When Cooper was a baby, I attempted to be a full time stay at home mom. It didn't work, for financial reasons, but also for mental reasons. I was bored out of my mind. So I asked our preschool minister at FBC Richardson, Tedye Schuehler, if I could put Cooper in the MDO so I could go back to working at the call center I worked out before I had him. She said I should just come work for her so he could be with me. She saw something in me that I didn't know was there. I started out as the Special Event Childcare Coordinator. Joyce Patterson was the main Childcare Coordinator and trained me how to do my job. It was more than training though. Joyce showed me what it looked like to love on babies, love on teachers and love on parents. Ironically, I signed my offer letter for my new job last Monday, and found out that night that sweet Ms. Joyce passed away the day before. I almost cried at the deeper meaning that had for me. I hope to pass on the legacy she left as I minister to the babies, teachers and parents I begin to work with.
At FBCR, I had to step into an MDO 2 year old class mid year as the lead teacher. I laugh now looking back. I had no idea what I was doing. I made those sweet little ones sit in chairs for circle time, and forced them to make their crafts look just like mine. I had a college and seminary degree, but in 8 years of education, had only had 2 semesters of childhood development and ministry to children, which included all ages. I had worked extended session in church and babysat for years. And I had an adorable, perfect one year old at home. But that was the extent of my childhood understanding. But again, Tedye saw something in me that I didn't know was there.
In the fall of 03 I became the Director of First Kids Younger Preschool, helping the MDO become licensed by the state. I think Tedye could tell I was a rule follower to a fault, and that's what you need when you have to study a binder of the rules set by the state of Texas to run a childcare center. I loved my job! I loved building relationships with the teachers, meeting parents and hugging on sweet children. It was a great three years. And then we moved to Houston.
I met Melissa Dutton before Jason even took his new job and she asked me what I would like to do in UBC's weekday. There wasn't anything administrative open, so I told her I would love to teach babies. Not sure where that came from, but I taught in the baby room for three of the next seven and a half years. That taught me a lot about recognizing that we are never just "babysitting," we are always teaching. Every time we talk to a baby, their brains grow and change. What a huge responsibility! I had flash backs to my physiological psychology class in college that I barely made a C in. But now I had a passion for how our brains work, and how God created this amazing thing! Melissa also knew about my background in those testy Texas laws, so I began leading at teacher training each summer about them, and I realized my passion for teaching teachers! I was able to do some different topics throughout the years and was always excited about that week. I am grateful to Melissa for trusting me with that training time. She taught me a lot about how to appreciate and encourage your teachers.
After my sweet Campbell was born, I took a little time off, and at that point April Lemley left the program and I took her position as Spiritual Curriculum Coordinator. I learned from April how to "send Jesus home" with those kiddos, even the unchurched ones, so their parents learned about Jesus too. And then my last year and a half, I was the younger preschool music teacher. And it turned out to be one my favorite things I did! I loved seeing how music got their brains and their bodies moving, and how excited they were to see me. My friend Laura Davis, who was the older preschool music teacher, said we were the "preschool rock stars"! My friend Colette Whitlock was the music teacher that came to my baby room the first year I was there, and I learned from Colette how to get those sweet ones moving and how to teach them spiritual truths through music.
In the meantime, Terri Neal came on staff as the preschool minister and we became fast friends. While at UBC, Vacation Bible School became my other life and I helped Terri by directing the preschool VBS for a few years. It was tough and stressful and time consuming, but I loved it. Terri taught me about volunteers, how to work with them and support them. And then, this past winter, we moved to Brandon, MS.
After a month or so of getting settled, I began looking for a job. I started working childcare at Pinelake one morning a week just to get out of the house. But I couldn't find anything else. I interviewed at another church and really enjoyed the process, but sensed from God it wasn't what He had for me. I felt that He was telling me just to enjoy the rest time, and He already had something picked out, it just wasn't time yet. And then this job became available. And God said, "that's it." So I applied and went through the interview process really not nervous, because I felt so strongly that God had called me to this place. I knew God had used the last 12 years to prepare me for this. A friend said this job "fits like a glove."
Our calling as a family to Pinelake has been so clear and amazing and God continues to blow us away at His power and goodness. I am overwhelmed at the size of my new job. Our church is so big! And yet, I know that God wouldn't bring me to it, and then leave me. I start next week, and I'll be working three days and one night a week. Its perfect for my family. I am not a good full time stay at home mom, but I also don't think I would be a good full time working mom either. And the fact that I got a whole semester to get my home and kids settled before starting is another testament of God's perfect timing.
There are lots of other details of the last 12 years I left out because this post is already so long as it is. But the point is, that God used every moment to prepare me. Our pastor Chip preached a sermon a few weeks ago about how God moves "upstream", preparing us for things we don't know are coming later. And then we sang "Never Once" by Matt Redman, and I cried through the whole thing out of amazement and gratitude. Our God is so good and big and kind and faithful!
Standing on this mountaintop
Looking just how far we've come
Knowing that for every step
You were with us
Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say
Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful