Jake and I met Jeff & Kim less than 2 years ago when they invited us to their house for dinner to hear about our heart for Ghana. After being longtime missionaries, Jeff & Kim eventually felt God lead them to settling down in Conrad, Iowa. They became involved with the youth fellowship group in town, and God has used them to encourage and direct the lives of many youth, including their own 3 children. Jeff & Kim’s 17 year old son, Clarke, has played in Jake’s Kingdom Hoops program for 2 years. Earlier this spring at a tournament in Milwaukee I found myself sitting in the concessions area with Jeff, listening to the details of an unfolding adoption story that had me downright bawling like a baby. I had no idea this had all been going on! As Jeff told me the details, I listened to the almost sarcastic ways that God used to open up their hearts to adoption. Jeff spoke about his wife’s incredulous responses to the happenings and her resistance to adopt. Kim’s main defense? Her parenting years were over. In fact, in just 3 years they would be empty-nesters…..so close……but now, this? Why would they want to start all over at this point in their lives? Well, although Kim put up a good fight, eventually they did say YES to adoption. And wouldn’t you know it, less than a few miles from their house were two children in need of a family…..Jeff and Kim had never met them before…..never even knew about them…..BUT GOD KNEW!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And now, their lives are changed forever. :)
A few weeks ago I had asked Kim if she would write out how God put adoption on their hearts so that I could post it on my blog. I love sharing our own adoption story, but I am sure you are all sick of hearing it over and over again by now! So, I hope to be able to share other’s stories like this more often!!!!!! Kim eventually started keeping track of all of God’s adoption-related workings in a journal along with the dates that they happened! For some of you reading this, seeing an adoption message on a billboard, movie or email may seem like just coincidence. But when God is trying to open up your heart to something, these are the ways He often uses to get our attention….over and over again. When God is tugging at your heart, you KNOW it, and these sorts of messages feel extremely personal. I know you will appreciate Kim’s honesty and vulnerability as she shares. Here are her words…she has titled their story ~ Mysterious Ways:
God works awfully hard at getting our attention. He has spent years prepping me for HIS idea of adoption. It’s amazing how long it takes to “get the picture” of things and to understand what’s best for us.
May, 2009 - Our family took a trip to Cancun. It was a great vacation except for the speed boat ride. I don’t like to go fast or drive fast boats and this included both. As we were out in the ocean following our guide, we came across a huge wave. We did some air time and then slammed down on the water. My body told me that I should hurt somewhere but nothing resulted with aches or pains. I was thankful. I know this sounds like it has nothing to do with adoption but it’s just to show you that God allows things to happen to get our attention. You will find out as you read on.
October, 2009 - Jake and Janel came to our house to talk basketball for our son Clarke and also for them to share their vision about Ghana. In the process they also shared about their heart for adoption. I didn’t think much of it but am always moved by hearing God-stories and seeing how He works. I would read Janel’s blog as well and loved watching God open and close doors to make it all work for His glory. I still didn’t think anything of it. I was happy for Jake and Janel.
August, 2010 - I got left at church. Jeff thought Melissa (our daughter) was taking me home and Melissa thought Jeff was taking me home. There were plenty of people to ask for a ride home, so no big deal. What’s so funny is the couple I asked to ride home with had a meeting to go to first...an adoption/foster care meeting. So, I went to the meeting with them. At the time I didn’t think anything about it because we’ve been foster parents before…..I hadn’t really given it much thought that we were supposed to be involved again. I just wanted to get home. God is so creative in how He weaves our lives into His plan.
Tuesday, Dec 21st, 2010 - My back started hurting on the way to Clarke’s basketball game in Mason City. The next day we headed to Lincoln, NE to visit some family friends. On the way I began to get excruciating pain in my back. Half way to Lincoln, we stopped for lunch and I just bawled because the pain was so intense. What was this all about? Why so much pain? I did not know the answer. The more I moved around the better I felt, but unfortunately we had to get back into the van to finish our trip. The pain came right back. Wow, what a long ride. It was only 4 hours but seemed like an eternity. Our 2 day stay had its ups and downs, but I found that if I kept moving I was the most comfortable. The trip home wasn’t any better. Family came overnight for Christmas and then the next day we were off to Kansas City for the One Thing Festival. This is a 4 day worship conference and I love every minute of it, but this year it was cut short because my husband was having foot surgery on December 30th. I was so glad to be out of the car from the KC trip. Another 4 hour trip was no fun.
It's days later and not much has changed with the intensity of my back pain. I am so tired of it! I am up for hours at night trying to get comfortable. Lord, if you want my attention, you’ve got it. What do you want?
I am also now noticing all kinds of TV ads, computer ads, mail, billboard ads, etc that all have to do with adoption. It is on my mind constantly. However, I am totally saying no to the idea. I don’t want to do it. It would be too much work. My kids are 15, 17, & 19. I am almost done with raising kids. I don’t want to home-school any more. I am ready for freedom from children. I’ve done my time. (And I am certainly not going to tell anyone what is going on. If I don’t tell anyone it’ll go away, right?!)
January 11, 2011 - Melissa, my daughter, was painting all morning in our master bedroom and came out for lunch. She told us all that God really spoke to her that since our house was so big we should use it for the Lord. I thought we’d already used our house for the Lord. Our community youth group met at our house for 3 years. Wasn’t that long enough? She went on to say, that Clarke’s bedroom is big enough for 15 boys and Emily’s bedroom is big enough for 15 girls. If it was too much work, we could hire a cook/maid and they could stay in her own bedroom/apartment while she was at college. Everyone in the family was excited except for me. I did not want to do it. I knew it would be a lot of hard work. After everyone expressed their excitement, I told them what had been going on the past few months with all of the adoption messages that kept coming up to me. And I told them: I don’t want to adopt. If they really wanted our family to do this, then they needed to pray for me, and God would have to change my heart.
January 14, 2011 - We went out for Melissa’s birthday with her friend, Lauren, and Grandma and Grandpa Mossman. Our family knew the whole adoption thing that was going on but the others didn’t. Our conversation turned to adoption...no surprise. We asked Lauren what her major was and she said something to do with adoption. We all giggled and then told her “the story.” She was excited...I was not. Oh well.
January 2011 - A friend of Melissa’s challenged people to join her on facebook to memorize the book of James. I do not like the book of James. The last time I memorized some of that book I was flunking out of college and did not think it was funny when God said, “When troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.” JOY?! How do you get joy out of flunking college or extreme pain in your back?! Well, I started anyway wondering if God had something to teach me through this lovely Bible passage. What is it going to hurt, right? I was up all night anyway so I might as well be thinking about God’s ways, right?
Now Jeff starts noticing all kinds of billboards and ads and calls me, “Kim, guess what. There is a billboard first thing when you come into Marshalltown. It’s advertising for AdoptUsKids.org.” I look it up on the computer and watch videos about people’s experiences. Again, God is tugging at my heart. I start getting bombarded with mail, emails, etc. All of them have something to do with adoption. I turn on WHO, a secular news radio station, and there is a 1 minute blurb about how to tell your kids they are adopted. On and on it goes.
February-May 2011 - My brother and sister-in-law beg me to come to Rochester to try a special physical therapist/chiropractor that has really helped them with some issues. I had an MRI done and it showed I had a herniated disc. Dr. Ryley thought he could help. I went for 5 days the first time. I was amazed at the progress of releasing the pain in my back. I was sold on this doctor. I kept going back every few weeks all spring. By the end of spring, if I was careful, I didn’t have much pain!!!
March 31, 2011 - On this day I had an intense headache so decided to watch a calm, peaceful movie, Princes Diaries II. Yeah, right. In the middle of the movie, the Princess is in a parade and stops the parade to go over to the orphans to join her in the parade. Immediately I smile and know God is not done with this idea.
April 13, 2011 - I went to Melissa’s in KC for 4 days of visiting. One night we decide to watch a movie called Despicable Me. Right before we start the movie she chuckles and says, “Oh yeah, Mom, this movie is all about adoption.” I just had to laugh. She didn’t do it on purpose but again here we are with the adoption theme.
Well, eventually I realized God was making His point very loud and clear so I decided I’d better DO something. I started telling people that I knew also had a heart for adoption. I told them to pray for my heart to change. I called for the packet from Department of Human Services to register for the 10 week course you have to go through to become licensed foster/adoptive parents. Then in May we started the classes. Well, you would think that was enough. But no. God did more.
In April, we got a call that there were 2 kids in Conrad that needed a home. In CONRAD? Right outside our front door? Yes. We talked to the great aunt and uncle on Monday and by Thursday, April 7th, we met the great aunt and uncle. That night we met the kids and took the kids out for supper. About 1 week later the kids were staying at our house for the weekend. The following week was Easter and the kids met all of Jeff’s family. All was going amazingly well. There were more visits and more planning being done and by the time school was out at the end of May they were living with us full time.
These little 6 & 7 year olds only lived 2 miles from us. We had never seen the aunt and uncle before, or the kids. God has been working years to set this up. Wow. We’ve had the kids a little over a month. They are changing a ton each day. They asked Jesus into their heart 2 weeks ago so that’s HUGE! We talk about God constantly and they are learning all about love and how love can be hugging and sitting on laps or taking naps and eating your vegetables when you don’t want to. It’s been a big challenge but I know God is in this. It is HIS heart to take care of the orphans and widows (James 1:27). Please pray for us as it will take us all to make it work. We need His wisdom to know how to handle their bumps in the road. Right now we are traveling on a gravel road, if you know what I mean. Consistency is the key. The kids still don’t know anything about us adopting them. They think they are just staying with us for the summer because we have to wait until we are licensed to start the adoption. The kids go to the aunts and uncles each week while we have our 3 hour adoption class. It is wonderful to have the great-aunt and uncle live so close. Like I said, God has really orchestrated this and He does want the orphans to be taken care of.
Pretty cool, huh?! Did you catch the date scheme of when Kim’s back was healed from the pain? April was when she made the call to start the 10 week foster care/adoptive parenting classes to become licensed in the state of Iowa. From there they received the call from DHS on the 2 kids living just miles from their house!!!!!! By May these kids were living with them full time, and also by May God had used a chiropractor to release Kim from her excruciating back pain. Coincidence? You know by now I don’t believe in that word right?!?!?! In fact, when Kim told me all this in person I immediately thought that the healing of her back was linked to her heart change. My mind drifted to this verse in Isaiah….
Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter- when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
I LOVE how God works! I hope to share more adoption stories like this as they come up in our lives!