The Macs

Monday, January 23, 2012

these january days

These January days are always hard for me. Yesterday was the anniversary of the day we took our Cora to the hospital. Not a day that I necessarily want to remember or relive, but a day that is forever etched in my mind. That day our lives were turned upside down and our family was changed...forever. The next day we reluctantly handed our sweet girl off for surgery and the doctors confirmed that Cora had cancer. In many ways I still grieve that day. We were so, so thankful that Cora made it through surgery...that the doctors seemed so hopeful for her chances of recovery...that the Lord was going to allow us more days with our daughter...that there was an army of prayer warriors rising up behind us. I am still so thankful for all of those things, but those moments we spent with Cora before her surgery were the last moments I spent laughing and playing with my daughter...the daughter that I had grown to know and love so much over our almost eleven months together. We saw glimpses of our sweet Cora again through the ups and downs of her seventeen days in the hospital, but she never returned to the same little girl that her mama knew so well. So, I grieve that day. And that is why I think these calendar days of January and February tend to be so hard. They are not just numbers to me. They represent days that I battled for my daughters life. Days that are attached to so many hard memories. Days that I know have a purpose, but often wonder why God didn't allow them to end with the healing of my daughter. Days that are still hard to understand.

These January days are often marked with tears, and flashbacks, and doubts, and fears. I think the Devil knows that my husband and I are vulnerable on these days and he uses them to test us. It is on these days that we often start to question God again or fear creeps in and we can't seem to find peace. We have to battle to keep our minds focused on Truth and remind ourselves that Jesus is the only answer to our deepest needs.

These January days are hard but they are also filled with reminders of a God who cares about the details of our life. Our God, who has been so faithful to us through death and heartache. Remember last year? It was on January 22nd that we found out we were expecting our sweet Griffin. I know that wasn't a coincidence. The events of that day felt as if God was sending a gigantic hug straight from heaven to us. A hug that we desperately needed. And this year has been no different. {Don't get the wrong idea, there is no announcement this year!!} We didn't find out we were expecting again...but the day was filled with reminders of a personal God who understands our pain, even three years later.

I am pretty sure that every song we sang at church on Sunday was picked just for me. There was one  that really stuck out though...a new song that I have heard but hadn't really paid attention to before. You should listen to it too. The message is so good.

He is peace...when my fear is crippling.
He is truth...even in my wandering.
He is joy...the reason that I sing.
He is Him death has lost its sting.

I needed to sing those words yesterday. I needed to be reminded of the peace, truth, joy, and life my Savior offers to me on these hard January days...and everyday. And I need to remember to run into His arms for strength to face the day when I feel like hiding under the covers instead. The riches of His love will always be enough.

After church a friend stopped me and was sharing about a little girl who is battling for her life in Kansas City right now. She has leukemia. She is the firstborn and only child to her parents who are from Wichita. I don't have a link or many more details, but my heart just ached as I can understand a little of the pain and fear her parents are experiencing. And I was reminded that I am not the only one facing pain and heartache right now. In fact, there are so many that have really hard things going on in their lives right now. It reminded me to keep looking outward instead of focusing on myself. It reminded me that I needed to be on my knees praying for others too. And it reminded me that in all of these hard circumstances, the riches of His love will always be enough.

We were making our way out of church (as I was processing through some of these things) and a sweet lady stopped me to introduce herself. She had been reading my blog for awhile and wanted to tell me how much she appreciated some of the things that I had shared. I was so humbled. Not because I have an amazing story to tell or great things to write about, but because He is using this little blog to speak Truth to others. I love that. It is my prayer that God continues to use the Truths that I have been standing firm on to encourage you and remind you that the riches of His love will always be enough.

I didn't fully process all these little parts of my day until I was sitting at home talking with my wise hubby last night. He commented that it was pretty neat that the Lord prompted that lady to stop and introduce herself to me on a day that I really needed encouragement. So true. Even though I might not have realized it at the time, none of those things were a coincidence. I am so thankful for a Heavenly Father who speaks so personally and directly to me. Sometimes, I just have to stop and listen...because He is there.

And I can't forget that these January days are filled with the smiles and laughter of two little boys this year. My, how quickly life changes. There is nothing better than having my arms full (literally, because these two are heavy!!) when my heart is feeling sad. These boys are such a blessing and joy to me...especially on these hard January days. 

These January days...
My heart will sing
no other Name
Jesus, Jesus


Blogger Michele said...

I am in love with that song! it is my current favorite, for sure. I do remember your daughter nearly everyday. Even though I never really met her, her/your story has latched on to me so deeply. And while I can't completely fathom the road you and Joel have walkedit truly is an inspiration to me (and so many). Your story has even be an example I am using with a friend to help {hopefully} lead to God. Praying for you over these next coming months!

January 23, 2012 at 9:40 PM  
Blogger Meghan said...

Oh Jess! My little boy is 11 months old now and with each passing month I have just thought of you and your Cora... and now having an 11 month old myself, can not fathom a life without him. It can only be God that has gotten you through this. And because you have been through hell and continue to lead a life that not only just exists but truly honors and glorifies our Heavenly Father, you remind me of how real our RELATIONSHIP is with our Jesus every time I visit your blog. I participated in your 30 day challenge this past summer and it completely changed my devotional time. I always appreciate your realness and honesty. I just had to let you know how thankful I am for you and how God has used you and your blog in more ways that you can imagine. Blessings to you and your family during these rough days. Keep leaning on Him for all that you need to fill your soul.

January 23, 2012 at 9:47 PM  
Blogger The Moffats said...

oh jess. tears streaming down my face as i read your beautiful words. i'm remembering these 17 days like they were yesterday and wondering how in the world it has been almost 3 years. i'm missing Cora's beautiful face and wondering why this life has to be so gosh darn hard sometimes. thankful for the hope we have in Christ and am amazed at all who have been touched by Cora. loving you guys from miles away and praying for you each and every day.

January 23, 2012 at 9:48 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

I too always find so much encouragment in your post and your ability to stay faithful to God even through losing your daughter. Now that I have a baby I often think of you and wonder if I would have the ability have faith the way you do if I lost him.

The devil REALLY messes with me in this area and I feel like I always live in fear of losing my son, mostly in how I pray. For example, if I pray for God to help me not sweat the small stuff, that God's answer will be something tragic, to make me see how "first world" my problems are. I am sure this is way too much information, but all this to say I find you to be a VERY inspiring person!

January 23, 2012 at 9:48 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

You and your family will be in my prayers.

January 23, 2012 at 9:49 PM  
Blogger Stef said...

Jess, this blog post meant the world to me - thank you for writing it. I'm sure its hard for you to sit down and write out these things and then share them with everyone, but I'm SO glad you do.
In a very small way, I'm about to go through similar feelings you're talking about in this post. Just not in the same way.
We lost our baby last April, to a miscarriage just as I was entering my 2nd trimester and as we get closer and closer to that date, I'm almost dreading it. This post was a good reminder to me that God will meet me at every stage and His grace and mercy never tire. He'll be there with us at every difficult anniversary, no matter how difficult.
Thank you for sharing the song. I loved it. This post made me cry like a baby... but in a good, healing way.

January 23, 2012 at 9:57 PM  
Blogger Abby said...

I am guessing that this is the little girl you mentioned. I have friends in Wichita who have posted about her on facebook, the more prayer warriors the better!

Hugs to you for these hard days ahead...

January 23, 2012 at 10:01 PM  
Blogger The Sieberts said...

praying for comfort these next weeks Jess!! I thought of you SUnday!

January 23, 2012 at 10:23 PM  
Blogger k and c's mom said...

