To Love a Rose: An Ethiopian Adoption Journal

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Pictures from the Cancer Battlefield, Part 5 (Christmas!)

Me "breaking mom out" of the stem cell unit for her 5 day break/out-patient stint.

Mom was blessed to have high enough blood levels to have 5 days as an out-patient over Christmas holiday.  It was a much-needed breath of fresh air (literally) for mom.  She really enjoyed being able to sleep in a normal bed and not be hooked up to monitors and IV's.

Vilma, one of mom's fabulous stem cell unit nurses, invited mom, dad, W, Mr. C, and I to her house for Christmas dinner.  Yes, that's right, her HOUSE!  She is such a sweet person, and we were all so grateful to have a place to celebrate the holiday.

When you're in s situation like this where you are away from home for months at a time, you are truly at the mercy of other people's kindness.  I have been humbled to the point of uncontrollable tears by the displays of compassion from those who are often complete strangers.  If you are doubting the state of humanity, just come to the Cancer Treatment Center of America - I see love and hugs shared freely on a daily basis.  Smiles are prevalent, and a helpful hand is usually no more than a shoulder's distance away.

Vilma was not the first person to invite our family into her home, we have been blessed to be given many opportunities fellowship with others in and around the center; but the idea that someone would invite us into their home on what is arguably the biggest family-oriented holiday of the year was mind-boggling to us.  Not only that, but we weren't the only ones Vilma invited.  She also offered her home to Janey (a former patient of Vilma's who was back for her 5-month post-transplant check-up) and her husband Raul.  Along with Vilma's husband, children, and other family members, we made quite the eclectic, little band of merry makers; but as I sat looking around the table of unfamiliar yet oh-so-friendly faces, I could help but think Mandie, you are experiencing the TRUE meaning of Christmas right here, right now.  I know it's true...

Dad and mom in front of the stem cell unit's Christmas tree.

Mom at Guesthouse North with her Christmas present: a new iPad!  Now she can Skype family and friends while in-patient at the hospital (oh and play Angry Birds - ha!).
Christmas flowers I arranged and gave to Vilma.

Vilma's house was decorated to pretty for Christmas.
Some of the Christmas crew at the table, eating Vilma's delicious dinner. :-)
Vilma's husband, Frank, made these terribly tempting Reece's peanut butter cup brownies.  I didn't eat much of mine (because it was sugar overload), but it was awesome!
Mr. C with Vilma's 14-year-old dog, Toby.  He was a sweetie pie!
Vilma's beautiful tree.  Her whole house was bursting with Christmas decorations; it was so lovely.
Mom was so glad to be out of the hospital for Christmas, and for the first time in about almost 2 months ate nearly all the food on her plate - miracle of miracles!

Mom and Vilma at the end of the night.
We feel so honored and blessed to have been able to spend the holiday with Vilma, Frank, and their kiddos Alyssa and Luke as well as the rest of their family and the Garcias.  There will never be enough "thank yous" to make up for giving us a warm welcome during a time that could have been so bleak and depressing.  I pray daily that God will bless Vilma and those like her who are so willing to SHOW God's love and compassion. 

I hope you had a wonderful holiday season - no matter what you were celebrating, or where, or with whom.  I pray you felt warm and loved and happy; and I wish for you a new year to follow that is over-flowing with all of God's greatest blessings and gifts.

All the Love in the World,

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Merry Christmas After All

In case you haven't heard:


Mom getting "sprung" from the stem cell in-patient unit!  All bundled up and ready to face the unpleasant, Chicago weather in the OUTSIDE world!

 This means that she can stay at Guesthouse North with us and go to Christmas dinner with us at her nurse, Vilma's house on Sunday!  God is SO GOOD!  If there is one thing that has been pounded into my heart and head lately about God it's that - HE IS GOOD!

She will have to go back to the CTCA every day in the morning for blood work, just to make sure her levels are good and that she doesn't need any supplementation like potassium, magnesium, blood, or platelets; but after that, she is free to do what she wants during the day.

Of course, this is all WITHIN REASON!  She won't be running any marathons this week, but she can go look at Christmas lights and eat "normal" (ie: non-hospital food).  Also, when she goes out in public, she will have to be careful to wear a mask and gloves; she is still dealing with the C-Diff infection, and although she is on antibiotics, the immune-compromised, elderly, and children could pick it up from her if we are not careful.  Luckily, we are VERY careful and take every precaution to insure the safety of mom and anyone else we might encounter. :-)

On the 28th, she will be re-admitted for a few days for another round of chemo; but it is my understanding that after that, she will be out-patient again.  In other words, we are in a holding pattern until her bone marrow transplant; which actually, will probably happen sooner rather than later. 

