Today has been a really good day. We have a plan, a direction, and we have time to be together as a family for a few days before we leave two of our children and head west to Memphis. I allowed myself to indulge in The Office last night and laugh at Michael Scott’s ridiculous comments. I played in the snow this morning with Finn and Johnnie and shrieked at every incoming snowball. If I’d had the time, I guarantee I would’ve weaved or embroidered-therapy to a crafty soul.


The view out our front door this morning.

I often wondered, as I watched other people go through difficult seasons of suffering, how I would respond if when my “winter” season would come. Would I shut down? Would I hole myself up in a ball of tears and refuse any solace or comfort? I always kind of thought so. Just a few weeks ago I was following the story of a beautiful blonde-headed toddler, Kylie, and her fight with Neuroblastoma and I remember saying out loud to Steven “I don’t think my heart could take it.” He then replied “you’d have to take it.”

We’ve shed lots of tears so far in these few short days, but last night, Steven and I drank good wine and laughed and lived joy despite our circumstances. A friend posted this yesterday:

Happiness and joy are not interchangeable. Happiness is dependent upon our circumstances. Joy gives our circumstances no consideration. Joy is a choice…a choice to put God first and let Him handle the details, the struggles, the unknowns. To trust Him, to seek His face and will, and to stay within it….to praise Him on the mountain AND in the valley. Joy is knowing that this earth is not our home. Will you choose joy today?

But. Satan loves to scheme and he deviantly prowls around, pouncing at every chance to knock us off course. Today, on a good day, a great day, when I am not allowing fear to steal my joy, Satan slipped new thoughts into my head: “If you’re still able to laugh and enjoy, you must not love your daughter.” “Your life didn’t come to a complete stop-you must not care if you lose your daughter.” “Stop feeling joy! and prove to me how much she matters to you!” “You did this to her.” “You shouldn’t have eaten so much microwave popcorn and coke while you were pregnant.” “Remember those prenatal vitamins you didn’t take because they made you nauseous?” “It’s probably because your first prenatal visit wasn’t until 16 weeks gestation that she’s sick right now!” “Stop living into meaningless grace and pay penance for what you did to your baby.” “It’s your fault” “You can’t be happy.”

I warned y’all at the start of all of this that it was about to get real vulnerable real fast. I write all of this down tonight for exactly this…..

CONFESSION DISARMS THE DEVIL (thank you forever, Lindsay Fooshee).

And I confess that disgusting thoughts like these are swarming around in my mind. The more of you that read these words, the more I truly believe Satan tucks his tail and runs. I know that these thoughts are  lies. I know that Willa’s diagnosis does not mean that we should mourn life. Mourn, yes, mourn her innocent little body and the exhausting days ahead. Mourn the loss of her right eye. Mourn the heartache of all the parents and their sweet babies we will meet that fill the rooms of St. Jude’s hospital. But do not mourn life. Do not mourn Willa’s life.

If your heart breaks, let it be broken in order to be filled up with the love of Christ. Let all of the mud hole meaningless things you try to fill your heart with spill out over its’ broken pieces and allow it to be filled with an ocean of grace.

….don’t you see, Satan? Can you not recognize that we will see joy and feel its’ warmth more so in the midst of heartache? You have nothing on this. Nothing.

The prince of darkness grim

We tremble not for him;

His rage we can endure,

For lo! his doom is sure;

One little word will fell him.

Martin Luther (1529)

Suffering…..If it’s going to happen, if it is happening, then use it, Lord. Open my hands and use it. We have to take it.

13 thoughts on “Schemes

  1. Jamie says:

    We are praying for your family Allison!!! She is a tough little girl, thank you for blogging about this experience so that people who care about you away from TN. can follow y’all’s journey. Miss yall!


  2. Jessica says:

    When you were confessing your thoughts I couldn’t help but be grateful that you were and picture them being thrown out into a powerful light, shriveling up and dying. Your faith and words are a blessing. Your joy, faith and loving, sweet spirit will bring hope to so many on similar paths. Jet and I prayed over baby Willa last night. We thanked God for being her Creator, Healer, Provider and Heavenly Father. He has got this. We love you guys and are sending heaps of prayer and love your way!


  3. Aggie King says:

    I added Willa and you and the family to our prayer list at our church. Last evening our pastor ask me if there was anything he needed to do. I told him prayers was what you need most. Thank you for blogging your journey. I agree with you it will be useful down the road. I am Megan’s mom and have seen your children via Megan from the time Finn was born. Hugs and prayers! Aggie


  4. Laura Ainsworth says:

    First of all….congratulations on your sweet baby girl!!! Your daughter is absolutely precious!! What a blessing!!
    Second, Many prayers being sent your way! Prayers for wisdom, guidance, peace, healing and protection for your entire family!
    I love your beautiful story! God picked the perfect parents for Willa and picked the perfect daughter for you!! She’s one blessed little girl!!!
    I’ll be praying and thinking of you all during this journey! Armies of people lifting you all up!!
    Laura Ainsworth


  5. Karen Stenstrom says:

    Such wisdom and insight, Allison! Praying His armor on each of you to fight the good fight. Can’t stop thinking about y’all so your blog entries sure do help guide all of our prayers! Karen Stenstrom


  6. daisyeyes says:

    I’m not sure how I missed this whole story of your sweet baby girl! Love your writing and your words and your confidence in our sweet Jesus. Your quote in this post reminded me of a post it that I put on my computer screen last August when I delved into my “winter” : “there is no happiness without it’s wistful tint of divine sadness – and no sadness that doesn’t stand on the doorstep of happiness.” (M. Mason) Prayers for you all as you begin this journey, knowing that it’s only with our winters that we can appreciate and love the expectation of the blooms of spring. Safe travels through the state!


  7. mary nelle smith says:

    I do not know you all only as fellow Christians. Your attitude and trust in your faith is wonderful. He is right, God will never give you more than you can carry. He will be with you all and your wonderful daughter every step of the way. She will draw her strength from her mother and father here and her Holy Father above. He does have this. Many prayers and good wishes for you all.


  8. sarah says:

    I came across your blog and I thonk fate led me to this. We too are along the same journey you are about to embark on. Our daughter ava was diagnosed on Jan 20 2015 with retinoblastoma, 10 days shy of her 1st birthday. It was a shock and needless to say devastating. I had those same exact thoughts and at times I still do. But I remind myself that these like things are out of our control. What we do have control over is how we react. You are an amazing person and you have a gift to write. Keep doing that and it will help you through thiS.

    Ava had her eye enucleated on Feb. 10th. She is back to normal. Playing and enjoying time with her sisters. Whatever decision you make will be best for you and your family. Sending prayers and positive thoughts your way.


    • garlandandpendant says:

      Sarah, that is incredible. Gives me so much hope to hear of stories like Ava’s and we have heard so many others too! Thank you so much for commenting and letting us know that we’re not alone!


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