Sunday, November 30, 2008

What is Normal?




Thanksgiving has come and gone. It was more difficult than I thought it would be. I find it amazing how quickly we can move from being completely selfless and blessing another person one moment, to feeling completely sorry for ourselves the next. I got to experience this first hand this week. My father stopped by for a brief visit to see the family and wish us a Happy Thanksgiving. He was sharing with us how he had just encountered a homeless man at the gas station. He had the opportunity to share his faith with the man and encourage him. As we were saying our goodbyes, my dad asked if we would mind making a plate of turkey to take back to the man.

CJ immediately lit up like I have not seen in a while. This is his kind of thing. He loves to feed the homeless. When he was little he wanted me to stop and give money to every homeless person we saw. Living in South Florida, you encounter a lot of homeless people in one day of driving around town. When I would pass someone by he could not understand and it became a difficult thing to explain to a small child. Eventually, I took him to the Miami Rescue Mission which is a large homeless shelter downtown. I wanted him to gain a better understanding of homelessness and I was also hoping to help him see that it was not always beneficial for us to give them money. The director of the Mission actually told CJ it was better not to give money in most instances because it only enables them to remain homeless. After that, CJ decided we needed to feed every homeless person we saw instead of give them money. So now you can appreciate why he came alive when we made the plate for the homeless stranger.

As I was making the plate CJ was standing there telling me to add more food and to not forget desert. Then he went and got a Bible he had purchased to send to troops oversees and said, "Mom, can I send this with the food?" He wrote something to the man he called 'Mister' in the Bible. He pointed out to me that the inscription page had this verse Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." He drew an arrow pointing to it so the man would notice it. I wondered how he could see that the verse applied to the homeless man but sometimes can not see that it applies to himself as well. As I watched him fill out the Bible, I realized that for that brief moment he was not thinking about Cancer at all. It was so far from his mind and he had joy on his face and peace in his heart. All was right and I thanked God for this little glimpse into his spirit. I was a happy mommy......for about 15 more minutes!

My dad left with the plate full of goodies and we set the table to eat. Suddenly, everything began to unravel. The baby decided he was not served fast enough and couldn't seem to understand why this meal should be any different than any other so he began crawling on the table reaching into the dishes and feeding himself with his hands. Did I mention he was also screaming the whole time? Brett and CJ were both repeatedly saying, "I'm not really hungry yet". Allie and I were transferring dish after dish to the table so we could eat while it was hot. Chris begins loading CJ's plate and suddenly it happens....CJ sees this mound of food he is expected to eat and his spirit just caves in. I can literally see his countenance fall, but I do my best to enforce a happy thanksgiving and remind them of all we have to be thankful for (and of how hard I worked to get this all done) Oh how pitiful I am! I wrangle the baby repeatedly and am now no longer hungry myself, but tradition calls, so I insist this is going to be a special thanksgiving. But we just continue to slide down that slippery hill of self pity. At first I thought it was only CJ feeling sorry for himself, but now I realize it was me too. He was upset he couldn't be with everybody for Thanksgiving. He was upset because he thought our tradition would be no fun without everyone else there. He was upset that he was expected to eat so much food. I was upset it wasn't going the way I had planned and pictured in my head. And the baby, well he was just plain upset. Things just did not seem to go as planned. I realized I forgot to burn the CD I wanted to play in the background as we ate. I realized in the chaos we never read the scriptures we always read before we eat. And I surely never had that moment during my meal that I encouraged all of you to have where I lovingly, unhurried gazed across the table, thanking God silently for each and every one present. The only thing I remember thinking is, where did it all go wrong? I wondered how we could go from joyfully feeding a homeless person one minute and the next we are consumed with self pity and aggravation.

The meal behind us, scriptures read, thankfulness discussed, prayers said....we then spent a good half hour letting CJ 'cry it out'. He cried for "normal". So I have spent the past two days really thinking about "normal". Actually, I have spent the past two months thinking about it because it is a word I have heard a lot since this began. I have been told to maintain "normalcy", keep things as "normal" as possible, and to try to live a "normal" life. And I have finally decided it is a myth, there is no such thing! What is normal? What I had last month, last year, five years ago? Is normal my 'comfort zone' where I am not confronted with any difficulties or big decisions? I actually believe 'normal' is one of the enemies schemes to keep me unsatisfied with my present circumstances. If I am constantly looking back trying to maintain something I had before, then I am missing what God has right in front of me, here and now. I even looked up the word in the dictionary and found words like average, regular, expected. Doesn't sound as appealing does it? We don't mind being called normal but...average...regular! In case you have not read me previous post, I mentioned that right before this happened I literally asked God to not let me live the 'easy life'. I told Him I really wanted to 'do the thing' and make it count. Sounds like a willing forfeit of average, regular and normal to me! To ask Him for normal back now seems really contradictory. And I have discovered it is a chasing of an illusion. What is normal? We are homeschoolers, is that normal? We home birthed our last baby, is that normal? We are passionately in love with Jesus Christ, is that normal? What is normal? Are you normal? I explained to CJ he has never been normal nor do I want him to be. He was a different kind of child from day one. Full of the deep spirituality and childlike faith. God never calls us to be normal in scripture. But He does call us to be set apart. He calls us to leave the wide road and enter through the narrow gate. He instructs us to make use of our different gifts given to us for different purposes. Doesn't sound much like the status quo to me.

CJ's spirits and countenance lifted and he began to play with his siblings and ask about the homeless man. He wondered if he got the food and if he got the Bible. And once again, as he focused on others I saw the joy return and cancer slip away from his mind, along with normal.


"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and marrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."

Matthew 7:13



Medical update and prayer requests:

CJ has completed phase two of his treatment. Praise God and thank you for your prayers throughout these two phases. We believe they have made all the difference in the world. As before, he will be rescanned beginning with a CT Scan on Tuesday and a PET scan to soon follow. Provided his blood counts are in a safe range, CJ will begin phase 3 of his treatment on Thursday. This is a 57 day phase that begins with a Spinal Tap and chemo at the Pediatric Ambulatory Unit followed by a visit once every ten days throughout the phase for gradually increased dosages of chemo as tolerated.


First, please pray for clear scans and complete remission of the cancer. As his chemo is increased he is at increased risk for toxicity and infection so we ask you to pray for him to tolerate the chemo well and for continued protection of his liver, kidneys and heart. We are indebted to you for your prayers and love and support. Chris recently reminded me we are just getting to the meat of the treatments so please press on in prayer and be steadfast with us. I would also selfishly ask that you pray for Chris and I as we try to balance life with cancer and yet look ahead to life without cancer. We are asking God to keep us unified in thought as we move ahead into these new phases of treatment.








Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Big Three

This Thanksgiving we are thankful in a whole new way. This experience has taught us an invaluable lesson about being thankful. Our family typically has a large family gathering at Thanksgiving and we celebrate many of the common traditions I am sure most of you do. One of our family traditions is that I place a small piece of paper on each plate and before we eat we all write something we are thankful for. After the meal, we pass them out and everyone reads one out loud. Many times they are serious things and other times they are lighthearted and even humorous. We love to sit down and look back at all those little slips of paper we have saved from over the years and read what they said. The majority of them say the obvious, "I am thankful for Faith, Family and Friends." I call these 'The Big Three'. I used to think that writing the big three was an easy way out of putting any real effort into writing something heartfelt. But as I thought more and more about thankfulness today, I wasn't so sure anymore. I was thinking about all those little slips of paper and I thought, 'no little sliver of paper will do this year'. And surely, no amount of words written on that paper could adequately express the deep gratitude we feel. I spent hours today thinking about all that I am thankful for.

The first thing I would have to write on my paper would be blood. Yes, blood! Jewish blood specifically! The blood of my savior Jesus Christ first and foremost that was shed for me for the remission of sins. And for the blood of CJ' s donor. When he came in for a spinal tap today we learned that his CBC's had 'bottomed out' and he would need to be replenished with another blood transfusion. When the blood arrived we were told that it was "directly donated" to him. Normally, we would not know whose blood he is receiving but we are pretty sure we know whose blood this is because his Aunt Shirl had just called to tell us she donated blood and had it directly donated to CJ. CJ called and spoke to her as he was receiving her blood and he teased her that her blood tasted good. She teased him that he is officially half Jewish now. I smiled as I thought Jewish blood has saved his life twice now! Once on the cross, and once in a blood mobile. I am thankful for blood!

The next thing I would write is that I am extremely thankful to spend this Thanksgiving with my husband and children. Each and every day I have with them is a precious gift. CJ's cancer has taught me to value each life God has blessed me with and each day I have with them so much more. And to drive the lesson even further home, the man who lives across the street from us is fighting for his life tonight after crashing his motorbike out front of our house a few hours ago. As we stood and watched the helicopter airlift him away, I was even more grateful for Chris and the kids. This getleman will not be coming home for Thanksgiving this year, and possibly not ever. They may never have the opportunity to spend another Thanksgiving with their loved one. As you sit at a table with your loved ones today, stop and take a moment to look around at each and every life represented. Thank God you have had this past year with them. Tell them you love them. Allow a fresh gratefulness to wash over you.

The last thing I would add to my list is that I am thankful for all of you. All of you who have followed CJ's story and prayed faithfully and earnestly on his behalf. I see the fruits of your sacrifice and labor first hand everyday. As I sat in the Pediatric Ambulatory today for 10 straight hours surrounded with overwhelming tragedy, sicknesses and devastating disease I was extremely grateful for how well CJ is doing with his treatments. After being frustrated about his illness last night, and everyone bathing him in prayer, his spirits we back up today and he was no longer struggling with sadness. I believe he is doing so well because he is being covered in prayer thanks to all of you. The nurses notice it, the doctors notice it and Chris and I notice it. Words can not express our deep gratitude for your love and support and friendship. Our family feels a deep bond with so many of you and we have never even met the majority of you. God has taught us whole new meaning of friendship through this trial.

As I look back over those three things I just expressed my gratefulness for, I realize that I am thankful for for those very things that I thought were obvious before. Faith, Family and Friends. Only this year, when I write it on that little slip of paper, I believe it will flow directly from my heart to my hand and settle on the paper in a whole new way.

A Thanksgiving Prayer to all of You.
"I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints and his incomparably great power for us who believe. "
Ephesians 1:16-19

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

CJ Needs Prayer

Friends,
I published a new post below but am following it up with this prayer request for CJ tonight. Although we still ask for the prayers we have requested for his physical healing and well being we are asking for prayer for his spiritual well being as well. He is struggling tonight with accepting his illness. This began when he came into my room tonight as I was putting the baby to sleep and asked to talk to me. He said, "Mom, I think I have never accepted that I have cancer but have just been going through it." I asked him what he meant and why he felt this way and he expressed that he just seemed to be doing it and it was like he was watching himself go through it. I talked to him a bit about how difficult it is to accept these sort of things even for mommy and daddy and that we accept it by trusting God with it and leaving it to Him. He seemed okay at first but I pushed further and asked him if he thought it would help to say out loud, "I have cancer". I thought it may get him over the hump but instead this lead him to start a whimpering cry and hyper-sensitivity to touch which then progressed to a defiant reaction to taking his medicine tonight. He has never complained or refused to take it until now and it was challenging emotionally for Chris and I. We had to really enforce it to get him to take it. While refusing to take it he said, "I don't want to be sick", which lead me to respond, "You are sick." This statement released the tears he seemed so desperately in need of shedding. He reluctantly took his pill and we are hoping he is just tired physically and a good night sleep will help. As I put out this request for prayer for his little heart to accept this and to trust in the Lord for strength, I can hear him whimpering and groaning and battling grief in the next room. I pray the Lord will draw near to him tonight even as he sleeps. I pray the Lord will strengthen and encourage him with the right words that I fail to have for him. Tomorrow morning I will take him to the hospital for his spinal tap. Please pray his counts to be up as well as his spirits.
Thank you for your prayers.

Show Me a Sign

One of the things Chris and I have struggled with is how many people have reassured us that CJ is going to be okay. From the very beginning, many people we knew, and many we didn't know would tell us this rather boldly. We knew sometimes people can speak carelessly in a time of grief but many of these people were solid in their faith and would not shower us with false hope or careless words. God had not given us that solid assurance but rather asked for a complete trust and surrender regardless. We are called to walk by faith and not by sight. Therefore we walked ahead with eyes of faith yet asking for the assurance others so vividly had been given. Some were given visions of CJ's back being opened up and God reaching in and scraping away the tumors. We actually had two different people in two different states completely unbeknown to them have the same vision. Other shared with us that the Holy Spirit confirmed it during their prayers for CJ. Others said they just knew. Over time, our faith increased and we began to realize we could stand boldly on God's promises to CJ whether they were given directly to us or others.

