God’s Joy!

On March 5, 2004, God returned His joy! Kayla was brought to our home by her case worker and her foster mom. My arms were finally filled with our 18 month old bundle of joy! Baby Kayla was home! Her Dad and her crib were waiting!

But it was there in the joy of the moment that the case worker told me there was a grandmother that was interested in having Kayla.

Lord, not again!

Life is filled with tests of faith.

Kayla is 15 now and she has been taking her driver’s written practice test over and over to prepare for the real thing coming up in a couple weeks. The more she takes the practice tests the more familiar she is with the information she needs to know. The more she takes them the better she scores; with the hope that she will pass the real test.

The journey that eventually led to Kayla’s adoption was filled with many tests, but I realize now that faith needs to be tested in order for it to grow.

The case worker’s words about Kayla’s grandmother were another opportunity to test my faith. What would I do with those words?

My faith was getting stronger!

Rather than burst into tears or become discouraged I was able to pray…

“God, You love baby Kayla more than I ever could and You know what is best for her. You know my heart’s desire and how we have longed for her to be our little girl, but I hold her in an open hand and I trust that You are able to place her in the family that You want her to be with.”

Though I prayed that prayer and thought I trusted in God’s will I was really hoping for a short, straight road right to adoption. Some trips in life are like that. There is a starting point and an ending point, and between the two there is very little to see or to experience. Many of us prefer that kind of trip. We have our sights on the destination and want to arrive as soon as possible. We don’t like obstacles, detours, or roadblocks of any kind.

But sometimes God chooses a long, and winding journey for us to travel, filled with sights and experiences that are intended to work together for our good and to form and shape us more and more into the image of Christ.  (Romans 8:28-29)

The final decision for Kayla’s future was in the power of the judge, based on all the information he received about Kayla’s situation.

Yet, though the judge had the earthly, legal power to determine her future, I knew that ultimately God was the One who would determine where she was to go.

My faith needed to be in God alone…the One who formed and knit together baby Kayla and laid out every moment of her precious life!

“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex. Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!” Psalm 139:12-18

The days of Kayla’s life written in God’s book became evident as the judge ruled that Kayla be placed into our home and be adopted into our family!



On February 10, 2006, baby Kayla became…



Kayla Joy Cordes!





This Friday, October 27, is the 16th anniversary of receiving that “word” from the woman at the conference. The “word” from God that I held on to through every doubt and impossible situation we faced along that journey.

But as I have been writing this story and sharing it with you I have been convicted. When I reread that “word” I noticed something that caught my attention; God said…

“I am returning my joy to you…”

I know I have written this line twice before, but isn’t that the way sometimes…

We can be so use to seeing something a certain way and it takes awhile to hear what God has to say to us.

I have realized just this weekend that sometimes the very gifts of God, the fulfillment of our desires, can become the object of our worship.

I glanced over the word “my,” and somehow forgot that Kayla was God’s joy that He was returning to me.

When it was out of my hands and not within my own power to decide where Kayla would be placed I needed to trust God for His will to be done. I had kept her in an open hand. But once she was in our family something happened.

The gift from the Lord, became the object of worship.

I don’t have the words to describe how or when this worship began, but when I reread that “word,” as I was writing this blog, and noticed God said He was returning His joy, I heard a voice within remind me that I had been considering Kayla as my joy.

I was convicted of seeing her as fulfilling me, of bringing me satisfaction, of bringing meaning to my life. Seeing her as my joy caused me to serve her and I made it my purpose to make her happy. For when she was happy it brought significance to my mothering.

I know God was at work to reveal this to me because He led me to listen to a Tim Keller sermon, Counterfeit gods, that addressed this very thing. (Take the time to listen on You-Tube – worth every minute!)

And at the same time what Tim spoke about; “your idol will always break your heart,” was happening to me.

How ironic, yet so obviously God, that I should be writing a blog about the incredible journey we traveled towards adoption, towards the fulfillment of our dream, only to be convicted of worshiping that very desire, that great gift of  joy!

It speaks to the very theme of this blog, what the enemy means for my harm, God intends for my good.

This morning I spent a long time in the presence of my loving Lord and Savior as I confessed my sin of idolatry. I broke off the soul-tie of idol worship and applied it to the cross where Jesus proclaimed, “it is finished.” I thanked Jesus for His shed blood that washed and cleansed me of all my sin; believing Kayla is “my” joy, for looking to her to fulfill me, satisfy me, and to bring meaning to my life, for serving her so that she will be happy believing that was what would bring significance to my mothering.

I placed Kayla on the cross and embraced the truth that she is God’s joy, she belongs to Him alone.




A Greater Story

The story of Lazarus was still going through my mind as I placed baby Kayla into the car that day, not knowing if I would ever see her again.

As I pondered the events of that story I thought of what Jesus said to Martha when she was mourning her loss…

“Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” John 11:40

How powerful is our faith?

“For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.” Mark 11:23

Faith moves mountains!

There was nothing I could do or say that would bring Kayla back.

The only thing I could do was to “believe.”

What does my faith do in the spirit realm?

Jesus calls believing the work of God…

“Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” John 6:29

My faith needed to be in Christ alone, and that belief would accomplish the will of God.

In the physical realm it was a time of silence; we heard no news or updates about baby Kayla.

Our arms and her crib remained empty.

It was then that God reminded me of the “word” I received from the woman at the Joyce Meyer conference.

I went to my Bible and took out the written copy from between the pages in the book of Daniel. It had been a long time since I read it, and now almost two years later, that “word” had new meaning.

“God is saying I have taken you through these trials in the past two years…”

Two years ago that didn’t really make sense, but now these past two years were filled with trials, they were “very trying times.”

And now the last line also took on great significance…

“I am returning my joy to you because of your faithfulness to me.”

“God, when this “word” came to me  two years ago I didn’t understand this promise. I wasn’t sure what “my joy” was. Now, the only thing I can think of is the joy of baby Kayla. Is this “word” a promise to hold onto as I believe for Kayla’s return?”

And then I looked at the date…


That “word” came to me in October. God had said “in the past 2 years”

It was incredible how specifically it lined up with the circumstances I was in. So incredible that despite the silence and the emptiness, I chose to believe every word God had written to me and I trusted in His perfect timing.

I held firmly to the “word” that said He would return His joy to me and that it would come in October of that year, 2003.

Yes, I still had doubts.

But I pushed away those doubts with the word of God.

I meditated on these three verses through the entire journey…

“Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” James 1:2

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,” Ephesians 3:20

These verses were constant reminders that as I seek God, spend time delighting in Him, and put my faith in Christ alone, God’s desires will become my desires. But, those desires will be challenged with trials that are intended to purify and refine me so that I am prepared and equipped to receive the desires God has for me. And as I persevere through the trials, as I choose to believe no matter what I see or don’t see in the physical realm, I am encouraged that God is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above and beyond anything I could think or imagine!

Yes, there were others who told me to let her go, perhaps they were attempting to protect my heart from more pain.

But, I couldn’t let go.

And I’m so glad I didn’t…

When I think back I realize I could have “bowed down” to the way things looked in the physical realm and allowed doubt and unbelief to bring me to hopelessness.

Hopelessness doesn’t move mountains!

Bringing those verses to mind when I began to doubt was a matter of my will. I could have allowed my thoughts to become overwhelmed with hopelessness and blamed God for being too late.

The “word” from the woman at the conference could have been received with unbelief, since it really didn’t make sense at the time. It could have been thrown away, or lost and forgotten.

I could have been so upset and offended with God when the speaker came in and talked about giving birth to your dreams that I didn’t wait for her to come back around and pray another prayer over me to hear what God had to say.

I could have been so hurt and angry about the message from Kayla’s foster mom that I couldn’t hear God’s gentle whisper when He whispered the verse that brought peace. My hurt and anger could have sent me back to the store, returning the unopened crib.

Unbelief hinders God’s will.

“Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief.” Matthew 13:58

“So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20

Believing was hard work!

October couldn’t come soon enough!

September 4th I received a phone call from the state asking if I would take a foster baby. Since we had opened our home for foster care in hopes to adopt we were on the list to take in foster children. The case worker said there was a 7 month old baby girl who needed to be placed, would we be willing to take her? “Yes,” how could I say, “No”? But, then she told me that the baby actually had many siblings and they are hoping to keep the baby with her three year old sister. By now I was caught up in the conversation, wanting to help in any way I could. So, when I hung up the phone I had said “Yes” to two little girls. I hadn’t even considered the fact that October was just one month away and I was believing baby Kayla would be returned. Where would she sleep? My house would be full with those two girls.

Even years later I don’t understand the big picture as to why God brought those little girls into our home for five months, but they brought so much joy to our whole family! I believe it was all part of preparing us, equipping us, and filling our home and our hearts with joy!

But, in spite of the busyness and joy of having those two girls, I held onto the “word” and never stopped praying and believing for baby Kayla to be returned.

October 2, the month had just begun! I received a phone call from Kayla’s foster mom…

The state had finally been able to go and check on Kayla. While they were there they found reason to immediately remove her from the home where she had been placed. She would be back in her foster home that afternoon!! I scooped up the two girls and went to see baby Kayla!!

God’s joy had been returned!

Again, God gently whispered, Wilma, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” 

Baby Kayla was back! She wasn’t home, but she was back!!

God always has a greater story for a greater glory!


The Desires of your heart are intended for God’s Glory!

Mary and Martha’s brother, Lazarus, was sick. Their desire was for their brother to be healed so he wouldn’t die.

By faith Mary and Martha called Jesus to come and heal their brother.

What happened to their faith when Jesus didn’t show up?

When Lazarus got worse and worse?

When Lazarus breathed his last breath?

When their desire wasn’t fulfilled?

This is a way too heavy topic to address here, but one thing the Lord is impressing upon me that gives me some understanding is to consider…

What is the object of my faith?

What am I looking at, what am I focusing on, what am I worshipping?

Is my faith fully rooted in God; trusting in His sovereignty, in His purposes that will bring Him glory?

Or is my faith attached to my desire; looking to and trusting in the fulfillment that will make me happy?

Am I worshipping my desire more than the One who gives me my desires?

Am I looking for my answer to prove the sovereignty, power, and love of God, instead of looking to the sovereign, powerful, loving God for His answer.

When I worship my desire the answer I receive, whether it is a “yes,” or a “no,” will affect me. My thoughts, responses, even my beliefs will be swayed by how my prayer is answered.

This is a test to see if I worship my desires more than God…

“How do I respond when my prayers aren’t answered the way I want?”

There is another way to view my desires…

I can choose to keep God as the focus of my worship. I can choose to put all my trust, hope, and faith in Him and in His sovereignty, His power, and in His love.

When I choose to keep God as the object of my worship, my desire is no longer on the throne, no longer does the answer to my desire determine how I feel, how I think, how I believe. I am free to live in the faith that my God knows what is best. I am free to rejoice in the truth that God is for me, that He sees the big picture, and that no matter whether I receive my desire or not He is still God, He never changes, He is on His throne!

Lazarus was in the tomb four days.

Family and friends were mourning for four days.

Then, Jesus came.

Mary and Martha had just one thing to say, “Jesus, if You had been here our brother would not have died.”

“Jesus, if You had been here…”

How many times have you found yourself accusing Jesus for not being there for you, or for being too late? How often have you blamed Him for not doing what you asked Him to do?

When we find ourselves blaming God it is a sure sign that we are worshipping our desire more than worshipping Him.

Jesus had a plan from the very moment He was called to go to Lazarus…

“When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” John 11:4

Jesus told His disciples that this sickness wasn’t “onto death,” but for the “glory of God.” There was a greater purpose in this sickness.

Mary and Martha’s faith believed for healing. Their desire was for Jesus to come, to make their brother well, so that he wouldn’t die.

Jesus saw this situation differently. It wasn’t that He didn’t love Mary and Martha. It wasn’t that He ignored their call or their faith.

Actually, it was for the very reason that He loved Mary and Martha that He had a greater purpose, a greater story!

A greater purpose that didn’t line up with their desire.

A greater purpose for the glory of God.

When we call out to God with a desire, when we attach our faith to something that we believe God can do, we must not put our ideas of what the answer will look like above what God wills to do.

When Jesus saw the people weeping He groaned in His spirit. When He went to the tomb He wept.

I don’t know why Jesus expressed these emotions…what was behind them? Some have shared their thoughts.

Sometimes I think that He is grieved by the way we grieve over things that are meant to bring Him glory.

When Jesus spoke with Martha, He didn’t condemn her for blaming Him for not being there, or for not answering her desire in the way she wanted. He didn’t condemn her for mourning her brother’s death. But Jesus did change her focus. He took her eyes from the physical realm and into the spiritual realm, and onto the greater purposes of God.

It is these greater purposes of God that we don’t often take the time to see. It’s these greater purposes of God that get overlooked when we are blaming God and mourning our loss. We actually hinder the greater purposes of God when we choose to give in to doubt and unbelief.

“And some of them said, “Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?” John 11:37

These responses are what I believe may have been why Jesus was groaning.

So, what is the proper way to respond when our desires aren’t answered in the way and time we want?

I’m sure there are many ways God intends good for His children in these times, but one thing…I believe it provides an opportunity to draw near to God so that you live through your circumstance in a way that will create the story God intends; a story that will show us and those around us how awesome God is.

You can allow for disappointment to bring you to the place where you choose to trust in His sovereignty over your life. You can choose to take your desire off the throne, to stop worshipping it, and to and put God back on the throne of your heart. When He alone is Lord in your life it removes the confusion, the disappointment, and the hurt that comes from unfulfilled desires. It allows for your heart to become one with God and aligns your desires with His.

This oneness of heart is what Jesus had with His Father, and it is what He prayed that we too will have…

“I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one.  I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.” John 17:20-23

When your heart is one with God’s heart your desires will create an incredible story that is filled with evidences of God’s amazing love and incredible power to those around you who need to know Him.


Gentle Whispers from God

I find it interesting that what starts out as a great sounding dream can become such a difficult, incredible journey of faith.

I guess God intends it to be like that or we would never take that first step.

We would never have the courage to say, “Yes.”

I am encouraged by the way Joshua responded to the forty year journey through the wilderness. Though he believed they could take the Promised Land, he needed to travel along with all the others who didn’t believe for those forty years. He endured all their grumbling and complaining. He witnessed their rebellion by worshipping the golden calf. He heard Aaron and Miriam complain against their brother, Moses. He saw the ground open and swallow up the men of Korah and all their families. He heard the people’s complaints that brought fiery serpents.

But he also won the victory in the battle against the Amalekites. He saw the stone tablets God etched the ten commandments on. He saw the evidence of God’s presence over the ark of the covenant; a cloud by day, and a pillar of fire at night. He experienced the supernatural provision of God as He sent manna from heaven and water from rocks.

And all along the way Joshua was watching and learning from Moses. He eventually became Moses’ assistant. Joshua would go and wait by the door of Moses’ tent when he met with God. He would lay face down at the door while Moses talked with God.

Joshua was observing the beauty of being in God’s presence. He learned the importance of hearing God’s gentle whispers for wisdom and direction to lead the people. He saw the glow on Moses’ face when he came out from talking with God.

Joshua was learning to hear the gentle whispers of God!

Joshua was learning to love the presence of God!

This forty year roller coaster ride of a journey through the wilderness was a training time for Joshua. Though he didn’t know it at the time, these were the experiences that were preparing him to be a well-equipped leader of God’s people.

Our, “Yes” to pursue the adoption of baby Kayla set us on a  journey filled with many reasons to grumble and complain, and to fear and doubt.

But, it was also a journey filled with whispers of God that encouraged us to love the presence of God and to keep believing no matter what.

Our home was still open and available to have foster children, so it was just a matter of time to have Kayla transferred to our home. We were eagerly waiting to find out when.

It was June and that meant it was time to prepare for Creation Fest 2003. We were once again taking the youth group of around 50 teens and leaders. It was during that time of preparing and packing that I received a phone call from Kayla’s foster mom. She said she just heard from Kayla’s case worker that Kayla’s aunt was interested in having her. The case worker wasn’t sure yet, but would let us know that week what her aunt decided.

Wow, how do I respond?

“I know Kayla’s family loves her…

but, my heart, O Lord, please not another disappointment!”

