- Cullman, Alabama

May 12, 2013

Discovering God’s calling

By Tiffany Green-Oldacre
The Cullman Times

— Since she was a child, Kelly Lee knew she was called by God into mission work. She just didn’t know exactly what type, until recently.

On a country road in the Jones Chapel community of Cullman County, Kelly grew up surrounded by a loving extended family. Growing up she always had a heart for others. Church was always a big part of her life, but the event that most changed her was at age 13, her perfect family fell apart with the divorce of her parents. Instead of being filled with bitterness, Kelly quickly learned the meaning of forgiveness and remained close with both parents.

“To be such a close, tight-knit family and for something like this to happen, it was just horrible.”

Kelly was saved at the tender age of nine and soon after felt the tug at her heart to be a missionary.

“I always felt in my heart I was supposed to be a missionary.”

During her senior year at West Point High School, she met Nathan Lee, who was just a year younger. You could say it was love at first sight, at least for Kelly.

“The moment I saw Nathan, I didn’t even know him, but I knew he was the person I would marry.”

The two quickly became friends and their close friendship grew into more.

They were married in 2000, soon after Nathan’s graduation.

Kelly was happy, she had met the man of her dreams, and now she was expecting her first child, but she knew God had more for her. Just two short years after the birth of Samuel, the couple welcomed their second child, Kimberlynn.

It was after Kimberlynn’s birth; Kelly was drawing closer to God through their church, West Point First Baptist and their close-knit Sunday School class. Kelly started realizing God’s calling for her life.

“I just really felt like I was supposed to foster.”

She now knew her mission calling was to be a foster parent. All she had to do now was get her husband on board with her plans.

“When I would mention it (fostering) to my husband, he would just get mad,” Kelly recalled.

She knew she had more love to give away.

Years went by and Kelly would try to hold her feelings in, knowing Nathan didn’t want to hear of fostering.

In 2007, soon after moving in to a new home built almost entirely by Nathan and Kelly’s dad, the Lee’s found out they would soon welcome baby number three.

“So by this point, I knew I wouldn’t mention fostering anymore.”

After the couple’s third child Elijah was born, Kelly severely injured her back. She had back surgery in 2009, and is now pain free, during her recovery; Kelly leaned on Nathan’s help for everything.

“Some days I couldn’t even move, and he would do everything for me. I was so thankful for him.”

Soon after her surgery, Kelly joined some women at church for a year-long Bible study about the woman’s role in a Godly marriage.

“The closer I got to God, the more the yearning came to help others. I always knew my house could be used for something to glorify God.”

After finishing up the study, Kelly prayed and prayed for her wants to change or for God to change Nathan’s heart.

One night, as Nathan was reading his Bible, he summoned Kelly in the room. He said, “We should’ve had more children.”

“I felt this was God giving me the chance to bring up fostering again.”

A friend at Nathan’s work had recently begun fostering also. Kelly knew this was all God’s plan and an answer to her prayer.

The next day, Kelly called the Department of Human Resources and a week later they we sitting in the foster parent orientation class.

“It was totally a God thing.”

In September of 2012, the day the Lee’s received their certification to foster, they got a call from DHR - three siblings needed a home.

The Lee home was filled with excitement. Everyone was ready to welcome new family members.

It is not always an easy job, taking care of children under sometimes difficult circumstances, but Kelly said it is her job and her calling.

“There are times when it’s not a great day, but we remind ourselves to show God’s love.”

Being a parent, and knowing the love a mother feels for her child, Kelly just knew she would have ill-feelings towards the parents of these children. But God changed her heart.

“I thought I would just be in it for the children, and I thought so badly about the parents, but God showed me they are his creation too.”

Reunification with family is the number one goal of fostering, but that’s not always an option.

The Lees are now advocates for the fostering system. There are many more children that need homes in the state of Alabama, and particularly right here in Cullman County.

“God tells us it is our duty to step up and do this.”

Kelly admits she was once the women who stared at the mom waiting at the doctor’s office with 10 children behind her. Now she is that mom.

“People stare and make comments, but you just have to know what to say.”

She is always proud to say they are her children.

Fostering was an adjustment for her family, and some family members are still questioning her decision.

“Everyone has questions. It’s been a real eye-opening experience to just let God take control. I think my kids are special. The have to give up stuff and share time with me, but each child is loved. They get to know what it’s like to love others.”

The Lee’s hope to give someone their forever home through adoption.

Kelly said God is blessing their family in many ways. Just the other day, she was out with the family and in the back of her mind she was worried. She knew she was on her last baby wipe and only had a few diapers left. When she pulled up in her driveway, she saw a gift bag, neatly placed on her porch. She opened it and began sobbing. In it were diapers and baby wipes and other baby items she was in need of. She knew this was God showing her He will provide.

“I think this is what I was called to do. It’s an emotional roller coaster, and sometimes I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing, but I let God take control and I figure it out.”