/ / Onward and Upward

Onward and Upward

We pulled out of the drive and set our navigation for the destination of our MRI location.

We don’t need directions; we know where we are going. We’ve traveled this road many times before. It’s just the traffic and timing can sometimes be tricky, so we choose to arm ourselves with eyes to see what we cannot see ahead of us.

We use the navigation for guidance as we head out. We never leave without direction to guide our way.

Like life, God, our life’s navigation, always guides our way.

We didn’t fully understand the direction the GPS was taking us—it wasn’t making much sense. We were trying to connect the dots along the path.

We trusted it ultimately would get us where we were going. It just didn’t make sense.

“This is my worship; this is my offering

In every moment, I withhold nothing

I’m learning to trust You, even when I can’t see it

And even in suffering, I have to believe it.”-Spirit Lead.

But we kept going.

We trusted the way would eventually make sense.

We kept questioning the directions and passed familiar places. Some landmarks show growth, while others are dilapidated. Some reminded us where Jon and I started. 

Finally, we realized why we were taken on the twists and turns, hills and valleys on this path. It was to avoid standstill traffic—we came out on the other side of it. 

Rather we kept moving forward to our destination. 

It was mostly smooth sailing with just a few snags (slow spots) along the way. The alternative would have been much less peaceful or pleasant.

We arrived on time and slid easily into the parking lot and spot. That never happens. It was a quieter drive as we carried the worries in our hearts about what our day would hold.

Not before after coming off the highway and passing the guy we always see standing on the corner along this route. I couldn’t help but notice what he requested on his sign—clothes, money, food, water. The word water with the big red circle around it caught my eye. I quickly rolled down my window and handed him water as we moved through the light. Jon always tells me to give him something. 

For a moment, I imagine, like we all do, he thirsts for a purpose in this life.

His purpose, in his mind, maybe far less meaningful than one would think. But he offers us a chance to think less about ourselves if we have eyes to see. 

Putting faith in God and trusting His eyes to see places we cannot is the only way for me.

Before we set out to our MRI, I awoke Friday morning to dozens of messages offering prayers and messages from prayer warrior friends on IG and FB sharing our story to pray for Jon’s MRI and complete and total healing. Go here and here to see this prayer request.

These messages offered prayers, masses, and fasting, and prayer warriors continued to check in throughout the day. They all read the same story that Jon would be having an MRI.

We usually don’t share our dates and times. Until now, Jon wanted us to remain private about those things. 

We chose to share more and ask you to storm the heavens for prayers because we felt God moving through our personal prayer and discernment and ultimately through prayer led by the encounter and counsel with Sisterhood of the Traveling Relics’ Founder, Jen. 

We decided it was necessary to make very pointed and bold prayer requests. 

Bold prayers.

As Jen said, “God likes us to ask specifically so He can show us He answers our prayers.” 

So we flung open the door, and invited others in to pray with us, some strangers, some friends near and far, some I spoke to yesterday, and others we haven’t encountered in decades. 

Someone told me, “I don’t usually do this.” or “I haven’t prayed in so long.”

Others thanked us for giving them pause and reason to get on their knees.

So many prayers and messages to beg for God to give us THAT BIG medical miracle for a man (some of you don’t even know) and the strength and courage of his family. 

People want to hold onto hope. 

We all want hope.

We all want to see a Miracle. We want to be part of something bigger than ourselves.

We HAVE seen miracles along this journey. Some are between God, Jon, the kids, and/or me. 

Some are far too intimate to share.

But, I have said before that it may take an entire chapter of a book for me to tell you stories of all of the miracles—big and small—we have seen on this journey. 

So many miracles along the way. It warms my heart to know of these miracles and consolations we have been gifted.

Let’s be honest; the biggest miracle is the mere fact that Jon has endured all he has and continues to keep going with a positive attitude and an obedient and trusting heart. The sobering statistics of this disease, GBM, are far too grim.

SIGH – We didn’t get the news at the MRI we had hoped and prayed for—a total and complete miraculous healing.

We did also pray God’s will be done. 

I actually feel equally sad and peaceful. I know the naysayers, those with wavering faith, will challenge and say, how can you still believe? 

Say what you want, but I sure hope you know we believe God wastes nothing. 

“I learned from my saint mom and holy dad (Pietro) to have deep faith and unwavering confidence in divine providence,”—Dr. Gianna Emmanuela.

My faith is unshaken. Jon still believes. 

And God is not done with our story. Just like the priest who said this to Jon and me when he prayed with us over the phone on the eve of Jon’s surgery in July 2020. “Jon, I believe God has a plan for you. You are not done here yet. He has a purpose and plan for you on this journey.”

I wish you could have been in the room when we spoke to that priest; the presence of the Holy Spirit was tangible.

I wish you could have been in the room with us when the doctor read us the results—peace beyond understanding. 

I wish you could have been in the room for the conversation when we shared the news with our kids about the changes found on this scan. There is tumor progression. We will need to adjust treatment, and it cannot be treated with surgery and most likely not with radiation. Consistent with most of Jon’s story, it doesn’t make much sense and isn’t acting like the typical trend in tumor progression the doctor tells us. 

To hear my kids express their hearts about what God can do and has done is a miracle.

Seeing their hope, faith, strength, and courage is a miracle. 

They have incredible hope. 

They believe in hope and in God and His healing power. Our world needs youth and young adults to model hope.

They believe in miracles, too. The hardest part of this entire journey has been the moments when we know the pain this will cause our children. I’ve said this has been an incredibly lonely journey for them. While the world continues to spin, we simply try to put one foot in front of the other as the kids try to support things at home and focus on their lives as college kids and teens in a world full of challenges. 

I thank God every single day for my kids and their incredible bond.

I thank God for their unconditionally loving and compassionate support of Jon and me. 

Please keep them in your prayers, though. They need big, bold prayers, too, as they watch their dad suffer, even when he shows incredible strength and courage and still manages to laugh out loud every day.

Even when he was just told his MRI shows tumor progression. We thank God for how he is trusting us with this story.

Like we said to the doctor, she boldly proclaimed/agreed, “we have to believe there is a purpose in this story. And we won’t stop finding a way to keep moving forward.”

“Everyone who breathes, high and low,

educated and ignorant, young and old,

man and woman, has a mission, has a work.

We are not sent into this world for nothing;

we are not born at random;

we are not here, that we may go to bed at night

and get up in the morning, toil for our bread,

eat and drink, laugh and joke,

sin when we have a mind

and reform when we are tired of sinning,

rear a family and die.

God sees every one of us,

He creates every soul . . .


He needs, He deigns to need, every one of us.

He has an end for each of us.

We are all equal in His sight and we are placed

in our different ranks and stations,

not to get what we can out of them for ourselves

but to labour in them for Him.

As Christ has His work, we too have ours –

as He rejoiced to do His work,

we must rejoice in ours also.” -St John Neumann

This story continues to take us on a road that doesn’t make much sense. We’ve encountered storms, steep inclines, run out of fuel, have had a few fender benders, and continue to look to our Divine GPS, God, to guide our way. 

We will continue to trust His way is better than ours. He continues to give us the most beautiful view (and consolations) along the way.

Jon and I believe God will continue to use this story for His Glory and Good to heal hearts and point more souls to Him.

It’s incredibly humbling, but we continue to see God moving our hearts and others as we carry this cross. 

If I could only share the messages, I get from people daily telling me how sharing parts of our story has strengthened their faith in God. 

We continue to believe there is a purpose in this journey of Jon’s diagnosis. 

It certainly isn’t easy, but it gives us purpose and hope, and we see the Glory of God in all of it.

Like the man asking for water, he gave me purpose outside of myself, to stop and pay attention to the cross he carries for basic needs. When his outstretched hand touched mine to grab that water, it was a Body of Christ moment. It was less about the water and more about how we all suffer and carry crosses for one another. 

While it was simple, I gave him water. Hopefully, I quenched His thirst, and maybe at that moment, he saw the goodness of others. It’s hard to see in this broken world. The world just didn’t break; it’s been broken since the fall in the Garden of Eve.

