Thursday, December 1, 2016

Share Your Story this Season

I never imagined myself at a church like Hill City Church, but we are thankful that the Lord led us here, because he knew! It truly is a safe place to explore your faith, ask you questions and embrace the love of a community of people who love God, love people and delight in serving Him and others.

This past week we kicked off our first advent season message and I had an opportunity to share a part of the #TeamBolton story (link to full message below). Many of you prayed and supported us throughout our journey over the last 5 years. The series is called 'You're Worth It'.  I wasn't sure how it would all come together, but the team did an amazing job!!! As this piece was shared Sunday, there were moments of true reflection. I cried softly as I was reminded of so many people and their hearts to bless us and it turned into a sob (shoulder shakes and all) and there was not a tissue in sight.  I'll leave that there, it was not pretty.  A visitor shared with me he thought we were all going to drown in my tears before it was done...ok it wasn't that bad, but those were tears of fullness in my heart. Sometimes we don't know why we go through certain things, but this was a great reminder of how we need to trust God even in things we don't fully understand. When you fight to get up each day and keep one foot in front of the other, when you find a reason to smile, although you are hurting, or better yet...when God places someone in your life, your day, your path to bless you large or small, it allows us to experience the fullness of God's love.  It give us hope. I do believe God is always with and around us, he shows himself through creation, through people, words, songs, occurrences and kind gestures.

There is one point during the taping, we were asked to share why we thought we were worth it.  I had to pause, took several minutes trying to formulate a response and instead I found tears and a deep sense of pain and hurt for others...whose prayers were the same as ours, but whose stories ended very differently. Also for the many people in our prayer rotation that are dealing with issues that consume them with grief, pain and uncertainty.  As John shared in the message on Sunday...God never said our lives would be without pain and suffering.  He also did not say that 'this' was the best, but that we are living for what 'will' be the best.  A life with Christ (especially in our lowest places) provides an opportunity for love, hope, grace, joy and peace.

Right now you may not be going through anything, be thankful, but seek out opportunities to help others who are. We are so thankful and grateful for the love, support, thoughts and prayers you gave to us during one of the most difficult times of our lives.

Love God, Love People....Pass it On! 

Oh and if you are in the RVA area you should come visit us at Hill City Church one Sunday...actually you have 5 opportunities to come hang out on Christmas Eve.  Check us out at (Message Link)

Monday, June 20, 2016

Glory Glory - Survivorship

Five years ago on this very day we were scheduled to be admitted to Children's Hospital of Richmond @ VCU for our first bone marrow transplant. That date ended up being pushed back because one of Jalen's test came back questioning the potential of a virus in his system.  Today, five years later, after some final baseline testing, Mireya has been released to survivorship.  We've been waiting for this day for many months.  Our Medical Team hinted, you're never 'fully' released, but is it a blessing to finally reach this milestone in our journey.

In true #TeamBolton fashion a dance party and celebration will be had. Thank you so much for your continued thoughts, prayers, love and has strengthened and encouraged us along the way. We are trusting and believing that all the potential risks, complications or latent effects of chemotherapy and the extremely toxic medications will not be a issue for her in the future.  The best of what God has is yet to come!!!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A Touching #TeamBolton Facebook Memory

Facebook reminded me of these photos today and it stopped me in my tracks. This was Mireya's 4th birthday, all she wanted to do was go to Kings Dominion because she had never been. Just weeks earlier she had been hospitalized for about 3 weeks due to low counts and unexplainable bruising.
We had yet to determine a diagnosis because at the time only one cell line was in mass destructo. Reya had just received a transfusion the day before to help her platelets bounce back and diminish the amount of bruising present all over her body and in her mouth.
I remember this day so vividly, we knew she wasn't well enough to endure a lot, but we went anyway because we had to be back at the hospital within a day or two for more extensive testing. We enjoyed this day like we had nothing to face. It was the last fun day we had together before our lives were forever changed by a almost three year battle with life threatening illness. It is so hard to watch your child endure something you cannot fix or change. Praying today for so many families....those grieving, those battling and those preparing to fight.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Champion Fun

The last few months have been full of Champion activities.  I've had the joy of speaking on behalf of children's medical issues and funding with the Jr. Board of the Children's Hospital Foundation, the YMCA Board and the Miss America Organization.  It is always a pleasure to add the real life experience and challenges to the WHY of the overall goal.

