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.

15 comments:

Heather said...

The will of God will never take you to where the grace of God can not protect you.

Whether past, present, or future, Gods loving grace will carry us, take us, help us, and or free us, if only we allow our Heavenly Father to do His work in us. No should of, could of, would of, or what if's would change anything, it is ultimately all in God's timing and control. God is receiving the glory for all that is being done here. What obedience to God! Thank you for being so open with us. I love you all so much.
Heather

Raul said...

You are a good mother, God Bless you! You and everyone in your family are in my heart and prayers.

Enzo said...

Dawn,

It takes awhile to read this and absorb it. I know this is painful to relive, share, and document but I believe God wants you to share all of this with everyone. Always we look back and with the 20/20 vision of hindsight we wonder how we missed so many things and our hearts ache at how we could have said more, done more, lingered longer, gave a hug or a kiss. I never knew the story about your pastor getting up and praying for CJ during a worship time. Did you later ever ask him what led him to do that?

I remember Tammi's dream as she also shared it with me.

CJ knows Dawn that you tried to help him -- how many doctors and emergency room visits you made. He knows. He also knows you wish you would have done more and that it breaks your heart -- but the hug and the "thats okay mommy". That is CJ. He forgives you, God forgives you, forgive yourself.

Of course CJ's change in protocols worried all of us. No one likes change of any kind especially when it is your child and you absorbed the first plan and then it changed. Thankfully, the doctors and the wonderful nurse told you how much that spinal really improves things and we could put that fear to rest. We'll have to request a photo of the doctor and her mahogany desk. God bless her, whoever she is. I pray all the time that CJ's doctors and the head doctor really discern over CJ's treatments but I know that they do this for CJ and everyone of their kids.

CJ looks so good in the picture above this blog. He is getting well. He is getting well without suffering as much as he could. He plays and plays. He smiles, he laughs, he doesn't have the pain he had before his diagnosis. He feels so loved. If he ever felt confused, frustrated or even misunderstood, he certainly doesn't now.

The writings between mother and son, mother to daughter, daughter to brother that we see on this blog is such a beautiful thing and you will live on always with the telling of these stories. How your kids always crave your childhood stories. CJ's children will have a book to read of his childhood. Keep sharing Dawn.

I love you.

Mom

Anonymous said...

Dawn, again you amaze me with your "nakedness" before us and God. I have been sharing your story with friends and family so that they too may be blessed by your gift. As a mother I can imagine the many fears that can capture our hearts and minds for our children and the tremendous responsibility we all carry for their wellbeing as we make decisions for them on their behalf. The one thing that has calmed my soul is to know that regardless of the struggles and challenges that they or I will face this is only a temporary home. "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 When ever I "see" situations in my life, my children, my family, my friends, my patients, the news, etc. that trouble my heart I pray that I will not see or judge anything with my eyes but rather through the eternal purpose that God has given us. Thank you again for sharing your walk with God with us. Love, Wilma

Ily(hearts) said...

Hi guys,
Dawn once again I thank you for allowing the Lord to use you. You may question yourself why? and why now? Why the playback of all these memories. Well the Lord knew I had to hear this story. Dealing with the death of my mother in-law (which is like my mother) has been very hard. I too find myself playing back scenarios that took place right before she passed. Questioning why I did not see the signs of a stroke. I have asked my self and the Lord why???? I find comfort in your story even in the midst of my pain. I know that all things go through his hands first and everything he does is perfect. Perfect even though we question it. I just want to thank you and I want you to know that you and your family are a blessing to me. Thanks for sharing and praying for us.
Please send our love and hugs to Cj and the whole gang.
In his loving name,
ILY

Martha Rivero said...

Dear Dawn,

Every time I read your postings believe it or not I learn something new, suffering my nephew’s illness, being so far from my sister knowing in my heart she needs me more then ever, I pray for CJ every day, as I do for my nephew, and all the childrens that battle at the moment with cancer, it is funny but yesterday when I talked to my sister I told her the story of how I read CJs story right before I received the news that my 8th month nephew is in the battle for his life, I realized that is not his, or my sister or my battle, it is God’s battle, and I truly believe he is going to win, because I believe in his enormous mercy, I believe he loves us deeply, and he has a plan for each and everyone, he has a plan for my sister and her husband, they are learning to trust and believe in God, and I am so proud of them.

I am 26 years old, I am a mom too, I have a 3 year old daughter, I love her deeply, I am thankful to God everyday for her existence, it is incredible how I relate your stories to my personal life, every time I read one of your postings, I think of my personal problems and my fears, sometimes I think I am not enough patient and , and since I am full time employee and I am a part time student at Nova, I work and study so hard, that sometimes I don’t know how I can be able to do everything, then there is times when I question my self as a mother, and as much I try, I never think I am what Gods wants me to be, and I feel guilty because I am not patient or loving enough to my daughter, and anything I do for her I always feel is not enough, I think you are a great mom, and a good person, I can see the God’s grace reflected in your life, since I know CJ not personally but through this blog, I pray for God to give me the strength, faith, patience in his promises, I pray to be the kind, loving and patient mother you are.

With love and in Christ,

Martha

Tammi said...

