Monday, June 29, 2009

How our Keepers Group came to be

People often ask me about our Keepers group.  How it was started, how we organize and run it, etc.  Since we’ve had new families join our group this past year and another family joining in the fall, I thought I’d share the story of how our group came to be again. :)
Back when Emily was 5ish and we were starting her Kindergarten year, I joined a wonderful homeschool support group in our town in Ohio.  It was there that I first heard of Keepers of the Faith and the group, Keepers of the Home.  The woman who was sharing about Keepers was a veteran homeschooler.  Her daughter was hitting junior high age and this Mom spent a lot of time encouraging and mentoring us newbie homeschoolers.  She was talking about how important it is, as homeschooling moms, to find your community.  Find a group of like minded people and make it a priority to form friendships with them.  We get so wrapped up in schooling our kids and running them around to various activities that we neglect a vital part of our homeschool, our own personal relationships.  She then talked about Keepers and how when her daughter was 8 she started a group that turned into the most wonderful group far beyond anything she could have imagined.  Through the years these girls formed and strenghtened their friendships, as did the moms.  These were the Moms that were there for her when her husband had a heart attack.  They took care of her, prayed for her and with her, brought meals, stood vigil.  They were her tangible proof that God was right there beside her loving on her and helping her through an incredibly painful time.  When her husband had a second heart attack, those friends were right there again offering the same comfort and support.  In short, they were there for each other through all of lifes ups and downs, joys and sorrows and it all started through her forming a small Keepers group. 
As a new homeschooler amongst a bevy of friends who weren’t homeschooling, I was all over that!  I couldn’t wait for Emily to be old enough to start our own group.  Well, I blinked and when I opened my eyes after a split second, there she was, an eight year old. :)   We were now living in  Phoenix and I had met some people through Eastside but mainly they were moms of boys.  Not exactly the demographics I was hoping for.  
I prayed about starting a Keepers group and felt led to put some feelers out there.  I sent out an email to the support group to find moms of daughters in the approximate age range of 7+ to see if they were interested in 1.  a Mother/Daughter bookclub 2.  starting a Keepers group or 3.  Both.  I had a pretty decent response to the bookclub, a mediocre response to Keepers and a couple who were gung-ho for both.  My thoughts were to start with the bookclub and see where it progressed from there.  (as a side note, we’ve been meeting now for 4 straight years! :) ). 
God’s timing is always perfect whether we are aware of it or not.  Shortly after I sent out those emails I became pregnant with Jacob.  Most of you lived through my last pregnancy w/ Katherine (some of you lucky ones got to experience both Jacob and Katherine!) and know I get really, really, reallysick when I’m pregnant.  There was no way I could have started a Keepers group with all that was going on during my pregnancy.
I shelved the Keepers idea putting it aside but not entirely out of reach.   Our bookclub group in the meantime was doing really well.  The girls were making friends, I was adjusting to a newborn and all was good. 
Fast forward to Spring of 2007.  I started praying again about forming a Keepers group.  My 5 year old was now going to be 10 and I really wanted to give this a try.  I put out emails again through the two support groups, Eastside and Cornerstone, to see what the interest was in starting a Keepers group for girls ages 7+. 
Again I say that God’s timing is impeccable.  The response was incredible!  I had two separate informational meetings where the moms came, I explained about the program and what my hopes were for the group.  From those two meetings there would be over 20 girls participating!  I will be honest and say, that made me nervous! LOL  I had never started or led anything like this before.  It was all new territory and I knew I was going to be learning as we went along.  With all meetings held in my home, the majority of badge work being taught by me, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit intimidated. 
Through the whole process I prayed and turned our group over to the Lord.  I told Him, this is not MY group, it’s Your group.  I prayed that He would put the girls in our group together in only the way He can.  I was nervous with that large number but if that was what God wanted, I was willing to go along with it.  Within a couple of days of turning everything over in prayer about half of the people interested decided to start their own group.  They all lived further north and thought it would be better that way. 
There was a part of me that was disappointed as these were great moms and girls that I would have loved to have gotten to know better but another part of me sighed a big sigh of relief and said a huge "thank you Lord!"  ;)
When our group first gathered it was special from the begining.  The girls are all just incredible kids.  I was blessed our first year and blessed again our past year and I’m expecting to be blessed some more this coming year.
As we prepare for our next year and are planning on coming together to discuss what we’re doing, I’m again in prayer that the Lord will bless us beyond belief this year.  My prayer is that friendships with the girls will blossom as well as the friendships between the moms.  I know some of you are pretty close, it’s my hope that everyone will feel that same closeness.  That this group is a group of moms you can call on if you need anything, from a soup recipe to a shoulder to cry on.  For encouraging words when our homeschool days get long and you swear the kids are using their knowledge of world history to form a coup as well as a sympathetic ear to listen as we all begin to enter new stages of motherhood as our kids enter the exciting yet challenging years of adolescence. 
It is exciting to see what has become of that little spark of excitement I had so many years ago when I sat in the basement of Fairhaven Church in Dayton, Ohio listening to a mom talk.  I fully believe that our group has been carefully knit together and I’m excited to see what all God has in store for us through the years.
That’s the story of how this group came to be.  Through a testimony and lots of prayer and waiting on God’s perfect timing.  Those are the best ingredients to any new beginning, lots of prayer and patience waiting for it all to fall into place according to His plans. :)