I was recently asked to speak at a church event. I had no clue what to talk about. These people listen to pastors on the regular and I’m no pastor, or public speaker. I’m a behind the screen and share my thoughts kind of girl. The group leader told me to focus on stories of motherhood and how God’s worked in my life.
As I prepped the talk and thought about all the amazing ways God has worked in my life in the last year, God made one thing/memory very clear. A year ago, this week is when I felt sick, took my first ever pregnancy test, and found out we were pregnant with twins.
One other thing crossed my mind. The last time I spoke at church was at a women’s event. And I asked for the women of our church to be in prayer for families going through adoption and to get the courage to partner with them either financially or in the day to day life. During that talk I did not mention that we were going through the adoption process for baby number two. A month after that event we were matched with Willow in a very miraculous way and then a month after that we found out about the twins.
Well, I had a request for them this time I spoke too, and for all of you readers…just getting it out there now to you wonderful prayer warriors…please pray for our family. That we stay a family of six, that we do not get any larger. Not by adoption, not biologically. Because this mama is tapped out!
But in all seriousness. Thank you for your prayers throughout this past year. Thank you for your hugs, sweet texts, precious gifts, and cards. God is so good, and He has blessed us abundantly and He definitely hears your prayers.
A little background for you all... Drew and I met in 2013 at Willow Creek. I grew up in the area, went to college, moved home, and was just getting out of a pretty nasty relationship. My family attended church weekly and we were involved, but I never really felt like I had a relationship with the Lord. The fall of 2013 I attended my first service at Willow Creek and this guy, Drew, got my connect card and started to call me inviting me to a small group. I went the small group, mainly to stop this guy from calling me, and honestly…the rest is history. We hit it off right away, started dating very soon after meeting, and 9 months later he proposed to me in our sanctuary, and then 9 months after that we were married in the sanctuary.
On one of our first dates we discussed what we wanted our families to look like, separately because you know I couldn’t scare him off too soon talking about “our” family since we just started dating. Both of us had a desire to adopt! So as soon as we got married we started the process. Our first agency told us no, we had to experience more in our marriage. A year later, January 2019 we started with a different agency and we got officially approved and were a waiting family in September 2019. A couple of months later, November of 2019 we received a letter that the agency was essentially bankrupt and would no longer be doing adoptions. We were shocked and very defeated. We decided, since we hadn’t had a child biologically for whatever reason thus far maybe we should take a look into that. Maybe God was telling us adoption wasn’t for us. January 2020 we went to a fertility doctor and he literally handed us a piece of paper with an adoption attorney on it. He said, “there is nothing I can do for you. Having a child biologically is not possible for the two of you.” We left that appointment weirdly at peace. It felt kind of like a for sure sign from the Lord that we were following His calling and needed to continue to pursue adoption. A month later, February 2020 we signed on with another agency and we were a waiting family! That same month we learned about our first sweet little boy, Jaylen. His birthmother chose us because she wanted her little boy to grow up in a stable, Christian home, surrounded by family and friends who loved sports. May of 2020 we welcomed that sweet little boy into our family.
Fast forward to May of 2022 Jaylen turns 2 and everything changes...
Since May 2022 our family has experienced sending a child to school for the first time, an adoption, a NICU stay out of town, an unexpected twin pregnancy, raising a two year old and a newborn while pregnant, a move, a van purchase, and having to ask for help way more than I have ever been comfortable with.
What in the world. As I as writing that crazy list down it was hard to not re-feel all the emotions we went through during that year. In addition to that list, we have also had some beautiful, ordinary, and special moments that we experienced as a family. But the things listed above are the big things that knocked us, me in particular, off our feet. Drew is a guy who goes with the flow. It takes a lot to rattle him. It takes even more to get anything other than a smile out of him. I’m not really like that at all. I’m an organized control freak that is easily flustered by surprises and tends to wear my emotions on my sleeve. So…this year brought me to my knees.
