Life has truly kept us incredibly busy. It amazes me that summer is almost gone even though it seems like it just began! The Lord has been doing so many amazing things around and through us that all we can do is praise Him! When I wonder how on earth we are going to manage I am reminded, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight” Proverbs 3:5,6.
My mom, husband & I began planning activities, with encouragement via email, facebook messages & phone calls from “Shanna”, early in 2013 to raise awareness of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA). We prayed at the same time that God would move in hearts and bring people to us who had the same strong desire to protect children. In March we hosted an Easter Egg Hunt at our home Church, Valley Church of Christ in Burton, MI and gave out one of our books, WHO SHOULD I TRUST? for free to each family that participated. In April we hosted Family Fun Day also at our Church in participation with The Innocence Revolution. We had professional face painting by Kim’s Fun Faces, a bounce house, indoor games, popcorn and cotton candy. We gave away our books for again to each participating family, and Officer Joe, who came all the way from Roseville, did free finger printing! One mom even had her baby’s footprints done! We are so thankful for all the volunteers who helped at each of our first two events!
The spring and summer months were very busy months for us. We decided to grow a Friendship Garden for the hungry, donating the food to members of our Church and to Carriage Town Ministries. With all the rain the veggie plants grew very well, but so did the weeds! We were very thankful for the small handful of Church members who were able to help out, and Flintopia, who did a lot of weeding, transplanting, and feeding many of the weeds to our goats in mid July. Between gardening, milking/feeding/caring for goats and raising chickens, and regular family life, we also formed a Board of Directors. The Lord brought us Laurie, our Vice President with background experience in starting Non Profits, and Linda, our Treasurer who is also a CPA. 🙂 Laurie did a beautiful job putting together our website!
When we first started with the desire to help protect children, the name we came up with was Treasuring Children and Family Relationships (TCFR). It turned out that another company already owns the acronym for their business website, so we had to come up with another name. In discussing and listing our goals for our Non Profit, we came up with: P for PREVENT CSA, E for EDUCATE survivors and all who will listen, A for ADVOCATE, R for RESTORE, L for LOVE, and S for SUPPORT. How fitting that these words spelled P.E.A.R.L.S.! A precious stone made through pain, irritation, hard work and time. Our children are priceless, more precious than pearls, and even more deserving of our protection and love.
With fall comes school and opportunity for us as parents to watch out for the safety of all children around us and TEACH others how to protect them. We will be spending September preparing for our next event: our Lapeer P.E.AR.L.S. First Annual Fall Fundraiser & Kick-Off on October 12 from 1-4pm. We will have Kim’s Fun Faces again for free face painting and a bounce house as well. We have plenty of opportunities for volunteers: baking apple pies, donating ice cream, apple cider & donuts, acquiring nice items for the silent auction, and serving during the event: serving the food, making popcorn, operating the silent auction, supervising children at the bounce house and playground, etc. We are planning on having two or three speakers to give a very brief, child-friendly talk about what we are doing in Lapeer County and the surrounding area, and why. In between speakers we hope to have live entertainment to help keep the environment light and easy. We would love for you to come and help us celebrate and stand up against CSA! If you are able to volunteer your time, food, or money to help with expenses, please contact us at email@example.com or call 248-808-1188 asap.
October 4th Scott and I will be attending a Facilitator Training for the Stewards of Children class, by Darkness to Light. This will enable us to teach the Stewards class to parents and individuals who are responsible for the care of children. Our plan is to hold at least one class per month, with the opportunity to schedule additional classes at schools or churches provided there is a minimum of 10 people in attendance.
Other things in the works are bi-weekly Support Groups for Caregivers of child survivors, for adult survivors, and monthly dinners for survivors and family members. We will post the dates, times and locations for everyone on facebook as soon as we have them finalized.
There are many ways that you can be involved with Lapeer P.E.A.R.L.S.; praying for adult and child CSA survivors, praying for caregivers of CSA survivors, praying for us as we provide support and move in the direction the Lord directs us, taking classes to learn how to protect children or to respond to a child who discloses abuse, attending support groups, attending dinners, volunteering your time & expertise, providing food or donations for events, supporting us financially, and more. Please let us know how you would like to be involved by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 248-808-1188.
Parting thought: We know the topic of sexual abuse is extremely difficult to talk about, let alone even think about. When the Lord first began tugging on my heart to rise up and talk, it was harder for me than you can imagine. I am normally a very quiet person, non-confrontational, and easy going. It has been a habit for me over the years to push my feelings deep down and not “be a burden” to anyone. However, the reality of my own past abuse would not stay hidden and I discovered that God could use those experiences in my life to be understanding and helpful to others in whatever way He chooses. Each morning, for about a month, I would wake up with Josh Wilson’s song, I Refuse, playing in my head. Every time I got discouraged and thought no one cared and I should quit, that song would play again, and it continues to play in my heart today. We can’t do this monumental task of protecting children and educating people on our own, but we trust that the Lord will continue to provide whatever and whoever we need as He has already been consistently doing.
Everyone has their own special part in God’s Kingdom. I hope you will listen and do whatever God places on your heart as well.
“…With God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26
God bless you,