Welcome Everybody, it is so great to have you with us. And it’s great to have Kerry with us today. Kerry was my mentor when I started work as a family day carer. Now people who know me now when they find out I was a family day carer they laugh, it was a very different life. But Kerry, Kerry is amazing at this. So Kerry was my mentor and then she was family day carer for my two kids, and she’s still a family day carer.
So family day care is having children in care in your own home. In more of a family atmosphere. So Kerry and Tony have two grown up girls and Kerry’s still doing daycare and she has my incredible respect for still doing the daycare, looking after the babies and the children.
So let’s start with, how did you become a Christian?
How did I become a Christian? Well, it was several steps, actually. When I was working in a little arcade there was a shop across from me and I got quite chatty to the young girl there. And I had been to church, I was in Girl Guides, and once a month we dutifully … so I sort of knew there was a God, that was when I was younger, and I used to pray when my parents fought. And things like that.
But anyway, back to the girl in the shop opposite, she was just so full of life and always happy and everything, and I thought, ‘what’s she got?’ And then she started talking to me about God and Christianity and then I noticed that she had a more modern bible. And I said to her, ‘if I had a bible like that I could really get into it and understand it more’ and so anyway after lunch she came back and she had the Good News Bible for me. So that was lovely. And that sort of helped.
And then after my first marriage broke up I was really seeking something, seeking God, I think. And my mother was sort of saying to me, ‘come on, let’s go to a church.’ So my mum and I started looking around at churches. (Mum was a fairly strong Christian when she was younger. She’s stopped being, I don’t know, life just got in the way.) We went to a couple of churches. I remember the first church we went to I was a bit ‘whoa these guys are praying and I can’t understand a thing they are saying’ and it was just a bit of a baptism of fire, I was ‘my goodness what’s going on here’. They were very welcoming and loving people but I didn’t quite understand it all as you can understand. I was only very new.
So we ended up going to Eastern Shore Baptist church which was at Rosny College at the time. And that’s now called Citywide and they’re in the old bowling building at Mornington. They’ve been there for a while. But then I met my second husband, not at church, he wasn’t a Christian. And then he wanted to know a bit more and started going to Eastern Shore Baptist with me.
Oh great. Wonderful.
Which was nice. God really blessed me there because a lot of my friends at Eastern Shore Baptist were a little bit concerned he was not a Christian. Yeah so that was great and he got baptised as well. And then we met some friends who were fairly new to Eastern Shore Baptist and then they moved down to this end and we decided we would move down this end too. So we went to their church down here.
So ‘this end’ is Kingston.
Which is on the western shore which is different to the eastern shore.
It’s always ‘down here’ when you come from the eastern shore.
That’s right, yeah. So you completely moved, you moved house and everything?
We completely moved house, yes. With my first daughter from my first marriage. And we moved down here. And it was a big step for me. Not so much my husband because he grew up down here. And we have stayed at that same church through various developments ever since. We’ve still been there but it’s been called all sorts of things.
Yeah that’s true.
Yes it’s evolved.
But that’s fine, it’s the people that make the church.
It is, it’s not the buildings, it’s not the name, it’s the people. And we never felt the need to move.
So why did you choose to become a day carer?
I had two friends who were family day carers and I was looking for some sort of income something that suited the family and I thought, ‘yeah I might look into this’. So I did. And at first I was only going to take after school children but it sort of evolved.
And back then, I mean, it’s a lot harder now, isn’t it to be a day carer?
Yes, it’s very professional. We have all the same things, requirements, as a childcare centre. Everything is exactly the same, which you can imagine at the house can be sometimes a little bit disruptive. But everything’s exactly the same in a childcare centre as in family day care. Only it’s more personal, I work with smaller groups, I have relationships with families which isn’t always possible at a childcare centre.
Because your daughter, Bronte, works at a childcare centre?
At a childcare centre, yes.
So you’ve really got the comparison of the two?
I know the comparison. I definitely know the comparison.
And I know we’ve stayed friends all the way along, do you have lots of long-standing friends?
I have! I have. But my biggest, biggest milestone was when my first every daycare child brought her child in.
Oh daycare grandbaby.
Yeah definitely, definitely.
Obviously I’ve stayed in touch with a lot of them.
So Kerry had to work very hard here because I asked her about funny stories that kids have done. Which put off this interview for a couple of weeks. But we got there in the end.
I’ve been doing it for twenty years, you get so many funny stories.
My first funny story was when I had a little fellow and he was only 18 months old and it was the first time he’d ever experienced paint. And the look on his face was just amazing and it was finger painting. And he was going like this, and he was looking at the paint and then all of a sudden he face planted! In the paint! And looked at me with a great big smile. It was so cute.
This is why you use vegetable-based paint.
Yes, yes. It was very easy to clean up. But it was so so cute. Just the wonder in his face. He’d never ever experienced it, and that’s what it’s about.
Just sharing special times like that. I still remember him, he’s now married and has a child. And I’m still in contact with his mum which is lovely yeah.