Here is what I have learned, or really, what I’ve been reminded of.
- Doubt grows faith.
- Prayer works.
- Community is essential.
- God is worthy of our praise.
Let’s talk about doubt. The definition of doubt is, “a feeling of uncertainty or lack of conviction”. In everyday life when someone brings up the word doubt we kind of cringe. It has a negative connotation, shows a lack of trust, and depending on the situation an it can present an opportunity to put a wall up. But biblically, it's somewhat a necessity and it should draw us closer to the Lord. We were created to want to know more, and we were created to grow mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. When we doubt, we search. And as Christians we should search scripture.
Some of you may have heard or read the story of Willow and her birth. It was a train wreck to say the least. We were given about 4 different due dates over a 2 month window. She was born on a day that was not any of those due dates. Birth mom left the hospital before we could get there, meaning nothing was official and we couldn’t see Willow. Then birth mom showed back up out of the blue, signed papers, left and our journey with our little Willow Bean officially began. Until we went to be discharged 16 days later and realized the notary signed the termination of rights, the big, big court document saying she is no longer under the care of birth mom at all... yeah, they signed it incorrectly. Meaning we couldn’t leave the hospital with her.
The entire match process, birth process, NICU stay, and even first 4 months of Willow’s life were filled with doubt. Why would God match us miraculously with her birth mother? We weren’t even all the way through the process to be matched. Why would He not “protect” Willow in the hospital and make sure all of the paperwork was done with no surprises or mistakes? Why would he make this little baby girl fight so hard to get stronger the first 16 days of her life? Why would he allow that fight to continue when we got home? There were days that I thought for sure we forced this to happen, and I doubted that it was God’s plan. Some days I flat out doubted His goodness.
And then I was reminded of Mark 9:21-24. Jesus is met by a father who has a son who is ill. And he says to Jesus, “if you can do anything… help us.”
When I read that the first time I thought, “Wow. What a bold insult to Jesus. IF?! How on earth could he even say that?!” But… How many times do we say the same thing? During this transition of adding Willow to our family my prayers were more like, “If you’re so good, then why _________. If you planned this for our life, why didn’t you ________.”
I was asking Jesus the same thing as that father!!!
And how does Jesus respond to the father, “All things are possible to those who believe.” And the father said “I do believe. Help my unbelief!”
That should be our constant prayer when we are filled with doubt. When the if’s come in and start to take over, we should cry out. “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief. Help me fill these holes of doubt with your truth.”
In the home of Team Taylor doubt fills my head and heart. Some days the big doubt is, “Am I even doing any good?". And sometimes it’s more like, “What is my purpose in life? To wipe butts and wear spit up?!”. The day is complete organized chaos.
Here’s a little glimpse of it. 5:30-9am is feeding, changing, packing bags for the day, and getting out the door. 9am-11am is morning nap time. Which never actually happens. Because everything happens for “fun” at 10am, and when do I ever get all children down for morning nap together. Never. 11am-1pm is finish whatever activity we started during nap time, and then lunch. 1:30pm our house shuts down. Do not call, text, ring the doorbell, nothing. All the children are going down for naps. And most of the time, mommy is too. 4pm we start back up. Typically, this is when outside play begins until about 5:30pm when dinner starts and at 6:15pm we start bath time. 7:30pm all kids are in bed and the house gets straightened back up. Go to sleep. Repeat tomorrow. It’s whack. And doubt creeps in. Regularly. And those evenings of really bad days are the days I try to remind myself to pray, “Lord help my unbelief.”
I mentioned earlier that we have prayer warriors that our family is extremely thankful for. The twins are an unexplained yet explained miracle. I say that because science told us no way was it possible to get pregnant. And so, God laughed and said, “Watch this.” Twice. I do not know who specifically prayed for twins… if you want to come clean, call me…but, I know that since we announced the pregnancy prayers have been answered.