One of the stem cell care managers came in to talk to me today while mom was sleeping after her lumbar puncture, and she said that it was a TOTAL MIRACLE that mom went into remission so quickly and that they already found 3 possible donors.  I just smiled, because I know it's our great Jehovah Rapha who healed her...our wonderful Jehovah Jirah who provided the bone marrow donors.  Again, God is SO GOOD.

These next rounds of chemo are GREATLY reduced versions of what she was on before (like from 800 mg to 40 mg); and are ONLY to KEEP her in remission until transplant.  She has responded so well, and is doing so wonderfully; it has turned out to be a very Merry Christmas, after all.

And, as I said, we (dad, W, myself, Mr. C, and mom - M and her hubby are in Missouri at the moment) will be eating Christmas dinner with mom's nurse, Vilma, her husband and two children.  Mom's nurses are just too kind!  This was not the first dinner we'd been invited to, not the first kind gesture.  These people honestly care if mom gets better.  They really do want us to be comfortable and happy.  I don't take any of this for granted; we are so blessed in so many ways, I will never be able to thank these amazing people for all that they do on a daily basis, it is all just beyond words.

We're all really excited for Vilma's dinner, because she is Filipino-American; and she had been telling us of her holiday dinners - how she incorporates traditional elements like turkey and potatoes with Filipino delicacies like blood sausage and homemade veggie egg rolls.  Sounds delicious to me!  So, naturally, we're all pretty excited for our first homemade meal in 7 weeks!  Seems like such a luxury!  We're taking some goodies to her house too; which will honestly be the best part sharing, even a little bit, some gifts and love with Vilma and her family.

Wonderful news!  MUCH to be thankful for!  Praise reports galore!  How awesome is our God?!  Pretty darn AWESOME!

I wish you so much LOVE and a VERY Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sung Tan Chuk Ha! ("Merry Christmas" in Korean)

I'm pretty sure this is "Merry Christmas" in Hansul (Korean writing/language).  I'm learning to speak it pretty well, but not doing all that great with the caricatures!
Christmas is right around the corner, and I'm finding so much hope that baby C will be home in 2012 in these sweet, little South Korean faces:

Could these kids be any more adorable?!  As I look through these pictures, and I wonder what Baby C will look like.  I can't wait to see his/her face!  Maybe by Christmas next year, I'll be putting up our own, sweet holiday photos!

Love and Blessings,

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Loving an Adopted Child: "Can't" or "Won't"? (A Christian's Perspective)

Dallas Cowboy's linebacker, Demarcus Ware, and his adopted daughter, Marley.
*This is not just a post about adoption, but is specifically geared toward looking at adoption from a Christian/Jewish perspective.  Most of my posts about adoption are not specifically religious; so, I thought I would put this disclaimer here to warn my readers that this post is different.  Thanks! :-)

 Something's been bothering me for a while now...  It's been eating at my heart as I roll it over and over in my head.  At first, I took it for what it was and dismissed it; because I took it to be true.  But, it wouldn't lie dormant; it would wake me up at night over and over again until I was forced to really think it through properly.  And when I did that, well, like I said, it really bothered me.

I'm speaking of a concept here.  An idea.  And as history has shown us, ideas are powerful.  They take root and can cause action.  Every major revolution, whether religious, political, or social always starts as just an idea - a tiny spark that bursts in zealous flames of passionate fury.  So, you can see why this has been nagging at me; because I do not want this idea to flourish...because, to put it simply, I think it is wrong.

The idea I'm talking about is the notion that a person cannot possibly love an adopted child as much as a biological one.  That it is somehow, truly, just not possible.

I've heard this from more than one stranger, more than one acquaintance, more than one friend.  I've heard it from so many people now that my head starts to spin, "Oh, well, I could NEVER love an adopted child the way I love my own kids.  I just couldn't do it."  I'm paraphrasing, of course; but the idea is always the same.  I cannot love that which I did not birth out of me, that which I do not share actual DNA with.