Creation was a good distraction, but when my cell phone rang Friday evening and I saw it was Kayla’s foster mom my heart stopped.

There on the hill of Creation’s natural amphitheater, surrounded by 80,000 people worshipping God, I heard the news that Kayla’s aunt had decided not to take Kayla!!!

I went back to our camp site that night and had an incredible celebration with my family and friends, praising God for the answer to our prayers!

We came home from Creation on Sunday afternoon tired, yet overjoyed of all God had done in the hearts and lives of all who were there, including how He was fulfilling our dream!

Monday morning I had a doctor’s appointment. While driving there I was stopped at a traffic light. I happened to notice a bird with her beak filled with straw, obviously she was building a nest.

It was a gentle whisper from God…

After my appointment I went to a store and looked at cribs. A salesperson asked if she could help and I explained my situation to her, that we were awaiting a foster baby. She said to me that I should wait until the baby was actually in our home before I bought a crib. Now, I realized that that was good advice. I knew it was still not a for sure thing. So, I left the store without a crib. But something rose up within me, I remembered the bird with her mouth full of straw, the whisper from God in my heart, and I drove straight to another store. I didn’t talk to any salesperson. I bought a crib. The “nesting instinct” accomplished I drove home with a crib in the back of my car.

When I went home there were several messages on my phone. As I listened I heard Kayla’s foster mom begin to talk…

“Wilma, Kayla’s aunt has decided that she does want Kayla.”

“God, why?”

“Why did she even say, “No” to begin with, and now change her mind?”

“Why did You show me the bird this morning? Wasn’t that a whisper from You?

“I guess I should have listened to the salesperson.”

I threw myself on my bed and cried till…

God whispered this verse into my heart…

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,” Ephesians 3:20

I went outside and just meditated on that verse, and was amazed the way God brought peace and comfort to my heart even though everything was just turned upside down.

I was learning where to go with my “Whys,” with my pain…

I was learning to hear the whispers of God!

I was learning to love the presence of God!

When Mark and the boys came home from work I told them about my day…the bird building her nest, the whisper from God, the salesperson, the crib that was in the back of my car, the message from Kayla’s foster mom, and the verse God gave me after I had a meltdown. We decided to leave the crib in the back of my car.

Wednesday, two days later, I woke up with this thought…

Another gentle whisper from God…

“Baby Kayla will be in your home on July Fourth.”

July fourth was three days away!

I went out to the kitchen and told the guys at the breakfast table what the Lord told me. I’m not sure what they thought, but it didn’t matter because I wasn’t sure what I thought either. But we believed it enough to take the crib out of my car, out of the box, and set it up that night.

Friday was the day baby Kayla was to be picked up from her foster home and taken to her aunt’s home. I was helping out at Solid Rock Day Camp, which is also where baby Kayla lived, so I was given permission to hold Kayla as much as I wanted until the driver came. When I saw the state car drive in I took Kayla down to the house and as we were talking with her case worker and the driver it came out that Kayla had asthma and needed nebulizer treatments. Her aunt didn’t have a nebulizer and so Kayla couldn’t go to her house until she got one. Kayla’s foster mom had just taken in another infant that morning causing her home to be full…the only place baby Kayla could go was to my house!!!

Kayla slept in her crib that night!!!

Kayla was in our home July Fourth!!!

In God’s presence He whispers incredible things that we do not know. Things that will bring peace and hope into our pain and chaos.

But, Monday morning came…

and, yes, Kayla’s aunt had obtained a nebulizer…

I was once again at camp, holding baby Kayla as long as I could before the car came.

The Bible story that morning was about Lazarus. Jesus loved Lazarus and his sisters, but when he got sick Jesus didn’t go and heal him, instead, Lazarus died. Jesus said that He didn’t go to heal Lazarus because there was a greater purpose. Jesus did finally go when Lazarus was dead for four days. Instead of a healing, Lazarus experienced a resurrection!

This was the story on my mind as I saw the car drive in. This time there was no other reason she couldn’t go. As I placed baby Kayla into her car seat, with one last hug and kiss upon her sweet cheek, I felt as though I was placing her into a tomb. Once more my dream was “dead.”

But there was a gentle whisper of God…