The Macs » Blog

one year ago

One year ago today, our lives changed forever.
We were totally unprepared.
Not expecting at all.
It happened in an instant.
We had no idea that from that day forward,
we would be fighting for our daughter’s life.
And in just 17 short days, that we would loose that fight.
That day we were asked to begin a new journey.
A journey that we never would have chosen…

It was a pretty typical day. I dropped Cora off at my mom’s and headed off to Bible Study. She had been having trouble sleeping and was a little grouchy. Those horrible ear infections kept coming back and I was wishing she would just get better. At Bible study I remember sharing my frustrations and asking for prayer for Cora and her doctor’s appointment that afternoon.

Joel had agreed to go to the doctor appointment with me. We wanted to do everything we could to get Cora feeling better. We had no idea that it was so much more than a little ear infection.

I remember sitting in the exam room with Joel and Cora. We were trying to keep our little girl happy as we waited. They had done an x-ray of her abdomen and she did. not. like. it. one. bit. She screamed through the entire thing. We really didn’t expect anything to be horribly wrong. We were just looking for a way to get rid of the ear infections. But as we waited longer and longer, we began to worry. We sensed something might not be okay. Still, “cancer” had never crossed our minds.

Our pediatrician finally came in. I knew the second I saw his face that something was wrong. As he told us that Cora’s liver was enlarged and that it might be the result of cancer, our world as we knew it froze. He was so kind to us. Even prayed with us before sending us out the door. But I was in shock.  He had to be wrong. There was no way my beautiful Cora had cancer in her little chubby body.

Joel and I could barely even talk to each other as we drove to the hospital. I remember praying over and over all the way there, “Please let him be wrong. Please let him be wrong. My baby can’t have cancer.”

But as we know, he wasn’t wrong. Late that night our worst fears were confirmed. The next day we would be asked to hand our sweet daughter over for surgery. And from that moment on our world was rocked to the core. We went from a “normal” family to living in the hospital and struggling to battle Cora’s cancer in an instant. We were asked to trust God with our daughter’s life. We were asked to trust God in a way that we never had before.

As I think about that day and the 17 days that followed, my stomach just aches. I don’t even know how to describe our time in the hospital except horrible and terrifying. It was the worst thing to watch Cora go through everything she did and not be able to do anything to help her. Like I said, it is hard to even put it into words. Yet at the same time we experienced God’s incredible comfort through the wonderful hospital staff, family and friends in a way that we never have experienced before. It was amazing.

So many people have told us that we are handling this past year of suffering incredibly. That they would not be able to handle what we have gone through. Like we are “gifted” at facing difficulties. We are not. In fact, before Cora got sick, I would have said the same thing. I would have said there is no way I could handle watching my daughter battle cancer. Or worse yet having to say goodbye to my daughter. I would have told you I couldn’t do it.

When we were in the hospital I remember people telling us that God’s grace is sufficient. Those words seemed so trite to me considering what we were going through. But, through this year we have found that God’s grace is truly sufficient. It is that simple. It doesn’t mean that facing suffering is easy or that it doesn’t cause pain, even deep pain. But it is true. When we face something that seems impossible to live through, or even when we face something that seems relatively insignificant, we can be confident that He cares. He will provide just what we need to get through whatever we are facing. His grace is sufficient. My family is living proof of that!

So as we enter this time of “anniversaries” and remember what we were facing at this time last year, and what we continue to face every day, I need to remind myself again. His grace is sufficient.

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.
2 Corinthians 12:8
  • The Mershawn's - What a story you guys have. Not one anyone wants & yet one for us all to admire.
    Thank you for reminding us all how good our God is, no matter how awful or wonderful the situation.
    I’ll be praying everyday for the 2 of you the next 17 days. Hang on to your hope. And let HIM speak to you as you miss her so desperately. You guys are awesome.ReplyCancel

  • Austin - I’m still so sorry for your loss. Its so encouraging though…to see God’s faithfulness through this…and the amazing way you’ve let him work in your lives.ReplyCancel

  • Vuong and Steph - Thinking of you and your family not only during the next few weeks, but every day!ReplyCancel

  • Carla - Its difficult even to read that, as a stranger, and impossible to imagine what you have gone through in the last year. My thoughts are with you now, in the next 17 days and always. Thank you for taking us on your journey, it is a powerful thing to be witness to it. I wish you strength in the next little while.ReplyCancel

  • Time To Lose - Thank you for sharing with us. My heart has ached for you in your lose and also rejoiced with you in the birth of your son. God’s blessings on you always.ReplyCancel

  • susy - God has a plan for all of us. We might not like it and may even dread it but it is his plan. May you find comfort the next 17 days and all the days of your life. God bless you all.

