The way of suffering

I wrote parts of this two weeks ago as we were just getting used to the addition of Baby Girl to our little family.  We had prepared as much as we knew how but as you can imagine, you can’t be ready for everything.  We had significant challenges with the twins regressing behaviorally once the baby arrived. I’m not sure why – because they really wanted her to move in. I was in no way prepared for them to act-out the way they did that first weekend. Friday evening, I was ready to give up, cry, give everyone back and declare defeat. After a little bit of sleep and little bit of structure, I started to come out of the pit of despair and believe God might still be here.

That Sunday morning I took the big girls to church and it was truly a divine appointment for me to be refilled. As I entered into worship and allowed the Lord to minister to my weary heart I realized that these are but light and momentary trials. Yes, I would love to sleep 9-10 hours a night, but losing a couple of those hours is not going to kill me. Yes, I would love relief from the bed-time battles we are currently enduring, but that is nothing compared to the suffering Christ went through for me… to be called a daughter of the King. It’s all a matter of perspective!

In two songs the lines, “I need you” or “you are all I need” were repeated and I realized, He is more than enough. I don’t have all the grace, love or energy to make it through this calling but God is all I need. It was somehow freeing to recognize that my “suffering” is small in comparison and to know that God can work through me. I can honestly say, I don’t have what it takes to raise three little girls. I am painfully aware of my fallenness. But, for some reason, God has chosen me for this chapter of their lives and if I stop trying to do everything in my own strength and give Him a chance to work, then we just might make it. It might not be as pretty as I want, but suffering, crucifixion and death is not always pretty.

In my Battle Prep this morning I reflected on the passion of Jesus.

His great love for the Father and His great love for you carried Him through His suffering all the way to the cross.

He went to the cross so that I might become the woman He created me to be, a woman who knows Him and reveals and represents Him now and forever.  What depths of love.

What does revealing Him look like?  Sometimes it looks like laughing at the silliness of little girls.  Sometimes it looks like wiping away the tears when they cry for their mommy.  Or holding them as they face the fears of the night.  Or singing of His love over them.  We are in a battle; but through the cross I can be confident of the victory.

I am deeply grateful for everyone’s love and support. I have truly felt the fellowship propel me into my part of this story. I am thrilled to say that we are reaching a rhythm and things seem to be settling down. I see hope. I feel the prayers of many on our behalf. I am loved by the Father and I see his love for these girls. And in this moment…. I’m not giving up.


Can we drink it?

I get so much credit for how beautiful our little girls are.  I just smile and say, I know! whenever anyone mentions it.  I think it’s easy to agree because I know I had absolutely nothing to do with it.  It’s just a God thing.  People that don’t know our story have no idea these aren’t our girls.  And sometimes, for just a moment, I can feel the same way.

It is so funny to watch their unique personalities develop and even funnier when I see how much they are like us.  Maybe it’s just me wanting to think they are like me… but there are plenty of times I also say – that’s definitely not my child 😉

I can’t help but smile when the twinsies stand in my bathroom, watching carefully each step of my morning routine to apply my make-up, put in my tic-tacs (contacts) and use my straightener (that’s hot, don’t touch!).  I remember being a little girl and watching my own mother apply her make-up, questioning each step, what is that?  What does it do?  When do I get to wear it?

Or what about the time that the girls were looking through my wedding album, asking tons of questions about our special day:  Why are you wearing a bedspread?  Why does Daniel look like that?  Whose car is that?  Where are you going?  When I told them we went on a “trip” for our honeymoon – Lord have mercy! –  they broke out in tears.  “Without me!?!  But I wanted to go!!!”     Girly, that was 10 years ago.  You were not even thought of yet.

But my favorite yet happened just the other day.  We were having lunch at a local place in my hometown that I always go to primarily because of their Ranch dressing.   {I am a self-admitted Ranch addict.}  When Prissy noticed me dipping my crackers in Ranch she wanted to know if it was good.  Well, of course it is good, don’t you like Ranch dressing?  Then she asked if she could try it.  So I carefully made her a little cup… (she’s a double dipper)… and much to her surprise, she loved it.  She looked at me and said  “Can we drink it?!”

I just smiled.  Sweet girl, you are my child.

Love Does

But We Were on a Break!

Do you remember that famous Friends episode where Ross repeatedly says, “But we were on a break!” ?  Well, I do.  Those are the words I’ve heard in my head over-and-over again when I think back on the past two months.  Some of you have heard this part of our story, but for those that haven’t, it is simply amazing.   I still sit in awe of God’s gracious love.

Let me flash back two and a half months…. One evening Daniel and I were sitting in our sun-room with nothing going on when I got a message on my phone. This was a message from a friend I’ve known most of my life but not had recent contact with. She’s a bit younger than me, her family has been on the mission field in Japan as long as I have known them, so it’s always been a relationship at a distance.

