Sunday, February 3, 2019

A Different Goodbye-- for my niece, Cayden

My 14 year old niece died on January 25, 2019.

I don't quite know how to process the loss of her. I have had dreams about her every night for the last week. Cayden was my favorite girl in the whole world. She was a beautiful, bright light in this world and it will be a dimmer place without her here. I know she is in eternity with Jesus with no more pain, no more cerebral palsy, no more seizures, no more wheelchair. And she finally gets to eat real food!! I am sure she is there with our Gideon, finally getting to meet her little cousin for the first time. I hope he is showing her around Heaven. I bet they are already best friends, running, talking, telling each other stories about their family, singing, dancing, and experiencing so much joy together. And I believe from the bottom of my heart, that they will both be there waiting for us when we arrive.
Cayden was always one of my heroes because of how strong she was. I will always be proud of her.

I was given the privilege to write Cayden's obituary, I hope this gives you a little more insight into what an amazing girl she was. I will love you forever, my favorite girl in the whole world. And now you are my favorite girl in eternity.

Cayden Raine Towery was born on June 7, 2004. Ever since the moment she was born, she has been a fighter. She was a fighter until her death on January 25, 2019. In fact, the name Cayden means “fighter.” In her life, Cayden was diagnosed with Spastic Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy, cortical blindness, epilepsy, hip dysplasia, scoliosis, and more. Every day she fought as she went to doctor’s appointments, surgeries, and therapies. However, her diagnoses didn’t define her, but rather her joy and sassiness. Her smile would light up a room. Her laughter filled the air and enveloped the hearts of those who heard it. If you have heard her laugh, you could never forget it. It was pure glee!
 If you knew Cayden, you loved Cayden. She was the joy of her family’s life. Her sister, Payton, and brother, Brady, could often be seen doting over their Cayden. Her big sister always said that Cayden was the Pink Power Ranger. Her little brother would always check on her to make sure she was okay and happy. Cayden’s mom and dad loved her endlessly and their eyes would light up with joy when they cared for her. Each night her mom, dad, Payton, and Brady would sing to her The Night, Night Song her daddy wrote just for her. Cayden could often be seen wearing bright colors and crazy socks, both of which represented her spunky, sassy attitude. She loved her baby cousins and would get very still and quiet when the babies were near her. When her cousins were running around playing, she would stick her arm out to try to trip them to join in the mischief! She loved feeling the wind in her hair and was wild at heart.
She loved SpongeBob, Dora the Explorer, and the movie Sing. Her favorite music was Big Time Rush, and she even got to go see them in concert! She loved every minute of it! Even though she may have never walked or talked, her life was filled with love and adventure. She got to travel to Louisiana, Colorado, New Mexico, Hawaii, Mexico, and places all over Texas.
Words could never accurately describe this little girl who changed the lives of everyone around her. She taught people about how to love, about compassion, grace, and serving others. Because of her life, she taught people about the power of prayer and the love of the Lord. She was a beautiful, perfect creation of God. When you looked into her eyes, you could just see LOVE. We wish she was going to be here tomorrow, the next day, and for many years to come. We know she's whole now in the presence of Jesus with no more cerebral palsy, no more blindness, no more seizures, no more wheelchair. And for that, we rejoice. But every day, Cayden’s family and those who love her will miss her deeply. She was a beautiful bright light in this world, the epitome of everything that was pure and beautiful.
Cayden, we will hold you in our hearts always. We will live in a way that honors you, by giving love and joy to those around us. We will continue to fight, as you did your whole life. You know how much we all love you because we showed you every day and told you all the time. And your smiles and laughter in return was your way of telling us how much you loved us. 14 years was not enough time here on earth, but we are thankful that we will get to spend an eternity with you one day. Dance in heaven, sing, run, and play until we get there to be with you again.
Cayden was a gift to her family every day of her life, and now she is a gift to others by giving them a second chance at life through organ donation. Because of her, three other people will have a chance to live. A part of our Cady-Bug will go on to live in the lives of those three people.
Cayden is survived by her Mom and Dad, Castle and Shane Towery, her sister, Payton Towery, her brother, Brady Towery, her Nana and Granddaddy, Karen and Rod Zeller, her Pawpaw and Grandma, Dean and Kathleen Towery, her Nonnie, Linda Towery and Don Stone, her aunts and uncles, Ryan and Angie Zeller, Summer and Adam Moseley, Stormy and Todd Mitchell, and Kelsey Zeller, many cousins, and other beloved family members and friends. She is preceded in death by her cousin, Gideon Mitchell.
We love you, Cayden. Night, night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite, bite, bite.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”- Matthew 19:14

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Gideon's 7th Birthday

I am a couple weeks behind. I haven't had time to write much lately and I haven't felt inspired. Gideon's 7th heavenly birthday came and went. We celebrated by decorating cookies, releasing orange balloons, and me leading a MEND support group meeting. I couldn't find a number 7 candle at any stores, it started causing me some distress and my dear friend bought one for him. It was one of the most special things she could have done for me.
Here is the birthday tribute for Gideon and baby Avery. I miss them.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

My Almost Life: The Dreams That Never Were

This is my latest article in the MEND Newsletter. 
To see the whole newsletter and to read other newsletters, go here:

Monday, May 22, 2017

Gideon's 6th Birthday

On May 17th Gideon would have turned 6 years old if he was still here with us. But 6 years ago on that day, he was born still. This year we celebrated his life in so many different ways. The first being that we put a birthday tribute in the MEND newsletter, like we do every year. Todd wrote his tribute this year. It is perfect. We also put in a tribute for our little baby Avery who we lost through miscarriage in May of 2008.

