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unbreakable spirits in these three
our hearts still all beat
wild//free family
though the sterile clean
of hospital rooms loom

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unbreakable spirits in these three
our hearts still all beat
wild//free family
though the sterile clean
of hospital rooms loom

we will in our hearts
traipse a wide open place
exploring at our own pace
where the
dirt
water
green
meet a vastly blue space

when iv’s + blood draws
put trailblazing on pause
we still feel the warm sun
(or the Son who’s our Light
not fluorescent, man made,
the Origination of bright)

so hook her up
keep us in til we’re crazed
but nothing will phase
these sweet non-chemo days

we heal as we
climb
run
hike
as we roam

Because He never leaves
no matter what//where we go
(remind me in case my memory’s flown)
with Him deep within
we will always be home.

Bedtime whispers

DSC_0460Allora reminds me regularly that she does not have cancer any longer.

“I have chemo, Mama, not cancer.”

When I look at her journey from that perspective, my heart wells up with gratitude. Gratitude keeps me from being offended, and I can assure you that weekly trips to the hospital give plenty of opportunity for offense.

But she says to me again and again, “I just have chemo.”

It’s true, she has no sign or symptoms of cancer (tumor in her chest gone in five days, clear scans at day twenty eight) only symptoms of chemo. Even the side and late effects of chemo, though heart breaking for anyone who loves her, are minimal thanks to Jesus’ hand and some practical ways we are mitigating them.

Chemotherapy is rarely optional, editable or shortened for this childhood cancer in the US, adults have options. We continue to choose to be extremely grateful that we are just managing symptoms of chemo, not of cancer.

Every single night she asks me to sing this song with her before a hug, kiss & “ugga-mugga” goodnight:

“You came, I knew that You would come.
You sang, my heart it woke up.
I’m not afraid, I see Your face, I am alive!
You came, I knew that You would come.
You are a miracle working God.
You are a miracle working God.
You are a miracle working God!”
by Jonathan David and Melissa Helser

I do my best to keep it together until I’m out of the room. Honestly, some nights those words cause tears to stream down my face as we sing them together and she wipes them with a knowing look as though she understands why I cry…maybe she does?

20882690_10213547090702409_2512965316109686623_nAfter we sing she often asks me about Lazarus.

“Him was dead?”
“Yes.”
“But Jesus came?”

We talk about how Jesus wept then raised his friend up from the grip of death.

Then she usually whispers,

“He came for me too.” 

I can’t even breathe a reply.

He came for me, for you, for all of us.
His children are blessed beyond any human condition by a God who wept and weeps when we experience the pain of death, sickness or sin.
The Man who bore our sorrows, sickness, and more.

Like she tells us so often, Jesus is with us and He will never leave us.
As her mom, continuing to make myself aware of that fact makes all the difference.

Love deeply,

Chandler Jo

 

Dream Come True

It was phenomenal and so refreshing to be in a quiet place, away from super crowded spots, and able to see both the gulf and the bay from our rental.

We didn’t even know Alabama had such amazing beaches! How did we end up there of all places?! We could *feel* the presence of God so tangibly it was wild and then someone texted us this story:

“Did I tell you the Mobile Bay was discovered by Spanish?
As they came into the bay those on the ship were overtaken by Holy Spirit- literally laid out flat on their backs by God’s presence!! They named it The Bay of The Holy Spirit and told all it was where The Holy Spirit lived!”

 

It’s beyond me to put into words what it feels like to see things orchestrated so that your child experiences a dream of their heart.

She was glowing the entire time.

I am confident we will still talk about the last minute trip we took to the beach in the middle of a break in chemo when Zayne Allora and Joash are 29, 30, and 31.

THANK YOU to everyone who banded together with us to make our beach trip happen. It’s amazing to have people literally investing in and walking out this story of God’s faithfulness with us.

We are grateful.

Love,

Chandler Jo

 

one main theme

If there’s anything that’s been formed like iron in our spirits, the main theme Holy Spirit’s singing through these last couple months ~

G O D G I V E S V I C T O R Y

He gives and gives and gives.

He doesn’t withhold Himself.

When your child stops breathing in the middle of the night.

He gives His hand at work to save her.

As she lays in a bed supported by a respirator.

He gives perspective, she’s breathing!

In the midst of a cancer diagnosis.

He gives courage to fight with tools you otherwise would never choose to use.

When you need to worship.

He gives songs to your friends, they sing them with you in the PICU.

When she needs a tumor to dissipate in order for her to breathe on her own.

He gives miracles faster than medicine can explain.

When you need sugar levels to straighten up.

He gives answers to prayer.

There’s setbacks like bloodclots and hospital stays.

He gives grace.

As you pray and grieve with friends whose newborn passes into eternity.

He gives comfort and peace.

As you receive news, no cancer can be found.

He gives joy unspeakable.

When your child is supposed to be showing signs of fatigue, loss of appetite, she’s expected to be at her worst.

He gives supernatural strength, He gives wellness to the doctor’s surprise: she’s acting like an average healthy three year old.

No matter the end to this story,

He has already given Allora victory from the beginning.

We can’t boast anything of our own, it’s been given by our Father.

So don’t mind me while I shout His glory over

and over

and over.

I kinda can’t contain this wild excitement over what Jesus has given us,

what He’s given you.

It’s not just for us, not just for Allora,

He’s offered it to you too.

His victory over death, His victory over sickness, His victory over fear, His victory over everything that could ever come against the human frame…

He came to give us life to the fullest.

Whatever you’re facing,

He will give you all you need & more.

That’s our God.

He gives victory in all things.

Allora’s name means God gives victory.

Every day He’s unpacking it to us and He proves it couldn’t be more true.

Cups of goodness running over

The Father’s mercy didn’t run out overnight and He didn’t need to make a new batch this morning. His mercy is everlasting.

We recharged while we slept, He never slumbers.

His merciful nature has been from ages past and will be continuously unpacked before us.

Our awe of unending loving kindness is best described as “new every morning” in our limited vocabulary of this fresh and constant stream.

So we rest in this: His merciful heart, ever pouring out on us, has never gotten stale or even needed a refill.

we aren’t, we are

Around two months since we visited the zoo as a family without a pediatric cancer diagnosis.

We aren’t devastated, we are dealing with a lot of shock still.

We aren’t angry, we do deeply ache from the trauma.

We’ve not lost hope, we are covered in the shadow of His wings.

We haven’t changed our family philosophy about wellness, we are more confident and steadfast in our values because of this.

We aren’t debilitated by a debilitating disease, we are compelled to make a difference.

We don’t have strength of our own to bear this, we find fierce might in His nearness.

We’ve not pressed through to find our new stride, we’ve slowed down to enjoy our days even more.

We can’t tell you how we are doing in a cultural norm greeting, we just know we are.

We aren’t facing an obstacle, we are walking into an opportunity and our realm of influence has been expanded…

It’s just a moment and life as you know it can change.

Asking “Why” hasn’t served me in the past so we’ve just been asking “Where” and “Who” are you God?

The answers He’s given to those questions will make a stiff upper lip quiver.