"Celebration is the way in which faith in the God of life is lived out, through both laughter and tears."
˜Henri NouwenToday I hope to share some of the blessings and miracles that our family has experienced in these last few weeks that point to the unmistakable hand of God in the midst of our trial. We celebrate each of these and know that God is placing people and situations in our life to share our load and lift our spirits. He promises to do the same for each of you. I invite you to peek into the inner-workings of a Savior who cares for the details of life.....
- We have a close and large family, many members living within seconds and minutes from our house. Merely 3 months ago, Jon's parents moved onto our shared family property, the property we purchased 5 years ago right before we learned of his Dad's Lymphoma (Burkett's) battle. They are currently finishing their house that is "over the river and through the woods" from ours separated by several acres. We have privacy, yet we have Grandma and Grampa right there to help with the daily chores and tasks like taking down the trash can, letting out the chickens and making daily grocery drops since Grandma works at Raleys. Because of his experience beating this type of cancer, he has understanding, suggestions and little tricks to help with the chemo for Emma that none of us could know or understand.
- My mom and dad, sister Bethany, her husband Robb, my brother Garrett all live within 15 min. of our house and have acted as my right hand-or maybe a third hand in this case. Bethany and Robb's son Gavin attends school with my kids, so she has been able to pick up the boys any day that is necessary, and my mom and dad in their "retirement" are available and willing to do anything that comes to us. The kids spend time at both of their homes so often, that going to Grammy's or Bethany's after school or on the weekend is something they look forward to and cheer for. We are carried by their unending love and support.
- My brother in law Dan (Jon's sister Christa's husband) is a 4th year Pathology resident at USC. We have been texting pictures of the "bug bite" to them since the beginning. They are the ones who advised us to take her to the emergency room to get it looked at more closely after we'd been spinning our wheels for a few weeks not getting a correct diagnosis. That was the first step to getting the mystery solved. He was also able to fast track a 2nd opinion at both USC Medical Center as well as a confirmation of her specific treatment protocol at Children's Hospital of Los Angeles for us within days of us sending him the pathology slides from her surgery. We have peace of mind knowing that many eyes have looked at all her tests and biopsies and confirmed her diagnosis and treatment.
- My cousin Nate and his family have just finished their own 3 year battle with Leukemia with their son Isaiah. www.isaiahoates.com. Nate is also our pastor and shares life with us at Emmaus Church Community. www.emmauscommunity.org They have a level of understanding that only fellow parents of a child diagnosed with cancer can know. He was the first to come to our hospital room, the night we were admitted at Sutter Memorial. He walked into the room to hug me, and after lending me unspoken love and support, quietly mentioned that "this was Isaiah's room" It seems unfair that two kids in our close family should ever have to endure this trial, but there is support, there is honesty and there is comfort, because of that fact. All the nurses know Isaiah and his family and so we don't feel like strangers in the halls of the pediatric oncology department. Emma can't wait to share her Beads of Courage with Isaiah and his sister Sienna.
- Our wonderful and generous friends Amy and Bill Donovan have stepped up to organize our "master plan" of helpful and practical blessings from all of you. She has worked tirelessly creating an email list, data base, volunteer website (all of which are somewhat out of her comfort zone or expertise) and countless other tasks I don't even know about. She quietly slips in every evening to our home to deliver the meals that have been prepared for us, drops off our mail, receives hundreds of emails and phone calls for us, traveled to the hospital with me to fill out piles of paperwork and releases for Emma's 2nd opinion, all while being a mom and wife to her busy family. She has done this with such joy and humbleness. She has been a rock for me.
- Our friend and neighbors, Lorena and Dick live on our shared country road. They own the first miniature dachshund that Emma fell in love with 3 years ago, named Portia. We now own two dachshunds ourselves thanks to Emma's love of these little dogs, including our newest puppy Hank who is Portia's son. Dick and Lorena came driving up our driveway right before Christmas with three adorable puppies from Portia and my kids begged and pleaded and we decided that could be their "big" Christmas present. Hank is a huge comfort for Emma and is the puppy she holds in her recent pictures taken. Lorena happens to be a Pharmacist. She generously offered to be our personal Pharmacist through this journey. I simply call her with our newest prescriptions or medication needs and she fills them herself, has fast tracked the authorization of the meds with insurance, and delivers it all to our door. They have also agreed to "puppy sit" Hank any time we need to be at the hospital for an extended period of time.