She had a dream. There are not a lot of specifics, but it was very clear that we would soon be getting twins and we were to say “yes”.

I froze. Daniel thought something bad had happened. I gave him my phone and told him he had to read this. He read, then we both laid back on the couch and stared at the ceiling. What are we supposed to do with this?

If you know me well, you will understand how much everything in this dream went against this rational Abby.

  • One, we were on a break!
  • Two, I was specific about the age group we were willing to foster and the dream was specific about the twins not fitting in my “age window”.
  • Three, I’ve always said… twins would be a nightmare! How do you even think about surviving that? All I could do was laugh at God… maybe with God… I don’t know.

Daniel looked at me and said “who is this again?” Umm… somebody that I would say hears from God and if she says she has a word from the Lord I’m going to listen.

I spent two days in prayer. I asked others to pray with me / for us to have discernment. (not sharing first what the dream was.)

Within the first hour my sister had a sense of the Lord saying

“I the Lord have called you in righteousness and will go with you and will hold your hand.”

This is variation of Isaiah 42:6 and 41:13.  I went to those two verses to read through the surrounding verses and felt particularly drawn to Isaiah 41:10 and 13. I had a sense of moving forward with something and God saying He will be with you every step of the way. (from sister) Then I told her about the dream…and said… don’t tell mom!

I walked around in a daze for a week. I don’t know why. Sometimes I couldn’t even speak. At that time my heart was still so raw from our prior placement and I couldn’t fathom God calling me back into something… especially something like this.

That Sunday, I was in Dothan and went to my old church. I haven’t been there in 3 years. It was a strange situation but I just felt like God was going to meet me there. The elder leading the service that day had a word that he felt strongly was for someone. It was a vision of someone standing on the shore, facing some big waves and God was asking them to trust him and step into the waves. It didn’t look like something they wanted to do but He promised He would be with them. Trust Him. Step Out.

Of course I wondered if this was for me. I could feel it deep in my gut. So deep that I feared if I even let my breath out I could start crying and not stop.

Two days later I shared my dream with my dad. He shared about that Sunday morning service and his deep knowing that the word was for me… but he wouldn’t even turn his head to look at me at the time. He didn’t want to pressure me but he knew as soon as he heard the word that God was after me.

Daniel was in Tampa. We continued to process, pray and trust God in this journey.

One evening as I was getting dressed for a Foster & Adoptive Parent Association meeting I got a call from a strange number. And I answered.

Abby, this is Jenny from placement. I don’t know if you guys are even ready to consider a placement but I wanted to check with you…. we have twin girls … I know you’ve been through a lot and might still be on a break, so do you want to hear anything more about these girls?

Umm… yes… but no… but yes, tell me more.

“They are two-years old. I know you’re licensed for one between the ages of 4-10, but would you consider twins under the age of 4?”

God thinks He’s funny.

I called Daniel. His exact words were “are you shitting me?” [I’m sorry… he’s not a model citizen ready to obey at the drop of a hat…] We talked through all the reasons we needed to say no. We stopped and prayed on the phone…. Then we talked through all the ways God had creatively prepared us to say yes. At this point, we were more scared of disobeying. So, we agreed that we needed to step out in obedience with a yes. It had to be the safest yet scariest option.20141008_173205

All this to say…. We are walking in complete surrender and obedience, a little bit scared, wide eyed and in wonder of what God is doing.

So… I called Jenny back and told her we would take the girls.  She said “Great!  Once you all get settled, we’ll talk about their 8 month old sister.”

Dear Jesus….


Love Does

Ready or not

In April we said our first “yes” to the placement of an incredibly endearing 5 year old princess.  When she unpacked her bag it overflowed with pink & purple.  I knew that God meant for this to be.  It seemed too good to be true!  This chic was right up my alley.

As we settled in I began to see in bigger ways the pain of her life.  Nothing could have prepared me for the depths of brokenness and pain she had endured.  This precious girl pierced my heart.  Read this Post  for a glimpse into my discovery of a world that exists outside of my comfortable bubble.  I vowed to protect her.  I told her, you are safe now.  I am learning that there are limits to the promises I can make.  We work in a system that is broken and I have little to no control.

After 3 very challenging months we walked through what I consider to be the hardest thing Daniel and I have ever faced together.  In this blog “You are My Sunshine” I share the depths of that pain and the faithfulness of God we experienced as we obediently released this princess into God’s plan for her life.


It took me weeks to recover.  Initially, there was a sense of relief from the pain and pressure that had been building.  But slowly, I tasted what it’s like to not know where your child is, not know what she’s doing, not know if she’s ok.  My heart had been knit with hers.  Then it was broken.

