Love Does, Uncategorized

Dreaming Big

We made it. 2015 is finished. Let’s wrap that up and put it behind us.  I remember starting the year with such excitement and anticipation for what it would hold.  I was exhausted, overwhelmed and hoping that things would get easier… which they did.  I was grappling with the question if we were really open to adoption, sorting through the unknowns of a termination process and all that entails.  I was a little bit brave, alotta bit naive and every bit trusting that God had a plan.

At the first of the year as I was looking at this picture… New YearI sensed the Lord say to me, “this is the year I will build your family tree.” 

If you know me well… I anticipated my family “tree” being small, skinny, with two little branches, no fruit and a lot of dogs around it.  We entered into foster-care with no intentions of adopting.  We said it over-and-again – we’re not trying to adopt.  Remember, I need control!  {Insert God laughing here}

But God gave me this picture and those words, building my family tree… and I looked at it over and over through the year.  This was my word.

As we navigated the TPR process and waited for an outcome the ups and downs were almost unbearable.  Maybe, just maybe, God gave me this picture to get me through the highs and lows?  Maybe, just maybe, he knows what he’s doing.

I wish I walked prettier than I do.  I wish I stood tall, confident and unwavering in the process … but it was all too much.  It took me a good 2 more months of the Lord softening my heart to get to a confident yes, we can do this and live to tell about it. Then we started all the court dates, the waiting, the court dates, more waiting, the bumps, the bruises and did I ever mention waiting?  And this girl, this girl wobbled.  I fumbled. I probably laid down and cried a few times, pitching a fit when I didn’t get my way or my timing.  I look back at 2015 and it doesn’t feel pretty.

But you guys, man, you guys – you picked me up.  I cannot count the number of times your prayers, your words, your hope brought me to the feet of Jesus.  We couldn’t have made it through the year without you.  Thank you friends, you’ve loved us well.

There are so many things to celebrate about 2015:

  • a sweet girl learned to walk, run, talk and play peek-a-boo like a pro
  • 2 sweet girls learned to ride bikes, swim and are full of giggles as they learn to drive their Jeep {Lord help us all}
  • Mommy and Daddy have learned how to keep little people alive for 365 consecutive days
  • We’re still learning how to cook
  • Twins had their first Auburn game
  • We had our first family vacation  {which was a little premature.  Mommy underestimated how exhausting it would be to travel with 3 little people for a week}
  • We lost our beloved dog…..  then we found our beloved dog.
  • Daddy went to England for 3 weeks…. mommy almost killed daddy when he came home
  • The girls went to their first Peanut Festival
  • We bought a piece of paradise… and we’re just gonna sit there in our chairs because it cost too much to build on it 😉
  • We ate a lot of pizza, ice-cream and jelly beans
  • We drank a lot of coffee… and liquor… and juice of course

Life is full.  God is faithful.  We are grateful!

Throughout the year as I kept the family tree word in the back of my mind I began to wonder if it would ever happen.   In December when we hit a new hurdle and realized adoption would not be happening this year I questioned if God sees me, hears my prayers or if I’m just crazy.  I gave up hope in that word, that this would be the year.  It couldn’t be the year, not as I saw it.

But as I stand in a fresh year, looking back at the hard things of 2015, I realize – God has been strengthening our roots.  That tree you see in the picture above, it didn’t grow overnight… it has undoubtedly wavered many storms, holding fast through hurricanes, heavy winds and downpours.  He’s given us enough sunshine in the happy days, the progress, the normal life moments we’ve reached – and he has given us grace in the storms, mercy in the mistakes, hope in the waves – and we are stronger.

On Monday I received the best news ever.  A piece of our case that has been in waiting for 6 months was just closed.  Tears fell from my eyes as I read the text and realized the relief of having that open-end closed for good.  And when I asked for “proof” because I wanted to read it for myself, I saw the date of the court order was 12.31.15.

You sneaky God!

So we enter 2016 with more hope, stronger roots, ready hearts and hopefully some patience.  We still have another major hurdle to cross in March.  We won’t have anything certain before then.  But this girl, I’m feeling a little bit taller, a bit stronger and a little bit more confident….  I have an idea who wins.   #lovedoes

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My Story

The Battle… is real

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Trouble surrounds me, chaos abounding; My soul will rest in you.
I will not fear the war. I will not fear the storm. My help is on the way, my help is on the way.
(Always, Kristian Stanfill)

I wish there was a pretty way to say this, but there isn’t.  The battle is real and friends, we.are.in.it.