- Joseph, our strong and determined, 12 year old and Emma's big brother, is a soccer player. He and two of his good friends and fellow team mates from his Select team decided they wanted to take a risk and try out for a local Competitive soccer club. The weekend between Emma's hospitalizations and before her diagnosis, he and his buddies took a deep breath and attended an intimidating try out with an unknown coach and scores of very talented players. On the first day, one friend was accepted to the team, the second day the other friend was accepted. On the final day, he came to us with a brave smile on his face stating that unfortunately he did not make it. That was a blow to us, since both of those friend's dads were his soccer coaches for the last two years as well and would no longer be coaching since their sons made the Comp team. John Rowland and Tony Federico are remarkable coaches and men of faith and examples to Joseph about having character and integrity both on and off the field. Fast forward 6 days after the tryout. Joseph also plays on an indoor team with those friends at a local indoor soccer facility. He had resigned himself to looking for other sport options for the fall and so played his indoor game with the confidence and abandon that comes when you have nothing to prove and nothing to gain. God knew.....the very coach that had cut him from the Comp team, also happens to own the indoor soccer facility (we did not know that). Joseph had the game of his life. The coach noticed and the next day Joseph was offered a spot on the Competitive team. This is a blessing to us as Joseph has an outlet, a focus for his extracurricular life, his close buddies are on his team, his former coaches are in his life, and both the Rowland and Federico families live right up the street from us and have offered rides to Joseph anytime during this new and very complicated schedule and location of practices. This team will carry Joseph almost to the end of Emma's scheduled treatment. A true miracle.
Support and Generosity
- There are so many who have stepped up in these last few days to show us your love and support through many ways. Thank you! ( I apologize if I've missed someone or something)
- Henning family who brough us food, shampoo, tea, Panera lunch and loaded Emma's ipod with music and stories while we were at the hospital
- Oates, Beidler, Ochoa, Henning, Willey, Hancock, Russell, Graupensperger families who have prepared meals for us.
- Sprouse and Hancock familes who have allowed Joseph to come home after school to work on science and burn some after school energy.
- Flom family who took Ben to the movies.
- Bethany, my sister and Emma's aunt who gave her a pedicure in her hospital room bed.
- Tessa, my sister and her husband Arnaud, in Paris, France, Dan and Christa is Los Angeles and all the cousins, Great Gramps and Granny Franny, and Anissa (Jon's sister) and her husband Chris in Illinois, for loving us and supporting us from afar.
- Mrs. Wenstrom and the families of Ben's 2nd grade class who threw him a fabulous and fun 8 year old birthday party
- Mrs. Sardella, who is working to help Emma not get behind at school and has arranged for skyping lessons and opportunites online for Emma so she doesn't miss the great parts of being a 4th grade student.
- The many friends and family who sent Ben a huge stack of birthday cards. He was thrilled!
- My friend's and colleagues at Harvest Ridge Cooperative Charter School who have filled the gaps during my absence, had love and hugs of support for me, visited us at the hospital, covered my PE classes, and have arranged subsitute teachers for my many roles at school and have promised to "keep my seat warm" for whenever I am able to return. Thank you Janel, Cathy, Andrea, Tina and Janet. I love you ladies and feel forever supported by you.
- The families and students at HRCCS, for lending your love and support and understanding as to why Mrs. Stanphill disappeared one day and has not been able to return to teach PE. Many have volunteered to help out in my absence and many have donated gas or grocery cards to help out.
- Sarah Sevey, my friend, for styling Emma's hair for her photo shoot, even while Emma layed face down on my lap due to her spinal headache.
- Nicole Cook, my friend and photographer, for caputuring Emma's strenghth and beauty in images for us.
- Kaitliyn Henning, 17 years old, who is fasting every Saturday in support of Emma.
- Riley, a young man who is shaving his head in honor of Emma.
- For the many friends who have offered ideas, suggestions, and volunteered to help Emma and honor her journey in ways yet to be announced.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.