I still get to hear from her and check-in on how she is doing.  My eyes still fill with tears when I come across her pictures in my phone.  My mom asks me about her… all the time… her heart was broken too.   You see, when we walk this path of love and you come along side of us… you open yourself up too.  Friends, be warned, this can be painful.  I am consistently reminded of my complete dependence upon the Lord.  I have to know that his heart is good – not only towards me – but towards each child that we meet.  And you, we invite you to love with us, trust with us and see God move.

Love Does

Love Does

Sometime in 2012 I came across a book written by Bob Goff called Love Does.  I was immediately captivated by his humor and perspective on life.  In this book he encourages readers to live a lifestyle that fiercely seeks out ways of showing love.  I highly recommend this book… if nothing else, you will laugh a lot.   While I thoroughly enjoyed the book, bought multiple copies to give away and recommended to anyone I could, I was also challenged.  I was challenged to consider the ways that I am showing love – not just to those I love – but to those that God loves.  In Matthew 25 Jesus talks about the sheep & the goats, and the King saying, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

We had casually discussed the possibility of getting involved in foster care but had been overwhelmed by the reality of what it would require of us.  We kept saying we would be ready later.

In 2013 my brother recommended Donald Miller’s book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years which is based around the idea of your life being a story.  When you look back over it you see what was important to you… will you be pleased with how you lived it out?

“A story is based on what people think is important, so when we live a story, we are telling people around us what we think is important.”

“It wasn’t necessary to win for the story to be great, it was only necessary to sacrifice everything.”

Donald Miller, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life

Between these two books and our simply comfortable life, I began to see God was calling me to more.  How am I going to live out love in such a way that reflects what is important to me and also points others back to Jesus?

So in the fall of 2013 we embarked on the major task of becoming licensed foster parents.  Then life threw us a lemon and we were both involved in a crazy car accident that shook my little world.  We took some time to regroup and finished up our licensing in early 2014.  We received our first call at the end of February… it went something like this…  “Abby, we are calling to see if you would be willing to take a sibling group of 2?  They are 2 and 3 years old, girl and boy. … oh by the way, you’re licensed.”     What?  Wait?  Don’t we get some kind of warning?   We’re licensed for one, between the ages of 4-10…. do you even pay attention to what we say?

Panic set in.  This was no joke.  People were really going to give us children.  Fortunately, I had to say no.  I was leaving that week for a work trip and knew I couldn’t pull this off.  Then I realized, I better get some things together because this is happening, whether I’m ready or not.

I wanted to pull back.  This seemed so risky.  What if I mess everything up?  What if I fall in love.  What if my heart gets broken?  What if it hurts?

What if Jesus pulled back at Gethsemane… when he saw the pain that was to come?  What if he decided I wasn’t worth it?  What if He chose his comfortable life, instead of playing the part that only He could play?  What if the way of suffering, crucifixion and death was too much?

This is where the Spirit was leading us…. it felt dangerous… and it still does.  There is pain.  It isn’t always easy.  But it is always worth it.  Love is.

My Story

In the beginning…

Where do you start a story?  In the beginning of course!  But what led me to where I am today is such a full story, I don’t know where to begin.

I am loved.  I was born from love, raised in love, flourished in love and have grown in knowing the depths of love.  So much of who I am comes from being blessed to have been raised in the home I was, with a family that loves well.  I am incredibly grateful.

Love hit me young, I met my sweet husband in the fourth grade.  We both remember the day. We dated in our high-school years, didn’t always like each other along the way but fell back into love and married while I was in college.  (I happened to be in college a really long time….but that’s a different story.)


We have been married ten fun years.  Ever since I was a little girl I’ve said that I didn’t want to have children.  I know people have wondered what we’ve been waiting for, but truthfully, it just never felt right.  I assume I can have children, we just chose not to.  This question obviously comes up often, I try to politely answer that we don’t plan on having children and now, I imagine God smiling and saying “watch this“.

Don’t get me wrong, I like children.  As a matter of fact, being an aunt is one of my favorite things.  Being a mom looks a lot harder than being an aunt.  I love pretty things, order, structure, having a sense of control and sleep… I really like to sleep.  How many of those things do you think exist when you have children?

Sooo… fast forward to 2014 and what do you see…

We currently have the privilege of loving three little girls in our home.  We are substitute mom & dad while their natural ones work things out in life.  We know they likely aren’t here forever, but we are loving them as if they are.  Because deep down, my heart beats to make others know they are worth loving and worth protecting.  Currently, this is how God has us walking it out.

How did we get here?  Well… it all started with a book… and a dream… and like any good story… some drama in between.