Tuesday, December 14, 2010

God's Economy

It's been a long time since I have updated this blog. No news is good news, right? Typically, that does not apply to me. No news usually means I am probably a garbled emotional mess in my head and heart and afraid to write for the sake of what may come pouring out. I have been told I wear my heart on my sleeve. I have learned it also pours forth from my mouth and have discovered that it has managed to find its way out my fingers as they click away at the keyboard.

Sometimes it means I am just so busy I can not seem to find uninterrupted time to sit and organize my thoughts so that it comes across making some sort of sense.

In regards to CJ though, no news is good news! So let's see if I can guard my heart and maintain tight control over my fingers as I type and at least get you all updated on CJ.

CJ is doing really well physically. He has had some side effects since coming off the chemotherapy but nothing serious. I guess after two years on all that medicine, it is going to take some time for his body to level off. He has developed a blotchy and discolored face which has turned out to be eczema. The doctors have assured me this is a common side effect for kids coming off chemotherapy and it will go away. But every time I look at him it reminds me of the adjustment his little body is making once again and all that he has been through.

Then I came across this picture accidentally last week while looking for another one....

Needless to say, that was a shock I wasn't expecting as I clicked on the link and this opened really large on my screen. I just kept staring at it thinking, Wow, that was only a year ago. I am so thankful CJ got through this. I am so so thankful! Praise God!

Speaking of thankful, I tried to do a Thanksgiving blog update here on Thanksgiving night. I was planning to share how thankful I was and what our day was like and then I sat down at the computer only to read and discover that, while most of us were getting ready to stuff our faces with food on Thanksgiving, a little cancer warrior I followed, who looked much like this picture above....swollen, bald, sick....had passed away. His name was Max. He was only 7. I just sat there and cried at my computer. I felt like I got punched in the gut and could not bring myself to type an update. Although it made me even more thankful that I was able to spend Thanksgiving with CJ who is now healthy, it also made me ashamed of my inner complaining I did about the hustle and bustle of the day and all the work and effort it takes and how glutenous we are and how I feel trapped by tradition. Oh yes! You would hate the inner me if you knew her! She is such a complaining, miserable, brat sometimes. Thankfully, God and I are working diligently and patiently with her.

But, I mean, really? Is that what you would come up with if you had to think of way to spend a day to express your thanks to God? Would you cook a bunch of food that is in abundance anyway and sit around a eat to the point of discomfort? The pilgrims chose feasting because they were starving and saved from the brink of extinction. Believe me, we don't know hunger!

So what would you choose? What has He saved you from the brink of? Bankruptcy? Then maybe you should celebrate Thanksgiving by making a generous donation to a charity or even better...a family on the brink of bankruptcy. Maybe it was the brink of divorce. Well then maybe it would be significant for you to spend Thanksgiving sending a couple you know is struggling on a weekend getaway while you watch their kids. Or maybe it was homelessness. Then maybe you should spend Thanksgiving at a homeless shelter feeding and ministering to the homeless. Maybe it was even death like CJ.
So then maybe Thanksgiving should be spent at the hospital serving other families facing death or at a nursing home where people actually are at the brink of death. If you can't think of anything, I can think of one for you. If you are Christian, you were saved from death to life eternal. So maybe we should spend Thanksgiving sharing the gospel with the lost who are certainly headed there.

See that? See how quickly my heart tries to take over these updates. It is pounding at my fingertips just wanting to have its way on this key board.

Back to CJ! On top of finishing chemo, he just finished his baseball season and they won the championship. It was quite fitting. However, this winning season followed a season that his team lost every single game. This year, they won all but one. Funny thing is, that losing season did more to build his character and appreciate for the game than the winning one ever could have. Defeat sweetens the taste of victory!. But even more than that, I think you need to lose at something to truly win. It's God's economy. Everything is always backwards.

