Monday, November 25, 2013
We're thankful for another report of clear scans today.
Thankful for hearing Dr. Mitchell, Chloe's oncologist, say "she looks perfect" as she laughs while trying to get Chloe to walk and run down the hallway to check her gait.
Thankful for the way that God has walked with us on this journey.
Thankful for the way that you, our family and friends, have also accompanied us.
Thankful for all of the new friends we've met and new places we've seen as a result of a cancer diagnosis.
Thankful for the countless ways our church, Third Reformed, has supported us along the way.
Thankful for the way we've learned that we're fortunate, that's there's no guarantee of good health for Chloe, or any of us. There's no assurance that tomorrow will be okay, and that's where the faith comes in.
Thankful for the way that we've learned to live life differently, day-by-day, appreciative of the little things.
And while no day is perfect, it's what we have, and we're thankful for it.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.
Saturday, August 17, 2013
Make-A-Wish Trip: Yellowstone, a set on Flickr.
I've finally distilled the 911 photos from our trip down to a more manageable 61 if you'd like to get a quick overview of our amazing trip. If you click on the photos individually there's description for many of the photos to add a little commentary.
Several people have asked if the trip met Chloe's expectations. We don't think she had any expectations. We started planning this trip as Chloe finished up treatment a year and a half ago. Our thought at that time, and continues to be, that cancer had affected our entire family and it would be great if this trip could be a way for the whole family to create new memories together. In that way, the trip met and exceeded all expectations. There was something (many things!) that each person enjoyed. For Chloe, being six, the limo ride, the gift shops, the stuffed animals and the real animals, and the indoor water park at the hotel in Rapid City were the highlights.
We're thankful to the great number of people and organizations that donate to Make-A-Wish to make trips like this a reality for families.
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
In true Make-A-Wish style, we'll be picked up at our house in a limo and transported to the Grand Rapids airport where we'll be flying to Chicago and then on to Jackson Hole, WY. Thanks so much to Erica in the Michigan Make-A-Wish office and Dana in the Wyoming office for putting together an amazing trip for our family!
Here's our basic itinerary in case anyone has any additional recommendations of must-see stops along our route. We'll try to write a few posts while we're traveling, but probably most photos will be on our Facebook pages in case you're interested (C & K).
Thursday, August 1 - Staying at Signal Mountain Lodge in Grand Teton National Park.
Friday, August 2 - Exploring the Tetons and then heading into Yellowstone. We'll be staying at the Old Faithful Inn tonight and and Saturday night.
Saturday, August 3 - Visiting the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center and more Yellowstone stops.
Sunday, August 4 - Heading towards Mammoth Hot Spring and the Roosevelt area for the Old West Roosevelt Dinner Cookout. Staying at the Canyon Lodge.
Monday, August 5 - Taking a scenic cruise on Yellowstone Lake and then exploring the lakes area. Staying at the Canyon Lodge again.
Tuesday, August 6 - Today we'll be heading out of the park and staying at the Chico Hot Springs Resort.
Wednesday, August 7 - This is the official end of the Make-A-Wish portion of the trip, but we decided that since we were this far west, we might as well extend our trip. We'll be staying an additional night at the Chico Hot Springs.
Thursday, August 8 - We're hitting the road and heading toward Rapid City, SD. When looking for a spot to stay in Rapid City, we happened to find a hotel with an indoor water park. This is what Chloe seems to be mentioning the most at this point! :>)
Friday, August 9 - Visiting Mount Rushmore and other sights in the area. Recommendations?
Saturday, August 10 - Flying back to Grand Rapids.
Someone mentioned to us that our return to Lighthouse was well-timed in terms of reminding us why we're taking this Make-A-Wish trip. While I can't say a day goes by without something reminding me of our family's journey through childhood cancer (will it always be this way?), it has been good to be reminded of what we went through as a family and how much we have to be thankful for. Yesterday while posting on our family blog, I happened to notice Chloe's POP video that our friend Tim Hackney put together for us. The video is an amazing blessing to be reminded of that time in our family's life and to appreciate how far we've come since then. I'll add it below as a gratitude to God and to all of those who have supported us on this journey.
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
It is hard to find words to describe our experience this year at Lighthouse. I tried to take some time in the middle of the week to note our activities and I couldn’t even remember what we had done the day before! It was a whirlwind, a busy whirlwind full of laughter, sunshine, activities and connecting both with families living through cancer and families there to volunteer.
Before the trip, I did not know what serving would be like. Would it feel exhausting in comparison to our restful experience the year before? How would the kids do, after always going to the front on the line and remembering a week of ease? Martha and Henri rose to the challenge. They gave their all to Caden. From the moment they met him, they engaged him. They were willing to play tirelessly, moving from game to game. They truly enjoyed being with him. Chloe is a little young to understand this kind of selfless service, but she did enjoy serving breakfast with me each morning. More than that, she became a symbol of hope. Early in the week, several of the parents of children with cancer had heard our story. A few parents connected with me early on and asked me about our experiences. They watched her run and play, full of vibrancy. She was something to hang onto in the midst of chemo, blood transfusion, sickness and exhaustion.
A moment that stands out for me was when I cleaned our family’s condo. Every morning while the family ate breakfast, I sneaked into their condo, made beds, started laundry, did dishes and in general, tried to create an inviting space for their return. It sounds like work, but, as my dad says, “the best kind of work is that which does not feel like work.” The work felt to me like a double blessing. I felt joy as I cleaned and straightened, imagining the peace they might feel as they returned to their room after lunch, ready for a rest. It was fun working with the goal in mind of making it the best week possible for a family who had been through what we had been through. At the same time, I felt gratitude towards the Snell family, who did this for us last year. As I cleaned and folded laundry, I thought about how they had done this for me! It was like receiving their gift all over again.
Monday, July 29, 2013
I enjoyed serving the family's because it was good chance to get to know them. I did that by bringing them drinks, help holding the plates of the younger kids, and making beds. My favorite part of serving them is that we went and turned down our family's beds at dinner.