I also shared some new pictures of him that I have never shared before on my facebook. Look at my beautiful boy.

We spent the weekend before his birthday getting family photos and the day of his actual birthday, we had a family day at the zoo. Perfect way to remember this little boy who changed us for the better. We used our Gideon bear that weighs what we weighed and his picture. Though our family isn't really complete, this way all 3 of our boys are represented in our photos.  

I wrote these words on my facebook on May 15th, the 6th anniversary of when he died inside of me. I don't know what else to say now, so I will write what I did then...
The day you left us was the day everything changed. I miss you with all that I am. We love you, Gideon. More than words can express. Until I see you, to hug and kiss you again...On that day, I will joyously wrap you in my arms and it will be as of we were never apart.

We love you beyond the moon and the stars. 

Friday, April 21, 2017

Sex and Loss

In the MEND Newsletter I wrote an article about sex and intimacy with your spouse after losing a baby. I hope that it really helps others and that someone can relate.

The MEND Newsletter is mailed out bi-monthly at no cost. If you want to subscribe to get it, go to:

Friday, March 31, 2017


"Can the child in my heart rise above? Can I sail through the changing ocean tides? Can I handle the seasons of my life?

The song Landslide by Fleetwood Mac has always been one that I have loved. But lately, these lyrics have touched something deeper in me than I can't exactly explain. (I actually prefer the Smashing Pumpkins version of this song, probably because I'm a huge 90 alternative music fan, check out their version here and also another version I love is by Bush is right here)

There are a lot of changes that are happening to me, to my family. I have been tight-lipped about a lot of them for many different reasons. I wanted to share those changes and my reasons for keeping silent about them.

To me, this song is about loving deeply and vulnerably, knowing that at any moment anything could be taken from you. It is about climbing the mountain despite knowing you could fail. Its about the drive to make changes and go for your dreams, but it is also about the fear that you could be crushed by the mounds of snow.

I took my love, I took it down
Climbed a mountain and I turned around
And I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills
'Til the landslide brought it down

Oh, mirror in the sky
What is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
Can I sail through the changin' ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?

Well, I've been afraid of changin'
'Cause I've built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Even children get older
And I'm getting older, too

Well, I've been afraid of changin'
'Cause I've built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Even children get older
And I'm getting older, too
Oh, I'm getting older, too

I took my love, I took it down
I climbed a mountain and I turned around
And if you see my reflection in the snow covered hills
Well the landslide will bring it down
And if you see my reflection in the snow covered hills

Well the landslide will bring it down
Oh, the landslide will bring it down

I am struck by many of these lyrics, and I won't go into each line and what it means to me, though I could. But as I share my heart, I hope that you can see how these words in this song strike deep into my soul.
 I want to first say, I am not quitting the ministry of MEND, I am not having another baby, Todd and I are doing wonderfully, my children are amazing, I still love the Lord, I am not leaving my church and we aren't moving. So what changes could be happening?

God has been telling me for years that at some point, he wants me to go back to work. So I knew that would be something that I would do when the kids got a lot older. I had no idea what my actual career would be. I have an Bachelors degree in Psychology and a Masters Degree in Theatre. I thought perhaps I would maybe go back to the theatre once my kids were a little older. But no, God has closed that door for me, at least for now (which is another post all together). I thought perhaps I would go back and get a Masters degree in Psychology since that is totally logical. Or maybe a Masters in Social Work, also logical. I knew in my heart that God was calling me into helping the bereaved. Helping those who have lost someone they love. I looked into what it would take to be a hospital social worker. That way I could work with families who have lost babies, and possibly even be in charge of that in the hospital. I also had another idea, but I put that idea off as it made the least sense. So I thought about going back to get a Masters in Social Work after the kids got older.

That makes sense, right?

God sometimes doesn't make sense though.

One night at a MEND meeting at the end of last year, one of my friends said something and I KNEW what I was supposed to do. I was as certain as I could be that God was speaking this into my heart. I started researching what I would need to do to be able to do this thing. And it grew in my heart. The dream, the passion, the excitement.  But so did fear.

I am actually nervous just writing this.

Every time I would tell someone my plan, I would say "So I am going to try this and it may not work out, but I have to go for it."

See the fear there? I always would say "It may not work out" or "It might not ultimately not happen" because I was scared to put it all out there. I usually am not someone rooted in fear. If I want something, I go and get it. I will do it until I succeed, or until God leads me to do something else. I have a high need for achievement with a low fear of failure. Generally there is very little fear of failing, as I believe I can do it. I can do whatever I set my mind to. Especially since Gideon died, I have less fear overall. I know life can change in a second and so it makes me live life fuller and with more gusto.

But with this, I was afraid the landslide would bring me down.

I was scared. So much would change. So much that I love. I wouldn't be able to homeschool the kids any more. I would have less time for church. I would have less time with Todd. I would have less time to dedicate to MEND. I would have less time to dedicate to my family. To my friends. "I've been afraid of changin' cause I built my life around you." So much change for the people and things I love the most.

I told God how scared I was. I didn't want to start something and not finish it. I was afraid of how that would look. Of how I would waste time. Of how I would waste money. I was afraid that others would look at me and see me as a failure (which is also weird because normally I don't care at all what other people think). I recognized what this was. An attack from the enemy to keep me from doing what God wanted me to do. So much that I delayed everything for about 6 months. But no more! I would not let that fear control me.

