charlie's song


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Only God Could Know

Today…is my birthday.  I had hoped that I would be writing this post about the great doctor’s appointment we had yesterday, and what a wonderful birthday present it was…but I’m not.

It was actually really, really rough.  It was five hours long with no breaks… except for the brief moment the kids got to go through the sticker box. And though our kids didn’t have to stay for the entire appointment, it was so hard for my mommy heart to watch each of their “check-ups.” We won’t know the exact details without further mycotoxin testing…but it seems symptomatically, like our sweet little Emma was the hardest hit.  She really struggled through some of the neurological tests, and has had a number of other heart-wrenching symptoms.

It’s a lot to carry.  And the appointment only seemed to go from bad to worse. After the kids left, we spent hours talking through every detail of our treatment plan.  And the more Dr. Hope talked…the more hopeless I felt. First, the lovely little rumor floating around the mycotoxin world that you can vacuum pack your stuff and eventually kill them off…well, it’s just a rumor at best.  Mycotoxins aren’t living things. They are chemical matter…like a chair or a box.  And like a chair or a box, they will never ever die.  So there’s no point in boxing them up.  Our immune systems may be able to someday handle the things we put away, but forget about the vacuum packs.

Then she told us that our collective exposure has been so significant that she doesn’t think we can keep any of our furniture…even the stuff that we had thoroughly scrubbed.  We had hoped Clorox wipes would be enough, but since we had lots of vintage furniture, that unsealed wood was just too exposed to the mycotoxins.  So…out went the furniture.

Then we found out that Whimsy- our little vintage camper- will also probably have to go. We had bought it with dreams of a life full of whimsy and family camping adventures…but apparently, that’s not going to be us.  So, out went the camper.

And then she said (after a rather dramatic pause), “And…you probably need to cut your hair.”  Ideally, it would be best to actually just shave my head, since the mycotoxins that close to my body cause the worst exposure, but I sort of stopped listening after she said, “Hair Cut.”  All I kept thinking about was that fragile moment in the movie Little Women when Amy sees Jo’s chopped hair and cries out in anguish, “But Jo!  Your one true beauty!”  

I don’t want to cut my hair.  I don’t want to sell the table my grandparents got as a wedding present.  And I certainly don’t want to watch Whimsy drive off into the sunset. It’s like we’ve just watched our entire house burn to the ground, and now the one box left…is about to get thrown on the fire.  It’s not much of a birthday present.

But I do want to say this…

I have learned some invaluable lessons in my 33rd year of life.  It has been a year filled with the deepest sorrow and suffering I have ever known.  It has been a year filled with tears.  And sometimes, miraculously, a year filled with moments of laughter.  Laughter that probably meant even more than the joy of all the other years…because it cost so very much for my heart to make it.

And it has been a year filled with reminders of who God is.  Which is, after all, what all of these years are about in the first place…knowing Him and making Him known.

And so, since it’s my birthday…I want to share the most important truth I have learned in this 33rd year of mine…

God is Sovereign.

He knows things.  And plans things.  And does things that ONLY HE COULD KNOW.

When I was in college, I had something called my “Only God Could Know Book.”  I, like every college girl (scratch that-human girl) struggled with believing the truth of my worth. And so…every time I felt like God did something, or gave something, or said something through someone else that ONLY God could know I needed to hear…I’d put it in the book.

For example…one day I was reading in 1 Peter 2:9 how it says that we are a “chosen race, a royal priesthood, and a holy nation.”  I remember thinking in that moment, “God, I don’t feel very royal.  And I don’t feel like a Princess.”  I shut my Bible, with what I’m sure was a rather emphatic thud, and went on a run with my friend.

I attended college in downtown Chicago, so runs included lots of stops.  As we approached a stoplight, there were two guys clearly dressed in gang attire standing there beside us. And at that very moment one of the guys turned to me and said, “Hello there Princess.”  

He may have been a gangster. He may have been an angel sent directly from God.  But what I’m absolutely certain about is that only God could know I had read that very passage, and had those very thoughts, right before standing on that very corner.

And I know that this is true of Him, because He still does things…that only He could do.

This week, someone I’ve only met once held an amazing online auction full of handmade goods.  Hundreds of beautiful people made and bid on all these items over Instagram, and then gave the proceeds of the auction to us.  As I was looking over the items the day of the auction I actually said to Reid, “I wish I could bid on all of these.  They’re just so great!  I especially love this little birds nest necklace.”

Are you ready for this…fifteen minutes later I got a message on Facebook from the girl who makes those very necklaces. She wanted to send me one.  It’s like God was eavesdropping on us.

We have been so incredibly bombarded with love over the last seven days.  It doesn’t even feel real to be this loved by so many people all at once. But I felt especially humbled that I was being sent a beautiful little birds nest necklace with six tiny pearls…because there’s only One person in all the world who knew I had wanted one.

