My heart is laden with sorrow today. A beautiful little girl has been take to heaven to rejoice with the rest of heaven’s angels. And while I’m sad, I can’t help but be joyful for her homecoming. Jesus knew she was coming and has been preparing her for this day. She is safe in His arms and pain free. Nothing can touch her now, death has lost its sting.
Just over a year ago Isabel was diagnosed with DIPG, a rare and inoperable form of brain cancer. I’m in a mom’s group at my church and it’s where I first met Isabel’s mom, Jennifer. I first started attending in February of 2014, and just two short months later is when they received the terrible news. My heart broke for these parents, and Isabel’s little sister, Molly. As a group, we met and discussed what was going on and agreed we needed be prepared for anything as well as supporting the family in any way we could. As soon as I left the meeting and got into my car, a song called You Won’t Let Go came on by Michael W. Smith. I’d heard it before but I never really listened to it until that day. I cried and asked at that point for God to heal Isabel. She was far too young to have such a horrible disease, especially a terminal one. There’s a line in the song that says, you are the anchor for my soul, you won’t let go, you won’t let go; no matter what may come I know, you won’t let go, you won’t let go. I immediately pictured an anchor with lyrics from a song I mentioned a few days ago, Thrive by Casting Crowns. (Faith unsinkable will forever remind me of Isabel and her family). I felt like God was reminding me that no matter what happens, regardless if Isabel was healed and stayed here with her family or if He called her home, He doesn’t change. He is still the anchor for my soul, for their souls, He won’t let go, ever.
Over the past year I’ve watched daily updates of Isabel on Facebook, she was such a fighter from the very beginning. Something in this girl just struck me as special, it was something I couldn’t explain. I felt connected to her and I hadn’t even met her. She was so brave for such a young girl, and she was incredibly optimistic. She encouraged other kids who were sick to keep fighting, it seemed like nothing got her down. My family and I had the pleasure of meeting Isabel right before Christmas last year and I was so inspired by her faith. She exuded almost a supernatural ability to inspire others without really saying anything. Just being in her presence made my soul content, I knew it was God’s living spirit within her. She brought my family closer together through our constant prayers for her. My kids would ask to pray for her and would frequently ask how she was doing, it really warmed my heart that they were just as involved as I was. Last month my husband and I took a couple small gifts to Isabel and her sister Molly, right before Easter. We visited for a while and though Isabel couldn’t say much, just seeing her light up made me happy. She was such a grateful child, she never took anything for granted. That’s something that can’t be taught, it’s a gift of the spirit.
Last Friday, April 24th, Isabel was rushed to Children’s hospital. She was stabilized and received proper treatment to keep her alive and breathing. Over the past 10 days I would wake up and check Facebook for any updates, prayerfully asking that she was healed. I can’t begin to describe the amount of faith this family has had. Every single day was a battle. They woke up not knowing what each day would bring yet you would never know they were suffering. And it wasn’t that they didn’t have fears or wonder what might happen, their faith was just bigger than their fear. They did everything they could for their daughter, just like any parent would. But what they did was more than supply for her needs, they were true warriors and prayed constantly. Their faith has been tested and not once did they give up or refuse to fight with endless treatments and medicines. Every time, praying for direction and making sure what they were doing aligned with His will. Two great role models whether they were trying to be or not. Their faith in God was pushed and stretched as they realized she was in His hands, there was nothing they could do to control what happened to her. I’ve never witnessed a more beautiful demonstration of what it looks like to put full faith in the One whose hands hold you.
Looking back on this past year I can see how God was doing a great work in them and teaching them something they wouldn’t have learned otherwise. He was preparing them for today, the day He would call little Isabel home. And while I know nothing can really ever prepare you for the death of your child, I know had they not gone through this process, the pain and grief would only be more challenging to navigate. Life is full of ups and downs, twists and unexpected turns. We never know what is going to happen from one day to the next. All we can do is live with abandon and seek God’s will for our lives so we can say without regret we served Him in every way possible. Death is a reminder that life is fragile and tomorrow is never promised. But with God on our side we can face anything the enemy wants to use to break us down. Anything he intends to harm, God will turn around to bring himself glory.
Words cannot fully express how heartbroken my family and I are to hear of her passing. I know her parents and sister are experiencing a much deeper hurt, pain I can’t even fathom. I am so grateful to have been even a small part of her journey, to have met her and been touched by her story. People from all over the country have been touched by her and have prayed fervently. I know Isabel’s family has a long journey ahead of them still, but I am confident that their trust and faith in Christ will get them through anything.