{on Riding Out Storms Pt 1.}

We’ve spent the better part of the last week in our basement. Storm after storm, tornado after tornado, we’ve battened down and waited for it to pass. To say we’ve been blessed doesn’t even begin to cover it- from tornados touching down in our own town last week, to the Henryville tornado just 60 miles away, we’ve been so unbelievably fortunate. Tornado season isn’t even upon us yet, and already we’re riding out storms.

Sometimes it seems like we go through entire seasons in our life where we’re just waiting on the storm to pass. We’ve certainly had our share, and I can say with a fair amount of certainty that we will see more. It’s not something that I often share.  After all, we’re an army family, we don’t do pity or sympathy, we just soldier on. But while I do not claim to be an expert in my field or a genius in business, I do hope that my readers gain more than just a new recipe or craft idea from visiting. My heart’s desire is to love on and mentor others who are embarking on their own path and choosing to take a chance on themselves. But to imply that our story has been neat, or easy or beautiful, would be to do you a tremendous disservice. So for a while now I’ve been feeling like really needed to share with you, with everyone, the rest of my story.

While most of you have read all about the tutu and baby surprise #2 and the deployment and my complete lack of sewing skills, most of you probably don’t know that we also had a huge storm brewing in our life back then too.

Just a year and half earlier, on the day that my daughter was born, my daddy had been diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. The next two years would be a whirlwind of aggressive chemotherapy, radiation, and what seemed like endless surgery attempts as the cancer intensified in his lungs, popped up in his thyroid and ultimately spread to his liver.

It was about a year or so into this storm that God really began to lay Abby Maddy on my heart. I didn’t know why, In fact, at first I didn’t really care. I wasn’t listening. I had other things to do. My daddy needed me. My mom and brother needed me. My daughter needed me. My husband needed me.  In fact, I  was so focused on getting through the storm and returning our lives to “normal” that I failed to see the clouds growing darker around us. I had no idea that “normal” as we defined it, would never exist again.



But God is tricky and while I was busy being defiant and thinking I knew best what I needed, he was searching for other ways to get my attention. And he found it in a tutu. It seems almost comical now, but if I hadn’t sat on my mother’s couch that night, wrestling tulle and elastic to make a tutu for my daughter, Abby Maddy would probably have never come to be. I can still remember the conversation my mom and I we’re having that night. Just three months earlier the doctor had given my daddy only six more months to live and those late night conversations were becoming very frequent as we both searched for answers and wondered where God had gone.  It didn’t seem possible that he could exist in the midst of something so horrendous.

Just a few weeks after I made that first tutu we found out Jack was on the way. To say we were surprised is an understatement- there really are just no words  But my daddy had been begging us to give him a grandson {though we didn’t yet know it was a boy} for a while, and it wasn’t until then that I realized maybe God really was at work in all this. Though I still had no idea how. It would have been so easy to add another “needs me” to that list of people, with a baby on the way, but for the first time I began to listen and really ask God what his plan was. And I tossed my plan out.

Source: tweakiz.com via Stefanie on Pinterest


For the next few months I worked feverishly at developing and launching Abby Maddy. I taught myself the basics of sewing, took apart our baby gear seam by seam and learned to make patterns, researched everything I could about website development and branding and spent a lot of late nights at my dining room table planning, mapping and working. But as my belly grew bigger, so did my daddy’s cancer and by June it had become clear that I was needed in Tennessee. So for weeks, I travelled back and forth from our home in Kentucky to northeast Tennessee, a six hour trip with toddler, sewing machine, notions and fabric in tow.  I set up shop on my parent’s dining room table and planned to sew while Abby napped and I cared for my daddy. But God had other plans.

As the days went by, my daddy grew worse, and it became clear that he would have to be hospitalized. My heart was broken. devastated. shattered.  I knew that once he left the comfort of his recliner for a hospital bed, that it would be the end. From mid July, until he passed away in August, he would only spend a few short days at home.

Through it all, I kept working. It wasn’t that Abby Maddy was more important than my daddy, I was by his side the entire summer. But part of me desperately needed him to see that I was OK. Even when I wasn’t, even when I felt like I could not go one more day, I needed him to see that I could still be strong. Shutting down on Abby Maddy would have meant shutting down in front of my daddy, and that was more than I could bear. Continuing on was all I knew to do.


Three days after my daughter’s second birthday my daddy passed away. A week later, we loaded up the car, and returned to Kentucky. I remember staring at my dining room table, wondering for a moment if I even should, if I even could, if I even wanted to continue on. And then I got to work. And for the next three weeks, “shifts” of friends jumped in to help. On September 27th 2010, my 28th birthday and just thirty two days after my daddy passed away we launched Abby Maddy Designs. I picked up the phone three different times that day to call my daddy and tell him the good news.

To be continued….

One thought on “{on Riding Out Storms Pt 1.}

  1. Jennifer Richardson says:

    sending love and a warm tender
    and prayers that rich ripe grace
    covers every bit of everydayness
    and enables all of you to absorb
    every bit of comfort and peace
    in your deepest parts,
    to be wildly encouraged
    and thoroughly soothed,
    soaked in peace until
    you're saturated.
    So so thinking about you
    and the people of your community,


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