"When I am afraid, I will trust in you." Psalm 56:3

"But time makes you bolder...even children get older...and I'm getting older too." So I step out in boldness. I am getting older (my 35th birthday is in just a few days) and though I am not old by any means, But I am much older than I was when I got both my other degrees. I spoke with a friend last weekend who told me that when she finished her degree, it was after her kids were older and she said that being an older student helped her have so much more focus than she did when she originally went to school. Talking to her made me realize that I have so much more at stake now, so I will have more focus and more drive, simply because I am older. And I will not let anything stand in my way. Yes, I am much older now. If I am not able to do this, it won't be because I didn't try, it will be because God has led me somewhere else. But I see this happening. I see the Lord working in this and through it.

So, here it is:

I am going to go to school to become an RN.

My ultimate goal would be to do Labor and Delivery, to work with the moms who have lost or will lose their baby. (Yes, I know I will have to work in other departments first, I am excited to do that, too. I just want to help others).
I want to be there in those moments the way my nurses were with me. They made a very traumatic situation less difficult because of their love and their care. They impacted me beyond words. They fought for me, they cried with me, they treated me and Gideon with love and respect. To give them the gift of respect, the gift of someone else who can relate to their pain. Through Gideon's life God has given me a softer heart, a heart more like His. A heart that wants to help others the way He comforted me. To be there in the raw moments. To be able to pray over them, to speak words to them, words that let them know they will survive even though they do not feel like they can. And to give them the same quality care I had. To give them handprints, pictures, mementos...memories.  To give them a birth experience, that even though it will not go as they wanted, that is beautiful. I also know delivering subsequent babies, those born after their older sibling has died, will be something that will be extra special, extra joy, and even sorrow. I have been there, I want to be there for others.

So, I start my first pre-requisite science class this summer in June (this is my first science class since I was in college! Yikes!). I am hoping to take 2 science classes in the fall, then one more in the spring. If all goes according to plan, I will apply to nursing school for the fall of 2018. Then it will take me 2 years from there to finish. Please pray for me as I navigate school with 2 small children at home.

This isn't the only change in our lives. I will be putting Silas in public school in the fall. I always dreamed of homeschooling my children and I have been doing so with Silas. But with me being so busy, I had to decide between being his mom or his teacher. And I wanted to be able to be his mom when I am with him. (I am not giving up on the idea of homeschool for the future, but for now it is being tabled). We are still not sure where Justus will go when I am in nursing school, who will take care of him while I am there. Right now, I should be able to take classes in the evening and possibly on the weekend so Todd can just spend the evenings with them. I will be stepping back from certain things at church. And for MEND, I will be calling on my assistants to help me more often.

 Also, I will likely not have another baby. This is the hardest one for me. I am not saying that I won't for sure. I might once I am done with school. But I will be 38 at that point, and with my infertility, it doesn't seem like it is something that will happen. (But that is for another blog post, too).  I also have to let go of my dream of being a Stay At Home Mom. I always wanted to do that. But I feel strongly that God is calling me into something else. Not something bigger or better, because being with my children is one of the greatest gifts I have. I love being a SAHM. I truly, deeply love it. So I will eventually have to let that go, too, when I start working. I think this was part of my fear, feeling like I would fail my children if I didn't homeschool them or wasn't home with them. But God very clearly told me "I am their Father, I will care for them greater than you are able. Because I am able."

Lots of changes for our family!

Life is about to get even more CRAZY! I am excited though! I am excited to see what God is going to do! I can see that this will be another way that God will bring glory to Himself through the life of Gideon. Without him, I wouldn't be doing this. He has given me a desire to help others, and to serve others, and to walk with bereaved parents. I hope that this is just another way I am able to do that. I will start to climb this mountain and hope that I am able to reach the peak.

"I took my love, I took it down. Climbed a mountain and I turned around..."

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Rose Bud

The rose bud opens,
flowering, red blossom
True Beauty.

The rose bud withers,
dries, black deterioration
True End.

Our lives like the bud,
opens, yellow sun
True Joy.

Our lives grow,
exquisite, green sprouts
True Adventure.

Our life fades,
shrivel, brown dirt
True Death.

Our rose bud blooms
burgeoning, rainbow flares
True Life.

By: Stormy Mitchell 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

33 Things

Today, 5 years ago, we said goodbye to Gideon for the last time on this earth.

We had his memorial service and spoke of all the beauty that came from his existence. We worshiped the Lord in thanksgiving and we wept bitterly. That day was one of the hardest days of my life.

Today 5 years from that day, it still takes my breath away to think of that day. How much despair and disbelief I felt. Who imagines they will lose their child? Who pictures their life and sees a funeral for their baby?  I remember so much from that day, from all of the hugs, to all of the tears. The words that our pastor and friends spoke, and the verses read from the bible. I can remember the songs and how each word was the cry of my heart, yet made it break a little more. I wrote all about that day here.

Since that day, a lot has changed. We have picked up the pieces and God has made a beautiful life from the ashes. BECAUSE of Gideon we have a beautiful life.

Today I am thinking of all the ways that Gideon has changed me. For the better.  So in honor of the 33 weeks that I got with him, I will share 33 different ways he has changed me. When he died, I knew there was a major shift in my life. I knew that I would never be able to go back to how I was before. I wondered if those changes would be permanent. Some of those feelings I had in the early days of grief have gone, but many of those changes have stayed. They are with me forever. 

These transformations within me are the beautiful scars that he left behind.

