September 22, 2016

Seeing God's Plan

About a month ago, I did a photoshoot for precious family that attends our church. After the session, as we were chatting about the heat and humidity, the sweet church-member let me in on a little secret.

"On September 14th we are doing a dinner for the daycare- since it's the 25th anniversary. Your mom knows about the dinner- but she will be our guest of honor and that part we are keeping a secret. We want to do something really special to thank her for all she does," she told me.

I was overwhelmed with warmth. This woman isn't one of the founding members of the church/daycare- in fact, she hasn't been in our area permanently all that long. But she felt it in her heart to make sure that our church and community knew how hard my mom has worked to keep and grow the daycare to what it is today. How amazing. {I cried a little in the car on the way home. #truestory} 

As the weeks passed by, my mom told me she had asked this person and that person to stand and speak at the dinner...still not knowing the focus was on her. I decided to ask if I could join in and speak too- since my perspective was a little different from a parent of a child attending the center, a founding member of the mission or a social worker who had worked with the center frequently. I saw it all...the sweat, the tears, the stress...but mostly, the love and the sign that God showed our family this was my mother's true calling.

So I stood in front of a packed house & shared my memories:

My name is Eden Saunders- I'm Kathy's daughter. I was introduced to the daycare at the ripe old age of 7. 
Like many things in life- mom's work with the daycare began accidentally- or so we thought, it was definitely God's plan. Initially, we were searching for a church. The search for the perfect church is kind of like looking for the perfect house. You don't look for just a house- you look for a warm, comforting environment- something that you can turn into a home.
At that time, we had visited many churches. Most times leaving with my mom having a completed grocery list and me terrified because the preacher had yelled for an hour about hellfire and damnation. 
That all changed the day we walked into the little house across from the high school. I remember it clearly- the preacher wasn't dressed fancy- he was in a black short sleeved shirt with khaki pants. He was propped against the railing on the back porch smoking a cigarette. (Maybe I shouldn't share that part- but it's a memory.) He shook my hand and introduced himself as Mr. Tom. Not pastor- or Reverend...just Mister.  
We took our seats inside the home...and from the moment we walked through those doors- that is what it wasn't a house, it wasn't a church, it wasn't just a was a home- God's home.
I looked around the little room. There were toys on shelves lining the walls and not benches or pews like the other churches we had visited- only plastic folding chairs. During the service, I noticed my parents and I watching and actually listening as the preacher spoke- not making a grocery list or looking outside and thinking of plans for later in the day. 
While we knew this was going to be our church home from that first day, I don't think our family realized the plan God had in store for us the morning he sent us to the small home on Wingina. 
Not long after that Sunday- my mom began working at the church's mission daycare. At that time, it was only open during school months- and catered to teenage moms. These moms were encouraged to come visit or feed their babies during school breaks- they were welcomed into the center just as we were on that first Sunday. Monday through Friday- the building was a daycare center...and on Sundays it was a church. For years chairs and toys were rearranged to accommodate both the growing daycare center, as well as our growing church family.
As years went on, I watched my mom raise not just newborns, but their single-mothers (and some fathers) too. She took the time to ask them about their lives- not because she was nosey- but because she cared. She held them accountable for their actions- whether positive or negative. She was proud of them when they shared report cards with her- and reprimanded them when they skipped school. She was more than a childcare provider to these young parents- she was their family provider.
I could stand here and share stories for hours about how amazing my mom is- but she wouldn't want me to do that. I will say that I have watched her leave home early to pick up a child for daycare, knowing they wouldn't have a ride if she didn't bring them herself. I have seen her stay late in the evening- feeding a child an extra snack at 5:30, knowing that would be the last food in his or her belly before they returned the following day. I've seen her wash dirty children- go to the store and buy fresh formula for them because theirs was spoiled. I have heard our home phone ring in the middle of the night- a teen mom, whose water had broken with her second child- and the only person she trusted to care for her youngest child, was my mother. She didn't hesitate- my mom left immediately and picked up the youngest child and brought her to our home for the night.
This daycare center is so much more than just a daycare center. But then mother, she is so much more than just a mother- or just a director. God's plan for her was to help this center become what is is today...not just a place for children but for families.
Thank you for taking the time tonight to honor this incredible mission...and my wonderful mother.

We hugged and cried. Then she cut the cake, which was decorated with flowers to match the garden and sign that is in front of the daycare- which honors both my mother and father.

"Don & Kathy's Garden...Roanoke Island Presbyterian Daycare"

Then we all cried again. ;-)

1 comment:

  1. Eden, what a beautiful story. It's so crazy how God brings us to places to push us to be the people he created us to be. I love how you talk about your church not being a church, that it's a home, your families home. I think if everyone were to really find their family and home they would truly learn of their heavenly Father and what he has in store for their lives. Your Mom sounds pretty awesome!