This isn’t a fun post to write.  I’ve wrestled for a week with how to share in an authentic way, baring our scars, sharing our wounds, showing our fears yet claiming the truth.

It hit me last weekend, late in the night as I was sitting in the emergency room for the second time in as many weeks.  Daniel brought me a “bug-out” bag with toiletries and change of clothes since I had just found out Prissy was being transported to another hospital for observation and such.  It had been a long day and an even longer night.  He held her hand beside the hospital bed and I just looked with tear filled eyes and said, I’m really tired of being under attack.

It was the first time we had acknowledged it but it felt like saying it out loud brought a bit of freedom.  This can’t be normal life.  There are too many pressures, too many pains, too many surprises to think this is normal.  Or maybe, the battle is our new normal?

I remember waking up on Monday morning and thinking, I cannot be an adult today. seriously, can someone else be an adult for me. I just want to go back to my parents’ house, curl up in my bed and pretend like I’m not an adult.

My honest, gut level response to attack is to evaluate what we’ve done to set us up, drop it and pull back, bringing relief from the enemy.    Is it fostering?  Is it adopting?  Is it Wellspring? What do I need to do to get relief, fast?

Well, I’m sure it’s any one or all of these things… but each of these are where we believe the Lord has called us and each of these are worth fighting for.  What’s a girl to do?

Look for Jesus.

Two months ago I sensed the Lord say to me, You will not be shaken.  That’s always fun to hear.  Why would he say that? Why would I need to hear that?  Probably because I would be faced with attack that over three weeks would make me feel like many things were failing, that he was not seeing and that I am alone on a battlefield.  In the midst of the battle, I need to remember his words; and despite what life feels like, I can know that we will not be shaken.

There have been many people over the past month that have loved me well, engaged my heart and the painful things that I couldn’t understand.  Many have prayed as we’ve invited them and I feel like we’re coming up for air. What I want to share is two-fold.

First, I invite you to pray with us.  We need you guys to continue praying that God would give us strength, grace and perseverance every day.  Secondly, I want to share some of the things I’ve learned so that as you walk through your own battles, maybe you can find hope.

One of our pastors shared last week in the sermon series “Battle Lines” about being under attack.  I wasn’t able to attend but I was able to watch it later in the week.  It had a powerful impact for me and I want to share some of the key points.  I hope this is legal…

Some of you are in the fight of your life – the hour of darkness – and considering exchanging the most precious things in your life for things that will alleviate the spiritual attack…  don’t make concessions.

It is easy in the midst of a battle to want relief, to feel weary and wish you could give up.  Don’t make concessions.

I am reminded of the scriptures in Isaiah God gave us at the beginning of this journey with the girls, So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  Isaiah 41:10

The battle is in believing God is for me, that he is with me…. it’s not for the breakthrough… it’s for the believing. 

In one of my struggles I entered some significant disappointment that made me question if God even sees me.  If what I’m praying for, believing for, hoping for doesn’t happen  –   what does that say about me?  Am I worth it to God?  Have I done something to deserve this?  Is God even there?

There are many things I will never understand this side of heaven.  I can’t even begin to list some of those questions. But one thing I’ve learned is that I have often confused having hope in God with having hope in an outcome.  Once I shift my hope to believe that no matter the outcome, God’s heart towards me is good, I can rest in his promises.

The tactic of the enemy is to go after your relationship with God.  Yes, he uses all the things around you that you love and hold dear, but ultimately, he wants us to question if God is who he says he is.

In the sermon he went on to challenge me to “Look beyond the hour”.

The hour of darkness is not meant to prove us but is meant to reveal Jesus.”

There’s really not much I can do about the attack, but I have full control over how I respond.  My hearts desire is that my response to the disappointment, the pain and even if one day I experience suffering, that it reveals Jesus.

John 12:27 in the Message says: “Right now I am storm-tossed.  And what am I going to say? ‘Father, get me out of this’?      No, this is why I came in the first place.  I’ll say, ‘Father, put your glory on display.'”

