We really loved reading the entries for the Mother’s Day Contest we ran last month and there was one that stuck out immediately. Greg Poppy nominated his wife Jennifer with this entry:
Her name is Jennifer Poppy and on April 26, 2003, she changed my life forever by becoming my bride. However the biggest change for both of us would come in January 2006. She was working at the church we attended, and I was at my “office” ( a local coffee shop) getting ready for my third year of college. She got the call that morning, and she called me immediately afterward. It was time, we had a new addition coming to our family. His name was Bryan, the youngest son of my wife’s cousin, and he needed a home with a mom and a dad. My wife just took to being a mother without complaint. For the first three months, she continued to work at our church, but she soon felt a burden to be a full-time mother. This terrified me because I was a full-time college student, and a part-time bus driver. We had very little income as it was, but God had provided for our needs. Since Jennifer was called to fully embrace motherhood, by faith, she quit her job and started spending everyday loving and encouraging Bryan. By God’s grace, we survived until I started teaching full time in August 2008 at which time she gave birth to our second son, Gabriel. They are all blessings to me, and Jennifer has been the best change in my life this side of heaven. I thank the Lord for her faithfulness, caring, and thoughtfulness. I ask the Lord everyday to teach me how to love her better. Of course, Jesus is our example of how to live and love, but thankfully, Jennifer is an example of His love for me everyday.
Jennifer knew in high school she wanted to adopt. After marrying Greg, who had a deep place in his heart for the fatherless, it was agreed that someday they would make a home for a child without a mom and dad. After three years of marriage Jennifer’s mom called and asked them to begin praying for the Poppys’ cousin Bryan who was in a difficult situation at home and would likely need a new one soon. By the world’s standards, and according to Greg and Jennifer’s plan it wasn’t time for them to begin their family. As you read in Greg’s entry, he was still in school and they needed Jennifer’s income. But, they prayed.
Two months later, in January, Jennifer received a phone call at work. Her mother’s voice on the other end of the line said “Jennifer, its time.”
“I thought she was talking about taking down the Christmas tree,” Jennifer told me as she laughed. When she realized her mother meant it was time to get Bryan, Jennifer just knew it was what they had to do. Within two hours of that phone call, the Poppys had two-year-old Bryan in their arms.
“When we picked him up, he had about five trash bags filled with clothes and things. Almost none of the clothing was his size and the shoes he had on were way too big and just hung off his little feet…I sat outside his room that first night until he fell asleep.”
During the first twenty-four hours, one of Jennifer’s priorities was finding someone to care for Bryan while she worked. As you can imagine, becoming instant parents brings with it, a plethora of immediate needs. “Thankfully many families gave us clothes, toys, diapers, books, and other toddler essentials. We were really blessed to have so much support, and on such short notice too!”
Within three months Jennifer was able to stay home full time to care of Bryan. “We were really poor.” She told me as we walked through the park. “But, I watched as God provided for us…” Although he called Jennifer and Greg mom and dad right away, his adjustment took some time. Mealtime was a stressful time for Bryan. Jennifer would cook while Bryan screamed and cried at her feet. When she would put his plate in the freezer for a second to cool, he would lose it. It was hard to believe that the boy in front of me had come from the situation they described.
As I watched him, with his adventurous energetic spirit pretend a stick was a sword (with full blown sound effects); I tried to imagine how much faith each step of becoming parents in this situation must have taken. Jennifer told me she clung to Hebrews 11: 1 & 6. ” Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see…”
Now, Bryan is a big brother to Gabriel (who stole my heart away with his blond curls the moment I saw him). We sat at a picnic table under the trees. Gabriel climbed up in Jennifer’s lap, and then down again, and then back up again, and then back down again. He was born with an eye disease called Nystagmus and had to wear and eye patch until he had surgery when he was only a year old.
Jennifer said, again, she knew God was in control of everything and held on to 2 Corinthians 4:18. “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” Her prayer for her son was that regardless of his physical vision that he would view the world with a vision for what is unseen. He’s done well since his surgery and will hopefully not have to have any other surgeries in the future. His eyes are so beautiful; it was hard for me to believe there had been anything wrong with them. I was completely enamored by the smile that never left his face.
“My favorite thing about him is his joyful spirit. He brightens the room with his smile” Jennifer later wrote in an email to me.
We hear amazing stories all the time on the news, in movies, books, blogs, and from friends. But, for me, there’s almost always a little something missing. At the park that day I felt very fortunate to hear their story first hand. Rolling around in the grass with Bryan and Gabriel, their laughter warmed my spirit, and their story became tangible.