I have read your blog since Cora went into the hospital and it has always filled me with such encouragement. Even through the loss, your hope and strength came through. And months later, I lost my husband to cancer. In some ways it was parts of your journey that prepared me for my journey through grief. "And we know that all things work together for good..." Thank you for your transparency over these years. You'll never know how many lives you have touched this side of heaven.

January 23, 2012 at 10:56 PM  
Blogger Caroline H said...

Jess, My heart still breaks for your and your sweet family. I found your blog through a friend the week that Cora went to the hospital and I have never been the same. I have prayed and thought of your sweet family often since Cora's passing. I pray that God will give you comfort and peace. I heard this song not long ago and after reading your post tonight, it reminded me of you. It was written by Drew Holcomb, who is a local singer here in Memphis. He lost a brother several years ago and the tragedy often inspires his music. The video features his family who are awesome Christian people (some of them even live in Panama as missionaries). I wanted to share it with you in hopes that it might bring a smile to your heart during these dark January days. God bless you!

His wife Ellie also just released an album called "Magnolia" where all the songs are written from Psalms. Very Beautiful words!

January 23, 2012 at 11:05 PM  
Blogger Mum2twopreciousgifts said...

Dear Jess. The third anniversary of Cora's hospitalisation means it is a few days shy of the day I answered a call for prayers for Cora. And it means it is just a few days shy of three years that I regard myself as being able to be Blessed by your writings, insight and sharing of your journey.

God Bless you all as you make your way through the next 17 days.

I will send a cyber hug and prayers.

Michelle x

January 24, 2012 at 4:13 AM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

Thank you so so much for this. I praise God that He uses us even in our grief! I lost my daughter to miscarriage at 15 weeks back in November. We are dreading April, her due date, but we are hopeful that she is alive with Christ in heaven! Our church recently began singing Forever Reign as of my favorites too. Thanks for the reminders and for allowing the Lord to continue to use you!

January 24, 2012 at 6:38 AM  
Blogger Sarah Johnson said...

Jess, your feelings resonate so very loudly with me. Yesterday was Marleigh and Natalie's 3rd birthday. These days are rough for me remembering the 27 days we were blessed to have Natalie here on Earth.

I pray God's comfort for your heartache. We will always grieve losing our babies, but God will hold us in His hands and wipe away our tears.

January 24, 2012 at 8:11 AM  
Blogger Andrea said...

I love how God is speaking directly to you. You are such an encouragement for me. Without a doubt, it was God's plan for me to stumble on your blog a few years ago. I know He is not finished using your story to make a difference in the community around you. You are in my prayers.

January 24, 2012 at 8:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I lost my daughter 5 years ago and we now have a 15 month old son. I think about your family often, because I don't have anyone in my life that has lost a child. I read your blog and it gives me comfort and I know that I am not alone. Thank you for sharing your heart.

January 24, 2012 at 8:36 AM  
Blogger Caroline said...

God is so good through it ALL. Thank you for being so opened to share Him with the world.
Love this song. I sang it as my son was being brought into this world, by c-section of course and no I wasn't singing it aloud. Ha can you imagine laying on the table singing, anyway, I always think of you and Cora and these hard days. Praying for you.

January 24, 2012 at 8:59 AM  
Blogger Trisha Larson said...

I experience the same emotions and struggles during the month of March when we spent 25 days in the ICU battling for our sons life. I'm so sorry that anyone has to walk this path. There are blessings along the way but it's a bumpy, twisty road.

Hugs to you!

January 24, 2012 at 9:13 AM  
Blogger Angie said...

May the Lord continue to give strength to you and your family. What a powerful testimony you have for anyone who comes to visit your blog. God Bless you all!

January 24, 2012 at 9:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I, too, am very blessed by your writing. You are able to eloquently put into words exactly what I am feeling and wish I could voice. Your open heart and writing talents are a blessing....and that song.....oh my....!!!!

January 24, 2012 at 9:38 AM  
Blogger Meggie said...