    On a lighter note, more pictures of Levi please.ReplyCancel

  • Jamie - I am praying for you this weekend and the following 17 days as you have to enter into this “new phase” of remembering. Thanks for sharing your story (and life) with all of us.ReplyCancel

  • Christina Egner - Blessings from Pooh’s Corner while you remember…..ReplyCancel

  • Drew, Taylor, and Caroline Clayton - Prayers coming your way on this day of reflection 🙂ReplyCancel

  • BURNS FAMILY - I have followed your blog for over a year now and never knew what type of comment to leave. Your family is a true testament of God’s love and grace. I know my own faith has grown following your story and I hope that I can continue to grow to have the kind of faith that you and Joel show. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your journey and my thoughts and prayers have been with you and will continue to be with you.

  • Sherryl - I’m remembering everything with you. Keep your chin up!ReplyCancel

  • Meghan - i found your blog a year ago and have followed ever since. i love what you said the other day about God giving us what we can handle. you have had more than your share of that. you have handled it gracefully. i will always think of you guys, even though i don’t know you. i will be praying for you as you go through the next couple of weeks. and this next chapter in your lives. xoxoReplyCancel

  • A - My heart breaks for you as I read what you wrote today- I have been praying for you as the anniversary of her going to Jesus approaches.

    I love that verse you reflected upon. It is one of my favorites that sustains me as I struggle with my own personal cross- infertility. Especially on days like today, after getting a(nother) negative pregnancy test, it is all I can do to rest in God’s comfort and trust He has things under control in the long run.ReplyCancel

  • Anonymous - I have looked at your blog at least twice a week since cory was first in the hospital..
    This is the first time I have responded.
    You have been a blessing to me and my daughter ( who also lost at child at 26 weeks)
    I admire you courage and love of God and all he can do. He is perfect!!
    I have cried almost everytime I have read your blog. I feel your pain, and don’t know how you could deal with it except for God’s Love.
    Levi is a gift from God and looks perfect to me! What a beautiful child.
    My daughter’s birthday is also March 5th, she is now 30 and I can’t imagine ever losing her.
    God bless you and your family during this difficult time of year.
    From MichiganReplyCancel

  • bagfashionista - again, i am truly sorry.ReplyCancel

  • Just Beachy - i am so sorry you lost cora , i think of her often , I am so happy to see your family grown and be blessed , i iknow the whole cora left will always remain .
    my poor brother just tuesday lost his second daughter almost a year apart from their first, the pain is unthinkable , why them ? why you ? , there is never an answer , just can’t give up is all , support of family and the desire to try again keeps us all going on , but it is so hard , so very hard.
    your family is in my thoughts , I hope you are blessed with a healing year.ReplyCancel

  • merlin - And grace came by way of Levi, a bright shining star out of the darkness.

    Thank you God for the gifts of Levi and Cora, and for promising us that Cora is with You in heaven.

    Praying for your comfort on this sad anniversary.ReplyCancel

  • Stef - praying for you *much* today <3ReplyCancel

  • Todd and Courtney - I think of Cora every single day. I was so lucky to buy a pair of burpies from you for my daughter this past Christmas. I am so proud and honored that we have something in our home to remember Cora. I check your blog all the time, tear up as I read your posts, and pray for you all every single day. Levi is so beautiful and I’m so happy that he is in your life. I can’t wait to see more pictures!ReplyCancel

  • Jessatsea - Oh bless you guys again and again and again. I remember reading your story one short year ago and my heart ached for you then like it does today on this horrible anniversary.
    You and Joel are in my prayers today and always.ReplyCancel

  • Kathy Hardison - I would imagine that you have watched the clock today thinking about the exact minute everything occured on that day. I hope as you do you find comfort in knowing that people you don’t even know are praying for your sweet family. You are not only talking the talk, but walking the walk. May He give you strength to take each step. Joshua 1:9ReplyCancel

  • Tricia - I have nothing to say that could possibly mean more than what you have shared with us today.
    May God continue to bless your sweet family.