It has been awesome to spend time with the Partners who have been working over the last few months to raise awareness in the community and helping raise money for Children's Hospital of Richmond @ VCU and Children's Miracle Network.  I feel like a Mom-mager coordinating schedules and balancing some great events for #TeamBolton.  Some of the fun has included a half-time check presentation from Virginia Credit Union at the last home game for the VCU Rams.  We enjoyed meeting the President of the Credit Union and his wife to thank them personally for their generosity.  The kids loved seeing themselves up on the jumbo-tron and the super fan even made the shot and our section was chosen to receive free pizza...which was totally winning!!!

#TeamBolton was a part of the check presentation for Wheel of Fortune's Secret Santa sweepstakes, in which a local winner's charity of choice was Children's Hosptial of Richmond @ VCU for $10k.

The students at Meadowbrook High School did a phenomenal job with their Roar-athon event this year.  We continue to be in awe of what a committed group of young people with hearts to serve others looks like.  You can't go wrong with music, festivities and a goal.  #TeamBolton loves a dance party, so this will continue to be a favorite of ours for years to come.
Crowns and hearts go together so beautifully.  We enjoyed meeting many of the local and statewide pageant titleholders to share our story, along with our appreciation on behalf of our family and patient families for all these lovely ladies do throughout their reign to benefit Children's Miracle network.  This is one of Mireya's favorite she loves a sparkly crown!
Jalen and Mireya are the Champion kids for the Walmart, Sam's Club, Costco and Chico's stores in our area.  It is always great to get out and visit with the employees.  The employees in one store are wearing aquamarine ribbons (Mireya's favorite color) along with the Champion photo on their name badges.  The others have photos on the registers and bulletin boards.  We love all the texts and photo messages we receive from our friends and family when they visit these locations during this campaign. It will be exciting in the next few weeks to see how much they have raised through donations, raffles, cookouts, carnivals and store events.  Throwing pies in the Store Manager's faces during the carnival was really cool! It makes my heart smile to see how everyone comes together collectively for a period of time to make a difference.
We will have the opportunity to travel to Atlanta, then D.C. for the kick-off of the official Ambassador's Tour.  This will be an amazing time to meet the other 49 families and children as well as speak to lawmakers on behalf of patient families and participate in some fun activities.  I'm certain there will be a lot of stories and pictures to share, but also unforgettable memories.

Sometimes it is so hard to see beyond the immediate devastation of a situation.  Never would we have imagined what the Lord had on the other side of what has been one of the most difficult times in our lives as a family.  We are so proud of our children and see it as an honor to serve alongside them in their roles!!!

Thursday, January 29, 2015


We spent the first part of today at the Children's Hospital in Child Neurology trying to get closer to figuring out how to address and work through some of the issues Mireya has been having over the last several months.  I feel confident that we were able to put a plan in place that will be helpful.

We spent the early evening celebrating an amazing honor granted to us by the Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU.  Many of you may remember, in October of last year Quentin and I were at the Q94 studios to share the #TeamBolton story for the Radiothon.  At the conclusion of the taping, we were asked for a few minutes of our time by our friends at CHOR to tell us about an Ambassador program for Children's Hospital they wanted to nominate both Jalen and Mireya for.  The program brings awareness to healthcare, Children's Miracle Network (CMN) and the importance of supporting Children's Hospitals and programs across the United States. 

Every year after a series of nominations 'one' family or 'one' Champion is chosen as an Ambassador to represent his/her state.  Jalen and Mireya were submitted in recognition of their ability to brave their respective battles with grace, strength, courage and determination despite and through it all.  We continue to be in awe of all they endured over the course of two and a half years to bring us where we are today.  

When we received the phone call about a week ago, I pulled over on the side of the road, speechless and in tears....I am so proud to share the 2015 Champions for the state of Virginia are Jalen AND Mireya.  Our friends at CHOR planned a super special family celebration for us at The Desserterie to announce and share with the children that they were chosen to represent Virginia this year in this role and capacity.  What does this mean???  It means we continue to do what we've done all along...participate in events to support the Children's Hospital and CMN, share our experience and our story. But wait there's Ambassador's Tour.  Two trips, one to the White House (the 2014 Champions met and spent time with the President) and a second week long trip to Walt Disney World with approximately 52 other families (one family from each U.S. State and Canada) all together for a common goal.  What an amazing opportunity.  Here's a little clip of the 2014 Champions and their time together on the tour.  Thank you BIG sister Paris (unable to be with us) for dialing in from school for this special occasion.  

