Love Does

Sweet 16

16 weeks.  That’s how far we’ve made it.  16 funny, adventurous, some even painful weeks.  Thank you for walking with us.

Here are a few things I’ve learned:

  1. If you feed them, they will poop. Possibly even simultaneously.  I’m convinced that is a super power used against me.
  2. Babies are the best cuddlers.
  3. Sugar, yeah, that has immediate effects. {I apologize to all parents of children I previously gave candy, soda, coffee, or any type of stimulant to in the past.}
  4. Syrup at Waffle House?  See #3.  It’s just sugar.
  5. Sleep is a luxury.  Don’t count on it.
  6. 3 year olds have their own reality and it makes no sense at all.  Crying requires no reason.  If you try to figure it out your head might explode.  Just give them a jelly bean.
  7. My husband is a master at dodging diapers.  He hasn’t changed one yet.  His time will come.
  8. Mommy-shame / guilt –  that’s a choice.  You gotta let it go.  Survival is the goal, ain’t no shame in that.
  9. It takes a lot of work to get out the door.  It used to only be opening it… now it is so much more.
  10. Just teach them Jesus.  The rest will work itself out.  (wise words from another mother)

In all seriousness, the past few months have been baptism by fire but I think we’re finally getting the hang of it.  I have the utmost respect for all mothers out there – dads too!  I have seen my sweet husband step up in ways I never expected of him.  But as I’ve said before, he has a weakness for brown-eyed-girls.

Please pray with us.  Please pray for us.  In the next 10 days we have some major decisions happening and we are trusting God for His purposes in the lives of these girls and our own.  Please pray for wisdom for those making decisions and safety for all involved.

little christmas tree

Love Does

The $#@^ has hit the fan!

Pardon my French 😉

Earlier this week I wrote a deep, reflective piece of how God has graciously revealed blind spots in my life.  It was wrought out of about 5 days of really being honest with where I am in this process.  Click here to read the post on My Broken Pieces.

Then… as if my pain was not enough… it’s as if I was missing the “cherry on top” – along came Thursday…

Much of my childhood I recall being sick.  I would catch anything that was going around and my own anxiety created more than my fair share of tummy-aches.  As an adult, I have enjoyed a healthier life but take germs seriously.  We all know that children tend to be little germ sponges.   Children in daycare… that is a whole other level.  Because I am a praying woman, my prayers often go like this… dear Jesus, thank you for bringing this precious child into our home…please let us get through this whole placement without getting sick.  deal?  amen.

Deal or no deal?  …no deal.

Wednesday night bedtime was a bit more whiny than usual.  Daniel looked at me puzzled – like I would know the cause?  Around 1:30am, baby girl woke up… she wasn’t acting like her normal self that sleeps soundly through the night.  She just wanted to be held.  So I did.  And I held her almost all night long as she slept on my chest.  Then… I put her back in her crib around 4:45 because I heard Sissy calling my name from the other room.  So I went in to comfort and assure her it was too early to get out of bed….when it happened…she said…look, I spit up right here.  Oh No… say it isn’t so… is that what I think it is… please No!   It’s all in her long beautiful hair, on her beautiful little face and pajamas.  As I began to clean her up (holding my breath), Prissy wakes up and asks what’s wrong with Sissy.  I told her not to worry, she just spit up a little bit.  Prissy said, oh then you need to change my sheets too… I spit up over here.    As she sat up and revealed the mess that she had quietly slept in… I was devastated.  And then it started… I walked slowly out of the room into our bathroom where Daniel was getting ready… with the look of death on my face I said… I know what’s wrong with our girls.  What?  The stomach virus is here.  You have to come help clean this up.


As I tried to hold the bucket for Prissy, my own personal weakness set in, I yelled for back-up as I ran to the nearest bathroom –  where I found Sissy trying to get her dirty pajamas off and I immediately began gagging over the toilet.  So picture this… one twin in the bed letting it all out, one twin in the bathroom trying to get out of it and one mama that’s losing her (well, you know).   Sissy is telling me she needs to poop… right now… I’m begging her to give me ONE minute so I can stop gagging… Daniel is assisting Prissy as she’s unloading dinner and Baby girl is in her crib screaming.

