Sparkle Night and a Sparkle Girl!

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Oh what a sparkle night we had this weekend! Picture above makes me smile each time I look at it. There is so much to share.. so much!!  You may have guessed that the man in the pic is well known in this state of Alabama. He is the head coach of Auburn, Gene Chisik... the coach who led his team to a National Championship this year.  And this coach and his wife have a big heart for kids who are dealing with cancer.  The sweet sparkle eyed girl above in pic has her own big heart and one of the cheeriest little 8 year olds I have ever met...

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Meet....

Anna Coleman!... Sparkle Girl!

Getting to know Anna Coleman has been such a gift and blessing! It all started when my friend, Paula, asked me if I wanted to participate in a fundraiser for a ministry she was involved in.  The ministry is ateam ministry and their mission is this: 

"We (it takes aTeam) are to use the comfort God has given us through the trials we have faced to comfort others as they go through the same trials at a different time”.

ATeam Ministries is a non-profit organization focused on providing emotional, spiritual, and financial support to families going through the journey of dealing with oncology or hematology related diseases in children."

It's an amazing minstry!  They are giving so much help and support to children with cancer! And with raising funds for the ministry, Gene Chisik's wife, Jonna, came up with an art auction/ gala as a fundraiser.  Ten artists would be paired with 10 children who have cancer and each artist would paint with the child and then the artist would also paint a painting that was inspired by the child.  And with all the art created, there would be an art auction! 

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About a week before Christmas, I went to Children's hospital and met the amazing sparkle eyed girl, Anna Coleman! She was going through chemo and so we painted in her hospital room.  She had such a happy spirit and was full of sunshine.  She danced around and sang and rode her tricycle around the hallways. We got out the paints and brushes, and I loved watching her paint and swirl the colors onto the canvas.  She was making her own masterpiece right there in her little hospital room. I met Jennifer, Anna Coleman's mom and Anna Coleman's grandmother too.  One could immediately see the devotion they had to sweet Anna. I could only imagine the love and prayers and hugs and hopes and more prayers that have been whispered over this child.  I loved watching Jennifer with Anna ...  Jennifer is a one of a kind mom.. she's amazing!! The way she loves and plays with her daughter is such a joy to watch.  And from talking to Jennifer,  I learned more of Anna Coleman's story.  On May 25th, 2010, Anna was diagnosed with a rhabdomyosarcoma cancer tumor in her lower right sinus cavity.  Since then, she has been going through chemo and radiation and fighting this disease.  .

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And definitely a strong way of fighting this disease is through her cheery outlook! And with her big smile and beautiful brown eyes, and frolicky dress... she was already sparkling for the gala this past Saturday night.  Gene Chisik met all the children as they drove up to the event and then later signed a very special state championship football for each child.  There were many smiling faces at the gala and lots of smiling Auburn fans!

 Anna's sweet paintings in the auction. They were beautiful!!!

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And here is the bike that I painted from the inspiration of Anna Coleman. It says, "Dear Bike, today the path to sunshine and song." And that is what Anna Coleman is.. she carries a smile and sunshine wherever she goes.  And she knows what joy is all about.. even in the midst of going through chemo and being in the hospital... she chooses to be cheerful!. Just being around her, I've learned from her... and love watching her enjoy every bit of life.  

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And above pic is Anna's mom, Jennifer.  Jennifer is sunshine and song too.  Even in all this pain and walking with her daughter through such a hard disease, Jennifer sees the bright side of things and she is always smiling and always speaks with such kindness and joy.  She laughs, she jokes and I think, "Wow, I want to be a mom like Jennifer... seeing the bright.. seeing the goodness... even on those hard days."  

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( Don't you love pic above?!... some of the girls ( Anna on left) dancing and singing the night away!)

Anna Coleman and her mom are role models to me.  They radiate love and joy of Jesus. They depend on him, they trust Him. And Anna Coleman's last chemo is THIS week! YEA!Time to celebrate!!

The gala was a big success and raised well beyond what the ateam expected! I love how God works!

And guess what?  Gene Chisik bought my bike painting for his daughter!  An added bonus to the evening!

It was a sparkly night.... such a blessing to be part of this ministry, to be with Anna Coleman and her mom and family.

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Cancer is not a happy word at all.  It's hard to watch these kids go through such trials at such a young and tender age. But when you see a precious one like Anna Coleman....your perspective in life straightens out immediately. You realize what matters in life.  Everything comes into focus.... life is about knowing God... and trusting him and seeing Him work daily. It's about family.. and love and caring for others. It's about using gifts and energy for others. And wow, Anna and her mom.. their  courage and strength, joy and laughter, sing song hearts... they are truly showing LIGHT and JOY to this world!  Thank you Anna Coleman.... Thank you Jennifer... Thank you Ateam...thank you Gene and Jonna Chisik..... Thank you Paula!

And most of all, Thank you dear Savior...... the one who gives us Real life  and Real JOY!

 I Corinthians 1: 3-4
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and God of all encouragement, who encourages us in our every affliction, so that we may be able to encourage those who are in any affliction with the encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged by God.