1) I appreciate things more and take less for granted.
2) Things that used to matter, no longer do. Things that used to not matter, now do.
3) I am a better wife. I love Todd with a deeper passion and honesty than before.
4) I am a better mommy. I would have been a wonderful mommy to Gideon because of everything we have been through before conceiving him, but I am a more compassionate and patient mom because of him. I truly never take them for granted. Every day I get with them, even the hard days, I'm grateful for because they are here with me.
5) I love more deeply. Gideon taught me that.
6) I am less judgmental,
7) I love Jesus more.
8) I am more patient.
9) I am more focused.
10) I really want to help others. I truly want to help other people because I genuinely love them.
11) I don't waste my time with those who are not to be supportive or loving. If you don't want to recognize him at all, then I don't need you in my life. And honestly, my life is richer for it. I refuse to let someone who wont remember the life of my son be a part of my own heart. If they don't want to see the blessings of him and the blessing that God will bring to them by allowing them to experience the pain and the joy, then they don't understand me at all. And those people are people who put negativity into my life. I don't waste my time on negativity.
12) I stop and appreciate beauty more. In every day moments, and in life changing moments, and in mundane moments.
13) I do not invest my heart into pointless things, and yet I dive heart first into things that I see as fruitful.
14) I complain less.
15) I worship more. Pain brings about the best worship
16) I am a better writer and artist.
17) I laugh even more than before.  I am a "throw your head back and loudly crack up" kind of person. I used to do that with ease and I had stopped for a long time. Now I do again, however it is different because I know what the other side feels like. I appreciate the laughter so much more. It is richer and more true.
18) I cry more easily. This may not be seen as a positive thing, but it is to me.
19) I love my family more deeply and I appreciate them more, my mom & dad, siblings, nieces, nephews and my extended family. My family has always meant a lot to me, but now I truly appreciate them. I'm glad for every day they are in my life.
20) My friendships are so much more true and real. My best friends are my MEND friends. We share everything, our whole lives (I think people assume we only talk about our dead children, we do talk about them, but we talk about everything!). My fellow infant loss friends just understand. I have these beautiful friends from before Gideon's death who are supportive and loving and I am so thankful for them. I am thankful for my friends from before and I am thankful for my newer friends, my friends since my loss.  I invest in all of my friends more than I ever did before. I take more time for them. I walk through the deepest lows and the highest highs with them.
21) I live with fervor. I want to experience all that life has for us  I want us to take adventures and experience the sights, sounds, and tastes of the world around us.
22) I have so much more grace with people.
23) I have embraced the geeky side of me and I love it.
24) I can sense the Holy Spirit more acutely when praying and in worship. I also feel connected to Gideon when I am worshiping God and in His presence, because I know that Gideon is standing in His presence too.
25) I'm so much more comfortable with pain and sitting with others in their pain. Our society likes to try to put a bandaid on our suffering to make it all better. But I know that doesn't help. Working through it helps. And I am always ready and willing to hold someone's hand as they walk through pain.
26) I have been more active in church. I love our church. It is so special and God works in the hearts of my church family. It is truly a place where I can call them my family. They have walked through the dark and the bright days.
27) I am even more self confident in every area of my life. I generally have always been very self assured, but one of the way he changed me is that I am even more so! Especially in the area of my looks. I have ever always thought I was beautiful and I've never really had body image issues, but I definitely don't now!!! I am beautiful!!!
28) I wear what I want and act how I want. I will not conform to how other people think I should be. I will be the person who God wants me to be. 
29) I look at Todd differently. I truly see him for the strong, loving, gentle man he is. He changed a lot when we lost Gideon and I can really see down into his soul now in a way that I thought I could before but I truly can see it now. But honestly I think going through tragedy is the only way to make you and your spouse connected in this way.
30) I see pregnancy differently. I see it more of a blessing than I ever did before. I see children as even more of a blessing, they are amazing gifts from God!!  I also see pregnancy with fear and anxiety. That is part of who I am now. But the flip side to that, is that I never take pregnancy for granted. I cherish it. I am truly in awe of the miracle of pregnancy.
31) I desire more for others to know Jesus truly and intimately.
32) I have wanderlust. I desire to travel and experience different, fun and new things. Maybe one day I will have the finances to do that more often.
33) I have strong desire for The New Earth when heaven and earth pass away and a new Earth is created!!! I love the life I live now and I work for the Kingdom with all my heart, but there will always be a part of me that is looking upward into the sky for the future when Jesus returns. I am not afraid of that anymore. 

There are so many more, I could easily list 33 more ways I have changed for the good for his 33 weeks. And then I could list 33 more, and then  do it again. I know as I live, and as the Lord continues to work, more and more of my heart will be transformed every day. Because God promised me that Gideon's life would make an impact on others. And one of the ways He is doing that, is through me.

I have changed. Forever. For good. 

"Who can say if I've been changed for the better, because I knew you, I have been changed for good..." -Changed For Good, Wicked
At Cocoa Beach on our vacation in April. Beaches always remind me of Gideon...always. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


Today we say Happy 5th Birthday in Heaven to our precious first born son, Gideon. We love you with all of our hearts. You are my little love. My arms ache to hold you today, and I miss you, But I am blessed to be your mommy and honored to get to love you. You give me immense joy. I am constantly in awe of how God uses your life, even 5 years later.

Today is also the 13th anniversary of mine and Todd's marriage. I love him more and more each day. My love for him is deeper because of what we have been through. We are truly one. We love each other in a way that cannot exist without walking through something like we have. He is my best friend. My mate. My love. The person with whom I am privileged to walk through this life. Todd, I could not ask for more. I am proud to be your wife. Happy anniversary! Here is to many more! I never take for granted all the time we have together. Every day I have with you is special, simply because of the love we share. Even the tough days, I always choose you. I always will. I love you. 