    With love and prayers,

  • Trinity - Thinking of you as you relive the pain of last year during these first anniversaries that will no doubt be just as hard, if not harder, than when you walked thru them a year ago. And as He carried you through the storm of that time, He will again carry you thru this time too. God bless your loving family and thank you for being a constant reminder to others that God is good.ReplyCancel

  • Taking Heart - You are wise beyond your years. Pain does that. The grace you live with is evident… and the sorrow you carry runs deep. What amazes me the most is how you continue to cling to hope… that is how Cora continues to touch lives. Thank you for giving a window peek into your life… your message of hope reminds us all to look up.ReplyCancel

  • Joyce - Praying you feel an extra measure of God’s tender loving care in the coming weeks. Thank you for sharing your story.ReplyCancel

  • JenReece - God is so amazing. He does get us throught things that we would never be able to get through on our own. It’s truely amazing the strength He can provide. Our bodies are so weak and yet He makes us so strong when we rely on Him. Simply amazing. I’m so sorry you are having to experience this daily. A dear friend lost her 2 1/2 month old last Christmas Eve and watching her go through this has been so hard, but she and her husband have His strength as well. Thanks to you (and her) for showing me what His strength can do. I’m in awe of Him. Thank you for that reminder, it was so very needed!ReplyCancel

  • Tara from Nebraska - Thinking of you, Joel, and your families today. Over the last few days I have read through your blog and my heart completely aches for you. I am saddened that I just now found out about your story and I wasn’t able to join in on the power of prayer when Cora and your family were going through all of this. Cora was such a beautiful little girl and you are one lucky mama to say she was your very own. Your faith and trust in God is beyond inspiring and has only made me want to better my relationship with God. One year later and your family and Sweet Cora are still touching hearts and lives across the world. While I wasn’t there to pray for you all a year ago please know that you are in my prayers now…every night and will be forever. I pray for joy, hope, peace and healing for you and Joel. Sending hugs your way…especially for the rough weeks ahead.ReplyCancel

  • Anonymous - Just sending hugs to your family today and will be thinking of you and praying with you in the upcoming weeks.


  • Erica - my heart is breaking for you as tears stream down my face. i will be praying especially hard for your family these next 17 days. i cannot believe it’s been a year. praise God that His grace is sufficient… what would we be without it?ReplyCancel

  • The Chance Family - Praying for you during this difficult day as you remember the amazing daughter you shared such a short time on earth with. Cora was a blessing and Levi also is a blessing. Thank you for allowing us on this journey of healing with you!ReplyCancel

  • Courtney - Jess I am so sorry you have to remember this day this way. I will never forget Sept 2nd (the day we found out Dylan wasn’t going to survive much past Birth) for as long as I live. I have heard so many times the same thing as you said about not being able to deal with it. I HOPE that no one ever has to find out if they could deal with loosing a child but unfortunatly it happens to often. I still pray for you guys all the time and I am so glad that Levi is now here to bless your family even more. I remember when our daughter Madylan was born fourteen months after Dylan went to Heaven I couldn’t put her down. I got nothing done because I held her and stared at her all day.
    I will be praying for you even more this next 17 days.
    Courtney MayfieldReplyCancel

  • Enos Family - I can remember back to this time last year, when I started reading your blog. It makes me cry and hurt all over again, and I don’t even know you. Cannot imagine what you went through, or continue to go through, but I am so inspired by your love of God and your faith. Thank you for sharing.ReplyCancel

  • Miss Em - I have been thinking of your family so much knowing this day was coming soon and the next two plus weeks to follow. My heart aches. These days hurt like it was yesterday. I find the pain for my son eases some with the passing of each year but the “anniversaries” just hurt. I remember taking about Matthew with my husband not too long ago and he had said how much he admired how I handled Matthew’s death. I was shocked to the core. I could understand that statement from anyone but him. He was right there with me daily with the pain and sadness. He was the one I cried with and the one who really new my pain. It amazed me that he felt that way. I still don’t understand it but it was a relief to me that he felt that way. I have no idea why I am sharing that. Maybe just to say “I hear you, I understand”. Sending my love and prayers and hugs to Levi.ReplyCancel