And He’s the King of all the birds nests.  And of all the gangsters on all the corners.

And most of all…of all my baby birds.

If there is one thing I’ve learned in the last year of life…it’s that God’s sovereignty is a precious gift.  It is a hard gift on the days when God does something that only God could know was coming, especially when that thing breaks your heart beyond ever being put back together again.  There hasn’t been one moment of the last week that I wouldn’t have gladly traded in for ten seconds of baby Charlie in my arms.  Or the next baby, or the next.

I don’t like all of the things God knew and God did.

But I trust Him.  Because He is GOD.  He knows things that we don’t.  He sees things that we don’t.  He hears things that we don’t.  He does things that we don’t even fathom the far-reaching, sovereign implications of.

And at the end of this incredibly painful year of life…I truly can say, just like Habbakuk once said,

“Though the fig tree does not bud
and my precious babies are in the ground,

though the olive crop fails
and there is no new baby in my womb,

though we lost almost everything we owned,
and now I have to get a mom haircut,

yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.

The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.”

I’ve read this passage hundreds of times.  But this year especially, one word alone has become an anchor to my heart.  The Sovereign Lord.  He is my strength…because He is sovereign.  Only God could know why we have suffered so much.  And only God could know the beautiful eternal outcome.

I could not do this life…if my God was not sovereign.  I just couldn’t.  I have wrestled deeply with every one of the hundreds of passages on God’s sovereignty over this last year. And it is because He is sovereign, because He numbers the days of every baby bird in my nest, and because He is the God of a lifetime of only God could know moments for each and every one of us that I can honestly say…

I trust Him.

And someday, I will get to sit down at His feet, and hear His version of my “Only God Could Know” book.

And it will be so very good.


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Christmas-like

A few months ago I wrote a post called “Always Winter, but Never Christmas.”  The best thing about winter for us in the northern hemisphere, is that all of the harsh wintery weather is just a prelude to one of the very best things…Jesus’ birthday.

That’s also how I used to feel about having babies. There’s so much labor pain…and then, like Paul said, you forget all about the pains of childbirth, because there is just so very much JOY.

But what about when there is no joy?  I know that there will be moments of sorrow yet to come, and that someday I will die. But on the night I gave birth to Charlie, armed with only a heart shattered to pieces and an epidural that wasn’t working, I thought I would actually die of heartbreak.

There was nothing more painful that could have happened in that moment than what actually did…we heard the shrill cry of another little newborn in the room next to mine. They got Christmas…and we got heartbreak. Right about then, I knew I was going to die. That something so deeply breaking had just happened to me, that though I would probably keep on breathing…a part of me had truly died.  And we now live daily in the mind-numbing heartache that for every one of our dreams, for every one of our lost babies…Christmas is never coming.

But this week something happened…that felt very Christmas-like.

We don’t buy our kids a lot of presents at Christmastime.  They each get exactly four. Something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.  It works out quite nicely for everybody.  The kids know exactly what to expect and are always really happy with their four special things, and mommy and daddy manage to survive December actually remembering what Christmas really means.  We don’t have boxes upon boxes piled up under our Christmas tree.

But that was exactly what happened this week.

Yesterday, our lovely mail person arrived at our doorstep with package…after package…after package.  When she finally put down lucky package #23 she let out a huge sigh and said, “Whew!  Finally!  That’s the last one for today!”  I didn’t have the heart to tell her that tomorrow was probably going to be even more crazy.

And it was crazy.  When you have to get rid of almost everything…you end up needing a lot of things.  And I’ve never seen my kids so excited about boring things like socks, underwear, and beach towels in my life.  Boring things simply weren’t boring…because they really needed those things.

But even more than all of the brown-paper-Amazon-packages-tied-up-with-string…what most ministered to my heart was the sheer beauty of the moment through all of the little things.

The note from the girl I discipled in college who sent us books that were her childhood faves.

The six boxes we got from strangers in Germany whose names I couldn’t even pronounce properly.

The note from the man I don’t even know who sent Emma a princess dress and included the words, “This ones for you…love the Lord with all your heart little girl.”

And most of all, the bewildered joy on little Fred’s face when he put on his new Captain America costume and exclaimed, “I LOVE my new costume from Sara Fisher!  Wait…whose Sara Fisher anyways?”

It wasn’t Christmas because of the boxes.  I know that all of these things will someday have to go…just like so many of our things went this week.  It wasn’t Christmas because of their joy.  My kids are pretty joyful most days, which is an absolute testament to the mercies of God after such a deeply painful last year of life.

It was Christmas…

Because it was the Body of Christ.

It was the very real and unforgettable object lesson that happened right before their tiny eyes, as they were loved on and loved on and loved on some more…by hundreds of people in the Body of Christ.

We have endured so much deep, deep pain.  Painful memories that my kids will probably always carry as they journey through this life. There is nothing more harsh and winter-like than celebrating a first birthday in a cemetery in January.  Winter is still, and always will be, very much a part of even our kid’s individual life stories.

But this last week we have been given some of the most incredible glimpses of Christmas that a child of God could ever get this side of eternity…and it’s all because of each and every one of you…His earthy hands and heart and feet and voice.

Thank you so much to the hundreds of hands that clicked “send” on Amazon, made us meals, helped at the garage sale, and wrote so many incredibly kind and thoughtful things.

Thank you to each and every one of you who gave so joyfully and sacrificially to our family.  A week ago one of the biggest decisions looming before us was whether or not to order the best (but very costly) test to properly measure the exposure level of each person in our family.  Your absolutely unfathomable generosity has made that one a very easy decision to make.

And most of all…thank you for your prayers. There are SO many people who’ve told us that they are praying for us every day.  I’m not sure I actually pray for anyone every single day, and after another long and physically painful day, your prayers mean the world to me.

I still live in winter.  I still live in world where babies die, and bodies ache with pain, and children have to deal with deeply complicated and painful questions way beyond their pay grade.  And that will always be.  But this week, through your incredible generosity, prayers and outpouring of love…my kids have also seen some of the most beautiful glimpses this side of heaven…of what heaven will be like.

A place filled with people who love each other deeply.  People they’ve never even met.  But people they love simply because Christ is still in Christmas.  It’s not Christmas yet. Christmas will be Charlie and Jesus and my other sweet babies, for 10,000 years and then 10,000 more. But it was very Christmas-like.  And a deeply significant reminder to each one of us that Christmas…is most definitely coming.

PS-  here’s a few of my very faves from “Christmas night”…

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Meet Snow White.  Whenever you picture Sophie just picture her in this, because she plans on wearing it…every…single…day.

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Freddo in his new helmet.  (The mom in me is extra thankful for this one…seeing as he wants to be a stunt man someday…)

sfsdfdsfsd

Emma and her Kit doll.  Many adventures await.  (Get ready Kit, it’s going to be a wild ride.)

werre

And my personal favorite…Sophie and her Dora pillow.  Reunions are just so sweet.

With love and gratitude from the Zeller family,

Misty


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Telling People About Jesus

The other day we were driving home from school and Emma said to me, “Mom, you remember your job of telling people about Jesus…how come you never do that any more?”  Six-year-olds.  You’ve got to love their brutal honesty.

On one hand, she was right.  After a horrific year of grieving the loss of three babies and dealing with constant sickness and chronic pain…my life definitely looks different than when I first set out with visions of grandeur to reach the world for Christ.

I don’t tell a lot of people about Jesus, because I don’t see a lot of people in my average day.  With three little ones to care for, a broken heart, and a very broken body, it’s literally a fight just to survive.

And on the other hand…I am.  It’s broken, and complicated, and messy, but my life is still about telling people about Jesus…I just don’t think I care all that much anymore if I convince them of anything.  Because if this last year has convinced me of anything…it’s that God does the convincing.  He convinces us through His relentless and irrisistible grace. He convinces us through the sovereign stories He is weaving through each one of our lives.  He convinces us through His writing, and right now I’m mostly just trying to survive the story being written by Him through each long day.

But for today, between dropping Emma off at school, visiting the DMV (Oh man, pray for me…), and getting my blood drawn for the millionth time…I’m going to tell some people about Jesus.  And you’re those people today.

This has been…the absolute darkest year of my life.  After loss upon loss upon loss of almost every single thing that was once precious to me, our life has come to feel very, very Job-like. We have lost three of our children, and with each one of them…lost our dreams for their lives.  We have lost my health, and with that, our dreams for our life.  And we have lost our innocence, and so very much of the joy that once defined our lives.  I look back on pictures from the years before Charlie died, and I was just so happy.  I didn’t even really know how happy, but it was happy. Back then sorrow was the occasional island. Now, sorrow’s the sea.

And on the worst of days, I have often wondered if I was going to lose my faith.  A few months after Charlie died, we got three bills in one week all denying coverage of first Charlie’s birth, and then Sophie’s.  It was like finding out that you suddenly owed $20,000 in medical bills all in one day.  They sent us an apology letter three weeks later…but it was a long three weeks.

And though the stressful money crisis was an insult to deep injury, what I felt the most hurt by was that it seemed like we were being protected from nothing.  Like there were absolutely no limits to the ways in which we would have to suffer.

I distinctly remember weeping in Reid’s arms, and then suddenly turning to him and asking, “What will you DO if I no longer believe in Jesus at the end of all this suffering?”  And without a moment’s hesitation he said to me, “Then I will love you.  And I will walk with you.  And I will pray for you, and treasure you as my wife.”  

Christians don’t like to talk about it, but just as gold is actually a weaker metal…faith is a fragile thing.  And there have been so many times over the last year when I’ve felt very tempted to walk away.

