To Ode to Urbana

In 2007, my parents drove me to my pink and orange themed, non-air conditioned dorm room at Weston Hall in Champaign, Illinois, where my heart swelled and broke simultaneously as I stepped into my future, saying goodbye to my parents for my first year of independence.  I remember the way my dad was strong, for my mom was tear-filled and weak.  She never did stop sending me cards almost weekly with a $5 bill and all her love for my entire college career.

Little did I know, just months later in that very dorm room I would find out that a high school friend passed away.  Moments after receiving the news, I hit my knees and the Lord led me to Himself.  From then on, everything changed for me.  I began to see life as something other than my story.

I met the man to whom I’ve bound my life and heart that year, too.  Before I knew I would ever see him as anything other than my “hippie friend Gabe,” I would wander over to his giant old Urbana house after class from time to time to shoot the breeze and play guitar.  I would be lying if I said I didn’t always admire his unwillingness to conform, his love for literature, his love that spilled over for those with great need and his protectiveness of me.  It was just three and a half years after we met that we married and moved our new life together only a couple of blocks down the cobbled road from that old Urbana house I used to visit from time-to-time.


It was in that home that we got our first dog, grieved my mom’s loss, made our first sushi rolls, and grew forever friendships with some of the dearest people to my heart.  I brought home papers to grade every night from my second graders who I loved more than was probably normal.

We decided to become foster parents here in Urbana, and it’s here that we were entrusted with Martell when he was just eight short weeks young.


It was in Urbana that we bought our first home—one that had a rich history and legacy of faithfulness to Jesus from friends who loved us in our hardest of seasons.  I could weep just thinking of the way the Lord provided them for us at that time.  It was in their home (that’s now ours, soon to be someone else’s) that I sat in front of the fire knitting my tears into a pair of slippers I made for my dad as I missed my mom with a depth I didn’t know was possible.  It was in their home that we brought Martell the morning after we picked him up from the hospital, sick and sad.  It was in this home, before and after it was ours, that my heart grew in a more authentic and weathered love for Jesus.  It was in this home that we hosted the four year old girl that changed my heart and life forever, and where I swelled in my middle carrying our sweet baby Esmae, who we brought home two weeks before her due date.  It’s in this home where we watched both kids take their first steps, and where we watched them learn to love one another, and the last wild orphan boy we hosted for the longest five months possibly ever.

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It’s here in Urbana where we’ve acquired some baggage—some painful loss, some terrifying trauma, some life-altering anxiety, some necessary change, some difficult loneliness.  It’s here in Urbana where our fingers entwined and we decided we would take a giant and Spirit-led leap of faith to leave the place where our roots run so sweet and so deep.

So here we go—Washington, you have a lot to live up to.

And Urbana, dear sweet Urbana, and all of the beautiful people who come along with it–you  will always have paved the most beautiful cobble roads of growth and change and hope in my heart.



  • Reply Sandy February 4, 2018 at 4:17 pm

    You amaze me. Always. Washington is lucky to have you and your precious family. Love you, Linds, Gabe, Martell and Esmae!

  • Reply Ava February 4, 2018 at 10:44 pm

    Wishing you well, our love follows you on your new adventure! Miss you! Gonna keep you close in heart despite the many miles of separation.

  • Reply Angie February 5, 2018 at 3:26 pm

    Love you! Your words spoke straight to my heart regarding so many of the things we leave behind when we trust God for something new. “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

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