Thrive
Podcast

Overview

Deb Adams joins me on the Thrive with Asbury Seminary Podcast today. Deb is an Asbury Seminary aluma, and the Communications Director at the Seminary. But she’s also the Founder of Gracie’s Place, a non-profit therapy center for children with special needs in northern Wisconsin. Not only do they offer therapy for the children, but they also provide resources to the families. Deb helps us understand what it’s like to parent a child with special needs, how she experienced her call to found Gracie’s Place, and what they’re doing now to help those who are on the margins.

Let’s listen!

Deb Adams, Communications Director, Asbury Seminary & Founder, Gracie's Place

Heidi Wilcox, host of the Thrive Podcast

Writer, podcaster, and social media manager, Heidi Wilcox shares stories of truth, justice, healing and hope. She is best known as the host of Spotlight, (especially her blooper reel) highlighting news, events, culturally relevant topics and stories of the ways alumni, current students and faculty are attempting something big for God. If you can’t find her, she’s probably cheering on her Kentucky Wildcats, enjoying a cup of coffee, reading or spending time with her husband, Wes.



Transcript

Heidi Wilcox:
Hey, everyone. Welcome to this week’s episode of the Thrive with Asbury Seminary Podcast. I’m your host Heidi E. Wilcox bringing you conversations with authors, thought leaders, and people just like you who are looking to connect where your passion meets the world’s deep need. Today on the podcast I got to talk to my boss Deb Adams. Deb is the Communications Director at Asbury Seminary and she’s also an Asbury Seminary alum. On today’s podcast, we talked about how she came to Asbury Seminary, and how God called her to attempt something big when she and her family decided to found Gracie’s Place a therapy center for children with special needs in northern Wisconsin.

Heidi Wilcox:
So not only do they provide therapy services for these children, but they also provide training resources for the families. So we talked about how they got started and what they’re doing now and if you want how you can be a part of their ministry, let’s listen. So I’m really excited to get to talk to you today, Deb. I have wanted to talk to you about your story for a long time because I’ve heard bits and pieces just because we’re friends and you’re my boss, though I like coworkers. But I hear about it. So I really wanted to talk to you, and just get your whole story all pieced together for a long time. So I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to me today.

Deb Adams:
Absolutely.

Heidi Wilcox:
Thanks for stopping in all the way from Wisconsin.

Deb Adams:
Whoop, whoop. Yep, it snowed there yesterday.

Heidi Wilcox:
So tell me about Gracie’s Place.

Deb Adams:
Sure. So Gracie’s Place is a therapy center for special needs kids. And we started it in… It started as a nonprofit where we started fundraising back in 2016. And we fundraised for it for about a year and then really opened it up the beginning part of last year for therapy. So we do therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech therapy. Out of it we do for kids with special needs. And we do mentoring for parents.

Heidi Wilcox:
Wow.

Deb Adams:
So the mentoring for parents is pretty cool. So we’ll have them come in, we’ll do special programming with them. So we’ll typically bring in an organization that relates to special needs kiddos from the surrounding northern Wisconsin, they’ll come in, they’ll do kind of like a presentation for them. Because as parents of special needs kids, you don’t really know what you don’t know until people are like, “Oh, this service is available or that services are available, or did you know this? Or did you know that?” And so we’ll bring folks in and kind of try to mentor and train families up so that they know what’s available to them so they can help their kiddos. And the other thing that we do is try to connect families with families.

Heidi Wilcox:
Oh, yeah.

Deb Adams:
So that they don’t have to do it alone.

Heidi Wilcox:
That’s amazing.

Deb Adams:
Yeah.

Heidi Wilcox:
So what kind of things do you like when you mentor parents or families, what does that look like?

Deb Adams:
Yep. So for example, like the last one that we did last month was about… It’s called an IEP. So it’s Individual Education Plan. So I have a child with special needs. So my daughter Gracie, and so we’re talking about Gracie’s place. And so we found it because of Gracie. So she’s nine years old, and she has autism and ADHD. And so she has been on an IEP with the school system since 4K. And even before that, we had people that were coming into the house and helping her and we still had kind of a plan of attack for her. So yeah, so we had a couple of folks that are parent advocates come in and really talk to the parents about what it looks like to advocate for your child in the school system, because a lot of times, especially if you’ve had kids, like older kiddos that didn’t have special needs. And so now, this is your first goal in the school district with a kiddo that really needs help. You don’t know what to ask, you don’t know what’s available, you don’t know what your rights even are as a parent.

Deb Adams:
And a lot of times, the school districts are set up so that they’re not thinking necessarily about, “Oh yeah, you should do this, that or the other thing,” they’ve got a whole wealth of kids, sometimes they’re kind of told maybe not to tell what’s available, because it’s going to cost them money. And if they recommend it, then they have to pay for it, right sort of thing. So if they recommend physical therapy for my daughter, Gracie, they have to pay for that therapy, they have to figure out a way to pay for it.

Heidi Wilcox:
So they’re going to be less inclined to help potentially.

Deb Adams:
Yeah, at least that’s the way that it’s set up in Wisconsin. I don’t know every other state. So I’m familiar with our state. So I don’t blame them, but what it means is, is that parents need to know what they can do. And so what we were trying to do is just… So we do that. So we bring in different speakers who can talk to them about those sorts of things, what their rights are, what they may want to look into, like I didn’t know there was such a thing as a extended education plan. So for Grace, that means that she can do summer school. And so that she doesn’t-

Heidi Wilcox:
Oh, wow.

Deb Adams:
Yeah, so for her reading is a big deal. And she’s learning how to read right now.

Heidi Wilcox:
That’s awesome.

Deb Adams:
I know.

Heidi Wilcox:
Really cool.

Deb Adams:
It’s actually really cool because she’s learning words right now. Where it’s been really hard for her to learn words, she recognizes words, she’s starting to read, but especially with autistic kids, they can lose things if they don’t keep using them. So in the summer, we want to keep working with her. But at the same time, the school district now is stepping in and they have somebody who will continue to read with her work on her sight words, rather try to catch her up to the class. And so it’s just stuff like that, where I didn’t know that until I sat in an apparent networking group and somebody mentioned it and I’m like, “Wait, we can do extended school year? What is that? Tell me a little bit more about that.” And so that helped me as a parent. So it’s not even just for other parents this is for us, like we’re learning as we go sort of thing. So yeah, so those are the types of things.

Heidi Wilcox:
That’s awesome.

Deb Adams:
Yeah. So I think it’s helpful.

Heidi Wilcox:
And so needed.

Deb Adams:
And then the other thing is, is a lot of times, not all the parents, but some parents just need help, and they have multiple kids sometimes. So here’s what I didn’t know, Heidi, is that some families that like literally multiple children, or all of their kids have special needs. We have one. And that’s hard enough, but when you’re talking about 2, 3, 4 kids on the autism spectrum, or kids with autism, and then a kiddo with down syndrome, all in the same family, and you’re trying to navigate that, I mean, it’s hard. And it’s costly, honestly. And so, trying to help them get the support that they need with other families, and with other organizations. But then also that day, we always do like a meal after.

Heidi Wilcox:
Oh, yeah.

Deb Adams:
So that they can stay so they can talk, but also that we can feed them. So it’s always on a weekend. So we end up making sure that on a Saturday afternoon, they’re also getting fed. So there’s that, too.

Heidi Wilcox:
And it allows them the opportunity to fellowship with other families. Because I don’t have kids, but it’s hard. I’ve been told once you have kids, to have a network of people because your life can get so tied up. And I’ve got to like do this for my kids until you miss the adult company, especially when it’s so much more work just to get through life.

Deb Adams:
Yeah, and then like just adults that understand what you’re going through too, because a lot of folks can end up being kind of judgmental about it. Like why can’t you control your kids and we know their special needs, but really, sort of thing. I mean, you can get some pretty nasty looks when you’re going through Walmart and your kid with autism, it was too much for them and they’re having a meltdown and people just think they’re acting out. And what’s really happening is, is that between the smell, and the lights, and the sounds, and there’s too many people, it just completely overwhelm their senses. And because they don’t have a way to block that, because of what they have, it just all comes in and they can’t filter it, and so they just lose it.

