Brian and Shannon's Story

told by Shannon:


  
Brian and I met while working at Chick-fil-A. Brian started working at Chick-fil-A when he was 15 years old and over the next 10 years had worked at over 5 Chick-fil-As in FL, GA, NC, and TN. When I was 14 years old I was hired at the Chick-fil-A he was managing. At that time, that was all he was to me, a manager. Brian and I dated different people but were friends through our group of co-workers and when he moved several hours away we lost contact. A couple days before my 17th birthday, in May 2004, Brian came to visit an old co-worker's graduation party. I also attended that party and surprised myself by how much I had missed the calm and fun atmosphere he brought with him wherever he was. We exchanged phone numbers and AIM accounts and began to keep in contact daily. We would each come up with 3 questions a day to ask the other and quickly became best friends. I confided in him about all the guys I wanted to date yet was "too young" for and all the ones I did date that never worked out. He confided in me about his struggle in always being a girl's best friend but rarely the boyfriend. We were tired of dating. We knew everything there was to know about each other, the good and the flawed and began to come to the realization that we could get over this crazy 11 year age gap if my mom didn't kill me first (and she didn't! She was actually very understanding after the initial shock).

                                


Friendship, quickly, turned into marriage and we were engaged in August 2004, yep only 3 months after we begun our relationship as friends. After 4 months of a long distance relationship I moved away from home and in with my fiance. At the time we were both very moral and as temptations rose we felt it would be better if we sealed the deal, on October 18th, 2004 we ran off to the courthouse and were married. We continued planning and saving up money for our wedding ceremony as planned and it was held March 9th, 2005, 2 months before I turned 18.

                   

Our first years of marriage had some struggling moments but most of the time we had a blast! We truly are soul mates! We are the complete opposite of each other. I am an uptight, scheduled, super organized perfectionist and Brian is a laid-back, spontaneous, fun and goofy free-spirit. We complete one another!


Although we don't live close by either family, Brian and I try to visit as often as possible. Brian grew up in a home with parents who have been married for over 40 years and he has one younger brother who married our sister-in-law. I grew up in a home with parents who have been married for over 20 years and I am the oldest of my 3 siblings.
   

Brian and I have grown closer with every obstacle we have overcome together! In 2007 after years of getting into debt (we bought 2 new cars, a house, and had credit cards and other loans) we were in over our heads and close to drowning. We thankfully found Dave Ramsey's teachings and after a couple years of Brian working over-time, me working 2-3 jobs at a time and selling TONS of stuff we were able to pay off over $50,000 in debt and the only debt we had left was our mortgage.

   

In a hotel room, on one of our vacations Brian saw a special on TV about Kirk Cameron and began to do research on this man who up and left all the glory of Hollywood for God. That research led him to Way of the Master where he was convicted of his own sin against a holy and just God. In October 2008 Brian surrendered his life to Jesus Christ. Now, I thought I was a good person, I was very moral. I didn't like this God that called me a sinner. I challenged Brian's new faith, I refused to go to church or watch his silly sermons online. It was the biggest struggle our marriage has endured. Brian was changed, though he was always kind to me, this new Brian didn't allow me to push his buttons, he loved me through my fighting. I wanted that overwhelming peace and constant joy that began to flow out of my husband. In January 2009, God called me and like my husband I surrendered all and followed Jesus.

   

God instantly called Brian to evangelism. Brian would tell everyone he came in contact with about Jesus, he even went to the Ambassador's Alliance Academy in CA to train as an open-air preacher. Throughout 2009 God began to put on my heart and later Brian's His call to care for the orphans. Now, I truly thought I wouldn't ever have children, well, maybe 2, MAX, when I was older, I was only 22 years old, I had time. God made it clear to us His will in December 2009 when we visited a local children's home which housed several children without parents in foster care. Although hidden away in a "home" instead of an "orphanage" it didn't make their plight any different. They were in need of parents.

                       

In January 2010 we stopped planning our future and gave our family planning forever to God, we stopped any form of contraceptive for good. That same month, we also signed up with our local agency to attend the MAPP class, which is the first requirement of any foster or adoptive parents. The next available MAPP class wasn't until September 2010, nine agonizing months away. That is when we entered the waiting game, aka "adoption pregnancy", and I don't wait well, but while waiting I learned I can PAINT (click here for my page of artwork on FB), who knew!?!

We prayed for God to open whatever door He willed, whether through natural birth or foster care. Through some grief and no pregnancy we continued forward with our calling, filled out miles of paperwork, jumped through a dozen hoops and became licensed as foster parents on June 3rd, 2011. Our family grew quickly from June to December 2011, as we didn't just welcome 2 foster children into our home, as planned, but 5!

