the next chapter.

I have been slow to share details about Gabriel’s upcoming neurological test. Even explaining it to family face to face has been awkward and jumbled, like the words are begging me to let them just stay inside, because maybe if I don’t speak them they won’t come true. But they will, and the only thing I can do now is ask God to impress upon my heart that He goes before, that Tuesday and tests and tears belong to him.

Gabriel’s EMG and Nerve Conduction Study will be very unpleasant for him. They will be painful and not over nearly as quickly as I would like for them to be. They will be a microcosm of this journey, friends, this long and hard journey. And for days now, maybe weeks, I’ve known it was time to ask for something new from each of you who have cared for us so deeply, from each of you who have begged God to let this cup pass and been the very hands and feet of Christ through meals and gift cards and babysitting and so much more. I’m humble before you now, nearly trembling as I ask this, partially because I’m still in shock from our circumstances and partially because what I need to request is so much to ask. But I have to, because, silly/freaky/crazy as it may sound, I’m confident the Spirit is telling me to.

So, in what I believe is obedience, I’m telling you now that if there’s anything you can do for us, it’s to grab our hands and choose to understand with us that this is just the beginning of our new reality, of Gabriel’s story that isn’t the one we thought would be written or that we would choose to write. We want you to keep praying for healing, we really do. But we also need you to help us to accept however God chooses to make His presence known in this trial, and to know that we believe He is telling us that these are yet the early days of Gabriel’s physical struggles, that, while He could choose to heal at any moment, He is telling us now to be strong and courageous and ready to struggle long. If God chooses not to restore Gabriel’s physical abilities fully during these fleeting earthly days, He is still good. If all the strange, difficult things our family has been through were the 5k races preparing us for this marathon, we need you to run alongside us for these 26 hard miles, to embrace the race and not resist it, to preach these words I’m writing now back to us when our hearts grow weary and faint.

Oh how I hope my message is clear, how I hope you all know how much you mean to us and strengthen us and encourage us, how deeply we have treasured your prayers for healing and renewal. We are in need of you. We are people who are used to being strong and capable and the first to help; we are admitting weakness and insufficiency and need. Accept God’s hand with us, friends. Help us press into transition from a perception of short-term crisis to long-term faithfulness, from our planned trip to Italy to the Beauty of Holland. We see in a mirror so dimly now, and we are every day a step closer to beholding His face. Will you help us take those steps with faith, not begrudgingly or slowly, but confidently and with open hearts? Help us believe that He is here, that all of the promises of God find their Yes in Jesus.

I have never been so aware that His thoughts are higher than our thoughts, or that His ways are higher than our ways. That He upholds and strengthens and that He can do anything but may not do the thing we ask and that He works all things together for the good of those who love Him. What I want now is to see the Lord’s goodness in ways I could not imagine, to trust that our labor on Gabriel’s behalf, that Gabriel’s pain and frustration and limitation, are not in vain. We are so very blessed to have so many people who love Jesus partnering with us, to be helped in our unbelief by the Scripture spoken from your mouths and the refreshment you have offered us.

I almost always refer to Gabriel as “Gabe,” but today I need the reminder of what “Gabriel” means – the Lord is my strength. He is Gabriel’s strength, the One who upholds him, the One who writes his story and does not have to disclose it to his mother because He holds Gabriel in the palm of His hand, because Jared and I are not Gabriel’s ultimate protectors. We trust now that God will continue to show more of Himself to all of us through Gabriel’s life, and we are honored to behold God’s glory displayed alongside each of you.

15 thoughts on “the next chapter.

  1. I love this Abby! Praying that you and Jared would believe and trust that He is a good Father, and that He would help you believe where you are lacking belief!!

  2. We press in with you to God’s faithfulness and strength. He is Gabriel’s strength and will uphold him and each of you in the midst of this. His glory is displayed in this writing that you trust God no matter what. God is holding you tightly. With live and prayers.

  3. It’s so special how you two are allowing us to be in your support team. This gives our lives even greater purpose in Him and with you 4.

  4. Abby, we haven’t met yet, but I’ve been following Gabriel’s story and praying for all my of you. I am Matt Morton’s mom. I love what you’ve written here. You’re right, dear one, you may have landed in Holland. But because I had an uncle who had Downs Syndrome and was an incredible blessing to our family, I can tell you that Holland can be beautiful. Hard to navigate at times, yes. But beautiful. I’m so glad you are being honest with the people who love you and are willing to ask them to walk the journey with you. It will make the marathon easier. May God bless you richly as the family He intended you to be.

    • Thank you so much for sharing this! I actually first read “The Beauty of Holland” when it hung in our family’s best friend’s home while I was growing up. Their daughter, like your uncle, had Down Syndrome. Hard but beautiful, like you said :). In all things, God is good!

  5. Hang in there, Jared and Abby. The journey is long, and I am glad you have found the words to ask for the encouragement to last long as well. We are familiar with the experience of going from being strong and the ones who always help, to being in need of help ourselves; and I have still not found a way to ask for help in a way that is understood. I am glad you recognize already that God is faithful, even when the journey ahead will be much longer than you originally expected. I will pray for courage and perseverance. You sound very strong as you write this today. When you get to a place, as you sometimes will, where you are just not sure if you can hold on anymore: remember, God will still be holding on to you.
    With love in Christ,

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