Deb Adams:
And so, people don’t understand that unless… It’s kind of like you don’t know what you don’t know until you walk through it. So it’s kind of like you have these people that get where you’re at, sort of thing. So there’s that. And then also, it’s cool because their kiddos come and play together. So when the parents are learning, their kids are invited, like their whole family is invited. So there’re neurotypical kids as well as kiddos with disabilities or whatever. Come in, and we have folks that will play with them and hang out with them and watch them and they can hang out at Gracie’s Place and then we kind of come together in the foyer area where we can just talk and fellowship and they have pair of minutes just to sit down and not worry about girls.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah, which is so important.

Deb Adams:
Yep.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. If a child comes to therapy at Gracie’s Place, what does… I mean every child wouldn’t have different therapy needs. But what does that look like?

Deb Adams:
Yeah. I mean, we have it set up so that it’s fun. I mean, a lot of ways kids learn, especially autism, is a social communication disorder. They don’t know how to socialize, they don’t know good boundaries, a lot of them can be non verbal depending on the level of severity or whatever. And so a lot of it is play. It’s a play to get them to talk and that’s how most kids learn is they learn by playing, and how to interact with each other and whatnot. And they come alongside each other and they kind of start to play individually, but then they start to play with friends as they kind of pair up and whatever. So it’s teaching them how to socialize through play. And so it’s just kind of a fun atmosphere. It’s a neat… It’s interesting, because the actual therapy center itself is set up and just looks fun. It’s just a fun place for kids to come.

Deb Adams:
But what also has happened and we didn’t really realize this when we started was that, in our heads when we first started our our kiddo was seven, Grace was seven, now she’s nine. And so we had it in our head, well, this is what fun looks like for 6, 7, 8, 9 year olds and that sort of thing, because that’s where our heads are at. And we’re parents, we’re not therapists and whatnot. So we kind of set it up for that. But what’s happened is that we have these 19 year olds, these 20 years old, these 21 year old people, folks that come in and they still have autism. So they come in, they have autism and they see it in their heart is still that of a child, as though they love it.

Deb Adams:
So we’re thinking that is for the younger kiddos. And what we’re finding is it’s not just for the younger kiddos, it’s for the older kids too, that still have this beautiful heart of a child, that they just love it, they want to come and play too. So that’s a lot of fun. So anyway, so they’d come in, we get a referral from a physician. Basically, I’m the middle person who pairs up that referral with one of our therapists. So I connect the parents with the therapist, and then they set their own schedule with regard to when they’re going to come in, and it’s basically an hour long appointment, and whether it’s occupational therapy, and so that’s fine and gross motor skills that they’re working on, or it’s speech therapy, where it ends up being more of the socialization and play. It all kind of relates to play though.

Deb Adams:
So it’s very cool. And so what we see though, is that the kids progressed year over year. So my Grace right now has come so far because when she first started she barely had a handful of words.

Heidi Wilcox:
Does she go to Gracie’s Place?

Deb Adams:
Yeah, she does. So we have her in speech therapy right now at Gracie’s place. And what’s cool is that with her we started this thing where it’s group therapy, and we’re going to be doing more group therapy this summer, but we started it with her and kind of piloted it. And we have a neurotypical buddy, like her best friend from school comes with her every Monday. Oh my gosh, Heidi it’s so cool because she gets so much more out of her than anything that I can as a parent or the speech therapist can. The speech therapist facilitates it, but it’s really about how do you take turns, how do you like pleases and thank yous and interacting with your peer and that sort of thing. And so we have the coolest kid in the world who is her buddy who just loves her like crazy.

Deb Adams:
But she’ll sit and she will get so much out of Grace, so much more than what I ever could just as far as, “Gracie, this is what you need to do.” And so Grace does it, sort of thing. And so she learns a lot. Yeah. So anyway, it’s just really cool. So that far, that’s just blown all of us away.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah.

Deb Adams:
Yeah.

Heidi Wilcox:
It’s a beautiful image. As we’re talking, I’m thinking of the beautiful image of Christ, coming alongside us. And as you were talking about play, too. Because even as adults we need to play as part of our formation.

Deb Adams:
Yep. Yeah. And Jesus tells us that we’re supposed to be like little children.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah.

Deb Adams:
Right?

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. Yeah.

Deb Adams:
Yeah. I mean, honestly, the coolest part to me is that I see Christ in the kids, like you see Jesus. Because if you want to see Jesus go to the margins because Jesus is always at the margins and these kids are marginalized in so many ways. And so, so much of Western worldview is about, you’re not relevant if you’re not productive. Do you know what I mean? Like you have to be doing something you have to be going you have to be creating something you have to be whatever. And so people will look at these kids and see them as unproductive or as draining because they need resources and whatnot without ever seeing this beautiful, childlike thing. Like I said, those 20 year olds, those 21, they’re like kids, they’re still like children. So they’re more like what Jesus calls us to be than we will ever be. Do you know what I’m saying? And so, shoot. Oh, God just loves them so much.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. Yeah.

Deb Adams:
And so you see that with them.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah.

Deb Adams:
You just see it. And so, Grace and all these other kids that come through, that we’re trying to help, they impact. They impact their schools, and they impact their teachers and they impact our therapists, in a way that other kids won’t.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah, it’s so true.

Deb Adams:
Because they see things in ways that we don’t. Anyway, so yeah.

Heidi Wilcox:
That’s so true.

Deb Adams:
So Jesus loves them.

Heidi Wilcox:
What gave you the kind of vision to start Grace’s Place?

Deb Adams:
Yep. Yep. So the vision for Grace’s Place was actually kind of a vision really, because my husband and I were like, I was getting close to the end of my M.Div. And like, okay, so now what? Because we went in knowing that God was… Like we’re being called to something, but not necessarily knowing what that was. But just trying to be faithful and saying, “Okay, we believe right now he’s calling me to Seminary. So I’m going to go to Seminary,” and my husband was fully on board with that. And now we’re getting to the end of it. And I was like, “Okay, God. So now what? Because we’ve been obedient here, now what?”

Heidi Wilcox:
And the end of it would have been like, what year?

Deb Adams:
Yeah, so I graduated in May of 2018. And so the Spring of 2016. We had been talking to people about the idea of church planting. But it was like, okay, so what does that look like? We felt like we were being called back to Wisconsin, but I don’t know. I don’t know what that looks like.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah, where it snows in May.

Deb Adams:
Where it snows in May. That’s right. You got it. And so, yeah, we were just praying about it and I remember I was dropping Grace off at school right after a therapy session because we were doing therapy in Lexington.

Heidi Wilcox:
Okay, because you had move down here?

Deb Adams:
Because we had moved down to Kentucky. So we were doing therapy in Lexington, two days a week in the early morning, occupational therapy and speech therapy with Grace. And we were seeing such extreme progress with her when we started doing that. So she gained… She was barely still nonverbal. I mean, she had words but she didn’t know how to put them together and wasn’t using very many of them. And so she was fairly nonverbal when she was four. We started the therapy when I think she was five and when she was tested, she was not even a two year old level. She was at like, I can’t remember what it was, maybe one year, nine months or something like that. And that’s five.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. And that had to be hard for you and Pete as parents.

Deb Adams:
Yeah. Yeah, it is because you don’t… And she gets frustrated at that time because she couldn’t communicate what she wanted. So it was, it was really hard. And at that point, you don’t know where she’s going to be in two years, in five years, in 10 years, is she ever going to be able to speak? Are we ever going to have a conversation with her? Because five year old kids just speak.

Heidi Wilcox:
And ask all kinds of questions.

Deb Adams:
They’re asking questions. So this is how bad it was, is that something as simple as this is… I just remember it catching my heart, like I gave her, I can’t even remember what it was, like a piece of paper and I’m like, “Grace, can you throw that in the garbage for me?” Kids of five years old don’t even have to think twice. Kids at two years old, typically won’t have to think twice about what that means. I remember this at like four years old, she had it in her hand, she had no idea what I just said. So receptively, she did not understand.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah.

Deb Adams:
She couldn’t take it in. But like most folks are set up so that they just learn by seeing what other people do and hearing and they catch on. In her brain it doesn’t work that way. So for everything that she learned, I had to show her what that meant. And I didn’t get that right away. And therapy taught me that, no, you have to walk her through every step. Like every step, she doesn’t understand the steps, you have to show her the steps.

Heidi Wilcox:
And you might have to do it several times.

Deb Adams:
And you have to do it over and over and over until the connections are made. And so, all of a sudden, you’re like, “Oh, I get it.” So I’m like, “Okay, so Grace, let me show you what that means. So this is garbage, Gracie, and this is a garbage can. And so when I say I want you to throw this in the garbage, here’s what I want you to do,” and I would have to take her by hand and go, “This is garbage. We’re going to walk over here and we’re going to throw the garbage in the garbage can.” And then throw it in the garbage can so she understands. And most kids just get that. Autistic kids a lot of times don’t because they don’t have it. And so at any rate she’s five years old, and she’s not even at a two year old level. We started taking her to therapy in Lexington, and within a year, she gained over a year.

Heidi Wilcox:
Wow.

Deb Adams:
So she was almost at a three year old level within a year’s time. So it’s been huge. And even right now like, they call them sight words in school or whatever, so she’s learning different words and whatever. So she’s in third grade right now, but she’s at a second grade level.

Heidi Wilcox:
Oh, that’s amazing.

Deb Adams:
It’s so huge.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah, that is huge.

Deb Adams:
This is huge. It is I mean, it’s huge. And I don’t know what that means. And it’s quite possible and probably is probable that she will always be with us. She will probably, but I don’t know what God will do. We don’t know. I’m sure she will probably always be with us. She will probably always be living with us. But I look at that and now I have hope that she might at some point be able to be independent.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah.

Deb Adams:
At least more independent than what she is now. So I attribute a lot of that to therapy, like occupational therapy, she’s actually in physical therapy at school now, too. So she’s just come a really long way. And therapy has been a huge part of that. And so when we started Grace’s Place… I’m sorry, this has been really long. So let me go back. So I had this vision-

Heidi Wilcox:
Nope, you’re good. I want to hear this.

Deb Adams:
Okay. So we’re asking God, what do we do here? What do you want us to do? And so I had taken her therapy. I brought her back to school, so I’m bringing her to school and dropping her off and I’m walking out and I see this vision in my head of this gym in Managua, Wisconsin, that I had been to before. And it was just like this really quick image, just a splash of it, of that and then this flash of her in therapy, like in my mind’s eye.

Heidi Wilcox:
Wow.

Deb Adams:
I know. And so sometimes, not to sound weird or whatever, but sometimes that’s how God speaks to me it’s just like quick images.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. And I love how God speaks to everybody differently, too.

Deb Adams:
Yeah.

Heidi Wilcox:
And the way that they understand.

Deb Adams:
Yeah. And honestly, I’m such a visual person. So I feel like that’s how he communicates with me as quick flashes of things where I have to stop and go, “Okay, wait, what was that?” And so I saw these two quick flashes of things. And so I’m like, wait a minute. I feel like that building has been for sale.

Heidi Wilcox:
Wow. So you we’re seeing real things?

Deb Adams:
So I was seeing real things.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah.

Deb Adams:
And so it’s kind of cool because God speaks to you in a way that you can understand. Right?

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah.

Deb Adams:
And so Grace’s place is not in that spot, but that’s what started it. So you’re not knowing it was for sale sort of thing and going, “Wait a minute. Does Northern Wisconsin need a Therapy Center for special needs kids?” And so I ended up talking to some folks and ended up finally speaking to the person who the first person who had ever stepped into our house to help us with Grace. Who is now on our board as well. But I called her and I’m like, “Cory, here’s what I’m thinking. And I don’t know if it makes sense. But would something like this make any sense to you? Is there a need for Therapy Center?” And she literally said to me, “This is a Godsend. They’re closing down the Birth to Three in our area right now. They’re completely restructuring everything. We don’t know what we’re going to do. We don’t know how families are going to get taken care of. Yeah, we need your help.” Then we’re like, “Okay.”

Deb Adams:
So subsequently, just started doing some focus groups, driving up there on the weekends and taking some vacation time. Going up and doing focus groups with people, with families, with area providers and organizations that dealt with special needs folks and they’re like, “Please come, please come, please come we have nothing. It’s a black hole.” Like Madison, Wisconsin, the Capital of Wisconsin, literally Northern Wisconsin is a black hole when it comes to special ad kids. There’s nothing and so folks were having to drive an hour and a half to get some types of therapy, but always in like those little doctor rooms, doctor office rooms, that’s where they were getting it, or if they actually wanted to go to a therapy center specifically set up for special needs kids, they had to drive for five, six hours to either Madison, or Milwaukee. And parents were doing it.

Heidi Wilcox:
Wow. And when you were in Lexington, yeah you went twice a week when you were here.

Deb Adams:
Yeah, I went twice a week. It was like a 20 minute drive. And that was just one. There are like seven, eight different places that I couldn’t have chosen to go to in Lexington. I just ended up choosing the one that was recommended to us. And so, so the parents had nothing.

Heidi Wilcox:
Wow.

Deb Adams:
Yeah. So we decided to go. So it was pretty cool. And also I work for the seminary.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah, Yeah, you do. You’re my boss.

Deb Adams:
And so how do you do that? So I’m like, “God, what does this look like? Because we don’t have jobs and we’re not going to make any money. And we’re just parents, we’re not therapists. So this can’t be our income.” And so here’s what’s really cool about Asbury Seminary. I was actually totally scared to do this, I was so afraid to do this. To go talk to my boss and say, “I think God’s calling us to do these thing, but I don’t know how it looks like. And so what do we do? Because, oh my gosh.”

Heidi Wilcox:
That is a scary conversation.

Deb Adams:
It’s a totally scary conversation. And so the other thing is, is that we weren’t just thinking of it as a therapy center. We were thinking of it as a fresh expression of the church.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. Yeah, totally.

Deb Adams:
So there’s that piece of it too. So we’re also, we’re still thinking church plan. So we’re thinking therapy center. But with therapy center, let’s administer to the community, where they’re at and where they’re needed and see what God does as far as creating a church that would be involved with Gracie’s Place. So we also have a church plan.

Heidi Wilcox:
Wow. Okay, so I want to talk about that later, too.

Deb Adams:
So yeah, so I ended up having this… Okay, so this is how much Asbury actually is fully on board with what they teach. Because it’s one thing to say, “Yeah, we’re all for church planners, and we’re all for fresh expression of the church, and we believe in the kingdom of God, anointing it to move forward.” And obviously, they totally believe that. But now for me to be a staff person in the position that I’m in, going, okay, would they let me work remotely, would they let me do some things remotely? Could I still, somehow stay connected with the seminary so I have some sort of income, but do this thing that God’s calling me to? Like firmly believe that at this point, God is completely calling us to do this thing.

Heidi Wilcox:
Right. Because it’s different to believe something and have something like classes about it and then to actually put action, like your organization to put action behind what they believe.

Deb Adams:
Yeah. So I go to my VP of advancement, one morning, a bit frightened going, “I might be losing my job right now.” Like seriously, I might walk in there. And he might say, “Well, we appreciate you so much, but let’s find somebody to come in and take your place if you believe that God’s calling you to this. We fully support that, but we’re going to have to do a search to replace you.” And so I go in there going, “Okay, I believe that God’s calling us to do this, Jay. I don’t know what this looks like. But it might look like me doing some work here or there for you on the side if you would be willing to allow me to continue to help with the seminary. But God’s calling us to this thing.”

Heidi Wilcox:
It was kind of you’re all in moment.

Deb Adams:
Yeah, like totally was.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah.

Deb Adams:
And it was so funny, because prior to that it had rained for like four days straight. You know how it is, Kentucky?

Heidi Wilcox:
Yes, I do.

Deb Adams:
Like thunder, lightning, downpour for four days straight.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yep. And you wonder if you’re ever going to see the sun again.

Deb Adams:
Ever, like ever. Seriously, you don’t know. And so you think you’re going to but is it there behind those clouds? I don’t know.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah.

Deb Adams:
And so, so I’m walking out the door, had this meeting set with Jay. I walk out the door, and the rain stopped. Literally, the clouds start to park. I’m not kidding, and sun started to shine, and the clouds are moving back and the rain just stops to like a trickle and then completely done as I’m walking across campus, and the sun started shining.

Heidi Wilcox:
Wow.

Deb Adams:
And I’m like, this is going to be okay.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah.

Deb Adams:
Seriously.

Heidi Wilcox:
You just felt peace at that moment.

Deb Adams:
I did. I walked by the banners and everything and I’m going past whatever that is, the fountain, and I’m like, “Okay, God, it’s going to be okay. This is for real.” And so I walked in and I’m like, nervous but knowing, okay, whatever happens, if he says no, if he says whatever, it’s going to be okay. And so I just laid it out and I’m like, “Yeah, and then maybe I could do this or that.” And he literally, Heidi, this is Jay, he grabs a sheet of paper, because I had some stuff written down. He flips it over any and he starts writing, what would this look like for you to do your job from Wisconsin?

Heidi Wilcox:
Wow.

Deb Adams:
Like for real.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah.

Deb Adams:
Not even batting an eye, he’s like, “Okay, so how do we do this? What would this look like? Let’s think this through Deb, how can we do it so you can still continue working here? But you can do what God’s calling you to do.”

Heidi Wilcox:
That is amazing.

Deb Adams:
It kind of is.

Heidi Wilcox:
As you were talking, I was-

Deb Adams:
Like it kind of is.

Heidi Wilcox:
It’s amazing.

Deb Adams:
Who does that?

Heidi Wilcox:
Nobody does that.

Deb Adams:
Nobody does that.

Heidi Wilcox:
But I was thinking about you’re all in moment and I just kept thinking about Abraham and Isaac and you didn’t know. And so you’re like, I’m willing to lose my job, I’m willing to lose everything. And then to do what God wants me to do. And there was like a ram of him in the thicket, like Jay Mansur.

Deb Adams:
For real. Honestly, I never thought of it that specific way, but that is a really…

Heidi Wilcox:
You were willing to sacrifice everything.

Deb Adams:
I was scared.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah.

Deb Adams:
Like I was.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. I wouldn’t be scared if I came to you and I was like, “Hey, Deb.”

Deb Adams:
Because you know what, honestly, in the secular world, which is where I come from that’s, “Okay, you’re done here, then. We get it. We appreciate you, but you’re done here and we’ll find somebody else.” And they didn’t do that. I mean, and that’s Asbury Seminary. I mean, you can’t make that up.

Heidi Wilcox:
No, you can’t.

Deb Adams:
But what’s cool is, is that because I’m also the Director of Communications, I understand what it is to be a student. I understand what it is now to be an alumni. I understand what it is to be a church planter, and somebody who’s doing a fresh expression of his church. So it actually only helped me to be able to do my job, because I understand. Because I totally fully understand what others are walking through sort of thing. So just really blessed anyway, by the seminary for that.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. So then that happened. You knew you can work remotely?

Deb Adams:
Yep.

Heidi Wilcox:
How did you get started with Gracie’s Place?

Deb Adams:
Yep. So we already had a board of directors that basically the year before head started fundraising. It was like everything opened up as soon as I made that move. It was like God then just kind of parted everything just those clouds that day, and allowed me to work but then it was like we found a place because we had also been looking for space and couldn’t find anything up there to start.

Heidi Wilcox:
I remember those days.

Deb Adams:
Yeah, like what? And so it was just like, zooooom. Yeah, so it was almost like that act of obedience struck something loose which was kind of cool. So not to self, act of obedience to shake things loose. Yeah. So then the stuff started opening up and we just started getting all the pieces in place to move.

Heidi Wilcox:
Because you had to find a house, too.

Deb Adams:
We had to find a house. We ended up… It was really interesting because we still are looking for a house. We’re renting right now. But the place that we’re renting we’re so grateful for, because we could find nothing like literally we could find nothing up there. It’s real hard in that area. And so the person that we got the space for, for Gracie’s Place, my husband was up there trying to find us a house because we were ready to move.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. Yeah, I remember.

Deb Adams:
Yeah. And so it was really interesting, because he was having a conversation with our new landlord for Gracie’s Place. And the guy was like, “Oh, well, I just bought a house. And we’re fixing it up right now. And I was just going to flip it, but maybe you guys want to live there?”

Heidi Wilcox:
Did you go like, “Yes?”

Deb Adams:
“Okay. Yes, please.”

Heidi Wilcox:
Yes.

Deb Adams:
Yeah. So yeah, we’ve been staying there. So God just kind of opened up door, after door after door which, okay, so that’s all really cool. There’s also a lot of really hard stuff that happened. So I don’t want it to be like, “Oh, and the clouds part and everything is beautiful.”

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah, it’s not like he just snapped your fingers and it was okay.

Deb Adams:
Yeah. So it took a while to get the house actually fixed up.

Heidi Wilcox:
I remember that, too.

Deb Adams:
Yep. So those were hard times because it needed a lot of work sort of thing. And even though it was a rental, it needed a lot of work. And so we couldn’t move in right away.

Heidi Wilcox:
And Pete was doing some of that.

Deb Adams:
And Pete was doing a lot by himself to start with, and we have two kids. So trying to figure that out and staying with family and blah, blah, blah. So here’s what can be hard as you want to give everybody the highlight reel of all the beautiful things that happened. And so I don’t want anyone to think that it’s not always going to always be easy. And a lot of it’s going to be hard. But God is always with you.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah.

Deb Adams:
And so, because the stories like that it tends to be that way, like you’re, “Oh, all the beautiful successes that I’ve had and it’s really hard.”

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah, by the time you get to telling your story you’re living through… That’s only the beginning part oF it.

Deb Adams:
Yeah. You’re not living through the valleys. And you tend to want to tell people the highlights and that’s kind of the way we do things, especially like social media and all that, Facebook. I’m just going show my best side and you’re not going to hear the junk, but there’s a lot of junk.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. What was like a struggle you faced and how did you overcome that?

Deb Adams:
Yeah, so one of the biggest struggles we had was, like I said, I’m a parent of a special needs kid. So I knew all the front end stuff about… Like, I knew I would need a referral because I had to have a referral. And I knew that we’d have to do evaluations because Grace had to have an evaluation. I knew that people would have… There would have to be some sort of billing because I would always get a bill. So there would be that, but there’s a whole bunch of back end stuff as it relates to therapy and insurance and hospitals, and clinics, and blah, blah, that like, no idea. I knew nothing-

Heidi Wilcox:
It seems really complicated.

Deb Adams:
Its so complicated. And to try to find somebody who can do it, it took us well over a year to get a medical biller in place. I knew that I needed to look for one because that’s what everyone told me. The therapists that we’re seeing Grace actually helped us know what we needed to do before we left, gave us this list, and medical biller was at the top. And it took us forever to get one. So I’m trying to do that and not doing it well and not knowing what I’m doing and trying to get all that sort of stuff set up and so that was like, that was a weight. That was a huge weight. So that was one of the biggest struggles.

Deb Adams:
And then it’s always the not knowing what you don’t know. Like not even knowing the questions that you should be asking. So if you don’t know the questions to ask, then you’re not going to get the right answers. It’s a whole lot of stuff. So there was that. But like those sorts of things have been hard or just like fear. Fear is a huge thing for me in battling like, wanting to just crawl under the cover sometimes and not get out. Like for real. Like just being like, I can’t do this thing. I started it, but now I’m going to look like an idiot because I don’t know what I’m doing. And people are counting on us now and how are we going to get the word out? And how are we going to fund it? And how are we going to make sure that people don’t… Because our goal has always been to never give a parent a bill. And so far we have achieved that.

Heidi Wilcox:
How do you that?

Deb Adams:
Well, fundraising and God just steps in because a lot of stuff insurance won’t pay for. People think, “Oh, insurance will cover that or oh, they’re on Medicaid or whatever. So insurance will cover it.” No, they will not. Not unless you fight tooth and nail. And so we can’t fight for every single family to get the… I mean, we’re also parents of a special needs kiddo. And plus I work full time. And we’re church planters.

Heidi Wilcox:
Right.

Deb Adams:
So what we found is generosity of people.

Heidi Wilcox:
So people fund Gracie’s Place so that people can come-

Deb Adams:
To scholarship.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah, the scholarship [crosstalk 00:37:15].

Deb Adams:
Yeah. So basically what we’ve done, we’ve done walks, we’ve done grants, people have just sent in money just out of nowhere, that we didn’t even know how they knew about us. And they just sent us money, sort of thing. And so God just keeps providing. So it’s really interesting, Heidi because I’ve stopped worrying. I don’t know if that’s good or bad.

Heidi Wilcox:
That’s good. That’s huge.

Deb Adams:
Yeah, fundraising, we still continue to do that. And I see the books at the end of the month going, “Okay, I have no idea how were going to pay for this.” And then God does something and somebody sends something, and I’m like, “Okay. Okay.” So he just keeps funding it, which doesn’t mean that we don’t have to be smart, because we always have to be smart and we keep having to move forward and keep talking as a board, okay, how we’re going to take care of this? And we got to make sure we’re doing that and let’s get continued to let people know that this is happening. But like Autism Speaks, just give us a $5,000 grant specific for autistic kids.

Heidi Wilcox:
Wow. That’s huge.

Deb Adams:
Yep. So which enables us now to be able to make sure that we can do therapy this summer because we have a whole host of kids that are signing up for summer services because they won’t be getting stuff through the schools all summer long and the parents want to make sure. So we always have more in the summer than we do during the school year. Yeah, so the biggest struggle honestly has been like the medical biller piece. There was that, but fear.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah, that’s so huge.

Deb Adams:
Like, God, how is this going to even happen? I don’t know how this is going to work. And to just be like, “Okay, so I have fear.” But to then say, “All right, we’ll acknowledge the fear, but then know that God’s faithful,” sort of thing. I don’t know.

Heidi Wilcox:
It can be overwhelming at times because it feels like it’s just smothering you.

Deb Adams:
Yeah, it can. And so, like prayers of the saints are huge. People praying for us is really huge to combat that. So like, word of advice for anybody starting anything like this is to have a core group of people that are consistently praying for you, because you will have fear. I mean, maybe you won’t. Maybe everyone else is just brave all the time and it’s just me who has a lot of anxiety about stuff, but at the same time, that God is just good. Like, God’s just good.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. Yeah. So how did you know you’re going to name it Gracie’s Place? I mean, I know you have a daughter Grace. But how did you know that was the name?

Deb Adams:
Yeah, that’s funny. Because I didn’t, that was my placeholder name.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah.

Deb Adams:
Because I’m just like, because we’re doing it because of Grace. So here’s the thing. There’s no way we’re doing it if we don’t know a Grace Adams because we again, don’t know what we don’t know. So I had always known there were special these people, I had an aunt growing up who was at our house all the time who had Down syndrome. So I knew intimately what it looked like to have especially this person in my family, but at the same time had never been a parent of a special needs kiddo.

Heidi Wilcox:
It’s different yeah.

Deb Adams:
Never had to deal with issues that relate to having a special needs kiddo. Probably was judgmental of people at the store when kids were having meltdowns and whatever, and they look perfectly normal, but were probably autistic. And were being bombarded by every sensation that was coming at them that they couldn’t filter. And so anyway, so at that point, I’m calling it Gracie’s Place because Gracie is who I know and have grown with as she’s grown. And so then we had this board that we had started. And I was talking to them about, “Okay, so now what are we going to name it?” And they’re like, “Well, it’s Gracie’s Place,” and I’m like, “I know but what are we going to name it?” Because I wasn’t going to name it after her and my aunt. “Why would we call it that? We got to call it something, whatever.” And they’re all like, “No, it’s Gracie’s Place. The reason that we’re doing it is because it’s Gracie’s place. It wouldn’t be Gracie’s Place without Gracie, because it wouldn’t be here.”

Heidi Wilcox:
Right.

Deb Adams:
Yeah. So it’s named that because it wouldn’t be here without her.

Heidi Wilcox:
Does she know she’s a celebrity? Does she know it’s her namesake?

Deb Adams:
No, I don’t think she does. Honestly, I don’t. But isn’t that funny? And so there again, just to go back to that thing about productivity. If there’s not a Gracie, who some would see as unproductive, there wouldn’t be Grace’s Place. Right?

Heidi Wilcox:
Right.

Deb Adams:
And so how much more productive does this child need to be?

Heidi Wilcox:
Because she’s touched hundreds of lives.

Deb Adams:
She’s touching so many lives right now. I mean, whether she knows it or not, it wouldn’t… And that’s the case of so many people that have had kids with special needs, is they’re the ones that get it. And so now they’re the ones that stand in the gap. Because they’re like, “Oh my gosh, I need this. And if I need this, others need this. And so this needs to happen.” So yeah.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. Yeah, because you see a need and then-

Deb Adams:
And you feel it.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah.

Deb Adams:
Because somebody has to feel it.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. So I know your logo is like a caterpillar butterfly.

Deb Adams:
Who made that beautiful logo? It’s like the most beautiful logo ever.

Heidi Wilcox:
It is pretty great. But I love that imagery, though. So talk to me about why you pick that imagery and why that’s important. Because, I think you had a walk too maybe a year ago that released butterflies.

Deb Adams:
Yeah, we did. And we released butterflies. Yep. Yeah. So that’s our desire, is for that to happen, that the little caterpillar turns into this beautiful butterfly that can fly. And so it’s the metamorphosis that can happen. And I don’t think it just happens through the therapy, although I do think it happens in the therapy that they learn and they grow and they develop, and they start to develop these bonds with each other and with other kiddos and that sort of thing. But I think it happens for the families too, do you know what I mean?

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah.

Deb Adams:
Like when I first looked at it, I thought of it as, this is kind of specific to the kids and our desire is for them to get the help that they need so that they can flourish. So it’s that idea of flourishing, and becoming more than what you ever thought that you could become. But I feel like it’s doing that for the parents too. And so the desire is not even just for the kids, but for the parents and then even more so like for a community to be transformed.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah.

Deb Adams:
So I feel like the more I sit with it and the more that the Lord I feel like is teaching me, here’s what I want you to do in this community, is community transformation that he’s looking for. So it’s individual, and then it’s family. And then it’s this corporate thing. And it’s like these rings that go out. And so even now with the group therapy thing that we’re trying to do, we’re also looking to develop that even further into this whole therapy that can be done as a cohort. So with a neurotypical kid and kids with autism or some other developmental disability, but now we have several of them. So say we have five kiddos with developmental delays or disabilities and then you have five that are neurotypical and we create this cohort. So this is the goal.

Heidi Wilcox:
What do you mean by neurotypical?

Deb Adams:
So neurotypical are kiddos that don’t have developmental disabilities. They don’t have autism. They’re just typical kids.

Heidi Wilcox:
Okay.

