You know those people you meet or hear their story and you just think "Wow, I would hope I could be as bold as them to say yes to God in that way." Well I met one of those people's mom several weeks ago. She shops in the store and is precious. We chat it up while she browses and this particular time she was gushing on her granddaughters, as all the proud grandmas do. She even showed me this picture of her daughter's beautiful family.
Then two days ago I saw the same picture on 3 of my friends blogs and was honored to read more of their story. After thinking about them and praying over them all day I had to reach out to Jody, whom I have never met, and ask if I could also share here. There is so much glory for the Father, not only in the words she has written but in the way they are living their lives for Him.
In August 2005, I met our precious kids. Ceree, Alajia, De’levyus, and Oceana came to Crockett Elementary to begin their school year as I began my very first year of teaching. I had Alajia in my kindergarten class, Oceana and De’levyus next door to me in kindergarten, and Ceree a couple doors down from me in first grade. Jeniyah and JJ were still babies at home and Gigi was three weeks away from being born. I think it took me all about two weeks of school to know that Mike and I were supposed to be involved in their lives. I’m not kidding. I’m sure everyone thought that I had met some kids and this was just a “phase” that every first year teacher goes through of not being used to the poverty and sadness I felt everyday as I came to work. Mike and I had been married a whole nine months and I was already formulating huge plans of what I wanted to do on a daily and weekly basis to help this family. I have no idea why or how he jumped on board immediately, but he did and I am SO GRATEFUL. So, we started taking food and all kinds of supplies to their house and staying over there to clean and organize and do homework and make dinner and run errands and anything else we could think of just to spend time over there to get to know their mom and the kids. We just wanted to do anything we could to make their lives happier and easier and better. That year, we continued this way. We recruited my family and tons of friends to help us and we built a firm foundation that year.
The next year, we decided to start doing more activities with the kids in our home and taking them places. We were 23 and 24 at this point and we were learning how to do black hair, discipline some very rowdy kids, teach kids to read, homework, take them to church, do black hair, teach them about the Lord, take them to soccer and basketball practices, and did I mention learn how to do six heads of black hair?! We were falling in love with these children and beginning to see some progress as we spent more and more time pouring the love of Christ into them and into their mom.
The next year, we approached their mom with the idea of getting joint guardianship with her. Basically, she would still hold primary custody, but she would make us the temporary guardians so they could live with us and we could take them to school and to the doctor and make educational and medical decisions. She agreed and I’m not sure we had ever been so ecstatic about something in our whole lives. It was a complicated decision and we spent so much time trying to explain it to anyone who asked because it wasn’t something that many people ever do. Our whole intention has been to help the children be close with their mom and to also help them have every opportunity and everything they need to be successful in life and to know the Lord fully and deeply.
We renewed temporary guardianship 8 times. During those 8 years, we have learned how to change diapers, potty train, crochet extensions, cook in huge portions, shop wisely, bought two twelve passenger vans, and renovated our house 500 times to try to accommodate so many people. All 7 of the kids have asked Jesus to become the Lord of their life and to reside in their hearts forever which above anything is the only thing that matters. We have been on road trips that I can’t believe we actually did. We have had a precious baby who is such a joy in all of our lives. We have gotten two crazy dogs that the kids talked us into. We have made some ER trips and we’ve had surgeries. We have spent a ridiculous amount of hours listening to kids sound out words and learn to read and endless hours doing algebra and homework and I know there is so much more to come. We had a fire in our house and we had to live in a hotel room for two months. I’m telling you, we have lived a crazy life in the past 8 years with these kids and it has been worth every single minute.
There have been times that have been really hard to understand too. So much communication has gone into our relationship with their mom. We have had to work at a relationship that hasn’t come easy. I have learned so much over the years about humility, grace, and priorities. There are so many times she has been self-sacrificing in choosing this life for her kids because she has always wanted what is best for them, but there is nothing easy about the situation. She has seen such change in them and is always so amazed at where they are today. We are truly grateful for a mom that wanted her children to succeed in life and wanted them to escape the cycle of poverty.
The hardest decision we have ever made in our entire life was made four years ago when we all decided it was best for Delevyus to go back and live with their mother. It is something I cried about everyday for 6 months. It is what is best for him and where he is the happiest. We still see him often and his sisters giggle with him incessantly when we are together. He will always be my baby.
We have learned so much over the years of relying on the Lord for everything. I have never had to learn this lesson so many times. Like 500 times. Like I am still having to learn it. We have been so worried about providing for the kids so many times about a ridiculous amount of things, but every single time, HE provides. People have brought us groceries, clothes, school supplies, furniture, and anything else we seem to need. If we get low on money, a check will show up under our door mat or in the mail box or somehow something will get taken care of that we don’t seem to have the means for. I’m telling you--we never would have been able to do this on our own. There are a ton of people that have surrounded us and poured Christ’s love and generosity on us over and over to provide for these kids in so many ways.
All of this to say-- we have made the decision, with their mom’s blessing, to adopt the girls. We started this process 4 months ago after a year of prayer about it and some conversations with their mom. Our prayer was that if she was not at peace with the decision that we did not want to push this. When we approached her about it, she was ready and willing and we were all united in our decision. I had no idea 8 years later this would EVER be in the Lord’s plan. EVER. We are so grateful.
God has blessed us abundantly and we are honored to continue to parent these amazing children. We thank God for entrusting us with them & seek Him in every decision we make and everything single thing we do. Thank you ahead of time for coming alongside our family & being a part of their adoption story.
All for Him,
Mike & Jody Gully
This family's servants hearts are apparent. So would you pray about being a part of what the Lord has called this family to do? If that is loving and supporting them through finances you can donate here: