Thursday, June 3, 2010

renewed faith

   Dear Family,

   The sonogram on Tuesday morning revealed no heartbeat. This was difficult to see, but we are hopeful that God will work through this loss. We were able to get an appointment with Dr. Hoffman at Baylor that afternoon. He performed the procedure to end the pregnancy. He was a kind doctor and combined with all the Midwives at Baylor, we could not have been in better hands. While Tuesday was a tough day, we felt the comfort of God's people. Thank you.

   Ally rested at home until this morning.

   There's a certain amount of awkwardness in suffering publicly. Especially when you put your dire situation out there for prayer. Many pray for something miraculous to occur, and then seemingly, it doesn't. Our main request for prayer though was for increased faith. Your prayers are still being answered. The very definition of faith being "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen". We had much that we had hoped for in this pregnancy, but not having seen God answer the prayer for a child yet, all we could do was believe. We believed, but it didn't happen. Yes, I would love to be a dad, and Ally would love to be a mom, but it just didn't happen. It stinks. There's no other way to say it, but it's not the end to our story. We know that there are new mercies out there that we will experience together (see: Lamentations 3:22-23). The realization of these mercies are proof that your prayers are answered.

   My eyes opened this morning to find Ally dressed and ready for another day. She was wearing jewelry, make-up, perfume and all. She said, "I'm going to work." I was shocked. How could a girl who had gone through this be ready to start again? And it hit me: it's her faith. She has amazingly strong faith. Together, our faith has been broken down, but it's being rebuilt. But we say that our strong faith does not equal strength. It equals weakness. Faith is the willingness to be weak and to let our God do the rest. We are weak. Tears come at random times. My knees get weak and I have to sit. My thoughts are dizzying to a point of actual dizziness. Ally gets that blank stare: the one where it's obvious what she's thinking about.

   We are a picture of weakness. We are not a picture of strength.

   Our God has provided strength when we need it. This comes as a result of our weakness. He works through suffering. It's the catalyst for joy. That has been proven throughout history, and He is still proving this to us.

   Your emails and comments (and that huge box of cheezits waiting for us on the porch) have helped to sustain us. We are blessed to know you and blessed to be able to share our sufferings with you.


   Zeb & Ally
   Romans 8:28

Monday, May 31, 2010


    Dear Family,

In June of last year, our lives changed. We became parents to a little girl that entered into eternity at birth. Allison carried her to 28 weeks, and she was born on August 14th, 2009. We named her "Glory". Her name was a reminder for us, and every one who knew us, that everything was and is meant for the glory of our God. We held a fund raiser in honor of our daughter and sent more than $70,000 to the children of Ethiopia. That event helped us to remember that God works through tragedy. We felt it was part of being obedient to Him.

  We hope that one day we can send you all a letter with so-called "good news" informing you that a little one has arrived, but today is still not that day. After you go through a hard time, it's easy to get caught up in the thinking that God owes you something, or that hardship is behind you. This is not true.

  In January of this year we faced another trial. We learned that a baby was on the way, but after only 7 weeks another miscarriage occurred. It was again hard to make sense of this. It seemed so pointless to us; pointless that a life would begin and end with no fanfare, no cribs, no bottles, no diapers, no little league, or music lessons, or sunday school, or graduations etc. etc. etc., but it did, and we are working to heal from this.

  Ally is pregnant again now. She is currently at 12 weeks. We've been cautious, but optimistic. Early blood work showed that everything was in line, and that this pregnancy had the chance of being as normal as any other. A sonogram on Monday though was accompanied by difficult news: the baby is not growing properly, and we're to expect an early miscarriage. This news came about in the same hospital room it did last June. The same technician revealed a potential malady. The same doctors sat down with us to talk over the future. The same instructions were given: come back next week. And the same emotions followed. The word "surreal" defines the scene.

  After we concluded our visit with the doctors on Monday, we went to eat some Tex-Mex. (We've learned that this is just what Texans do to deal with grief.) After lunch, we both decided to be "Big Kids" and head back to work. Ally had not shared the news that she was pregnant with any of her co-workers, and so she did not share the news of her lunch hour either. She just went back to work. It's something we learned last summer... to just keep going. If you stop, you feel sorry for yourself and selfishness, and bitterness, and anger take over. If you keep going, and remain faithful to what is in front of you, blessings take over. Last year, it was the opportunity to bless orphans in Ethiopia. We don't know how God will use this chapter in our life, but we know He will. It may not be as grandiose, but He will use it. I don't write this to say that we are handling this perfectly, or that we have this whole grief thing figured out. We don't. I do feel selfish and bitter and angry. I ask all the same questions: "How...?" "Why...?" But continuing to move helps to diminish these emotions.