Deb Adams:
And yeah, so that’s a good question. And so, so have them alongside of each other. And so the idea being, so here’s our dream that we’re looking at right now to move further out into the community, is to have therapy sessions, where they’re going kind of theme by theme month by month. And they do STEM learning, science, technology, engineering, math, learning, or even STEAM where you throw art in there as well. And they go from kind of station to station, and they get therapy. So they’re getting occupational therapy or physical therapy, they’re moving their bodies, they’re putting their hands in like rice and beans to get the sensory stuff that they need. But they’re also going to learn science, are we going to wrap it around some sort of environmental learning, or like there’s fish hatcheries up by us, if they’re going to learn some sort of thing about biodiversity, or whatever. So some sort of technology thing, whatever.

Deb Adams:
And so you have different themes for each thing. And then we marry that up with a specific organization within Northern Wisconsin. So like working with a tribe with their fish hatchery, or with working with a place called Trees For Tomorrow, where they learn about trees in the environment and that sort of thing. There’s a planetarium up there. So learn about stars or that sort of thing.

Heidi Wilcox:
Cool. Yeah.

Deb Adams:
Yeah. So there’s all kinds of different spaces like that, where we could do themes, have them go through therapy with their neurotypical cohorts. So now here’s what’s happening. They’re getting therapy. They’re learning about science, technology, engineering, math, which a lot of autistic kids especially are geared towards in their brain. So therapy, but now they’re doing it socially, because they’re doing it in a group and they’re not just doing it with other kids that have autism. They’re doing it with the neurotypical kids too. So it raises the bar on them socially and communicatively wise, right?

Heidi Wilcox:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Deb Adams:
So they’re doing that they’re moving their bodies, they’re putting their hands in things they’re learning by feeling and touching and experiencing.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah, it reinforces everything.

Deb Adams:
And now we take them out into the community to the fish hatchery.

Heidi Wilcox:
Uh-huh.

Deb Adams:
And so they saw it here, and they felt it here. And they kind of learned it here, creating curriculum here. And now we’re going to take it out. And then we’re going to take them with their buddies and they’re going to learn here too, and see it and feel it and touch here. So now they’re out in the community. So they create a cohort that’s going to go with them year by year. And then plus they get out and they go to these different places in the community. So it’s conceivable that they may end up having jobs at the end of this as they grow up into it, four and five and six years. Plus, they’ll have friends, plus the community will know them. And that is the transformation.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yes.

Deb Adams:
Do you know what I mean?

Heidi Wilcox:
Yes, Yes.

Deb Adams:
And so everybody knows that we’re doing this because we love Jesus. But it’s this need. Do you know what I mean?

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah.

Deb Adams:
It’s this need that these kids have. And so we love the kids. Jesus loves the kids. We’re going to give them what they need, but we’re going to do it in community so that they’re not alone. And then it just like rings out into more of the communities, now we’re going to take them out into the community. So it’s like, that’s what Jesus did.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah.

Deb Adams:
He met people where they were at in their deepest need. And then he fulfills the need. And then he talks to them about the kingdom, because that’s what the kingdom looks like. So we’re trying to just play in the kingdom of God, sort of thing. I don’t know. Like, God’s there with these kids. And so I just want to be where God is. So if Jesus is with the kids, I just want to be with the kids because that’s where Jesus is. And these kids are awesome. And so it’s just win-win. And then you bring them out in the community, and the community sees these kids and it’s just this beautiful thing. And then you teach the community about the kids and the kids learn from them. And they learn from the kids and they end up getting more than they ever thought because of their interaction with these kiddos.

Heidi Wilcox:
How have you seen the metamorphosis transformation in your own life?

Deb Adams:
Yeah, that’s a really good question. You have to lay a lot of things down. Okay, so you don’t necessarily… I didn’t know necessarily how much I was picking up that I thought we’re good things and tell God kind of gives, “No, I want you to pick up these things. So you’re going to have to lay those things down because you can’t carry them both. You can’t carry all of your stuff that you think and then carry my stuff because your arms aren’t that big.” So I think there’s just a lot of laying down the good for the better. Maybe. I don’t know if that makes sense?

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeha, that makes sense. Yeah.

Deb Adams:
Yeah, like dreams that you’re kind of like, “Oh, I could do this or I could do that or blah, blah.” We didn’t plan on having a special needs daughter. That would not have been in my plans. Who would plan for that? You want all of your kids to be happy and healthy and perfect and no struggles for them ever in their life to just go swimmingly just like you want your own life to always go swimmingly and never suffer and never struggle for anything. Especially in the Western world, I think and we think that if we are suffering that there’s something unusual or wrong.

Heidi Wilcox:
We think we deserve somehow something better.

Deb Adams:
Yeah, like somehow we deserve to get a pass on the suffering part that Jesus talks about, somewhere I think in the Bible.

Heidi Wilcox:
And we look others who seem to have gotten a pass because we look at their Instagram page.

Deb Adams:
Yeah. And they think that everybody… Well, if they’re not struggling, why should I have to struggle? And most people are suffering in some way you just don’t know.

Heidi Wilcox:
Even if their Instagram is perfect.

Deb Adams:
Right. Yeah, for real. Probably even more so if their Instagram is perfect. Maybe. So yeah, I think that I’ve had to lay down the life that I thought I was going to have, maybe or the life that I thought I wanted for the life that’s harder. Like, for real, it’s harder, but better. Does that make sense?

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah, but beautiful at the same time.

Deb Adams:
It is. It’s really beautiful. And it’s so beautiful to watch like a community respond too, to it and people coming out of nowhere to help. It’s really beautiful. And also, so like to go to the church plant piece. Like doing this thing for Gracie’s Place, we don’t have a big church plan. I mean, we have 14 people coming to our church.

Heidi Wilcox:
That’s 14 people who probably weren’t going to church somewhere else.

Deb Adams:
Right. Right?

Heidi Wilcox:
Right.

Deb Adams:
And so it’s just like, it’s a big deal for folks to know that we do this because it’s Jesus. Did you know what I mean?

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah.

Deb Adams:
It gives us this credibility in the community. It immediately, like upon entering the community gave us credibility in the community that there’s no way we could have had if we just walked in and said, “Yeah, we’re going to do a church plant in Minocqua, Wisconsin, and Hey, you all, we’re here,” sort of thing. And then just started trying to gather people. I mean, when you’re in the newspaper and people are writing stories about you and people are talking to each other about, “Did you hear what they’re doing over here?”

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. Because you’re filling a need.

Deb Adams:
We’re fulfilling a need.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah.

Deb Adams:
Yeah, where there’s churches in town. I mean, we’re not the only game in town. I mean, the bride of Christ is there. And a lot of them are doing some really cool things. But they weren’t doing this thing. And there’s a huge need for it. So it just gave us this automatic, “Hey, I think they’re probably okay,” sort of thing.

Heidi Wilcox:
So does your church plant meet in Grace’s Place?

Deb Adams:
It does now.

Heidi Wilcox:
Okay.

Deb Adams:
Yeah, we were doing it in our house for a while and now, it was really cool again, our landlord who is pretty awesome. I was talking to him one day about the idea because as we are kind of growing this idea about the STEM learning thing and trying to write grants for it and whatnot so that we can kind of get it off the ground. I’m like asking for quotes on different areas of this lower level that he has, because there’s a whole bunch of space available. And then I said, “And by the way, we have our church that has been meeting in the house, and could we meet… Would you be willing to let us rent just on Sundays a spot we could have and then we’ll do children’s church at Grace’s place and have a spot to do regular church in?” He’s like, “Well, you can just do it. You don’t have to pay it. You don’t have to pay me.”

Heidi Wilcox:
He is so nice.

Deb Adams:
I know he’s so awesome. And so the first of the year, just after the first year, we started meeting in this really cool space that allows for coffee, because you have to have coffee, and worship.

Heidi Wilcox:
Nice, which is so important.

Deb Adams:
So it’s a really cool worship space that we have, and then when it’s time for the kiddos to separate and do children’s church, then they go into Grace’s Place and do it there.

Heidi Wilcox:
Cool.

Deb Adams:
Yep.