Dear Dawn,
I think that sometimes you wake up in the middle of the night and I can sense it, or feel it somehow, and I am prompted to wake up with you, too. I do wake up and I lay there and I think of you and Chris and CJ and I am hppeful that you are all sleeping and getting the rest that you so much need. I think of how much I love you and I wish I could be there to hold you and make you feel better, too. You are such a wonderful, wonderful mother Dawn, you always have been, even when you think that you have been not as patient as you could have been. The proof of your loving parenting, both by you and Chris, is absolutely evident in the love and spirit of your children. Whenever you doubt yourself, go speak with Allie, about anything, or just look and see what CJ is doing at that exact moment and the LORD will confirm to you what an exceptional mother that you are.
I promise.

I Love You,
Tammi Jo

Anonymous said...

Dawn,

Thank you for sharing your experience. It is through your brokeness, God uses you for His Glory. Because of your willingness to share what Satan tried to pull you into, you have helped so many of us see that even people that are close to the Lord and have walked with Him for quite some time can and will still be attacked. Your surrender to Him, shut the devil out and landed you in victory! Those thoughts will come, we must shut them out and turn to God! I am thankful for Chris's support and that he was there to comfort you and remind you of the steps you did take towards helping CJ. I pray for your peace of mind and spirit as you go through this new life. I pray for CJ's continuous healing. Please keep posting and being open with us. You are helping so many of us keep the focus where it belongs.

Jacks

Janet S said...

Dawn, I missed reading your blog this weekend and finally got to my computer now that I'm back!
Thank you for your honesty and transparency. So many times I beat myself up, too, knowing that I am not the gentle mom my kids have needed me to be. Often I look back and think of how I could have reacted or done something differently, and I promise myself I will try harder and do better...only to fail again. Apart from God's forgiveness and love, and the conviction, help and power of the Holy Spirit, I am lost. We've talked about this before...in spite of me, God works miracles and accomplishes what He desires for the good of my children and for His glory. In CJ's case, God also knew...all of it. Regardless of what you would've done differently...or sooner...or later...He is in control. Like Jackie said: continue to take those thoughts captive, and continue to be thankful for your wonderful best friend/husband. I know considering the circumstances, it may seem strange to say or hear for some of us...but you are blessed. You are not alone! You know God, you have a wonderful family, and many, many friends who love you dearly....all praying continuously and supporting you!

Alexa said...

Dear Dawn,

I was rereading your blog this morning and as happens often when reading your blog, tears were streaming down my face.

That we are imperfect, always growing parents seems clear to me. It's become like everyday practice for me to thank God because He is always faithful even when I'm not, and its not because of lack of trying. I am not worthy, I am not worthy, I am not worthy.

Its Gods mercy that astounds me. When you said "please don't believe the lie that God created us and then left us to grope our way through life" Amen! Oh praise Him who never leaves us nor forsakes us. Praise Him who is with you right now as you are going through this journey, who is for you and not against you, and may He keep drawing near to you as you draw near to Him.

Thank you for being such an encouragement to all of us even when going through such a hard road, for walking with your God as a child walks with his father. For trusting the only one that can be fully trusted.

Praying for you, much love,
Alexa

Anonymous said...

This blog has touched my heart and I know it is affecting so many lives because I hear it from friends and family. There are so many that are coming into this blog, praying for CJ and their lives are being affected. Please post a message, even if you don't know the family. I believe you have to sign up for a google account, but once you do that, you can post under "anonymous" if you prefer to remain anonymous.
I know the Georges are encouraged by each and every post....and there are posts in here that have also encouraged me in other areas of my life. God may want to use you to speak into someone's life. I would love to see how far this blog is reaching outside of Florida, because I know it is....so please leave a comment before you leave the blog. ;0)

Anonymous said...

Dawnie it is so hard to read how you torture yourself with what ifs.... Lay your head down tonight knowing there is no Mother on earth that loves her little babies more than you do. You and Chris should be the little pictures that we find in the encyclopedia next to "good parents.." so with God's Grace try to stop beating yourself up for something you may have missed although you knew and tried desperately to figure it out....the doctors missed it many times but you went back time and time again for an answer. I am hoping that Thursday we can all be together and you can sit on the couch and just relax for a few hours for one day. Tell CJ last Thanksgiving I was fighting the Fight, look how wonderful it turned out for me, and this year he is and next year we will both be cured and gobbling down food at your assigned seating arrangement. Dawnie..I love all of you lots, God will take care of this for you. Your faith is so strong, let him guide you to some peace.
Love Aunt Penny

Break the Mold said...

Hi Annonymous....:) we were just talking about this the other day because many people tell me they read the blog but they don't know how to comment. And many people read it but do not read the comments at all. The comment section has really become and encouragement of its own for those who follow them.

It is amazing how many people tell us how the blog is affecting them but we did not even know they were reading it. We know it is nationwide and even in a few other countries as well. Venezuela, Argentina, Columbia, Canada...
I can't remember the other ones mentioned. Someone said it would be neat if after each comment the person added their name and their city and state so we can get an idea where everyone is from. It would really be great for CJ to see this at this point in his treatment.
I do want to thank all of you who comment because it really encourages us greatly...and thank you annonymous for encouring others...
love,
Dawn

Noah Sedano said...

hello C.J.
how are you? I want to tell you that you are really standing strong. Keep being brave and always remember that God is always with you. Here is a verse that shows this truth.
Psalm 27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life of whom shall I be afraid?
I will also do my best to comfort and pray for you and your family.
Your friend, Noah

Ily (hearts) said...

Hi Cj just checking in on you and your family today.
Keep us posted on the treatmendt this week.
Love ya,
ILY