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VIProfile: Lara Mattingly

By Emily Robertson

Lara Mattingly says that she her husband, Nathan, have a mission statement for their family that can best be summed up by a quote from the book The Gospel Comes with a House Key: “Living as a family on mission means our homes are not our own; they belong to Jesus and are open to His purposes.” Lara has lived out that quote in her life for the last 20 years in her family and in her professional life, and she works each day to help make that mission statement a reality in as many other local families as possible.

Lara first moved to Bowling Green from Tell City, Indiana, to attend WKU. She met Nathan while in school, and the two have been married for 20 years. After graduation, Lara worked as a kindergarten teacher at TC Cherry Elementary for eight years. The couple began a family of their own, and they now have four children: two who came to the family biologically, and two children who came through adoption. She is now a stay-at-home and homeschool mom.

“With the support of my husband and the amazing grace of Jesus, we get to raise and shepherd our four awesome kiddos and some really special kiddos who have come through our family through foster care,” Lara says. “Pouring into our forever children and any child who is with us any amount of time will, I hope, create a ripple effect of another generation who steps into vulnerable spaces and loves vulnerable people.”

As she became increasingly involved in the foster and adoption community in Bowling Green, she began to explore the different resources available and she couldn’t help but get involved.

“I work with foster parents in the Two Rivers Region through an organization called The Network,” Lara says. “The Network is a program out of Murray State University that works in training, support, recruitment and retention of foster parents. I joined The Network shortly after becoming a foster parent, and have been the team leader for the past three years. This job allows me to be a blessing to not only foster families in the area, but to the local Department for Community Based Services staff as well.”

Lara says that The Network’s mission is to help support foster families as much as possible. Some of the ways they provide assistance is matching volunteers with families for meal drop offs, creating Placement Packs, which are packages that include gift cards and vouchers for foster families when they receive a placement, and facilitating events for local foster and adoptive families to gather and fellowship together.

“We started calling our yearly event Together for Adoption,” Lara says. “It was a night for foster and adoptive families to be together and fellowship, as well as have a meal and time of worship together. Churches and venues offered resources to help the night be so special. This year we decided to dream even bigger and over 20 sponsors and various churches helped bring Jason Johnson, who is a speaker with Christian Orphancare Alliance and a foster dad himself, to speak to close to 100 foster families and church leaders. I’m still smiling over that one.”

Lara says that local churches have been key to The Network’s success, and she hopes to continue to rally even more support for local families because she knows it makes a difference.

“I love knowing that through connecting volunteers with foster families, it can help make their journey a little easier,” Lara says. “I say all the time that foster care is not always easy, but it’s always worth it and I truly believe that when foster families are well supported by others, it puts wind in their sails and helps them continue the work of foster care.”

Lara is motivated and drawn to her work by the biggest influence in her life, her faith in Jesus Christ.

“Jesus was the perfect example of stepping out of what was most comfortable in Heaven and into this earth, filled with vulnerable people to love and serve,” Lara says. “He gives me hope and strength when this journey is hard or feels like too much. He gives me continued purpose for this calling.”

Lara’s passion for her work is evident in that she hopes her future holds much of the same as what it does now, but she has big goals to help even more people.

“I hope to continue to connect churches to ways they can partner with foster families, and I hope to continue to encourage foster families through the gift of community support,” Lara says. “Our family is still an open foster home, so who knows who will come through our door next, but I know that they will receive true and genuine love for as long as the Lord wills. As far as my career, I always have lots of dreams. If you are a church of business reading this, I’d love to chat with you about some of them. I always have lots of ideas for how the community can continue to love foster families well.”

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