  • Sarah - So so true. I recently discovered your blog, but from what I’ve read so far, you have handled this journey with pure grace. You are a beautiful testimony! Your Cora and Levi are absolutely precious!ReplyCancel

  • Al's World - What a beautiful post, thank you so much for witnessing to everyone, to showing everyone the power that God can have over your life if you just allow Him to work in you. I didn’t lose my child, but I lost my mom. I too thought I would not survive a day much less a year, but I have. I have just like you through God’s grace, love and devotion. Prayers over you and Joel as you face these anniversaries, I am so glad that God gave you something to hold during this time, even though I know you wish it was Cora…take care and God bless!ReplyCancel

  • The Drama Mama - Praying for you all as you continue to find a new normal and remember sweet Cora’s precious life at the same time! Sending many prayers and HUGS your way!ReplyCancel

  • Laura - My heart aches for you. I do not know you, but I am praying for you in this heartbreaking time. I pray God will wrap His loving arms around you and hold you so close to Him- that He will be your strong tower and your refuge and your comfort.ReplyCancel

  • Ashley - I too am so sorry for your tremendous loss. I’m sure you don’t go a minute without missing your sweet Cora, but I pray that you would find peace in God’s sufficient grace! I am so impacted by your story and strength!ReplyCancel

  • Ashley - This comment has been removed by the author.ReplyCancel

  • kelli - i have been thinking about you two this week knowing that it was this time last year that your lives changed. thanks for being so transparent with all that you were and are going through. hugs!ReplyCancel

  • kinsey - praying for your family over the next few weeks. i know nothing will ever cover up or take away your loss, but i’m thanking god that you have Cora’s baby brother to love on during this time.ReplyCancel

  • Maria - I am praying for you. I’m so very sorry for this aching and suffering.
    All I can do is pray. Thank you for allowing me to witness your story.ReplyCancel

  • Anne - Your blog is such an encouragement to me. Even through the toughest time in your life your hope in God never waivers.
    Thank you for the reminder that God’s grace is sufficient no matter what He gives you to deal with. I needed that today.ReplyCancel

  • Alaina - Oh heart weeps with yours. I had started reading your blog about a month or so before Cora got sick. I remember being shocked with you, even gasping and yelling at the computer screen when you found out about Cora’s diagnosis. I cried with you and have prayed for you. Even though I don’t know you personally Jess, your family has become precious to me. And please know, I miss sweet little Cora too.ReplyCancel

  • Kristin - Thank you for sharing, and for reminding me that God’s grace truly IS sufficient.ReplyCancel

  • Lindsey - It has been amazing to have been following your story for almost a year now. God has used your intense loss for His glory and fame! I will be praying for peace and comfort for you and all of your family during this time. The name of my blog is “His Grace is Enough.” 🙂 Much love to you!ReplyCancel

  • Beki - TheRustedChain - Oh Jess.

    I had no idea that today was the anniversary.

    But you’ve been heavy on my mind all day and I’ve been praying hard for you. I even thought about emailing to let you know, but got busy and didn’t. Now I understand why.

    I still hate that you have to hurt so badly. It crushes me.ReplyCancel

  • Anonymous - Thank you for this wonderful post, and for reminding us that God is GOOD. Even in the worst of times. Cora was a special little girl who has left an impression on so many people. I am honored to read your blog, to learn about Cora, and to follow a bit of your journey with your new sweet little babe, Levi. You are encouraging, strong, and gentle in your writing. Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Trisha Larson - Funny that you posted that comment because I relate A LOT to the second part of that “my power is made great in your weakness”. I have been so weak in the time that Nate died (2 years in March). I too would have never thought that I would survive burying my child. How could anyone ever possibly survive that? But, by the Grace of God, I am still standing. It is His power that I am using because mine is gone. And, I think that’s a good thing. I am changed because of it.

    I know your pain and understand your sorrow. We lived in a hospital for 25 days fighting for Nate’s life. Sending my love and prayers as you continue to face all of your “firsts”.


