For the love of children (and God)

Once upon a time 66 years ago a little red-haired girl was born to parents, Dean & Roberta Kunze. Her name was Sharon.

I grew up with the dream most little girls have…that I would some day marry and have children. Time passed. Schools were attended, including college. The dream continued.

As I grew older, I was involved in church, as I had been throughout my childhood. As a young adult, I was active in church choir, singles groups, etc. When I turned 30, I still hadn’t realized my dream. I hadn’t married, hadn’t had children. Ultimately, I became severely depressed, partly because of that unfulfilled dream.

I love children. From college age on, I would babysit my friends’ children. As an adult, during my 35 years as a university librarian, I would offer to babysit at no charge for friends at work and at church. When my brother, Scott, 5 years younger that I, married and had children, I also babysat my 2 nephews, Matt and Mark, a lot. My brother divorced and remarried. My niece, Corinne, was born a few years later. I took care of her too.

My babysitting brought joy to my life, and I’m sure was partly responsible for my recovery from depression. Besides enjoying babysitting children because of my love for them, I very much enjoyed proving a break for my friends and family. It definitely was one of my God-given gifts.

During my years at Heart of the Rockies, I would call couples and offer to take care of their children. Sometimes I even gave them a restaurant gift card to “go on dates.” I would invite their children into my home and have pizza parties and play with them while their parents had some valued time alone with each other.

One of the couples I provided these babysitting services for were Bill and Laura Stout, who had 2 children, one naturally born to them, and one who was their foster child, who they later adopted. The Stouts would be so appreciative of my gift of babysitting! As time passed, the Stouts worked with others in the church and community to form Kids at Heart based on my idea of providing a break for parents. I feel honored to have inspired such a worthwhile outreach.

One time I was taking care of a 7 year-old little girl for friends at work. I stood in their kitchen after I had put her to bed and read her a bed-time story. I was doing the dishes from our supper, when suddenly I was overcome by the joy and satisfaction of spending time with that precious little girl. As tears streamed down my face, I realized that God had indeed given me a ministry that would bless myself and others for years to come.

Written by Sharon Kunze