Heidi Wilcox:
And you’re preaching every Sunday?

Deb Adams:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah?

Deb Adams:
Yes. Yeah. So actually using my MDiv, which is good. So it’s been really cool. And we’re trying to do it a little bit differently as well, because we’re really trying to not just preach, which is good. So we’ll do worship, and we’ll have time of preaching, but then also this time of formation that we do as well.

Heidi Wilcox:
What does that look like?

Deb Adams:
So it looks like… Well, I have a lot of spiritual formation classes with like, Reggie Johnson and mostly, with Brad, with Steve Siemens. Several with Steve Siemens, too.

Heidi Wilcox:
Wow. Yeah.

Deb Adams:
I know. And so trying to incorporate what they would do in their classes as well which is like talking and preaching. So for example, did the calling of the, looking at Matthew four in the calling of the disciples, so Peter, Andrew, James, and John, right?

Heidi Wilcox:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Deb Adams:
And so preaching on that, but then at the end of that, just putting up an image that kind of shows that calling, that call and the miraculous catch of fish even from Luke. So that was kind of the image that I showed them and I’m like…. And then I just kind of walk them through. Okay, so now imagine you are in the boat. Imagine you are smelling the air and seeing the birds flying as you’re catching the fish and they want some of that and Jesus is in the boat, and you’re Peter saying, “Depart from me,” sort of thing. Like what are you? Are you the people on shore that Jesus had been preaching to? Are you in the boat with Jesus? Are you in that boat or are you in James and John’s boat? So asking questions of where are you at with Jesus sort of thing, so that it’s an experience for them.

Deb Adams:
Because I can preach all day long about stuff and I will have sat with the Lord and asked the Lord, what do you want people to learn on Sunday? And do inductive, biblical study through the text. And have my three points and do the preaching thing that you do and you learn here and whatever. But that’s me and God, and then I’m going to give you what God gave me sort of thing. And something about that wasn’t feeling necessarily right and so I want to do that. I also want them to get what God gives them so they hold it.

Heidi Wilcox:
It resonates with them. Yeah.

Deb Adams:
Yeah. Because I hold what God gives me and I feel formed more and more I feel formed because I feel like the Holy Spirit is speaking to me. But if they’re not seeing with the Holy Spirit, intentionally in doing that, I want that formation to happen for them and I don’t know how else to do it, other than to force them. I shouldn’t say it tha way.

Heidi Wilcox:
Just think about it and find them.

Deb Adams:
Yeah, that’s exactly it, to invite is a better word. So invite them and I’ve talked to them about this. I’m like, “I want you guys to be formed the way that I feel like the Lord is forming me while I sit with him learning this. And I don’t know that you can do that with me just saying these things too that I feel like he’s taught me. I feel like you need to have that invitation…” What’s the perfect word, “yourself.” So I keep trying to incorporate that sort of thing now into what we’re doing, because we’re small enough. So we don’t know any better. We can just do it the way we want to do it.

Heidi Wilcox:
Which is great.

Deb Adams:
So yeah, so that kind of feels cool. So I’m trying to incorporate just like things like that into it more so that the invitation is not just my invitation that I’m giving now at the end, here’s what you can do to incorporate this, but to actively have them participate in a incorporation while we’re there on Sunday. So they have an experience-

Heidi Wilcox:
Right. To have their own relationship.

Deb Adams:
Yeah. So they have a relationship experience with them right there with the Holy Spirit there on Sunday, so that they’re transformed.

Heidi Wilcox:
I love that.

Deb Adams:
I know. So that’s kind of what we’re trying to do. I don’t know that I’m doing it well or right. So that’s another one of those things where I’m like, “God,” so there’s fear involved because this wasn’t the way you’re supposed to do it.

Heidi Wilcox:
I don’t think there is a right way.

Deb Adams:
I don’t think there is.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah.

Deb Adams:
Yeah. I think the right way to do it is the way that God is calling you to do it. And so I’m trying to be cognizant of that. And what is the Holy Spirit telling me right now in this instance, that will help the families that are there, our family of believers.

Heidi Wilcox:
How long have you had the church plant as part of Gracie’s Place?

Deb Adams:
So we weren’t sure how to incorporate it.

Heidi Wilcox:
Because at first I think it was just Gracie’s Place, right?

Deb Adams:
It was Gracie’s Place and then we started with a small group, and then it was like the day after it felt like I graduated that we started actually doing Sunday at our house.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah, I remember that.

Deb Adams:
And then, I think, maybe the last week in January, first week in February, I felt like the Lord was just saying, “Okay, so now let’s try to start marrying these two together.” So it feels like this is the way we’re doing that. And so now, like even I’ll post stuff on our Gracie’s Place Facebook page saying, “Hey, we’re going to have church on Sunday at Gracie’s Place,” sort of thing. And it’s pretty cool how many people are like, “Oh, that’s so cool that you’re doing…”

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah.

Deb Adams:
And whether they come or not, that they understand who we are, and why we’re doing what we’re doing. Because sometimes we can look at it and go, “Well, there’s hardly anybody coming and blah, blah, blah, blah.” I just thought, you know what, like I’m hoping to get to 20. And if I stay at 20 for the rest of my life and we do Gracie’s Place, I feel pretty good.

Heidi Wilcox:
It’s the seeds that you plant.

Deb Adams:
Yeah, yeah. Or if we stay at 14 and that’s all we ever have, but we have an impact on the community. My goal is to be faithful, like fidelity to the community and faithful to what God’s calling us. And if the seed is small, it’s still seed.

Heidi Wilcox:
It produces a great harvest though.

Deb Adams:
Yeah.

Heidi Wilcox:
Even if we don’t see it now.

Deb Adams:
Yep, even if it’s not in our lifetime even. So right now, pray for us because we’re trying to figure out, okay, so now what does it look like to somehow just want to work with the tribe? Because there’s a tribe that’s out there as well. Several different tribes, but I feel like they would have a lot to offer us. I don’t want to ever go and say, “Oh, we have a lot to offer the tribe.” Maybe we have some stuff. I feel like Gracie’s Place has some stuff to offer the tribe, but I feel like the tribe is rich in just culture and diversity and just a love for their own community for sure. And for that area, and would love to figure out a way to be able to work with them. I don’t know. And minister with them, to their community and to the surrounding community because I feel like we miss out as a community if we don’t draw them in. Because they were here first.

Heidi Wilcox:
They were. They were.

Deb Adams:
Yeah.

Heidi Wilcox:
So that leads me into my next question. What do you see or what is God kind of talking to you, if there’s anything else that he’s talking to you about what is next for Grace’s Place or your church plant? They’re kind of not the same, but they’re very well married together now.

Deb Adams:
Yeah. So what’s next? I think next is really trying to flesh out the whole STEM learning piece for Grace’s Place. And getting the group therapy pieces up and running because we’re really good at the individual therapy stuff. We’re doing well with the parent networking, but the whole group thing I feel like the Lord is really leading that. So really working towards that piece of it and trying to get that off the ground. We have a lot of different partnerships with UW Stevens Point right now, UW Milwaukee right now and the Science Museum of Minnesota. We’ve all kind of connected now to try to figure out what it will look like to do this STEM learning therapy thing. So that’s pretty exciting.

Heidi Wilcox:
It’s really cool.

Deb Adams:
Yeah. To have that kind of backing and trying to move forward with that. So that as next steps there and then with the church plan, I mean, honestly, fidelity is what I feel like, hospitality. Just as much hospitality as we can muster walking across the street and loving our neighbor is really what I’ve been talking to folks about. So just loving on people. So not staying in the church, but getting out into the community and just being the hands of Jesus. So that’s the goal.

Heidi Wilcox:
How can people find you?

Deb Adams:
You can never find me.

Heidi Wilcox:
Facebook, your Twitter?

Deb Adams:
Minocqua Lakes Vineyard Church, as our Facebook. I don’t even know what’s our website. Minocqualakesvineyard.com is our website. Gracies-place.org is our other website.

Heidi Wilcox:
Okay. And I will… Was there more?

Deb Adams:
No.

Heidi Wilcox:
Okay. I will link all of this in the show notes too. So I love saying show notes.

Deb Adams:
That’s fun.

Heidi Wilcox:
So I will link it all in the show notes so that people can be sure to find you. I want to ask you one more question. And then we’ll get to the three questions that will kind of wrap up the show question.

Deb Adams:
What? There’s more questions?

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. So one question that I like to ask everybody is, I might have two actually, I always say one and it ends up being more so I should stop saying one because I would lie.

Deb Adams:
Because there never is.

Heidi Wilcox:
There never is. Can you tell me a story or something like, why you do what you do? What gets you up in the morning and what keeps you going back because you’ve talked about your struggles. It’s not always like we’re releasing butterflies and we’re happy. What keeps you going back?

Deb Adams:
It’s always about the butterflies. Yeah, what keeps me going, Jesus. I just want to be where Jesus is, honestly that’s like… Yeah. And sometimes it’s like you forget that and you get like all rushed and hurried and there’s so much to do and buddy blah. And so you lose being with Jesus because you’re working for Jesus sort of thing. And so here’s what I keep trying to remind myself when I feel like, “Okay, wait, it feels like it’s unraveling, Why?” And it’s always because I’m not walking with Jesus. I’m like running around like a chicken with my head cut off. Jesus’s burden is His yoke is easy, and his burden is light. And so to the extent that my yoke feels not easy, and my burden feels very heavy, I am not yoked with Jesus. Do you know what I’m saying?

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah, I do.

Deb Adams:
And so, so Jesus gets me up in the morning. And typically, if I’m following him and not working in my own steam or whatever, the yoke is easy, and the burden is light.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. I was talking to my husband about that this morning, a little bit differently. But I was kind of grumpy, we all get grumpy, but I was kind of grumpy. And I was like, “You know what? I think it’s because I rolled out of bed at like, 7:20 threw my clothes on.” And I like to have my quiet time in the morning.

Deb Adams:
Yeah, me too.

Heidi Wilcox:
And I skipped that the last two mornings, and I’m like… And it’s not like quiet time in a legalistic way. It’s just like, quiet time for me involves coffee and I think that helps too.

Deb Adams:
Seriously, yep, for real.

Heidi Wilcox:
So coffee and Jesus, and I’m like, I do not have that right now. And so it’s all me today. Which is… It was awful.

Deb Adams:
They’re like, “No one wants to see that.”

Heidi Wilcox:
Right.

Deb Adams:
[inaudible 01:06:00] in Jesus? You know what, there’s just this gentleness and there’s peace that I don’t have if it’s not me and Jesus because typically, I am a fearful, anxious, restless person. And so I was like Augustine, when he says our heart is restless until we find a rest in him and so if I’m not resting in him, I am wrestling with myself.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah, because there is so much to do.

Deb Adams:
Yes, yep. Yeah.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah. So one question I do ask everybody is, what did attempting something big for God mean to you?

Deb Adams:
Yeah. So that’s really good.

Heidi Wilcox:
I know, we came up with it.

Deb Adams:
I know, it’s amazing. That is brilliant. So attempting something big has always been to me the obedience of following Christ. Because if every… I don’t know, how do I say it? If it were easy, everybody would do it. Maybe?

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah.

Deb Adams:
Do you know what I’m saying?

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah.

Deb Adams:
And everybody’s not doing it. It’s not like I’m doing it. “I’m doing it. So look…” I don’t mean it that way. I just mean… What do I mean? Attempting something big is the small things, it’s the small yeses. It’s the small and consistent yes even when it’s hard to God.

Heidi Wilcox:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). And the hard work in between, like still saying yes.

Deb Adams:
Yeah, so here’s what… It’s like this. Attempting something big to me is saying yes to my marriage every day. Do you know what I mean?

Heidi Wilcox:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Deb Adams:
That’s hard-

Heidi Wilcox:
It is hard sometimes. Yeah.

Deb Adams:
…. as a spouse to say yes to your marriage every day. Just being for real because we’re too hardheaded individuals at least maybe none of you are. You’re not, but I am. So it’s saying yes to my marriage, it’s saying yes to special needs everyday when it’s hard and doing it in a loving way and not, “Argh, what?” Because that’s hard.

Heidi Wilcox:
It’s hard.

Deb Adams:
It is hard. It can be hard. Some days are brilliant and easy and wonderful. And some days are hard. But if they’re hard for me, I can’t imagine how hard they are for her. And so to have that grace in you, that says yes. 1000 times, yes. And this is right and to say yes, this is to go deep to say yes to a community instead of saying this is hard. And I could easily walk away and do whatever I want. I can come back to Kentucky without blinking an eye and continue to work my full time job and only work my full time job and go to church on Sunday.

Heidi Wilcox:
And not having to commute.

Deb Adams:
Yeah, not have to drive at one o’clock in the morning or whatever to get here because I need to take care of my family. So I can’t leave until late and I need to take care of my church. So I can’t leave until… It would be so much easier for me to just live in this community and…

Heidi Wilcox:
You have like four full-time jobs basically.

Deb Adams:
I do. So it’s the obedient, yes. And honestly it’s an unremarkable life. Do you know what I mean? It’s truly, it’s unremarkable. It’s a nonprofit people do them all the time. There’s thousands, hundreds of thousands of churches in the world. People are doing church all the time. It’s completely unremarkable. But for me, and from my heart, it’s a big deal.

Heidi Wilcox:
It is.

Deb Adams:
For our family, it’s a big deal. So it’s not like I attempt something big for the world to see. This is the one life that I have.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah.

Deb Adams:
So what am I going to do?

Heidi Wilcox:
And you said yes.

Deb Adams:
Yeah. So it’s the desire, is that it’s probably not always perfect, and it’s probably not always yes. But it’s the desire for it to always be yes. Yeah. Or to at least get your heart to the place that, okay, yes, it’s a yes.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yes. Yes. So I’m not quite clear on what your role is with Gracie’s Place. You said you connected the referrals and stuff. So if we could talk about that really quick before we wrap up.

Deb Adams:
Yep. So basically, I am right now the director of it. So I’m doing all the grant writing, I’m doing any of the doctors that call or whatever or they’re calling me to say we have a kiddo that needs to come in. So I’ll put all the information into the system. Get all the basically, the charts ready, send stuff out to the parents so they can fill out all the paperwork. They’ll send all of that into me. So it’s kind of like we don’t have an executive director because we don’t have a paid person. So I guess I’m like the director who handles all the backend stuff, and then the billing things are handled by our medical biller. The therapy is handled by the therapist. But the people contact, and setting things up.

Heidi Wilcox:
Is you?

Deb Adams:
Yeah, so that people can get the therapy is me.

Heidi Wilcox:
Cool.

Deb Adams:
So I kind of administrate it.

Heidi Wilcox:
Okay. You do have four full-time jobs.

Deb Adams:
Yeah. I mean, it’s not full time because it’s not… We don’t have that many kids coming through that would be.

Heidi Wilcox:
How many do you have, like about?

Deb Adams:
Yeah. So this summer, we’ll probably… Like right now we have like 20 units going through a week. This summer, we’re hoping to have about 40.

Heidi Wilcox:
That’s a lot.

Deb Adams:
It’s a lot.

Heidi Wilcox:
Like when you multiply that out with the kids and their families.

Deb Adams:
It’s a lot.

Heidi Wilcox:
Yeah, that’s a lot. Hey, everyone, thank you so much for joining me for today’s conversation with Deb Adams. So very grateful to have her as my boss and to be able to experience her Christ like leadership every day, but also very grateful to get to learn more about the work that she is doing in the world, and so grateful for the thing that God has called her to that is blessing so many other people. So I hope you enjoyed this conversation too. As always, you can follow us in all the places on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @AsburySeminary. Have a great day you all and go do something that helps you thrive.