Sharing our faith has been a vehicle to remind others we cannot walk these journeys and carry a cross without faith and God leading the way.

We are sad that we got this news but still beyond hopeful as we continue to do the work of God. 

God can do incredible things. 

We don’t always know the plans He has for us. We don’t know where we are headed. Unlike a GPS, we can’t swipe ahead to the final destination, but we know the truth (and beauty) about where we are headed. We are all on a journey toward heaven, where we will ultimately be whole and healed. 

I want you to know that there was a moment when the veil was lifted, and I felt I was given a glimpse into heaven. 

It was in the love that surrounded our family yesterday; it was almost too much to hold. But that’s the love God wants us to have for one another no matter what tries to keep us believing we are not created by, for, and our love. 

We must keep praying for the good, the wholeness, and the healing of another brother or sister in Christ.

Please don’t be discouraged thinking God didn’t give us our miracle yesterday. 

We prayed for God’s Will, and the more we keep praying for that, just watch and see what WILL be done.

Please continue to share your private intentions with me. 

I want to pray for you and help you carry your cross too. It is an honor you share them with me so I can pray for you.

It is a gift to storm the heavens by praying for and supporting one another with unconditional love and fervent prayers. We are the Body of Christ on our journey toward—healing, holiness, and becoming whole—heaven.

As we wrapped up the remainder of our visit with our doctor to review the MRI findings, we discussed how we would move forward with treatment to keep this fight going. 

Only ONE, the Divine Physician, controls the destination, how we get there, and how long it takes. And while we have these detours and bumps in the road, we still thank God for sanctifying us along the way. 

On this journey, we will continue to pray the Pietro Molla prayer given to us by Jen from The Sisterhood of the Traveling Relics. 

We still need your voice to reach those heights as we navigate the noisy world. We will fix our eyes on truth, beauty, and good, and on faith, hope, and love.

We will pray, hope, trust and not worry.

I found comfort in taking your privately shared intentions to prayer while I waited for Jon in the MRI. It eased my mind knowing I was lifting you while you lifted Jon, our family, and our medical team.

It reminds me how deeply connected we are, a bond of brotherhood and sisterhood in the Body and Blood of Christ.

Offering our suffering for yours can only bring us closer to Christ and to one another as we unite in prayer. 

Even when it does make sense, we have to cling to hope, for, without hope, there is despair. 

This is hard stuff. We need the hope, we need to be lifted in prayers, we need the grace, the strength, the courage, and the peace that prayers can give us even if our cross is seemingly impossible to bear.

After we discussed how we would adjust Jon’s treatment to keep the fighting going, the doctor outlined the options. We made decisions. 

Then we shared a few things we held in our hearts with our beautiful and treasured doctor, who is doing everything possible to keep Jon with us. 

After some long, deep inhales and exhales and pauses to gather ourselves.

Silence filled our room once again.

While we have these detours and bumps in the road, we still thank God for this journey, for sanctifying us along the way. 

As the silence hung there suspended in time, peace filled the room.

Jon lifts his arm and says, “Onward and upward. I still believe there will be a miracle.” 

Onward and upward.

Verso l’alto.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for praying with and for our family. Thank you for sharing our story so others could join this prayer warrior circle.

Please keep storming the heavens for us and if you feel called to, pray the prayers below to ask Pietro Molla to intercede for Jon’s complete and total healing.

Sophia and I will host Jen from The Sisterhood of Traveling Relics on this week’s episode of the Hear and Now Podcast. 

“I am tethered to Your every word

My heart ever after Your heart first

I will trust You here, I will trust You here and now

My hope always set in who You are

Even when I can’t see every part

I will trust You here, I will trust You

I won’t forget the things You’ve done

For I know that this is just the beginning

And You’re not finished yet, You’re not finished yet

Until I see Your promise come

God with all I am, I’ll keep believing

That You’re not finished yet, You’re not finished yet…

Until the dry bones wake

Until the mountains shake

Until the darkness breaks

I will praise You, I will praise You.”

You’re Not Finished Yet. The Belonging Co. Maggie Eckford

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