I began working with Side by Side Kids in October 2014 as a part-time Crew Leader (after school teacher) in October 2014. I stumbled upon it on Craigslist, which was so random! Once I figured out that it was a legitimate, faith-based organization I applied and started working a few weeks after that. Prior to working at SBSK, I had just moved back to Austin from California where I had completed two years at a Christian ministry school where I had the opportunity to learn about my identity in Christ, His character as an incredibly good father, and the incredible value of a family and community in Christ. These two years were deeply transformational, and I was given so many tools and keys for my time at SBSK. With all that said, I decided to apply and work for Side by Side Kids because I had a desire to work with kids, and the fact that it was faith-based organization made my heart leap with joy!
I finished the school year with SBSK in May 2015, and I was made aware of the possibility of a full-time site coordinator position opening up. My heart was very interested and hesitant at the same time. Being a crew leader was so fun and life-giving. I fell in love with my kids, and my heart held such a special place for them, but it also had it's challenges-- typical challenges of working with kids (learning how to effectively discipline and apply consequences, kids who just don't know how loved they are so they act out, learning to throw my plans out of the window and come up with a new plan on the fly, etc, etc). I was immediately confronted with the thought "what if I don't know how to do this? What if I don't know how to run an after school program?" It was a moment of looking back at my journey with God being reminded by the Holy Spirit of how far I've come and how He equipped me and made me uniquely myself. It was many moments like that where I decided to choose to believe what He said about me instead of listening to the "what ifs" that would try to flood my mind.
Fast forward a few months and I was a site coordinator at J.J. Pickle Elementary during the 2015-16 school year. While it definitely had it's learning curves, it was one of the funnest things I have ever done. In addition to the fun had by all, The Lord really communicated things to me that my head knew, but my heart needed some practical application. I was really moved by Him displaying the idea of forgiveness in front of my eyes. There were so many days where I felt like my discipline or consequence was "too intense," that I thought "surely so and so will still be mad at me tomorrow." To my surprise, so many of my kids displayed forgiveness so well. Children really have a way of moving past things really well. Not in a passive aggressive way, but in a genuine "I forgive you, let's forget about that now" way. They displayed that quickly through a smile, a hug, or their laughter. They really taught me that there is a childlikeness about trusting His goodness. While they may not love the consequences their actions result in, they know that our hearts and intentions towards them are ultimately good. As adults, sometimes we try to adult our way through everything. The Kingdom of God is not that complicated.
Throughout my year as a site coordinator, I really saw God's faithfulness and steadfastness through my co-workers-- seeing that we can support each other on hard days and good days. The community within our staff in the SBSK office has been one of the most constant and life-giving things throughout my time of transition and change. Speaking of change, I just accepted a wonderful promotion within our organization. I will be filling the role of Program Coordinator at Side by Side Kids, which will involve me having more oversight of the after school program and our campuses.
Moving forward, I really want to continue to pursue the Lord in intimacy and relationship, and continue to bask in His goodness, promises, and faithfulness. I also desire to see Side by Side Kids as an organization continue to seek God's heart together-- I pray that we would keep Jesus at the forefront of everything we do. His Spirit is powerful and I am expectant to see Him move in the families we serve and the schools that we operate in as we continue to expand. I believe that will begin with us. We literally cannot do anything without Him!