But there is one thing about the Christian life that is really, really hard to escape…

Christ.

What are you going to DO…when He alone has the words that give life?  What are you going to DO when the One you have decided to follow, has suffered beyond your suffering? What are you going to DO when the One you follow has endured horrific suffering…simply because of His tenderness towards your plight, as broken, suffering humanity. Someone who willingly suffered because of you and for you…is Someone who is hard to walk away from on even your worst of days.

I would wake up so many mornings and think, “God, I don’t think I’m going to walk with you today.” And then…I’d go through the whole day walking with Him anyways.  Or better put…watching Him walk with me.  And that would be the day.  Eat.  Sleep.  Wake.  Repeat. Barely hanging on to faith, day after weary day.

I’m using past tense language here, but I had one of these days just the other day.

I have no idea what this week will hold.  We could find out this Thursday at our doctor’s appointment that every single one of us have horrifically high mold toxicity.  We could find out on Thursday that my condition is so serious that I’ll eventually have to live in a separate place from my family.  We could find out on some distant Thursday down the road that I have cancer or vital organ damage.  These are all very real and terrifying possibilities and each one actually happened to some of the the people who wrote me this week.

There are so many scary Thursdays left in all our lives.  But I know that that famous little Footprints poem about the guy, and the sand, and the beach…isn’t just an attempt to be cute or quaint.

Jesus walks with you and me…through every single Thursday.

The week after Charlie died we dragged ourselves to a Grief Recovery Group.  I remember almost nothing about the meeting, I was so totally and completely still reeling in pain.  But I do remember that someone mentioned the Footprints poem to me.  And I remember thinking that night as I sat there numb with pain, is the best thing about the poem is that the guy gets kind of angry.  That he feels forgotten and forsaken by God.  That he cries out with tears of pain, “Where were you?!”  That he struggles with his story.  I liked that about the poem…because it made it believable.

Because that’s what it feels like to go through catastrophic suffering.  You don’t feel carried. You don’t feel like you’re on a beautiful walk on a breathtaking beach.  You feel like you’re drowning. You look down at the sand, see one set of footprints, and feel completely convinced that God, wherever He is, is a million miles away.  That’s the natural progression of extended pain.

I know this…because Jesus felt the exact same way.  He actually cried out on the sand of His suffering, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

He knows what it feels like to be in the middle of the poem.  Only He actually was forsaken that day.  It wasn’t just a feeling.

There is so much we just don’t know right now.  We are waiting on blood tests.  We are waiting on doctor’s visits.  We are waiting for scary things like Sophie’s hacking cough and Freddo’s sudden nose bleeds, and Emma’s rapid weight loss…to have names.  Names like “random childhood illnesses,” or names infinitely more scary.  There’s lots of waiting going on around here right now, but I’m going to have a rare missionary moment and tell you something about Jesus…

He waits with me.

Every time I go in for another painful blood draw…He holds my other hand.  Every time I look at my sleeping children and wonder if we’ll even get to keep the little ones still in our lives…Jesus is there at bedtime.   He kisses the cheeks, and tucks in the covers, and stands there weeping with me. I believe deeply in His sovereignty over every moment of our story. But that doesn’t mean that I do not think He weeps right over the fresh ink.

The Jesus who wept at Lazarus’ grave…is also friends with me.

Sometimes, I feel His nearness and His presence.  Sometimes I feel deeply abandoned and unprotected from pretty much everything. But regardless of my feelings….there are things promised to me.

He is the God who picked the paths we’d take. “For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.”

He is the God who walked this very sand.  “He was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.”

And regardless of what we can see and feel on any give day…He is the God who carries.  “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.”

I know this, because if He wasn’t…I would not have made it to this day. I have been literally picked up and carried through a whole year full of days where I have simply felt too weak and broken to even keep on walking.

And through another scary week…I am banking on His promise that He is the God who carries.  That He is “faithful when we remain faithless.”  That He is faithful to the stories He is writing.

And that He looks down on us fragile humanity, who have put our trust in His Son’s suffering, and says just like Reid once said… “No matter what, I will love you.  And I will walk with you, and I will pray for you.  And I will treasure you as my wife.”  


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Stuff

Well, today was go through the garage day. When we moved two weeks ago, we knew there was a very real possibility that we may not get to keep any of our things.  We brought into the house only what could be put through a dish washer or wiped down with clorox wipes.

That…wasn’t much.

