I love meeting new people and am excited for you to meet my friend Abbie Smith and offer you a chance to win a book. Friends + books? This is going to be fun!
Hello, I’m Abbie, wife to Micah, mom to Elliana, Eden and Aaliya, newly adopted from India, and author. My husband was raised as a missionary kid in Japan, and I was raised at a country club in Roswell, Georgia. Having become a follower of Jesus in college, I quickly fell in love with his love for the nations, and lived for short stints in China, Paris, South Africa and Uganda. Even though my life and calling feels situated in little ol’ Savannah, Georgia these days, one of the highlights of my week is Friday afternoons when the kids and I pick-up our Pakistani friend and gather with about fifty other refugee women and their slew of children for “English Club.
Do you remember how we met? :-)
Sometimes I think dementia is setting-in early for me, so forgive me if this memory is jaded, but I recall our introduction being your marvelous Mother’s Day post some years back. I had recently released a book on singleness and was struck by your articulate and gracious reflections from an unmarried perspective. I knew I liked you and reached out in hopes of becoming friends. Since then, its been meaningful to loosely follow one another’s writings and various seasons. Someday I dream of actually meeting face to face!
It was that post! I remember taking a picture with a statue of a fancy cow in Beijing as a picture of me with you and writing about how gracious you were. I don’t remember how, but I asked you if you wanted to be added to my ministry updates and you said yes. But I have the strongest memory of when i knew we had turned a corner and were becoming friends. I was in line to go through the Denver airport and you replied to a ministry update. I was touched you read it and responded. Since then, you have the uncanny gift of emailing while I am in line at DIA. It is our unofficial “special spot” :).
I love talking to people about the story behind the story! What lead you to write Stretch Marks?
Ah yes, I suppose there’s always a story behind the story, eh. I think for Stretch Marks, it was one of the few times when I would lie awake at night still stuck in a blog or journal entry. Typically I’m a forward thinking person, and will write a post, or experience a story, but once it’s over I move on. Something about the pages of my journal that season, and the words and ways it seemed God was speaking to me, wouldn’t stop bugging me though. And when I would share aspects of it with other women, often the response would be, “Why aren’t we talking about this stuff more often?” The content was specific to where I was, as newly married, or a new mom, but it was also clearly hitting a more universal nerve, about being and becoming a woman, made in the image of God. I wasn’t in the mood to write another book, and yet felt as though I also wasn’t supposed to keep these thoughts to my journal. I worked-up a proposal and sent it to two publishers. One said no and the other said yes, so the yes choice and I decided to give it a try.
I bet even the writing of Stretch Marks brought stretch marks you didn’t expect! Could you share a few?
Oh la la, as a four on the Enneagram, I especially love this question. The process of writing and publishing Stretch Marks ran simultaneously with the adoption of our third child. Frankly, I genuinely thought (and hoped) once the stage of singleness was done, so would be the brunt of “waiting” woes in life. (I guess I also though stretch marks only drew themselves on the outside of one’s thighs – ha – how misled I was on both accounts!) The stretch marks of waiting induced by the writing and publishing process of this book, alongside the gaping ones proceeding Aaliya’s homecoming from India, were brutal. Likewise, maybe it sounds unspiritual, but I wasn’t expecting the profound communion Jesus and I got throughout this writing process. It was one of those times when the writing itself led me to unseen layers, and as it turned out, even a main theme of the book. Through the actual writing of it, in other words, I came upon areas of intimacy and empathy with our brother Jesus that I simply wasn’t expecting. Particularly in regards to him being “stretched” during his time on earth to unfathomable layers for the sake of love. Loving me. Loving us. For the sake of eternal love.
What is your hope for this book?
I think “success” would mean a lot of #metoo’s, as well as women walking away from the pages assured that where they are matters. And not just matters, but images God in a profound way. As its summary on Amazon notes, “In some ways becoming a wife and mother was as exhilarating as I envisioned; in other ways it was stifling and painstakingly ordinary. A candid memoir about growth, faith and belonging, Stretch Marks I Wasn’t Expecting delves with startling honesty into conversations about infertility and inner-city living, mommy wars and the incarnation, letdowns of marriage and learning to notice God in the mundane.” So I suppose I can only hope women would feel rapport and rest in this soul bearing bunch of pages.
Tell us a little about your retreat center! You know I hope to visit in person some day!
It’s lovely; please come visit! For going on three years now, we’ve been the caretakers of Wesley Gardens Retreat in Savannah, Georgia. (If you’re an Instagram’er, it’s @wesleygardenslife.) Having studied spiritual formation and soul care in graduate school, it’s hard to believe I’m actually living-out that degree so literally by working at a retreat center. Granted, my husband (Micah) does 99% of the care-taking, but someday when littles ones are no longer the brunt of my daily hours, I look forward to engaging more with the likes of spiritual direction and lending more shape to the retreat.
What projects are you working on these days?
Aside from attempting to stay present to my little people, and bits of discipleship with gals in Savannah, don’t tell anyone, but I’m actually working on a children’s book. That’s the first time I’ve typed out those words – eeeek. It’s still in embryonic stages, but I’m partnering with a wonderful illustrator and honestly feel as though this might be the most important project I’ve ever worked on. I’ll keep you posted!
Abbie, so fun to chat. Thanks for taking the time!
Friends, if you would like to win a copy of Stretch Marks (or win it for a friend!), leave a comment. What draws you to this book? What draws you to Abbie (she’s lovely, isn’t she?). Even if you haven’t been pregnant, we’ve all got stretch marks. How has God been stretching you these days?