Sunday, May 24, 2009

Hope Springs Up



Early in CJ's treatment a sweet woman heard about our story and sent CJ a beautiful canvas she painted called "Hope Springs Up". It is a picture of a bluebird staring up at a tall, lone sunflower that has seemingly bloomed randomly amidst the high mountain passes and low valleys bluebird is traveling. The title of the painting describes perfectly the feelings I experience when looking at it. I can relate to the little bluebird navigating the mountains and valleys that lay before him and needing some hope to spring up as a reminder of God's hand guiding the way. I can relate to the little blue bird who purposefully focused his gaze on that hope instead of the mountains and valleys that surround him.

That painting hangs on my wall and serves as a reminder of the hope God has allowed to spring up for us during these past eight months of CJ's treatments. Through His word, through many of you, through the blog, and through His promises God has provided many doses of hope that have refreshed us in the valleys. Recently however, I found myself looking at this painting and praying, "Lord, like bluebird, I really could use some hope to spring up. Anything will do! Even just a sprout or sapling shooting up would be a welcome sight."

I was in desperate need of a fresh dose of hope. I had read some articles related to CJ's treatments that weighed heavy on my heart and mind. I was grieving for a woman that I have never even met who is dying of cancer. I was walking my daughter through a difficult time and as a mom I was suffering tenfold for every tear she shed. I was having difficulty discerning my heart and thoughts. In the midst of it all, I was struggling to communicate my feelings to Chris and therefore was not receiving the comfort I was in need of and that God has provided for me through him. Let's just say, I was a mess!

Like a drug addict, I begged God for a fix. Each morning I poured my aching heart out to Him, I felt desperate. I begged him for a shot of hope. I pleaded with him through prayer, through my journal, through tears, and even through gritted teeth. As the week wore on I began to think it wasn't coming and the temptation to go to other sources for a "fix" was great. (This would be my temptation to let my heart and mind wander from the truth and promises of God and throw a pity party.)

When hope finally came later in the week, it came in the most surprising form. Or should I say form(s). Hope was delivered straight to my heart through a blond, a brunette, and a redhead. Sounds like the beginning of a joke, right? "How can a blond, brunette and redhead bring hope to a downcast spirit?" Don't worry all you blonds, this is not your typical blond joke! The blond in this story is not the but of the joke here. Rather, she is the very reason the hope was delivered to my parched soul.

The seeds of this hope were planted back in January when she, the blond, who from here on out will be known as Kristi, heard about CJ through his grandma Paula. Kristi's spirit was immediately and powerfully affected. Upon hearing about CJ, Kristi went home and penned a song for him. She titled it "Angels Without Wings" because she felt that was what CJ was to her. Mind you, she still did not even know his name yet, only his story. Still, the song poured out of her. She sent the words to him with a beautiful journal.

At this time we were only three months into CJ diagnosis and treatment and still amazed at how God was moving so many hearts and spirits of His people to intercede for CJ through prayer. Some of the most powerful and faithful intercessors had never even met him before. Kristi was one of them. We kept in touch through email, through the blog, and through grandma.

Five months passed and during this time it became Kristi's passion and dream to see this song recorded for CJ. Enter the brunette, from here on out known as Sam. Sam is Kristi's piano teacher. He wrote the music/melody to go with the song and began to compose it with her. (sorry if I am mutilating the proper musician terminology) Kristi also began looking for someone to sing it. She went through a few different voices but was unable to achieve the sound and level of professionalism she was looking for. Enter the redhead, from here on out known as Amber Leigh.

Amber Leigh is an accomplished and professional singer who Kristi had heard about before. Sam contacted Amber by email and shared the story with her and asked if she would consider singing the song. Amber agreed. As a professional, she has a very busy schedule and setting up a time with the recording studio available, her available, as well as Sam the composer was tricky.

In God's perfect providence, the timing of this recording would not happen until the end of a very difficult week for me, as mentioned above. We were invited to the recording studio on Thursday for CJ to hear the song and finally meet all these people who have given their time, talents and treasures to bless a little boy they never met. It was just the fix I needed. Who would have thought God would use three complete strangers to open my eyes to His constant love and care for me and for CJ. As I sat there watching them work on the song, discuss different aspects of it, and consider each others perspectives openly and freely, it gave me a fresh dose of hope. How did I walk in there so downcast and heavy laden and walk out feeling so free of the burdens I was carrying? I don't know. Only God knows. Maybe it was when I looked at CJ and realized that his suffering is what God is using to do all of this in the hearts of people. Maybe it was when I realized the next day I would be sitting next to CJ as he had to have chemo, but for that moment it was the farthest thing from his mind. Maybe it was when I heard Amber Leigh say she had lessons that afternoon and she had a performance that night, or when Sam said he had a class at 1pm he needed to get to when they finished, or when I realized Kristi's 3 year old twins were at home with dad while she was here serving my son. It affected me to realize these people have busy lives, commitments, and schedules and yet here they all were giving their time with no expectations. It wasn't because of something I could see but something that was unseen, yet there in that room nonetheless. And my heart received it.

