How did we get here? (The third and final part)

As a young mom, my focus was definitely on my family and my career. I didn’t have much time for anything more than that (or so I thought). But God opened the doors for my husband and I to start serving in our children’s church. We had never done children’s ministry and were completely unaware of what lied ahead of us. The next several years were both challenging and extremely rewarding. We watched God do some amazing things in the ministries in which we were blessed to be a part. I had no idea, but my husband had this incredible gift of making props, building stages, painting backdrops, and making up super fun games. We instantly fell in love with doing Christmas programs, Easter egg hunts, fall festivals and kid’s crusades. God continued to bless the programs and made it apparent to us that we were to love on His children. After spending several years at a couple different churches doing children’s church and all of the other events, God began to deal with us about the unchurched children. One of the reasons we loved the big events was for the opportunities for the new families and kids to accept Jesus as their Savior. God continued to place the idea of getting outside the four walls of the church into our hearts.

I will never forget one afternoon when I was driving home from work, I was praying to God for His guidance. As I was praying, I felt God was placing the word outreach with in my heart. I was asking God how and where we would do outreaches. I was crying as I prayed and my phone started ringing. I remember pulling myself together and answering the phone to hear a voice of a gentleman from church. I knew him only because we had met and exchanged hellos a few times. I am not sure how he got my number. But he began telling me that he had recently been asked to help with outreaches and the person who wanted the help specifically needed help with ministry to children. For real, I couldn’t believe it either. But God had just specifically answered my prayer. I couldn’t wait to get home to tell my husband about what God had done and was doing in our ministry. The really cool part was this man who was doing outreach ministry was someone I graduated with from high school. Our families were instant friends. The outreach team was called, “Soul Chasers.” Soul Chasers would give out groceries, clothing, ice cream, cotton candy, sno cones, candy bars and anything else we could get our hands on. We learned early on that when we offered something to people they were more willing to listen to what we had to say. We were seeing people come to know Jesus out on the streets. We did community outreaches where churches would give away food, groceries, clothing, cash prizes and bicycles. We would see crowds in the hundreds come and pray with the team. Some of these outreaches would take place in big open fields where we would bring in a huge flatbed trailer to use as a stage. We would do a children’s message and give-a-ways as well as songs and messages for the adults. It was pretty much one of the best experiences of my life. I say this because it was like getting a chance to take my whole family on a missions trip right in my own community. I watched my children overcome their fear of talking to other kids about Jesus. I saw them play with children who were unkept, poor mannered, and filthy. Instead of complaining or refusing, they actually fell in love with outreach. It was amazing to see them get so involved. God was so gracious to allow my children to be on board with what we were doing. Soul Chasers ministry came to an end as our dear friends moved north. But we continued to do similar ministries with our church. We began working with a homeless ministry serving meals and handing out clothes and toiletries. We continued to do occasional small outreaches in the community around our church.

One evening my husband and I met a couple from our church who foster children and have adopted several. We spent a couple hours talking to them. They told us their story and all about their amazing children. On our way home we started talking about how fostering children was like the ultimate outreach ministry. We began to discuss it on a regular basis. We spoke about opening our home and allowing foster children to be a part of our family. Then we started talking about the option of adopting as well. It was almost six months later when we decided we preferred to adopt and felt like that was what God would have for our family. We immediately knew we were interested in a sibling group because of their difficulty being placed and because we knew we would always want our own children to stay together. We were quickly matched to three beautiful children. I will not share their names or details, but they are wonderful. When they moved in, they had never been to church before. They thought it cost money to go to church. They were even surprised to hear that we had church year round and not just during the school year. The children now know of a loving Savior who died for them. They sing Bible songs and quote scripture. It is truly amazing to see how they have just soaked up God’s Word as if they are little sponges who were longing for someone to share it with them.

The testimony of our adoption story is incredible all on it’s own. So I will share about that separately sometime. But I have to say that God is so good. He taught us so much through the years doing children’s ministry and outreach ministry. He was preparing us for what is our current everyday ministry, our family. And what is even more special is that He was also preparing our three biological children for this ministry as well. We had no idea that one day we would be loving on children who were once a part of the very different world that we were ministering to only years ago. God is just so amazing. He knows every intricate detail of our lives. He has it all planned out for us. We are nothing without Him. My family is nothing special, we are not doing anything more than what He simply asked us to do. We are not perfect. We are still learning everyday as God leads us through our newfound craziness. But we love it because we know it is what He had in mind for us from the very beginning. We will continue to pray for His guidance and appreciate your prayers as well.

And this is how we got here, to our current PARTY OF 8!

Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

Now you know how we got here. So I guess the next question is, “Where do we go from here?”

Julie

*Party of 8*

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