And now that we know for sure that we can’t keep our other things…the garage has loomed before us like a mighty giant for the last seven days.  I’ve just felt so completely miserable physically that I’ve dreaded going through a garage full of stuff. And last night’s bedtime didn’t help my outlook on things.  How do you tell your sweet six-year-old that every single one of her toys and clothes and books and blankets…needed to be given away or thrown away.  The tears poured down her freckled cheeks as I tried to explain yet again why her friends can have her toys…but that her toys are no longer safe for her body.  The koala we got her on her first mission trip to Australia.  The dress I had just bought her for our Mommy-daughter Christmas date.  The beautiful star blankey her great-grandma made.  It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around all of this…I can’t imagine what it’s like to view this craziness through a little person’s eyes.  But we are currently taking the same supplements they give to people who have AIDS.  Our doctor has clearly communicated (the 9 times I asked and then re-asked) that our immune systems are just so completely compromised, that the few mycotoxins that remain on our clothes regardless of endless washing, are simply not safe for our bodies, though to other people, they are fine.  Try explaining that to a six-year-old.

And it hasn’t been much better for me.  I started to get really angry last night, thinking of selling all of my awesome Anthropologie clothes to total strangers for $1.50. Everyone’s got talent.  Some people are good at singing…some people are good at knitting.  My talent…is finding the world’s best deals at Anthropologie.  I only shop in the sale section, I get 15% off during my birthday month, and I know when all the big sales are.  It’s not much of a talent, but it’s mine.  And I really liked all of my beautiful, discounted Anthro clothes.

I felt angry.  Garage sales are supposed to be so you can get rid of all the things that you don’t like. You’re supposed to feel happy when total strangers walk away with all your old, unwanted things. But this garage sale is for all the things I do like.  And I certainly didn’t feel happy.  I was angry and sad and snappy last night as I thought about losing all of my favorite things.

And I realized in that moment that it would be way harder to sell my clothes to strangers that I don’t like, than to simply give my clothes to people I do like.  So…I texted some of my friends pictures of all my favorite clothes and invited them to go shopping.  There were a surprising amount of tears during the process…and none of the tears were mine.  I actually found myself smiling.  It felt so good to give my favorite things away.  We have been completely overwhelmed by the incredible generosity of the Body of Christ this week, and it felt great to actually bless someone with my old things.

And the more time I spent giving the things away, the more I began to look down at every shirt and start to think, “This is just…thread.”   The kids favorite stuffed animals…that’s just fur. And the beautiful programs from our wedding that I had to throw away?  Well, that’s just paper.  Pressed trees actually.

And my life is about so much more than pretty threads and pressed trees.

When you are forced to stand in a cemetery and watch your child’s body being lowered into a tiny grave…you know in the deepest places of your being that nothing, nothing, nothing matters like a person’s life. When you’ve lost the most precious thing that can be lost in this life…it feels like nothing to lose your things.

And the terrible reality is that that kind of loss is coming…to all our lives.

We threw away, gave away, or prepared to sell about 80% of our worldly possessions today. We’re going to vacuum pack a few of our most favorite things (like Charlie’s teddy) and supposedly, the mycotoxins will eventually die. You wait five years and then slowly reintroduce things one item at a time. Then, you wait. You wait to regress, or to get healthy. But I don’t want to spend five years trying to get healthy, just so we can maybe get sick again. When you’re a kid…five years is an eternity.  And are we really going to keep everything we own in vacuum sealed bags for half a decade?  

It was so painful seeing the kids tears over their favorite things, that we eventually had to send them inside.  That worked well, right up until Emma yelled down to us from the window…“Mommy! Why are you getting rid of my Bible…that’s God HOLY WORD!”  She is Just.  So.  Great.

But we made it.  And we did it.  Like people who stand in the ashes of a house full of burned things…we survived the slow burn of mycotoxins, and stood in the ashes of our things today.

And one thing got me through it.

A story about a suitcase.  My senior year of college one of my dearest friend’s lost her mom to cancer.  She was a wonderful, deep, godly lady.  And she gave her kids an incredible treasure one night, when she called them together around her bed and gave her favorite people her favorite things.  She passed out jewelry and family treasures, and then she said, “I also wanted to share with you the most precious thing.”  

And that’s when she pulled out the suitcase.

When her friends first found out that she was sick, they flew all the way from Germany just to give her a special suitcase.  The suitcase was filled with letters from all of the people who had been loved through her life.  And at the end of her life, she opened the suitcase and said to her kids, “This suitcase is filled with souls.  Live for the souls.  They are the only thing you can truly take with you from this place.” 

As we got ready to sell my great-grandma’s antique red chair, all of my favorite childhood toys, and a thousand other paper and thread type things, I just kept thinking of what really mattered.  What really makes it into the suitcase I’m packing for Heaven…through Earths’ long days.

The souls.

The souls of my precious babies I will someday meet.

The souls of the people around me- people like you- as we walk with one another through this long, hard life.

And the souls of the people I have yet to meet.

We each get one suitcase.  And I want to fill mine to the brim with what matters.  Not papers from my wedding, or love letters from Reid, or stuff from Anthropologie.

But the souls of the the people, whom God has loved through our lives.

His,  Misty


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What We Cannot See

Dear Friends,

I can’t believe its only been a day since I last wrote.  It’s been quite the day.

I keep looking down at the the calendar and seeing “February 19th.”  To most people it’s just another day…but to me it will always be the day I had thought we would be meeting and holding and kissing and loving baby Charlie.  The day I had thought we would be celebrating a lifetime of birthdays.  Charlie’s “due date” was exactly one year ago today, and February 19th will never be the same. He isn’t here.  He just isn’t here.  No matter how badly I had wished for a different story.  And there have been many times during this last year of deep and catastrophic suffering, when I have wondered “Is God even really here either?” 

And then…two significant things happened this week.

First, I wrote a blog post about our life, and it was like waking a sleeping giant…so great has been the outpouring of love from the body of Christ.  I had no idea that thousands upon thousands of people would read our blog today.  Honestly, if I had known…I would have tried to make it an especially good one. Really impressed you with my eloquence, and the absolute enormity of our suffering.  But that was the farthest thing from my mind at the time.  I wrote yesterday’s blog post on my smart phone.  While brushing my teeth.  I wrote it while waiting for the cancer doctor to call me back.  And while Clorox-wiping down our new couch for like the ten billionth time.  I wrote it while in fear.  Fear of mycotoxins.  Fear of cancer.  Fear of liver failure.  Fear of bankruptcy.  Fear of losing my faith.  Fear of losing everything.

And then…it went viral.  And all of a sudden, this thing I had quickly typed out to my family and friends…turned into something else entirely.  The only picture I have to adequately describe what we are feeling…is that scene from the movie Pearl Harbor, when the Japanese general Isoroku Yamaoto says, “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant.”

It’s like God has immobilized a thousand warriors who love Him and fear His name, and everyone is reaching out to us like a living, moving, breathing, loving Body of Christ.  There are so many times that we have felt deeply loved by the body of Christ both before, and especially after baby Charlie died.  But this is an entirely different thing.  This, makes me stop and say to myself…“Do I know God at all actually?”  I am astonished by the outpouring of His Body.  His hands.  His feet.  His elbows.  His voice.  And it makes me wonder how well I really do know the One to whom I have given my life.

I have known Him deeply through suffering.  I have known His comfort.  I have known His sovereignty.   I have known that He gets right down on the floor next to you and weeps with you every time you lay on the floor and weep.  But I’m not sure I knew this about Him.  This whole, “I’ve got all the money in the world and a million warriors who fight when I say “Fight!” …I’m not sure I’ve ever really known that about the one who is my King.

Which reminds me of the second thing that happened this week.  I had taken the kids to our neighborhood park by the beach.  Three kids packed on a very old Bob stroller is always an amusing sight.  But as we passed by the local shipyard, the owner called out to me, “Hey there!  Just let me know if you decide to have a fourth and I can custom make you room for another on that thing!”  

He of course, had no idea how much those words would wound my heart.  But what most made me ache, was when my sweet Freddo turned and quietly whispered to me, “He doesn’t know that there’s six of us Mommy.  He just doesn’t really see.”

It was a significant moment for me.  Here’s Fred. Four.  Years.  Old.  So new to this planet, let alone to what it’s like to journey through this planet trying to love and worship a God whom you can’t even see.

And yet, he can see.

Fred sees and knows and loves baby Charlie.   He doesn’t need Charlie to be in the stroller…in order to see that he’s a part of our family.  He still comes up to me every time we’re in Trader Joe’s with a lollypop he’s picked out of the barrel to give to Charlie.  The other day he came to me with yet another sucker and said, “Mommy, I got one for Charlie…we can give it to him when he comes back with Jesus someday.”  My precious boy.  Waiting for the return of Christ.  Waiting to finally meet the baby brother whom he knows only from one ultrasound visit and way too many visits to a grave.  Waiting for the whole world to see what we who know Christ are so undeservedly privileged to see.  Waiting for things that he can clearly see…a Father in heaven, and a real baby brother he will someday know and love for eternity.

Waiting for someone that the shipyard owner simply couldn’t see.

As we walked away from the docks, I remember having the strangest thought (especially considering our week), “I wonder what can’t see?”  Our sight is so very limited.  About…well, everything.  About our own lives.  About other people’s lives as they suffer around us in ways we cannot see.  About eternity, and the heart of God, and the incredible world we will someday see on the new earth with our new eyes.

And today, over these last 24 hours and your incredible outpouring of love and support…you have reminded me that for each one of us who make up the many parts of Christ’s earthly Body…there is still so much of Him we have yet to truly see.

Thank you for showing us such a beautiful picture of the Lord’s heart for us today.  For being willing to take a moment from your day and to see a small part of our messy, broken, God-ordained lives.  They have been filled with far more sorrow and suffering than I ever could have comprehended…and also far more goodness and beauty.

He really is the same God today in every way, as He has been to us on every one of our darkest days.  He is not more God, or more good than yesterday, just because we have seen Him in new ways.  But at the same time, I am grateful for this moment when we get to see yet another part of the Lord’s immeasurable beauty.

