Thursday, August 27, 2009

I Got Your Number!

Thank you all so much for your kind words and great response to the non-profit. (See below post regarding the non-profit if you haven't already). I really have to credit CJ with this because it is his heart to always want to help others that made us want to be more like him. It is the struggles that we have watched him and his siblings go through that make us want to ease this burden for other families in similar situations. It is the joy we have seen him experience from small gestures of kindness during this trial that make us want to share this same kindness with others.

CJ, and Children Battling Cancer, were featured on the news the other evening. That was an unexpected blessing and we hope it brings awareness to our cause. God has already done more than we could have asked or imagined in a such a short period of time and we have only just begun.

I have to share one particular story with you that really affected us. We were at an orientation at a local church for a new program we are adding to our homeschooling schedule this year. This church is hosting us by allowing us to use their facilities for a minimal fee and while we were there my girlfriend leaned over and said, "You know, I visited this church a few times and I remember a child with cancer mentioned when I was here." I thought, Wow, what a coincid...... and then before the word could completely form in my head, I heard, "There are no coincidences Dawn!"

Chris and I spoke with the Pastor to ask him about the child. We were surprised to discover that this child was also a 9 year old boy. Sadly, he passed away after a four year battle with cancer. These types of stories are extremely difficult to hear because I realize that somewhere along the way in that battle the child was probably doing really well, like CJ. Then the pastor went on to share that they also had a little girl who passed away after a long battle with cancer. He then walked us outside and showed us two bricks in the breezeway that had been placed there in their memory. Their names and the dates of their short lives were etched into the bricks. This was unexpected and I had to guard my heart carefully. Staring at the brick, I was surprised and ashamed of the sudden thought, I never want CJ's name to end up on a brick. But I realize that is not in my control so I had to surrender that selfish thought immediately. Chris and I went on to share with him about CBC and what we are doing through the chemo bag fundraiser and other projects to help these families. This church definitely has a heart for this ministry and has been touched deeply by the effects of childhood cancer.

I am so grateful the Lord brought us to this specific church for this program and I am acutely aware that I, and CJ, will walk over those bricks every Tuesday for the next 24 weeks. I pray that I will do it in a way that honors those two precious children and their families.

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On a lighter note, CJ's baseball season has officially begun! He came home from practice last week and ran through the door and said, 'Mom, you will never guess what number I got." So of course I shouted back, "What number did you get?" He answered excitedly, "I got the number 3! Can you believe that?"

He wanted the number 3 because that is the number of his go-cart and was chosen specifically to represent the Trinity. Having that number reminds him that an all powerful, all knowing, strength giving God is with him at all times. He sees it as a symbol of his faith as you or I would wear a cross on our neck or place a fish on our car. It serves as a constant reminder of who he represents when he is out there on the field. He was so happy to have it and I was so happy for him.

CJ pitched a bit in his first game and it was so exciting. I can not even express the feelings of seeing him out there playing his heart out. I kept thinking that 11 months ago I was sitting in an office listening to the list of things CJ would have to go through, the list of things he could not do, the list of medications he would be taking, the list of complications that were possible and at that time this day felt so far away. I remember when the doctor told me he would lose all his hair. I was so sad. Then he said that within 6-9 months it would be coming back and CJ would be out playing like other kids. I did not believe him. I just stared at him and thought he was trying to be optimistic or cheer us up.

Now, here we are 11 months later and CJ's hair is back and he is out playing like other kids. It is still surreal in so many ways. I know his fight is not over and I live with that reality everyday. It is always with me that the next scan, the next blood test, the next ache or pain could be the beginning of this battle all over again. But at the moment I am simply grateful and astonished at how far he has come in so short a time.

Admittedly, there are times it is more difficult for me that he looks like all the other kids because his physical presence does not betray our inner battle. I guess my heart has not caught up with his physical progress yet. This became evident on Saturday during his first game. My mother was there with me and we were so excited watching him pitch that we could not sit still. I just could not believe I was watching him pitch in a baseball game.

We were down by 20 points at this point in the game and it was 100 degrees outside. All the other parents were sitting quiet and still in the shade and had to be wondering what in the world was wrong with us as we paced back and forth cheering him on, our excitement obvious. I looked over at Chris who was struggling to contain himself as well and I said, "Can you believe we are here?" I thought I should cry or shout or do something but instead I just thanked God silently.

There was this strange temptation to look back at all the parents and say, "Please excuse our excitement. He has cancer and this is a miracle you are witnessing." I didn't do it of course. I know God will show me the appropriate time to share our story with each parent. I do want them to know because I believe God can use CJ's story to benefit and bond this team in a special way. Even if it is a simple as one little boy being kinder to his teammates, or one parent being more patient with their own child's progress, then it will be a blessing to share our story.

During his second game he struck out and went back into the dugout positive and cheering his teammates on. This was a surprise because I know the amount of time he spends practicing and I know he wants his game to reflect that. This was also different from last year when he would get really frustrated with himself for striking out. I told him I was proud of his attitude and he said, "I don't care if I strike out as long as I go down swinging and trying my best." I sure hope that attitude lasts all season!

I realize most of our readers are not local but many that are have asked for his baseball schedule so you can come to one of his games and cheer him on. I will attach it to this post for anyone interested in attending a game. Email me for directions to the park if you need them.




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On a more serious note, I would like to ask for prayer for CJ as he rediscovers the beautiful truths of the gospel all over again, like we all do when we come face to face with the depravity of our minds and our flesh. CJ found himself in a situation that lead him to come to me immediately and confess his sin and ask for prayer and accountability. (I still can not believe a 10 year old can walk through these truths better than I can at 35) . As I prayed with him, he thanked God over and over through tears for sending his Son to die for him. As a mom, I suffered and yet rejoiced at what I was witnessing. I was saddened by his pain but so grateful for his spirit. He asked me why he still felt so bad after prayer and confession and I told him it was important that he accepts God's grace and forgiveness but if God removed all memory of the sin and the consequences for it we would just continue to do it over and over again.

I also told him that since he was very little I have believed that God has plans for him. Now I realize God has plans for all our lives and that is a promise in Scripture we can all claim but I am talking about something more, something I have sensed since he was a child. I don't know if it was the cancer or something more and the cancer was just an attempt to destroy those plans. I have not theologically worked through all of this yet but I do believe CJ has suffered attack after attack untypical for a child his age. It began when he was a small child and suffered severely with anxiety unlike anything I had ever seen. Even a seasoned teacher whose class he was supposed to take, who assured me he would be fine, came out 10 minutes later and told me she had never seen fear in a child like that before and felt I should not enroll him in the class. Then, when when he was about 6 or 7, he suffered a fiery trial that nearly pulled me from the church. And now at 9 he is diagnosed with cancer. Sometimes I wonder if all these attacks are to divert him from the plan God has for him or just to prepare him for it. Then, I shudder as I realize that if they are just to prepare him for a life of serving God, we are probably not talking the "good life" working for Christ but the "to live is Christ and to die is gain kind of life." The real good life that includes sacrifice and often suffering. Then I think back on all the years of praying and continuing to pray for God to set CJ apart for His glory and wonder if I knew what I was doing when I prayed that. Maybe I wasn't well enough versed in the New Testament to pray that kind of prayer. Maybe I had not taken a good look at what being set apart for God's glory really looked like. I am tempted to to ask God to take my ignorance into consideration? But deep down, I know it wasn't done in ignorance. I knew what I was praying for and even so, I still say Yes and Amen although through tears and a heavy heart now.

As I close this post, I confess I am tempted to apologize to those of you who I may sound like some religious wacko to but my conscience won't allow it and it is probably way too late for that if you have followed this blog for any extended period of time. Instead, I will boldly ask for continued prayer for CJ both spiritually as well as prayer for his continued healing physically. I will admit I am stunned that anyone actually reads these posts. I am humbled that you would allow me this portion of your time to share our families burden and blessings with you through my inadequate words yet I am grateful for it and pray that it blesses you.



"I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body whether by life or by death. For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain."
(Philippians 1:-20)





15 comments:

Anonymous said...

C.J., there's something I want to encourage you with. I too am going through a trial, and find myself going to the Lord continually for forgiveness. Many times after I ask God for forgiveness, I don't really feel any better, sometimes I feel worse because I wonder if I really genuinely confessed my sin. But the one thing that really encourages me is that no matter what I feel, there is a truth that never changes based on anything. that truth is that Jesus died for your sins... all of them! You never have to "live up" to God, or prove yourself worth to him. Jesus already did that for you and me. So even if I feel just as bad after asking for forgiveness, I know that God forgave me because of his son, and he loves me just as much as before I sinned. I don't know if that helps at all, but i felt like i should share that with you. I miss you buddy, we haven't talked in so long!

Strike em' out for me! ;)

Joe

Anonymous said...

Hey CJ..... So great to see a picture of you pitching out there on the field. Keep pressing on buddy...I love the evidence of the Holy Spirit within you. Thats awesome. Another name for God is El Roi (it means God sees me)...I love that He gave you the number three for your jersey.
Dawn, thank you for faithfully posting updates on CJ and your family. I know we have never met but I am so thankful to have "met you" through this blog. The Lord is clearly at work in you as well and it is beautiful and encourges me more than you have any idea.

-kim (boca raton)

Mitch said...

I am so glad to know you and your family and be strengthened by your faith. I am continually inspired by your blog whether it be through identifying with our common beliefs, weaknesses, worries, or hopes. I may not be able to respond to the blogs frequently, BUT I am always reading them and look forward to seeing and hearing how you all are doing. Thank you again for sharing CJ's story with everyone.....I am glad to know such a brave young gentleman and pray for the day that he will not have to worry about cancer. Always thinking and praying for you! God bless,
Mitch Barnhart

Reta said...

Hello:

I first was led to your blog through Kristi's mom in Oklahoma earlier this year. She was telling us about your family and her daughter and gave us your site and I have been following it ever since. I enjoy reading your post and reading about CJ and the strong faith your family has. I am so glad that CJ is playing ball and enjoying the things all children should be doing instead of getting treatment for cancer.
You have a handsome family and I am always happy to hear when a child has such a loving family to be there for them. I know there has to be so many that don't.
I just recently lost my husband to stage IV Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. I also lost my father and sister to the same disease and my brother is in remission from it. It is so heart wrenching to watch anybody go through all they have to do to try to live.
I gave a donation in my husband's name, Paul Krukowski.
God Bless all of you. Thank you for all you do for CJ and other famiies.
Reta Krukowski

Break the Mold said...

Reta,
Thank you for taking the time to comment and for your generous donation to CBC. We received it today.

I am sorry for the loss of your husband to this disease. I was moved when I read it as CJ is non-Hodgkins Lymphoma as well. He was Stage 3. It sounds like this disease has really affected your family. Thank you for partnering with us in easing the affects this disease has on families.

Mitch and Kim and Joey (and others)

Thank you for your comments. I means a lot to our family and encourages us greatly. I can not tell you how many times I second guess writing or hold back from posting. I feel God so strongly lead me to write something and it flows out, but after I read it I start with the self doubt. Then comments like yours encourage me and reassure me to press on in faith trusting God for the harvest.


Kim,

El Roi is my FAVORITE name of God. That was for me, I needed that! I shared it with CJ too! He was really moved by these comments.
Thank you!
CJ's mom, Dawn

Anonymous said...

I am so glad to see CJ able to play ball and enjoy doing something that he thought at one time he might not be able to do again. God loves us so much and He knows what we need, when we need it. And He is able, above and beyond what our little minds can even begin to comprehend. Love and prayers,
Mary B. and family

Janet said...

Dawn, I don't see CJ's schedule and location of his games.
CJ, God is so awesome. When I was little and didn't understand how big a God we have, I would think He is too busy to care about something as small as this, like the number you'd get. But he does provide in even the smallest ways, just as He does in the huge ways. One of my favorite names of God is Jehovah-Jireh. Isn't God good...especially that He gave you a mommy and daddy who love the LORD sooo much and are helping you to grow up having a deep love and strong relationship with your heavenly Father.
Dawn, I believe God is pleased with you. Your passion for God and for the new life he's given you through Jesus is evident. Don't hide that light, that passion. Let it shine. You see this trial not as a roadblock but as a bridge to bring others to really get to know our Heavenly Father and how much He loves us. We may not see Him, but He is real! It's not easy living with cancer, but how much harder it must be without God. You invite Him into your life daily and we get to see how He reveals Himself to you. And He wants to do that with each of us.
Continue to break the mold. Forge ahead with courage because God is with you.
You and Chris are demonstrating to your kids and the rest of us the following...
Joshua 1:9
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."

your friend, Janet S.

Enzo said...

How awesome that Joe would come forward and share his struggles with CJ to help him through a spiritual challenge. Way to go, Joe. Children weren't like this when I was young. Amazing.

How awesome to the comments, the new posts, the new visitors. I know Dawn that often you write what God leads you to write and then worry if it is appropriate or totally about CJ and what will others think but you can't worry about that at all. You can see that your trials, your fears, your insecurities and then your faith help others in their own lives and help others to encourage you and hold you up in prayer.

Keep that up. I can't imagine what this journal will mean to your children and their children in the generations to come. Your kids always always ask me to tell them a story about when Mommy was a little girl. Well your grandchildren will be able to read what I'm guessing will be at least a two year odyessy of week to week and sometimes daily events that include your entire family. The foundation will probably carry into their adulthood.

Number 3. I know CJ loves it and wanted it for his go cart and respected Dwayne Wade for wearing it. No coinciden......... here.

Mom

I have a request. In one of your very next posts would you please include a paragraph about Alibrandi and print what she wrote for the on line daily devotion. Please do it in the body of one of your blogs as a little Allie update. I'd really like you to share that.