  • Anonymous - I’ve been thinking about you guys all day, knowing today was the anniversary of her diagonsis. I lost a close childhood friend 14 years ago today, so the date has always stuck in my mind. Many prayers being sent your way today and everyday…but especially over the next 17 days and all of the horrible anniversaries they bring with them. May your newest gift continue to bless your lives…and let you sleep a little. 😉ReplyCancel

  • Dear Abbi - What beautiful, life-giving words! Thank you for sharing them. They were an encouragement to me!ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie Lane - Prayers are still being lifted on your behalf! You are loved!ReplyCancel

  • Nancy - I’m amazed at your faith. Cora is an angel – praying for your family this next month. What an amazing story. Thankful you have your son to hold & love!!ReplyCancel

  • Restless Mama - Hello, loyal reader but I’ve not yet commented…I think. Your words for this post touched my heart. My heart goes out to you and your family. You are so strong to keep going not just as a family and not just as loyal servants to God but for remaining a strong and loving family and lifting your faith that much more.
    It is beautiful. You are beautiful.ReplyCancel

  • Heather at All A Flutter - As someone that has been through a similar set of circumstances with our son I just want to tell you that your words were so well written. You conveyed so much in this one post. My prayers are with you as you begin the first of many anniversaries. God is so Good and he will see you through.ReplyCancel

  • Christy - It’s hard to believe it’s been a year. Your story, Cora’s story, continues to touch and change people… and will continue to.

    I love you guys!

  • Andrea - i have been reading and praying since “whatever” posted about little cora needing prayer. The Lord is amazing. your emotions and feelings are so true and real, i am blessed to be involved in seeing what the Lord is doing in your lifeReplyCancel

  • Momma H - Joel and Jess – As many others have said, THANK YOU for sharing your story – it has been, and continues to be – a real testiment of your love and faith in our remarkable Father. I pray that you will feel His closeness and protection thru the next 17 days, especially. And I pray God’s mercy to be super evident now and always for you and your family.
    God bless you!ReplyCancel

  • Anonymous - Thoughts and prayers are with your family not only today and the next 17 days but always!
    Summer & Family in CaliforniaReplyCancel

  • Toni :O) - Such a moving post. I think of you and sweet Cora every day…truly I do. It’s changed my life for the better and I don’t take one moment with my children for granted ever because of what you went through. Thank you for posting your struggles, frustrations, triumphs and pure joy (Levi and your incredible Etsy shop) just everything. You inspire me and as difficult as this *anniversary* will be for you, I’m glad you have sweet Levi there to hold and snuggle to get you through. Many continued blessings to you all. Hugs!ReplyCancel

  • Christina - Your testimony is beautiful. I “met” you almost a year ago. I remember wanting to say things that would possibly be comforting, but at the same time wanting to say things like,”It’s okay to be angry…” or whatever emotion you might have felt. I can’t even imagine what all that would encompass.
    Well, I usually feel like I don’t have adequate words to put down here, but always feel like I would like to say something encouraging. The truth is that I leave here encouraged. Thank you for continuing to share your story.ReplyCancel

  • Deb - God bless you and your family and may He grant peace to you.ReplyCancel

  • angie c - I was going thru old files on my computer the other day, and found a thumbnail of a picture I took a few hours after Cora’s funeral…it was of a double-rainbow and it was gorgeous. I know God sent it that day to give us hope and love and a sign from Cora. I think of Cora and your family so so often and her story will always be in my heart. I don’t see a double rainbow, pink balloon, or hear the name Cora without thinking of you guys. Much love to you-ReplyCancel

  • honesteagurl - i am struck by the poignancy – that a year ago you were giving your child over to God and now a year later God has given over to you a child.

    thank you for your authenticity and transparency.ReplyCancel

  • Anonymous - Ah guys my heart aches for you. I have thought about and prayed EVERYDAY for you since Beautiful Cora first went into the hospital. Your Cora will will never be forgotten..the many lives she has touched are for every changed..Oh how I wish things were different. I honestly don’t know how you are doing it but oh so graceful you are. Your unbending faith has inspired me so many times. We will all be praying for and trying to ease your pain as you walk through the next 17 days..