Now the second time was when a little girl would sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star because it’s just a great song to start off with and the little girl, I could not convince her that it was a diamond not a dinosaur in the sky.
Like a dinosaur in the sky?
Yes, twinkle, twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are, up above the world so high, like a dinosaur in the sky. That took us a long time to convince her it was a diamond.
That reminds me of my daughter singing ‘this little light of mine’ and then she’d sing, ‘hide it under a bush? Oh no!’ so she didn’t know what a bushel was so we were hiding our little candle under a bush!
OK. That could have caused problems.
Could have caused problems, yeah. Especially if it was a very dry bush.
And various little sweet things like that. I was just telling Ruth before that there were things I couldn’t remember but I remember the neighbours up the back chuckling away because they were listening to the children outside and some of the cute things that come out.
Most recent was a dear little girl, she loves playing mummies, and she just always plays mummies when she’s there. She’s got different little friends on different days and I overheard her say. ‘No I don’t think I’ll be going to the shop, today. I don’t think I’ll buy a baby today.’
Buy a baby. Fantastic. I guess you then don’t as a day carer, you don’t have any responsibility for telling her the facts of life. You can just let that one go.
Yet that one go. No I don’t.
And you were telling me how you write these things down and give them to the parents.
And I don’t keep them myself. Which is a bit of a pity. Because when you’ve been there for twenty years there’s a lot of great little things that you could remember.
It is so important for the parents to have those.
That’s why I record all the little things. But you know, I never saw a child take their first steps…
No, wink, wink, nudge, nudge.
Of course, of course. Oh that’s important.
Very important because I think that would have been a very sad thing if the parents feel that they had missed out on the first steps.
So what ages do you care for?
Oh my youngest ever was six months old and I still have some who just keep coming back who, he’s 11 my eldest, he and his sister. And they are lovely with the children. I love having them because the littlies love them and they are just so caring and loving to the children.
So it really is a family for them?
It is a family for them, yeah.
And last holidays I had a brother and sister who always come back and I had two babies on the day they came – a boy and a girl. So the brother attached himself to the boy, and the sister attached herself to the girl. It was just so special. So nice. They are great kids.
So how does your faith work in your work situation. Are you allowed to tell kids about God?
It depends. Christmas and Easter is open slather for me. And I just tell them what the real story, the real tradition is behind Christmas. That’s our country’s tradition and I think that’s important to share why our country has it. It’s become a bit of a grey area lately, and it’s a bit sad really because a lot of children don’t know the true meaning of Christmas or Easter. So I tell them what it’s about when we do craft. I never touch on Santa Claus or anything like that. It’s always stars and angels, and the parents are always quite open to that, thankfully. And the same with Easter. We just make Easter eggs and things like that. It’s nothing to do with the bunny.
But I have been really blessed that this year I have 99% Christian children. So I can pray with them and that’s just very special.
And something I really would like to share which was amazing and spoke volumes to the child. She had a cat, a kitten. It was a gift for her. And when the kitten was a young cat they lost it. They couldn’t find it anywhere. And she was very distraught so I said, ‘hey guys, let’s all pray’. So we all joined hands like we do, and we prayed that the kitten would come back.
Now some children are a little bit shy, some aren’t, but this particular little girl is a great prayer warrior. And she said, ‘Please Lord could you bring my kitten back home.’
And the kitten had been missing for a few days. So anyway, we prayed. And at night I got a phone call at about 9.30 at night and I’m going, ‘Who is this calling?’ and there was her mum on the line, ‘oh look Kerry I’m really sorry, I didn’t want to ring you at this time but she was just so insistent that she rings you and tells you the news. So I’m putting her on.’ So this little voice says, ‘Kerry, Kerry we prayed and we got my kitten back.’ And she was just so excited. And I just said, ‘Well we have to pray and thank God for answered prayer.’
And the next day she was telling us ‘oh God got my kitten back.’ And it spoke volumes to her.
It was very sweet.
I guess that when you don’t have all Christian children in, you need to be a bit less overt?
It’s a bit hard, yes. Less overt, yes. I have one little one who is a dear, sweet little one. And we don’t. Well the little one that I was telling you about with the kitten, just always talks about God now, and sings God and everything. And so I can’t stop that, I’m not going to stop that. And she’s quite open to it but she doesn’t fully understand. And I don’t say anything, I don’t push anything, because I’m not allowed to.
And you’ve got to understand and respect the parent but that doesn’t stop you praying for them.
That’s right. And I was thinking even if you can’t do that, I am sure that there are ways that having faith in God helps you through the day.
It does, oh my goodness. To be honest I’ve been doing this for twenty-odd years and I really can see and look back where God has just pulled me through and pulled me through. So that’s why I know that I’m where God wants me.
I’ve never been short of children.
So you’re allowed to have, what, six under a certain age?
Four now. It was six, it went down to five, and now it’s four.
Four. Things have changed since I was a day carer. And you’re dependant on people bringing them in. So there can be, I mean you’re running a business, but there can be times when you don’t have any.
