Marcel Winatschek's Tokyopunk

The Story

Towards the end of Misty’s life, there were over 10,000 people reading the daily struggles and triumphs accounted in her husbands blog. The faith she exhibited through those impossible times inspired lives around the world. Little did we know at the time that the impact her life had while she was here was just a fraction of what impact it would have after she was gone. If you are here reading, you have likely already joined the ranks of people touched by her story.

Below are the actual blog posts (imported from documenting the last 2 years of Misty’s battle with brain cancer. These words are continuing to touch people who are broken and hurting; people who need to be reassured that sometimes you just have to throw your hands in the air and say “God, I don’t understand this. It doesn’t seem fair…but I’ll still try to trust you”.

If you want to start reading at the beginning, start here and scroll to the bottom.

The Blog

Dear Misty

September 23, 2009

Dear Misty,
My pen somewhat betrays me tonight. My heart overflows with words, but none seem to express the gravity with which my heart is burdened. I have wrestled with searching for perfect eloquence in my words here, but I am afraid I’ll fail miserably. I know you don’t care though about eloquence…Thanks for always loving me through my strengths and my weaknesses. So after hours of a blank page…I’m going to just write.

In fact, “Thanks” is basically what I need to say here. Let’s start with thanks for being my best friend for 13 years. You walked with me through everything and you never once turned your back on me. The dedication with which you loved me and eventually Olivia was absolutely astonishing. Thanks for putting up with me and even loving me when I put other things (like ministry) in front of our relationship. You were so gracious.

Thanks for sharing everything with me, keeping our relationship so open and healthy. For making me talk about issues even when my weakness had me wanting to simply fall asleep and deal with it another day. You taught me what healthy communication is. I’m still getting better at this and I remember your example often.

Thanks for being strong enough and wise enough to speak into my life and to sharpen me through the years. I loved how you were so discerning and full of wisdom. I have few people in my life who are always honest with me and challenge me. You were always that.

Thanks for holding onto your faith until the end. I still talk of how you looked at the face of death and barely blinked. Your turned your eyes to Jesus and focused on him through absolutely devastating circumstances. Just this week I was telling the story of how I approached you with news from the doctor that he thought you only had 2 weeks to live. I can see it like it was yesterday. You cried one tear and looked up staring me in the eye. “You’re just trusting God?” I timidly asked…and you nodded in affirmation. Your strength and faith in God was astounding.

I wish you could read the emails and letters I have from hundreds of people across this globe. Stories of radical transformation in lives and in families as people turned to Jesus because of the example of faith that you set. Stories upon stories of lives changed and relationships restored. You are a hero to thousands. I wish you could know how over 10,000 people a day were reading your story on our blog. Your life has been such an influence…but not just to the blog world; also to our family. Those closest to us are changed forever and I believe for the better. Not the least of which is me. I’m sitting here in a pool of tears because I know there is no way that I can repay you for what you have given to me. You helped shape my faith and my life….and you did it willingly, even when it took you through incredible suffering. I have nothing to even come close to expressing my humility here. I’m so incredibly sorry for what you went through. How you willingly, not voluntarily, but willingly walked into the arms of Jesus still trusting him. I’m brokenhearted today…not for my loss, but because someone I love so greatly paid such a steep price for the benefit of so many. Many you don’t even know.

Before I go I have to tell you a little about what’s going on…
Olivia and I talk about you often. Lately, she has been making up stories about how Mommy comes down from Heaven and plays with her or watches her sleep and then goes back. She misses you. She misses you but I can’t even explain how incredible she is. She is sensitive, loving, smart and already pretty darn funny. She is exactly like you.  Thank you for giving her to me. I will never drop the ball on caring for her. She has my heart.

Things with Anthem of Hope are going well. The first CD is almost done and we decided to do a journal that goes with it (which is totally written, just working on the layout). I had hoped to have it out by the end of summer…but you know how I get a little over ambitious. I’m working on that. We are only a few weeks away from finishing the AoH recording studio we just built. It’s totally pro and we should be started on the Worship CD pretty soon.

I kinda have some big news too. I’m pretty sure I’m going to be heading to seminary. The mantle that God has put on me with Anthem of Hope is really stretching me to get smart about the Bible. For me to do this right I feel like I have to go get a serious seminary degree. Not sure of the details on that yet…but I’m pretty sure its coming.

I’m doing well Mist. This year has been pretty rough at times, but I feel like God has been carrying me. In fact, just this week I sat in my office and cried for 20 minutes during lunch as I listened to a Leeland song. Here is the first few words:

Carry Me on Your Back
Even heroes fall down
And mountains won’t last forever
But Your promise never fails

When the ocean is raging
I find stillness in Your presence
And I lift my voice to say
‘Jesus take me away!

Carry me on your back
Through the storm, Lord!
Carry me on your back
Through the storm, Lord!

Seriously, you should get it on iTunes. Well worth it.

I want you to know that Olivia and I are happy. She is my highest priority and I am doing the best I can with her. I think we are doing well. Mist, God is really healing my heart. A month or two ago, God took away the loneliness that had bound me for months after you left. It was like he overnight replaced it with a fulfillment in him. Things are good now. I have been reading the Bible and praying more than ever in my life. I feel like I hear from God and I’m walking in his plan.

I’m so sorry for not posting your index cards online. It was hard for me at first to do those and I let it slip through the cracks. I have no real excuse for this and I’m kinda ashamed I let it slip. There are lots of people who could have benefited from these. I’m not going to throw in the towel though. I have been working this week on and I intend to launch it in the near future. I’m excited about it.

I still have the bottle of anointing oil we always used in our house to pray for you. With it remain burning questions of why God didn’t seem to live up to his word. (i.e. James 5:14-15) I’m not through with that. Like I said, I’m planning a 3 year excursion to Seminary where I can wrestle with God and hopefully draw closer to an understanding of the Bible and what it says about what you walked through. I’m somewhat intimidated to do this….I know it’s right though.

Anyway, it’s almost 4am and you’d be yelling at me to get to bed. So I’m gonna do that. I have to recap something though: I want to say this so clearly and loudly…I am who I am, the man, the father, the leader, the Christian, the servant…I am that because of you. God has used you to make me radically different than what I would have been without you. I owe you a debt that I cannot repay.  Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. I esteem you so highly…


how to date a 2yr old

September 1, 2009

Olivia and I have had some good times lately:

Last week, we went to the Cole Bros Circus with Olivia’s best friends Violet and Lyla (and their parents, who happen to be my best friends, Scott and Ann). Some of you who frequent my twitter page or my facebook will recall a lovely commentary on some thrilling events. First, I decide to risk the $6 on an unproven fresh lemonade provider. Now, in the past this has proven problematic as  I have had to deal with lemonade that tastes like metal, plastic and even medicine. But we decide to risk it as this is a pretty “classy” event compared to the local town fairs.  The lemonade isn’t bad so we make our way to the seats (which turn out to be the ghetto cram-them-in section when 200 people fit on a small set of bleachers. Thats what I get for using cupons.

I’m about 30% through my 32oz cup of lemonade priced like gold and I spill this entire drink down the back of the woman in front of me. Her first reaction was profanity…it just came out. but she quickly gained her composure and she was incredibly gracious. I apologized for like 10 minutes and we were on our way.

Next,  as I am turned to help Olivia with something this family slides in so close that the man literally sits his butt cheek down on the edge of my plate. Now, I’m turned around facing sideways and I have to reach my hand around to get my plate out. I literally touched his butt trying to get my plate. He didn’t bat an eye. I couldn’t believe it.

Regardless, Olivia loved it. It was fun.

Then tonight I took her out for a late night Starbucks run. We sat there and shared a Soy Milk Steamer. I had the big cup and she had a small cup with some pured in. This was her mommy’s favorite drink there, so its somewhat of a sentimental beverage :) Afterwards we walked around red bank till it was time for bed. I’m just in love with spending time with her.

But as we sat there in starbucks I began to remember all the times Misty and I visited there….the same place in downtown Red Bank. Truth be told, Misty’s first love was coffee but as she got sick we decided to cut out the caffeine. So we moved to the soy steamers. And she would sit in the car while I ran in and got us drinks. Then we’d drive around with nothing to do and everything to hope for.  A lot has changed since then… 

It’s just a few weeks till the 1 yr anniversary of Misty meeting Jesus in person. I’m looking forward to blogging on that day…there is still so much to say.

For now, I have to get back to work. I have some shopping I have to do for the AoH studio.

ok, so I was just about to hit send on this and I look over and just outside my sliding glass doors, there is a huge (biggest I’ve seen) oppossum on my desk rummaging through my garbage. Just last week I tweeted about how I walked out the front door and found a skunk on my front steps. This is not supposed to happen in suburban NJ. Oh well…

a missing blog entry (part 3)

July 13, 2009

(did you miss part 1, or part 2?)

On our way to the convention center where the meetings were held, we decided it might be good for us to try to get a hotel closer to the event so Misty could easily go back and rest. We we’re not particularly hopeful that we’d find one though, as the revival meetings were drawing quite a crowd from all over the world at this point. Approaching the convention hall we found only one hotel really close by; the Hyatt. I was sure they wouldn’t have vacancies, but Megan insisted on calling. She waited a few minutes to get someone, but before too long she was telephonically engaged with this nice young man named Peter. Deciding to shoot for the stars Meg threw in a couple special requests, like getting rooms close to the elevator. A few minutes on hold and Peter was back…he had reserved two rooms for us, both were right next to the elevator.