Having an adopted mother, this kind of talk used to insult me a bit; but now that I am to become an adoptive mom myself, it out-right makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.  My mom used to agree with this statement.  Even being adopted herself, she would say, "Well, Mandie, some people just don't have a heart for adoption; and you can't expect them to."

Maybe she's right, I don't know.  I get a sneaking suspicion that the same people who say this are the kind of people who have no heart for animals or the poor or the sick.  Maybe some people just don't have a certain kind of love capability in their hearts?  Maybe?

But what has begun to really bother me most are those who say this to me who claim to be Christians.

Lately, I feel that God has really been showing me His heart - His great love for people (and He DOES loooooooooove people!  So much!).  There are too many examples to share in this blog at this time, but He has been showing me His goodness (after all, God told Moses to tell the newly freed Israelites to call him "Good").

It has been particularly heart-telling for me to watch His loving-kindness in regards to our adoption of Baby C.  Every day, I watch barriers being knocked down that would keep us and our baby in South Korea apart from one another.  Financial issues, timing and logistical struggles, paperwork snafus, etc. has been righted quickly and in our favor over and over again during this process.  This shows me that God truly cares about our adoption.  That He cares that our baby makes it home to us; that He cares that we become a family, and that He is personally knitting our hearts and souls together in love.

It also plainly says to me that God cares about adoption.  That He thinks this is important.  That He loves orphans and relinquished children and the families that are created by adoption.

When I dug into my Bible for "proof" of this, I was delighted with what I found:

In the Old Testament, there is only mention of three adopted people that I could find: Moses, Genubath, and Esther.  At first, I was a little unsettled by this, ONLY THREE?!  Was this because God found adoption shameful?  Was it because He thinks of orphans as "lowly"?  Was this because He wanted to discourage people from adopting?  Could it be?!  But as I delved into these stories, I found my fears assuaged; because these are not only stories of adoption, they are stories of triumph, mercy, and the glory of God.

Let's start with Moses:

"When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son.  She named him Moses, saying, 'I drew him out of the water'."  Exodus 2:10 (NIV)

Moses was a boy who should not have been.  He should not have survived even to his second birthday.  Pharaoh had become worried about the Israelites in his land.  There were so many!  If all of the young boys grew into men, at some point, they might try to rise up against him and his great nation.  This could not be allowed; so, as we know the story goes, he demanded the death of every Israelite son ages 2 and younger.

Moses was in this category.  He should have been killed.  His life should have been extinguished, but it was not.  And for me, the most amazing thing is that God didn't just deliver him from death, he didn't just hide him away in any old place, oh no!  He gave him the chance to be adopted and not by just anybody, but by a princess of Egypt!  Moses was adopted into the royal family; he became a PRINCE.  From lowly slave to grandson of the KING.  What an amazing transformation adoption proved to be for Moses.

Even more amazing to me is that God chose to use Moses to lead His people out of slavery and into the Promised Land.  He didn't choose some other young man living among the Israelites already.  He didn't choose the first-born son of a priest or judge.  NO.  He chose a relinquished child.  He chose an "orphan".  He chose someone who had been adopted.

Moses led the people of his birth-origin to freedom.  He saved them from starvation in the wilderness.  He showed them God's perfect laws in the form of the Ten Commandments.  He was a mighty man of God.  He was a friend of God.  He was a SON of God, and he was adopted.

Then there's Genubath:

"The sister of Tahpenes bore him a son named Genubath, whom Tahpenes brought up in the royal palace. There Genubath lived with Pharaoh's own children."  1st Kings 11:20 (NIV)

Another orphan raised as a prince of Egypt!  Another "lowly", relinquished child raised up to the status of a mighty one.  God had obviously protected these young boys.  He had not only saved their lives, He had given them great blessings.  He didn't just give them any old family; He made sure they were PRINCES among men!

And what about Esther?: 

" Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah, whom he had brought up because she had neither father nor mother. This girl, who was also known as Esther, was lovely in form and features, and Mordecai had taken her as his own daughter when her father and mother died." Esther 2:7

We all know the heroic and amazing story of Esther.  How she was most favored by Xerxes, king of Persia, how she became his queen and eventually saved not only the life of her adopted father, Mordecai; but also the lives of every Jew living in the Persian empire since Haman the Agagite (a well-honored prince in the area) had conspired to kill them all.

