Most of us realize and value the importance of family. It is within our first family of origin that we are taught about love and trust and responsibility to help others. By the examples of our loved ones, we learn to sail out into the world and navigate through the passages of school and friendships and the inevitable storms that are sure to toss us about. If we are blessed with good examples, we come to know a strong support system and can count on our parents, siblings, grandparents and extended family to help us both survive and thrive.
Within the community of Daphne, in the little corner that is Daphne United Methodist Church, the Children’s Minister, Allison Blaylock, came from such a strong support system and was nurtured by her family to develop a servant’s heart.
“My parents, Mark Gatlin and Cheri Monk, my sister, Kelly and my dear grandparents were always there supporting me in everything I did,” Blaylock says, “I had an ideal childhood.”
And, as a youngster growing up in Satsuma, this never-sit-still girl did a lot. ‘My grandmother, Mary Alice Gatlin, who lived just up the hill from us, taught me how to play the piano at age four,” she shares. “When I was four, I came home from a wedding and sat down at the piano and played the Wedding March by memory. I took lessons, did some piano competitions and at age twelve was asked to play for our church. I love church songs,” she adds. She grew up to share her talents on the piano every chance she gets.
As if being a budding piano virtuoso were not enough, as a youngster Blaylock became very active in the sports world, playing softball and volleyball all over the county and in nationwide tournaments. Her dad coached and her family was full of support and present at every game. She recently loss her beloved grandfather, who, she says, "never missed a game."
“We were and still are a sports-rich family,” she adds. “Sometimes we have so many family members attending games that we can take up two rows!”
Sports continues to play a prominent role in Blaylock’s family life. “My husband, Mikey, who I've known since our high school years, coaches at UMS Wright in Mobile, where our two children, Cole, who's 14, and Hope, age 12, attend,” she shares. “Both of our kids are, thankfully, academically and athletically strong, keeping us busy attending sports events. Hope also plays the piano. We have high expectations for our kids and at UMS Wright, there is a good balance.”
With the strong family background and only being two years apart, the two children are very close and watch out for each other. “We've always stressed to Cole since his sister was born, 'Always look out for your sister' and he does,” she says.
Just how does this busy mom and career woman do it all and make it look easy? Family closeness and spending precious time together making memories are very important to her. “Time is fleeting,” she explains. “Spend the time together while you can. I try to be the best mom that I can. Do I always get it right? No, but my kids still want to snuggle up to me in public. I love it when my fourteen year old, Cole, snuggles up to me after a game-even though he smells like a foot,” she laughingly adds.
“With my job and busy schedule, I do sometimes get tired,” she says, "When that happens, I take some time to relax and decompress. We love going out together on our boat and doing some fishing.”
Blaylock has a background of teaching at all levels-elementary, middle school and high school. All of this experience allows her to bring a wealth of talents and skills to her job as Children's Ministry Director.
“I’ve always loved working with children,” she says. “I could never have a desk job. I know this is what I am supposed to be doing. Everything I have done before has led me to now,” she adds.
As a busy Children's Minister, Blaylock tends to 40 to 50 children, both at Sunday School on Sundays and at Kids’ Zone on Wednesdays. She plans activities and organizes events for both the church family and the community. In June, she headed up a very busy Vacation Bible School where “I only went home to sleep and came back early each morning that week.”
With a flexible work schedule, she sometimes works sixty hours a week, while at other times, only thirty. She is quick to praise the church staff. “They all help at any time,” she says. “I’m not working by myself here. They are supportive
and when there is a need, I’ll share it with them and they’ll say, ‘Let's talk about that.’
With her servant’s heart and excellent relational skills, Blaylock responds when she sees a community need. She has recently set up an after school care group at the church for Daphne Elementary School parents, when their school program filled up.
“We reach out to the community,” she says, “and we try to make connections with families by getting their children engaged in fun activities. We get them here and then we can love on them. We are honored that families trust us to watch their kids.”
This forty year old Baldwin Blessing shares what she has learned with young interns about serving and love, yet she herself loves to hang with people “who can teach me--I never think I know enough.” she says.
Daphne United Methodist Church and the community of Daphne is so fortunate to have this dynamo of energy and wisdom running the ministry of children. She shares, “Life is certainly not always easy, but it can be meaningful and fun. Spend as much time as you can having fun with and being supportive of your family. Keep God front and center and raise up your children to be responsible and serving adults. It is so important that they can count on you to love them and make precious memories together. Now is prime time!”