To see the hindsight of God’s incredible plan, I have to start back in 2015.
3 Adults, Many Needs
In May of 2015, we took in my 17-year-old special needs nephew while watching my sister die for 6 weeks. She died on June 8th, 2015 and then unexpectedly my mother-in-law died exactly one week later. We planned 2 funerals in one week and just like that inherited 3 ‘adults’ that we were now solely responsible for. We were hit hard. I remember a good friend telling me at the first funeral to give myself time to grieve. I’m not sure how you do that with 3 of your kids in your home, a new ‘kid’ in your home with major needs and needing to care for all the finances, medical appointments, homes, etc. of an 83 year old father-in-law with dementia and a 97-year old grandmother.
We were in CRISIS. I cried constantly. I told myself every morning to just get out of bed and God would help me with the rest. We were CARRIED by the many people God sent to us those first 3 months. I was in constant communication with God for the next 15 months while I worked tirelessly to get my nephew all the supports he needed, and driving to Iowa every 4-6 weeks to spend the weekend with 97 year old grandma and to get our ‘to do’ list there done. I felt incredibly close and in sync with God throughout that crisis. I’m thankful that we slowly moved out of crisis. My nephew received the DD waiver he needed and I found a group home for him 5 miles from our home, grandma passed October 2017 (we cleaned out and sold her home), in November 2017 father-in-law got moved into assisted living 3 miles from us (we cleared out his home to sell in February 2018.) We were breathing more normal again. But as we got further and further out of crisis, I started to feel farther and farther from God. I didn’t rely on him to function and get up every morning. I longed to feel close to Him again.
A New Normal
Every year I get invited to our church women’s retreat and every year it’s a no brainer – I can’t go because we are in Iowa with grandma. Not this year. She is in heaven now. Now I have to seriously think about it. (Do I really want to share a room with women I don’t know? Do I really want to have to make conversation all day long with people I don’t know? Will they make me sleep in the top bunk? That doesn’t work for my bladder.) My friend asked me again to join her at the retreat. (I’m not sure if I can do it.) As it gets closer and closer I learn that the women’s retreat was sold out. (Oh, too bad-NOT!) Only to hear from the women’s ministry leader that she held a spot just for me. (WHY?) So then I really had to think about it. And what I came back to over and over again was that I wanted to feel close to God again and even though I’d be uncomfortable with a bunch of women I didn’t know, perhaps this is just what God and I needed. So I registered to go in March.
Meanwhile in February 2018, I received a Safe Families email with a weekend need for baby J. We hadn’t served Safe Families since my sister was sick & died in 2015. (I think I could love on a baby for 2 days without becoming too overwhelmed. Who doesn’t want to love on a baby? We don’t have much on our calendar. I’ll just respond and see what happens. Can I do this again?) So I emailed we were available and that weekend, I met mom and baby J. We loved on baby J for only 2 days. On my way to bring baby back to mom, I started crying in the car. I mean big time tears. (What is going on? What is wrong with me? Why am I crying? Yes we loved baby, but this is just ridiculous to be crying over saying goodbye. Mom has help. They’ll both be ok.) I cried all the way to the homeless shelter. Then I prayed (God, please help me to stop crying. This would be so awkward for mom. Please, help me keep it together. Am I going crazy God? Seriously?)
Caring for Baby J
Mom was late. God gave me 10 minutes to compose myself, which I did. I said goodbye to baby J and didn’t expect to see him again. I got back in my car, lost it again and I thought hard about why I was so emotional. Was it because I was going to miss baby J? Absolutely! But I think it was also because I realized I was back in the position to serve outside our family. God had RESTORED us through the 2015 crisis. We can now give and love again.
I thought the story would end there…but God had other plans. The very next weekend in February 2018, the long-term host family for baby J needed respite due to illness. We were asked if we could take him…absolutely! So we spent another weekend loving on baby J. We got very attached. So attached, that God has imprinted mom and baby J onto my heart and I’m in continual prayer for them. (Weird, right? I thought so. Here I only spent 5 days total with baby and I’m constantly praying for him and his mother.) Hindsight tells me…this attachment and love God placed in my heart was the fuel I needed to work His plan. (Which I didn’t know until hindsight.)
March 2018, it is time to go to the church women’s retreat. I stay close to my friend. (Please don’t make me sleep in the top bunk!) Friday night they tell us who are small group leader is. I meet mine, who looks
similar to ‘mom.’ The only woman in the room that looks anything like mom and yet this is my leader. Mom
is the first person I think of when I see her. Who am I kidding; I haven’t stopped thinking and praying for
A Mentor for Mom
So I get to know ‘leader’ through the next 2 days. She is amazing how she talks to people, asks questions and leads. It is late Saturday night and I’m saying goodbye because I have to leave early the next morning. I wanted so bad to ask leader if she would ever consider mentoring mom, but I don’t have the courage. I left early Sunday morning, with no way to contact leader.
As I drive, I feel God’s nudge – just ask her. After 2 hours of driving, I pull over and text my friend. I tell her that I can’t stop thinking about baby J and his mom and I just wonder if leader was meant to be part of their story. Could she please get her contact information for me? My friend was sitting right next to leader at breakfast when I texted. Leader began to cry and shared her contact information.
I didn’t have the courage to call Leader until Monday night. I didn’t know what to say without sounding crazy. So I just called and said it, “I’m in complete love with a baby that we’ve watched through Safe Families and his mom has so much to figure out and I just have been praying for a mentor for her, someone to walk through life with her and I know it sounds crazy, but would this be anything you would be interested in?” “Yes” (What? Seriously, God…there was no convincing.) So I called Jill at Safe Families and told her I sound crazy but here you go…. Would mom want a mentor? Jill called mom and mom said yes. So Leader decides to apply to be a ‘family friend’ and a ‘host family’.
Meanwhile Jill and leader talk multiple times and from learning more about mom, Leader thinks she knows mom from many years ago. Jill talks to mom and mom confirms that she knows leader and is very excited to get reunited with leader.
Hindsight is 20/20
So let’s look at this with hindsight…After coming out of crisis, I decided I wanted to love on a baby for a weekend. I fell in love with baby J (and more in love with him his second time with us), so I prayed constantly for him and his mom. I felt distant from God so I decide to go on the women’s retreat, this is where I meet and get to know Leader. (Did I mention that when talking to my friend about my group she shared the ministry team formed the groups on Friday, prayed over them and felt something was not quite right so they changed up the groups before we got there Friday night?) It was there God nudged the ministry team to put me in Leader’s group. God gave me God sized love for baby J and his mom so He kept them on my heart and in my prayers all weekend. I left without following God’s nudge to talk to leader about mom. God keeps nudging. I reach out to get leader contact information and call her…only to here an immediate ‘yes.’ Leader finds out she knows mom from 2009. God had tried to reconnect them in 2015 through a different person and plans kept falling apart so it never happened…but God didn’t give up. Leader and mom are now in contact and will be meeting face to face soon.
I know His story doesn’t end there…. I can’t wait to see where He is leading everyone in this part of His
P.S. When you have the privilege to see so clearly God is using you for His plan you can’t help but feel close to God…which was the whole reason I decided to go on the retreat.
by Kilee C. is a Safe Families Host Mom who gives selflessly to others in the name of love.