Also, this week is the 8th anniversary of the baby we lost through miscarriage in 2008.

What a week! What a month!

I'm extremely thankful that this month of May is full of an immense amount of love. What a blessing that is, to have so much love in our lives.
We have started adding Blessings in our M.E.N.D. newsletters. We each have a chance to write about a blessing that has come from the lives of our little ones in Heaven. Here is my first one: 

In our M.E.N.D. newsletter, we get to leave Birthday Tributes for our babies in Heaven.  
May 17, 2011. Together as a family. 

Sunday, May 15, 2016

What if?

Today, 5 years ago, on May 15th, 2011, Gideon slipped away from us and went to be with Jesus.

On that day we were told "I am so sorry". On that day, our world felt like nothing was ever going to be okay again. My breath left me that day, and it took many months for me to get it back. My laughter left. My hope. I was filled with emptiness. I was left with only dreams of what could have been. We went from being hopeful for the future because we were expecting our first son, to not knowing what the future would hold. Would we ever be normal again? We didn't know how to navigate the rest of our lives. How do you pick up the pieces? How do you learn to even breathe again?

I always say that I could use a million words, and there would not be words accurate enough to describe how it felt when we lost Gideon.

Two days after we found out he had died, I delivered him silently into this world. May 17, 2011 is a day that will be seared into our hearts and minds forever.

Five years later, we are here, standing. Standing strong. Standing with faith. Standing with grace. Standing because of grace. Standing together. We are full of love in a way we weren't before Gideon existed. He brought that love into our lives. We are more hopeful, more joyful, more thankful, more faithful. More everything.

 Just MORE because of him.

Most days I live, I live in light of my loss. I choose to live with more joy and grace and I choose to focus on the Lord more. I want to honor Him and Gideon with my life by helping others and walking with them through grief. I honor Gideon by loving deeply. We choose to live a life of joy.

But there are some days...Some days are just hard.

I promised myself and Gideon that I would honor him by doing this grief the best way I could. It does not honor him to ignore any feelings I may have. It only hurts myself and others. I know that through this pain, God is working. When we feel grief and hurt, I know that God is there.

So we have today. The anniversary of the day he died. This year the days line up. So in 2011, May 15th was a Sunday. Just like today is a Sunday. In 2011, May 17th was a tuesday, just like this year. Every day is lining up this year. And it makes it hard to breathe. I am reliving these days. I remember what I was doing at this time that Sunday 5 years ago, I remember that Todd had gotten home from work and I told him Gideon wasn't moving. I can put myself right back into that place. I can recall the tightness in my heart where I simultaneously knew something was wrong, yet not willing to admit it to myself. I can feel Todd's hands on my stomach and hear his voice saying "come on buddy, move for mommy and daddy." As time goes on today, I don't even need to look at the clock, my body knows what time it is and I recall all of the events and emotions from 5 years ago.

I struggle to breathe and I try not to burst into violent, wracking sobs, as to not concern my sweet living sons.

This year I play the "what if" game. Generally I do not do that. I could "what if" myself into a depression. I think most people could. We could play that game and make ourselves sad over what could have been in all areas of our lives, not just grief.Today, I have to.  I take the time to "what if". I will "what if" today and will not do it again for a long time. I know I have to today. I have to let myself go into that place. I have to let myself feel everything.....

What if I had known something was wrong? What if I had gone to the doctor earlier? What if I had cancelled my baby shower and just gone to the hospital that day?  What if I had trusted the feeling so deep inside of me and gone in and had him checked? What if I had been able to get a 3rd ultrasound and he could have been diagnosed with growth restriction? What if the ultrasound tech hadn't missed his membranous cord insertion? (I totally don't blame her, things happen.) What if I did something wrong? What if it really was my fault? What if I had gone in sooner? What if??? What if? What if?

What if?!!

What if he were here? What would it be like? What would he be like?

I see the little 5 year old boy with strawberry blonde hair that is curly and matches mine when I was a child. I can see that we would have cut his hair last month before our vacation, so it would be short, but coming back in with some curl again. He would look very grown up with his short hair. And I would want it to grow back in long so I could have my little boy be a baby for just a little longer. I see his green, timid eyes. I see him laughing with his brothers. I know he would have been shy, calm, and quiet, like I was when I was a child. I wonder what it would sound like. I hear his soft spoken voice call for me in the night when he needs me. I hear his laughter when he is playing outside. I hear his voice tell me of the things he is interested in and I wonder what that would be. I wonder if he would have loved the thrilling rides at Universal Studios and Disney World last month when we went on vacation, like his little brother. Or would he have been scared by them? If he is anything like me and his daddy, he would have loved them too.  I can almost feel his hand in mine. I can almost feel what it would feel like to hold him into my lap. My little 5 year old, maybe he wouldn't want to admit it, but still loves to cuddle mommy. Or maybe, he would be a cuddle bug and still love to snuggle and wrap himself up closely to me any chance he could get. That is what I think he would have been like. He would have been a snuggler. I can hear the sounds in my house. I can imagine the one more plate I would make every day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I can almost smell him. I can almost really feel him. I can almost feel his little kiss on my cheek. I can almost.


But not quite.

And 5 years have gone by. Five years of grace. Five years of learning.  Five years of leaning on God. Five is a big year. For living children and for those who are dead. Five years.  And here I am. Still here. Standing. Thriving. And honestly, we are truly happy.

But a part of me will always wonder....what if?

"For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.  A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

(Please forgive any typos. I don't do well with editing on days like today)

Friday, May 6, 2016


Gideon isn't some sad thing that happened.

He isn't an unfortunate circumstance.

He is our son. A little boy. Someone who we love. And he also died.

His 5th birthday is coming up soon, on May 17th. That day is also mine and Todd's 13th wedding anniversary. On his birthday we choose to remember him. Not with sadness, but with thankfulness that he is our son. With thankfulness and gladness that he changed us in more ways than I can count. With gratefulness that his story is still touching people and God is using him to change lives.

If you choose to only focus on the sadness of his death and not the blessing of his life, that is not my fault. It is not my fault that you cannot see the joy and the good that Gideon has given us. You are missing out on a huge blessing by seeing him only in the terms of his death. Yet you should look at him and all the ways his life is beautiful. 

It is not my fault that you cannot come to terms with grief. It is your problem because you don't like to feel uncomfortable in your pain so you push it aside. You cannot deal with pain so you ignore it. I honor the lives of those who have died by being real and honest about my feelings. I choose to remember their lives. I will always remember the incredible life of Gideon.

His earthy 33 weeks and his eternal life are marked with immeasurable beauty.

Yes, I miss him and yes it breaks my heart that he isn't here. However, mostly I am thankful to the Lord that I got to have him for those 33 weeks and that he is always mine.


I have some people in our lives who have chosen on their own to only acknowledge our anniversary on May 17th and to completely ignore his birthday. These people will tell us "happy anniversary" but say nothing of him, yet, they know that May 17th is his birthday. Don't take it upon yourself to decide that it is too sad to recognize his birthday and to focus on only the happy part of that day. Don't you realize that those 2 cannot be separate? May 17th is forever both.

They ignore his birthday and in essence, they ignore him.

That is not ok with me. It is not ok to treat my son as if he didn't exist. As if he doesn't matter.

It is a day to be celebrated, because on that day May 17, 2003, when we got married, it was the day that was the beginning to the fateful and life changing day on May 17, 2011. When you choose to just tell me happy anniversary you are spitting in the face of the love that his life created. By doing so, you are telling me that he didn't matter at all. I cannot and will not accept that. He mattered and he still does.

You don't get to choose what I celebrate that day.
We do.

So don't ignore him. Don't pretend like he isn't a person. Don't pretend like it is only our anniversary. It is not. If you don't want to acknowledge him, then say nothing to me that day. I would rather have silence from you than to hear just "happy anniversary." 
  Some may see it as dwelling. But if your child died, and you still wanted to remember them, would that be dwelling? If your mother or father died, would you stop talking about them? No. You would tell stories of them and remember them on holidays and on their birthdays. So I do that with our son.
He is our son. He is a grandson, a nephew, a cousin. He is a big brother. 
He deserves to be remembered.

That date. May 17 is one of the most pivotal dates in our life as a family. We get to decide how to celebrate it. 

No one else.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Baby Boy #3--his name

Baby Boy #3 has a name!

Its a beautiful name. Right after we found out he was a boy when I was about 14 weeks pregnant, we started praying about the name that God would have us name our boy. We knew we wanted to keep our tradition of a Bible name for the first name and a family name for the middle name.
Look at those little arms! 
We have Gideon Zeller (Gideon from the Gideon of the bible in Judges and Zeller is my maiden last name) and Silas Todd (Silas is from the Silas in the bible who was a missionary with Paul and Todd is my husband's name). We started looking at all the bible names. I went through my list of names we had rejected with Gideon and Silas. They were great names, just not THEIR names.

We prayed a lot.

We narrowed it down to about 3 names. We wanted it to be someone in the bible who was Godly and had a name that has a good meaning. Finally, we knew. We knew what is his name was.

Justus Ryan.

One of his feet that kicks me all day long! 
Ryan is my brother's middle name, and it is the name he goes by. And I knew I wanted to honor my brother with naming one of my sons after him. My brother is really a great brother and is always protective and loving. Actually, Silas and my brother have very similar personalities.My brother is funny, very blunt and yet caring. I am honored to have my son named after him. (Also, my brother is very excited about this too! haha!)
The name Ryan means little king.

Justus in Biblical times was a surname given to men who are very Godly. Justus means, just or upright. This is what we pray for our Justus, that he is Godly, just and upright. There are multiple Justus' in the Bible. There are 2 verses that stood out to me and made me think, "yes, this is my son's name."

His little face!
Acts 18:7 says "Then Paul left the synagogue and went next door to the house of Titius Justus, a worshiper of God." So this Justus was a worshiper of God! That is exactly what I want for my sons.

The verse that stood out for me even more was Colossians 4:11 "Jesus, who is called Justus, also sends greetings. These are the only Jews among my co-workers for the kingdom of God, and they have proved a comfort to me." This Justus in the bible was one of the co-workers for the Kingdom of God with Paul. And he was a comfort to Paul.

I have been learning a lot about the Kingdom of God and what it truly is, and with everything that I have learned lately, I KNOW that I want my son to be a worker for the Kingdom of God. I want him to reveal the Kingdom of God in this world, to be an active part of the Kingdom! What else could a mom want for her child? I want him to follow the Lord with all his heart and work for the Kingdom!

So, you see, Justus, working for the Kingdom and Ryan meaning Little King, go hand in hand.

So we knew. Our little boy is Justus.

