Love Does, My Story

Is this real life or am I dreaming?

When pain and suffering come upon us, we finally see not only that we are not in control of our lives, but we never were.

Tim Keller, Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering

Two weeks ago I joined a call with our Board of Directors, our Executive Director and our Battle for the Heart Coordinator (aka my sister) as we grappled with reality and many unknowns, seeking to hear one another and make a decision about three events in three weeks, one of which was scheduled to begin the very next day.  We didn’t want to make decisions out of fear, but we wanted to be aware of what was at stake in the decision we were facing.  I would be lying if I said we all agreed…

But we all committed to a decision and moved forward in unity. There is strength in unity.

I am a leader.

Leaders have to make difficult decisions in how we will lead our people.  I’m grateful I don’t carry this weight alone. I walk with men and women, most of whom have many more years of experience than me… yet they invite me in to speak, to listen, to grow and to lead in the safety of community.  Leadership isn’t my natural bent.

My reality in that moment was also that I had four little girls in the backseat who had just been released for spring break.  They barely had an understanding of what was occurring in the world around them and the decisions being made even on their own behalf.  Life as we know it was changing.

I am a mother.

It’s a story line that also feels surreal. Sometimes I look at these three beautiful faces and I’m undone by this call to love and shepherd their hearts.  I didn’t grow into motherhood the way most do, I was thrown into it with rapid fire.  I’d say I just began to find my groove, our normal was starting to appear survivable.

As we began to face the reality of social distancing and school closures, every bit of structure I have built to give myself a sense of control has been dismantled.  I keep looking around for the wife that will help absorb the disruptions and I realize –

I am the wife.

This may very well be the only role I joyfully entered thinking, I have what it takes. Obviously that is because I had no idea what marriage really means.  That poor man of mine, he is perfectly patient, loving and has given me space to grow into the woman God created me to be.

Like many of you, we are navigating a life that looks much different than before.  There are fears, uncertainties, risks and rewards… so many unknowns of the long-term impact of the days we are living.

Each day I find myself wondering if this is really real.  Do you remember the movie The Truman Show that was sort of an experiment in reality television where the show’s creator seeks to capture Truman’s real emotion and human behavior – but the main guy, Truman, doesn’t know everyone else is acting and the world is watching his every move.

I feel like that. Like I’m about to bump up against the bubble of the set of this not-real reality and then a voice will say, it was all set-up to see if you would survive, good job Abby, you didn’t die.

But this that feels so surreal, is actually real and I can’t find my footing.  Yes, I navigate well enough to make it through each day, but I can’t figure out what next week is supposed to look like.  The past two weeks tell me that new information will change what I think is the next best thing.  This is incredibly disorienting for a control freak.

And everything feels tender, vulnerable, unsafe and upside down.  The fact that there is a literal pandemic adds a whole other layer of pressure to my need to get things right… because obviously, if I don’t – failure leads to death.

I fully own that my feelings are all over the place. I feel frustrated, disoriented, vulnerable and in some ways like everyone’s safety is dependent on me.

I long to surrender, to release the weight of the world, to see God’s faithfulness, to experience his nearness and to be a channel of his love to my girls, my husband and those in my sphere of influence.

I want to walk this path well… I want to glean every bit of growth I can from it.

In the moment, I’m totally overwhelmed by expectations that are not realistic. I’ve tried to give myself grace to do what I can do and release what I can’t… but then I get this email that I’ve been expecting about how I’m supposed to facilitate “continued learning” – which essentially means home-school the girls since we do not know when they will ever go back to school.

And I feel like I would have a better chance of surviving the lion’s den than be given this task.

And it’s oh so painful to wade into these familiar depths once again… where surrender to the call on my life feels impossibly hard and unfair.  I fumble and stumble into the way of humility because my illusion of control has been dismantled and I learn once again the only way forward is in utter dependency… which feels so vulnerable.

It’s crazy as I consider…  The ones who want to help me can’t reach me. The ones who need me can’t help me. The ones who could release me don’t see me. And the one place I feel like I would be most likely to succeed… is the hardest to release.

I look to the left and to the right and realize, I’m not alone. The joke is not on me. We are collectively navigating this new normal, filled with uncertainty and unknown.  I feel a bit safer in the collective and want to be a voice that says, we are going to make it!

So I lean in to surrender.

I ask God what he is up to… in me and through me.

What is he saying?

And what does it look like to engage each day with courage, beauty and love?

I long to reveal his glory that others may see… he is good.

Sweet friend, you are not alone. This place we find ourselves, the collective vulnerability, as Brene Brown calls it… this is what gives us strength, breathes courage into our very lungs, gives us purpose to love one another in ways that seem counter-intuitive to our old life. For some it simply means staying home. For others it means showing up at the front lines.  For me… it means making space for this new reality where motherhood overlaps with ministry.

