As far back as I can remember I have loved children. I guess it started with my love for my baby dolls. Being the little girl born after 3 boys my mother enjoyed them with me and every year at Christmas she gave me a new one. All I ever wanted to be when I grew up was a mom.
As I grew, my faith grew and I knew I wanted to marry a Pastor as I also loved all things “God, Jesus and church”. I met my Pastor husband at age 14 (he was 15 at the time) and married him at age 18. Terry and I lived on a perpetual honeymoon in Niagara Falls, Canada (yes, we’re Canadian) and soon we were blessed with two babies of our own, first a daughter Tera-Lee and then 13 months later a son, TJ.
The next few years were a blur of moving to Oregon for seminary training, with a lot of diaper changes mixed in! And that’s when I really got bit with the loving kids bug. With my own children as my guide I was amazed and intrigued at how children can learn, grow and develop. I also became very drawn to helping young moms like myself deal with the major job of caring for and nurturing little children. And so a dream started to be born – how could I help them?
At first it was through my church nursery, giving moms the peace of mind that their baby or toddler was well cared for while they attended a church service, and also giving them ideas of things to do at home to nurture their children.
Next, after my husband graduated from seminary, we landed in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan where Terry’s home church was looking to hire a Nursery School Director to start a Children’s Center and I got the job! So my husband with all his seminary training got to sell furniture at Sears while I lived out the dream to nurture and care for children while helping families.
Little did I know how much this experience would shape and mold me in many ways. I discovered I loved to start things – from scratch!!! I learned about marketing, advertising, creating programs that parents really want after learning what the needs are in the community and I loved it. After 5 years there, the Nursery School had grown from 36 to 100 children and had another full-time teacher.
And then we moved to Calgary, Alberta to start a new church. So I worked in the public school system as a Teacher’s Aide, taught piano lessons, did the Sunday School program for our baby church and cared for my family. But when the opportunity came to have another Children’s Center in our church I jumped at it.
More passionate than ever about helping parents with young children I researched again and found a niche. I started with one story/craft time class of 8 children which grew to 4 classes of 8, and then turned into a 3-day and 2-day Preschool, complete with drop-in and drop-off childcare for younger siblings and a coffee time for moms. Now 180 children were coming through our church doors every week and after 5-years I found that 20% of the congregation had come because of being part of the weekday children’s center.
But then we moved again. I remember feeling the sadness that part of the dream I had in my heart for an effective weekday ministry to families was still unrealized. Maybe someday I would have a “center” again.
Over the next 15 years as we continued our nomadic life of moving and starting new churches in Chester Country, PA and Orlando FL, I continued to explore more ways to help children and families through having an in-home piano studio, becoming a licensed Kindermusik Educator and a Certified Baby Signs Instructor.
Then the invitation was extended to consider another move, to Palmyra Brethren in Christ Church. I really wasn’t sure I had another move in me. This time we would leave behind our married daughter and her family. This included our two granddaughters, who from infants, I had the privilege of being the primary caregiver for, while my daughter returned to work. This would undoubtedly be the hardest move yet.
But since it did seem this was God’s direction for us, there was only one thing that could give me the strength to make another huge change, and endure all the chaos of moving … Could this be the place that the dream, that I had now carried in my heart for so many years would become a reality?
Soon I started my Kindermusik program in Palmyra and before long opened up locations in Jonestown, Elizabethtown and Linglestown. Five talented teachers joined my team and hundreds of children and families were connected to the each other and the joy and benefits of music. I achieved the Kindermusik Maestro award for creating a truly expansive program in 2011 and 2012. I also started a music program for daycare and studios called Mother Goose Music Time.
During this time I had hoped that I’d be able to see my dream of another preschool realized within our church, but it didn’t work out that way. While it was difficult to deal with the loss of that dream, another weekday ministry opportunity came my way when our baby grandson Charlie was born in August of 2012. I took a sabbatical from my Kindermusik program and became the primary caregiver for him, just as I had done for his sisters, while my daughter went back to work.
I completed my time with Charlie in July of 2013 and decided the time was right to end my Kindermusik career as well. So on August 5, exactly fifteen years to the day from when I took my Kindermusik training, I transferred ownership of my Palmyra Kindermusik location to my teacher “Miss Kristen”. “Miss Andrea” and I continued with the Mother Goose Music Time programs in daycares and in our Linglestown studio location.
I really tried to create a “life after Kindermusik”. I bought a new sewing machine, visited the grandkids, completed a lot of home projects and even started a new “Little Ones Day Out” program in my home. But through it all the dream of another children’s center with a preschool didn’t go away, in fact it became stronger. So strong that I committed the month of September 2014 to praying, “God, please either take this dream away, or make it come true.”
Then through a series of events that some would call “coincidences” (and will have to be the subject of another blog, or maybe a book!) it became evident that the dream could still become a reality! I explored the possibility of acquiring a private preschool license through the Department of Education and found that it was totally doable. I could be the owner of a preschool just as soon as I completed the paperwork, paid the fees and found a location.
Again through a series of wonderful God-incidences, a location became available! The details have been worked out, the contract has been signed and yesterday, Sunday Nov 23 at Campbelltown United Methodist Church, I was introduced to the congregation as the owner of “Welcome Little Ones Learning Center”. This is where the program I have dreamed of for 20 years, will be hosted.
The dream is becoming a reality! I can’t say enough thanks to everyone who has encouraged and supported me. So many said, “Don’t quit”, “It’s not too late”, “You can do it”, “Our little town needs another preschool.” That’s really what kept me walking toward it, hoping, praying, wishing, dreaming, along with the promise found in this Bible verse …
“You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” Hebrews 10:36
To find out some “Welcome Little Ones Learning Center” fast facts – click here!