We also picked a name for our little Baby A. For those who don't know. I was pregnant with twins at the beginning of this pregnancy. We lost Baby A through something called Vanishing Twin Syndrome. We believed in our hearts that Baby A and Baby B would be boy/girl twins. Well, when we found out that Baby B was a boy, we knew Baby A was a girl. So as we were picking a name for Justus, we were praying and thinking about a name for Baby A. We wanted a name that sounded like "twin names." And we gave her a name.

You can see his head and his arm and hands. His hands were in front of his face the whole time. All of the Zeller babies like to do that. Put their hands by their heads. 

So we have Justus and Joy. They have names that go together, both begin with a J. We chose Joy because of how much joy she gave us in such a short time. When they showed me twins and I saw a little speck that was a baby. I began laughing! I was so elated! The woman who has trouble conceiving at all got pregnant with twins! And knowing that I will see her and our Gideon and Avery again gives me joy. God gives me joy in the midst of every trial.

So that is her name. From now on, when I refer to Joy you will know that Baby A is Joy.

I am the proud mom of 3 awesome boys. Gideon, Silas and Justus.

And the proud mom of 5 babies total; Avery, Gideon, Silas, Joy and Justus.
Thats one of the little hands that punches me! :D 

One day I will have all of them in my arms. Until then, I wait with joy, hope and faith.

I LOVE this one!!
I had my anatomy scan for Justus last week at 20 weeks 5 days. The anatomy scan is where they check to make sure the baby is totally healthy and does not have any major physical problems. We knew genetically that Justus was ok, but we were anxious to find out of he was totally healthy with a good umbilical cord insertion. Justus is wonderful. He has had a strong heartbeat. He s measuring right on track and has all of the markers that show that he is totally healthy. Kidneys, 4 chamber heart, 2 hemispheres of a brain, a perfect spine, etc. They checked the umbilical cord insertion into the placenta and it is perfect too! The membranous cord insertion (or velamentous cord insertion) is what Gideon had, and it was undetected. That ultimately caused his death. Justus doesn't have that. When I saw that I breathed a huge sigh of relief! I know other things can go wrong in pregnancies, but I am glad that he doesn't have the same thing his big brother had. I am praising God for every day I get with this little miracle!

He is still a boy!
Psalm 66:5 "Come and see what our God has done, what awesome miracles he performs for people!" (NLT)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

A New Baby Brother/Sister?

Gideon and Silas are having a new baby...


YES! Another boy!!! We could not be happier!! We are blessed and honored to be the parents of 3 very special boys.

I have had people ask me if I wanted a girl this time. I honestly have never cared. I have never been the kind of mom who would have been sad to have one gender over the other. I have always wanted children and wanted the children that God would give us. Boys or girls, whatever God decided.  I am just happy to have a child. I am honored to get to be a mommy.

I had some bloodwork done at 12 weeks to run some genetic testing on the baby. It was an option for me and we took it. If there had been some genetic abnormality we would have carried the baby no matter what. But we wanted to know. And a bonus is that we could find out the baby's gender! The blood test is simple. They take my blood and a cheek swab from Todd and then send it off to one of the few labs that runs this test. Then they pull out Todd's DNA and my DNA and they are able to decipher which parts of the baby's DNA is in my blood.

Small fragments of a baby's DNA runs through the mommy's blood. Isn't that amazing?

This is the video of how I told Todd that he is going to be a daddy of another little boy! He is over the moon!

When we got the genetic testing able to see if the baby has certain genetic abnormalities, he showed no markers for any of those abnormalities. That was the best news I could have gotten. Praise the LORD! We are not out of the clear yet. We won't be until this little guy is in our arms. I know that a lot could happen between now and 38 weeks. But we are holding onto hope and praying that we get to raise this little boy and that he doesn't join his big brother (or his twin) in Heaven.

I love being a boy mom! I love getting to snuggle my boy, to run, play and act silly all day! I love the energy of boys. I love that I get to get out all of his hand-me-downs from Gideon and Silas. My 3rd little boy will get to wear his big brothers' clothes. That makes this mama's heart happy. It is something they all share.

I wish that I could have all 3 of my boys with me. I wish I could have all 5 of my babies here. I wish that my arms were completely full of little stinky, sticky boys. One with red hair, one with blonde hair and a little baby. But, this will not be. So I rejoice for the boys I get to have with me. I feel the hole in my heart every day for the one who is not here. And I rejoice for him too. Because ALL of my boys are gifts and bring such sweet and abundant blessings in my life.

Here are some pics from my gender reveal I did with my family.
I let them spray me with silly string that was blue (which in hindsight was a mistake because my brother and niece are crazy. My brother kept spraying me in the face! haha! Even though we are both in our thirties, not much had changed. haha!). Everyone was surprised!

I had everyone pick a crown or a mustache for their guess of boy or girl. Livy chose both. 

My brother and sis-in-law were guessing girl! My brother is a nut! :D 

Blue Silly String everywhere!

This little boy does have a name already. We kept with our tradition and his first name is from the Bible and his middle name is a name from one of our families. We will be announcing his name soon. We are in the process of choosing a name for twin A (who we believe was a girl, since we think they were boy/girl twins). Once we do that, then we will announce the name.

And just because I love the way I look when I am pregnant. My latest bump pic! Having 3 babies in less than 4 years makes for a big belly when pregnant.
Barefoot and pregnant. :D 

Look at my oldest little boy in that picture! Isnt he handsome?!? I hope that this little guy looks like his older brothers. 

Psalm 66:5 "Come and see what our God has done, what awesome miracles he performs for people!" (NLT)

Monday, January 12, 2015


Vanishing Twin.

Something most people have never heard of and something even less people experience. Now I can add that to my list of losses.