In Jeremiah 29:12-13 it says, “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
We were terrified to say the least when that first ultrasound happened. Pregnant with one, pretty shocking. Twins. I still don’t know how to fully explain the emotions we experienced at that moment. We were, and are, thankful for our little miracle chunks, but I’m a logistics person and was freaking out the entire pregnancy about how things were going to work. We knew we needed to pray, but our prayer request list was long. We let a lot of you all know what was on that list and asked y’all to pray with and for us. Our priorities were a house and help. And the first prayer that was answered was a house.
We loved our home in Casselberry. I cried constantly at the thought of leaving that house. The memories and the hard work on renovations and the swimming business. Ugh, I was a mess about it. But after looking at many homes, putting in a few offers on some of them and being turned down, we found this beautiful home in Oviedo hours after it was listed. The next thing I knew we were packing up and moving in. I still was a wreck about the whole thing the day we moved in. But God answered prayers. The first night we were officially in the home we were playing outside with Jaylen and Willow before bedtime and a neighbor and her little girl rode by on their bikes. They stopped and introduced themselves and we chatted with the mom. The next thing I knew, it was way past the kids bedtime but we didn’t care because Jaylen and little Mia were playing on the driveway rollercoaster together like they had known each other forever. Going to bed that night I couldn’t help but thank God for our new home. He placed us in a neighborhood of only 22 homes and about 25 kids. A neighborhood that is totally front porch community type feel with neighborhood get togethers. Jaylen loves playing outside and now he gets to do that with at least 3 or 4 other kids every day. We joke that we bought this beautiful home because it had a daycare sized playroom and yet, we spend all of our time in the garage and driveway with our all of our neighborhood friends. Answered prayer, and even better than what I was praying for.
The second top priority prayer list item was help. Four kids. Two and under. How in the world were we going to sleep. Eat. Go anywhere. Function?! Throughout the pregnancy people would ask, “What kind of help do you think you will need?” And while that was a well-meaning question, I didn’t ever know how to answer. I had never raised four babies under 3. You don’t know what you don’t know. But typically, the conversation would end with making logistical plans.
We knew we needed to hire someone to help at night for the first 12 weeks so we could sleep and function. The search began. Based on our desired schedule and needs for the twins we got in contact with a company that found us a young Brazilian lady to help us for those first 12 weeks overnight. Her name is Nelly. This woman is the kindest, most gentle woman. She is a Christian and dances and sings with the kids to little Portuguese and English baby Bible songs. She prays with them and for them. She loves Jesus, a lot. She fits into our family and lifestyle just perfectly. Totally a hand-crafted answered prayer from God. Since hiring her, there have been so many little God winks reassuring us that He heard every single one of our tiny little specific prayers for a caregiver.
In addition to Nelly, about 5 months into my pregnancy we got a text from a member that put me in tears. She and 3 other women offered to help once a week for two hours EVERY WEEK. For a year! These women have shown up, loved on, chatted with, and made sweet connections with our kiddos. It’s a gift that I could NEVER repay. And another real example of an answered prayer. These women were praying to get connected and help someone in the church, and I was begging God for help. I was speechless when I received the text. I still am kind of speechless.
Another sweet, sweet lady has come every Tuesday and Thursday since the twins were born and she has brought with her a friend for one hour to rock and feed the babies so I could simply eat, take a shower, power nap. Whatever. Again, how could I ever repay these women for the love and attention they have given my family?!
God hears our prayers, answers them, and then is able to receive the glory!
Answered prayers kind of ties into my third point, Community is essential. And sometimes, community knows what you need before you know what you need. Y’all know Drew Taylor. He is the king of connections, small groups, and community. The man lives for making relationships and getting people involved. It’s not just his Sunday morning pitch, it’s the real deal. And based on what I have seen, Willow Creek Church family understands that need for community and relationships. Community fills holes. Community builds you up. It is 100% essential.
I could come up with a million examples of how our Willow Creek Family and our other friends and family have provided support and love to our family.
