Sunday, June 7, 2009

Treasured Milestones

Seemingly simple things hold great significance to me now. Not that they were insignificant to me before, but they have begun to take on a new level of significance that resonates from somewhere deep within my heart. They have become small treasures I will cherish forever, like watching CJ walk across a stage to accept a simple promotion certificate graduating him from one grade level to the next.

Tonight we attended our annual promotion ceremony that promotes our children to the next grade level. CJ has officially completed the 4th grade and will enter 5th grade in the fall. He walked across the stage to receive his certificate and be recognized for his character growth this year in the areas of faith and trust. As he received his award, I wondered if he had any clue as to the profound accomplishment this was. Not only did he receive a devastating diagnosis just 6 weeks into the school year, spend close to three weeks in the hospital, have 9 months of chemotherapy that he is continuing to receive, but he also completed all his assignments successfully and faithfully, on time.

As I watched him on the stage, I realized how distant this day seemed back in September when he was first diagnosed. Not only distant, but unthinkable. I remember pushing these and other treasured milestones out of my mind in fear of never reaching them. They were simply too painful to hope for at the time. When I allowed myself to think about milestones like Christmas, his 10th birthday, or graduating from 4th grade, there was a despair of distance and the unknown that tempted to drown me.

I remember early in CJ's treatment a good friend, who is also a cancer survivor, told me not to drown in the demands of the day and not to despair by thinking too far ahead. She said to focus on a short distance goal that was attainable and realistic. It gave us something to look forward to without the fear of never making it there looming over us.

See, you can not really take it "one day at a time" when you are battling cancer because that day is sometimes overwhelming in itself. If you have chemo, spinal taps, tests, and shots all day and that day is all you focus on.....well, it isn't very helpful. You also can not look too far ahead because those days are clouded in the unknown. However, if you look ahead to a short distance goal even as simple as 'tomorrow we will make pizza for dinner' or 'on Friday we will watch a family movie' or 'on Saturday we will see grandma', it is extremely helpful. During difficult days at the hospital I often reminded CJ of these simple but immediate goals we could reach and it helped us get through that day without drowning in it. Still, I did not dare let my heart wish for those far off milestones that I really treasured like Holidays together, his birthday, or CJ graduating 4th grade.

Before long, the larger goals like celebrating another Christmas together, celebrating New Years together, celebrating CJ's 10th birthday, or watching him graduate from 4th grade came into view. They became the attainable, reachable goals I could focus on. I could dare to look forward to them and plan for them n hope and without fear. Each time we reached one, I experienced feelings of relief mixed with extreme gratefulness. I treasured each milestone deep in my heart knowing they were a precious gift.

Tonight was no different. As he walked across the stage I determined to engrave the memories on my heart and mind. I watched every step he took, every limp across the stage, the expressions on his face, how he listened carefully as pastor read the character quality that he grew the most in this year. I felt that same mix of relief and gratefulness wash over me. I thanked God for this seemingly small yet vastly significant milestone in his life. There was actually a moment when I was overcome with emotions and I wanted to stand up and shout to all the families that were present how special this moment was and that they were witnessing something extremely significant. But I knew its significance was something I could never express. So instead, like the verse in Luke 2 that says, "Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart," I too am treasuring these milestones and memories in my heart as I ponder the goodness of God and His mercy and love that endures.

We are so proud of you! I wish we could adequately express how amazing what you have accomplished this year truly is. Amidst very difficult circumstances you diligently finished your assignments, and finished well! And through it all you have trusted God and allowed Him to increase your faith!
We love you,
Mom and Dad.

Another treasured milestone I wanted to share with you that had a major impact on my heart was this week when CJ shared at our family home group meeting that he could see how God used a bad situation for good in his life through his cancer. He specifically mentioned some good things that came out of his trial. These were good things in others lives he was thankful for, not his own. This was the first time I heard him say it openly and really believed he understood how, "In all things (even suffering) God works for the good of those who love him and have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28) Needless to say, that one made it into the treasure box of my heart.

Mommy and Daddy are so proud of you. You completed Kindergarten and worked very hard all year on your school work. You are growing in obedience and compassion for others. You are kind and thoughtful and such a loving big brother. We are thankful for your tender heart and beautiful smile and endless energy. Your prayers are like a fragrant offering to God and a sweet, sweet sound in our ears. Keep praying! Remember, a real warrior fights on his knees! Congratulations on completing Kindergarten!

We Love You,
Mommy and Daddy

Beautiful girl. You really 'broke the mold' in our lives. You are an amazing daughter, a loyal friend, a godly young woman, and a faithful servant. I have never met anyone more steadfast, discreet, loyal, or honest as you. You inspire me. Thank you for all you have done this year to help us with Corey during a difficult time. Thank you for all you have sacrificed for the good of your brother's health and ongoing care. Never once have I heard you complain, argue, or disrespect me or your father. There are no words for what we see God doing in your life. Follow him closely and faithfully. And remember, we walk by faith, not by sight. Congratulations on completing 7th grade!
We love you,
Mommy and Daddy


Alibrandi said...