I have this picture in my mind of the hundreds of times I have laid on the floor and wept over this last year of suffering.  And I’m beginning to wonder if maybe just maybe the angels weren’t standing around me and quietly whispering just like Freddo the other day, “She just doesn’t know…she just can’t see.”

Thank you doesn’t begin to describe our gratitude to God as you- His body- have made our faith in His goodness…tangible sight in so many ways.

With love,

Misty


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Showers of Blessings

Dear friends and family (and well, all of the wonderful strangers who wrote us today)….

We are absolutely overwhelmed by your prayers and generosity. I was honestly not expecting the incredible outpouring of love we received today. I was mostly just asking for prayer for my cancer bloodwork as we endured this long wait.

So let’s start there. The cancer doctor called while I was standing in line at TJ Maxx. I was in the middle of trying to buy Emma a new backpack, but decided that that moment was as good as any to get the worst news of your life.

And…the doctor said that it does not look like I have cancer at this time. My immune system is deeply compromised and I am in grave danger of getting very sick, very fast but I do not have cancer today.

I was just SO happy. My kids were so happy. Everyone standing in line with me at TJ Maxx was so happy.

As I’ve spent the last two weeks trying to settle into our new home… every moment of every day I have wondered if I am really setting up this house for them because I was leaving soon to be with our other babies. I have been so miserably sick and it is such a relief to know that for today, I am here…and for today I am cancer free.

So thank you so very much for your prayers with us and for us as we waited for that call today.

We also wanted to thank you for your incredible offers to help us in so many different ways. Our friends have actually started a fund on our behalf to help offset the cost of some of the new things we will need, as well as our upcoming treatment and medical expenses. If you feel led to give please visit the site they created at the website youcaring.com. Just enter “Rain Blessings On the Zeller’s” under “Find a Fundraiser.”

Years ago when I was in college, a professor came to speak on our dorm floor one night. During the Q & A time I asked him a question and his answer deeply impacted my life. I said, “A friend of mine told me the other day that he doesn’t talk to girls about God because he’s afraid they’ll end up liking him. What do you think about that theory?” The professor simply shook his head and said very quietly, “What…a pity. We have been given to one another to get through this life.”

I think about that professors words almost every day. Especially in these recent days when simply “getting through” this painful life has taken literally everything I have in me.

Today, as total strangers reached out to us and asked how they could help, it was such a tangible reminder of my professors words. As our pastor walked into our kitchen with huge bags filled with new towels and pillows and toys for the kids we were reminded yet again of what an incredible privilege it is to be a part of the body of Christ. And as our pastor left and Emma turned to me and said, “Mommy, why did he bring us all those nice things?” It was so easy to tell her as the tears streamed, “Because sweetie, we’ve been given to one another to get through this life.”

Thank you so very much for your prayers and generous offers to help. It is a difficult life to get through, but we have been deeply reminded today of the the love of the One who waits for us at the end of it. And of the people we walk beside along the way.

With love and deep gratitude,

Misty


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From the Eye of the Rain Storm

Dear Friends,

There is so much to say…so I’m just going to cut right to the chase.

Seventeen days ago, we found out that we had toxic stachybotrys black mold growing in our house.  And so…exactly sixteen days ago, we moved.

There was literally less than 24 hours from the time we bought the moving boxes, to the time that every box was completely moved out and into a new house.  If any of you have moved recently, you know how stressful a month long move can be. I can’t even begin to articulate what it was like to have to move in a day.  And to make matters worse…after talking with my mold doctor, we knew there was potential that if we moved our things into a new home, the microscopic mycotoxins that mold creates, would cross-contaminate any new place.

We decided that because of my rapidly declining health, the first priority was to immediately get out of the toxic place, so we just hoped for the best and moved. Honestly, it was like moving…with lice.  Every single thing we moved had to be wiped down with clorox wipes, and every single piece of clothing had to be washed in ammonia twice before moving.  And we moved knowing that we still may not get to keep any of our things.  Live mold is one thing.  It’s easy to see. Easy to wipe down.  And that would have been great.  But there wasn’t really any clearly visible live mold growing in our old place.  And the only way to know the extent of the mold poisoning, was to get an $800 mycotoxin urine test done.

So we tested my body. And then we moved, we wiped, we washed, we cleaned, we waited, and we prayed.

And then, on Valentine’s day, the test came back. A test that will forever change our lives.

The doctor who is treating me is the President of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine and one of the top mold doctors in the country. Her assessment of my test results, combined with my extremely serious symptoms, is that I have endured extended exposure to the highly toxic stachybotrys chartarum which is in the trichothecene group of mycotoxins. One would commonly know this as toxic black mold, typically found in water-damaged buildings, like those found in Hurricane Katrina. It is also the same mycotoxins used in biological warfare.