The temptation to ask for a sign has been with me from the beginning but I felt it foolish, selfish and immature in my faith to make such a request. I know God gave many signs throughout history to His people to reassure them. And I know he allowed Gideon to ask for a sign by putting out his fleece in Judges 6. But I also know it is written, "Do not put the Lord your God to the test," and Jesus Himself quoted this verse to Satan when tempted in Mathew 4. So I bridled that temptation, or so I had thought...Until I found myself struggling between these two concepts this week.

I was at small fund raising event for a elementary school down the street from my house on Saturday afternoon. I thought it would be a good idea to take Brett to get him out of the house and since it was right down the street and we could walk there we would still be close by. He was reluctant to go at first but had a great time once we were there. It was a small gathering and I immediately thought I made a mistake by bringing him because most of the activities there he could not do because of CJ's condition. There was a petting zoo I had to steer him away from because of the risk of carrying something to CJ. There were four bounce houses he could not go in because of the germs. But we walked around anyway and we got him some cotton candy. He dunked a police officer twice and he did get to go on the bungee jumper thing. Allie and I ate arepas and entered in a drawing for a TV, Camera and Wii because Allie has been wanting a camera. We saw neighborhood friends and just enjoyed the beautiful cool weather and being outdoors. There was a little boy there named Noah Sinko who is a Leukemia survivor. I just stood there and watched him play and climb and run. I was so encouraged by this because many of the nurses at the hospital remember Noah even though it has been quite a few years since he was in treatment. At the hospital they call him a walking miracle. I just kept staring at this little walking miracle and thinking I wanted my own miracle. I couldn't wait to see CJ running around like this.

Corey and Brett began playing in a little toddler area when the drawing began. Allie walked away to go listen to the numbers being called. I stood alone keeping an eye on Brett and Corey and waited for her to return. Maybe it was seeing Noah, maybe it was just being there without CJ, or maybe it was just a moment of weakness in my faith but for some reason as I stood there alone staring at the large crowd off in the distance waiting for the drawing to begin I laid out my fleece before God. I knew it was stupid even as I did it. I know God is in no way obligated to answer these types of desperate requests and although I tried to hold back the words, they just came. I said, "Lord, I have not asked you for a sign all this time. I know it is selfish of me to even ask, but if CJ is going to be okay would you please show me by letting our number come up in the drawing." I immediately realized this was foolish and selfish of me and I instantly prayed even more passionately than the first prayer, "Lord, forgive me for being so selfish. I know that was immature of me, I am sorry." I turned away and engaged my thoughts on Brett and Corey playing completely forgetting about the drawing.

A few minutes later, I saw a friend nearby answer his cell phone. Suddenly, his eyes met mine and he smiled. He said, "You just won the drawing." I felt like I got punched in the stomach. I hunched over and grabbed my knees with both hands for balance and had to grasp for air. My heart was pounding and I was thanking God that even in my foolishness and selfish request He responded to me. My friend walked over to me probably wondering at my reaction and I kept repeating, "You don't understand, you don't understand." I finally stood up and looked him in the eye and said, "I asked God if CJ would be okay that he would let us win the drawing. I knew it was wrong so I immediately asked forgiveness and forgot about it." My friend just looked at me. He could see I was shaken by this response. Then, Allie came walking up with a huge smile and a Wii in her hands. I told Allie what I did and she said, "Lets call daddy." When I called and told Chris what I did and what happened he cried too. We were so overwhelmed at God's willingness to draw near to us at this difficult time. Please understand that our joy at that moment had nothing to do with winning the Wii. We already own one! It is actually perfect that it was the Wii we won as opposed to the other items. That way there is no confusion about our joy over the answer. Just to give you a glimpse into CJ's heart, when Chris told CJ what we had won his first reaction was, "We can give it to a kid at the hospital." Oh how I wish that were my immediate reaction when God showers me with a blessing above my needs.

A little while later, before leaving the festival, I was standing with this same friend and his wife. They are precious to me. In God's amazing Sovereignty, he is also the friend I mentioned in my post titled "Wednesday, September 17th" who I have been praying for for over 4 or 5 years now. God has placed a strong burden on my heart for this individual that just gets stronger each passing year. And when I want to call him stubborn and give up, the Holy Spirit tells me to persevere. Suddenly, as I stood there with them I knew it was God's perfect plan that it was him who delivered the news to me that day. I could have found out many ways. Allie could have came running back, I could have overheard the loud speaker, someone else could have shouted. But no, his wife called his phone and it was he that walked over to deliver the news. As we were talking I told him that answer to prayer wasn't just for me, that was also for him.

Thank you God for your unbelievable, undeserved, uninhibited favor in my life. Just seeing You at work is worth every ounce of suffering. Thank you that you answer me even when I ask for selfish and faithless responses from You for my own comfort. May You be honored, glorified and exalted. May the eyes of my friend be opened to Your hand in his life. May he realize that his healing from his disease is even more important than CJ's because it has eternal ramifications. Amazed by your faithfulness, Dawn

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Struggling with Past, Present and Future



It seems like just when I think I have fully grasped and surrendered to the Sovereignty of God I find myself in a position that challenges my commitment again. I truly believe God's Sovereignty is something you need to have in place before you find yourself submerged neck deep in water grasping for air. And yet, I don't think you can fully grasp or surrender to God's Sovereignty until you are there treading water.

This week we were faced with many changes to CJ's protocol yet again. It is unsettling to hear the doctors discuss changes and then proceed to change the changes. You begin to wonder how confident they are of what they are doing and where the final decisions come from. Believe it or not, when your child is in a clinical trial he can actually be placed on an arm of that trial based on the flip of a coin, so to speak. Then the outcome decides what was the best form of treatment. CJ is not being placed on a trial but he is being moved around from different treatment arms for different phases of his treatment based on what has proved to be the best outcome of previous studies. They reviewed all the changes with us and mentioned that all the changes are also reviewed with the top Lymphoma doctor in the country. Because the top childhood cancer groups joined forces back in 2000, they all share information to help as many children as possible and advance treatments. This top Lymphoma doctor confers with them on CJ's case and makes her recommendation. For some reason, when I was told this I pictured this austere woman sitting behind a grand mahogany desk looking at a file that represents the life of my son. It is unsettling on the surface and yet in deep in my core I know it is God maneuvering CJ onto the best possible position for the best possible care. It is challenging me to trust God with the future of CJ's treatment regardless of how many changes may occur.