In the championship game, when it came down to very last play for the final out, the ball was hit directly to CJ. He fielded it and made the play for the final out of the game. Champions! Time to celebrate, right? Not for CJ! After making the play, he fell immediately to his knees, looked up and pointed to the Lord privately thanking Him. Then he jumped up and joined all his teammates who were already rushing to infield for the excitement of winning the championship. It was a powerful moment! Sounds simplistic enough right? Typical childhood experience....lots of kids point up after great plays. But that moment in CJ's life followed two years of chemotherapy and the final report of 'clear scans' to officially end his treatment. CJ knows Who he's pointing to. Nothing simplistic about that.

As CJ was on his knees, I immediately flashed back to a week before diagnosis when we were at a church retreat and CJ fell to his knees in desperate prayer asking God to help him with his anxiety and constant back and stomach pain. God answered that prayer in ways I never would have dreamed and yet here he was two years later on his knees again......but this time celebrating. I just watched and pondered it in my heart. Thankful!

We had the opportunity to share this story with our church the week after Thanksgiving. which was followed by CJ cutting off the blue "Pray for CJ" bracelets many wore for over two years to support CJ! It is weird to see wrists empty that wore that bracelet consistently for two full years. I am so thankful that although many of the blue bracelets are gone...CJ is still here.

Speaking of thankful again, we worked very hard on our Thanksgiving Drive for CBC and CJ was a huge help in collecting and delivering bags. We had 125 families fill and decorate over 135 bags full of Thanksgiving meals. Then we had the amazing privilege of delivering those bags to pediatric oncology clinics, hospitals, and homes. We had such fun dong this. I wish you could be in our shoes, which I have begun to refer to as 'The Middle Man'. We get to spur one another on towards love and good deeds getting to witness the reaction of those people who step up to the challenge. Then we get to deliver the love and good deeds of others to families in need and witness their reaction. It is really cool. I like being the Middle Man.

We got some great feedback this year. The nurses and social workers at the clinic shared with us that they were practically fighting over who got to hand the bags out because they loved seeing the reaction of the families when they received the beautifully decorated bags so full of love (and food). They said some would stand there and cry on the spot! The families are extremely grateful! But here is the secret to this whole thing......The people who fill the bags are even MORE thankful that the ones receiving them. We can not tell you how many people thank us for allowing them to make the bag and be a part of this. They share with us what it meant to their family. See! It's that God's economy stuff again. What is that saying? Hmmmm? It's better to give than to receive right? Amazing how He is always right!

In light of that, we had some people and churches who worked on the Thanksgiving Bags ask about Christmas and how they could help. Interesting how we spurred others on for Thanksgiving and then they spurred us on to step it up for Christmas. Last year we sponsored two children and their families and delivered miscellaneous toys and stockings to the clinic. for other kids. This year, in faith, we requested a list of families in need from the social workers and child life specialists at the hospital and thanks to you we were able to turn NONE away.

We matched these children (and their siblings) with families, churches, companies or clubs that are adopting them for the holidays. My house was covered in toys that others donated for the sake of someone else. We already made one trip to the hospital to deliver the gifts. So a HUGE thank you to everyone who sponsored a child and their siblings for Christmas. We are blessed beyond measure to witness this outpouring of love. We were so moved by what we were seeing we adopted our own special family as well and we have more fun buying their gifts than we do buying our own kids gifts. There goes that strange economy stuff again. I am sensing a theme here.

Well there is so much more to share but I will break it up into different posts for the sake of your sanity!

I hope you all had a meaningful Thanksgiving and are preparing for a meaningful Christmas as well. Oh, don't even let me get started on that one....


Anonymous said...

we are grateful to hear that CJ is doing so well! Kneeling in gratitude at the ball game at such a young age is amazing & bold - how many kids do that? wow has God built His faith! Love, aunt karen and uncle terry

Nan said...

Loved this post! I think we must be kindred spirits!! Your ranting sounds just like mine LOL! Seriously, though, if only we could see our holiday "celebrations" from God's perspective. Like you, I think we've got it all backwards. I am so thankful CJ is doing so well and am equally thankful that your entire family is rejoicing this Christmas. God is good.

Sweet blessings to you!
Nan Jones