A big corner office, a big staff and big money – Greg Ray would be the first one to tell you that for 25 years he worshipped all that came along with his successful career. But at a time when Greg and his wife, Georgia, were far from certain about what the future held for their family, God used four little lives to make a big difference in their walk with Christ.
When the Rays married, Gary, Greg’s son from his first marriage, was nine years old. Georgia hoped there would be many more children in their future. After years of infertility, Greg and Georgia welcomed Carson, their first son together, to the family in 2004. When they were unable to get pregnant again, Georgia was devastated. “I have a heart for kids and always had a strong desire to have a house full of children,” said Georgia. “I spent a lot of years crying over infertility. That was hard on our marriage.
As Georgia was home with Carson who was three years old at the time, Greg was still busy with his career, but not feeling tremendous purpose in it. Inside, Greg carried a burden of guilt over the addiction and deceit that ended his first marriage. “I was trying to do everything right for God, hoping that He would like me better and that I’d never make any big, painful mistakes again,” said Greg. “I thought it was all about my effort, which is really an impossible, twisted way of looking at the free gift of grace available to me through Christ. “After coming to Watermark, there was a season of struggling to accept the clear teaching of truth. But God honored my prayers for clarity, and intense study of God’s Word made me hunger for more. Through God’s work, my guilt and striving turned into overwhelming gratitude. I also started to see that I couldn’t take any of this stuff I was working so hard for with me.”
AN ETERNAL DIFFERENCE
As they discussed future plans for their family, Greg and Georgia talked briefly about the option of foster care and adoption. But it was a big surprise to Georgia when she discovered that, on his own, Greg attended an adoption ministry event at a local church. After seeing the photos of hundreds of kids in Texas who were waiting to be adopted, Greg picked up the phone and tearfully said, “Georgia, I think I’ve found children for us.”
Both Greg and Georgia knew that adoption would be challenging. “But given God’s faithfulness to us,” said Georgia, “how could we not? The stakes are high, and we wanted our lives to make an eternal difference.” Through Tapestry, an adoption and foster care ministry, the Rays were encouraged by other families who had adopted children. They processed questions about adoption in community and were open to whomever God intended to be part of their family. In the fall of 2008, the Rays became a licensed foster family.
The very first week the Rays were asked to accept an emergency foster care placement for an infant. They soon welcomed four-month-old, Caleb into their home. A year later, the Rays became Caleb’s forever family. They went on to foster and adopt his two sisters, Isabella and London. Both Greg and Georgia find it ironic that God led them to adopt three children when, from a practical standpoint, it seemed least feasible. Within weeks of Caleb’s arrival, Greg faced an employment crisis.
“I experienced four years of job instability, unemployment and underemployment around the same time that we were fostering and adopting our children,” said Greg. “As we experienced uncertainty about our future, God continued to awaken my heart to the reality of eternity. During this long season of brokenness and confusion, God proved Himself as present, loving and faithful. He turned my heart towards His plans and purposes. Our community group and friends in Watermark’s Careers in Motion ministry were a tremendous help and blessing as well.”
“Today, we are focused on loving our kids, sharing the joy we have with those around us, living life in community and enjoying the opportunities God has provided. We work to pay our bills, but money and praise from others are no longer our pursuit. We are grateful that we get to help others on their journey to care for children.”
Georgia says that in spite of the challenges that their family has faced, they’ve discovered more about God’s goodness in each step of the journey. “As we’ve parented our children, God has brought us to the breaking point, exposed our selfishness and transformed us both a little closer to His image,” said Georgia. “The joy of watching God bring all of our children to life has been amazing.
“It seemed impossible to me at one point that I could be thankful for infertility and other things God has written into our story,” Georgia said. “I had my plan, but God’s was much different. It was a dark and scary journey at times, but I’m glad God chose this path for us. Today, I can’t imagine life without every one of our children. They remind me that God’s mercies are new each morning. I’m amazed that God wrote this story for us.”