Timm and I left the girls in the car and went in to check in. We were greeted by a knowledgeable college age girl.

“Hi, we have reservations for two rooms. Under LeBlanc / Ziegler”
“I’m sorry, I don’t have you listed here, and we are sold out”
“Hmm, but we just talked to someone on the phone who booked two rooms for us…his name was Peter”
“Peter?” she said slightly perplexed. “There is no Peter here. In fact, there are no guys at all working tonight in the front desk or anywhere that would have answered the phone. Are you sure you called this hotel”

We went back and forth in vain for a few minutes trying to solve the mystery of this unknown Peter and his gracious facilitation of our reservation. Finally, we just asked her to check one more time.

“Oh, look at that…your reservation is there now. There must have been a cancellation because as of this morning we had no vacancies. And I have no idea why it didn’t show up before. Oh well!”

She gave us the keys and her well wishes and we were on our way.

Before getting to the hotel we had done a quick drive-by and didn’t see anyone outside at the convention center. So we figured, we’d have plenty of time to let Misty take a nap before wandering over there. We did however want to get some seats up close, so Timm and I went over to scope things out an hour or so later. I mean, we flew a few hours to be there and didn’t want to get stuck in the back with no chance of being prayed for. This whole thing was hard for me to swallow, but when I read the Bible I saw examples like the guys that cut a hole in the ceiling to lower their friend down into where Jesus would pray for him. It was hard because I’m always inclined to say, “God can heal me in FL or NJ” – and while that is true, it is also true that he has used certain people of faith and has given certain gifts of healing. So I swallowed the pride; we went to secure our place in line.

We get to the front doors and let ourselves in. Surprised to find them unlocked (and with no crowd) we wandered around for a staff member. A young man assured us that we were in the right place and that we were first on line. In the corner of my eye I saw a back door with some people sitting just on the other side. A closer inspection revealed over 1000 people lined up outside this entrance, waiting to get in. The young man informed us that the doors had been open for an hour but no one came in…they just built a line no realizing the door was open. So in an incredibly unusual series of events, and at the direction of the hotel staff, Timm and I found ourselves at the front of a very long line.

I left him there to go back and check on Misty. Megan had stayed with her as she napped. I didn’t even like to leave her there for a few minutes without me….things were just moving quickly and I was scared to not be with her. Since we arrived, I had been totally stressed about how I was going to handle my Monday morning meeting…I really didn’t want to leave her for a few hours. Well, as I sat in the hotel room I got an email on my blackberry telling me that the meeting of VIPs that I was in FL to support was just cancelled. Never in my career have I had a meeting cancelled after already traveling for it…but this time it was, and it was a very welcome change.

Shortly before the meeting starts, Meg and I pushed Misty down to meet up with Timm…who was still holding our place in line. Upon arrival to our prominent spot in the line, we found myriad vulture-like people descending upon Misty. Seriously, strange people were coming out of the woodwork to lay there hands on her and give their prayer. I am speculating here, but it seemed to me that the majority of these people were emotionally needy and almost fed on experiences like this; like they preyed on people that looked totally helpless to fulfill some inner needs of their own. Now, please don’t be offended by this…not everyone who prays for people should feel this is directed toward them. I myself have prayed for healing for many people and I feel that I’m pretty emotionally stable. I’m really just highlighting this specific experience…these specific Todd Bentley followers. After a few people, I began to turn them away. There were a few people that were genuine, but I didn’t feel that was the majority. I want to be very clear though…I don’t care a bit about these people. I believe it’s totally possible to have a real experience from God, yet have humans that are screwing it up. The inadequacies of people do not in any way negate the greatness of God. So these people were distracting and frustrating…but my opinion of the day is not built around them.

Inside the room we found quite a production. The vultures continued to descend and the music flooded the room as we took our seats close to the front, but on the side where it was easier to move the wheelchair. We sang and prayed. We did our best to trust God intimately, and look to him. It wasn’t 20 minutes in before Misty tried to tell me something. After a while of guessing I learned that she was basically saying that she trusted God for healing, but it wasn’t going to happen at that place or that night. Misty had always been incredibly discerning. She could pick things up that most of us miss. I should have just trusted her…

I was getting discouraged as people were coming up front claiming to have been healed from various things. Todd quoted a few verses, but 99% of the service was comprised of 3 things: Todd telling us about himself and his experiences with Jesus actually visiting him, Todd telling us about people God healed through him, and Todd bringing up people from the crowd to share stories of healing.