When Drew started our small group back in 2013, where we met and this whole party got started, I did not really know what I was signing myself up for. I thought I was just signing up for a weekly meet up to talk about Jesus. I was wrong. It was a weekly meet up, and we did talk about Jesus, but we also were able to build relationships with lifelong friends who would know us deeply and understand our parenting style, who became aunties to our babies, who send me texts saying, “You’re going to make it through the day today”, and who just show up to help with the daily house chores because I'm too busy holding a baby, using my foot to rock another baby in a chair, while cooking dinner for my toddlers.
The best part about community is they fill the holes you don’t even know you have. Our meal train, which we are so incredibly thankful for and cannot say enough nice things about the meals we received, filled up SO fast after both Willow and the twins were born. Someone who I did not know at all reached out to Drew, Mr. Connections, and said, “I really feel called to bring y’all a meal. Can I drop it off tomorrow, a day when there is no one scheduled.” Drew doesn’t say no. Really ever. Because it could lead to a connection. Or Community. So, this person came, dropped off a meal, and she and I started chatting for the first time. We had SO much in common. The next day she called and said, “You have help physically with the kids, but what about your spiritual help. How are you growing with the Lord during this crazy season?” What. On. Earth. THAT is the kind of hole that gets filled by community. This woman is now an accountabilibuddy for me and we started a little morning devotion together. As silly as it sounds, making sure my relationship with the Lord stayed strong and a priority was NOT on my prayer list. Thank God it was on someone else’s.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up.”
Find a group. Get connected to a smaller group of people who can know you, love on you, cook for you, laugh with you, and most importantly encourage you to find Jesus on those really hard days, but on the good days too!
Final point. God is worthy of all praise.
Drew and I got married and our favorite worship song was played during our ceremony. I don’t sing but it goes like this…
You’re rich in love, and you’re slow to anger Your name is great, and your heart is kind For all your goodness I will keep on singing. Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find.
Bless the Lord O my soul, O My soul, Worship his holy name. Sing like never before, O my soul I worship your holy name.
When we said I do, we had NO clue what our family picture would look like 8 years later.
Jaylen, our little ball of energy who is the most aware of other's feelings, while also being completely unaware of his own strength and personal space. A little boy who shouts “Jesus loves me this I know” in the back seat of the car when Willow gets upset, all to try to soothe her. And a little boy who was perfectly created by our Heavenly father to be placed into our family. So much to praise God for.
And then Willow Bean. Our spitfire. When she’s happy and showing her open mouthed, squinty eyes smile she can steal hearts. But when she’s mad, oh boy is she mad. She our snuggle bug who loves snacks and lights up when Daddy walks in the door. She was created by God who had a perfect plan for her life, and we’re thankful for that plan. Thank you Jesus.
Corey John. Our current bucket-head. He’s the chillest baby on the face of the earth, who never stops babbling away all day long. As we watch his personality grow and develop we are so thankful for our tiny little miracle who forgot how to eat when he was born, but clearly has remembered. Praise the Lord.
And Hannah Girl. She takes everything in and smiles at everyone. She doesn’t want to miss a thing, and is constantly scanning the room. She loves to sleep, when we can finally get her down. And well, she frequently reminds us of when it’s time for a bottle. Our biggest little miracle. God you are worthy of our praise.
The days are long, some days feel like years. But at the end of the day when all the littles are sleeping and Drew and I have a moment to take a breath there is nothing we can do but say, “Thank you Jesus.” I look at a picture of our family I cannot help but smile from ear to ear knowing that our story is without a doubt a picture of God’s goodness. And a story that needs to be shared, simply to give God the glory.
A quick recap, I get carried away when you ask me about my babies….
Just like our parents said when we were growing up, “Say your prayers.” God hears you.
When doubt creeps in, seek Jesus.
Find your people. Let them lift you up.
And praise the Lord. Always.
Thank you for your love and support. Thank you for your prayers.