Yes, hope crept in my heart that day. And I have guarded it carefully ever since. I thanked God for that glimmer of hope during a difficult week. No, the difficulties did not end. CJ still had chemo the next day, the woman I mentioned is still dying, the articles I read are still fresh in my mind, I am still having trouble communicating........so what has changed? My heart and my hope! I am no longer focusing only on those things. They are with me, yes. But they are momentary and light when compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord and being privileged to watch Him work in and through the hearts of men....or should I say, a blond, a brunette and a redhead.

CJ with Sam, Amber and Kristi.

I may be... "hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed....." "....But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me."
(2Cor 4:8)(Micah 7:7)


"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
(Romans 15:13)
_______________________________

Check out Amber Leigh's website. www.amberleigh.com

We're all going to get together and go watch one of her shows and you locals are all invited. It will be a blast and a great way for us to support her for what she has done for CJ. She plays at Boston's on the Beach from 2-5pm, Saturday May 30th, Saturday June 6, and Saturday June 20th. I will post the details once we know what show we are going to. I will also keep you posted as to the progress of the song! Kristi has big dreams for it and I just happen to believe God does too.
_____________________________________________________________

CJ did have chemo Friday and it went surprisingly well. He was a little nervous on Thursday but came to me late that night. He had been laying with his daddy and he was heading to his own room and said, "Mom, I have been nervous about my port being accessed tomorrow but I have been praying and reminding myself I can do all things through Christ, and it is helping me." Needless to say that gave me hope for the next day! And that hope did not disappoint. He did awesome! We worked on scripture memory the whole way there and by the time we got there he had 3 new verses, five total by the time we got home. He surprised himself what he can do when he sets his mind to it. One of the verses he memorized is Joshua 1:9..."Have I not commanded you? Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged. For the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." You better believe that comes in handy when you are about to have a needle inserted into your chest.

He squeezed my hand hard when they accessed him but was focused and cooperative. I told him to go over his memory verses. He was really excited when the nurse told him, "We won't even tape it down, we will just do the push of meds and de-access you." He was all smiles after that. Big secret.....CJ's not afraid of the needle so much, what he hates is the tape on his chest when it is accessed. I know, crazy right! All the kids there hate the tape. I keep saying we are going to invent something to replace the tape and save all the kids in the future the hassle of the tape. The kids actually have panic attacks over the tape more times than the needle.

His counts were good and the doctors decided to try to go back up to a 100% dose again. So we are increasing his meds and seeing how he does. Keep praying for his little body to be strong.

Chris and I will be spending part of Tuesday afternoon on a phone conference lead by a doctor with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society on the topic of "Childhood Cancer Survivorship: Challenges, Strategies and Resources." Please pray we will learn all that we can and that we will have discernment and yet not become burdened by a yoke of fear or worry. (See followup to this in the blog comments)

Thank you again for your prayers, love and support of our family!



This post is dedicated to Kristi Huddleston.
Thank you for inspiring me to see beyond myself
. You really are the angel without wings.
Love, Dawn



To see more beautiful bluebird paintings visit:


http://goodthoughts.typepad.com/photos/bluebird_paintings/index.html.
( or )
http://www.goodthoughts.typepad.com/

28 comments:

Melinda said...

In a field that can be SO image driven and selfish it's encouraging to hear about selfLESS musicians coming together to bless others! I can't WAIT to hear the song and see how God uses it in many people's lives.

~Melinda p

Enzo said...

I just want to say that I only knew Kristi with a hi and goodby relationship and when I told her about CJ one afternoon she was so visibly affeted. She told me that she cried all the way home, that she prayed for him all night long and that God wouldn't let her go - she was to do something for this boy and she has. She is a great example of what can happen in a short period of time if we follow God's directions. Kristi, has a full time job, twins, and a husband and she has written this song for CJ, spent her own money to have her piano teacher help her with the music, taken time off work and by the way when she takes time off work she doesn't get any money, to move forward with this song. She had a vision of finding a professional to sing this song and the very first singer that she really wanted responded with an open heart and said yes. Amber also has many paying jobs, commitments, is planning her wedding but said yes. These people inspire me so much.