Love the song! I can't begin to imagine what you've gone through or are going through. But I so admire your faith and willingness to share and be a blessing to others. Praying for ya'll.

January 24, 2012 at 9:52 AM  
Blogger Linda S said...

"often wonder why God didn't allow them to end with the healing of my daughter"... you have moved so many people into a stronger relationship with God through the hardships you have endured. I wish it could be accomplished without your pain, and I'm sure it isn't solace enough to ease it, and you'd rather have your daughter back. But, oh the impact Cora has had on lives throughout the world, in just her few short months -- maybe God knew that's all the time she needed to change the world for the better!

January 24, 2012 at 10:27 AM  
Anonymous LauraD said...

Jess, you have such a God-given gift of writing the words that so many need to read. This past Sunday, on January 22, I turned 30 years old. I was reminded of your post "Thankful for Thirty" and I thanked God for all of the many blessings in my life. As I type, I'm saddened by the fact that my marriage of four years is nearly over. It breaks my heart just to write those words. But when I read this post, these words speak right to my heart: there are so many that have really hard things going on in their lives right now. It reminded me to keep looking outward instead of focusing on myself. It reminded me that I needed to be on my knees praying for others too. And it reminded me that in all of these hard circumstances, the riches of His love will always be enough.
God's love IS enough. In the midst of our heartache and pain, God is there. He is always there. Our Father to whom we can run when the world around us is just too painful.
Thank you for this amazing post. You are definitely the strongest woman I know and I don't even really know you. Thank you for being so real and so vulnerable with all of us, your readers. I pray that our God of comfort is nearer to you in these days and continues to give you strength.
Thanks for who you are, Jess...a true inspiration to so many!

January 24, 2012 at 10:53 AM  
Blogger Tammyz said...

God has used that song to help me through too... I love your heart, Jess. God has used your sharing it to bless and encourage and help me to carry on. Praying for you and yours today.

January 24, 2012 at 11:22 AM  
Anonymous tara said...

Hi, Jess. I am a long time reader of your blog, although I don't think I've ever commented. I will especially remember you all in prayer these coming weeks. I remember in the photos you posted of Cora in the hospital, she always had the striped IKEA blanket, and we have the same one. It has been a favorite blanket of both of my kids so far, and each time I tuck them into their crib and put it over them, I remember your sweet Cora!

January 24, 2012 at 11:38 AM  
Blogger everydaymomma said...

Oh my heart aches for you I pray you are coveted with peace and able to strongly trudge these painfull days, I cannot even imagine the deep hurt and sadness in your heart but I pray that it lessens more and more with time and that you grow stronger and stronger each day .your blog has been a huge blessing to me nd to many others. Thankyou for being vulnerable for
Sharing your heart!

January 24, 2012 at 1:52 PM  
Blogger DeMo said...

Thanks for sharing your heart, Jess. I will be praying for you guys! I agree with Mum2twopreciousgifts, many of us started reading when Cora was going through this and have been blessed by your blog.

January 24, 2012 at 2:04 PM  
Anonymous EricaG said...

Sometimes when I think of you and your story, I feel overwhelmed with fear that one of my three babies could be taken from me. But then, I reflect on the strength and hope and FAITH with which you have come through these three years, and I am reminded that God does care. He does provide. I still carry the fear, but I also carry the hope of God's grace and love. Thank you for sharing your life so candidly.

January 24, 2012 at 2:25 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

That song means an ocean to me. One of my best friends died a year ago, and the last thing she put on her blog hours before the car accident was the lyrics to "Forever Reign." She had just sung the song that morning in worship at church, and then ran into the arms of Jesus that very night. I still can't make it through without crying upon hearing it. I pray and whisper the words daily to God. I am so, so glad you are being comforted and held up during these days of remembrance and grief. I always say God blesses us with replacement days on the same days as the yuck. One amazing replacement day is that my sweet friend was 30 weeks pregnant when she died, and they delivered her son that night. Through many months in nicu and the prayers of thousands upon thousands, her amazing miracle boy is still here. He turned one on her heaven day. Hard, yet what a celebration. Thank you for letting God use you, in turn ministering to me. (you can read Brie's story here:, or at

January 24, 2012 at 3:07 PM  
Blogger Rich and Carolyn Dewey said...

Monday I was remembering the anniversary of little Cora's illness and praying for you and Joel. I can't imagine how difficult these days are, still. Just know you are loved and I'll continue to pray. And praise God for your two beautiful little boys!

January 24, 2012 at 3:35 PM  
Blogger Jody said...

I understand because that is how December is for me. I kind of wrote about it on my blog ( The amazing thing is God doesn't just take away...he gives as well. I just read Ruth last night to prepare for our small group. God took Naomi's husband and her two sons away. But through a faithful daughter-in-law God weaved Naomi into the the lineage of Christ. From despair to the highest of highs....blessed be his name!

January 24, 2012 at 5:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I absolutely LOVE that song!!! It has become my favorite!

January 24, 2012 at 6:02 PM  
Blogger The Anthony Crew said...

I've been reading your blog ever since Bronson was born and diagnosed with neuroblastoma.
I always feel encouraged after reading your posts. Your blog truly is a blessing. I'll be keeping you in my prayers over the next few weeks.

January 24, 2012 at 6:32 PM  
Blogger Kimberly said...

He's a personal God ... if it matters to us, then it matters to Him. To see a young couple go through so much & still trust and praise Him makes my heart happy. Thank you for sharing. God bless you & your sweet family.

January 24, 2012 at 6:56 PM  
Blogger Mary Kaisand said...

Our church played this song just over a week ago!!! Brings tears to my eyes every time! I love it! :) It doesn't help that January is filled with gloomy days and super cold. Hope you are able to find Hope in Christ and continue to lean on Him as your Rock. Blessings to you and your family!

January 24, 2012 at 6:57 PM  
Blogger Alli Unruh said...

Praying for you and with you. Thank you for sharing. Your lives and Cora's life has deeply touched me, and I think of you so often. Your story gives me courage to trust more fully in the Lord. Your friend Abby is correct on the caring bridge link she posted. Thanks for lifting them up in prayer.

January 24, 2012 at 7:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How ironic! January 22 is my birthday!

Your courage and faith inspire me so much. Blessings to you and your beautiful family.

January 24, 2012 at 7:43 PM  
Anonymous amy jupin said...

Jess, Cora's picture still hangs on my bulletin board at work. I look at her sweet face nearly every day and think of you. Hugs!

January 24, 2012 at 8:55 PM  
Anonymous May said...

Jess.... Cora is so lucky to have been with parents like you and your husband. God is Great, Most Merciful, Most Gracious. I am Muslim, and like Christianity and Judaism we believe in one God. In our religion, God tests us, for this is not our life forever, it is an exam, to see how well we do in order to get to the second life, Eternity... Heaven or Hell. What you had to go through was horrible, but Heaven is at the feet of mothers, and more so, Mothers who have lost their own (flesh and blood). Cora is happy in heaven, healthy, strong, beautful FOREVER, and she is with our Creator, our lord God. You will one day (in the very distant future.. you must be a mom now to your 2 beautiful boys) be with her,,, and you will be with all those you love,,, in Paradise,,, God Willing. May God shower Peace, calm, tranquility, acceptance, health, hope, and prosperity on you and your own. God help you and I am ever so sorry for your loss. Also, God is always near, Most Knowing, Most Seeing, Pray to him, he is Most Hearing. He answers your prayers. The Prophet Jesus (May His blessings be upon him) was a human like us, but a Prophet above all. He will be resurrected on the Day of Judgement, but it is GOD we pray to, for he created EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE. There is no God but Him, he has no father, no mother, no brother, no sister and no son. There is no one like HIM. He is Most Great and he is our creator. He blesses us with children, they are not really ours, they are His, just like we are His. He entrusts us with these blessings, he might take them any minute, It is an unfair life, we could be born dirt poor or rich. Nothing makes anyone better than the other, other than our piety. I am sorry to have rambled on, it hurts so much to read about your dear Cora, it makes me cry and appreciate EVERYTHING God has given me, scared that He might take something away. God bless you and send Peace to you and your family.

