maggie and abby: how you can help!

We are dreaming big.

In the weeks since our twins Abby and Maggie died, my husband Franco and I have been trying to listen to what God is calling us to next. We realize this will be a long journey of discernment and will likely bring unexpected changes to our family and our lives.

But we have already been transformed by the experience of loving and losing our daughters. So we trust that we will be prepared for whatever comes next, whenever the time comes.

Today we want to start by asking you to help us make a difference in Maggie and Abby’s honor.

We want their legacy of love to live on in powerful, practical ways. So when we started dreaming about how we could start something right now, I immediately thought of my friend Colleen.

Colleen, her husband Greg, and their five sons run the St. Francis Emmaus Center for pregnant women and new mothers in Costa Rica. The center provides a safe, comfortable place for indigenous Cabecar mothers (who must journey long hours on foot to have access to medical care) in the days before and after the birth or hospitalization of a child.

Colleen and Greg work as the ground team in Costa Rica to offer housing and support for up to 18 mothers and newborns. Their work has played a major part in reducing infant mortality in the indigenous reserve by 50%.


Colleen and I are both writers for Blessed Is She, a ministry of daily devotionals for Catholic women. Her heart for service and justice captured mine from the first time I discovered her blog and heard her family’s story.

And when Franco and I learned that our daughters were sick from twin-to-twin-transfusion syndrome, Colleen reached out in turn. Because she knew this kind of fear and loss.  

Colleen and Greg’s sixth son Bryce died from SIDS at the age of three months in 2009. They named their missionary organization in his honor and let their lives be changed in powerful and prophetic ways because of Bryce’s life and death. (Colleen recently shared more of their story on the New Orleans Moms Blog: Finding Purpose Beyond The Pain – The Story Behind St. Bryce Missions.)

I still remember the first post I read on Colleen’s blog (because she changed my mind about when and how to announce when I started writing a new book).

Today I’m inspired by her words again – to announce that we are starting something new. We want the world to be changed because Abigail Kathleen and Margaret Susan were here. And whatever that means for us down the road, it means that we want to start today to live differently in their honor.

. . .

While I was pregnant with Maggie and Abby, I had top-notch medical care. We had excellent doctors covered by quality insurance. We drove to monthly, then weekly, then daily ultrasounds with relative ease. When complications arose, our babies had in-utero surgery at the hands of specialists in a world-class hospital.

We worried about all kinds of things, but health care was never one of them.

So when friends and family started asking us about a charity to support in Maggie and Abby’s honor, we knew we wanted to give back in a way that would reflect how we were carried through this journey.

We wanted whatever organization we supported to have a direct impact on people living in poverty. We hoped to help others gain access to life-saving medical care. And we loved the idea of serving other mothers and babies.

Colleen and Greg’s work at the St. Francis Emmaus Center was a perfect fit.

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Today we hope you will join us to support Colleen and Greg’s work with mothers and babies in honor of our babies who changed our lives.

We are hoping to raise $8,000 by Mother’s Day (May 8, 2016). This goal will fund a new vehicle for Colleen to transport moms back and forth from their appointments and therapies.

We know it’s a crazy goal – but everything about this journey with Maggie and Abby has been unexpected and full of grace. We believe we can do this with your help.

So today we’re asking you to give whatever you can – $5, $10, $100 – to support other mothers and babies in need.

You can give directly through our Pure Charity website by credit card (or you can mail in a check per their instructions). All donations are tax-deductible and will go directly to St. Bryce Missions’ work at the St. Francis Emmaus Center.

You can also help spread the word about our fundraising effort through the website’s Facebook and Twitter links or by using our direct link:

I’ll update our progress here, and you can also follow on social media using the hashtag #maggieandabby

We are so grateful to you for helping to support Colleen and Greg’s amazing work with mothers and babies in Costa Rica. And most of all, we are grateful for your love and prayers as we create a legacy for Maggie and Abby – one that will be worthy of all they gave to us.


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