Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Blessed Mess

It is hard to believe that I have not updated this blog since September. I would do a detailed recap for you but to be quite honest the holidays and final months of 2011 were a blur of activity. Everything seemed to move so fast and every spare moment was spent .....um .......well .....let's see......
There weren't any spare moments or else I would have updated this blog!

Probably the most significant change for our family since I updated last came in October when my niece Jerri-lyn, who had been living with us for almost 16 of the last 24 months, was reunited with her mother. As the court ordered, we drove Jerri and her brother back to Gainesville, unloaded all their possessions, and said our good-byes.

As we drove away, I had a pit in my stomach but complete peace in my heart and mind that this was completely God's plan for her. I am so proud and thankful to say that my sister is doing amazing and becoming an excellent mother. With God ALL things are possible.

That change was significant for our family in that once we returned home we realized it was the first time we were together as a family unit in over three years without any crisis pending. CJ was in remission and completed treatment, Poppa Enzo had passed and was no longer suffering, my girlfriend was cancer free, and Jerri-lyn was reunited with her mom. As a result, I guess you could say we........overreacted!

It was like we were kids let loose in a candy shop after staring at the goodies that were off limits for far too long. We immediately took some trips, hit some theme parks, went camping, and felt free to come and go without checking first with doctors for CJ or social workers for Jerri-lyn. It was an unfamiliar but good feeling after three years. Then the holidays bore down on us way too quickly. Thanksgiving was spent in Virginia, Christmas was a blessed mess, and now it's 2012. How did that happen?

Like I said, it's a blur. But a blessed blur! I had to keep reminding myself of that when I was overwhelmed, frustrated or resented the craziness of the season.

It doesn't take much to remind myself how fortunate my blessed mess was though. I thought of my friend who was spending her first Thanksgiving without her son. I knew they had not even sat at the dining room table since he passed several months before because they could not stand to look at his empty chair. How would they eat Thanksgiving?
I thought about sweet Madelyn who passed away Nov 26th after a long and rigorous battle with cancer. Her funeral was one of the most meaningful things I experienced during the entire holiday season. I saw Jesus more at that funeral than I did on Thanksgiving and Christmas combined. Why is that?
I thought of my friend who lost her son just before Christmas in an unexpected tragedy I was all too familiar with. I hated that I could identify with her pain and yet at the same time I was so thankful that I could.

Focusing on all those things helped me get my focus on Christ. He wasn't just a baby in a manger for me this season or someone I gave thanks to before a ridiculously abundant meal. He was the One who sat in the empty chair that Thanksgiving and comforted my friend. He was the One we saw as Madelyn's mom and dad spoke at the funeral and shared how she lead them and so many others to Christ during her battle. He was the One holding up my friend after a loss that should have crushed her, providing a peace the world marvels at and we can't even comprehend ourselves.

So here we are in 2012. I can't help but wonder where I will see Him here. I know it won't be where I expect.

So far this new year, CJ remains in remission and goes to the oncologist every two months for blood work and a physical. Every time he gets a clean bill of health....I see Jesus.

He is still playing hockey with his little brother Brett and they enjoy every minute of it. Every time I see him glide across that ice....I see Jesus.

He recently filmed a commercial for the Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital and he continues his role as the Ambassador for the Florida Panthers Foundation. His role as such has been to speak at events, raise awareness by sharing his story, and put a face to the mission of the foundation. Every time he stands up a speaks at an event..... I see Jesus.

He will be doing a hospital visit with the players and he is gearing up for the St. Baldricks event in February where he will be shaving his head alongside some of the Panthers players. This is a big deal because the last time he was bald he had no choice in the matter. He knew it said something about him. Now, he chooses to shave his head to raise awareness and it is him saying something about it. I have a feeling when I look at his shaved head... I'll see Jesus.

His work as the Florida Panthers Ambassador will be featured on a televised spot called Inside the Panthers. I will try to let everyone know when it will be on. I am really proud of all that he has accomplished and how he continues to give back to the community. He has an amazing opportunity on the horizon that I can't wait to let everyone know about once I have a little more information. So keep posted and check back soon.

In the meantime happy new year to you. I pray it is a blessed mess and that you see Jesus in the least expected places.