#presentwoman Highlight – Abby

I’m amazed at the opportunities that starting this blog has afforded me. The Present Day Man movement is literally in its infancy stage, yet I’ve heard stories from some of you saying it’s offered hope, encouragement, and guidance for navigating life. Those messages mean more to me than you’ll ever know.

I’ve recently had the opportunity to learn more of the story of one of the new worship leaders at Second Chance Church (SCC).

Her name is Abby. She has a beautiful voice and an even more beautiful spirit…

When people allow me to invade their story…what I’m learning the most is, even behind the evident beauty of God’s grace and restoration, lies a soul that is shredded to the core with the devastation that permeates this world.

When I met Abby on her first Sunday at SCC, I also had the privilege of meeting her youngest son, Oliver. We immediately started making connections with mutual people we knew from Plainfield.

When the idea hit to highlight a man and woman every now and then on this blog, the little bit I knew about Abby’s story intrigued me enough to ask her. She let me enter into so much more than I ever could have imagined…

Here is a glimpse into the life of Abby…

I asked her a very difficult question to start the conversation.

I asked what is one of your favorite memories with Oliver thus far? She answered like most mom’s would…

Abby: “When I look back on Oliver’s childhood, I will always fondly remember our moments quietly rocking in the corner of his room before bed. Not one memory, but a collection of them.

Some of the sweetest, most tender moments come from these times. He curls up in my arms and babbles on about his day and all of the exciting things he’s been learning, which always makes me laugh. He plants an unexpected kiss on my cheek with a soft, “Love you, mommy.”

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He requests that I sing Jesus Loves Me and You Are My Sunshine and lays his head on my shoulder waiting for the song to end, only to whisper, “again,” over and over. Growing up, my parents and I had this funny little saying we would say to each other every night at bedtime.

“You’re special and precious, and I like you and love you. You’re the best mommy/daddy/daughter in the whole world.”

It was such a memorable and important part of my childhood. Now I get to see the flip side of that and realize that it was probably just as special for my parents.”

Abby being a single mother, I asked her what is one of the toughest things about being a single mom?

Abby: “Being a single mom is hard. There is a reason that God did not design it this way. Motherhood is a constant learning process, and I feel like I’m winging it most days.

If there is one thing God can use to grow you and teach you, it’s parenthood. For me, in this season of life, it’s single parenthood. 

When Oliver cries out in the middle of the night, there is only me to come to his rescue. It’s exhausting. It’s lonely. It’s dedicating every minute of every day and night to him and his needs and his schedule…

I really don’t think the struggles of being a single mom are that different from the difficulties that every other mom with a partner faces.

The only obvious difference is it’s just me, day in and day out…

If there is one thing my son will grow up knowing though, it’s that his mother always put him first. 100% of the time. Not only when it was convenient or best for me, but when it was gut wrenchingly difficult and it took everything in me to make it through the day. As difficult as it is, it’s something I can be proud of and that is very rewarding.”

What a beautiful statement she wrote…

There is a reason that God did n0t design it this way.”

The perfection of His design is something we will never be able to fully comprehend. His commands and “rules” are in place to allow us to live in joy to the fullest, not to chain us in some kind of “forced obedience.”

I wanted to know from Abby what did she want Oliver to equate with his childhood? What kinds of lessons does she hope to pass on?

Her answer was beautiful…

Abby: “I want Oliver to remember his childhood being full of innocence, adventure, and fun. There is so much baggage that comes with being from a broken home (and even in the normal homes I suppose).

I pray that he can get through his childhood and just be allowed to simply be a child. Not be weighed down with the problems and disagreements of adults, but sheltered by a blanket of pure love, acceptance and support. There are so many lessons I hope to pass on to Ollie.

I hope he always has the courage to take a stand for what is right.

I hope that when he stares down the barrel of hate, anger and hurt that he will choose to show kindness, compassion and forgiveness instead.

I hope I can instill a love for learning in him. And a sense of adventure that will stay with him all of his life. 

More than anything, I hope he aims to know, love, and follow Jesus because he wants to, and not just because someone says he should.”

The bible is littered with evidence that God has a special place for prayerful and hopeful Mama’s. Abby displays a very genuine hope towards her son. If you really look at it, it’s actually a very hands off hope.

She has relinquished control to Christ in guiding her son.

What a beautiful legacy she is laying the foundation for…

These last two questions I couldn’t wait to get her answers back. I asked her first what manhood meant to her?