The service was getting a little old for Misty as well, so we decided to go outside. As we sat outside an old friend of mine rounded the corner to visit the bathroom. Nancy Balina is the mother of a girl Melanie who I had in youth group in NJ…Misty and I loved them. Well, there was Nancy with this bubbling passion and excitement for Misty to get prayed for. Seeing her was good; somewhat of an encouragement. Just as we were almost convinced to head back in, we hear Todd ask for all that have terminal illness…especially mothers (it was Mother’s Day). So we move quickly from outside and right up to the front where we joined the line. Timm and Meg were back with us, and now Nancy and George joined the pack.

I picked up Misty from the wheelchair and carried her over to the stage where we were well positioned to get prayed for. There was a young lady who took our name and basically put us in an order to get up on the stage. It was a bit strange, but I’m ok with order. The man in front of me had stage IV cancer as well…I don’t remember what type, but he looked terrible. My heart was breaking for him as he could barely get up the stairs. I remember wondering why these hurting people had to go up onstage to get prayed for. I also remember feeling like Todd was so rough with people…people that were hurting. If I were representing Jesus, I’d imagine hugging people; telling them they are loved; taking their hand and praying for them. I don’t recall observing any affection.

Another lady, one more of Bentley’s facilitators, waved to us as it was our turn. I held Misty’s hand supporting her as we shuffled out onto the cold stage with lights blaring and this fireball of a preacher asking her what was wrong with her. I spoke because she couldn’t. The actual words and movements of those few seconds are a blur. Here is what I do remember though. I remember feeling like he didn’t really care about her story…she was just one more potential success story. I remember being all too aware that there was a video camera (or 3) staring me in the face and broadcasting to millions of people across the world. I remember him uttering a few inconsequential words and pushing her head down – she fell backwards into my arms. I remember her face as I looked down to her…her eyes told all the story that I needed. She was let down. There was nothing there…no feeling of God, no inkling of any healing, not even any love from this purported great man of God. I sit here writing this at 2am on a Sunday night crying because I can see that look of disappointment in her face so clearly. It’s burned in me. (Her disappointment didn’t last for ever though.)

I sat there for a few seconds and Todd’s people began to rush me off the stage. I couldn’t even believe it. I felt no love, no compassion. It felt like a big show. Everything was about the lights and the camera. After we were so instructed to get off the stage, someone out back with a notebook asked us what was wrong with Misty and if she felt anything…like tingling on the spot of the cancer or something like that.  It was quick, quick, quick, had to get our info down so the next person could get through the assembly line.

We went back to our seats and after a short while headed back to the hotel. As Misty lay in the bed sleeping I sat and thought for some time. I believe if I have ever experienced a clashing in the spirit realm, it was in that room as I sat and held the limp hand of my sleeping wife. I understand how weird this topic is, but if we believe in God, we must also believe in Angels, and Demons. All I know is that I was scared for no logical reason and I literally fell asleep repeating the name “Jesus”.

The next day found us up early and off to the airport. The journey back home Misty didn’t even want to get out of the wheelchair. She had left home the day before walking (with my help) and now she had no desire to even get up. Her body had significantly deteriorated in just those 24 hours.

Shortly after the trip we learned that Todd had been cheating on his wife with one of his “ministry” staff.

I can understand if you have some questions: So why did we go at all? What good came from it? And why did God seemingly piece things together to go somewhere when she wouldn’t be healed? So many components just worked out…and they worked out so we could be prayed for on national television by a man who was sleeping with his assistant. Doesn’t add up, right?

Well, I agree that it doesn’t all add up. I haven’t been able to figure out the “Why” questions associated with this one. BUT, I’m not upset that we went. When I sat in the airport and had to decide to fly or go home and I was terrified as to whether or Misty would even make the flight alive…I heard from God in the clearest message I’d ever heard in my life. Not an audible voice, but something pressed on my so strongly I couldn’t escape it. The message was that I could either continue to rely on doctors, or to step out in faith. So we stepped out. I don’t know what good came from that step of faith, but I have to trust some did…somewhere.

Yes, we left that trip disappointed, but it was only a few weeks later when Misty and I took that leap of faith even  more distinctly; when we started reading the Bible not just everyday, but all day; when we began to worship and study throughout the waking hours. Our faith was built and that was the beginning of the beautiful, incredibly joyous time we had in the midst of hell.

Again, I don’t have many answers tonight, just an interesting totally true story and a promise for you that I still serve God, even when I don’t understand it. In fact, it’s almost BECAUSE I don’t understand him that I serve him. If I had God all figured out, he wouldn’t be much of a God.

