(originally written April 2018)
We are now camping out in the place where the deepest of heartbreak collides with a supernatural hope. The LORD promises to draw near to the broken hearted. And here we are….utterly broken…and experiencing that reality so tangibly. He’s so close. We’re hurting so deep. We’re in the wilderness, and even still, His presence is immeasurably thicker than the mountains and the seas that threaten to enclose on every side….We feel empty. So so empty. Complete devastation.
We had the absolute honor and blessing of holding our Gianna Lilyfaith’s hand and ushering her into the gates of Heaven tonight.
The most holy yet devastating moment of our lives. We walked her to Jesus. She got her miracle. She did.
She’s now fully healed, fully whole, fully restored, and she has a brand new heart. She’s healed in such a way that could never have happened on this broken earth. We are so joyful for her. Yes, she truly did get her miracle tonight…..Live Gia Grow forever, with your Heavenly Daddy.
Oh how we miss her. Our hearts have never ached this deep. Oh our sweet Gia…Our sweet sweet girl….Our beautiful baby. This sacred place of surrender is such Holy Ground. Yes, we’re treading on Holy Ground. Jesus is here. Tonight, we ushered her to Jesus. Worshiping with her. Holding her hand. Talking and celebrating with our sweet girl. Yes…oh my, did we have a celebration, in those final minutes. As we were worshiping to the song Break Every Chain, God broke the chains. He did. He broke the final chains, at midnight, and called her home. Healed. Whole. Restored. Our Gia-girl. Oh, the joy she must be overflowing with, right now. Oh, the joy. The smiles. Running through endless fields of beauty. Our angel is finally home with her Jesus. Her joy. I️ can only imagine.
We are so grateful that we are Gia’s family. That the Lord entrusted His sweet girl into our arms, until He brought her back into His. She’s the most precious jewel. The sunshine of our lives. Our bestest friend. I’m so grateful that we have the blessing and the honor of loving her forever. (written by Gianna’s oldest sister, Isabella Brook, the devastating, yet HOLY night Gianna got her heavenly miracle)
This was the testimony that I shared at Gianna’s celebration of her LIFE.
Gianna’s story is my favorite to tell, but not my favorite earthly ending FOR US.
But we cling to truth. She lives forever! Our beautiful jewel!
“Of one thing I am perfectly sure: God’s story never ends with ‘ashes.”
― Elisabeth Elliot,
Gianna is alive!
Her miracles continue here on earth too.
Her story has been entrusted to our hearts to share of HIS glory in her life. We had the gift of holding this miracle and kissing it everyday. What a treasure to behold.
May we steward this honor and blessing well as we grieve our unfathomable loss. But, we always know that our earthly loss is her heavenly gain.
We do not grieve without HOPE. We grieve with a promise that NEVER FAILS.
HE is the WAY-MAKER.
He performs miracles that DO not disappoint.
RESURRECTION is a miracle that never disappoints. HE conquers death.
GIANNA won this battle!
THIS IS HER STORY, A STORY OF A BRAVE HEART, A FIERCE SPIRIT, A BRAVE HOPE, AND A MIGHTY GOD WHO SAVES US ALL.
SHE makes us brave. She changes us forever.
God’s hand has been all over this little girl’s life from the moment she was born 6 ½ years ago. She is a brave warrior.
Gianna’s life is the gospel. Her life draws people in but then points them to a loving FATHER who leaves the 99 to rescue the one.
I wrote this blog post originally on Gianna’s 4th birthday as we were sitting in a hospital on the victorious side of another miracle of mercy.
When we were in Boston just weeks ago, I was looking forward to the day I would be continuing this blog post with a new testimony of how HE DID IT AGAIN and rained down mercy miracles of earthly healings on us……
His ways are higher…..
Gianna’s life is testimony that, though we do not always understand HIM or agree with HIS plans…He is a good good Father who Is mighty to save.
61/2 years ago Gianna came into this world Born with a severe congenital Heart defect, and her birth parents made the ultimate sacrifice right away to choose life and hope for her and
GOD was mighty to save.