  We sat on the kitchen floor yesterday, drowning our sorrows with snacks, and talked about the reality of our situation. We discussed the possible pain of another miscarriage. We talked about the fear of not having children. We talked about how tired we were of sharing bad news. We talked about our extended families. We talked about our friends. We talked about our future. We talked about our emotions. We talked about how life is different than we had pictured. We talked about the obvious whole in our world. We wondered together about what was next. Then--- I asked Ally the question, "Did you just eat that whole box of cheezits?" And she said, "Yes". And then we went on with our evening. I share this to tell you that while we are sad, we are not crushed. We talk through things and when we're done talking through them, we laugh through the tears.We are on a journey together, and our love for each other continues to grow. We both agree that God is doing something. We just don't know what that something is. Most of the time we don't even agree with the way He does things. We feel patient at times, and at times we feel betrayed as our hope of having children keeps getting dashed.

  We write to ask for prayer. Pray for our faith most of all, as it is weak. Pray for a miracle after that. Miracles don't happen if faith doesn't exist. At this point, we know that whether this child lives or dies, our faith is all that we will have. Miracles are up to God. Faith is up to us. We believe that He can do whatever He wants. All we can do is believe. 

  We have an appointment for a sonogram tomorrow morning at 9:45. 
  We will keep you posted. 


  Zeb & Ally

 Romans 8:28

Thursday, December 3, 2009

how much?

   A lot!

   We are thankful to know most of you who read this. If we do not yet know you, we hope to one day.

   I write to say thank you to those who joined us last night at the fund-raiser. After losing a baby ("Glory"), and doing our best to find meaning in loss, we hosted an event for The Gladney Center to benefit the children of Ethiopia. We have learned that reaching out to others through the valleys in life helps to strengthen your resolve for healing, and surrounding yourself with people who strive for eternal glory is a vital part of this healing. Allison and I want to express our gratitude to those around us for teaching us what genuine "service" is. We have been honored to serve with you, and we can't wait to continue your work.

   When this event was first planned, we had no idea how you would teach us even more about what it is to serve a God who loves us, but you did. I talked with Scott Brown at Gladney this afternoon. $20,000 dollars seemed like a realistic expectation and the number of children impacted would be huge. So the $48,000 raised last night far exceeded that! As of tonight, we have just over $50,000 donated to the people of Ethiopia and are told that donations are still rolling in.

   We are humbled.

   To God Be The Glory!

   ---If you can donate to this cause, I can tell you with confidence that 100% of your gift this season would be used to care for the children of Ethiopia. Click here to help. In Honor Of: "Shower for Glory"

Thursday, November 19, 2009

   We received a call last week from Dr. Terry Weinman, a Neonatologist at Baylor All-Saints that was, and has been a great support to us over the last 6 months. She asked if we would be willing to be interviewed for a story the Star-Telegram is doing on palliative care (specifically neonatal palliative care) that will run the week of Thanksgiving. We happily agreed.

   We sat down with Jan Jarvis, the medical writer for The Star-Telegram today to recount our story. We started from last February, from the medical care we received, to emotions we experienced, to support of family and friends, and led up to the desire to turn tragedy into triumph. She was very attentive and kind. She asked for permission to speak of "Shower for Glory" in the article. We happily agreed.

   Thanks again for what you all have done. We look forward to making a difference together with you.

Friday, October 9, 2009


Dear Family,

We are thankful to write to you today and to tell you how we believe our God is working through our circumstances. Many of you have appropriately asked, "Is there anything we can do to help...?"

We have not had an answer to this question, until now.

Life can sometimes seem like a series of events that don't work out like we hoped they would. We are working to shift this event in our life into good.

When Ally and I found out that we were having a baby last February, I had just gotten home from Ethiopia. I had the opportunity to visit several orphanages while there and had several thoughts of adopting one or two of the 6,000,000 orphans in the country. After my trip, we found out that we were having a child of our own. The kids faces that I had encountered remained on my mind. Ally and I had discussed the possibility of having a shower, not for our child, but one that would benefit the children of Ethiopia. Those plans were halted on June 13th, the day we received our difficult news. As most of you know, the following two months were difficult for us, going from one specialist to another, and having regular visits to see if our baby's heart was still beating. When Ally went into labor on August 14th, a sonogram revealed that Glory's physical heart had stopped beating. After 10+ hours of labor, we got to meet our daughter. The minutes and hours that followed were surreal at best. It's difficult to explain with words. My thoughts betray me even still when I attempt to write you about it. (Hence, the delay in writing you.) Your mind issues one word sentences like "Life. Death. Beginning. End. Sorrow. Joy? Pain. Healing. Hope? Anger. Trust. Bitterness. Believe. Doubt. etc." I will say this though: Ally and I were both of the mindset from the beginning, that we refused to let the finality of death define this circumstance. We refuse to allow bitterness to take over and we refuse to let life be forgotten. While we believe that Glory is in heaven, we want her short life and death to mean something, and so we are determined to do all that we can to make this happen.

It is with great joy that we can announce that we have teamed up with The Gladney Center for Adoption, a non-profit organization that has a presence in Ethiopia, and are in the midst of planning an event that will benefit the children of Ethiopia. There are children there that come into this world with nothing but the love of a mother. We will be participating in a program that will combine this vital love with resources that will help these mothers keep their children. If we can do this for one family as a result of our circumstances, Glory's life would mean something. We are asking for your help.

Gladney has worked with the Ethiopian Government, with great success to this point, and the relationships that they have already forged there give us a great advantage in providing help for these families. Our goal is to do more than put food on the table. Our goal is to promote "family" to the people of this country. Single mothers often have to relinquish their rights to their children because of their circumstances. We want to see these children stay with their mothers, brothers and sisters. Our desire is to raise both awareness and funds for the people of this country.

You have been our partner during this difficult time. You have fed us, you have clothed us in prayer, and provided stability during tragedy. Would you be willing to continue your work and help us to feed and clothe, and provide stability to families in Ethiopia? We would be further humbled by your support.

Here is a link to our updates to this point and details of this event will be posted here as we approach the date. It will be held Wednesday, December 2 at The Cultural District Banquet Centre, home of B.K.'s Creative Catering in Fort Worth. (This space has been graciously donated.)  If you wish to receive updates on this event, click "Follow" on the home page. If you know someone who would want to participate, please feel free to forward this email. Invitations will be sent soon.

You have been a blessing to us. Will you join with us in blessing the people of Africa? We are excited about the possibility of continuing our partnership with you.

To God Be The Glory!


Zeb & Ally
Romans 8:28

Friday, August 14, 2009

Glory to God

Dear Family,

Glory went home to be with her Lord this morning at 4:05.

Allison is resting well at Baylor All Saints after about 10 hours of labor.

She mentioned you all shortly after giving birth and wanted me to convey our thanks for what you have done for us.

"Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." Job 1:21


Zeb & Ally

Friday, July 24, 2009

sowing & reaping

Dear Family,

Our doctor visit on Monday was identical to the previous 5. We enter a room where a midwife or a doctor listens for a heartbeat. We hear the heartbeat, and then we go home. Sometimes we cry on the way, and sometimes we stop for donuts. And sometimes we do both.

Several have asked, "the doctor said 2-4 weeks? So what's going on? Is there room for a miracle? What if...?" We are told that miracles do happen, but having to see doctors all the time usually weakens that belief. The conditions that our baby has are many, Turner Syndrome is the least of these. According to doctors, the fatal issues are the lack of necessary chromosomes (which is related to TS), and the fluid that corrupts the vital organs. God can solve all the issues if He wants, and He may. We are doing our best to put our hope in Him. He can take it from there.

I was taking a friend home earlier that doesn't have a car, and was asking him about his life. I asked specifically about his relationship with his family. He told me that he rarely speaks to any of his family, even his daughters. To gain more insight on why he is the way he is, I asked him what kind of a relationship he has with his father. He gave a similar answer- "I never talk to him". From this I learned that he never had a true earthly father: one that loved and cared for him the way a father should, and as a result, he has been shaped this way. (I share this with you because you are our family and we want you to know how God is speaking to us. And so this is part of our update.)

In the midst of this conversation, several things became clear to me. I am blessed to have an earthly father who loves and cares for me the way he should, and we talk regularly. But more importantly, I have another Father that I do not talk to enough. I don't pray like I could. Even during this struggle, I haven't. I issue excuses like "what in the world would I ask?" or "I've already asked for children, and look what happened!" or "you're gonna do what you're gonna do, God and I can't stop you" etc. etc. etc. When my friend told me that he never speaks to his earthly father, I had the self-righteous thought of "just think what talking to God could do for you..." I was immediately convicted in my heart that
I have access to God and I don't utilize it like I could. I spared him my confession, as he has previously joked, "You must be a Mormon. Mormons always talk about heaven and Jesus". I'll keep working on him slowly...

This story seemed relevant to me because I forget that it is our God that has comforted us during this time, and He has done so because even when I am not faithful to cry out to Him,
you have. We are living a nightmare to many, but in the midst of it, He "renews our strength" (Isaiah 40:31) as we lay our burdens at His feet. Allison and I both agree that the Lord has given us these last 6 weeks to prepare us. He is shaping us in this way, and we have the opportunity to rely on Him. We know that hard times are to come, but we know that our strength will be renewed- again.
Allison's attitude during this time would humble you beyond belief. I promise. She gets up early. She exercises. She studies truth and she applies it. She is sad, but she remains composed and she is proof to me that I am loved by God.

We read Psalm 126:5 the other night and were comforted. It says, "Those who sow in tears, will reap with songs of joy."

I get upset with the Lord for allowing us to go through this waiting period, but a good friend of mine recently reminded me that the Saviour of the universe also went through a difficult waiting period-- when "He who knew no sin, took on flesh". Jesus waited and waited and waited.
He knew his physical heart would stop beating. He cried out to His Father. He questioned his Father. And then, He was with His Father.

We sow in tears today, but tomorrow... tomorrow we
will reap with songs of joy.

To God Be The Glory,

Zeb & Ally
Romans 8:28

Monday, July 13, 2009


Dear Family,

I had my dates mixed up in our previous email. We have an appointment in the morning at 9:30.

Believing. Worrying. Hoping. Fearing. Praying. Doubting. Waiting... That about sums us up for now.

To God Be The Glory,

Zeb & Ally
Romans 8:28

Thursday, July 9, 2009

waiting on the Lord

Dear Family,
Saying "thank you" during this time in our lives feels so insufficient, but we express it the best way we can. We are blessed to have you in our life and our prayer is that the Lord might speak to you through our testimony. So, thank you for sticking close through this chapter. The love and support that you have shown has helped to sustain us.

I've struggled to write an update over these last few weeks. Putting words to our situation has been difficult, but we know that we need to ask for prayer at this point, so here we are.

I'll tell you what we know so far. Test results have come back and showed that our baby has Turner Syndrome. According to the doctor, this is just an isolated chromosomal issue that is highly unlikely to repeat in future pregnancies. The fluid has increased on the heart and lungs which would eventually lead to heart failure. We are nearing our 4th week of waiting since we were made aware of the situation. We are doing as well as we know how. We know that our God is sovereign. We know that our family loves us. We know that our family prays for us while we wait. We know that our God will receive glory from this situation, and we know that we will continue to believe in the power of the cross even though we feel weak right now.

There is something else we know. We are having a girl. We believe that this little girl is loved by her Creator. We do not know why she is facing affliction, but we have to trust that she is loved. While we know that she was sent to us, we are very confident that she was made for God. This is hard for me to type because I feel angry that she will not necessarily bring us any joy. We ask all the questions that maybe you have asked in the valley, but we believe that God made her, and He accepts her.
We've given her a name: "Glory". We read Psalm 29 and are comforted. We are doing our best to ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name and worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness (verse 2). While this is hard to do during a trial, we believe that the Lord will give strength to His people, and the Lord blesses His people with peace (verse 11).

We saw the doctor again this morning at 9:00. The heart is still beating. We are blessed to have a wonderful group of doctors and nurses taking care of us. The midwives that Ally has seen do very well to comfort us, and several of them share our common bond of faith. Our next appointment is July 20th at 9:30.

May our God bless and keep you!

Zeb & Ally
Romans 8:28