Friends, October was not fun. I feel storm-tossed. We’re a bit weary. But Lord willing, we’re still standing!  I don’t think you could find a happier girl to see the month of November begin.  As I sit and reflect on the things that have felt hard, I cannot help but be thankful for God’s grace, for your faithfulness to pray and all the many ways I can see he is fighting for me.

Hope is rising like the light of dawn.

There’s too much at stake.  The battle is real. But it’s worth fighting.

To hear Pastor Jeremy’s sermon, feel free to watch “The Hour of Darkness” at this link http://www.destinyworshipcenter.com/battle-lines-series/

Love Does, My Story

All You Need is L.O.V.E

Typewriter-lovestory-comp1I still remember it like it was yesterday.  I remember the phone-call from Jennifer,  Abby, I know you’re on a break… we have twin 2 year old girls…do you want to hear more? 

How did she know?  How did she know we had been preparing our hearts and home for twins?  How did she know to push our boundaries?  We were licensed for one child between the ages of 5 and 10.  Nothing about this call fit our box.  How did she know there was a yes waiting at the other end?

Everything about the timing was wrong. Everything about the situation was outside of my comfort. Everything in me would normally say “no” but God in His incredible mercy came before us.  It was a dream.  It was the obedience of one girl to be bold enough to share. It was the perfect set-up for this phone-call.  In the midst of all the fear, in the midst of all the plans, in the midst of all the uncertainties there was a little bit of courage that creeped up and said yes. 

I’m no Joshua, I’m no Moses, I’m no saint.  But I am a girl that longs to be the woman God created me to be and when that means walking into the scariest thing I had faced to that point, I had to muster up every bit of courage hidden in my heart and say, I choose you.  If you say this is what you have for us, I’m gonna have to believe you’re with us.

Let me tell you, knowing that you are walking in obedience to the call of God gives you a whole lot of confidence in the raging storms.  There were countless times over the past year where it would have been easy to give up, but when you can look back and know that this is what God has called you to for this very moment, there is a peace that passes understanding.

I remember in October, sitting in my living room across from the girls’ therapist with tears streaming down my face.  I couldn’t hold anything in.  This is so hard. I am exhausted. My life looks completely different.  We are absolutely controlled by bed-time. We can’t even go out to dinner, much less have any sort of normal life. Everything revolves around these girls!  She kindly looked and me and said “this is parenting”.  And before I could even catch the words, they rolled right out of my mouth, but I never wanted to be a parent!

There. I said it. Half-way owning it; half-way embarrassed; all the way wondering if she was going to call someone to take these kids away from me.  But she didn’t.  She simply smiled and said, “Abby, you’re going to have to grieve some of these losses.”

It really made perfect sense.  I was being torn apart by remembering how easy, convenient and care-free our life as a childless couple had been… all while wading through how difficult it was to keep 3 little girls alive and trying to gain some sense of normal.  I had to grieve and let it go.

For a while I stood on that tight rope of my old life still feeling within reach and my new life being so hard but trying to embrace it out of obedience.  I simply could not move forward until I let the old go.  So I grieved, I cried, I let go of all those selfish feelings and surrendered to the new life God had invited us in to.

Then, one day in November, we woke up in the darkness of morning to the madness of a stomach virus.  [See my best post ever for more on that memory]  I remember thinking, I just earned Mother’s Day, once we survived that hell.

Recently, I revisited a video that a friend, father of four had shared back when our life was on the easy street.  This is perfect.  The funniest thing about it is that I can so clearly relate to both sides.  You really have to watch this…

That is absolutely my life now. And all we can do is laugh about it.  🙂

When I look back on this past year I am honestly in awe of what God is doing in my life, in our girls’ lives and the story He is writing.  I met my husband in the fourth grade.  We dated in highschool and reconnected in our college years, married when we were too young. I love our story.

But friends, this story right here, this one takes my breath away.

Oh man, how I hope and pray for a happy ending. As we close the chapter on year 1, we celebrated with little gifts for the girls, necklaces with the letters L.O.V.E.  That’s the bottom line of our story. Everything else is built on this one thing, Love.

To wrap up birthday and anniversary week we’re taking our little party of five camping.  Because, what better way to celebrate love than squeezing into small quarters and pretending you’re homeless?

Pray for me friends!