I wish that I could be like that. I want to be like that. Especially for a little boy I don't even know. Help me God to be better.

I was so happy to be at the recording with Dawn and the kids. It was such a blessing for all of us. Then if that wasn't enough the next time I saw Krisi she now has an even bigger vision of what this song may become and what she can do to promote it and I can tell you she shoots right for the sky!! More to come on that in a later post.

Please everyone remember Dawn in your prayers along with CJ now as I know she has had a heavy heart lately too. I'm so glad the blue bird painting and the recording and the blonde, brunette and red head were such an inspiration to her. I'm so glad that God answered her prayers in just the right way at just the right time.

How awesome that CJ was able to memorize his verses and not struggle as much this past Friday getting her port accessed. I'm so proud of him too.

Love Grandma Paula

Anonymous said...

Thank God for HOPE. Thank God for the miracles He works through and in us that we have no human explanation for it to be. Dawn, there are some prayers as I know you have as well, that I have been praying for, for years and years, only to be released from bondage years later when there is no other explanation possible except HIM. I cant wrap my mind around the concept that there can be so much wrong in me that I can not understand or fix. But in his time, He can restore me and make me whole. He can heal me. He can free me. I tried for years and years to do it myself, and just couldn't. I still don't understand completely what was wrong with me, I just know I wanted it fixed! He is an amazing GOD. The only GOD. I can barely comprehend how HE does what HE does. But I do know, as I always tell you, this Kristi and Amber Leigh, are a clear cut example of what happens when God lays something or someone on your heart and you follow through with obedience, no matter what your circumstance, the precious reward that lays on the other side of the obedience reaches and touches thousands! (Just like your post) as you post with four children ages 13-1 all with different needs, plus a husband. God bless you all for your obedience and Glory to God.

LOve,

YOUr Sis
Jacks

Wendy Whitlow said...

Wow! How moving Dawn. I can't wait to hear and share this song and the testimonies behind such giving and thoughtful people.
I felt so blessed to hang out with you all last week. I love all your kids Dawn. You have an amazing family. I am determined to beat CJ in Mancala...so tell him I said don't get too comfortable with his victory. Lol!
Thanks for having us over...
I bought a new bracet because mine broke. I will get it from you or Jackie at some point.
Love,
Wendy

Anonymous said...

Dawn,
Your blog post was also amazing! Doesn't God have a sense of humor to send a blond, brunette and redhead to boost your spirits?!! What a great story and what wonderful people for God to send into your lives. CJ's song will not only comfort you all but also who knows how many other people that will hear it. It will be interesting to see how many lives are joined together by a song God put in Kristi's heart, the music in Sam's head, and the melody from Amber's mouth. It's a good thing that in the body of Christ we're not all hands!

I'm so glad the little Bluebird has encouraged you along the way, too. May hope and joy and love and peace spring up in your hearts each day. Give CJ our love and a hug! Stay sunny!
Love,
Debbie Warnock

Ily FIgueroa said...

Hi Guys,
It’s been a long time I have not written but I have been reading. You are always on my mind and prayers. I was able to look at the painting in detail by clicking on it and I love the angels that are in the sky. They look so happy. Dawn, you guys are awesome. I know I have told you before but thank you. Thank you for opening up yourself and your family. I miss you guys and would love to see you all real soon. I know the weather has been ugly but, here comes summer. YAHOO!!!!!
Anyways we will keep you in our prayers tomorrow just know that the Lord has already gone before you and He will always steer you the right way if you allow HIM. God bless you all. Keep us posted on going to see the show.
The Figueroa's

Anonymous said...

Dear Dawn,
How precious and fragile is hope sometimes..."though He slay me still I will hope in Him." Is all we can say at some moments but I rejoice to hear how the Lord met you in your moments. I will keep praying for soooo much hope to just overflow you, as one of my favorite poems goes, "When we have exhausted our store of endurance, when faith seems to fail ere the day is half gone, When we come to the end of our hoarded resources, Our Father's full giving is only begun..." Love you, Cindy S.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dawn,
Just wanted to let you know that my prayers are with you as you speak with the specialists today. May you continue to guard your heart in God's hope. I love that painting, what a wonderful gift.
Warmly,
Wilma

David Bush said...

Dude, CJ. You have a theme song!

Anonymous said...

Amber is an amazing singer. I have seen her perform and I know that God has sent her to CJ for many reasons. Dawn I have never in my forty two years of life met such and amazing and caring person as yourself, I could only wish that I had the love and comfort of my own Mother. You and your family have touched so many and I have a permant part of my heart for your family. I think of CJ and the family everyday, there is not a day that I do not pray for your Family and CJ to be protected. God Bless and Dawn you are doing an amazing job. I only wish to be like you.

Anonymous said...

Dawn and Chris,
I just checked out the songs and videos on Amber's site - she's an awesome musician! What an incredible story and an honor for CJ! When do we get to hear the song? I know it will reflect what we all feel! Love you, aunt Karen
jeremiah 29:11

Martha Rivero said...

Dear Dawn, CJ and Family,

My prayers and my heart are with you always. I am so happy that everything with CJ is going so well, and I am happy that you found the hope you needed going through all this difficult times. We will continue to pray for CJ and the family as well.

With love,

Martha

Anonymous said...

Dawnie...sometimes God sends the unexpected....a blond, a redhead and a brunette..and an answer to what you are struggling with. Love you lots..I am heading to her website right now.
Love Aunt Penny
xoxoxo

Break the Mold said...

For all you comment followers...I wanted to update you on the phone conference we had and really could not resist sharing with you how it ended.....

We listened to the Cancer Survivorship Teleconference today and it went very well. We learned a lot. Chris and I both listened and were able to guard our hearts carefully as we did even though I admit it is not easy.

Chris was able to see God's blessing and guidance of our family as we listened and pointed that out to me. He reminded me of things like CJ avoiding the high dose Methotrexate at the last minute when the protocol was changed and avoiding the high dose steroid at the very last minute. These little adjustments will all be beneficial to him in his long term risks and outcomes of any delayed effects.

The first half of the program was lead by a doctor at UM and covered the cognitive and physical consequences of survival. How is that for a term? "Consequences" of survival! Apparently even survival comes with consequences, better known as 'delayed effects' or 'late effects'. Of course we gladly will take those consequences and deal with them over the alternative.

The second portion of the call was lead by a social worker who works with survivors and their families on a day to day basis and she discussed more of the behavioral, emotional, and social effects related to surviving cancer.

The part I wanted to share was how she ended her talk and closed out the tele-conference.

Drum Roll Please.......

She closes by saying an overriding theme she sees in Cancer is "Hope."... (Of course right about now I am smiling, realizing she is going to end her talk with the word Hope)

She says we experience:

-Hope at the time of diagnosis that is is somehow wrong

-Hope that the cancer is treatable and goes into remission

-Hope for long term survival

Then she goes on to say how hope needs to be refueled at times and we can find it in the simplest of places. I had to laugh as I thought, 'or the least expected places...like a blond, brunette, and red head you have never even met before!'

How's that for God tying it all together for me!

Thanks for letting me share. I thought some of you would get a kick out of that. Let me also share that God has reminded me that my hope is a living hope, not some future hope. It is secure and cannot be changed even if the diagnosis is sure, the cancer untreatable, the outcome unwanted. It is based on Jesus Christ and on what is already completed in Him and through Him.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (1 Peter 1:3)

"Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed." (1 Peter 1:13)

Living in Hope,

Dawn

ily Figueroa said...

Amen and Praise be to our wonderful LORD and Savior.
God is GOOD all the time.
ILY

Tammi said...

Dude,

I can't hardly see to type through my tears. I don't even know what to say sometimes. I am grateful to Kristi for taking time to respect and love my family especially my nephew and I love how Gramma Paula is the vessel to get this message to so many people. Who would have thought that it would be Mom who God would work through the most during this trial for CJ. Amazing.

Tell Alibrandi I love her and to call her old Aunt Tammi sometimes if she needs to talk. I'm a good listener.

I love you.xoxoxxo
Tammi Jo

Enzo said...

HOPE -- Praise God that was how the teleconference ended. Sometimes we just look for those little signs or (triangles if Debbie is reading) and sure enough it jumps right out at you. HOPE -- the message you needed now at this time -- HOPE -- the answer you got. It does sound a little confusing about consequences of survival but you will continue to handle all in the fashion that you have -- trusting God -- praying -- support from your friends, your family, the blondes and the brunettes and the redheads that God has put in your path -- the doctors -- We love you.

Mom

Sonia said...

It is so beautiful all you are telling, is like reading a book, a fantasy that some writer is imagining, but is not, is real and so moving.
We keep thinking on you and praying for you.
Antonio is sorry he couldn´t see you.
Thanks and congratulate Ali for the nice jewelry she is doing, Andrea and Alejandra loved it.
Love,
Sonia, Antonio, Andrea and Ale

Anonymous said...