One of the things CJ has encountered in these changes are two spinal taps being added on to the tail end of this phase of his treatment. One took place this past Thursday and the next will be this coming Wednesday. This seemed excessive to me and I was worried about what the implications or possible risks of this could be. God, knowing my fears about the spinal taps and the far away doctor behind the grand mahogany desk, was kind enough to alleviate my fears by prompting our nurse to tell me how two main things have changed the outcome and survival rates of childhood cancer. She said one was the joining of the childhood cancer groups because they began to share information and were able to get the best possible treatments to their patients and the other was the introduction of spinal taps in chemotherapy treatment. I was standing over CJ waiting for him to wake up after his spinal tap on Thursday when our nurse proceeded to tell me this for no apparent reason. She has been a nurse for over 30 years and has seen many changes. She explained to me how your body has a blood brain barrier that protects your brain from infection. For example, if you are stung by a bee or bit by a venomous animal your body has a natural barrier that protects the brain from the poison. This same barrier was protecting the brain from the chemo being put into the bodies of cancer patients. Therefore, the cancer would be healed in the body but attack the brain and therefore the child would relapse. But now that they can inject the chemo directly into the spine with the spinal tap the chemo goes directly to the brain and around the barrier. So there I was standing there hearing how my two main fears were actually factors in increasing the survival rates for childhood cancer. It challenged me to trust God with the present circumstances I find myself in whether I understand them or not.

Then, last night I found myself challenged to trust God with the past. It was a difficult night for me. I am not sure why, but I had a flood of memories that momentarily sent me spiralling towards the wasteland of what-ifs. It started when I sat down to check the blog and I saw the picture I loaded up on the family update. I clicked on it to enlarge it and sat and stared at CJ's face for a long time. My heart was aching. That picture was taken at a church conference we attended two weeks before his diagnosis. It was a weekend that CJ struggled immensely with pain in his stomach and back. As I stared at the picture, I allowed the memories of the weekend to flood over me. I remembered how he suffered through every meal. He was never able to complete a meal with us as a family because he always had to excuse himself to go back to the room due to stomach pain. He was in so much discomfort and I did not do enough to comfort him. I remembered how we had amazing worship times before the teachings and I would glance at CJ and he always seemed to have a pained look on his face. I was worried about his spirit because of his countenance not even realizing that he was in pain from having to stand for 45 minutes straight and that is why his face was downcast. I became angry with myself for not realizing this and telling he could sit down if he was uncomfortable. As I continued to stare at the picture, I remembered one specific worship ministry time that he felt lead to walk up to the altar for prayer. Chris and I walked up with him and he prayed with our pastor. I was praying for his anxiety thinking that was were the inner struggle lie. Chris and I were agreeing in prayer with our pastor as he prayed earnestly for CJ. But then, after our pastor said amen, CJ suddenly turned around and threw himself on his knees and put his face on the floor in front of the altar. As a mother, my heart burst open at that moment. It was completely unexpected and uncharacteristic of CJ. I don't presume to know what took place at that moment between him and God but I believe God was preparing CJ for this. All these emotions flooded me from staring at a picture on my computer screen. In my grief, I made my way into my room where CJ was reading. I cuddled up beside him and told him, through tears, once again, how sorry I am that I did not do more and did not understand his pain. He held me and said, "It's okay mommy." I went on to curl up with him and fall asleep in his arms as he read. (The roles are really reversed around here aren't they? I think I seek forgiveness from my kids more than they ever have to seek it from me!) Anyway, Chris woke me up shortly thereafter to put CJ to bed and I went back to bed thinking that was the end of it.

But it wasn't the end. I woke up at 4a.m. with a flood of memories again. This time they went further back. At first, I remembered a Sunday morning service early in the year when CJ had begun to struggle with fear and anxiety. During worship, I saw my pastor begin to leave his seat. Although we had only been at our church for just under a year then, I could not personally remember a time my pastor just suddenly left his seat during the worship time. He had an expression on his face that seemed to me to say he needed to do something at that time. I could almost sense the surrender in him to obey regardless of the odd timing. Somehow, my spirit sensed it had to do with CJ. At first, I scolded myself for this selfish thought, realizing it could be anybody or anything, but when he turned down our aisle and laid his hands on CJ I began to cry. He prayed earnestly for CJ and I was so grateful at the time. But as the memory flooded me at 4am this morning, I began to question why I did not realize then that something more was wrong. I started to ask myself why I didn't question why the Holy Spirit lead my pastor to leave his seat during worship to pray for a 9 year old boy. Shouldn't I have known something more. If I would have prayed more earnestly or listened more intently wouldn't I have realized.

Then as I lay there struggling, I remembered another pained memory. This one came sometime in late July or early August when my sister from Gainesville called me out of the ordinary at 7am. She did not know much about CJ's struggles at the time but she immediately asked me, "Is CJ okay?" I thought this was a strange thing to ask me at 7 a.m. and being the private person and I am (was) I curtly replied, "He's fine, why?" Of course, I knew he wasn't 'fine' but the way I saw it was that it was my families private business and for personal reasons I was not about to share CJ's story with everyone. (That seems kind of ironic to me now that my heart has been split wide open for all to peer into and CJ's story is for everyone.)

Anyway, she went on to tell me rather earnestly that she had a terrible dream where CJ was in some kind of pain or trouble and kept calling out for help and she couldn't get to him. She said it terrified her because she had never dreamed about CJ before and it was very real and intense. I assured her CJ was fine and said thanks for calling. I never really questioned the significance of that phone conversation. I should have thrown myself face down on the floor and sought understanding. I know the biblical significance of dreams when they are lead by the spirit. It did not take much common sense to know that dream was of significance for CJ.

So I lay there in bed replaying the phone conversation over and over; seeing my pastor in my minds eye leave his seat and praying over CJ; remembering CJ throwing himself face down at God's mercy. I was drowning in despair and guilt and reached over to cling to Chris. He woke up and being the amazing husband, friend and leader that he is, he gently walked me through each scenario reminding me of God's perfect timing. I cried, we talked and then we prayed. As we were falling back to sleep this morning at 6am, God whispered to my heart that all those things in the past that were causing me despair were not put in place to prompt me to seek answers but to prepare my heart for when He chose to disclose His plan for CJ.

