When they first married 17 years ago, Josh and Allison Lewis could have never expected their lives to look the way they do today.
Five children later, the Lewis clan is better than any family the couple could have ever dreamed of.
After giving birth to Abby (11), Jack (9) and Isabel (8), the family welcomed their first adopted son, Micah (5). Then Allison gave birth to their daughter Julia (3).
Their hearts were full, but there was still something missing.
On October 30, 2015, Allison got a phone call that would change their lives forever. It was her friend andadoption attorneycalling with some unbelievable news.
She said that shed remembered our talking about possibly wanting to adopt again and then shared that she was aware of a birth mom who needed a family for her baby.
Allison called her husband with the intention of just planting the seedgetting the conversation started.
But instead of proceeding with his typically logical, slow process of decision-making, he exclaimed, Absolutely! This is so clearly an answer to what weve been praying.
Three weeks later, the family received a call saying that baby Sams mother was in labor.
We wildly threw the kids and a handful of luggage into the van and hit the road for the 10-hour trip to Duke University Hospital in Durham, NC.
While on the road, the adoption attorney called
Does Josh have both hands on the steering wheel? she asked.
She then went on to tell the Lewis family that doctors had just discovered through an ultrasound that there were actually TWO babies on their way! The mother was having twins.
Two babies. I wont lieit felt overwhelming. we kept reminding ourselves, though, that the Lord had gone before us in this, and while we had all been clueless about the second baby, Hed known all along.
After maybe an hour or so of processing, talking through the logistics of bringing home twins, and feeling a growing excitement over our growing blessings, the weight grew far heavier when the next phone call came.
Allison says her friends tone was different this time around. With heartache in her voice, she told the couple that doctors were taking mom in for an emergency c-section, but they didnt believe that baby B would survive.
Two hours later, the family arrived at the hospital where they found a small, but healthy baby boy being cuddled by nurses. His twin sister, weighing only three pounds, was in the NICU, where Josh and Allison learned their daughter was born without a brain.
From the neck down, she was what the world would call perfect. As you neared the top of her brain stem, though, everything went black on the ultrasound of her head. As I stared at the void on the monitor before me, the tears streamed hot down my cheeks.
Allison says that the doctors looked at her and Josh with full compassion and understanding as they told them, You dont have to take her. We know this isnt what you signed up for.
But when I turned back around to look into the face of the life I saw before mea life made by the hands of a good and loving CreatorJosh and I locked eyes, and without saying a single audible word to one another, we told the doctors, Shes our daughter.
They named her Ava, which means filled with life.
For the next three weeks, the Lewis family of nine spent as much time as possible cuddling their new additions, singing, laughing, crying and praying, before making their way back home to Birmingham, Alabama.
Duke flew Ava to the Childrens hospital there where she spent three more weeks being monitored and loved on.
After 44 days in the hospital, baby Ava got to go home to her forever family!
We have a lot of life and love to pack into whatever time we have left with her; and when the time comes that she breathes her last breath, her body will be made wholeand her name will find its most perfect completionin a glorious picture of being TRULY filled with life eternal.
Ava lived for almost seven months before going Home to Jesus. It was a beautiful and full life for an angel who doctors said would be a life finished almost before it began.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised. Job 1:21
The Lewises say that even through all of the joy, uncertainty, heartache and tragedy, choosing Ava to be their daughter was the hardest-easy thing theyve ever done.
And if asked, theyd do it all over again.
What an incredible testimony to the love and plans the Lord has for useven baby Ava, whose life was supposed to end before it began.
Allison said on multiple occasions that through it all, God surrounded them with a peace that can only come from Him. One that comforts and surpasses all understanding.
The faith, strength and unconditional love of the Lewis family is inspiring. And their story is another incredible reminder that we have a good, GOOD father.