Thanks Mom! I love you so much! And congratulations to you Brett and C.J., my 1st and 5th graders! I love you all so much and look forward to the fun of the summer
~Randi (Alibrandi)

Anonymous said...

Wow, God is awesome!! It is so super encouraging to see how He is working in your guys lives. He brought you through the trials, and will continue to do so!! Thanks Georges for trusting in Him and obeying His voice. It was great to see C.J., Brett, and Allie up there receiving their certificates, congrats guys!

Side note: thanks Mrs. George for talking to me at HG, it really helped, and I understand exactly what you were saying. I know that you were in a difficult position, and you couldn't have pleased everyone, but thanks for talking to me and being so humble in what you did.

Love you guys,


CeCe said...

Congratulations Alibrandi, CJ, and Brett! As always, I am very encouraged by this post. Ok. Prayer time...

Dear Heavenly Father God,

Thank you that CJ was able to graduate to 4th grade. Please help him to get through the summer, and a next year.

I love you guys!


Unknown said...

I too last night was filled with thoughts of this past school year and that CJ was diagnosed as soon as it started. All 3 of the kids had a slow start since there were so many tests, hospital stays, chemmos, sterilize the house, change the air conditioning unit, plus a ton of other stuff and yet they caught up to everything and excelled with their school work.

I also watched CJ "limp" onto the stage and I was so proud of him. I just can't express it and I know no one would understand unless it was their son or grandson up there but I kept thinking this child has cancer, has been through so much, we should be giving him a standing ovation but like I said I can't express it adequately.

I also couldn't dwell on these accomplishments six months ago. Like Dawn, I kept thinking 10 years old will be great yet not wanting to focus fully.

Brett has done so amazing this year as well. It also struck me as beautiful and something only a 5 year old that has a brother with cancer could think when asked, what would you change if you could change one thing? and your answer was that my brother would be well. I thought about how all the other little 5 year olds were wishing for Chuckie Cheese and stuff (and was thankful that they didn't have the same burden that Brett does) but nevertheless Brett handles this. He has even grown to understand it through the year.

Alibrandi, like your Mom said, who knows where you came from. You truly truly are the most faithful beautiful young lady imaginable, full of the spirit, obedient and willing to make sacrifaces for your family gladly. I have never known anyone like you in my entire life and I'm pushing 60 girl.

Dawn, good job that you could accomplish this school work this year. I looked at all the projects the kids did and through their notebooks and for the life of me I don't know how you got through it either. How you were able to put all your fears and worries aside to do right by the kids and keep their schooling on track. I saw you go to the hospital many days and then come home with a heavy heart and dive right into school work that afternoon. I don't know how you managed to keep your home running and homeschool as well. You make it look pretty effortless and maybe that is why people don't notice it that much. Good job daughter.
Cece, thank you for your post and prayer. You are such a good little girl too. I was happy to see you last night.

Grandma Paula

Anonymous said...

Alibrandi, CJ and Brett (and Dawn and Chris),
Congratulations on your hard work and discipline this past year - that took a lot of effort and drive. You had every reason to quit and no one would have blamed you, but instead, you pushed on even when the days were hard! It's obvious God gave you supernatural strength to keep going, and He will keep doing that as long as it takes! Enjoy your summer break and your weekend at the beach - I wish we could join you, but you're going to have a blast with your grandparents, Aunt Heather, Aunt Cara and Uncle Shawn!!Hey, make Uncle Shawn eat some beach bugs since Uncle Terry can't be there. We love you and miss you all!!! Aunt Karen

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Dawn on a job well done, How you manage to get your children through this year is beyond me, I don't think I would of been able to get up in the morning! I am very proud of you, you are a wonderful mother I love you and think and pray for you and your family all the time. It was great chatting today keep up the great work Always Pam xoxoxo

gathering said...

Congratulations to all of you :0)! I think God must be smiling as He sees the praise you have given him through such a difficult year.

Through your words I can see the standing ovation CJ got from his proud parents and family. What a special time,and how precious such an accomplishment is.

I must say that your love for one another is very evident, and it is so encouraging to see a family that is as united as you are.

CJ, well done!!! Wow, you amaze us all, how you listen to God and go one day at a time.

Ali, what a great sister you are. I can see great things in your future, continue sticking to the lover of your soul.

Brett, wow! You graduated from kindergarden :0), and you have grown so much, may God continue to bless you.

Corey, oh my goodness, you are soooo cute its hard not to just stare at you. You just bring an automatic smile to all of us.

Much love to all of you, praying for you guys,


David Bush said...

Congratulations Ali, CJ, and Brett!

Martha Rivero said...

CJ, Brett, Ali,Congratulations!!! God bless you all always, keep up the good work!

Dawn hope you had an awesome birthday, thank you for the post, it was beautiful and touching as always.

With love,


Anonymous said...

God's grace is truly amazing and VERY evident in each of your lives from Chris to Corey. I am so proud of you guys for not giving up or feeling sorry for yourselves but instead pressing on through each day. How cool you guys could all still accomplish working through school amidst all the distractions. Great job! Thanks for the act of faith to come and participate in the evening as well. God is faithful above all and you guys express your trust in His mighty power over and over again. This spurs me on too, thanks.

Thanks Dawn for the 'not taking it one day at a time' insight. I continue to learn from you and others as you go through things I have not. Hopefully our family can serve others better in the future because of it.

We will carry your family in our heart and prayers to NC and look forward to the all clear, done with treatments two year mark. But for now, I'll look forward to seeing Dawn on Wednesday night at homegroup. :)

With love, Vonda Gray

Anonymous said...

Congratulations to all of you!! As I read your post Dawn, I thought out loud "Go CJ!!!" and Ana looked at me and asked me what I was talking about! I know how I felt when Ana finished 1st grade and I can only imagine your feelings with not only CJ but Randi :} and Brett also.
Hope you all have a great summer!

Lots of love, Nicole Ana Alberto

Sonia said...

You are really an incredible family.!! CJ Admirable, Ali insuperable. Brett exemplary, and the baby sweet. Dawn and Chris the best parents and all together a grat team. Congratulations to all of you. You are in God´s hands.
Sonia, Antonio, Andrea y Ale.

Anonymous said...

Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him. Psalm 37:7>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> As I read your blog I was deeply touched by all your family has been able to acomplish throughout the year with Gods help. I find it so amazing that God doesn't always speak to your heart as to what the next day will bring,but he knows and is encouraging you to follow blinding in him because he is in control and his purpose and plans for you today, tomorrow or next week are already perfected in him. All of you George family are running the race set before you, and patiently resting in the Lord for his guidance and trusting Him for what each day brings. I know that all your family witnessed a miracle just watching C.J. walk up to be promoted being where you were 9 months ago with his cancer. To be able to watch Allie and Brett recieve their promotions was a gift of Grace from our loving Father, for I believe that without his help and Grace this may not have been possible with all that was going on in your lives.My love for the Lord is just bursting in my heart because of his love for your family and all of us.Praise Him !!!! Praise Him!!!!! I also thank Him for all the growth he brings to all of us through the trails and testing we have.Continue to trust, hope, surrender and have love for our mighty Father God, for he loves us without and conditions. Amen to that!!!!

Tammi said...

CONGRATULATIONS GRADUATES!!!! I AM SO PROUD OF YOU ALL! Travis is hoping to come down there to visit for a couple of weeks and he cannot wait to see you all! He graduated from Kindergarten to First Grade and we are so proud of him! I was afraid he wasn't going to make it for a while because all that he is interested in learning about is baseball and star wars (and as you know they don't grade on those subjects in kindergarten!!!) Plus, Jerri-lyn Dawn graduated from being a two year old to being a three year old on Monday! (But she still basically acts like a goof ball, no change there!!!) I love you all very much and I am really, really happy for you!

Love Aunt Tammi

poppa jerry said...

What can I say! As a father and grandfather I was never so proud as I was to see Brett, Allie and CJ receive their promotions last Sunday. Brett you are now at the fist grade level - congratulations. And Alibrande - congrats on reaching 8th grade. And, of course CJ, now in 5th grade - Congratulations. Terrific job!

After reading the blog and all the comments I was glad to see how everyone recognizes the efforts and sacrifices made by all of you to enable this school year to reach its celebration.
CJ, Brett and Allie, you know you have the best teacher there is. Dawn, I have seen you at work home schooling the children. What a tremendous accomplishment for you and CJ this year especially. I am so very proud of you both.
And, what a special group of believers at Palm Vista. It was a great day for everyone. The demonstration of the kids projects was really terrific. Nice job Allie, Brett and CJ.
Well, enjoy the summer. You've certainy earned it. I know, however, that you all will continue your studies, too, this summer.
See you soon. Hope your colds have gone away by now.
Love Dad/ Poppa

Anonymous said...

hi everyone. just wanted to let you know i am so proud of all your accomplishments during the school year with everything else that has occurred. your whole family is truly amazing and it gives me great pride and joy to know how much all of you have succeeded.
just want to let you know that i think about all of you always, and you are always in my prayers.
i hope all of you have a great summer. love, aunt char