  • Anonymous - My grandmother’s sister lost both her twin daughters (and her husband) before their first birthday. I never knew this growing up…I would stay at her house, follow her around in her garden, get fussed at for using too much water in the bath…I had no idea. I know it was because of her faith but I don’t really know how she did it. She married a man who doted on her and had another daughter. She lived a really good life. I hope that for you too.ReplyCancel

  • Tressa - I am sorry for your loss. She was/is beautiful. As is Levi. I know this time of the year will always be hard for you. I pray that he will bless you with grace and mercy and comfort. I will pray for you and your family, knowing that these next 17 days are going to be so hard. May God bless you.

  • Princess Martha - I cannot believe a whole year has passed since that horrible day. The year has flown by, and you have done so well at making it. I am happy you have little Levi with you to help you through the next 17 days. xxReplyCancel

  • Sarah - my heart just aches every time I think of your sweet Cora. You are such a brave and god loving momma. I will be praying for you during this time of anniversaries. The last verse spoke to my heart. You are such a blessing and witness of God’s love.ReplyCancel

  • The Fishers - You truly are an inspiration to me and I appreciate your sharing your journey with all of us.ReplyCancel

  • dawn - People always tell me they never could have lost a son like we did. They wouldn’t have been as brave (was I?) or they would have crumbled under it all. Like you said, I would have said the same thing before it happened. I still say it about all the terrible things I’ve not faced. BUT, God’s grace was sufficient for the days we faced watching our son suffer, and the days we face without him. I don’t have the Grace to face someone else’s struggle, and they don’t have the grace to face mine. But His Grace is sufficient for each day we each face. it’s pretty amazing.

    Thinking of you on this important season of anniversaries…ReplyCancel

  • Robin in Benton - God bless you, Joel, Levi and Cora in heaven. Praying for you to have the peace that surpasses all understanding that only comes from God as he continues to hold you in his hands through this journey.ReplyCancel

  • Lindsay - I’ll be doing some extra praying for you all during the next days.ReplyCancel

  • 3LittleByrds - Thinking of you and your family this weekend and praying. Everytime I open your blog and see sweet Cora’s face smiling it just melts my heart. She’s truly a angel.ReplyCancel

  • Susan - Remembering Cora today…praying for you as you continue this journey. I can’t imagine the varying emotions flooding yours and Joels minds these days and just as you said…not sure I could do it. BUT, with God, I know I could, I would, just as you did for your Cora. You will be on my heart even more so in the next couple weeks…many, many prayers. Thank you also for reminding me of the sufficiency of His Grace!ReplyCancel

  • onlymehere - So beautifully written. God bless you and your new little one.ReplyCancel

  • The Idaho Olsens - My thoughts and prayers have been with you through out the year. You are such an example of strength and trusting in the Lord to me. You guys are amazing…from one Kansas girl to another…love you, you are wonderful.ReplyCancel

  • Paula U - Joel and Jess–thank you for sharing your hearts and your innermost thoughts with us. We pray for you often and will especially remember you in our prayers as you walk through these next few weeks, remembering Cora and where you were one year ago. Blessings to you! Paula U.ReplyCancel

  • The Morris Family - You are so right, His grace is sufficient!

    Tomorrow the 23rd will be three years since our Joel went to Jesus and he had the same cancer as your Cora….neuroblastoma. Our Joel was 3 years 4 months and 10 days.

    We will miss them in this life with every breath but one day we will be with them again…..


  • Erica - You and Joel have been on my heart recently. My heart breaks for you as you revist the events of last year. I will continue to lift you up before the throne daily.

    Love you guys.ReplyCancel

  • Julie @ Joy's Hope - a year. a painful milestone. praying for your family and confident that you are resting in His incomprehensible and overwhelming grace.ReplyCancel

  • Carla - When I first came across your blog, I lay awake all night after reading about Cora’s journey and illness and cried. For more than a week, it was on my mind every single second. Last night was just the same, I thought Cora and you guys all night. I don’t know why I’m commenting again on this post, I suppose I just wanted to remind you of how many people, far and wide, are walking this road with you Jess and hopefully, shouldering a tiny bit of the burden. Thinking of you today and hoping that right now, you’re getting some peaceful healing sleep. Hugs. CarlaReplyCancel