June 8

June 8, 2009
  • June 8, 1981 was the day Misty was born.
  • June 8, 2003 was the day I married Misty. 

And on June 8, a few years before we got married, I gave Misty a song I wrote for her. It’s on the old Reign Storm album, Deeper (our last release). I wanted to share it with you. It’s not really our best work ever…but some of you might enjoy listening to it as we remember our lovely “beautiful girl”, on her birthday.

>> Download: Beautiful Girl

a missing blog entry (part 2)

June 3, 2009

I usually travel a lot in the summer. For years now, there always seems to be frequent trips I need to take for work in the May through July time frame. Last year wasn’t that busy though. I think part of it was just that I wasn’t fully “up to my game”.  I was focusing so much on trying to cure cancer (literally and figuratively) that I probably wasn’t employee of the year material – a recognition I garnered the year before. Regardless, as of May 1st, my calendar was uncannily light. But before long I get a call that there is an important meeting in FL and I need to be there. I don’t usually “get calls” about traveling. Mostly, I make my schedule based on what we need to accomplish and how the team is doing across the country. But this time…it wasn’t my idea.

Misty wasn’t doing perfectly, but traveling for work is part of my job and frankly she and I were both talking like she was going to be healed and we should live life normally. She was still basically doing everything on her own, but we were starting to be a little more desperate in our hopes for a cure. The unending barrage of bad news was getting to us.

For a few weeks prior to that point, we had been bombarded with emails and calls telling us to watch this Lakeland Revival on tv…so we did. It was a huge gathering led by Todd Bentley and focused very clearly on healing. There were wild claims of people being healed left and right. He had someone on the phone one night that swore he was in the hospital room with a man that just came back to life, that very minute. We weren’t sure what to make of it, but at that point…we were open to whatever. In talking with our friends Timm and Meg Ziegler, it turned out that they had been discussing the same Revival and deliberating about whether or not to ask us to go. Two or three spiritual leaders in their lives had recommended it to them so we it came up that we both at thought about it, we entertained it. I was already going…so we decided to go as a group.

It was almost as if the stars collided on this one; I get a random call to be in FL requiring me to fly in on Sunday night (Sunday was Mothers Day), so that’s the night we planned to go to the service. Well, after we bought our tickets we heard Bentley announce that Sunday night was going to be dedicated to praying for mothers…and for people with terminal cancer. He prophesied that greater miracles then we had seen yet, would happen on Sunday night.

Sunday morning came and it was time to head out. Everything was normal. We were up early and on our way to the Ziegler’s. We carpooled down to Atlantic City from their house (the flights were notably cheaper there). But from about 10 minutes after we got in their car…things were not normal anymore. Misty sat close, right next to me in the backseat of their jeep. I could feel her hands tighten on my arm…something was wrong. I tried to talk with her but in a matter of moments I could notice her speech was getting worse. She managed to tell me that her right eye started going out; her vision faded in and out. It was only a handful of minutes later when she began telling me that her right ear started to go in and out. When we got there Misty needed more help than ever to get out of the car but she walked…even though not for long. Luckily, Timm had expected long lines and waiting, so he brought a wheelchair so she’d be comfortable. The  night before I had told him that I didn’t think we needed it…but clearly I was wrong. I’m still glad he didn’t listen to me.

Now…I began to be terrified by this situation. For so long, I had been trusting our doctors to manage the symptoms and to respond to the emergencies we experienced regularly. But now, I’m taking Misty and, against all likely medical guidance, getting on a plane headed for Florida. She is literally deteriorating before our very eyes and I find myself with the decision to either turn around and go back to the comfort of our doctors (with what was going on, I’d have called the doctor right away and taken her in) or get in a plane where there will be no doctors and no real emergency medical team of the caliber she would need. This had my stomach in knots like it had never been…and has not ever been to this day. I sat there next to her, now in the wheelchair, and I was terrified. I felt like we were in a sick dream. I was almost convinced that she was going to die on that plane if we chose to push on. I prayed. Timm and Megan waited up by security as I sat with Misty. I wasn’t sure I was getting any answer from God. I recall noting that he certainly seems quiet sometimes.

It came down to reason. The doctors here were great at making her comfortable and treating what they could, but she still had cancer and was still moving closer to death by that unconquerable disease. We had to try right? In the Bible, people came from all over to be touched by Jesus (and were healed!) and if Jesus were really showing up down there, well, we had to take that step…in faith. But to be honest, I’m almost surprised with the decision I made that day. It adds up on paper nicely, but when I was there…it wasn’t so easy.

Orlando was hot, but bearable. You could definitely feel Florida though coming off the plane onto the Jetway. The airport though, would soon prove to be one of the most intriguing pieces of this story. Outside we found our rental car, nothing extravagant, but it did the job. All settled, we headed for the exit. We stopped at the booth just before the exit and the woman check our paperwork. I turned to Misty in the passenger seat and noted how friendly this woman was. It was unusual enough for a friendly person like myself to note it. She gets my drivers license and lifts her eye briskly. You really couldn’t miss her eyes. I’m not making this up a bit to describe them as piercing. I recall finding them equally unusual to her demeanor. “New Jersey, huh?” She says with a somewhat familiar, but inquisitive tone. “I am from New Jersey”. “Really?” I respond. She then proceeds to tell us that she is from Lakewood and that she used to go to a church there called Calvary Lighthouse. Are you kidding me? Is this some weird joke? Timm and I were both on staff at Calvary Lighthouse at that time (him full-time, me part-time). We responded with fairly “Holy Cow”-like interjections and looked at each other a bit taken aback. But she continued to almost ramble about other topics as if she were my ADD ridden self in 6th grade homeroom. When the papers were done she did something that is burned into my mind like a branding iron’s mark on a bull. The booth was slightly higher than the car so she leaned her head down in an almost awkward position to get a direct view of Misty, who by the way, looked basically normal. You couldn’t in any way tell she had sever brain cancer unless she tried to talk…which she didn’t. Anyway, the woman’s voice changed, from bubbly and quick with occasional high pitched laughs, to smooth, deliberate and gentle…though clearly exhorting. She looks Misty in the eye and raises her finger to point across my chest towards Misty. “And you” she said. “You trust God. Whatever comes…life or death…you just trust God”. Then with one quick sweep she is back up and her voice is back up as well: “Ok, you guys have a great time whatever you are down here for. And oh, wait, did you need a GPS? Oh, ok sorry, hah hah, ok. Have a great one now! See y’all later!”

Coming Soon – Part 3: Misty’s National Television Debut

Did you miss Part 1? Read it HERE


May 27, 2009

I was having such a good day. I got a ton done in the office today…got to the doctors over lunch to get shots for my upcoming trip to Zimbabwe(I’ll explain later)…had a nice dinner with olivia over her new friends house…got home and was getting a bunch more work done after Liv went to bed…

Then, I needed to get something out of Misty’s email account to pay a bill online. Well…when I signed into her account, everything was gone. Literally, everything. Every email she ever saved, archived or left in her inbox was deleted. Apparently, I hadn’t signed in for 120 days, so lovely hotmail deleted everything. 4 months…are you kidding? Thats a long cruise for some people. ANd since storage space is just so expensive nowadays…

I’m not sure I can express how bummed I am about this….an email acount is like a life journal that you don’t intentionally write. I had been keeping her email account as something I’d get to in the future…just another lovely set of memories. I really wish I had signed in a couple weeks sooner…

Anyway, if you happen to work for hotmail and can fix this…I’ll pay you.

lonely may

May 25, 2009

Last night marked the 8 month anniversary of the day Misty died. It’s been two thirds of a year, and I miss her.  On Mothers day, I wrote about a bit of depression I was going through. Well, I’d venture to say I have had a few nights since that were in the same realm. This isn’t an ambiguous, unidentifiable depression…these roots are clear…they are birthed in loneliness.

In talking with a friend tonight on the phone, it became so very clear that she was feeling the pressure of a stigma, all too popular in Christian circles. That is:

You shouldn’t ever be lonely because God will fill your needs.

That idea really doesn’t work for me. Does the “God will fill your needs” concept work in every area of life? Like, “You shouldn’t ever be out of shape, because God will fill your needs”? Obviously not…that would be an asinine idea. But why is that idea so obviously wrong with physical needs, but not emotional needs. This is the same reason many people stay away from the field of mental health. We treat an ear infection the day it comes on, but struggle with depression for years without even talking to anyone.

Now, please don’t misunderstand me. I want to be very clear. God could very easily fix someone’s emotional issue, just as he could very easily make my body to be in shape (even though I am far from that). But like the silliness of expecting God to tone my body without work on my part, I think it’s also silly to expect him to fix every emotional issue I have, without work on my part.

So yes, I am in some aspects a bit lonely. And it’s fairly upsetting to me, that others I know in a similar situation, add guilt to their normal montage of already crazy daily emotions because they are convinced that they are wrong for being lonely.

So when I identified this obvious thread in my life, the symptoms were blatant.

