I’ve loved working with kids, ever since I was in Jr. High and I spent a summer babysitting for our next door neighbor’s two boys from 9 to 5 each day. I’d practice their reading and writing and play games with them and I also took time to cook and clean for them and their family as well.
In our church, I volunteered to help out in the 3 and 4 year olds class and Awana as well. I always thought the kids were adorable and I never minded sitting in the small chairs next to them and helping the teacher in any way that I could.
When I was 16 years old and in High School, I spent the two months away volunteering on a missions team at Center Lake Bible Camp. My favorite weeks were ones where I worked as a Jr. Counselor in the cabins. I loved working with the girls for six days straight (we had an hour off each afternoon), and only getting paid $10 a week with a canteen card that I’d spend on candy and soda. I’d go on to work at that camp for 7 summers, eventually moving up to a Senior Counselor where my weeks would be spent working with girls from 3rd grade all the way up through High School. At one point, I calculated that I had directly interacted with over 900 girls who were in my cabin throughout those 7 summers at camp. Looking back, these summers were so formative and did an amazing job preparing me for life in ministry.
When I was in college, I had my heart set on earning my Elementary Education teaching degree. I dreamed of being a Christian teacher in a public school so I could be a light to my students. I loved the teaching practicums and especially adored my semester of student teaching at Fountain Elementary School, located in the inner city of Grand Rapids. I’d go on to earn that degree and I’d put it to use in many ways, though never officially in a classroom.
When our kids were little, I took over our church’s K-2nd grade program which at the time was called Pioneer Clubs. I loved working with the kids who would come each week and recently saw two of them who are now much taller than me and nearly finishing up high school. As we were catching up, I had a flashback of them in Pioneer Clubs and it made me smile. I’d serve in that ministry for a few years before changing it to Kids Club and then eventually it would lead into a K-6th Grade after school program called Hangtime. We are now in our third year and average about 50 students with an additional 20 teen helpers and leaders who come each week. And every week, no matter how crazy the day might be, my highlight is always greeting each student at pick up and later teaching them about how much God loves them.
And I suppose that all of these individual pieces of my story have all culminated into the news I’ll share today. This morning our church officially welcomed me and another dear friend, Brenda Tuttle, as the church’s new Children’s Ministry Directors. Our church has been growing and expanding specifically in the areas of children and family ministries and decided to create a part-time position to help meet these needs. Because I also serve in other Youth ministries with Jeremy I knew that I wouldn’t be able to take on the whole commitment myself. But this past year, Brenda and I have been working together on many children’s ministry projects and so we were approached with the plan to share the position and it could not have been a more perfect solution.
I’m so excited to see what this year will bring with this new job opportunity. Brenda and I share the same passions for reaching out to children and their families and I know there will be many exciting things ahead. I’ll continue to work with the Youth Ministries and also maintain my photography business as well. But I am very excited to share this news and pray that God will richly bless this position as we work to support and love kids and show them God’s love as well.