  • Carla - When I first came across your blog, I lay awake all night after reading about Cora’s journey and illness and cried. For more than a week, it was on my mind every single second. Last night after reading your update was just the same. I thought about Cora and you guys all night. I don’t know why I’m commenting again on this post, I suppose I just wanted to remind you of how many people, both near to you and far away, loved by you or not known to you at all, are walking this road with you Jess and hopefully, shouldering a tiny bit of the burden. Thinking of you today and hoping that right now, you’re getting some peaceful healing sleep. Hugs. CarlaReplyCancel

  • Kelly - My heart just aches for your family. I am praying for you all and for beautiful, blessed Levi.ReplyCancel

  • Lauren Kelly - Cora’s testimony and life is beautiful and know it will be blessing to others for years to come!ReplyCancel

  • The Johnsons - Love you guys.ReplyCancel

  • Melissa Joy - I am in tears with you and for you.
    Thank you for sharing these thoughts. And for continuing to bless us with Cora’s life. (And with your entire family.)
    I can not describe to you how much you have blessed me, as I too have had a year fraught with trials (we are also coming up on anniversaries). Thank you for ministering.
    I am so sorry for the anguish you must endure.
    But I am so thankful for our great God’s sufficient grace.

  • E @ Oh! Apostrophe - So beautifully written, thank you once again for sharing your heart with us! Thinking of your family today 🙂ReplyCancel

  • i love plum - i’m always in awe of your strength…my heart goes out to you.


  • jandkland - Nothing says more about the realness of our God than people like you who’ve endured hell on earth and are still alive to tell about it. Not only are you alive, but you believe in God, trust in God, and cling to God. And God has blessed you with a son even as you ache for your daughter. Thank you for sharing with us. We will always remember Cora.

    –Kelley in GAReplyCancel

  • Shelley Faerber Camba (Manhattan/China friend) - you are on my heart. thank you for the gift of sharing your story so honestly.ReplyCancel

  • Amanda - Oh,Jess. I have been thinking about you guys for weeks now. I knew this time was coming but I wasn’t exactly sure when. I’m sure it will be an emotional couple weeks for you. Know that we are (and have been!) praying for you.ReplyCancel

  • Aaron and Shannon - I have been thinking about you guys a lot lately. We have been going to the doctor a lot lately with Cole and his ear infections. They won’t go away. Dr. Patron had us go do lab work and my thoughts just kept thinking about you, Joel and Cora. We are still praying for your family and will say some extra prayers this time of year for you guys.ReplyCancel

  • ErinO. - Beautifully written. I am inspired by your faith and your family.ReplyCancel

  • Stacey - Remembering Cora and praying for you and your family. Lots of Hugs!

    Stacey from CA
    (mom of 2 tiny boys and 13 little angels above)ReplyCancel

  • Anonymous - Praying for you today and everyday!ReplyCancel

  • Karina - I still feel sick when I think of your losing Cora. I am learning from your journey. You are much loved by many strangers, as odd as that sounds.ReplyCancel

  • Micah - May God bless you and give you peace as you continue to put your trust in Him.ReplyCancel

  • Lexie Loo & Dylan Too - My heart ached for you as I read your story. My thoughts and prayers are with you everyday, and even more so in the coming days. Thank you for sharing your story.ReplyCancel

  • Farris Family - My heart hurts for you and your family~ God is good even in the worst times. You are so strong, such an inspiration! God Bless! Hugs from Texas~ReplyCancel

  • k and c's mom - As one who lost my husband to cancer six months ago, I am here to agree with your words: God’s grace IS sufficient. In the “squeezing tight” places, His grace IS enough. Blessings on you and your family. You’ve spoken truth in a way that will not return without accomplishing what God intends to everyone who reads your blog. Thank you.ReplyCancel

  • Sue - What I have been through seems trivial compared with what you and Joel have had to face! You are so much braver then you know and such an inspiration to everyone who passes by your blog. Anniversaries are always going to be difficult and I imagine that with a new baby in your arms, this is going to be SO hard to face, but keep strong. Remember the happy times you shared with Cora. I always said that if anything ever happened to my husband, who I believe was my soulmate, they would need to dig a hole and bury me along with him, but here I am. 5 1/2 years later and ready to face the rest of my life. Good luck in the build up to the anniversary, it’s going to be hard, but the day after will come and then it’s a whole year until the next anniversary. I always try plan something nice to do with my son on ‘sad’ days, it somehow makes them easier to get through. I don’t know what I’d do if anything ever happened to my child… Sending you all lots of love and prayers, Sue XXXReplyCancel

  • FaceforGrace - What a beautiful and inspiring post! I cannot even begin to imagine how difficult this is/has been…but as always you offer such amazing insight. What spoke to me the most is “Like we are gifted in handling difficulties” followed by your explanation of God’s grace. That is such an amazing way to explain how you guys have been able to make it through this time. Please know that you are covered in prayer the next few weeks and beyond!ReplyCancel

  • Mommy2QTPies - What a beautiful, heart wrenching post…prayers are with you as you enter the next few weeks, remembering…your sweet girl will always be in your hearts, forever.

