Corey and I have been married for four glorious years. We have seen a lot, been through a lot, and have grown a lot. We spent our fourth anniversary in Wears Valley, TN. There, we were able to intimately visit an organization that is doing AMAZING work for our Lord. This organization is a children’s home (named Wears Valley Ranch) that has four homes that children who don’t have proper homes with their guardians can live in and be a part of. Corey and I will be moving to this wonderful place in January. We will be houseparents for eight boys.
My and Corey’s desire to be houseparents is deeply planted. We learned of children’s homes’ existence from a speaker at an American Association of Christian Counselor’s meeting at the Baptist College of Florida when we were Sophomores. We both thought that being houseparents would be an amazing way to live a part of our lives. We looked up many many homes (and, me being such a nerd, made a spreadsheet of their features). We planned to move to the mountains (where we’ve always wanted to live) and be houseparents when we graduated.
When graduation rolled around, though, we were content to stay where we were. I was offered a position at the school I graduated from, Corey was working wonders with his studio and teaching 46 music students either drums/guitar/piano/voice, and I couldn’t have imagined leaving my small group girls. In fact, we’re still quite satisfied with all these things. But, God has other plans for us. The desire to be houseparents that He orchestrated in our hearts years ago has become reality.
Corey got connected with a children’s home in Tennessee through a mutual friend. We didn’t speak with them for a few months, but finally were able to. The Spirit of God poured from our contact’s voice and we were hooked – for a while. Spiritual warfare is a real thing and began in this situation even before we put in out applications. Corey and I had been praying about the opportunity, but didn’t feel led to fill out the application. So we put the opportunity on the back burner and, ultimately, decided that we would call and tell them that we weren’t interested. God overcame all of that and didn’t let us give up. Before we were able to contact them, we were contacted by them and immediately felt led to submit our applications. Things moved swiftly from there. We scheduled our visit for this past weekend.
When we got to the ranch, we were able to go to a prayer meeting that involved many from the ranch family. There was a song and scripture. Then prayer time. The honesty of everyone who prayed was SO refreshing. To know that these people gathered not because they had to, or because they wanted to see a cool show, but because they wanted to experience God together and seek His Face as a community was amazing. We knew that this place was unlike anything we’d ever seen.
The visit to the ranch was amazing. We liked everyone that we met, and they seemed to like us too. To know that we’d be able to love some children the way that they need to be loved, showing them the true healing power of Christ’s love was amazing to us.
Our contact called us this week and let us know that they wanted us to serve with them. Oh, how excited we became. Corey and I both feel so honored to be given this opportunity. Of course, we are going to miss so much when we move. I will miss my girls insanely, and I know that I will pray for them even more often than I do now. I pray that a great small group leader will be incorporated into that group, who will be able to offer those wonderful ladies the truth and love that they need. I will miss my job. It has been so much fun to work with all the faculty and students. I will miss the many friends that I have made over the last few months. I will also miss my family in Graceville. It has been great to be close to all of them, thankfully, distance won’t change that. I know that Corey will miss the relationships that he has built with fellow writers and with some of his students. We will also miss our sweet little dog, Molly. She’ll have to have a different home while we’re houseparents.
Now for the things we are so excited about. I know that my list will naturally be somewhat the same and a little different than Corey’s, but here goes. I am excited to give God my life, my plans, and to follow Him in my life everyday. I am excited about hearing teaching from Pastor Wood frequently. I am excited about having eight boys to love and lead and comfort and just parent, in general. I am excited about family meals and family trips. I am excited about horses and living in the mountains. I am excited about living in an area that has every imaginable store or restaurant. I am excited about spending lots of time every day with my husband.
Now, I do understand that there will be many struggles and trials. We will be working with students who have lived tough lives. We expect a LOT of spiritual warfare. But, we know that the Creator and Sustainer of the universe wants us at Wears Valley Ranch to pour His love into His children. And we know that He will sustain us. We are excited to work for Him and have Him work in us.