John and Carol are servants at heart, not only within their marriage and family but within their community. They have a special passion for supporting mothers and their babies in times of unplanned pregnancies.
When John’s co-worker shared with him that her sister, LeeAnn, was 16 years old and pregnant, and her boyfriend was recently killed in a car accident, John knew they had to do something. After talking with his wife, Carol, they offered that LeeAnn and the baby could live with them at their house as long as she needed.
“I thought that was it,” said John. “Like, okay, God, I checked the box.”
About a month after John extended the invitation, John was outside grilling hamburgers for their Friday night dinner. His phone rang. It was LeeAnn’s parents. They asked if they could come over to meet them.
“We hadn’t yet told our girls about all of this yet since we didn’t know if it would materialize,” said John.
They quickly sat down with their kids to explain the situation. When their daughter, Liza, said, “It sounds like a call to action,” they quickly started picking up their house in anticipation to meet this new family for the first time.
As they visited, they learned LeeAnn’s due date was the next month. Carol and John reassured her that she could stay in their guest room.
“We wanted to convey that feeling of stability and this was going to be a safe place for LeeAnn and her baby,” said John. “As we continued to talk, you could see God gave her peace and she started to relax.”
The following Wednesday, John received a call from the family asking if he and Carol wanted to adopt the baby.
“We weren’t expecting that at all. It was a surprise but we were all in and quickly grew excited,” said Carol.
At the time, John and Carol’s four children ranged in age from 11-17. While John and Carol’s friends were starting to experience being empty nesters, they explained they welcomed the opportunity especially knowing their children were in a good spot and doing well.
Baby Joshua was born and Carol had the special opportunity to be in the birth room during his delivery.
“God gave Joshua’s birthmother strength and courage to give him up for adoption. She had to trust God that He had great plans for her and Joshua,” said Carol.
Today Joshua has the opportunity to have a relationship with his birthmother as well as his maternal and paternal sets of grandparents.
“Our motto has always been nobody has too many people loving them,” said John.
“There were many God moments throughout the whole experience,” said John. “One really special aspect was when they found out the name of Joshua’s paternal grandfather. His name is John Nelson, the same as mine! Joshua had the last name of Nelson before we adopted him. One of my favorite phone calls was when I got to introduce myself to Joshua’s paternal grandfather. I said, ‘Hi, this is John Nelson and you have a grandson to meet.’ He was so overcome with emotion and surprise, he couldn’t respond.”
When Joshua was two months old, he began experiencing allergies that significantly affected his skin. Carol explained how they had to put socks on his hands so he wouldn’t scratch his face.
“We went to nine different specialists and tried everything,” said Carol. When Carol was at therapy with their youngest daughter, she was talking to a therapist about Joshua. She connected Carol with another mom with a son who had many allergies. They happened to both be at therapy at the same time.
Carol had the opportunity to talk with her and she recommended seeing a doctor in a nearby town who did acupuncture. It was extremely helpful to her son and he was no longer on any medications. Carol thought back to how a friend had suggested a chiropractor with their daughter, Erin, and how helpful that experience was. Although she didn’t know how she felt about acupuncture, she was willing to give it a try. Maybe meeting this mom so unexpectedly was God’s messenger.
“When I met with the doctor, he explained how he would use acupressure so needles were not involved. He thought we would see improvement in about eight sessions. Well, after four sessions, we saw significant improvement. It alleviated all of Joshua’s symptoms. What a huge blessing,” said Carol.
Today, Joshua is nine years old. “Raising Joshua in this stage of my life is so fun. I was so anxious with my other kids. Now I know I won’t screw it up, he’ll be just fine. It’s more enjoyable and we have help with our older children,” said Carol. “I couldn’t imagine our family without Joshua! He brings such joy and he’s surrounded by so many who love him!”
John and Carol shared a couple of stories with me. You can check out their first story, The Gift of Erin here.
1. Have you ever been surprised by God’s call? Where did it lead you?
2. How can you be Christ’s hands and feet today?