's healed enough to start exercising that finger.

My brave son deserved a special treat so we went to Dairy Queen....he ordered a Blizzard and the rest of us got hot fudge sundaes!

A Treasure In the Making

Here are a few pictures of our new table that is being built. My men went out to help out on it a while ago. I am so excited about the finished product! It's going to be the most beautiful table ever!!

So thankful for the Mathis family for giving so willingly of their time and talents!

The boys pausing for a quick shot!

Hard at work, love the look of concentration!

Ok, enough with the pictures! (I can imagine is what they were thinking!)

Again, LOVE the look of concentration!

What a great opportunity to learn and bless the family!

The wood grain is gorgeous!

I can't wait until it's finished and in it's place! It will be so wonderful to have our family table as the center piece of our home, a place of hospitality, fellowship, and discipleship.  

A Very Happy Birthday!

A very Happy Birthday to the love of my life!

To the best husband ever!
My best friend, confidante, leader, lover, provider, protector....

Who loves his girls.....

Who loves his boys....

Who loves the Lord with all of his heart, soul, mind, and strength.
We love you, I love you!!!!
Thank you for being you! Thank you for leading us in the ways of the Lord!
Hope your day is full of blessings!

Happy 37th Birthday!!!!

Monday's Appointment

Monday morning we woke up bright and early to prepare for a big day. It was the day our four older children would get their blood drawn to be tested to see who, if any of them, will be a match to Anna. The ladies taking the blood and filling out the paperwork were over joyed at the desire of these siblings to be the match! They were also pleased to see the fun we could all have even in such serious times. We were able to share the joy we have in Christ.

After the blood draws, Craig and I went with Anna to her check up. She has lost some more weight. In the last two weeks, since her very first appointment with Dr. Irwin, Anna has lost eight pounds. Her appetite is almost completely gone. And when she is hungry, she feels over full after just a couple of bites. Our goal now is to put some weight on her before treatment. She will start a prescription that will give her an appetite again. Plus she must increase her daily caloric intake by quite a bit. This will help her in the days to come. All in all, we discussed how she has been feeling with any and all "little" symptoms being brought up. The CML is definitely taking it's toll on our precious Anna. 

The results of the blood tests will be ready anywhere from one to two weeks. We are praying that the match will be one of the four. We will be meeting with our new Doc in Seattle next Tuesday. She will go over everything we will need to know including which treatment options are best for Anna. She should also have a better timeline for us to look at for everything. We will also get a tour of the hospital and possibly the Ronald McDonald house. Please pray that we will be able to take in each detail and not be overwhelmed by it all. We want to have a peace of mind for Anna. And to not miss anything.

Naomi's turn!

Nathanael showing us all that he went first!

Daniel showing his arm off proudly!

Samuel with a smile is happily giving his blood

Anna showing she's got moxie!

Say cheese!

And Anna had to give the most...... :-(

Daddy anxiously watching his babies getting blood drawn

Daniel had to be a part of this pic, his hand is the one sticking out with the peace sign
For a special treat, we went to Red Robin for lunch. We enjoyed the time together. It was there that I found something out:

A quick funny...........
Vintage?! Really?!
I was a bit distraught to find out that I am now considered vintage! I was born in 1977! Yikes! Well, everyone had their laugh, but I got mine in the end.....
On our way home, we stopped by Costco (Anna has to drink 3 Ensures everyday plus her (new) "normal" high calorie meals!). Craig saw a young woman with her little boy struggling with her cart. So, in his gentlemanly way, he offered to help her. The little boy asked him what his name was, Craig told him, "My name is Craig." The boy then looked up at his mom and said, "He's just like my GRANDPA!!!!!!" Hahahahahahahhahahahahahahaha! I couldn't stop laughing! This probably shouldn't have been that funny to me, but it was! If I'm vintage and he is a "grandpa" like man, then we MUST be getting old! Thought I'd leave you all with a bit to chuckle over!

Anna Update.........

We got the results back from Anna's bone marrow sample. We praise the Lord that, though there are a lot of cancer cells, they found no blast cells. Blast cells would indicate advanced stages of leukemia.

We heard from Seattle, they would like to have everyone from Michael on up get tested for a match. If none of them are a match, we will then turn to the younger ones. We are confident that everything will work out, as God has put so many things together for us and we are blessed.

 Monday, Anna has her weekly check up and we hope to schedule the blood draws for this day as well. We don't know how long it takes to get the results back, but in my impatience, I sure hope it's pretty quick!  We are scheduled to meet Anna's new doctor in Seattle on October 30. We will discuss the options we have, including which type of transplant we will be looking into. There are two types, a bone marrow transplant and a stem cell transplant, these are two very different things, one being much more invasive and one not so much. Either way, Anna will have a long hospital stay and the donor will too. The donor will need to be in the hospital for three days prior to the transplant and eight days following the transplant.

We have been so blessed by the outpouring of love and support from everyone! Beautiful flowers adorn our home from very sweet and loving friends! Yesterday, Anna received flowers in the mail from an anonymous friend who happened to know her favorite color and flower, as well as our family "theme" verses! So, a thank you to who ever that was! Anna's words, "That brightened my day!"

From Matt and Bekka (a sweet couple from church)

Roses from the Roses!!! ;-)

1/2 Way to 18.........

Julia Katherine is the big 9....the half way mark on the "road" to 18! I remember when we realized that truth about Naomi, and now she is turning 18!! The time goes too fast, so I know that in just a blink of an eye JuJu will also be turning 18....

Julia is a fun loving girl with much spunk. 
She loves to read, ride her bike, and play games.

Julia has decided to have fun cereal for her birthday breakfast. Her dinner is to be "walking tacos" with her friends. She is excited to have a party in her honor. She loves to spend time with her friends.

Life is always filled with fun and laughter when Julia is around. She is a beautiful girl who loves her Mommy and Daddy and her Brothers and Sisters very much. She has a tender heart.

I am so thankful that the Lord has blessed our home with this Jewel of a girl!!!!

Happy Birthday Sweet Julia!!!!! We love you and hope your day is super special!!!!!

And a Very Happy Birthday, Zeke!!!

Today is Ezekiel's 3rd birthday! We love our boy so very much! We have been so blessed to have this ornery little man in our lives! While he may be ornery, he is also very loving and cuddles a bunch. He loves his family. He is learning about the love of Jesus and it comes out when he speaks. Zeke enjoys tracing letters and numbers and also enjoys reading books with anyone who will take the time. His latest discovery is that we all have bones inside of our skin. If he bumps his head he will tell us through tears that he has hurt his bones! He told me yesterday that he loves his doggy and kitty very much and he prays for them. I told him that the Bible says that a righteous man regards the life of his beast, so I am glad he loves his animals!

I love three year olds! I love that everything is still so new and exciting to them and that they are learning so much! Ezekiel is very much becoming a big boy!
We are having a bug party for him this afternoon. He is so excited! The boys will "hunt" for plastic bugs around the living room and have a dirt and worms cake.

The newborn, Zeke
Zeke, about 1 week old

One year

Mommy's little Prince!

Such a serious look!

So excited!!

Look out World!

Happy Birthday, Ezekiel! We love you sooooo much!!! We hope you have the best day EVER!