Basically, mold creates mycotoxins which are infinitesimally small toxic particles that destroy immune function. I was tested for all mycotoxins, and the results indicated that I have double the detectable limit of the mycotoxins produced by stachybotrys. There are many side effects and symptoms related to these mycotoxins – neurological and reproductive problems, thyroid and respiratory problems, and sadly even cancer.

Because mycotoxins are virtually indestructible, too small to remove, and still can be toxic for years, our doctor has assured us that the only way I will improve is to literally eliminate all of our porous material possessions because those contaminated possessions cannot be sufficiently cleaned and will cross-contaminate a new environment. This means, yes, everything. Every love letter. Every book. Every picture. Every single lovey and stuffed toy. Every car. Everything.

I can’t tell you what it feels like to get this news. I haven’t even begun to process what it means that I went to fourteen doctors in the last twelve months, and every one of them looked at me like I was a mental case and just told me “babies die” and “keep trying” and “I don’t know what’s wrong with you.” Fourteen. And meanwhile, I would come home to a toxic house where every one of the babies died, and we would eat and sleep and grieve and play and love and live in a home that was making every single one of us sicker and sicker by the day.

I don’t know if I’m going to be ok. I am not “allergic” to mold…I have been poisoned by a dangerously highly dose of deadly mycotoxins and my body is literally shutting down on me. I’ve had an ear infection for the last six months. I have an upper respiratory infection and bruised a rib from the painful hacking. I cannot remember things, eventhough I used to have an incredible memory. My nose is the “dirtiest nose” my doctor has ever seen. And I’ve seen two doctors who now believe I may have developed thyroid cancer from this.

And three babies died in my body.

We are not ok. And we are not going to be ok. I can barely function physically and my parents are flying in tonight just to help me get through the day. We have spent thousands of dollars on medical bills and are completely financially decimated. Every sock, every sheet, every towel, every toy, every envelope still needs to be replaced if we have a fighting chance of making it through this thing.

And it may all be too little, too late.

We take the kids in for mold testing next week and are praying desperately that their exposure to these deadly mycotoxins was lower than mine. I ache thinking that our precious Sophie spent almost every breathing moment of her life…in a place that could take her life. We live in the shadow of cancer every day, and we would so appreciate your prayers for our family during this time.

And where is God? I honestly don’t know. I know He’s still somewhere deep inside the whirlwind and the storm. But we feel deeply defeated and are struggling to believe that He really sees our endless, catastrophic suffering.

Ultimately….I know God made our bodies and ordained and numbered all eight of our lives.

God provided the house.

God sent the rain.

God let the roof leak.

God grew the mold.

God led me to the right doctor who finally ordered the right $800 test.

And God took us out of that death hole and finally brought us to a house that was safe. The first house we could find…and a house we actually like, that happens to miraculously be two blocks from the beach.

God gave, and God took away.

And took away, and gave.

It feels so good to take our deeply weary kids to the beach. It feels so good to breath air that’s safe. If feels good to wear socks that are no longer poisoning me. It feels good to find Ikea beds on sale for $60 and that our kids finally got to sleep in real beds last night.

And I see Gods relentless love in these simple things.

But like Hagar in the desert, at the point of death and watching her child on the brink of death…I am struggling to see.

Please pray. Pray that we would see.

Pray for sight during our upcoming appointment with our mold doctor, Dr. Hope. Yes, if you can believe it…HOPE is actually her last name. And she’s amazing.

And she will be treating every single one of us, until we die of liver cancer from mycotoxins…or miraculously live to see days beyond this dark valley.

I don’t know which one it will be. I just know that we are completely decimated financially, emotionally, and physically and we beg you to pray.

A few months after Charlie died, as this storm of suffering raged on in the form of hurtful and lost friendships, financial difficulties, my failing health, and more baby graves I remember driving away from the house one day and thinking, “I fully believe that one day, we’re going to come home and find this house burned to the ground.” I fully believed that eventually, we would lose literally everything.

And we have. Our babies, our health, all of our worldly possessions and all of the money left to our name. And we now live in the shadow of the threat of cancer…which would literally take the very last things on this earth that are precious to me.

I am very, very sick. I lost fourteen pounds in January alone, and I did not have fourteen pounds to lose at this point. I am waiting for the oncologist to call me back today. And my precious Sophie layed with me on the bathroom floor this morning while I coughed and cried and said, “Mommy, mommy, are you ok?”

No.

I. Am. So. Not. Ok.

But as I was reading Job 5:8-11 this morning I felt God giving me just enough strength to breath in and out for one more day…

“As for me, I would seek God, and to God would I commit my cause, who does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number: he gives rain on the earth and sends waters on the fields; he sets on high those who are lowly, and those who mourn are lifted to safety.”

Rain.

Rain that grows mold.

And rain that maybe just maybe, will restore our broken lives.

Grateful for your prayers on this endless journey,

Misty for the Zeller family