At 5 weeks pregnant I went to the Dr. so he could do blood work to check my progesterone and HCG. Progesterone helps to sustain a pregnancy and HCG is the pregnancy hormone.
I had low progesterone with my pregnancy with Silas in the first trimester, so I wanted to make sure it was not a problem in this pregnancy too. My results came back with my progesterone as normal, but my HCG was very high and elevated past what is normal for a singleton pregnancy. My doctor had me come in for an early ultrasound. I was 5 weeks 2 days.

When the ultrasound tech scanned my uterus, that is when I saw it. 2 little sacs. 2 sacs. Twins! I said to her "is that what I think it is?" She said "looks like possible twins." I instantly started laughing. I could not stop. We looked at it and I saw something in both sacs, the early development of a baby but it was too early to see anything clearly or a heartbeat. But there was no denying, there were two babies! I thought "I am a twin mom!"

One of the sacs was round and the other was smaller and more flat. The ultrasound tech labeled the smaller sac Baby A, and the bigger sac Baby B. See those 2 beautiful sacs? Those are my twins.

There was a problem.

My doctor explained to me that in cases where one of the sacs isn't as developed, there is a 50% chance that the baby wont make it. Its called a Vanishing Twin. He and his staff were hopeful for me and excited at the possibility that I would be having twins come August.

I started praying that I got to keep both babies! I had church family, MEND family, my biological family and my friends all praying that both babies would make it. That I wouldn't lose one of the babies. We prayed that Baby A would make it. That Baby A would beat the odds. That when I went back in 2 weeks for a follow up ultrasound, that there would be two babies with two beautiful heartbeats. However, I had a feeling things would not work out the way I hoped. I think God was preparing me for what He knew would happen. I just felt in my heart that both babies would not make it. But I hoped and prayed constantly that God would allow me to keep both of them.

We went to our ultrasound appointment at 7 weeks and 2 days to check on the twins.

Baby A went to heaven sometime in the week prior.

Vanishing Twin.

The ultrasound tech scanned my uterus and I saw one baby. One baby with a heartbeat. One beautiful baby. But one baby, one heartbeat wasn't there. I began crying and so did Todd. My mom was there with me and I didn't look at her but I know she was crying too. We all wanted both of these babies so much. It was extremely bittersweet. One baby gone. One baby healthy with a beautiful heartbeat of 160.

Here is the surviving twin at 7 weeks 2 days. Pretty cute if I may say so myself.

There was life that was and yet was never was in my arms. This life that deserves to be honored and remembered. This baby that I loved so much already. Gone. Just gone. No physical evidence of his/her existence except for an ultrasound picture. I have had no bleeding, the baby literally vanished. My body will absorb the baby in time and there will be nothing physically left.

Some might say, think or wonder why God would allow us to know about this baby if we were just going to lose him or her. That was actually said to Todd by a friend of his. He thought it would have been better had we never known about the baby at all. Honestly, this really offended me!! Yes, it would be easier on my heart if I had never known this little life. But oh, I would miss out on the love. I would never want less love. I would never want to not know about one of my children!,

 I am glad I know about Baby A. I am glad I got to be a twin mom, even if just for a couple of weeks. Because God allowed us to know about Baby A, I believe He will bring gifts and good things from his/her life.

I always said as a kid that I wanted 5 children. Though I would have been happy with 6 children too (hehe). When we were not sure of the outcome for Baby A, my dad said  "No matter what happens, you will now always have 5 children." And he is so right, I may have 3 children in Heaven, but I am the mom of 5 kids! They are always mine and nothing can change that. I have one in my arms, one in my belly and 3 in my heart. My sweet Gideon who changed my life more than I can even say. Our Avery who was lost before I got to see her at all. And Baby A (who we will give a name, but we are still deciding) who I got to see but never got to know.

My sweet MEND family sent me flowers in memory of Baby A. I am so thankful that his/her life is already remembered. Only here for a few weeks, but he/she made an impact on our life. I cannot say how much this means to me. That my MEND family values the lives of each one of my children.

This year at the MEND Walk to Remember, I will be getting one more ornament. I will get 3 instead of 2, one for each baby I have in Heaven. I will have to order a new memory sign for the Walk to Remember, since the one I have now only has Gideon and Avery's names and dates on it. I will need one more name and date added to my sign. One more child to wonder what they would have been like. What it would have been like to have twins.

Part of me will always wonder.

Its hard. I am sad. I miss my baby. I miss what could have been. I keep seeing twins everywhere. I saw a set of twins today at the doctor's office. Instead of 2 car seats, we will only be buying one. Instead of preparing and reading up on nursing twins, I won't need to do any reading on nursing, because I already know how to nurse one baby. I wont be buying 2 of everything. I wont get to see my babies interact. I will never get to see the connection they would have had as twins. I will not get to feel 2 babies move inside of me, 4 arms and 4 legs to kick me.  I miss Baby A. But I am so happy and praising God for one healthy baby.

I had an ultrasound this week of our surviving twin. And he/she is perfect and growing! Baby B had a heart rater of 183 and is growing perfectly. Look at my cute little gummy bear!! You can see his/her arms and little legs! Look at that giant head! Must take after his/her daddy and big brothers!

Please pray for us. Pray as we are grieving Baby A. Please pray for our surviving baby. Please pray that he or she comes home and is in our arms come this August. Pray for my anxiety for this pregnancy. I am feeling positive but as I know, anything can happen at any point in my pregnancy. Just pray for us, this baby and our hearts.

Thank you all.

2 Thess 3:3 "But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one." Thank you Lord for your promises!