January 25, 2012 at 12:18 AM  
Blogger Auntie EM said...

My heart is so full after reading this post. I can't imagine what must go through your mind and heart this time of year. My own life has seen its share of loss. My sweet husband's last day in our home was on my birthday. He passed away 13days later in August 2008. My dad passed 5 months later in January 2009. Then my mother in March 2009, only 6weeks later. I was shell shocked before it wad all said and done. BUT...the Lord was always there for me, putting earthly and heavenly angels around me to help me. It does not compare to the loss of a child but was so hard nonetheless. My life is good as I am now a grandmother. I know of God's tender mercies and have a deeper trust and more faith than I thought I could ever possess. This time of year is hard but you said it best. Praise Jesus. He is my strength and my salvation. You ate inspiring many of us with the good life you lead and your wise words. May God bless you and continue to help you heal. Cora must be so proud of you, her daddy, and those cute brothers of hers.

January 25, 2012 at 12:25 AM  
Blogger Renae said...

Jess there is NOTHING any of us can say that will help comfort you in the loss of Cora. But you can see here that there are so many people praying for you and Joel and the boys and for Cora too of course. She is watching over her mama and waiting for the day you will be together again. She is strong and healthy and with Him. While you are here on this earth you have the two precious lives to take care of and even though there are minutes, hours, days, months and years for you to grieve, just know that He knows your pain and suffering. We can't know why these things happen...I don't think even if we could know that our brains could fully handle it. I do know that satan would like to get his hands on you, but for what? Continue to pray, to love, to are His. He is always with you and your family. May God bless you and your family. And my prayer is that people, even complete strangers, will continue to reach out to you and to show you love and compassion and help to bring happiness and peace to your every day. Today and always.

January 25, 2012 at 9:33 AM  
Blogger Wenzel Family said... is Paxten Pearson...she is my friends niece. She is on Caring Bridge if you want to look her up! Thank you for letting your relationship with Christ shine through your blog!!! May he be glorified through your testimony and your faithfulness!

January 25, 2012 at 9:35 AM  
Anonymous Robin in Benton said...

Still thinking of you and praying for you and your family every day. Some day God's vision will be revealed - just know that there are days during my small petty problems when I check your blog, smile at your handsome boys and praise Him for the blessing and example you are in my life of being faithful through the worst of adversity.

January 25, 2012 at 12:42 PM  
Blogger waiting said...

This post is so beautifully written. A local girl in Louisiana lost her baby boy on January 14th to a disease called EB. I left the link to this most recent post on her blog. I pray that she will eventually read it and find the encouragement and hope that she can find on your blog. You are an inspiration.

January 26, 2012 at 10:29 AM  
Blogger Toni :O) said...

Sorry, just getting around to reading this post, I was a little behind! Still thinking and still praying for you. I always mention Cora in my prayers each Sunday in my heart for those that have passed. She changed me in how I parent my kids...what a priceless gift! I'm glad your two boys are your sunshine each day.

January 27, 2012 at 9:46 AM  
Blogger The Schilling's from Cimarron said...

You and your family have been heavvvyyyy in my heart this past week as we remember those days with you in the hospital. Still praying for you and with YOU as these days pass every year. Small world again..... I have been praying for the little girl you were talking about from Wichita as she is one of my close friends sweet friends. Their journey.... faith and endurance instantly reminded me of you and Joel...... Her name is Paxten.
Please just know we continue to love and pray for you all from a distance!
Miss u!

January 27, 2012 at 11:24 PM  

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