Wednesday, June 25, 2008

My Oakcrest Family

Chris, Aleeyah, and I have enjoyed worshiping with our Oakcrest family and are missing them more than they will all ever know. I can't remember how long it's been since we first visited Oakcrest, but it's been quite some time. We have enjoyed building friendships with everyone but more specifically we have enjoyed our time with our very first formed friendships-the Hernandez family, the Tysons, Sedas, Carters, Bryants, and the Hagers. They were the families that first welcomed us to Oakcrest. We spent many Sunday afternoons after church learning about each other over lunch and many evenings playing games and learning and growing in the Lord together. It has been a blessing to see all their families grow with at least one child and some now-their second. They have been great friends and will always be remembered as such. Some of them moved to different areas and states long before we left, but all missed just the same.

One of the hardest good-byes I had to face was to the Oakcrest kids. It was a moment that I had dreaded. The moment that brought me to tears every time I thought about it. Obviously, I love all my family and friends and each one is hard to say good-bye to, but those kids-I will always wonder who they have become and where their lives have taken them. It makes me sad to think I won't be there to help them through the awkwardness of their younger years while they learn life lessons. I won't be there to see them mature in their faith as they build the most important relationship they will ever have. BUT I know God will take care of them. He has given them parents and/or grandparents that are passionate about serving the Lord with all that they have and He will also put other people in their lives that will help them understand faith and love through friendships.

As I spent my last minutes with the kids on Wednesday night I tried to hold back the tears as I told them how much they mean to me and how hard it was to say good-bye. But with all their innocent faces looking at me-I cried. Yep, I cried. Afterwards, I confessed to Laura (one of the other children's ministers) that I had failed mission "Do Not Cry". I was touched and reassured when she told me, it was good-it will help them understand and remember that I cared for them, truly cared. And I guess that was one of my missions and always has been one for them. I want them to know that I truly, deeply care for them. I was thankful to see them weekly, I continue to pray for them daily, and I will always remember them. They have helped God show me my purpose and my passion. To be a faithful friend to a kid no matter what satan throws at them. To help teach them about God's love for them. To be a friend even when their life gets dumped upside down right on top of them.

Ben, one of the ministers at Oakcrest, helped me see where my passion stems from. In the moments I realized what he was trying to help me see, my heart was lifted and my eyes cried tears of happiness. God used my pain to give me my purpose and passion. When my life was flipped upside down during my parents divorce, the people I loved-the very people that said they would be there no matter what-abandoned me. Even our own church family wanted nothing to do with us anymore. We were dirty laundry. Some of those relationships will never be resolved and I have not stepped foot into that church building since that time. But Ben helped me see that I have a passion for giving kids pure love and kindness in the very hardest of times because I was that kid. I felt awkward and out of place. I felt lonely and abandoned. But I continued to believe that God was the answer.

The kids at Oakcrest just helped fuel the passion. I knew everyday that I saw them that I had an opportunity to impact their lives and show them the love that Jesus showed to the little children in the stories of the New Testament. It was not a job or a duty-it was love. It was the love that God put into my heart and how He used my pain to give my life a purpose.

I'm thankful that I had the opportunity to get to work with the kids at Oakcrest. They are so special to me. I'm thankful for the parents that brought them and for allowing me to build friendships with their children. I'm thankful for all the friendships I gained with my fellow ministers at Oakcrest-for Ben who always has always understood me and help guide me, to Paul for showing me the kind of passion and love for Christ that my life needs, to Scott for always believing in me and the ministry, to Brian for showing me what a true minister should be and assuring me that I always had more time (ha ha!), to Jennifer for showing me the kind of love it takes to minister to children, and to Laura for allowing me to soak in her knowledge, patience, and understanding of growing kids. I'm thankful for our ladies who help run the office-Sheila and Caren-who took me and my family as their own and I will never forget them. I'm thankful to all my Oakcrest family for teaching me that I do have a very large family and although not blood related we have the greatest thing in common-we love God. Finally, I can give thanks to God for seeing the years of rejection, hurt, fear, and tears I was about to face as a way to make me grow into the person I am today and for continually healing me from my past more and more everyday.

I would like to end this post with a song that the kids always loved to sing during group time. I think about this song often when I think about troubles that we will face in our time. I think about it when I think I cannot handle the pressures and pain that life that sometimes brings. There is NOTHING my God cannot do!!!

My God is so big, so strong and so mighty,
there's nothing my God cannot do.
The mountains are His, the valleys are His,
the trees are His handiwork too.
My God is is so big, so strong, and so mighty,
there's nothing my God cannot do.

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