Monday, December 15, 2014

Serving In Excellence

If there is one thing I know, it is that I was created to serve!  It brings out my very best.  The joy that God himself breathed into me as He knit me together is rooted in serving others.  It doesn't really matter if it is preparing materials for an event, washing dishes, concocting a gourmet meal, or simply sitting with someone who needs a sympathetic heart to connect with.  However it comes out, it is a genuine joy.

For the past five years, I have been honored to serve a church as their Weekday Children's Ministry Coordinator.  I have attempted to serve this body with excellence every day that I have been there.  I have been greatly impressed to "serve the least of these as unto The King", and it has been my hearts greatest intent to do this! 

When I started in this position, I was (happily) overwhelmed that someone saw in me the ability and desire to serve children and families in such a way.  In the time I have been with this church, I have learned to become more flexible, to further humble myself before the Lord for strength, to accept the assistance of other's around me, to plan events out several months in advance or the week of, and to trust in my abilities to do things I never knew I was capable of.  I have learned to not be afraid of college students...yes, I was quite intimidated by them before I started this job.  I tapped into my innate ability to train and mentor these college students as I helped to mold their desires to teach.  I have walked with them, and I have learned to more readily lean upon the Lord to help me as I show them the unfailing love that He has for them.  I have met amazing parents and even more amazing children whom I have prayed with, cried for, laughed at, and on occasion lost some hair over.  I have grown to love each of these individuals with a tenderness and jealousy that can only be described as a mothering heart!

Somewhere along the line, I realized that this was my mission field!  I realized that I have been called to be a laborer in this field, and the joy and the heartache of serving these families and caregivers ignited a purpose that the Lord spoke into me a long time ago.

I have always genuinely loved children!  Teaching came naturally to me.  Creating activities, games, and craft projects that tell a story is so much fun!  Getting to live out the Gospel of Christ and share His love with others while doing these things has been the icing on the cake!  

Don't mistake me to say that everything has been perfect.  There are many things that have been hard!  I work a full-time job for part-time pay, I am always on-call to families and caregivers, I often scramble to fill in gaps because someone is sick, has a test, or forgot their shift, and I carry the burden of embracing the spiritual health of a multitude of people.  In my life, I recognize the scripture that to whom much has been given, much will be required.  I don't just work for one boss, I work for every child, every parent, and ultimately the very God who put breath in my lungs!  When I fail, I feel the weight of failing every one of those that I work for!

With the ups and the downs and the joy and the sorrow, I have genuinely LOVED what I do!  The thought of leaving this position and finding another field within which to labor is devastatingly heart-breaking!  And sadly, that is exactly the place I find myself.  The church that I have worked with is looking for a new someone and at some point in the (who knows how near) future, I am going to be asked to leave so that this new person can come in and walk with the church as it continues to grow.

My pride is hurt.  But so very much more than my pride being bruised that I am not enough, my heart is wrecked and ravished at the prospect of leaving.  The thought of saying good-bye to these little ones who I have poured my very soul into, of waving away those caregivers that I have mentored, and of walking away from those parents who invited me in to be such an integral part of their lives is honestly more than I know how to process.  My heart is stalled.  My brain is a whirlwind.  A piece of joy and life feels like it is being taken away from me.  And I find myself wondering what it looks like to continue to serve in excellence in this place of grieving.  

Additional notes for those who want to read a little more...

I am challenged!  I AM a laborer in this field!  I continue to be a laborer in this field, until the day that God Himself calls me out of it!  I still see work to do.  I know that little hearts are still seeking to understand the mystery of their Maker!  There are more caregivers to be hired and trained, there is curriculum to be developed, there are Lent and Holy Week services to plan.  An entire semester is about to take place - and there still needs to be someone to plan and implement.  Ministry is still happening.  There are still families who are going through divorce, have ailing family members, and are managing developmental struggles with their precious children.  There are still papers to sort and file and shred.  The work doesn't stop or slow down just because change is on the horizon.  

So how do I finish well?  

How do I continue the day to day management, grieve the losses, and search and look forward to the future all at once?  How do I continue to labor in this field; serving this church with excellence?  How do I acknowledging the heart-ache but not allow bitterness to develop a root?   How do I see my value and put myself out there for other positions, when what I feel is that once again I am not enough?  

My hearts desire is to continue to serve with faithfulness; and yet there is a fear in me that I will not do this well because of the time-bomb ticking away.  I have held ownership to something that is really not mine to hold to.  These children, parents, and caregivers; they are Gods!  This job was never "mine".  It was an assignment that He placed me in.  And oh my, He has been faithful to expand the territory that I work in!  How foolish of me to think that the Father would take it all away, with nothing else for me.  So I cry out to the Lord to give me the grace to finish well!  I need Him to give me the stamina, the endurance, and the humility to continue serving in excellence!  After all, it is for His glory!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Because I'm a Teacher...

So technically I am a Children's Minister, but here's a fun little list I put together that will resonate with many.  

Because I'm a Teacher...

*I own just about every color of marker that Crayola has ever made. 

*I have a bag that hangs next to my front door that I collect toilet paper rolls, paper towel rolls, and egg cartons in.

*I color...a lot!  

*I can't decide if Pinterest is my best friend or my greatest enemy.

*I can tell you the "tax exemption" process for most stores in the Austin area.

*I spend my workday, evenings, weekends, and even my dream-time thinking about new and creative ways to teach information to children that is fun, cost-effective, and most important memorable!

*At the drop of a hat, I can tell you at least 25 ways that you can use paper plates to make a craft.

*I have perfected "The Look"

*I have accidentally used "The Look" on friends, family, and co-workers.

*In any given week it is pretty much a guarantee that I will get glue on my pants, paint in my hair, and snot on my shoulder.

*I am strong!  Teaching is not for the faint of heart!

*I carry at least three different bags with me at all times...often more!

*I have the privilege of praying for more than 150 children, 25 caregivers, and 50 plus families.

*I laugh a LOT!  The cliche, "Kids say the darnedest things", is very true!  (I once had a child tell me that she liked my hair because it reminded her of a zebra -- it was black and white stripes all over).

*I have brown (not black) and silver (not white and not grey) hairs peeking through - many of these are probably due to my profession.

*I have a collection of art, cards, and little trinkets given to me by children.

*I have learned how to alter lesson plans and activities because I couldn't get to Michael's to buy red cellophane, cardboard circles, foam board, etc. before they closed.

*I hoard Sharpies, Paper/Binder Clips, and Scissors...don't mess with these items! (Insert "The Look" here).

*I intentionally consume Vitamin C in inordinate quantities because there just isn't time to get sick.

*I always have a Google window open on my computer that has at least 10 different ideas for crafts, games, stories, etc.  I live with a small amount of fear of my computer will close down and the hours spend brainstorming will be lost.

*I have gotten very comfortable being on the floor.  I can even do this in a skirt - although I prefer jeans!

*I have been thrown up on more than once.

*I will never tire of seeing little hands get bigger.

*I feel overwhelmingly blessed to have been called into this service!  I love what I do!

What is your list?  I know there are at least 100 different things that I could have listed, but these are what came to mind first.