Yeah or many.
But you’ve never had this happen?
No, whenever it looked like the end of the year was, ‘oh everyones leaving and I haven’t got anywhere’ then it was just ‘oh well I’m just going to trust in the Lord.’ And it comes, and he fills me again, it’s just such a blessing. And next year I have all Christian families.
So yeah, I think that’s a real blessing and I see that as God saying, well you bring God into everything, every part of it.
But little quirky things like I’ll be somewhere and God will just say, ‘Kerry you need to go over there.’ And I’m there in time to go ‘whoops’ and catch a child who is falling. That has happened to me time and time again.
And that never, ever, ever ceases to amaze me.
He just puts you in the right place at the right time.
He does, he does. And it was an interesting situation because, Family Day Care get visited by the coordination unit who are coordinators, and we have a support worker who visits us, and has a chat with us and talks about what they think and just helps us through. And one day, very recently, I was chatting to her and all of a sudden I thought, ‘OK I’ve got to move over there.’ And sure enough a child did a double somersault off the couch and once again I was there to catch. And I lifted my arms in front of the person and I said, ‘Thank you Lord’ because that could have spoken volumes to that particular person.
And there’s no other answer for it is there?
No other answer. And they all know that I’m a Christian.
Yeah, I can imagine that.
I think that was my experience at work too, when I was at work at uni. It was like, well, they all know.
They do. And sometimes they just see it. And I have had a couple of times people saying, ‘You’re a Christian, aren’t you?’ And I just go ‘Thank you God’ you know, because the Lord must be using me to speak to them. And I’ve had two families that have come to God through that, through my prayers. And it was two of them, or two and a half, actually because the dad was a believer and he used to talk to me, and now the whole family are believers. So that’s amazing.
It’s enough to be a day carer and inputting into the lives of those children but to have that extra layer above where you’re building the kingdom as well.
Exactly. That’s just … It blows me away, it just blows my mind the way God uses me, and I think, ‘Wow, thank you Lord for using me in some way in which I absolutely and utterly love, you know, it’s great’
Well you have to love it! It’s hard work!
It is hard work. It is very hard work and that’s why I cut down to four days just recently.
It’s a physically, mentally, and emotionally draining job.
So when do you feel most close to God?
Every morning I have a bit of a coach. She’s got four legs, and barks, and she likes to go. I get up, have a shower, and we’re off. So every morning I use that time to pray, and that’s when I feel closest to God.
Daylight savings has come in so I could probably go back to my special prayer spot. Before I was walking in the dark and didn’t really feel that I needed to go bush and sit on a rock by myself. But now, I just watch the sunrise and I pray to God and I can just really really feel his blessing. And his presence.
And often on the walks, that’s when he has spoken to me, that’s when I’ve had experiences that I can only say is God. Just all of a sudden a real feeling of this overwhelming love, over- overwhelming love that’s happened. And there is a prayer I am praying for something else now constantly but I know it’s going to happen. But I was praying for something for my daughter to happen, a breakthrough for her, and one morning I just got a beautiful scent that I’ve never ever ever smelled before or since. And I’m looking around, I’m going ‘where is that beautiful scent coming from?’ It was the middle of winter. And it followed me. And then I read in the bible about the Lord giving people scents and things like that. And I thought that was God and I just praised him the whole day.
I do talk to him all day.
And sure enough the breakthrough happened an couple of weeks later.
Those sorts of things are an assurance that there is a God. How can people live without God? I don’t know how they do it. I really don’t.
So is there something about God that you wish everybody knew?
Yes, everyone sort of sees us as ‘religious’ and what you can’t do and what you can’t do. You can’t do this and you can’t do that. But it’s not that at all, it’s a freedom. It’s a freedom that I’d never ever experienced before. It’s a freedom of giving the Lord your cares. Saying, ‘OK God, I can’t deal with this, I’ll give it to you.’ and you start worrying about it again, and give it back to God, and keep on giving it back to God. And that’s a freedom.
It’s not what you can’t do, it’s what you can do with the Lord.
I’ve got some close friends who aren’t Christians and they are always asking me so I keep praying. They’ve both got different beliefs and things but it’s great that they’re asking me, they’re searching. And I just pray for them because I know they’re searching.
We want people to become Christians because it’s good.
It’s great! Exactly. They’re my friends and I love you so much and I just want you to know how fantastic it is to know God. It’s just so freeing.
So is there anything else you want to share with us? I’m sneakily looking at Kerry’s notes and I notice there’s a verse.
Yeah this verse is really something that is quick and is simple and whenever I get a little bit ‘oh no’ 2 Samuel 22:33 God is my strength and power and he makes my ways perfect.
That is just a simple verse that I remember and when I find myself getting uptight – ‘Lord I know you are my strength and power and you are going to make my way perfect.’
Amen. Well that’s a wonderful place to stop. All the time God is good.
Yes, God is good.
Thank you very very much.
Thank you very much my dear friend Ruth.