News traveled fast via FaceTime to Big Sister 

Thank you to so many that have loved, supported and kept us covered in prayer. We are so honored to be thought of in such a way to be nominated, but even more humbled to be chosen.  To God be the Glory! 

1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light

Friday, December 26, 2014

Procedures & Plans

Our family enjoyed a wonderful time together yesterday on Christmas day.  Today were down at Children's Hospital to complete some procedural testing to help us pinpoint the cause of some of the challenges Reya has been having over the last few months.  We expected to have an IV placed and scans done with and without contrast.  I wasn't certain how long it would last, so I packed up the bag with fun things to help pass the time and a bag of treats to have at the conclusion of the testing since Reya was not able to eat anything since last night. We reported to Radiology and after a considerable wait, there was a change in IV, no contrast needed.  With those two elements eliminated, we were done relatively quickly.

We are still in our maintenance phase of treatment and are routinely seen in an auxilliary Children's Hospital clinic in the West End. Since we were at the Main Hospital, we decided to take a trip down to our old stomping ground for a quick visit.  It is such a joy to see the smiling faces of people who were such a big part of the process and journey. The entire clinic experience starts with these two ladies and I truly love them both so much!!!  Reya was super happy to see Ms. Rachel and Ms. Roz. It was like catching up with family and friends.

 The girls attended the Clinic Preschool with this beautiful trooper. We are thrilled to hear all the great news happening in the midst of her 2nd battle.  God is so amazing! Continuing to pray and thank the Lord for continued progress and victory in her fight.

 As we were leaving the hospital we saw several familiar faces and ran into the Dietary Technician that cared for us while on the Bone Marrow unit.  She used to bring the latest movies to the room for Mireya and the children to watch.  She took great care of us and always knew how to put a smile on Reya's face.  It was such a blessing to us and I love that our paths connected again.

We have few additional appointments in the coming weeks to help us assess and determine a plan of action to manage these issues.  We are continuing to enjoy the 'new normal', but look forward to 2015 being a year that propels #TeamBolton to even greater places.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Continuing to Walk in the Promise

These last few months we've faced issues and situations that have had us on alert, but we are grateful for progress and even more thankful for God allowing us to continue to hurdle the obstacles and common issues that children encounter as latent effects of chemotherapy and some of the toxic medications taken throughout the process.

We have officially transitioned to the Peds/Hemoc Survivorship Program.  Our appointments continue to track every 3 months and will hopefully soon be stretched to every six months beginning in January and then annually for the duration.

Overall Mireya is doing well in the maintenance phase of her treatment.  She has some of the common struggles with sun exposure, fatigue, unexplainable stomach and headaches which make it difficult to flow through school days, but she loves learning and is doing exceptionally well in 2nd Grade despite it all.

 Makinley started Kindergarten this year and is adjusting well to a new schedule and routine.  Our Hero brother, Jalen has managed to admirably work through the anxiety and level of uncertainty that began to affect his day to day activities.  He is having great successes as a 4th Grader.  Paris is exploring the world through her studies abroad in Spain this semester and preparing to graduate in the Spring.  It is something I had the joy of experiencing as a child and I love that she has the opportunity to be immersed in the culture and life of another country. To capture her experiences visit

Quentin and I continue to push through to get all areas of our lives on track and we make a conscious effort, to keep things in perspective, while savoring life in this new place. It has been several months, but it still feels different to exist in a space where you are free to live without major limitations. Simple things give us great joy. I cannot count the number of times there have been tears in my eyes or I've cried relishing the normalcy of a single moment or occurrence in time.

The Warmth of Sunlight on My Face

I'm Not My Hair, BUT I'm Back Where I Started
Take nothing for granted.  Handle others with love and a true measure of grace. Enjoy every day as it could be your last and remember every good and perfect thing comes from the Lord in HIS timing.  Several of you have shared how you've visited the blog and felt our absence.  Thank you for continuing to love, support and connect with us. Sharing and connecting with others is the beat of my heart.  Your support and presence with and for us, kept that beat strong even when it was weary.  I will work on consistently sharing the good that continues to happen with and for us.

Love and blessings always from #TeamBolton!