I shared with the girls one day last week, when we were basically all in tears, sweet girls, this is not normal and I am so sorry.  Life is not supposed to be this way.  It’s ok for this to be hard, we have to work together and we will get through this.  Let’s try to have fun in the midst of it.

It was a pep-talk even for myself.  But their response was priceless, What?? You mean we work for Wellspring now?!!??  😂

So let me introduce you to my new assistants, DSC_6666

They are super sassy, very disruptive, highly creative, love worship and are waiting for a paycheck.  [Don’t be surprised if I put them on donor development calls.]

I am humbled.

I grappled last night with what it means to be the woman God created me to be in this new normal.  We are all facing this – and the only thing we can control is how we choose to respond.

For me, I choose to believe his heart is good, this journey is purposeful, the destination falls nothing short of his promises… I have to believe… he is near.

Let me the voice that whispers to your heart of hearts, you have what it takes…. do not lose heart.

Much love,

a broken girl

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





My Story

The Battle… is real


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,

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

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!


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


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



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.

Love Does, My Story

You split the sea so I can walk right through it!

You split the sea so I could walk right through it!

My fears are drowned in perfect love.

You rescued me so I can stand and sing, I am a child of God.

I cannot adequately share the depths of my heart with you.  I feel like words fall incredibly short.  I am in awe of your love, support, encouragement and willingness to walk into battle on our behalf.  The song above is my anthem for this month.  I have seen God split seas so we can walk right through it.  I have been given incredible courage by his love and yours.  I am inspired to support each of you in your own journeys in such a way as what I have experienced from you.  Friends, please know I pray for you… and I thank God for you daily.

From my call to prayer last week I was blown away by your messages, your encouragement and your response to our need.  I feel a bit of a need to clarify, my last post came from a place of knowing the significance of a court-date that was scheduled and the emotional fall-out we were already seeing as a result of the notice.  I wasn’t just coming apart at the seams because of the challenges of having three kids ages 3 and under… that’s just a walk in the park 😉

These girls are my heroes.  They have been through more in their short little lives than many of us will see in our long ones.  I know your prayers carried us through the day.  You know that feeling when you have two different sets of friends, maybe church friends and work friends… and you have that first time where both sets of friends are in the same place at the same time?  Now imagine being 3 years old, having two sets of parents, not being able to understand why this isn’t normal or how you’re supposed to act when all of a sudden both sets of parents are in the same place at the same time.  I don’t wish that on anyone, but especially not children that have no capacity to comprehend what is really going on.  Factor in heightened emotions of the parents due to the significance of the day and you have a recipe for uncertainty. One thing is certain, these girls are loved.

As far as the outcome, things are going along as well as I can hope.  The girls navigated the day well and we have more clarity on a timeline and what to expect over the next few months.  I see God’s hand in many ways, I just can’t share them all. My mom on the other hand loves to share… go talk to her 🙂

From my personal perspective, I do want to share with you the ways that God has weaved his promises to me, through you.  An early response to my post last week was a friend sharing a reminder from Exodus 14

Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.  The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.  The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”  Exodus 14:13-14

This resonated with my spirit as other words came strengthening my trust and encouraging to “be still”.  This is significant because as of Thursday I was building my fight, determined to bring my case and fight on behalf of these girls… but God was inviting me to rest, be still my heart and know that he is fighting for me, for them.

One sweet friend had a picture of me with a giant sheer/lace-like blanket floating over me. It was covered in the most beautiful sparkling diamonds.  As I held on to this picture I sensed God showing me that this is our covering.  I could be still and rest in his promises, knowing that we are covered in his grace, as his children.  I believe that you, my friends, represent the beautiful diamonds that fill that covering.  I have felt your covering as we have walked into this journey and you have engaged in our story, praying for us and loving us all so well.  You shine bright like a diamond  {Cue Rihanna song now}

On Monday as I spent time in prayer and reflecting on the scripture in Exodus, the song above came on and I was overwhelmed with God’s goodness.  Around the 4 minute point my excitement builds when it goes into the bridge – I could sing those words over and over – I have for days.    I claimed the words I am no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God.  I do not have to fear an outcome but can rest, securely, in who I am as his child.  There was such confidence when I heard the words come together – the scripture and the song, the picture and the promises – man, I felt brave.

One might think I am on the marketing team for Bethel Music.  It’s not true. I can’t help it, they write songs that absolutely line up with God’s work in my life and my heart’s cry.  All I can say is get you some.  Download their music.  Soak in it.