Hi everyone this is the blonde, Kristi! Dawn, I first want to thank you for making me cry once again reading your beautiful blog. I also want to thank you for making me laugh. I love how you wrote the story of the blonde, brunette, and red head. I've never been so proud to be a blonde! On a daily baisis I deal with the stereotypes of being a blonde and they get really old to me and sometimes I even get sensitive to the jokes, but for once just once I felt important to be this blonde, thank you for the honor.
I want everyone that reads this to know that I feel extremely blessed to have met CJ and his wonderful family. I felt as if I had known them for years and we finally reunited. I don't know why the Lord has chosen me and stamped CJ on my heart, but I am forever greatful that he has given me the opportunity to travel this journey with him and his family. I must give the credit to our Lord. He called upon me and gave me the passion to dig deep in my soul and write a song for a precious child that I didn't even know. What an honor it is to me to serve our Lord in that light.
Paula trusted to allow me into her daughter and grandson's life.
Dawn immediately welcomed me into her arms and all of her children's arms during this recording. I will never forget this day and the spiritual high that I felt that lasted days after. CJ, I wanted to hug you more than I did that day. I wanted to say encouraging words to you. I was just overwhelmed and was really just fighting back tears all day. I know we will share more time together soon, but just know that not a day goes by that I don't think of you and pray for you lil' warrior!
Peace and Love to you all, let's keep this prayer chain strong.
Kristi
p.s. I went to my piano lesson today. Sam feels he should be finished mixing the song by Friday. Soon after it will be ready for iTunes and proceeds will benefit CJ's cause.
p.s.s. the artwork with the bird is beautiful!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi George family.
I love reading your posts, but also the comments and how God has reached out and touched so many lives and used so many people. We serve an awesome God!!
Dawn, thanks for sharing the details with us. There is so much more that you are dealing with that we cannot even imagine.
I love how the conference call ended with a confirmation of hope....and that you know that the hope is based in a living hope (Jesus), not a future hope or one swayed by circumstances.
CJ, we are praying for you!!
sedanos

Anonymous said...

Hi Dawn,

I love the title of your post. What an amazing story. I can't wait to hear the song! Of course it was the blonde who started it all :-)! So happy for the teleconference! Hope is such a powerful word! It came to you at the right time from all the right places.

We think of you always, and thank you Paula for the prayers!

Lots of love, Nicole Ana Alberto

Enzo said...

May 28th

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTER DAWN, GOD BLESS YOU TODAY, FILL YOU WITH HOPE, FILL YOU ANEW WITH THE WONDER OF JESUS AND HIS LOVE AND REFRESH YOU. ONE DAY WHEN CJ GROWS UP AND READS BACK OVER THE JOURNEY AND BLOG THAT THE ENTIRE GEORGE FAMILY WAS ON HE WILL BE AMAZED AT HIS MOM, HIS WONDERFUL MOM, YOUR STRENGTH, YOUR FAITH, YOUR GUIDANCE AND LOVE. I AM SO PROUD OF YOU.

MOM

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday my friend I hope you have a wonderful day. Always thinking and praying for you and your family. xoxoxo Always Pam

Martha Rivero said...

Dawn,

First Happy Birthday! God bless you in your day!

Thank you for the update, I don’t know what to say, only that thank you God! for your grace, mercy and hope. I am really happy to see how God is answering you in so many ways, how he slowly let you see his mercy, I cant wait to hear CJ’s song, I am sure it would be awesome, also the blue bird painting is beautiful. We will keep our hearts and mind in prayers, strong knowing that we have a powerful loving and living God. May the glory be to our Lord!

With Love,

Martha

Janet said...

Dawn, happy birthday!!! Have a great day. Celebrate it all weekend long with your family making beautiful memories. ;o)
janet s

Alexa said...

Wow Dawn! CJ's own song :0) How wonderful. I look forward to hearing it.

I'm sorry your week was so hard last week :-(, and sorry to hear Ali had a hard time too. I'm glad she has such a caring mommy like you to walk her through everything.

Thank you for sharing the good, the hard, the bad, and the hope. How wonderful to see God bring hope into your family. Thank you for shining His love on this blog.

I hope you had a very nice birthday. Much love, Alexa

Amy Derrickson said...

Hi Dawn,
I'm HOPING with you!

Jeremiah 29:11
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you HOPE and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."

Love,
Amy

Anonymous said...

Hey guys, was just checking in. Hope everything is well.
Love, Nicole Ana Alberto