Look How Far We’ve Come

zion-park-139012_1280There’s a saying: “God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called.” That has been very true in my experience. I have found that when I have stepped out in faith and obedience in my own life, God has met me every step of the way.

We have come so far over the past 10 years in the progress to build the Children’s Park of Georgia. One day during my quiet time, I had the idea to write down every blessing and encouragement that I could remember. As I started writing, more and more details came flooding to my mind. When I finished, the list was more than five typed, single spaced pages. Clearly, this is too much for one blog article. So, today, I just want to share some of the events that amazed me from the very beginning.

The Dream Comes to Life

Thinking back, it is so strange to me how this all started. In 2004, I was in the midst of a hurricane of emotions from grieving the loss of my daughter and spending 10 hour days in the NICU while my son was fighting for his life. I began to feel this unfamiliar longing, aching even, to visit a place that I had never been. I envisioned a beautiful and meaningful place that would help me not feel so lost. I was caught completely off guard by all that had happened. In pregnancy, I had only dreamed and planned what life would be like raising twins. It had never occurred to me that loss and grave medical challenges were even possible outcomes.

Dorothy Frances Gurney said One is nearer God’s heart in a garden. Than anywhere else on earth.” 

I was dreaming of a beautiful, peaceful place where I would feel safe to pour my heart out, process it all, and find rest. I tried to visit “babyland” at the local cemetery, but it just made me more depressed and anxious for my son. There was no encouragement there. Other parks and gardens, though filled with people, seemed so empty and lacking. Outside the hospital, the world was just moving around me. I felt invisible. I ached for some kind of experienced understanding of the circumstances where I found myself. The longing burned in my heart. Even with everything I had going on, I couldn’t shake the idea of “this place.”

So, I did what I do best, I got on the computer and began researching. It wasn’t long before I came across the Children’s Park in Tyler, Texas. I was amazed at the timing that it had just had its grand opening! The more I read, the more excited I became. It was EXACTLY what I was dreaming of. I couldn’t help myself, I immediately picked up the phone and called the founder Jennifer Carson. We talked for 3.5 hours. I got goosebumps. I cried. I was filled with joy. As she was telling me about the park, it was like she was describing the vision that was in my head. I knew we needed a place like this in Georgia. But how in the world…? I had no money, no experience, and no time.

Making it Official

After talking with Jennifer, I prayed intensely about it and talked it over with my dad, and others close to me. The desire in my heart was so great that I finally just decided to see what would happen. If it was God’s plan, he would take care of the details.

With my dad’s help, I was able to set up the non-profit corporation with no trouble. However, I quickly realized I was over my head with applying for tax exempt status. I needed an accountant to help me but I knew this could cost thousands of dollars.

I found the name of a very reputable firm in Atlanta who had a great deal of non-profit experience. I didn’t have money but I did know how to make websites. I called this firm and somehow was able to speak directly to one of the partners. I proposed my offer to trade services. There was a brief pause and then he said, “I’ll tell you, I get these kinds of requests all the time; however, this is the ONLY time I am actually considering it.” Apparently, the concern had just been raised in a meeting that a firm of their size needed a website. I was in awe at the perfect the timing. Ultimately, he not only helped us get our 501(c)3 status, but he also arranged a fiscal agency for us to receive donations until the approval came (a lengthy process)

Seed Money…Out of Thin Air

Now, things were rolling with getting legal but there was still that pesky issue of not having any money. Not only did I not have any funds to get things started, I didn’t know anyone to ask for help. I prayed and told the Lord I was stuck.

Then, out of thin air, God provided through my beloved friend Karen.

During the time in the hospital, I will never forget how this precious friend blessed me beyond measure with her visits, comfort on the phone, thoughtful gifts, and even drove from place to place and met with people to help me plan the final arrangements and service for my daughter. Though she had never been through anything like this, and she was in the third trimester of her own pregnancy, she walked with me through this horrible and intense valley with courage and loyalty beyond measure.

When I first told her about the park, true to her character, she was supportive and encouraging. She certainly did not have any means to help financially herself though. She and her husband worked full time to provide for their young family.

Then, an affluent friend of hers had a party. At this party, completely out of the blue, the friend made a big announcement that they wanted their closest friends to be able to experience the joy of major philanthropic giving to charities of their own choosing.

Can you believe the timing! Karen immediately thought of me and this dream of the Children’s Park. She wound up donating almost $10,000 in seed money to get the things started with Remember Georgia’s Children Foundation. She used the remainder to build wells for clean water in Africa – a charity that was also close to her heart. God is so good!

This was just the beginning. When I think of these early events and so many others along the way, this song always comes to mind. It has been a long walk, but it hasn’t been alone.

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  1. Christy, this is so lovely and so touching to read. I remember with love and sadness the loss of little Alexis, and how we all prayed for her brother. I still remember how tiny he was, and how you were always there with him, there is no other touch like a Mother’s touch. We all knew he was in God’s hands, and today, he is a fine young man, a gift from God.

    I know it is in God’s plan that the Children’s Park of Georgia will be a beautiful and peaceful place to visit, I can see the flowers blooming now. I can see the butterflies, all different colors.

    You are one of God’s children, he will bless you in so many ways. Your articles are an inspiration for all of us, and you are a woman to be admired. I do admire you, and love
    you very much.

    Love to you,

    Aunt Carol

  2. LET’S DO THIS!!!

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