Abby: “Manhood is defined by so many misguided characteristics in our society. When I think of what a “real” man should be, things like honesty, courage, character and self-control come to mind.

Not the type of self-control that says don’t be vulnerable, don’t show any emotion or weakness…

But the type that says I choose to discipline myself to be a protector, not a violator.

Manhood is a choice, not a hand you’re lucky enough to be dealt. Men can choose to be loving, respectful and responsible.

Most men can’t choose and design their lives as far as where they work, how much money they make, how “hot” their woman is, what kind of car they drive, and other things that I won’t mention. The world points the men of this world to things like pornography, money, status, and competition

The truth is that the men of this world need a man named Jesus at the center of their lives as the ultimate model of manhood.”

How incredible of a truth is this line she wrote about manhood…

Manhood is a choice, not a hand you’re lucky enough to be dealt. Men can choose to be loving, respectful, and responsible.”

Finally, we capped the interview with me asking her what womanhood meant to her?

Abby: “Surprisingly, this question ended up being the hardest one for me to answer. What is womanhood?  

As women, there is a distinct desire at our core that drives us into forging close relationships with others.

Men want this too of course, but I think much more of their happiness comes from independence…

Men – when a woman in your life is wanting you to open up your heart to her, and wants you to take a peek inside hers, just remember that this desire is holy. It is how our Creator designed us, in His image.

Our desire for this closeness and relationship with others comes from His desire for closeness and relationship with us. We have a unique beauty in our femininity that we should embrace. We are nurturers. We bring growth and beauty to the world around us.

We are lovers, we are fighters.

We are leaders, and we are followers. 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard Proverbs 31 cited as the manual to being a Christian woman. Let me just tell you…you do not need to be a talented seamstress who gets up at 3 am every day to prepare food for her family and never sits down to take a break to be an acceptable woman, wife, or mother.

But verse 30 says, “Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Don’t let the world tell you your worth depends on your looks. Sometimes we need to understand what is really important. I think the point of the Proverbs 31 woman is that when we serve God with our whole heart, our priorities naturally fall in line with His, including serving others.”

I could have left the interview here and many people would have found hope, comfort, and community…

However, Abby let me in on a part of her life I didn’t know about or even ask about…but I’m so glad she did.

This is a beautiful story of redemption and completely allowing Christ to control her life. I was going to wrap this piece up with fancy words but I’m simply going to leave it how she wrote it.

Please read this with an open heart because Jesus is all over this story. Thank her for her bravery in sharing this…she is cultivating community by opening up.

Abby: “I started my sophomore year in college at Ball State and I fell into a whirlwind romance. I was head over heels for him, and we moved in together after dating for four months.

After we moved in together things changed…

Infidelity, abuse, anger, depression…it became a very different and toxic relationship. At the time it didn’t seem so black and white as far as leaving. When you love someone and you’re both actively trying to work things out (we started regularly going to counseling), it didn’t feel that simple to just walk away.

After we moved in together the relationship lasted about another five to six months. There was a night that I went out drinking with some friends. I don’t remember most of the night, but he told me he picked me up from a party and we went home. I woke up naked in my own bed the next day (not normal). I asked him what had happened and he said that he slept with me while I was passed out and had an “accident” and that turned into our biggest fight yet.

Things ended for good that day…

Two weeks later I found out that I was pregnant. My knee jerk reaction was, “This is my baby and of course I’m keeping it.” My mom suggested adoption and I remember feeling angry at her for suggesting it. But after a few weeks I just knew in my heart that it was the right decision.

I didn’t have a place to live and I had quit my job (all of which happened when I fled Muncie to come back to Indianapolis). And even though my parents split when I was in high school, I had a great childhood and I attribute a lot of that to having a traditional family setting with two parents.

I wanted my child to have two parents who were ready; financially, emotionally, and physically, to have a baby. So the birth father and his parents came to Indianapolis and sat down with my parents and I, and we all came up with an adoption plan. I reached out to a couple different law firms and they sent me lots of potential adoptive parents’ profiles.

I found one, and as cliché as it is, I just knew they were the ones. They seemed like they would be the type of parents I wanted to be some day. We had a lot in common. They lived out of state which I thought would make things easier for me.