Esther was brave, and she spoke up revealing to her husband the truth of her ethnic origins; probably saving thousands upon thousands of lives and winning her adopted father a place as Xerxes' prime minister (not too shabby, eh?).  It is because of her story that Jewish people celebrate thanksgiving during Purim.

An orphan girl, transformed through adoption into a most-loved daughter which won her to right to be brought before a king, seeking a new wife and queen; which she became.  If adoption is anything, it would seem that it is transformative in the very best of ways.

God protected each of these three orphans.  He raised them up.  He transformed them through adoption into princes and a queen - royalty.  If God did not care about orphans and adoption, or even if He cared about them a little, but not much, He would not have chosen these people to do His important works and save His chose people.  He would have found some other mother's biological child; but He didn't.  God CHOSE specifically to work through adopted persons.

And we can't forget Jesus!:

When you get right down to it, Jesus was a step-son.  He was adopted by His earthly father, Joseph, who, after being visited by the archangel Gabriel, decided to parent Him as his own son.

Yes, it's true, Jesus was adopted.

I find this quite significant.  God could have brought Jesus to Earth any way He wished, but in the end He chose an unknown virgin girl and her fiance to parent His "only begotten son".  He chose to have Jesus live His life on Earth as an adopted son.  Powerful stuff!  The savior Himself, a "relinquished child" of orphan...adopted.

When I hear someone say, "I can't love an adopted child like my biological children."  I just want to say: 

I'm sure glad God doesn't feel that way; because without adoption, we would have no relationship with Him and no chance of eternal life.  We are ADOPTED to God through the atonement of Jesus Christ; and because of this, we get to live as legitimate sons and daughters with ALL the benefits of being a child of God...including living forever with Him!  AMEN to that!

Jesus is very clear about this: that we are all sons and daughters of God, and that He loves us very much.  But we weren't "born" of God.  He didn't "conceive" us or "birth" us.  He ADOPTED us!

" redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of SONS (or daughters!).  Because you are sons, God sent the spirit of His son into our hearts, the spirit who calls out 'Abba!  Father!'  So, you are no longer a slave, but a son; and because you are a son, God made you also an heir."  Galations 4:5-7

"For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the spirit of adoption.  And by Him we cry, 'Abba, Father'!" Romans 8:15

"...He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ in accordance to His pleasure and will..." Ephesians 1:5

I could go on and on and on with scriptures proclaiming us God's adopted sons and daughters.  I could show you example after example of how Jesus called those He touched, encountered, and healed "daughter" and "son".  Yes, I could go on and on about how we are all adopted; and how much God loves adopted people and adoption, but I won't...not right now.

All I wish for is that the next time you or someone else says, "I can't love an adopted child."  You will stop and ask them (or perhaps yourself): "Can't"...or "Won't"?  Love is a choice, and I'm so glad that God didn't say "you were not born of me, I cannot love you."  I'm so glad He said instead, "I choose to agape love you perfectly; and I'm going to prove it by adopting you and making you my son/daughter." 

I am proud to be an adopted daughter of God!

Blessings and All the Love in the World to You,

Friday, December 9, 2011

My Grown Up Christmas List

I remember my mom telling me once when I was a kid that when I was an adult my Christmas wish list would differ drastically from what it once was.  At the time, I'm sure I couldn't imagine not coveting the latest, flashy Barbie or art set; but as I sit here in my mom's room in the stem cell unit of the Cancer Treatment Center of America for what will be the fourth week in a row, I understand completely what she meant all those years ago.

And I'm sure as you read this, that you're probably thinking that my "grown up Christmas list" is purely selfish.  That I just want my mom well.  That I want my sister, W, to have peace and the promise forever of no more seizures.  That Mr. C and I will have all the cash we need to complete our adoption and bring Baby C home from South Korea, etc. etc. etc.

Yes, I do; but that's not even close to my biggest wish of all.

While I would NEVER wish cancer on ANYONE EVER, my wish is that everyone all over the world could feel the immense, unfailing love of God that my family has felt this past several weeks.  That every one of you reading these words could see miracles in your life like we are witnessing every day.  My wish is that you, whoever you are, realize how much you are God's beloved.  He made you specifically YOU, because no one else but YOU can make him happy like YOU can.

You are so loved.  God IS real in the world today.  He DOES answer prayers.  HE DOES ANSWER PRAYERS.  He DOES want to heal you.  He is your Jehovah Rapha.  He does want to provide for you; he is your Jehovah Jirah!  He does not want you to worry.  He is your Jehovah Shalom.

