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Obedience Brings Blessings

I met Kathleen in a local coffee shop on a snowy night. As she shared her life story, I was intrigued, but what captured my attention most was how she and her brother were "adopted" because a woman named Nora chose to obey God.  

A Prayer for a Chance to Serve

Prior to meeting Kathleen and soon after becoming a Christian, Nora announced in church that she wanted to serve God in whatever way He thought best. Nora had no idea that her obedience would bring far-reaching blessings.

One day, Nora's husband, Don, who was a high school construction teacher, announced to his students he needed help bucking hay. A few young men, including Kathleen's brother, Bryan, offered to help. 

“Don says Bryan was a mess.  His eyes were almost swollen shut, his nose was dripping, and he kept sneezing,” says Kathleen. 

Although plagued with hay fever, and the scrawniest in the group, Bryan worked harder and longer than the rest of the boys. Later, during dinner, Nora agreed with Don—Bryan was a very likable young man. 

A few months later, when Bryan was forced to sleep behind a dumpster because he was kicked out of his mother's house, he called Don and Nora for help. Their response was an open invitation. Confident God wanted to use them, they said, "Come and stay." Nora considered this an opportunity to serve God.

Bryan walked twenty-five miles that night in the middle of winter to get to Don and Nora's. Because he didn't want to disturb the family due to his late arrival, he slept in the barn. When discovered the next morning, Bryan was invited into their home, hearts and family.

Kathleen's Rocky Road on the Way to Love

"Several months later, Bryan accepted Christ and the family began to pray for me," says Kathleen.

Twins, but separated at birth, Bryan and Kathleen traveled different paths. While Bryan’s growing up experience was somewhat stable, Kathleen experienced hard times when she was moved from relative to relative, and in and out of the foster care system where she sometimes experienced abuse and neglect.

Kathleen recalls some painful memories: “When I was fifteen, I got pregnant and then gave birth to a baby girl. That’s when I met my birth mom for the first time and moved in with her. Through manipulation, she convinced me to give her my baby.  Then, she kicked me out after she became my daughter's legal parent.” 

Broken, lost and confused, Kathleen had nowhere to live, and no one to turn to. The street beckoned her and she began using drugs. It wasn't long before she was ill. 

"The only stable force I had in my life was my brother. Whenever I was sick, I’d call Bryan and then Don and Nora would drive into the city to get me. They'd take me home until I was well. Nora always made a clean bed for me and turned down the covers. And, every morning, I woke up to a hot breakfast."
Nora's small acts of service pierced Kathleen's hardened heart and showed her glimpses of genuine love.

“Nora didn’t judge me or see the broken woman I was—she saw me through Jesus’ eyes.” 

Once recovered, Kathleen would leave again.  This destructive cycle continued throughout the course of a year—Kathleen called when she was sick or needed a safe place, then returned to the street. 

Slowly, Kathleen’s heart softened. “I accepted Christ around Christmas.”  She realized God had supplied her with a family who had adopted her into their hearts.

When Kathleen fell back into sin, Nora displayed tough love. "Kathleen, you're not welcome back until you make the decision to turn back to God." Would she return to the world she knew—void of love, full of danger and drugs or become a new creature?

She returned to the street.

"During that year, I had no contact with Nora. I felt rejected and was very angry. But I did learn that I was addicted to the need to self-destruct, not to the drugs and alcohol."

Coming Home to Love

"Eventually, I got a job and house in another city and started going to church.  I'm now grateful for Nora’s tough love." Their mother-daughter relationship was rekindled.

Years have passed. Kathleen is a now a vibrant thirty-six year old. Like Nora, Kathleen wants to be available to say "yes" when God calls, so she often counsels women who have been through similar experiences. "I am often surprised to hear Nora’s words coming out of my own mouth," says Kathleen.

Nora recently passed away but Kathleen is confident they'll meet again. "I consider it a blessing to have been able to call Nora my mom. She is one of my treasures in heaven."

One of Nora's favorite phrases, “obedience brings blessing,” has proven true. Through Nora's obedience, the lives of Kathleen and Bryan have been changed for eternity.

Rebecca Hartman is an intern for Focus on the Family. She works in Integrated Campaign Services.


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