Then His peace washed over me anew and I surrendered to His Sovereignty again. Oh, please hear me when I say we don't have a God that is a hands off kind of God. Don't believe the lie that says He created and then stepped back to let us grope our way through life. This week He laid His mighty hands on me afresh and reminded me to trust Him with the past, the present and the future.

Please pray for CJ to be placed on the perfect treatment plan tailored by God for him. Please pray that all those who come across his file and make decisions regarding his care will be enlightened by God's Sovereign prompting. And please pray for Chris and I to surrender our past, present and future to God even when we are called to walk by faith and not by sight.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Family Update and Payer Requests


(Family Picture Taken in September -two weeks before diagnosis)

When we first received the diagnosis of cancer for CJ, I immediately remembered a friend who had recently battled breast cancer. I remembered the news of her cancer spreading fast and her saying she felt the need to be selective about who she shared the experience with. Who she 'allowed in' so to speak. I understood, agreed with and respected her decision. I was blessed to be of those she allowed in. I share this with you to say that in my overwhelmed state of receiving the diagnosis for CJ, I told God I was going to be selective too. I decided I would walk through this selfishly choosing who I would let in and what was best for me. I knew as soon as I said it something was amiss. Little did I know at that time that He would be calling us to live this out in the open before the world. I could not have fathomed doing this and putting our lives out here like this at that time. I assure you it has been selective, but it has been Gods select, not mine! We are amazed at how many people CJ has touched and thankful for those of you who have prayed for us and for those who have shared with us how this has affected or encouraged you. Your testimonies cast light on the mountainsides as we walk through this dark valley, and it draws our attention upward.

We have been asked by many of you about our family and the prayer needs for each of us. We are humbled that you are willing to pray for us as we battle this cancer in our home and in our lives. As most of you know, we are a homeschooling family of 6. Alibrandi is our oldest and only daughter who is 12. CJ is 9, Brett is 6 and Corey is 1. Our biggest challenge as a family has been trying to balance the needs of each child while still making the right decisions for CJ. We are trying to maintain a sense of normalcy in all of this, yet coming to realize that we have a new 'normal' and it is just taking time to adjust to it. CJ's health concerns require much of our attention but we also have concerns about the other three children. We have to be in tune to how this is affecting them, how to discern their needs and provide them with a sense of stability throughout this ordeal. We have been offered all types of resources, programs and counseling to assist the siblings. This only reiterates to us how damaging this can be for some families. We are learning that many children suffer life long and sometimes delayed symptoms as a result of this. We are grateful for all the programs available to us and may find ourselves taking advantage of some of them in the future but we strongly believe our greatest resource in this is prayer. So we humbly yet boldly ask for these specific areas of prayer for the siblings of CJ as well as ourselves.
Alibrandi has been a complete blessing to our family. She is everything I have ever hoped to be and she is only 12. She is God fearing, obedient, quiet, gentle, honest, faithful, submissive, pure, and silly! She is a product of God's amazing grace in my life and evidence that He gives you way more than you deserve. Her faith and witness and dedication to God's word astound me. She has faithfully read God's word daily for four years. Daily for four years! She has never missed a day! That is incomprehensible to me and I live with her. I sometimes look at her and think, "Who is this young girl and where did she come from?" Certainly not from some broken vessel like me! I was always thankful for her but I am even more thankful now. I remember once wondering why God gave me a girl first. I thought it would be good for her to have an 'older brother'. I don't question anything anymore. His ways are perfect and beyond figuring out. And having her through this trial has helped our family immensely. She never complains about anything we ask her to do. She completes her school on her own and on time. She is a huge help with her 3 little brothers and has been so kind to CJ. She has faith in his healing and has a quiet trust in God I wish I could grasp. Although I trust in God, mine is much more vocal and I seem to wrestle for every ounce of ground I gain. She just accepts and steps forward. The main thing I sense in her at this time is the need to do some of the things that she enjoys outside the home. One of the things she is passionate about is horses. Therefore, we have tried to be intentional about taking her out to be around horses whenever possible. This provides her with a form of release and she is able focus on something other than school and doctors appointments. My prayers for her are endless as my only daughter but I would ask for specific prayer for her that she would be open with us about her needs as they arise and that she would be strengthened as her responsibilities have increased due to this new 'normal' we are experiencing.

Brett is our 6 year old. Although Brett is our fun loving, carefree, non-stop, playful child, he seems to be struggling more than any of the other children. When we first settled back home from the hospital he had long bouts of crying tears that just flowed and flowed. No explanation, just tears and aching sobs. Chris and I just sensed a need for him to 'get it out'. He is at a tender age that is too young to fully grasp everything that is happening, but old enough to know something is wrong. He hears the conversations, hears the prayers. sees the tears and then has to comprehend all he takes in. He told me recently he did not want his brother to have cancer anymore because he wants to be able to play and wrestle and do all the fun things they used to do together. The changes in our home and lives have been more of a noticeable disruption to his routine than any of the other kids. The crying spells have eased but we still see he is easily overwhelmed and has difficulty communicating what he is feeling. Therefore, our prayer requests for him would be that he is able to communicate effectively all that he is feeling even if he does not understand it himself.

Corey is our busy and engaging 1 year old who needs constant supervision. He is in the full throws of obedience training at this age and that takes time, focus and patience on my part that is not as available as it was for the others. My prayer request for him would be that he would have an obedient spirit and a patient mommy. I must add that as challenging as he is, he is an unbelievable gift to our family at this time. He has the luxury to not have a clue that his brother is sick and just goes about life as a normal one year old. It is a blessing to have this little person who is clueless and carefree in regards to cancer in our home at all times. His ignorance is like a breath of fresh air when the tension sets in.

CJ has done amazingly well throughout this beginning phase of his treatment. We credit that completely to the Lord and to your diligence in prayer for him. He is able to complete his school work and his devotions and spend time enjoying the outdoors when his energy level allows. We have seen an increase in his obedience as well as a more playful spirit. We realize much of this has to do with not being in the amount of pain he was in prior to his diagnosis. Our hope and prayer is that he would remain strong and pain free. Our prayer needs are for continued healing of the cancer cells and continued health and protection against illness. We have recently become more aware about the risk to his internal organs from all the chemo he is receiving so we ask for specific prayer for his heart, liver and kidneys to remain unaffected and protected from the chemo. Please add this specific request to your prayers for CJ.