#lovedoes

Love Does, My Story

Beyond the shore, into the waves

photo credit to little miss creative studio
photo credit to little miss creative studio

One year.  Here we are.  One year since the dream. Once year from the leap. One year of life being turned upside down ’til upside down seems right sided. We’re still standing.  Who would have ever thought?

I sit here listening to You Make Me Brave on repeat.  Again.  Just as I did one year ago.  No fear can hinder now the love that made the way. …  You make me brave. … You’ve called me out beyond the shore into the waves….    Because your love, wave after wave, crashing over me…  You are for us. You are not against us.  Champion of Heaven, You’ve made a way… for all to enter in.

I remember.  I was scared to death.  Literally unable to speak, sometimes even breathe. But He truly made a way.  These lyrics are no longer just words but anthem cries.  Testimonies of faithfulness.  Truth that I can cling to. There are days I’m still clinging, claiming, even when I don’t feel it – You Make Me Brave.

Friends, we would not be here without you.  Please hear the love and gratitude I have for each one of you.  You have fought in the heavenlies, you’ve given me courage in the battle, you’ve walked with us and loved us deeply.  You’ve been here through it all and God has used you to increase my faith and given me strength to hang on when things seemed too hard.

One day I’m gonna write something, How to go from zero to three in the blink of an eye and live to tell about it.  I feel like I have to make it longer than one year before I can claim “living to tell about it” – nonetheless, you will be in that story.  You are a vital part of this story of our lives, the story of this girl, the story of our girls. Thank you for stepping in with us.

Oh man, I’ve learned so much! Did you know that those diapers that say “keeps you dry for 12 hours”  – that’s an exaggeration.  They do not keep a child dry for 12 hours. I’ve tested it.

There are many other products that make false claims similar to that.  I’ve tested just about everything you can imagine in the past year.

I’ve learned so much about children from hard places, the paths that trauma has created in the brain, the intentionality it takes to create new paths, the patience it takes to love through pain, to fight for peace and perseverance because no child should have to live defined by trauma.  I am learning to no longer call them post-traumatic but to see them as restored and redeemed, fought for, loved deeply, worth every breath.

I try my best to anticipate triggers, to think through strategies and how to help maintain stability, security and safety.  We just returned from an outpatient procedure that required anesthesia.  I knew that going there, being in a hospital, being taken back with people they didn’t know to breathe sedation and fall into sleep would be challenging.  We prepped, we prayed, we strategized… it was beautiful… but I never imagined the “waking up” would be more traumatic.  Geeze Louise!  I didn’t know it would take the strength of a daddy to hold the weight of his own body on that of a three year old so she could see, feel and know that she is safe.  The fear of a child coming back, disoriented and in the midst of strangers – not comprehending what was going on but seeing lines hooked to machines, hooked to their arm, all those things that remind of past events that never should have happened… dear Lord how did I not think of this?

Now I know.  Waking up is hard to do.  I realize it’s hard for any child under anesthesia, but I saw the fight or flight that was triggered in my sweet one that I never anticipated.  It’s heart-breaking but God is faithful.  Eventually it wears off and our sweet girls returned to normal.  Mommy will never be the same.

I was tempted to be embarrassed by the extent of work needed to repair their mouths.  I have to remember, I wasn’t there the first 3 years, those things aren’t my fault.  It’s ok, there’s grace.  Now, I am responsible for this next set of teeth, so buddy, you better believe we are gonna be on top of that!

I’ve learned that the tooth-fairy isn’t quite as appealing to a 3 year old as it is to a 5 or 6 year old.  Or maybe it’s just my girls.  Somehow, the idea of a little lady that comes in while you sleep, takes your teeth and leaves a quarter ended up being a bit scary.  I can see where they’re coming from.

After going to bed with the teeth on the nightstand, Prissy called me into her room… “mommy, how about you tell the tooth fairy not to come.  I don’t want her to come.  how about you just give me quarters instead and I’ll buy gum.”    –   deal sweet girl. I’ll give you quarters; you keep your teeth.  Who needs a little fairy to come in while you sleep?  You just rest peacefully.   After all, that is what we work for, right?  According to the twins, we work for money to buy gum.  That’s what makes the world go ’round.

I wish I could say we are reaching our one-year point and adoption is here. But it isn’t.  We’ve been delayed, in a big way.  Of all the things I’ve learned in this past year, the one thing that stands out most is, God’s timing and God’s purposes are perfect.  I may not ever understand them.  I might not even agree with them; but I can trust them.