Many months later she was chosen to receive a life-saving stage 1 heart surgery by a non-profit foundation in China.
God was mighty to save.
Too weak to heal in a standard government orphanage, a wonderful Christian orphanage (HARMONY HOUSE) was asked to take her in so she could get strong, and an angel, her China foster mama named Lily, took her in her arms and became her China mama and taught her what it meant to love and be fiercely loved….
our God was mighty to save.
Months later, this beautiful tiny warrior was afflicted with deadly bacterial meningitis and hospitalized for over two months while an army of prayer warriors stood over her bed and around the world to pray for her miraculous healing and
God was mighty to save.
Many more Months later a faraway family was slowly getting their hearts softened and deeply broken for the critical heart babies who waited in China and God would use a special angel friend, Maggie, to show me my daughter…..and I would know she was mine the instant I saw her beautiful eyes.
God was mighty to save us both.
Two weeks later (AFTER MUCH PRAYER FOR MOUNTAINS TO MOVE) God would reveal to her forever daddy that SHE WAS HIS and supernaturally remove every ounce of fear of going forward into the deep unknown.
God gave her daddy supernatural faith and love and courage to lead his family to their baby relentlessly!
God was mighty to save him.
Weeks later God would graciously confirm His calling in many miraculous ways, among them getting to meet an American Missionary, Tina, who was holding our baby ½ way around the world and singing to her about her new mama and baba. We were miraculously able to skype and tangibly see our baby and sing to her ourselves.
God was mighty to save US as we fell more in love with her each passing moment and could not believe she was OURS!!
And Months later this excited and nervous family would travel half around the world to finally embrace their daughter but would have to see their daughter get very sick in China and be taken to the ER by her loving nannies.
But God was mighty to save and we were able to bring her home.
Months later, our tiny but mighty warrior would have complete full reconstruction surgery on her broken heart and sustain 3 consecutive open heart surgeries in a 3 week time period and recover to go home 3 weeks later.
GOD WAS MIGHTY TO SAVE HER.
This brave warrior, exactly 12 months later right after her MAKE A WISH TRIP, would endure unexpected heart failure and have to get another open heart surgery and get a new valve.
God was MIGHTY TO SAVE HER!!!!
5 weeks later, our brave princess would suffer a horrible brain bleed and seizures and be rushed to the hospital.
MY GOD is MIGHTY TO SAVE HER!!!!!!
Two ½ years later God would place on her whole family’s hearts the burning desire and calling to go to Nicaragua as a family and Gianna was miraculously cleared and approved by her full medical team to leave the country and enjoy paradise all together. What if fear had won?
GOD WAS MIGHTY TO SAVE US
We spent 2 amazing glorious weeks in Nicaragua serving together and loving others together the first week, but the second week God provided a secluded paradise just for our family. It was a reflection of what heaven will be like. IT was one of those moments that you stand in awe, and just KNOW that you are experiencing what heaven would be like one day.
TOGETHER, in beauty and perfection, forever!
GOD WAS MIGHTY TO SAVE US with a vision of HOPE. that we would need to cling to just a couple months later
Weeks later we would all be at our homeschooling table during a bible lesson, and God would provide and opportunity and the strange burden on my heart to ask Gianna right there, if she wanted to ask Jesus into her heart and accept HIS gift of salvation. I told her that we are not perfect but GOD is perfect. We can get into heaven because JESUS died for our sins and HE MADE A WAY!
He is the WAY MAKER!
Gianna was so excited to give her life to Jesus as we all talked about the assurance of heaven and being alive and together FOREVER. We talked about how death is not scary because we do not stay dead! HE BRINGS THE DEAD TO LIFE!
HE IS MIGHTY TO SAVE HER!
And just a couple months later our Gia-Bia went into acute cardiac arrest
But God was merciful to save her life
She survived the first life support fixed wing air flight to Boston Childrens’
God was mighty to save her!
She then survived a risky catheterization and open heart surgery.
God was mighty to save her.
God then allowed her medical team to find the source of her lung bleeding in a miraculous way they had never seen before that showed everyone in that room WHO GIANNA’S GOD IS!
HE IS MIGHTY TO SAVE and MIGHTY to show HIS GLORY
WE PRAYED THIS PRAYER ENDLESSLY OVER HER:
“`Then I passed by and saw you kicking about in your blood, and as you lay there in your blood I said to you, I said to you, “Live!”7I made you grow like a plant of the field. You grew up and developed and became the most beautiful of jewels!”
Many “Hail Mary Plans” were then made by her team to save our baby but God had another plan. We were excited with so much HOPE!
Then, our skies fell. Gianna suffered a massive brain bleed and all life saving surgeries were off the table.
We were gut punched and devastated beyond words.
We now were fully dependent on GOD alone to save.
God continued to make HIMSELF known the days that followed preceding her entrance to HEAVEN. He surrounded us. He Held us
HE CAME NEAR
Our whole family was given the opportunity to come around our baby, bend our knees and pray and worship over her for many days. Her room became a throne room at the foot of Jesus.
All day…. for hours, calling out and battling together for GOD TO BREAK HER CHAINS. Praising to keep away the darkness.
Almost 4 years earlier, God sent her whole family to CHINA to get her and bring her home, HE miraculously had a similar plan for her family to carry her to heaven.
EXCEPT Gianna did not walk. SHE RAN to those gates…we ran together!
We prayed that GOD would, in his great mercy, be the ONE who decided when it was time. NOT us. We were not going to pull any plugs.
Days would pass and we waited, pleaded, begged AND CRIED OUT FOR MORE MIRACLES!!! DO IT AGAIN GOD!
We were leaving room for HIS MIRACLES…..we believed HE would break her chains. We were not going to decide. GOD would have to do it.
The medical teams warned us that she was fading. The Neurologists said, “she can’t hear you, she can’t feel you”.
I did not believe them!
Close to midnight, as we were shouting out all of Gianna’s favorite things like baby goats, Disney world, birthdays in Nicaragua, spring flowers, baby bunnies, baby goats coming to the beach, unicorns that poop cotton candy, sunsets, seashells, sandcastles, grand celebrations with all her favorite things…her blood pressure would jump up (FROM TEENS TO HIGH 30’S) and God mercifully showed us she heard us.
But, We were trying to call our baby back to earth. Begging her to fight!
Isabella, her big sister had “Break the Chains” playing on loop from our amazon Alexa.
But God had more miracles.
Different miracles in store.
His ways are higher
She got so excited with us, and it was that excitement and happiness that catapulted our baby to heaven as she ran through fields of flowers with us to the gates of splendor.
The medical teams ran in to declare her dead
At midnight the monitors went to zero, as we held her.
BUT He gave us a vision of what she saw.
SHE was not dead. SHE WAS ALIVE….more than ever
We just ran her to the gates in absolute joy of what eternity holds.
It was how GOD BROKE every chain.
SHE LIVES AND GROWS FOREVER! Our beautiful jewel!
There was a supernatural peace as we held her and wept.
We knew where she was, and that she was safe. The room went quiet with only the sounds of sobbing.
Brian then told Alexa to play Praise and Worship.
I CAN ONLY IMAGINE came on. Every other time, we would turn that song off,
Not this time.
We sang and imagined Gianna’s paradise with Jesus.
All along in this three week journey, all the doctors kept saying she was STUCK between a rock and a hard place. Little hope to save.
HE IS MIGHTY TO SAVE with the gift of eternity and HOPE that does not ever disappoint.
I begged for him to show us in HIS word a vision of this glory.
He brought us to
One thing I ask from the Lord,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple.
5 For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
and set me high upon a “rock!”.
6 Then my head will be exalted
above the enemies who surround me;
at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the Lord.
Gianna is singing with shouts of JOY. ON a rock high and lifted up…no longer stuck!
Our hearts are crushed in despair, brokenness, emptiness and absolute devastation.
Its hard to see through the darkness.
He then led us to these verses in psalm 27
I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.”
As we weep and sob and beat on GOD’s chest and cry out with clenched fists in anger, and rage and despair
HE HOLDS Us. HE NEVER let’s go.
He whispers HOPE. HE whispers victory.
His miracles soften our hearts
we cling to JESUS in our great despair, the ONE who is Mighty to SAVE us all and overcame death….HE IS victorious.
We cling to the HOPE that HE will redeem
He is the GOD who turns despair into delight
Messes into miracles
Ashes to beauty
HE brings the dead (who claim HIS name) to life
when the world is losing it’s sunshine and the way grows dark…..we believe for light.
WE CHASE light.
John 16:22 New International Version (NIV)
22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.
HE HAS DISPLAYED HIS POWER before our eyes
we know God has huge plans for her forever life.
Miracles He has performed in her life and all of ours through her story.
Her story is not done.
Gianna will LIVE and GROW FOREVER in eternity and we will one day join her.
Many chapters are left to be written.
Gods story in her life changes lives, softens hearts and brings them together and points them to a GOD who saves and who is SO much bigger than this world.
A HOPE that never disappoints.
I’m so thankful God was mighty to save my family from a life of comfort, predictability and independence from needing our mighty Father to show up.
So, in honor of our warrior, Go and live big! Dream BIG, live brave. LIVE for Jesus.
Chase the sunrise while walking the dark valley.
Chase Gia’s lemons!
God is so much bigger than our fears. Light will always win over darkness.
Gianna’s life is a testimony to His greatness.
For whatever merciful and divine and undeserved reason, God asked our family to be hers…. a scared but sure YES would mean a front row seat to divine miracles
What if fear had won and we would have missed this all??.
HIS MERCIFUL gift …..an honor to be hers.
We were the ones who were blessed,
We were saved from a life of normal…..of comfort….of relying on our own strength.
We needed and now need GOD more than ever and Gianna has shown us what the power of prayer and faith can do.
What HOPE can do.
We were given the gift of a joy like no other
Today We will celebrate her life, her fight, her bravery, her giggles, her sass, her determination, her bravery, her tender heart, her love for JESUS!
We celebrate a MIGHTY GOD that chose us to be hers. A mighty GOD who shows the world HIS greatness through a precious tiny warrior.
A mighty GOD who made a way to heaven through His son.
It humbles us beyond words.
We will be surrounded by all of Gia’s favorite things because Gianna saw joy and beauty in everything!
Happy Celebration of life today, to our miracle baby….
you have taught us what it means to be truly brave and how to fight hard and PRAY hard to the GOD of miracles who never let’s go even when we don’t understand HIS ways
You teach us about a GOD who is able to be trusted, even in the darkest of times because HE has overcome this world.
It’s an honor to be your forever family. …our brave hero.
We celebrate the miracle that is Gianna Lilyfaith.
Thank you Jesus for her life.
We pray that lives would continue to be changed because of YOUR story in her life.
We pray many hearts would continue to soften and be brought together and to YOU, our loving GOD, who died for us so that we may live.
The ONE who gives a HOPE that never disappoints…even in the face of despairing death
We pray and beg for a supernatural strength over us, her family, as we now wait in HOPE and walk in a wilderness we did not choose
….and long for the glorious day that we will all be reunited and together forever…..enjoying the sunsets and glorious beauty of heaven
We praise YOU for this precious gift that is GIANNA LILYFAITH CANNELONGO
please keep praying over our family as we deeply grieve and ache and moan for our baby.
WE MISS her so much! We love her so much.
We beg and ache and yearn for the day HE will make all things NEW!
We beg and believe for the courage to chase the sunrise in the valley of darkness.
her story will go on…..
and we do not want to miss the beauty that will rise.
Revelation 21:4-5 The Message (MSG)
3-5 I heard a voice thunder from the Throne: “Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women! They’re his people, he’s their God. He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone—all the first order of things gone.” The Enthroned continued, “Look! I’m making everything new. Write it all down—each word dependable and accurate.”