  • Celine - Praying for peace and comfort for you and your family.ReplyCancel

  • Marla Taviano - Praying for you guys right now!!ReplyCancel

  • Cristy H. - (((Hugs))) and prayers Jess and Joel.


  • Melinda - You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers every day *hugs*ReplyCancel

  • Kelly @ Life As A Martin - My heart still aches for you and your loss. My daughter is Cora’s age and we plan on releasing another pink balloon for her this year just as we did last year. I am praying for your family. Congrats on baby Levi. He is absolutely adorable.ReplyCancel

  • The Schilling's from Cimarron - Jess,

    I too cried A LOT the 23rd thinking back and remembering our time last year filled with fear, love and hope. We talked a lot about how time just stood still when they put Jaylee on the ventilator. I don’t even remember the flight there. It seems like just yesterday we were together in that ICU room. I still remember watching your family and friends walk by our little Jaylee and their eyes and hearts were filled with tears. Jason and I just hugged each other and said to ourselves, “we don’t know what happened, but we need to pray for happiness and healing for that family”….. and who would’ve known that would be the start of a friendship that will be in our hearts forever. There still isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of you all! We have a picture of you and Cora on our board in our kitchen, and I swear Jaylee is just drawn to that everyday! She says BABYYYYYY. I say yes that is our Angel Cora. It was such a bitter sweet time for us, knowing that our little babe was getting better and yet we still had to watch you hurt over Cora.
    We are soooo blessed to have met you and be a part of such a wonderful family and spiritual awakening. We will NEVER forget you and Cora!
    We are soooo excited to meet Levi and hold him too! May God continue to bless you and heal your hearts!

    love always,


  • Marlene W. - Your little boy is such a darling. Reading your blog brings me such a mixture of emotions. I am praising god for bringing you this little boy in His timing. God bless you all!ReplyCancel

  • Anonymous - I stumbled across your blog randomly last night. It had been a very long day for me and my kids, and I was only planning on returning a few emails and then hitting the hay. That’s when i found your blog… 2 hours later… and a whole box of tissues (literally)! Your story shook me to the core. I have never felt so many emotions, so deeply in a very long time. Your family has reinvigorated my love and passion for the Lord. I feel like your story found me at a time when i needed it more than you know. Thank you for being so open and vulnerable. You have touched my life in a way that is beyond measure. Know that your precious daughters life has healed many hearts in Michigan.ReplyCancel

  • KyndraRenae - I can’t imagine the emotional roller coaster you are on right now. Having a new baby on top of this. I was bawling reading this. I really don’t even know what to say. I drive by cora’s playground alot and I think about her story every time. I didn’t even know her and it breaks my heart. Your faith is truely amazing. I admire that. God will help you through this week. You are in my prayers as well as many others.ReplyCancel

  • Laura E - I just happened to come across your blog by blog surfing. Even though this is such a sad story, it’s so encouraging. We’ve been dealing with heart problems with our little 10 month old boy. He has a twin sister, so we have one very healthy baby, and Ashton has the heart issues. Thank you for sharing your story for the world to read. It was what I needed to hear as we face another heart procedure for Ashton. God’s grace is sufficient, and Jesus is holding our hands as we go through these trials. As my tears continue to roll down my face after reading about your sweet Cora, I just want to say thanks for sharing her story.ReplyCancel

  • heather - Thank you for the inspiration. I’m sorry for the loss of your daughter. Your new baby son is beautiful. Enjoy.ReplyCancel

  • Jenifer's Journey - I dont know what to say I see all the long comments but all I can say is I am sorry for yalls lose and how amazed I am with you and your husbandReplyCancel