This year has been a crash course in what it means to be a mommy.  It has also been a journey of discovering what it means to walk in obedience, as a daughter of the One who writes our story, who loves me deeply and invites me into the waves, because His faithfulness, His goodness, His grace – they make me brave.

Love Does

Let my words be few

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Sometimes our story takes my breath away.  In the quiet moments, when you hear the crickets chirp –  “mommy, what are they saying?”  I playfully answer, “They are saying, ‘it’s time to get in bed little girl!'”.   Or when the frogs are croaking – “mommy, what are they singing?”  I think they’re singing “here comes the rain again!”

Everyday is an opportunity to respond to the whys the whats and the wonder of these little girls.  Some days that is quite overwhelming.  Other days I can’t help but wonder myself what is behind the things I see, hear and even say?

In Wellspring, we practice what we call “listening in 4 directions”.  In any situation, being sensitive to:  what is happening in you, what is happening in me, what is God up to in this situation, what is the enemy up to?  I think intuitively, even as children, we want to know what’s really going on.

It’s been about 3 weeks since my last blog.  I honestly had nothing nice to say.  My husband was gone for almost three weeks and I was pretty much freaking the hell out.  (sorry friends)  In that time, I think he knew in every conversation we had what was behind the words I was saying… I was pretty clear.  I don’t like you. Everything wrong with my day is your fault. You left me.  When you get back I will probably kill you.  { You get the picture.}

I said these things in complete frustration and despair, knowing that once he came home and my life returned to some sort of normal, I would eventually love him again.  And he knew that this was coming. This is how I respond to pressure and he would have a lot of work to do when he returns to get me to like him again.  I really wish I was more adult than this, but seriously, the struggle is real. (admitting I have a problem is the first step.)

When it comes to parenting, I have so much more awareness about my words and actions.  If there is one thing I want these girls to know, to be confident of, to go to bed with all certainty, it is… You.Are.Loved.

Friends, some days that is hard.  Not because I don’t love, but because life is simply hard.  Mothering is hard.  Changing patterns is hard.  Cooking dinner is hard.  Eating what I cooked… that can be hard too. 😉

Sometimes I love so well that I have to call my mom to tell her how awesome I did.  Sometimes I fail so badly I have to put myself in safety break.

True story:

Driving down Interstate 10, I have to pull over because Prissy has gotten her arm stuck in her carseat strap as she was trying to free herself from the constraints.  After 2 minutes of intense screaming I realized she wasn’t going to get out of this on her own.

Me:  girls, do not talk to me right now. Mommy is in safety break!
Prissy (whispering in the back): why is mommy in safety break?
Sissy (whispers back): because you made a really bad choice!

When we finally arrived at my parents’ house that night the girls told Nana that mommy had to go in safety break so we could all stay safe.    I hope they know that was love.

There’s an accountability I feel with the uncertainty of our days with these girls.  Even as things seem to point towards forever, there is still a knowing that I am not promised tomorrow.  Whatever they are, my days are numbered. They may be many; they may be few. I must live each one with full purpose of expressing love.

As we consider new names for each of these sweet faces, I am drawn to the stories in the Bible where God changed a name.  Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah, Jacob to Israel, Saul to Paul… there was always purpose.  I find myself watching, listening, wondering with each girl what is it God is saying about them?  Who has he created them to be? How will the story unfold for their lives?  How does He see them?  In the stillness, in the quiet, I hear him say “Loved one.”

In my heart I know, Loved One is not just the name he has for them, but the name he has for me; the name he has for you.  When I fail, he still sees me as beloved.  When I win, his love is the same.  I long to express this kind of love to those around me. I hope that our girls see in everything around them, my words, this story of redemption… Forever, for always, no matter what….. you.are.loved.

My Story

Never.Lose.Hope.

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Hope is risky business.

After nine weeks of waiting, hoping, praying,  I can honestly say hope is fragile.  I waver from hope to worry like a child on a see-saw.

A facebook post that shakes my certainty.  A blog post that reminds me of others’ experience in the system, losing everything they hoped for in the ninth hour – wondering if their story will be mine.

Another foster parent letting their little one go back to a home that they can only hope will love and protect them as much as they deserve and in the way we would our own.  After one year, two years, pouring out love and investing in a child only to see them move back and know that our role is to celebrate but deep down the pain is real, there is a loss.

I didn’t enter this world blindly, but I couldn’t have imagined the messiness of it all.  I couldn’t fathom our story looking as it does and hoping for a forever I never dreamed of.

When it feels as though everything is shaken, I am reminded of the one who loves deeply – the one who loves through me; the one who sees me with tears in my eyes and knows what it feels like to give up a child.  The ONE who asked HIS son to carry my weight of sin.  I remember that he loves these girls more than I do.  He loves me more than I can understand.  No matter how our story unfolds, He will never forsake me.

I think deep down, I find myself trying to protect God from my own disappointment.  If I’m really honest, when I consider what scares me most, it’s the idea of pain so deep that I can’t find God.  I can get lost in the “what ifs” but those aren’t my biggest fears… it’s wondering if in the darkest hour will I still see grace.

In the midst of all the things I cannot control, I must choose where I place my hope…

Not in a system – but in a Savior.  Not in a process – but in a promise.  Not in my goodness – but in His goodness.

When I determine to set my mind on the truth of who He is, my hope stands renewed.  I can’t say I overflow, but I feel confident that even if the world falls apart I will not walk alone.

In the midst of the waiting and uncertainty, we are seeing small victories.  There have been decisions that have helped us move into stability and allowed the girls to settle a bit more.  For this we are grateful.

Some days I wonder how I got here.  Life was easy before our first yes.  My bubble was quite comfortable.  But I can see how God’s pursuit of my heart through this adventure in fostering has brought me to a greater dependency on him and those around us.  I will never be the same.

I have a greater appreciation for the support and love of our friends and family.  Everyone has stepped up in amazing ways.  We have friends that aren’t even in the family way yet that have openly embraced these girls, played with them, loved them and adapted to what our new life looks like.  It doesn’t just cost our comfort but it costs theirs.  I used to have guest rooms – now I have guest couches… if even that!  But friends still love us… even through crazy bedtime routines.  They patiently wait for us to calm an anxious child, they offer choices and hugs to help them regulate… they love us well by loving them well.  And their rewards come in hugs and kisses.  Adorable love.  That’s all we have.

Thank you friends for loving us well.  Thank you for standing in the gap and praying with us / for us.  Please continue.  Some days we feel weary, but Lord willing, we will never lose hope.

My Story

It’s Mother’s day, birth mommy

It’s mother’s day birth mommy.   In the midst of celebrating and being honored, my heart hurts for you.  It started creeping in last week as I considered what the weekend would hold for me… knowing your arms would be empty.

My greatest gain comes at your greatest pain.

I thought of you all day, birth mommy.  I honor you in my heart and know that you are the one that carried the sweetness that fills my house.

Every moment I get to enjoy, and even those that drive me crazy, they were meant to be yours.

How do you say thank you to someone that never meant to lose?  My heart is torn.

I’m filled with thankfulness for this space in life filled with pink and purple, giggles and curls –  a dream I never knew I had.  At the same time I know this was your dream but life’s hard road took it from you.

Something in me feels this isn’t fair.  I know this wasn’t the way the story was supposed to go.  God’s plan for family didn’t look like this… somehow I want you to know that.  This wasn’t always his plan.

It feels wrong.  In all the drama it’s easy for you to look like a sinner while I look like a saint.  I know this isn’t true.  We’re both sinners… and I know your heart is good.  I see it when you look at your girls, when you give them kisses to keep and hope they remember your love for them.  Even on my best of days I feel undeserving… wondering if I can ever love them as much as you.

I remember looking in your tear filled eyes and promising I will do everything I can to love and protect them.  I remember your eyes birth mommy.  They were windows into a hard life, a broken heart and a selfless act of surrender.  You have loved them deeply.

In the moments of Mother’s Day, when I squeezed out one more kiss from baby girl, hugged two twins and celebrated this new-found role of motherhood, through my own tears I see you.  I see you in their eyes, and the way they store up kisses.  I see you in their personalities and in the way they fight back.

I see you and I love you birth mommy – because I know you love these girls as much as I do.

I don’t know how the rest of this story will unfold, but I want you to know, every year that we celebrate with these girls, I promise to see you, to remember you and to know that you were mommy first…and for that reason, I love you more.