Because, everybody needs an Abby

I remember back in the day, when my nieces and nephew were still small and liked to hang out with me, my littlest niece thought that an “Abby” was something everybody had.  Her little neighbor friend was going to the movies and Lexi naturally assumed her “abby” was the one taking her.  After all, everybody needs an Abby.

I loved being an aunt.  I could run to the rescue, do fun things, send unexpected surprises, have sleepovers and fill kids up with sugar and soda.  At the most most my responsibility would last 24 hours… at the least, I returned sugar-high kids to their parents with little to no remorse.  It was fun to be an Abby!

When children enter our home we always introduce ourselves by our first names.  In the past month we’ve seen three new faces come in for a short period of time or possibly longer.  Some of them have an understanding of their story and some of them don’t.

No matter what a child has experienced, no matter what they understand, one thing I have found to be true is that each child is created with this need in their heart to know there is a mommy and daddy.  We are uniquely created for connection and designed to experience nurture.  No amount of trauma can change that…. it only feeds it.

We have a sweet blonde hair, blue-eyed girl with ringlet curls in our family these days.  I’m not sure anyone could stand out more in the midst of our dark hair, brown-eyed mix of love around here.  This sweet angel has the biggest smile and sweetest spirit… and she calls me mommy.

I never imagined having a blonde little girl, but God did.  I sat in the ER late one night, holding her tightly, comforting her fevered body and hoping to calm her anxious heart.  We had only known each other a few days, I couldn’t give a lick of health history when the doctors asked, nothing about us looked like family but she called me mommy and that’s all I knew to be.  She needed to know she was safe, she was loved and someone was fighting for her.

Our other little ladies don’t take this in stride quite as well as we’d like.  I couldn’t help but laugh one day when the little guy in our home asked “where is daddy?” when one of our twins responded without missing a beat, “I don’t know where your daddy is, but mine is right there!”

Oh sweet girls… this is what we have fought for.  You don’t even remember the time when you didn’t call us mommy and daddy.  We spent countless days, sleepless nights and unending prayers building your security and a sense of normalcy… and we’ll keep doing it.  You are so worth it.  And so are they.

We’re trying to teach compassion… not focusing on where you came from… but remembering what it might be like to be a stranger in a new home.  So when little miss blue eyes calls me mommy… we remember she needs a safe place too… and being mommy to her doesn’t make me less of mommy to you.

It isn’t so easy for a 2-yr-old to understand.  Her fighting words are, “no, my mommy!” Even last night when our little neighbor called me Abby, she said, “no, my Abby!”  I couldn’t help but laugh, remembering another little girl that though an Abby was a thing to be had.

We’re all learning.  We’re all remembering what it was like before and embracing where God has us now.  I wish I could speak to our sweet girls with all confidence I will always be your mommy…. but we’re still waiting… we’re still holding on to hope for our forever story.

Please pray with us… for the grace and stamina to stay in the waiting place… to not lose heart.  And pray that God will raise up new families to be a safe place for these children to land and know that they are safe, they are worth loving and to have a mommy & / or daddy.

I look in her big blue eyes, meet her smile with one of my own and call her beautiful.  If she never hears it anywhere else, I hope she will always remember that she is precious, she is loved and she can always call me mommy.


When life gets messy

I returned from a 4-day business trip last night.  My parents and niece graciously moved into our home and took the challenge to sustain life for 3 little people and 2 dogs.  That’s no small challenge.

Just before these sweet people literally ran out of my front door, my mom said “sit down, I need to tell you about what happened at daycare while you were gone.”  So I braced myself.  “Baby girl was on the playground, hiding in the castle… and when they found her… she had been playing with poop.”

NOOOOO!  Please no!  I’m not ready for this! This can’t be my life.

Y’all… life gets messy. It happened again this morning.  She came to me, “mommy look!” showing me her dirty hand.  What is it???  “It’s poop mommy!”   NOOOOOOOO!  How can this be happening?  I.can’t.handle.this.

“I sorry mommy. You ‘give me mommy?”  (You forgive me?)

March was a messy month.  There are various factors that came into play but as I reflect on all I walked through, it’s a lot like stepping in poop.   {I literally hate that word.}

In the midst of all the messiness I have recognized key things in my life and had to make choices to live in authenticity, embrace the pain, suffering, crucifixion and death so that I can fully experience the beauty of resurrection, life and glory.

