I have been planning for a couple of weeks to share our ministry @ Mission 4 Monday. Peggy's wonderful Monday meme.
And, for the last couple of weeks circumstances or the one that I wish not to give credit thwarted my efforts. You see I had planned to share what our ministry is all about because I mention it frequently here.
But God has placed it on my heart to share with you not only what it is but why and how it came about. And I beg you in advance to forgive the lengthiness of this post. (Please bear with me and read it through the end.)
I have always gone to church and probably like many of you have had those spiritual ups and downs. Those times you are close to God and those that you aren't. Of course in my maturity now I see that all the times that I wasn't close to God it was because I just wasn't paying any attention to him.
I am married to a wonderful man but we have not always seen eye to eye on things. I wanted to have lots and lots of kids. He wanted two. We had two. I was disappointed and frustrated.
But I was a good girl. I was a Christian and I knew that if I prayed God would answer my prayers. First disappointment.
When our daughter (our youngest) was in 2nd grade. We were doing well financially and my dear Cowboy bought me a Bernina sewing machine. I had been making all of our daughters clothes. Although I never enjoyed sewing for myself because I wasn't good at it. I excelled at making little girls clothes. (and I look forward to sewing for granddaughters!) I made dresses for every ocassion and bought her matching shoes. I could afford the shoes because I spent so little on her dresses. We bought my machine in August and in January we moved the kids from public school to a Christian private school and quess what they started wearing uniforms. Now I had already realized that she was really getting beyond enjoying me making clothes for her and so really the timing was right.
I don't know how it actually happened but shortly after the first of the year I stumbled onto a quilt shop. And I began taking classes. And I found my love. At the time I didn't realize it but it was my calling. I loved playing with the fabric and color and designing, everything involved in making quilts. And after a few years I decided that I should have my own quilt shop.
And so I began doing reseach. I researched vendors. I researched how to write a business plan. I wrote the business plan and investigated Small Business loans. I was ready to be a quilt shop owner.
The only problem was I had no investment money. And Cowboy wasn't willing to use any of our personal money for the venture. Although I thought it was unfair that he wouldn't support my dream I accepted this disappoint and just continued living life and enjoying my family. Second disappointment.
It wasn't long after this disappointment that we got the opportunity to move to Colorado. We were there for a short 6 months before we relocated to Missouri.
While in Missouri I taught quilting classes at our church and also began teaching at a small shop. I was happy and in my element but that bug began again and I began begging Cowboy to invest in my dream. All the while we were both active in our church and our kids were almost grown and leaving home. Our daughter graduated and went to college in Jackson, Tenn. our son married a local girl. I thought I was free to reach for my dreams.
We were active in our church and Cowboy went on a mission trip to Africa. When he returned he was different. Although we had always gone to church there was a difference in him. I realized that God had called him into service. I just knew it in my heart. I don't know how. I just knew it. And I was scared to death because I thought God would call us to Alaska or some place remote. And I would have to give up everything I had.
All the while I was searching for a place to fit into ministry. God was tugging at my heart and I knew that he had something for me. I was going to ladies Bible study. I taught in VBS. I was the VBS director.
While visiting our daughter at her college campus I went to a Lifeway bookstore and found a Bible study book on being a mentor. I devoured it and felt a longing in my heart to mentor other ladies. I thought that I had raised two great kids. I had a great husband. I could share my faith with other believers. I was worth something and had some wonderful advice and things to share.
It was a short time later that we moved back to Texas. Inside I was grateful it wasn't Alaska. We became very active in our church. I tried to become a part of the women's ministry. I offered my help. I went to Bible study. I felt unwanted and not needed.
I began teaching quilt classes in our home. And I was happy and satisfied.
And then Cowboy and I were approached by our new youth minister to teach Sunday School. He had just come to the church and had great plans and was developing a leadership team. We began teaching Sunday School. Over the next few years I taught 7th grade through 11th grade. Each year when there was an opening for a specific grade I would step up to the plate and fill the empty spot. I loved working with the kids. I loved helping with the planning and organization part of the ministry. I moved into more or less the assistant to the youth minister. The ministry went from about 15 kids to over 80 on Sunday. And more than 100 every Wednesday night. I helped recruit teachers and develop programs.