This is what Christmas cards are made of.  These moments.


So, I did what any responsible mother of three would do in this moment.  I called my mom.  She just so happens to be staying a mile away in a condo for the month of November.  There is a God!

24 hours later and we’re back on our feet.  The house is disinfected and life is returning.  I just have to laugh at my life these days.  All the protective strategies I’ve built to avoid situations like these and I walk right into it.

I have to flash back to May where I built this list of…

Things they don’t teach you in licensing class:

1. You need a hazmat suit…or two. Because when children vomit it’s a lot like a murder scene.
2. White bedding – ain’t no one got time for that.
3. All those pretty pillows? Targets for projectile.
4. Carpet? Rip it out.
5. Consider putting a drain in the center of the room so hosing it down is an option.
6. Teddy bears…. innocent victims. We had three go down.
7. That smell… there’s no cure. It will stay with you for years I fear. pray for us people! ‪#‎mynightmare‬

Anyway, we are survivors.  Thanks for joining in my momentary suffering. 😉    #lovedoes


Love Does

Something Changed…

Change is inevitable.  While I’m not a fan of change, it happens whether I’m ready or not.  As an adult I have a lot of power in choosing how I respond to change… but children… they have no concept and very little control over their response.

Today we are feeling the affects of the time change.  Our girls have not been on board with this seemingly minor change.  I will admit, this used to be one of my favorite things… fall back… an extra hour of sleep, signaling my favorite time of year, so much to love… until there are children in your home.  Dear Jesus, the time change is clearly not Biblical so we must do away with it!

But there have been more changes around our home and it is taking me some time to process how it makes me feel.  We are 12 weeks in with the twins and one month with baby girl.  We had a rhythm (until that time change thing took place!) and we’re getting somewhat used to the flow of life these days.  But something shifted…

They call me mommy.

Somewhere in the past 5 days a shift took place.  These girls have spent the past 11 months in a world of change and uncertainty.  Despite the challenges we’ve had, I have sensed a settledness in the girls in the past week.  A shift in their security.  In the midst of that came a question, “can I call you mommy?”  Take a deep breath.  It pierces your heart.

We began our journey into fostering with no intentions of adoption.  As you know, the goal of fostering is almost always reunification.  Our heart is to come along-side of families, love them and provide a safe place for these children that are often victims of circumstances, that they may know that they are worth loving.  But I wasn’t trying to replace a mommy..

However, I have realized in our limited experience, every child is longing for security, safety and belonging.  As humans, we are created with a need for belonging, community, love and intimacy.  I cannot imagine being a little girl and separated from my mom and dad.  They were such a critical piece in my life.  I always knew I was loved, safe and belonged.  But so often the actions of these children are deeper cries of “am I loved, am I safe, and where do I belong?”.

So how did I answer her question?  You can call me mommy if you want to.  I know I am not her mommy, nor am I trying to replace her mommy.  But if calling me mommy helps to bring a deeper sense of security and knowing of my love, then by all means,   If your knowing you are loved helps point you to the loving heavenly Father that brought you here, then I am all in.

Sometimes they say it just to see if I will answer.   It’s like a pop quiz!  Mommy!  –  yes dear?!  Ok, nothing.  Sometimes mommy is called in the night, when darkness has fallen and uncertainty lurks.  Sometimes mommy is screamed in frustration because I won’t give just one more piece of halloween candy.  And sometimes mommy is cried for their real mom.  And sometimes I cringe…because I know there will be pain… there will be loss… and again I am faced with the risk of loving deeply.

I cried because choosing to love something means accepting the inevitability of pain, disappointment & loss, along with all of the god-awful feelings that come with it.  – Alex McDaniel

Friends, pray with us; pray for us; love with us.  But know, there will be pain.  So much of this path is uncertain.  All I can be certain of is that in God’s infinite love He has carefully crafted a plan to provide good things for us.  He loves these girls much more than I ever could.  AND… He doesn’t need sleep.  🙂  So He can love them much better than I can.

Even though I know a day will come when my heart will likely be broken, I pray I look back knowing I loved well, I fought hard and these girls have tasted an everlasting love.  #lovedoes

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.