We are in a good place.  Yesterday was hard and we were exhausted when it was all said and done, but we are well.  The girls bounced back from the tension and challenges and we all slept like babies last night.  Thank you Lord!  I just want you to know, you are moving mountains with your faith.  You are a vital part of our story and I hope you celebrate the good things with us.  I hope you feel like these are your girls as much as I do.  You have fought hard and I wouldn’t want to do this without you.

I am passionate about others knowing they are loved and walking confidently in God’s purposes for their lives.  This feeds into my story in many ways.  Sometimes obedience is simply responding to God’s prompting, whether it means taking in children, or sharing a word that you have for someone.  Please walk boldly in where God is leading you.  If you respond in obedience, He will split the sea… just walk right through it.  If there is any way I can support you, please friend, know I want to.

As you remember us, keep praying for peace as we trust God for his purposes.  Pray that the girls will rest in knowing they are loved and not be negatively impacted by the uncertainty that surrounds them.  Pray that we can stay grounded in faith and security of being God’s child – not easily affected by fear or changes in the situation.  Pray in a forever kind of way.

Much love to you!

Love Does

The sound of heaven touching earth

One Saturday afternoon while having lunch at Chick-fil-a, the twins bounced back and forth between playing in the play zone and taking tiny bites of chicken nuggets.  It probably took over an hour to get through a 4-count meal but we just went with the flow of the fun happening around us.  As I was packing up all three girls another mother stopped me and said she had been watching us and my girls are beautiful.  They are clean, calm and it just looks like you have it all together.  I smiled.  “Thank you.”

That moment absolutely fed every distortion I have about trying to tackle this role of motherhood.  She saw a glimpse of calm in what I consider to be madness.  She kindly offered her perspective based on a small point of time.  I could have stopped with my “thank you” but I felt the need to be more honest.  As she commented that she is the mother of three boys I understood why my crazy looked lovely.  I just looked at her and said, “girl, I go to bed exhausted every night, wondering how we made it through another day.”  Solidarity.  I shared my pain, I feel your pain. I’m no different than you are.

Let’s be honest, when someone acknowledges that all your hard work adds up to achieve your goal of “having it all together” it feels good.  But the truth is I was a mess.  I cannot guarantee the girls even had a bath the night before.  Cute clothes can cover a multitude of flaws.  I hadn’t had a full night’s sleep in months.  Our biggest hope was being in public without the girls using any special four letter words.  So when I heard that affirmation of “you’re doing well” I recognized it wasn’t what I was really after.

What it really touched in me was this desire to be seen, known and have someone in my boat.  I don’t want to be in a boat that looks like it has it all together when truth is my head is barely above water. I wanted her to know I can relate to the chaos of three littles and while boys are undoubtedly different than girls, this glimpse of togetherness she sees is not reality.  I am tired.  Sometimes I lose my patience.  Sometimes I cry because I cannot imagine how we are going to get through the night, much less the week, months or years.  Stranger, I want to hug your neck and say I see you, I feel your pain and I am right here with you.

I find myself more than ever longing for community, people that know me and love me even when I’m ugly.  This new stage in life has stirred that desire more as I am recognizing that I have greater needs – sometimes I just need help.  I don’t expect everyone to understand why we do what we do or how we got into this place but I do long for the people around me to support what we believe is our calling right now.  I gain such strength when you offer encouragement and support, knowing that you are praying for us and our girls.  It gives me hope and a sense of team.  Recently, I had a friend who cannot understand where we are coming from, question why we still have these girls.  The thought of this being somewhat open-ended shocked her and she was clearly not on our page of this story.  Honestly, it hurt me to have to defend why we are committed to these girls.  Feelings of being misunderstood and doubt plagued me.

Why am I doing this?

Later that evening I was catching a look at a music video I shared recently of Bethel Music’s It is Well.  The girls wanted to watch it too so I put it on the TV.  Immediately they were engulfed in the song, dancing and trying to sing along.  Sissy says she wants to learn to sing up there like her.  She wants her sister to be with her too.  She said that we (mom & dad) could sit in the chair.  “What chair do you want mommy?”  Baby girl, we will be on the front row!

As we sat and watched our girls singing, dancing and dreaming of being big, our hearts melted.  This is what it’s all about.  We are raising girls that will know love.  I dream of them growing to know the deep love of the father that is crafting their story, pursuing their hearts and longs for relationship.  I want them to experience worship and grow up to lead others to the throne of God.  I hear the sounds of heaven touching earth.


We are in this for eternity; not for fun, not for extra credit but for a chance to impact eternity.  I can’t expect everyone to understand that, especially those that have no concept of the larger story.  All I can do is hope that in the midst of our craziness they see love – a love that is worth the pain, the chaos and the sacrifice.  And if it happens to look like we have it all together, then praise God 🙂