This weekend God provided two opportunities for my heart to be blessed beyond measure...it is so full!
Yesterday, my roommate and I went with a Women on Mission group from my church to visit a local women and children's shelter. These families are experiencing difficulties requiring them to seek safe/protective shelter for a certain time. I have heard of this shelter and seen it, but have never visited before. The WOM had asked Emily and I to share some songs and testimonies about God's love in our lives. We were there to serve breakfast to the ladies and children and to show them how special they are to God and to us on this weekend before celebrating Valentine's Day. I was so amazed when we went in at the number of children staying there with their mothers. We helped prepare for breakfast and sat at tables visiting with many of the women and children.
The part that really got my heart was when we were about to start the "program" part, and Em got out her guitar. The children gathered around to sit and hear the music. One little boy told us all about the guitar he had at his grandpa's house and how he wanted to learn to play it one day. He sang some songs to us...one about walking through the wilderness with God knowing the way. Emily let him put on her guitar and taught him a couple of chords, which of course made him feel like the most special little guy in the world. The guitar was almost as big as he was too. So precious. But, what I started to say before this is that - all the children had come to listen, so we just changed what we were going to sing/play to a couple of children's songs. My eyes filled with tears that I held back as we taught them the motions to "Every Move I Make" and sang "Jesus Loves Me." Our little friend from earlier came to the front and showed the sign language during Jesus Loves Me. It was so humbling to me how God had taken what we "planned" for the adults and turned it into even just a few minutes of ministering to and loving the hearts of those precious little children. It made me think of all the children who came to Jesus in the Bible story in Matthew 19. He did not turn them away - instead He welcomed them and told everyone those who live as these children will enter the Kingdom of God. Wow. It amazes me every day that God considers ME one of HIS children. His love is more overwhelming than any other I will ever know. We were still able to sing our two planned songs and share a short word with the mothers and WOM ladies, but oh how my heart was full of joy from the precious children.
After the singing/speaking we played a little with the kids, and I held a sweet baby. I also happened to wear some bracelets that morning that are sparkly. They are the "bangle" kind that come in a set of too many to fit on anyone's arm. For some reason when I put them on that morning (only like 6 of the 20 or so I have) I thought...I hope I can share these with someone today. And - sure enough one of the little girls who came to sit on my lap started playing with them and looking at them, and before I knew it she asked if she could have some of them. I was a little worried it wouldn't be ok with her mom, but I shared them with her, and she was so delighted to have something "pretty" for herself. We are praying about the possibility of working with a children's evangelism missionary to start a children's Bible program there for an hour once a week. Oh my heart...
The second blessing God provided this weekend was another shoe making party for Sole Hope. This is a wonderful organization providing the chance for widowed women in Africa to have a living by making shoes for a job. Then, children who do not have shoes are provided with a pair to wear and protect their little feet. It was so fun to fellowship with several other women (And men! The husbands joined us today too...way to go, boys!) and work together on such a fulfilling project. Many of you know how part of my heart will always be in Africa since going there on a mission trip in college. Knowing that I can help from home right now and that I made even a small difference in the lives of women and children living there was such a blessing to me. I am thankful God provided me with such a connection last year through new friends (and re-united me with others I knew from years past!) Again, oh my heart...
I can't tell you what a heart God has given me for children. I love that I get to spend so much of my day, every day, with precious kiddos. Even though it is challenging, and I don't always know if I'm doing the best job I can, or being the best example possible, I love that I get to talk to, hug, teach, and share joy with 550 kids every day for my job! I also love it that God continues to affirm that passion each time I am able to minister to kids in different situations. I hope that one day I will have a family of my own, and that I will continue to impact children for my whole life. I love them so much, and I thank God for providing me with the passion and desire to love and serve children!
"But Jesus said, 'Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.'" -Matthew 19:14