I really didn't think about it at the time but I felt like I had found my niche at least for about 4 years I was in my element and I felt like God was using me. What I didn't know at the time was that he was molding me. He was teaching me.
And then the youth minister was called to another church. And then everything fell apart literally. I was asked to serve on the minster search committee. I have to say this was the worst experience I have ever had. I became too aware of the inner workings of our church. Our commitee was pushed and prodded by staff and ultimately we were coerced into presenting thier choice as candidate. During the entire time I kept telling myself that it was God's will and that I just needed to go along with everyone else. Basically because Cowboy was approached by one of the staff to convince me and so I thought that I was just missing something; that I was out of God's will. Thier candidate was called and accepted the position.
I continued to teach Sunday School but I was no longer needed in any other leadership role. Cowboy resigned from teaching Sunday School after.
He began to pray about where God wanted to use him.
And then something happened that we never expected. God answered Cowboys prayer and showed him where he wanted him to serve. And Auto Mission was born. Auto Mission is a ministry to At risk and disadvantaged teenagers. We had begun to realize that there were some kids that would come to the activities that church provided but they just wouldn't take the next step and become active in Sunday School etc.
Auto Mission began ministering to teenage boys by offering a place for kids to do community service. In 2003 Cowboy found a garage and got some friends together and opened the doors. Over the next 3 years the local teen cours assigned over 400 boys to do community service at Auto Mission. And they allowed us to do a Bible Study. One teen court coordinator came to our church when 3 boys from her court were baptized.
6 months after Auto Mission began I realized that we needed to provide a program for girls. I did not realize at the time just what was happening I just knew that there were girls that needed to learn about God and I could use my love of quilting to teach them. In our first year I met a 7th grade girl that was a gang member.
One of the hardest part of it was seeing these poor sweet little girls and know that they were a part of a gang and seeing how hurting they were. When Brittani accepted Christ as her savior on New Years eve we all Praised God. It was just a huge Blessing to be a part of it.
It wasn't my timing and it wasn't the way I intended but God gave me a quilt shopt. God answered my prayers and gave me my dream.
For the next 4 years God Blessed us and the ministry by allowing us to share his love with all these kids. We began working with Texas Youth Commission and last January I started a program for girls living in a Halfway House.
Although we don't always know exactly why things happen we have learned to trust God. And that is what we are doing now. Last November we lost the lease on our building. And most of the time there isn't enough money but God always provides what we need. Since we lost our builiding we have not been able to provide a place for teen court kids to do community service.
In January we began doing our food pantry program and we have continued working with the Halfway house. We go to the halfway house and provide programs there for the girls.
And this month we began a pilot program that we called A Holiday to Remember. God placed it on my heart to get mentors for all 20 girls living in the halfway house. I didn't know how it was going to happen I just knew that God spoke and that it would happen. We are still waiting for 2 more volunteers but 18 girls have mentors. This is a record for the halfway house.
You see all those years ago when I bought that book about mentoring God had a plan for me. And today I see what my purpose is. And today I am Blessed beyond anything that I can imagine.
Today I realize that all the things that have happened in my life have lead to this. God knew that I had a place in my heart for lots of kids and he probably knew that even though I would strive to be a good mommy to them that I am a better friend than a mommy.
I know that my post today was really, really long. And I hope that you managed to get through the whole thing. Because I want to encourage you. If you are sad and frustrated or depressed because things aren't going exactly as you think they should. Don't get discouraged. Lean on God and trust him. Turn your sadness and frustration over to him. He may not make the circumstances go away immediately but he will give you the strength and the courage that you need. Because he will never give you more than you can bear. Today I look back and see all the things that God has taught me. And I am happy. I am joyful. I have realized my purpose.
I pray God's Blessing on you. And I pray God will reveal himself to you today.