Anonymous said...

wOw! Number 3 Again! Way to go CJ. You truly are a champ! Your heart is so sincere and genuine! You are such a thoughtful young man! But whats even more amazing is that you take action! Alot of us have thoughts or feelings placed on us by our Higher Power, but many times, we push those thoughts or feelings aside out of selfishness. Your actions and words are so uplifting and inspirational! Just like your mom, you are a good stewart of what your gifts and talents that the Lord has blessed you with.

Dawn,

You should never even have the thought for apologizing for your writings a.k.a. "teachings". We are learning so much through your obedience, dedication, openess, and humility because of your ONE focus.

I can't wait to go to a game. Some overlap with Kevin's, but we will see you soon!

Love,

Jacks

Keeping you in our prayers!

Anonymous said...

Psalms 115:1 NOT TO US O LORD, NOT TO US, BUT TO YOUR NAME BE THE GLORY, BECAUSE OF YOUR FAITHFULNESS>>>>>>> WE ARE SO HAPPY FOR THE FAITHFULNESS OF OUR FATHER AND THE BLESSINGS ON YOUR FAMILY AND C.J. IT IS TRULY GODS HAND IN HIS HEALTH, PLAYING BASEBALL THE BLOG AND NOW YOUR MINISTRY. KEEP PRESSING ON GEORGE FAMILY, GOD TRULY HAS BIG PLANS FOR YOU. TO GOD BE THE GLORY!!!!!!

Wendy Whitlow said...

Hey Dawm....Wow! Sometimes I feel speechless when I read your post. I am truly humbled to know someone like you...and I too believe there are no coincedences. That's why I know God has placed your family in my path for a reason.
CJ is so courageous and I love hearing about his highs and lows...only because I see God's hand in the mix of everything. Mark my words...I know that spiritual battle all too well...and I know that even if these things are felt to be deterents to God's plan for your life or CJ's...He will run major interference! The enemy will not have victory over CJ...God is already showing Himself in the lives of you and your family and will continue to do so. I am confident of that.

I'm going to Kevin's practice on Tues this week...I'd love to check out one of CJ's games sometime...so yes...send me a schedule. I hope to receive my chemo bags this week as well.

Not sure if you got my email...but I shared your CBC website on Jo's site...it's on my blog...and I put it on my Facebook. Praying for your ministry sister!
Love,
Wendy

Anonymous said...

Hi Dawn,

I dont believe in coincidences either.. Ana is my proof!

I am so glad to hear about CJ playing. The pictures gave me goosebumps. He looks so proud and content!

Dawn, I know you have a lot .. but please dont foget about the CBC packet. I am eager to see if we can get a good campaign going up here!

Lots of love,
Nicole Ana Alberto

poppa jerry said...

Anyone of you who thinks for a moment that this is a blog of my "religious wacko" daughter will have to answer to ME in this life and GOD in your next.
Seriously, I have to agree with your mother Dawn. How awesome and God inspired this all is!! It has in many ways performed wonderous awakenings in many old and new friends and family.

How especially proud we are of CJ's (and Brett's) performance on the ball field! Congrats on your cheerleading section CJ. Your grandma Paula was always a cheerleader ready to give a good cheer.

Dawn,I can remember shooting many hundreds of pictures of you and your sisters growing up. And, how you cherished those scrap books that your mom made for you.
This blog will be the ultimate scrap book; especially since there is so much of God's word in it.

As for the Web page...excellent job! We can now refer people to CBC's knowlegable and interactive Web page. I believe it will generate many supporters both private and public to the cause of Children Battling Cancer.

Always in my prayers, Dad

Martha Rivero said...

Dawn,

I was so touched by your words. I hold back so many things that I want to do or say because I feel that people are going to think I am some kind of weird and crazy religious wacko as you said. But again, I gained strength reading your blog. Your blog has been a blessing to me in so many ways, I have learned about love for our Savior King Jesus Christ, obedience, trials, faithfulness as I have never seen before, I have seen God’s powerful hand guiding you through out this trial, and using you and CJ to touch our life’s in many unexplainable ways. Press on Dawn in this wonderful amazing path that God has put you, and your family, press on because you guys are truly Christ servants. Thank you for your update, it was amazing!

With Love your sister in Christ,

Martha

Shannon said...

Dawn,

I've never met you or your family personally, but I feel so deeply connected to you all on a spiritual level that I cannot explain it except to say, "It's a God thing!" I absolutely love you guys, your strength, your resolve, and your faith in our Father. I thank God for you all and for your boldness to speak His Name and tell others of His love through CJ's story. I know I'm strengthened, renewed, and challenged through the words God gives you to write in these blogs. Thank you for sharing with all of us. God bless you all.

The Helton Family