            

Now let me tell you the reality of our lives. Yes, we knew foster care was God's plan for us, yes, we were willing to follow that path, but, no, we did NOT know how difficult and challenging it would be. We are human and realized through this journey how weak and frail we were. I cried in secret for weeks after our first arrival of 3 children. I met with our pastor's wife. I begged close friends to not let me send them away no matter how hard it got or how tempted I was. It wasn't the children per se, just the overwhelming life change, and the constant, ongoing needs to be met as a new parent. In the same month I quit my full-time job, started a new part-time job, and traded in my first, beloved, car for a minivan. As the children's case progressed and changed behavior problems began to arise. In that first year I was yelled at, lied to, stolen from, called names, and hit. We had the police out to our house to bring back runaways and talk to thieves on several occasions. I was called to the school Principal's office to pick up a child and was at the doctor's office with a sick infant at least once a week. Parenting proved to be difficult, draining, and even tempting to quit at times.


The greatest part? It taught me to rely heavily on God's strength and pray without ceasing. My faith has tremendously increased through that year of storms. I begged God to give me a love like Jesus, to truly love and sacrifice myself for these children despite their behavior. God proved to be faithful time and time again, He strengthened me and healed my hurting children!



Now, Brian and I are the happy parents of 5 beautiful children! We are no longer parenting hurting children, but healing children. We are just normal parents with the normal challenges of parenting.

We love God, we love each other, and we LOVE our family!


Posted by Shannon
Soli Deo gloria - Glory to God alone

13 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing. Your honesty is refreshing and living out the command to take care of the orphans is a great example to others, not to mention the blessing of family to these five!!

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  2. Having known you so long, I never knew this story! Shannon, you and Brian blessed us so much taking such loving care of our dogs, babysitting Charlotte and even putting furniture together for us when we were expecting! Now you are even using some of that stuff for your own kids! So cool how God Works! "But grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to HIM be glory, now and forever, AMEN!" II Peter 3:18. (Charlotte's life verse!) 365Fruitfuldays.com

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    1. Thanks Julie! We love you, Dan and Charlotte!

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  3. As a person who knows the story of your first three precious angels, I am so amazed and grateful to you for saving their lives and teaching them about the love of Jesus. I watched the videos the children made and cried happy tears. What a miraculous blessing you are, and one who came along just in time for them. May God continue to bless you and your wonderful family!
    Mrs. Pilcher from Sneads Elementary

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  4. Mrs. Pilcher, they are such tremendous blessings to us! <3

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  5. We were so excited to get a letter from Anthony yesterday. We were the placement where Uribe and Yukehily lived until being placed with her sister as well as your family. I can not say those few months were easy but we always loved them and tried to show them God's love. I have always prayed for these children as well as their mother. I am so happy to see GOD answered another one of my prayers by finding a Godly home for these children. May GOD continue to bless your family.

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    1. Thank you Kim for your prayers! Your prayers must have been our life jacket when we almost went under ;) Foster parenting is hard! God sure did answer our prayers for a family quickly but not the easy way. Despite all we did wrong Anthony Uribe and Mirabel Yukehily are doing fantastic! Thanks to God alone they are growing physically and spiritually and thriving more and more everyday! There has been many challenges to overcome but the difficult path has been so worth it! Thank you for your piece in their life, history and future!

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  6. We were once again excited to receive a letter fom Mirabel today. We were sad to read (on her story) that she did not like it here and thought we were bossy and mean. We had to have some special rules for Yukehily due to an incident we had to keep her and other children safe. Being a child I can see how she thought those rules were not fair and in return would think we were mean and bossy. We did however love her and was happy to get her letter. I am so glad that she as well as her siblings got a forever home. She noted in her letter that you may be adding five more to your family. They will no doubt be blessed by you and your family. Let Yukehily know that I will be writing her back just as I did Uribe even though he may not have received it yet (I know they have a new name but this is who they are to us). I love their new names by the way. If you ever want to talk you can e-mail me or find me on Facebook. I will keep your family in my prayers and may GOD continue to bless you and your family.

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    1. We understand all about old Yukehily's "incidents" for sure! She was quite the handful (I wrote about a time she slapped me here: http://5kids6months.blogspot.com/2013/05/pursue-me.html). We have prayed for many children as possible additions to our family but God hasn't opened a door yet. I tried to find you on FB so we can keep in touch but with no luck. Thank you so much Kim!!! :)

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  7. I found you through No Greater Joy Mom when she had the foster adoption link up day. I love your story! :)We have a lot of similarites! My husband is 18 yrs my senior, you and I are the same age, and I've always wanted to adopt! We currently have a 3/12 and 15mo old (girls) and I'm praying that God would lead us in His perfect will and timing for pursuing adoption. Your family is a beautiful and inspiring. Blessings, Katie

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    1. If God places the call to adopt on your heart then He will give you the grace to pursue it and equip you with the strength to stick with it! Thank you for your thoughtful comments!

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  8. Is your youngest daughter adopted? She looks ALOT like you!

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