You are perfect in his sight.  He already bore your illness, your pain, your shame, your guilt, your hurt, your insecurities, your lack, your bitterness, your sadness, your loneliness, your anger...he bore it for you and cried out "IT IS FINISHED!".  It is finished.  It is already done.   Do not let it worry you any longer.

My wish is that you will know, as we are being shown daily, that you are already on the other shore, past the fierce storm, standing with God in peace and love and prosperity and wholeness and total health.  He wants perfection for you.  I wish for you to know this.

Yes, there are many things I am wishing for selfishly this holiday season.  Yes, it's true.  But, please believe what I have written above.  I wish all these things for each of you.  We are so blessed.  In the midst of the greatest fear, God has shown us the greatest peace and protection.  In the midst of the deepest dark, he has been our constant, shining light.  When we cry out, "Abba!"  He has held us and comforted us like the good, daddy God he is.

It's true that my family has been through terrible struggle these past few years, but we have known mercy and compassion and love and peace and protection that is beyond comprehension.  It is so sweet.  How can I not shout about it from the rooftops?!

 Romans 8:37-39 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

All the LOVE in the World,

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Pictures from the Cancer Battlefield, Part 4

I don't know if you've heard, but......................................................

MOM'S IN REMISSION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The doctors said it would take 3 rounds of treatment, but it only took ONE!  If you're doubting that God is real in the world today or if he still answers prayers, my mother is LIVING proof that he does!  He cares for YOU.  He is YOUR Jehovah Rapha - the God who HEALS - and he wants to heal YOU just like he healed mom.

So, what's next?  Well, it's on to the bone marrow transplant.  Right now, mom's blood is being checked against a registry that is WORLD-WIDE; but there is also going to be a special "donor drive" in my parents' hometown of Fairfield, Iowa.  At this "donor drive" those who wish to be tested to see if they are a match for mom, but not necessarily wanting to be added to the world-wide donor registry can do so.  I DO NOT have all of this information yet; but I WILL post it as soon as I receive it.

First off, the transplant team would like anyone interested to visit Be the Match before even being tested.  It outlines and explains the testing process, what happens if you are a match, and how the transplant will take place.  PLEASE read what it has to say!  Donating bone marrow can cause some people pain (others say they feel nothing), but we would never want someone to get "in over their head" or feel as if they were misled about the process.  So, please, read through the process and see if you feel comfortable being tested.

I want to say right now how amazingly grateful we are to all who get tested and all who are already on the list!  Someone out there is going to save my mom's life.  Because of you, she will get to meet her grandchildren, retire to do what she loves (art and crafting), and travel to Ireland to see where her biological mother and family lived.  You are giving us all the gift of decades and decades to come of happiness and love and joy and memories.  You are letting me keep my mom here to help me through the process of becoming a mom myself.  


I will never be able to say it enough...........words are so insufficient.

All that said, I couldn't leave this post without some pictures.  Mom took charge last night and shaved her head.  She was dreading this; but we're all so proud that she over-came her fears and insecurities and just shaved it all at once!  At the moment, though, she doesn't want people seeing her without hair; so, there are no pictures of that in here...maybe next time I'll get to show you how awesome she looks (seriously, she's got a real Sinead O'Connor thing going on - it RAWKS!).  But for's some pictures of what hope looks like:

Mom with the quilt Judy Hinshaw, Trudy Oliver, and Jacque Liebe made her - so cool!  SO nice of them!  It has Bible verses on the front, and an Irish blessing on the back - PERFECT for her!
Me, Mr. C, W, dad, and mom before shaving her head!
My pins...peach for uteran and lime green for lymphoma/leukemia.
Balloons and silk flowers from Josh and Brandy Coffin - thanks guys, she LOVES them! :-)
Mom's donated hat!  Tons of knitters and crocheters make hats for those who have lost hair due to chemotherapy.  If you would like to donate a hat (or two!) yourself, visit CTCA to get information about how to do so.  They are MUCH appreciated!
That's all for this "edition".  If you would like to stand in agreement with us that the perfect bone marrow donor will be found QUICKLY, we would VERY MUCH APPRECIATE IT!  Thank you.  And please know, when I say "thank you", it really means I would bear hug you if I could; but I can', just please know, we appreciate anything and all that you can and are doing for mom - from prayers to letters to flowers to being tested to see if you're a match.  We just love and appreciate you!  God is seeing all of your powerful faithfulness and is following through on his promises.  And believe me, whatever you do for one person will be rained down upon you ten-fold!  Your blessings will make you BLESSED!  So.......thank you.

All the Love in the Universe,

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Pictures from the Cancer Battlefield, Part 3

Mom visiting with Denise Balchunas and Bonnie Kennelly.
Mom and my cousin (her niece), Tiffany Cass.  I didn't get a picture with her husband Kelly in it, but he was here too. :-)
Denise, mom, and Bonnie.
Mom, her cousin Pam B, and her aunt Marty Goodwin.
Me, mom, and dad, walking the stem cell unit - she did TWO laps!  Woo hoo!
"Angry birds" from Taylor and Isaac Johnson (Brianne and Travis Johnson's boys).
W with mom next to the stem cell unit Christmas tree.
Dad, W, me, and mom next to the Christmas tree in the lobby at the CTCA.
Dad wheeling mom over to see the exotic fish tank.
Dad, mom, Mr. C, and W walking and wheeling the halls.
Today's a good day...many more are on the horizon! :-)

Love and Blessings,

Friday, November 25, 2011

Drumroll Please...Baby C's Birth Country

That's right...South Korea!!!!!
We decided we wanted to go ahead and reveal Baby C's home country, because we've had to tell several people due to mom's illness.  So, we thought, why not?  That means more people will know and more people will be able to pray for Baby C with us!

Judy, our social worker, thinks that we will get our referral by May/June.  Mr. C and I are SO EXCITED!  We're also excited that Holt has been in Korea since 1954; it's amazing, and we feel so good about that.

Map of South Korea.  We will fly into Seoul when we go to pick up Baby C.
Traditional hanboks for boys and girls...I'm GOING to get Baby C one of these as soon as I know what gender s/he is!
So, there you have it, friends!  Within a year, God willing (and He IS willing, AMEN!), we will be in Korea to bring Baby C home.  God is so good!  We are so blessed!

All the Love in the World,

Pictures from the Cancer Battlefield, Part 2

Mom and one of her fabulous nurses checking her IV drips.
Cafeteria.  The food here is really pretty amazing - NOT your average hospital food.
It was Whitney's 24th birthday on Monday.  Some of the stem cell unit nurses came in and sang "Happy Birthday" to her and gave her a HUGE, delicious slice of cake covered in whipped topping, raspberries, and blueberries - so nice!
Mom's ward on the 4th floor.  Everyone has to foam in, and then foam out.  No germs allowed!
Christmas tree in the lobby.
Light trees in the atrium.
Trees stuffed in every corner, everywhere.
My favorite, little buddy in the fish tank downstairs.  He literally follows you when you walk from side to side - neatest fish ever!
Beautiful "flowers" from Patti Balderson. <3
Tiffany and Kelly Cass' oldest, Kohen, colored this for mom.  He's so cute, and he did a really good job!
Letters and cards from friends and family - mom has REALLY enjoyed hearing from people.
Christmas tree right outside of mom's door in the stem cell unit.
Christmas tree in the cafeteria - so pretty!
Mom's room has the best view!  The ducks, geese, and seagulls are always out and very busy - fun to watch!
Mom got platelets, potassium, and IV fluids today.
Yes, we do!
Brianne and Travis Johnson's boys, Tyler and Isaac, sent mom some "angry birds" with some cards - mom LOVED these!  The Johnson's go to Faith Christian Outreach Church in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa with mom, dad, and W.
Mom sleeping with her CTCA bear.  They gave her a "goodie" bag full of nice things: a bear; a fluffy, white robe; bath necessities, etc.
Mom has really enjoyed reading mail from people.  If you'd like to send her a letter or card, even if you don't know her, she'd really LOVE it!  You can mail her here:

Kerry Hickenbottom
c/o Cancer Treatment Center of America
Midwest Regional Medical Center
Stem Cell Unit, Room #5
2520 Elisha Ave.
Zion, IL 60099

Thank you for the prayers and standing with us firmly on God's promises.  God is working miracles in mom's body, and we are watching it happen every day - every day BETTER and BETTER.  Please continue to stand with us and mom in prayer and thanks.  We love and appreciate you all!

All the Love in the World,