Her husband Jason and I also share something in common. We both worked as Youth Pastors in a church. And, while I went on to start a family and eventually start my own photography business, Jason continues to work with youth at a church in our area.
Youth ministry is a calling for sure!
While in college, I heard about a poll conducted by George Barna. It indicated that it is far less likely for an adult to come to faith than it is for a child. In fact, if a person has not chosen a faith before they head off to college, it becomes even less likely that they will do so as an adult. A person's belief system is pretty much set in stone by then.
That information changed the direction of my collegiate studies. I withdrew from my interior design program and enrolled in Moody Bible Institute to study youth ministry and education. My heart longed to reach people for Christ. And, if I was going to do that, I was convinced I needed to work with children.
And, though I am no longer a youth pastor by profession, I continue to have a very special place in my heart for those who dedicate their lives to reaching young people for Jesus.
People like Jason - who are invested in impacting the spiritual life of a child - are vital to the moral health of our society. Youth pastors invest everything they have in order to train a child to become responsible, god-fearing, kind, respectful adults who will choose to live their life for God and others. Without their efforts (and the efforts of their god-fearing parents), a child will likely get sucked up in the self-absorbed, morally deficient society our nation is rapidly becoming.
I remember life as a youth pastor. While rewarding, it was tough!
Every weekend is spent in church. Weekends away with your family are few and far between. Days are filled with Bible study preparation, church meetings, and youth group activities. And, because building relationships is key to establishing trust, youth pastors are committed to being involved in their student's every day lives. This means they often meet their students for breakfast or lunch. They hang out with them at weekend retreats. Their most frequented restaurant is their student's cafeteria. Then there's football games, musical performances and school plays.
A youth pastor goes to as many of these activities as they can in an effort to show their students that they truly care. Because they do! And, for many of these students, their youth pastor may be the only fully involved, loving, Christian adult influence in their lives.
It is a tough job!
But the rewards are immeasurable!
Looking back on the youth that were in my youth ministry program, I am so proud to see so many of them raising their own children today to follow the Lord.
That is worth it all!
So, today, I want to honor Jason and his family - and others like them - who are sold out for Jesus and sold out for showing the love of Christ to young people. What a difference their work makes in our world!
I appreciate you!
And, I know your family and church does too!
Danielle and Jason have three amazing children. Zane, Caldwell and Eden. Of the three, I know Caldwell best. He and my daughter Alden have been in the same class at school for two years now and are good buddies. All three of these kids are super fun and energetic.
These were Danielle's favorites from their family session.
I know you want to see their family pictures. Sorry to disappoint you. I won't be sharing their family pictures on the blog today. Some things are worth saving for the annual Christmas card, right? But, I will share this one.
Danielle told me, "This is my favorite picture in 19 years of us!"
I love it as well!
It just happened to be the very last picture I took during their session - right in front of their car before they left. I'm so happy they obliged my "just one more" request to grab a couple shots in this gorgeous light.
And, I love this one of Danielle with all her children.
What a great mom!
And, she's a great business person as well. She and her business partner Libby started a custom home decor and personalized gift business a while back called Eden's Door. Danielle makes lovely wreathes, personalized cups and other custom home decor. Check out all their great products on the Eden's Door Facebook Fan-page. But, hurry! From what I hear business is booming this year. You'll want to get your order in soon! I stocked up on gifts for teachers, grandparents, and fellow church workers.
Thanks for coming out for a session you guys! Keep up the great work with all those precious young people!