The pregnancy was extremely difficult. I had hyperemesis, which is 24/7 morning sickness that gets worse as the pregnancy progresses. I was hospitalized a couple of times. I ate my feelings and gained a ton of weight. And I was very depressed and closed myself off from the world. I didn’t want anyone to know that I was pregnant. It was a very dark and lonely time in my life. 

His parents named him Zachary Abe. They wanted to include my name somehow and thought that Abe was the most masculine form. They revealed his name to me a little while before he was born, and of course I was so touched.

At the time, I worked at Meijer as a cashier. I was on my lunch break one day, in line at the deli, and a little old lady came up to me. She started asking all of the usual questions that strangers ask you when you’re visibly pregnant, “Is this your first? What are you having? How far along are you?”

I would play along with customers because I didn’t feel like sharing my life story. Then she asked me, “What are you going to name him?” I had just discovered what his name was going to be a few days before, but I told her I hadn’t thought of one yet. Then she stepped close to me and touched my arm, and I’ll never forget this…

She said, “You know, Zachary is a good name.” And she went back to her place in line at the deli. Tears filled my eyes, and as far as I felt from God at that time, I knew it was Him…telling me I had made the right decision. Giving me a moment of peace in my darkness.

A few weeks before Zachary was born, his parents called me and told me that they were pregnant. They had known for a while, but didn’t say anything because of their history of miscarriages. I was thrilled that he would have a sibling, especially so close in age. The doctors ended up inducing me a month early because I had very high blood pressure.

Zachary was in the NICU at Riley Hospital for six days, but he ended up being completely fine. Eleven days after he was born, on my 21st birthday, we found out they were having another boy.

Two boys, four months apart…

I remember being more excited about that than my 21st birthday.

I ended up pumping breast milk and freezing it, and then shipping it overnight on dry ice once a week for him. I did it for four months until their son, Nico, was born. It’s a very open adoption. I’ve visited them four to five times and they have visited here once when my son Oliver was six months old.

I stay with them when I visit. They are really just like extended family to me. When something bad happens, I call them. When something good happens, I call them. I’m very close to Zachary’s mom. He has always known the truth. His parents have a picture of me from when I was pregnant in his bathroom.

When he was little, he used to say, “Abby has my ball in her belly.” He understands so much more now…

It’s a journey…

We  are all very child centered.

It will always be about what’s best for Zachary. 

There is definitely a stigma attached to birth mothers…

Such as, I must have been a teenager on drugs or homeless. Plenty of women of course are faced with those situations, but it wasn’t mine.

Some people assume that I must not have “wanted” him or didn’t “love” him. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I have had a lot of hurtful and ignorant things said to me over the years, but most people mean well.

They compare birth parent grief to the grief of losing a best friend or sibling to death, but it’s hard for people to understand because no one died. Carrying a child for nine months, giving birth and then handing your baby over to someone else is not biologically natural.

It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It is a decision that has greatly impacted my life, and the lives of those around me. But he is awesome. He is extremely athletic, loving and affectionate, such a character, and loves music.

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He looks just like me. Zachary is a piece of my heart, living 850 miles away. He will be eight in February. I love him and his family dearly, and I owe so very much to them.”

I wanted to end this #presentwoman Highlight by addressing Abby…

Abby…you’ll never know the impact your story will have on people reading this. The power of technology literally dictates that people will read this that we don’t even know.

The gratitude I have, people that know you have, and the people that read this have for you can’t be articulated with a simple “thank you.”

Letting people invade our stories takes courage and bravery that not everyone possesses.

The conversations I’ve had with you regarding this article have been weighted down with excitement, concern, hope, fear, and prayer.

Once it’s published the enemy will start with his very successful lie of isolation and convincing us we should keep everything to ourselves. You are brave, Abby.

I remember when you sent me the recordings for your vocal audition…I told you I can sense your spirit in your voice. I knew it was powerful then. Allowing me to write this story and sharing what you did with me has literally made tangible what I felt when I heard those recordings.

Thank you for your heart. Thank you for what you do for SCC and leading us in worship. I will forever admire you…

 

2 Comments on “#presentwoman Highlight – Abby”

  1. Josh
    I’ve read all or at least most of your blogs but this may be the best by far! It maybe because I too know this amazing young woman. She shines like a diamond in the light of God’s amazing grace! There are so many wonderful things about Abby and her life that we at SCC are privileged to witness and share! She truly lives out on a daily basis what it means to be a “Godly woman”! Thank you for letting her tell her story and may God receive all the glory. I know that is why Abby shared it!!!

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