Chris is the amazing leader and provider of this family and home. He is my best friend and has been the love of my life since I was about 9 years old. It took him about 10 extra years to catch on but he finally did. He is the greatest gift God ever gave me besides giving me his own Son. One saved me from eternal death and the other from self destruction. Any and every good thing produced in me has come from those two men. He has an amazing burden on his shoulders in the area of responsibility to leading a wife and shepherding four children and I sense that it has increased tremendously since CJ got sick. My prayer for him would be that he realize the burden rests on God and not him. That he would always remember that God's yoke is easy and His burden is light. It is only when we try to rest it on our own shoulders that it becomes too heavy. In light of a phone call he received from the doctor today, I would also ask that you pray for his wisdom and discernment in decisions that need to be made in regards to CJ's treatment. The phone call notified us of more changes being made to CJ's treatment plans including squeezing in two more Spinal Taps and Chemo injections in the next 10 days beginning tomorrow. As well as a possible change in protocol for future phases of CJ's treatment. We pray these changes are God's leading and will bring about a better end result for CJ in regards to recovery and relapse as well as protection from toxicity. We ask that God give us peace in accepting these changes and wisdom to know when to resist them.
As for me, I just pray that God would equip me to be the mother and wife He would have for this family and home. My life is at His disposal. I have always dreamed that one day I would bow before Him and hear ,"Well done my faithful servant." I can never seem to add the word 'good' in there as the scriptures do. The word good does not belong to me, but if I could just stand before him faithful........Dayenu. (it would have been enough).
Thank you for your prayers. Your prayers for our family have surrounded us and hedged us in on all sides. I used to think the calm I felt was the eye of the storm but now it seems it is the wall of prayer that is surrounding us, strengthening us, and protecting us in the storm.

"Now, my God, may your eyes be open and your ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place."

2 Chronicles 6:40

Thursday, November 13, 2008

CJ Update..... And a Change in Protocol


After a week of rest from all chemo this week to allow CJ's blood counts to come back up we are back at the hospital for a scheduled overnight admission. Due to the decision that one of us needs to be with our other kids whenever possible, Chris was staying home with them today. CJ and daddy had a difficult time separating from each other this morning as they have been spending a lot of time together lately. Daddy has been sleeping in CJ's room each night because our 6 year old Brett has had a cold and we wanted to keep them a little distanced. This has allowed Chris and CJ to talk and have some special time together. It also allowed CJ the opportunity to ask his dad a serious question. CJ was seemingly sad last night and Chris asked him what was wrong. CJ said he had a question but did not think daddy had the answer. Chris pursued it and eventually CJ said, "Why do you think I got cancer daddy?" CJ was right, his daddy did not have an answer but through tears he encouraged CJ that God did have an answer and we could trust God with that answer even if we don't know what it is yet.
Sometimes we don't realize CJ is thinking about it as much as he is until he shares what he is thinking with us. The other day he told me that he wondered why God would allow a boy who loves to be outside and loves to play sports so much to get cancer instead of a boy who loves to be inside and play video games. Little insights like that show us just how much he actually ponders the whole situation. Thankfully, he always seems to ponder everything in light of God's Sovereignty and seems to grasp that concept fully. Honestly, even if he never gets an answer as to 'why' this happened but he grasps the Sovereignty of God, he will be just fine.

Anyway, as I was saying, these two kindred hearts had a hard time separating this morning but once I pried them away from each other, CJ and I were eventually off and on our way. CJ was scheduled to have a spinal tap to check his spinal fluids and a chemo injection into the spine. My mother eventually came to see us and was with me during the spinal. She got such a kick out of CJ as he was put to sleep. He looked straight at her and gave her a wink not a split second before his eyes closed. It was priceless. This was my 4th spinal tap so I am getting used to seeing CJ put to sleep and immediately seeming fragile and small once they curl him up on his side and prepare his back for the needle. But having my mother in the room for the first time allowed me to see it again through fresh eyes and reminded me of all the apprehension I felt the first time I stood and watched this procedure done to my child. Seeing how tense she was made me realize how relaxed I was in comparison and I thought...I can't believe you actually get used to this after a while. I bowed my head to pray and felt my mom searching for my hand so I held hers as I prayed for CJ. I raised my head to watch CJ as I prayed and then the doctor said, "It's okay to look grandma, see the spinal fluids look clear." My mom hesitantly raised her head and watched the remainder of the procedure through squinted eyes. This reminded me of how I squinted the first time I watched this procedure as if somehow I could take in less of what was happening if I squinted. CJ slept off the remainder of the medicine as we stood over him saying how thankful we are for how well he is doing. When he woke up I said, "Hey there, you are finally awake." And he said, "I've been awake, I was just too tired to open my eyes."

He is receiving chemo through his port tonight and tomorrow. He will be released sometime tomorrow afternoon(Friday) and continue on chemo via home health for the weekend followed by another round of home health chemo in a week for four more days. At that time, we will be at the end of phase 2 and entering into phase three. Initially, we were told CJ would have high doses of a chemo drug called Methotrexate during phase four. It was going to be such a strong dose that it would require a counter drug to salvage good cells and also require 3-4 night stays each time it would be administered. This would have been repeated four times over 50 days. Today the doctor explained to me that we will be placed on a new arm for this phase of CJ's treatment. I won't go into clinical trials and studies and the many arms of those studies at this time because it is an overwhelming amount of information. But I will say we are extremely grateful for those studies and all the children and families who were in them in order to determine what treatment would be best for future patients. When a child is part of a clinical trial, that child does not necessarily benefit from the study being done but the children who come along in the future surely do. CJ's treatment would definitely fall into that category as one who is benefiting from those who have gone before us in these treatments. We are extremely thankful for that!

What does this have to do with CJ? Well, we were told today that studies show that the high dose Methotrexate children did not fare any better than the gradually increased dosed children. All Leukemia kids have already been switched over to this new protocol for this phase of their treatment. CJ"s doctor recommended that although CJ is Lymphoma he should be too. What difference does this all make? Well, thanks to this change in protocol we will no longer be in a phase that requires the high dose and therefore will not require the countering medicine or the 3-4 night stays at the hospital to administer it. He will now receive it outpatient once every ten days for 50 days and be able to go home that same day and recover at home in between doses. His dose will gradually increase as his counts and health allows. This is extremely good news for our family as it reduces the amount of time spent in the hospital and that we are all separated.

Unfortunately, even after the week of rest to allow CJ's blood counts to come back up, his hemoglobins were still borderline. They will check them tomorrow morning and if they have not come up he may need a transfusion before he is released. We are praying for adequate counts and yet thankful for the means of replenishment available to him through transfusion if necessary. We are praying for sustained counts and yet prepared hearts for whatever is best for CJs long term health. We are also asking for prayer for CJ's quick recovery to a head cold he has come down with. We are asking that it not interfere with his treatment and that his body be able to recover quickly from the cold without complications.

Thank you for your continued support of our family and most importantly your prayers for CJ. We are so thankful this blog allows us to involve you in his treatment as many of you have told us you feel like you are able to go through this with our family because of the blog. We are extremely thankful for this avenue of communication but most importantly that it allows us to immediately get our specific prayer requests out to all of you who are battling through this with us in prayer!

FURTHER UPDATE: CJ is just finishing up his blood transfusion and already feeling more refreshed. He received it well with no complications or reactions. We are grateful for this means of replenishment and for whoever the donor is that provided this blood. We are looking forward to going home within a few hours.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Video

This is a short video reflection of Light the Night walk. It was played during our church service this past Sunday. Unfortunately, we could not be there because of CJ's blood counts but they sent it to us and we wanted to share it with all of you!
Thank you Palm Vista for supporting us and standing by us. You are "faithfully administering Gods grace in all its forms...so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ." Your steadfast love, fervent prayers and unending support are strengthening us day by day.
Pastor Corey, a special thank you! You have taught us how to give freely. You have taught us that giving is a privilege not an obligation! You have taught us how to be kingdom builders and not barn builders. You have taught us to, "Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over will be poured into your lap." We are sitting here with our 'laps overflowing' with love and support as evidence of the fruit of your faithful teachings to this small sliver of the body of Christ.


If you prefer to view It Full Screen click this link:

Light the Night Video




video



A special thank you to the Behar Family for putting this video together!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

God's Perfect Odds

Although I tried to convince myself I had a free pass in not voting yesterday and I told myself no one would blame me if I did not go, I knew it was not only my right but my responsibility to go and vote. The idea of waiting hours in line and having to come back and shower because of my exposure to people just sounded like a huge burden to add to an already full day. Oh, how I am glad I did not listen to myself. I had the most incredible encounter.

I ended up in about a 45 minute line outside in beautiful weather. I put on my sunglasses and Chris's i-pod he sent with me and hit play. I closed my eyes and entered into an amazing 45 minutes of worship and prayer. I cried the entire time! I think the gentleman behind me must have thought I was taking this election thing way too seriously. The tears just came and fell endlessly. I desperately needed this. I was struggling with this release of emotion. I used to cry my eyes out every morning on the way to the hospital and every evening on the way home. All the time spent waiting and being still at the hospital allowed the tears to come easily. But ever since we got home I have struggled with letting the tears fall. I have felt them come to the surface but they stop short of leaving me as if they are determined to stay a part of me. The couple opportunities I had to attend church and spend time in worship also afforded me this release. But ever since CJ's blood levels began to drop we have been unable to attend.

Unfortunately, I rarely find myself alone. No matter how early I wake, the baby seems to wake with me. If I am in the car, there is usually at least one body there with me. Having a young toddler never allows for much down time during the day. But God got me alone in the line to vote that morning. There was nothing to do but stand there and seek Him. I prayed and repented and surrendered and worshiped. Thankfully for everyone around me I worshiped silently. But God heard. I even had to check myself a couple of times to be sure I was not singing and praying out loud. It was as good as any Sunday morning service I have ever attended, except in this instance I stood out like a sore thumb. I was swaying and nodding and bowing and even found my hands leaving my side at one point. Thankfully, I had to hold the i-pod with one hand and was able to shove the other in a pocket to contain it. My eyes would open and I would realize there was a 15 foot gap in the line where I hadn't moved forward because my eyes were closed. I would be embarrassed and scoot up and tell myself to keep my eyes open but they would close and it would all happen over and over again. I kept telling myself not now, this is not the time but it didn't matter. God said it was and who am I to judge His timing.

At one point, Chris called to check on me and he could tell I was really struggling. He had been praying when I left because he was also struggling all day with emotions and couldn't quite get right. Quite honestly, we were both struggling with some circumstances that had come to our attention this past week and how to process them. That is what makes this encounter so sweet for us.
I continued in this tearful worship for the remainder of my time in line. When I came to the end of the line before entering the building where the actual voting takes place, a lady in front of me began talking with the man behind me. I didn't pay any attention at first. I began putting my i-pod away and telling myself I better get myself together before I go inside and vote when I over hear her say, "I already voted today." I couldn't help but wonder why anyone would stand in line for 45 minutes if they already voted so I started listening to their conversation. She continued to explain to the gentleman that she felt this election was so important she was standing in line for her sister who was pregnant and did not want to wait in line. She then planned to go stand in
another line for her mother who was physically unable to stand in line for any large amount of time. This immediately made me think of how I tried to talk myself out of coming and standing in line due to my circumstances. I felt this strange desire to tell her but thought it would be crazy to say anything so I just listened to them chat about how she felt it was so important that she was willing to do this. The push to say something to her became a burden. It was incredible. It was like someone was shoving me at her and I was saying 'hold up, wait a minute, let's think about this'. I was having this internal dialogue about all the reasons not to say anything but before I knew it, the words came out of my mouth.

I said to her, " I have something I want you to share with your sister." I paused as she turned to look at me. I remember thinking this was really crazy and it was going to sound insane but instead of stopping like common sense told me to I continued to say, "Tell her that the lady behind you in line today just found out 2 months ago that her 9 year old son has cancer and standing in this line was one of the hardest and most embarrassing things she has had to do, but she did it because she knew it was the right thing to do." All of sudden her eyes get HUGE. I mean HUGE! And she locks eyes on mine and she says, "My son had cancer when he was 6 years old. Aggressive, Stage 3, Large cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma." Yes, that is exactly what she said! Not only is that a rare cancer but it is the exact cancer CJ has. My heart starts racing. I don't know what to say, I am stunned. In that moment of silence in between her words, I feel fear begin to creep up to the surface from deep within because I am aware that what she says next is going to really affect me powerfully one way or the other. I want to know but am afraid to ask so I just stare at her. I think she senses this and she grabs my arms, squeezes me and says fervently, "he is 22 years old and alive and well."