What does that look like in my life?

We were married 10 years before we jumped into this form of parenthood.  I would say we have a pretty solid marriage.  But there is something about parenting that reveals so much more…  and after 2 years in the pressure of parenting children from hard places, this lady started cracking.

I am convinced marriage has to be the most vulnerable relationship we will ever experience, if you have the joy of experiencing it.  Parenting is a close second, but marriage takes the cake.

A few weeks ago a perfect storm formed and I took a hit (metaphorically) that knocked me off my feet.  Through a series of circumstances what started as a small difference of perspectives gradually grew from a snowball, to a snowball fight, to what felt like an emotional avalanche…. and there were about to be casualties.

But I had a choice to make…

When I am hurt, deeply hurt, my natural instinct and desire is to strike back, cause pain, punish, make sure the other person hurts at least as much, if not more, than I do.  I know, that’s not pretty… and certainly not what you expect from me 😉  but it’s true.  Deep down there’s this crazy little Mexican lady in me that is fierce and wants to fight back.  When I see her fight coming on strong I have to stop and understand what is really happening here.

In the messiness of my pain  I had to consider what kind of woman I want to be.  What is at stake here?  in the woman I want to be, in the wife I want to be and in the mother I want to be?        Everything.

As we authentically walked through the conflict I had to truly own my story.  What was I hearing and believing through these circumstances that made me feel so strongly?  My feelings don’t matter.  I am alone.  Everything is always going to fall on me.  I can do this, I don’t need you.

Friends, these aren’t easy things for me.  As I began to reflect on these more, knowing these aren’t the truths of my reality, I began to uncover distortions that I was operating out of.

When we stepped into fostering, I did so in such a calculated way so as to make sure that it wouldn’t be more than I could handle.  Remember? 1 child, aged 5-10… I could reasonably handle that.  But God, in all his funniness, gave me 3 children, under the age of 3…. and I seriously tried to live life as if it wouldn’t change anything.   In my mind I have tried to walk this out in such a way that nothing else in my life had to “give”.  I tried to absorb 3 children without dropping any other balls.

If I work 8 hours a day, there are clearly 16 more hours to parent, cook, wife, clean, Bible study, be a friend, daughter, sister and sleep.  I CAN do this!  God wouldn’t have asked me to if I couldn’t, so I gotta do it.

Through tear filled eyes I shared with my husband how hurt I had been and how through all these circumstances these are the things I was believing, and this is why I was acting like a crazy person.  I can do it all…. but I don’t want to do it all by myself.

{disclaimer, I have an incredibly helpful husband… my feelings had very little to do with his contribution or a lack of… it had everything to do with lies I was believing and how evil hunts me.}

A wise woman, mother of twins, gave me advice this weekend – get as much help as you can afford.  Let people help you.  Take care of you.  This will let you be a better mother, wife and person.

These are life-changing realizations for me.  So much of my own distortions are based in a need for control.  But my control is not helping anything.

What’s my biggest learning point here?  Conflict.  In life, in relationship, in community,  we are going to experience pain.  People we love most may very well be the ones that cause it.  We are fallen, sinful people; there’s no way around it.  The choice is yours – will you embrace it and grow or will you withdraw, strike back and punish? Or will you enter it, muck around and discover what’s really going on here?  There is fruit in the perseverance, there is growth and in the end, there is glory.

The hardest thing I did was sit down and say, I am hurting, and you are a big reason why.  Everything in me wanted to hurt him back, but he wasn’t the real enemy.  I had to risk my own heart, not knowing how he would respond, and offer to show him my pain.  By God’s grace, he was able to respond with love, owning his part in my pain and talking through how we could grow and do life differently.

I have experienced so much freedom just from realizing what I was believing and owning that this is not at all what I expected my life to look like.  There is more poop than I ever thought possible!  Even in all this messiness, through all of it, God is revealing his glory.

I thank you friends for the many ways you support us.  Your prayers, your faithful covering and making us laugh are what gets us through everything.  We still don’t have an update from our recent “big thing” we asked you to pray for.  I promise you, you will know as soon as we do 🙂

Thanks for being a part of this crazy story-of-a-girl. Here’s a glimpse of my heart’s song for today: