The summer before I turned 13 was full of new beginnings for me. It was a summer I will always remember. My parents got back together after a bad split. We moved from a farm with a lot of land, to a ranch in a subdivision in the city. I met my first "city" friend, Geralynn, who lived right next door and would become my best friend through my middle school years. I read and reread 'Are You There God? Its Me Margaret'. The cute boy who lived down the street became my first boyfriend. The uneasiness inside of attending a new, huge school at summer's end. I can remember it all. I can still feel the warmth of the sun as I laid in my back yard daydreaming about that cute boy down the street. I swam all day and then I laid in bed with windows open on those long summer nights, listening to the hum of cars and crickets, daydreaming some more. The most important thing about that summer though, was that it was a new beginning with God. A new heart because He now lived inside it. A new hope for a new life and a new Love, God's Love, that changed me forever. A young lady in the church my parents started attending had a burden for me. Miss Nancy took me under her wing. She prayed for me. She loved me. She picked me up every Monday night to go to Sunshine Girls Bible Club and she answered all my adolescent questions on the way home. She listened as I jabbered on and never gave up on me. She never treated me as if I were silly or unimportant.
One of the many, many benefits of living in the same town for over 20 years is that you get to see your children's childhood friends grow up and turn into amazing adults and parents, with families of their own. But there is also the sadness in seeing some who get into trouble. Who end up in jail and in the news, and it breaks your heart. You can remember them when they were so young and innocent and full of life, and your heart cries out for them. This places a burden on my heart even more to be there for the kids in our area. That little boy who can't sit still and gets in fights with the other kids. That little girl who always seems to be talking and causing some kind of drama with the other girls around her. The ones that make you think sometimes that you surely don't have any patience left. They need you. They need your love and they need your prayers. The quiet ones, with sadness in their eyes, that never say a word and the ones that drive you crazy, those are the ones that are desperately crying out for help. The ones that need a constant in their lives. The ones that need you to lift their name up to an awesome God who loves them more than anyone could ever love them. Don't give up on those kids. Don't watch the years take a toll on them and find yourself reading about them one day on social media. I'm so glad Miss Nancy never gave up on me. I'm so thankful that my teachers in Sunshine Girls, Miss Helen and Miss Jane, taught a bunch of silly, pre-teen, giggling, boy crazy girls all about God's love and forgiveness and the amazing gift of His Son. I will determine in my heart to continually pray for, by name, the kids that God brings into my life. Please don't ever forget, they are just children. Young and in need of so much love and so many prayers. We don't know what their home life might be like. We don't know the heart ache they might be going through. We can offer them a new beginning, hope and a Love that will never go away. One day they will look back, just like me, and remember. They will be so very thankful to God for you. And 10-15 years from now, when you scroll across their Facebook page, you will smile and be so thankful to God too.