I felt the tension I bottled up in that moment release and I said something really profound like, "Oh, that is so good to hear, thank you for telling me." She looked at me and said, "You know it is not by chance that you are in this line." I knew that, but I also knew that she did not know I had just spent the past half hour crying and surrendering this whole situation to Him again. She could not know I was praying and worshiping and crying out to Him. She did not know I was seeking some confirmation that we were on the right path. But God did. He heard me. And he met me right there in line to vote. At this point, I am being called in to vote and she tells me her name and says she will wait outside to pray with me when I come out. I must tell you that I know I walked in and voted and bubbled in all the little circles but it was all automatic. My mind
was consumed with what just happened. I wasn't even able to digest it or properly thank God yet because it was all so fast and impossible. I kept thinking how I stood behind this lady for 45 minutes. Had I not said anything and just minded my own business I would never have had this encounter. Even if I would have engaged in small talk it may have never happened. What is the
likelihood of this happening? Please understand that even though it seems like cancer is everywhere, childhood cancer is extremely rare. Only about 12,000 children in the United States get cancer every year. That is really a small number in the overall population. And it narrows immensely when you are talking about the exact cancer CJ has which is not as common a childhood cancer. It just baffled me! I kept thinking, what are the odds? But I know that when God is involved in anyway the odds are perfect!

So I voted and came out and there she was with her Bible and some scripture ready for me. She shared some verses with me and a little about her experience. She said some things that only God and Chris could know I asked of Him. She shared how important it was to know he is God's child and to surrender him to God. She said that God loved my son with a perfect love. I just sat and listened to her, nodding. I thanked her and said my good-byes and drove home. I only live a block from the voting precinct so that did not give me much time to process it all. I walked in and told Chris immediately I had to share something with. I sat down across from him and told him this whole story just as I shared it with you and he cried and prayed with me right there. We thanked God over and over. That is when it finally sunk in God's amazing gift that day. He was reminding us He is in total control. He is Sovereign. He will meet you wherever you are; even in a line to vote.

But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul.
Duet 4:29

UPDATE ON CJ:

CJ has been doing well this week. He was quarantined most of the time because of low blood counts. Today we did sneak him out for a little fresh air. It is extremely difficult and physically draining to think through every decision you make, every breath you take, every thing you touch and person you see. Everything is weighed against some ultimate unseen force. Balancing it out with faith and wisdom is a difficult balance to keep at times and yet we have to press on each day and try not to second guess every decision we make.

He has been feeling well and in good spirits overall. He cried because he overheard me say a lady who has little money sent $3 for a bracelet. I did not know why he was crying so I asked and he said he felt bad for her and couldn't believe she would send it for him if she did not have much. He is so gentle in so many ways.

CJ and I will rise early tomorrow (Thursday) and go to the doctor to have his CBC's drawn. Please pray for good counts. Then we will head over to the hospital for an overnight admission. He will be put to sleep and have a Spinal Tap to check his spinal fluids and inject chemo directly into the spine. Please pray for clear spinal fluids. He will receive some chemo through his port, be monitored overnight and then released on Friday to come home and receive home health chemo for the remainder of the weekend. Please pray for Gods favor on the procedures and staff we receive and our ability to see beyond our situation and reach out to others.

Note: We were sent home after having CJ's CBC's this morning because his counts were too low and he was unable to receive Chemo. He will be taken of all chemo for a week to allow his body to recover and bring his counts up and we will start again next week. We are thankful for this time for CJ's body to rest and recover and build strength. We will wait and pray for elevated counts and protection against infection.

REQUEST:

Due to our circumstances Chris and I are looking for an affordable, safe, used family car we can purchase as a second vehicle. We realize we have two years of this and we need to have a second car to go back and forth for doctor and hospital visits. Planning our visits has become a burden without having another car. When one of us goes to the hospital with CJ the other is stuck at home with three kids and no way to transport them anywhere or to get to and from the hospital. If anyone knows of someone selling a used car in decent condition please contact us. We don't have the time to do the searching right now but are praying that someone will know of one that we can purchase.

Thank you for your prayers,

The George Family

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Results Are In....


Thank you all you prayer warriors who went to your knees (and faces) for CJ this weekend. CJ's results came in and he did not need the blood transfusion! We were able to come home. Praise God! Thank you Lord! We are so grateful for this affirmative answer to prayer. May God receive all the glory. Now join us in praising and thanking our great God.

This weekend, Chris wanted to do everything possible to be sure CJ's red cells came up so he looked some things up and found out that feeding CJ lots of Iron may help. Things like red meat, green leafy vegetables, apricots etc... So he went so far as to run out to Home Depot and buy a grill so he could buy some steaks and grill them up for CJ. I made some fresh steamed broccoli, we bought dried apricots and tortured poor CJ all day to eat all this even though his stomach was upset from all the chemo. And we prayed! Then, God proceeded to remove all our efforts and let the prayer stand alone! At the end of the night after all our efforts, poor CJ threw it all up! Twice for good measure! Chris and I both felt terrible as this was the first time CJ got sick enough from the chemo to throw up. But we both also got a sense that the Lord was saying it was in His hands and He would bring up CJ's counts without our help. I don't think He wanted us to be able to take any credit by all our efforts or what we fed him. And we surely don't! All glory and honor and praise to You Lord now and forevermore!

I am thankful for this unanticipated appointment to have CJ's blood counts done. I found myself in the waiting room this morning silently reading my Bible when a Muslim mother came in with her daughter and then a Jewish mother immediately also came in with her son. It was very clear what each of us were to all of us. Yet we engaged freely in conversation about our children's cancer treatments. I sensed God sovereignty and thought, 'Lord, when would a Christian woman, a Muslim woman, and a Jewish woman sit and speak so intimately and freely'. I was able to share answered prayer with them as we talked and they were right beside me when I received the news about not needing the transfusion. They couldn't help but hear me when I thank the Lord first and foremost! I pray I will continue to encounter these woman throughout CJ's treatments and build a relationship that allows me to share Christ further with them. Please join me in praying that the soil of their hearts will be cultivated by our Lord and that Chris and I will be faithful to plant the seeds of life in that fertile soil. I never thought I would be asking for prayer for us in the very words of the apostle Paul but he said it better than I ever could:

"And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which we are in chains. Pray that we may proclaim it clearly, as we should. (Pray that we would) be wise in the way we act toward outsiders; making the most of every opportunity. (Pray that our) conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that we may know how to answer everyone." Colossians 4:3-7



Thank you again for your prayers, support and love.

The George Family
Chris and Dawn
Alibrandi, CJ, Brett and Corey