One of the greatest blessings a person can have in life is to be able make a living doing what he/she loves. Most people work to live, but some times a person can be fortunate enough where his/her work is what makes life meaningful. I spend the first half of this year working at a job that I not only didn’t like, I felt like it was destroying me. I was deeply depressed and discouraged. It was a living, but it seemed so pointless. I am so thankful things have changed.
This doesn’t feel like just another job. It feels like I am doing something that my whole life has prepared me to do. I work with children who have come from troubled conditions. Children who are much like the child I used to be. Their stories are all different, but I suppose each would brake your heart to know. For whatever reason these children no longer live with their parents. Maybe it was drugs, abuse, divorce, poverty, or even death. Like these children, much of my childhood was spend in a home instead of with a family. Many have been tossed back and forth from one place to another; much like I was. As troubling as my childhood was, it has filled me with compassion and sympathy for these children.
I trained for the ministry because I believe it was my faith that gave me new hope and new direction in life. I wanted to share this message others. That is why I went into the ministry. But so often I found myself working with churches that lost sight of their purpose. Instead of changing lives, it would often seem like a club of rules that was incredibly exclusive and intolerant of those who suffered from real life struggles. Faithfulness was often determined by adherence to various doctrines and church attendance instead a new passion for life. So I’ve been frustrated, ineffective, and in several cases rejected.
I believe strongly in the good of the church. The church, like me, has lots of imperfections, but it still has incredible potential for changing lives. Some of the children I work with don’t have much of a spiritual interest , but I believe very strongly that I have more potential to influence young lives in good ways than I ever have before.
Not only did I experience a troubled childhood, but I also feel like I was able to experience what it would have been like to raise somebody like myself. Some children comply much easier than others. I had a hard time complying. I resisted authority constantly largely because I was hurting inside. The traditional authoritarian methods did not work with me they just made things worse. The same is true of my daughter. We butted heads constantly. I didn’t understand her behavior largely because I didn’t understand how much she was hurting inside. I learned something in the process. I wish I could have a do-over. I would do things differently now. I would try to influence instead of coerce. I would seek to persuade instead of punishing. I would want to respect her opinions even when I disagreed. I guess in a way, I do get a do-over.
Not only do I get to work with children, I also get to work with horses again. I suppose I will always feel regret over leaving Westview Boys Home when I did. It was there that I really learned about horses and sort of fell in love with these marvelous creatures. It’s amazing how much working with horses also applies to working with children. Horses can hurt you. Horses can be stubborn and frustrating. Horses have their own desires, moods, and quirks; just like children. Horses will assert themselves. They will defy instructions. Sometimes they may even attack. Some will try to change a horse’s behavior through brute force and cruelty, but this is never as effective as firm but kind actions. Through it all a strong bond can be formed that is useful and productive.
Over the years I have collected all sorts of instruments. I have an abundance of guitars which is my preferred instrument, but I also have drums, a keyboard, a violin, a mandolin, a dulcimer, a ukulele, a flute, a hammer dulcimer etc. I don’t know why I acquired all these instruments most of which I don’t know how to play, and I can’t say I play any of them well. I just know I love music. I didn’t really start learning music until I was in my mid 40’s, but I love it. Music helps so much in the dark moments of life. Music by its very nature makes a person happy, reflective, and inspired. Learning an instrument can be discouraging especially in the beginning. Progress isn’t seen quickly, and the people really get sick of noise and repetition necessary to learn an instrument. But music touches people in so many ways. I may have the noisiest cottage on the campus but I will continue to encourage these children with music. I hope it will mean as much to them as it does for me.
That’s my life. I play with, I guide, and I love children who are desperately in need of love. I feel like I am shaping lives like never before. Sure it can be frustrating, discouraging, and even maddening dealing with children from hard places who don’t always act like they should. But I see Jesus at work here and I’m so grateful to be a part of it.
I guess I have found new cheese. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you need to read the book “Who Moved My Cheese.” That is what happened to me. Somebody moved my cheese again. I don’t know if my old chees moved or just got old and moldy, but it just wasn’t cheese for me any more. Sometimes it is really hard to figure out what God is expecting from us. We may feel as if God called us to do certain tasks when in reality He may be preparing us for something that never really crossed our mind. Either way, I feel inspired once again and I am so grateful.
What I do would not be possible for me to do without the generosity of a very large amount of people. Taxes and donations make it possible for me to live and work with these children. This is not something I take lightly. I am very grateful, and I determined to use everything within my disposal to love, serve, equip, and train these young people God has placed within my care.