  • Finding old friends to reconnect for lunch or just on Facebook
    • I’m pretty sure I freaked out a few people, calling them after a decade or so. Especially the girls…)
  • Buying a few nice new pieces for my camera gear arsenal
    • This is an investment….yes, I really do believe it :)

I found a teaching outline online that covered loneliness by a Bible College professor. He listed “loss of a spouse” as a potential cause for loneliness, so I think we are talking apples to apples here, and this is some of the verbiage he used:

  • Loneliness is a choice
  • Christian couch potatoes are transplanted not planted
  • God designed it that way so we would seek fellowship among other believers because even if you do not feel it, you are part of the greater body of Christ and you have a purpose.
  • Loneliness is Self-Centeredness
  • Lonely people crawl into the “woe is me” syndrome and stay there.
  • They tend to use other people to feed their sympathy ego.

I kinda chuckled when I read his material. It was so not relevant to me…but I wasn’t at all offended. Misty was my best friend for 13 years.  We had a human relationship that no one can replace…and that’s ok. I will miss her forever. Lately, that missing has made me slightly depressed, but I’m not staying there. Nurturing healthy relationships with peers and a renewed focus on God provide a solid starting point for growth.

But this post isn’t about me. It’s about those of you who are lonely.  I just wanted you to know that I am too…but ‘m not sticking around for long.

a missing blog entry (part 1)

May 20, 2009

I flew into Orlando today and had a bit of deja vu. One year ago, this month, I flew into the same airport with Misty. Here is a clip of what I posted that night:

As seemingly impossible as this situation is, we need to remember that Jesus already overcame the world. Curing cancer is nothing for him. So today, we are believing that God is going to do something big in Misty.

Tonight we will be at a prayer meeting, expecting to get something from God. I’m really trusting him to heal her. If you have any faith at all, join us in prayer anytime from 7pm to 11pm tonight. (read the whole post HERE)

That prayer meetingI referred to was the “Florida Outpouring” or the “Lakeland Revival”. I never wrote about it because there were quite a few thoughts flying through my mind and I didn’t know what to make of it. The controversial Todd Bentley had been drawing huge crowds to Lakeland FL and streamed the services across the globe on GOD.TV with various dish providers as well as on the internet through his ministry site. There was quite a buzz, as Bentley claimed to have raised handfuls of people from the dead and have healed hundreds from serious sickness.

If I were honest about our emotional state last may, I’d have to paint you a picture that was fairly grim.  We were desperate. Misty was dying of cancer…and nothing was stopping it. Within weeks of his gaining popularity, my inbox was full of people telling me to watch his show. Now, I watched these services on the computer first, and to be honest…I didn’t buy it. But I’m a skeptic; I always have been. I question everything and anything. So when faced with the idea that my own skepticism may be keeping us from some miracle healing…well, you can imagine the tension I’d have felt there. I so wanted this to be the real thing, but was having a hard to totally buying in. 

I was still working at the time and an important meeting came up down in FL. So I decided I’d bring Misty along a day early (on sunday) and visit this church. Interestlingly, it happened to be mothers day and Todd mentioned he was going to pray specifically for Mothers and also specifically for terminally ill cancere patients. On the way to the airport, Misty’s situation got worse. It was noticibly worse than the night before and I remember being terrified about taking her on a plane away from a chance for medical help. I still remember sitting in the atlantic city airport with our friends (Timm and Megan, who decided to make the trip with us) and thinking through this decision, before finally moving forward to get on the plane.

I have to go to sleep, but this is to be continued. And following are all parts of the story to look forward to:

  • Misty on worldwide TV.
  • Mysterious woman in the rental place (who knew everything about us…)
  • Todd Bentley cheating on his wife while he’s praying for mine…
  • The good and the bad of the trip.

A Missing Mommy Mothers Day

May 11, 2009

If I were to be honest, I’d have to confess that this has not been my best week. And while this blog hasn’t been the gut-spilling venue that it was this time last year, I am still very much compelled to present the naked truth, as I call it. So I will.

I have been depressed for a few days. I got back from vacation with Olivia late Tuesday night and started work Wednesday morning. These past three days have been perhaps the least productive days of my recent few years. I would stare at my computer in work just wishing the day were over (this started at about 10am)….and I have no energy to stay up past Olivia’s bedtime to work on anything else, like Anthem of Hope. I would prefer McDonald’s to just about anything under the sun, except chocolate (yes, I eat my feelings as well).  Now, there is nothing anyone can do here….I’m not looking for anything. I’m really just making sure it is clear that I’m not superman. Sometimes I get accused of that…or at least of playing him on a blog. And for the record, if this continued I’d see a counselor, as I recommend any of us should. BUT, its not, I’m fine today :)

Well, mostly fine. I’m not depressed….but I do miss Misty. And contrary to popular belief it has nothing to do with Mothers Day, or anything else. It’s just been 8 months since I held my best friend in my arms. And a handful of months more since she was well enough to reciprocate much affection back to me. I just burn to be with her.

Today however, was really lovely. I did get to visit my mother and my mother-in-law (both of whom, I am unable to imagine life now without – they are huge parts of day to day life with Olivia – Happy Mothers Day!!), but Liv and I also took a trip over to Monmouth Memorial Park to visit Misty…or her grave, however you prefer. Misty’s life was a fairly unique journey and I think her funeral/memorial service was quite unique as well. In keeping with that, I really wanted to make her cemetery marker equally unique so I searched for months to find the right place to have it custom made. I’m pretty happy with the way it came out. Olivia was happy to see Mommy’s picture on the stone and she got down to touch her face when we first got there. I asked her if she wanted to say anything to Mommy:

“We miss you Mommy”
“I miss you so much”
“I love you, Mommy”

then, turning to me…

“Mommy’s not sick anymore…she’s happy”

Yes, yes she is my dear.

If you want to visit the photo gallery, click HERE or click the picture below.

 Lastly, I also have to wish a Happy Mothers Day to Ann Parker…who with my mom and my mother-in-law share responsibilities for watching Olivia when I’m at work. I’m so incredible blessed to have 3 women/mothers that I trust with my life being part of Olivia’s life each week.

PS: isn’t made yet….but someday it will be.

Back to the day Misty died…

April 12, 2009

If you have been around much at all you know of my Misty. Her life continues to impact me profoundly. But there is a small piece of this story that I have not yet told…none of you have heard this. I want to reach back half a year to the last day of our stay in the ICU at Monmouth Medical Center. I remember our room so vividly. I can feel the air blowing up from the vent on my back as I lean to rest from standing by her side. I can feel the texture of the ropes holding the tube in misty’s mouth…the tube that kept her breathing. I can remember the computer screen that we watched as her vitals slowly got worse each day. I can still feel her swollen cheek pressed against my lips and the softness of her hair growing back after we had stopped chemo. By all accounts, there was no hope. By worldly standards, there was nothing to find joy in. Yet, in the midst of that place…in the middle of the end, there was incredible peace. I still can’t qualify it, but I want to read you a note that I got from Misty’s best friend Ann:

Just wanted to tell you one of my observations and something that I will never forget. There was a great sense of Peace all around Misty those last months. Because of your focus on God, listening to Scripture, worship and prayer time, your house seemed to be covered in a great big blanket of peace. I experienced this most especially those final days in the hospital. I spent those days praying, reading the Bible, and worshiping with nearly every waking moment, but I still felt anxious and worried…Until I stepped into Misty’s room in the ICU. There…was peace.

But the peace isn’t what I want to write about today. I want to write about the source of the peace. See, those last months, Misty gave up fighting an earthly battle. I’m not saying she gave up – by no means. She gave up the earthly battle and took on a spiritual one. She began to run after God in a new way. In her pursuit, she found a peace that covered us. But let’s go back to that hospital room for a moment.

Misty’s brain had stopped working and we legally had to stop the life support. Accordingly, I had asked the doctor to pull her off the breathing machine…and he did. Misty’s heart began to beat more slowly…and more slowly still. But there was a song in the room. I am not speaking figuratively; this was a song that filled the silence between the beeps of the monitors and the quiet last prayers I uttered. The CD we were listening to had come to a song called “Running” by Klaus. Its words, I will never forget. (Click HERE to listen to the song)

I hear the voice, the voice of the one I love, He’s calling my name. I hear the voice, the voice of the one I love, He’s calling my name. He’s saying “Come up higher; you’ll hear the angels sing, come up higher my beloved. Come up higher and leave this world behind, you’ll find me to be beautiful…”

I am running, I am running after You, You’ve become my soul’s delight. I am running, I am running after You, here with You I find my life.

I didn’t plan that. I didn’t pick the CD because of those lyrics…in fact, I hadn’t even listened to them all that closely before. This was just a little gift from God that helped me find peace in the midst of this (there are others I might choose to share some day). But there, that night, my best friend died. She left us to the voice of Jesus calling her home.

Six months later and I’m literally sitting here on my couch holding a piece of that rope that I had taken off Misty’s face. It’s Easter, and as I think of how Jesus ran after our hearts, I’m remembering how Misty ran after Him. She trusted him like I’ve never seen anyone trust. That place that she got to is a place of glory I can only hope of reaching. And while my heart still breaks at the thought of not having her…I can’t help but smile at who she became…at the legacy she left for our daughter. That legacy is why there is still peace today for me.

Oh, one more thing. Three different people told me that the female voice on that song sounded like Misty. None of them knew what I’m telling you right now but they just heard the song and thought it sounded like Misty…and all approached me at different times. (Just another little gift)

Goodnight Misty. Happy Easter.