There are so many ways that God has chosen to bless our family time and time again. In the last 6-9 months, he has been chipping away at the undesirable priorities, habits, character flaws. It has been one of those seasons where God is put us through the fire to clean off all of that gunk to be able to bring us to a place where he could bring us closer to himself. As hard as it can be sometimes to do the right thing, to unwaveringly choose God in the day-by-day, minute-by-minute things, I have tasted a bit of the sweetness of the results of doing so. One of the benefits my family was able to experience in direct result of the changes we have made was inviting four young women from Life Action Ministries to stay at home during their stay in Manchester. Our church invited Life Action Ministries to come do a revival service called a “Summit” last month and as a result they requested church members to open their homes to house team members for the duration of the event. They have several different revival conferences but we were lucky enough to have them here for an eight day summit which meant the team would be staying with our church for a full two weeks. I will get into the actual Summit on another post, but for now I will attempt to effectively put into written language how these four women blessed our home.
On January 24th, 2014 my husband and I, along with our three boys, finished up the home preparations required for having house guests. You’ve got it. Bathrooms shined, laundry caught up, carpets vacuumed, pictures and fans dusted. Our kids graciously gave up their bedroom which they share to give our guests a private place of their own to call home during their stay. Graciously! Ha, actually if you tell our boys they get to camp out for two weeks instead of sleeping in their beds they are all for it no matter what the reason behind it is. It wasn’t much of a discussion when it came up. They didn’t even care that they wouldn’t be camping outside but in their playroom. It’s all the same to them. At any rate, I set up a sitting area that they could use to read at, sit to dress in or whatever. It was just one way I was able to give it a softer touch to try to make them feel more at home, welcome and comfortable.
In the boy’s room, there are two sets of bunk beds. Because of the way we had it all set up for the boys it made the perfect area to have the team. I wish the room had been a little bigger though. The girls didn’t have much room to put their belongings. Let me take that back, they didn’t have room for much else in the room except their belongings!
Before I went to pick the girls up, I finalized their welcome gifts. I prayed and asked God to show me a way to make the girls feel welcome, loved and cared for. As the days leading up to arrival day came, I had an idea of what I wanted to do. I have thought about this aspect of their stay here often. It’s interesting how God knows and prepares our way before we even get to that part of our life, or in the girl’s situation, our house. Unfortunately I didn’t get pictures of their bags. They were simple, but fun I think.
Bag 1: Hershey Kisses, a face mask to do once you’ve washed your face, a wide cloth headband and one more item that I can’t think of right now.
Bag 2: Hershey Kisses, a light teal colored finger nail polish, wide cloth headband and a small manicure kit.
Bag 3: Bright colored house socks with the grip things on the bottom, a wide cloth headband, Hershey Kisses and something else that I can’t think of!
Bag 4: Hershey Kisses, a wide cloth headband and hair clips.
I packaged them in clear party bags like you would give out at a kid’s birthday party closed with a teal colored curling ribbon. I placed one bag on each pillow with an individually handwritten card to welcome the girls to our home.
Ready to see how God works? One of the girls’ favorite color is teal. One of the girls wears crazy socks daily, and only when she is feeling sassy do they match. I had wanted to get a pretty thin scarf for one of the bags but talked myself out of it because I wasn’t sure what the girl’s styles were like. Come to find out, one of the girls wore a pretty scarf everyday! It would have been perfect! Isn’t that awesome? Each of the girl’s specific interests or desires specifically came to mind as I prepared for their arrival. The only issue that came up was that the “perfect” gift for each of those girls ended up on a different bed than they chose. For example, the girl who loves teal (aquamarine) picked a different bed than had the finger nail polish on it and so on. Even still I was still blessed by the fact that God knew each girl so intimately that he brought to mind specific gifts for each one. It warmed my heart and still does a month later. Wow has it really been a month since they arrived?? Goodness!
When I arrived at church to pick up our guests, I was a little nervous and not exactly sure what to expect. It didn’t help that I was 30 minutes early. Our pastor apparently got the same memo I did because we were the only two from our church there for the longest time! We had a chance to introduce ourselves and meet the entire team before everyone else arrived. After introductions a sweet, brown-headed woman came up to me with outstretched arm and introduced herself as Danielle. She said she believe that she and three of her teammates would be staying with me. She proceeds to tell me all about my family which was impressive but took me aback for a second. She told me she had gotten ahold of the host assignment list earlier in the day so she was able to get the skinny on us before they arrived. Smart, resourceful girl! She inquired a little more about the family and I told her that I homeschool our boys and that I also run an in-home childcare throughout the week. In case you forgot, God knows us all so well and he matched us long before we had even decided to host (more on that later). Come to find out two of the girls, Danielle and Bethany, grew up in homeschooling families! No kidding?? Any reservation or uncertain feelings about the upcoming two weeks flew out the window as I began to learn more about the girls as we waited to be dismissed. Our four young women’s names were Sarah, Danielle, Olivia and Bethany. Feel free to click on their names to visit their blogs to learn more about them and the adventures they have been on with Life Action.
On the way home I learned that Danielle was allergic to shell fish and that she strongly prefers not to eat peanut butter. Almost before she could finish her thought, Sarah spoke up to say she keeps a jar of peanut butter in her bag at all times because she loves peanut butter and that she is allergic to gluten. Oh wow. I haven’t come across either one of those before, this should be interesting. All of them, however spoke right up and expressed their absolute love for coffee and inquired about the distance from our home to the church. I told them we were about a mile from the restaurant they had eaten at before our meet up. I’m not sure but I think the car swerved on the road because of their excitement. That could only mean one thing: our home was not far from Starbucks. Everything in their world was going to be ok for the next two weeks I’m pretty sure! I learned that they had gotten up at 4:05am that day and that they were not morning people. I learned that most of them push snooze until the very last moment and then crawl out of bed.
When we got home, my family greeted the girls as we brought in their belongings. My husband and I gave them the grand tour of our home and encouraged them to get settled into their room. While they were doing that, Josh and I were able to catch our breath and got a deck of cards out to play Rummy. Not long after we began, the girls started coming out of their room and sat down to play cards with them. We asked them a little bit about themselves and learned, once again that God placed the perfect girls in our home. Danielle and Bethany are both hunters and love being outside. Bethany is also into art which is right up my boy’s ally. Olivia, well she is a volunteer firefighter back home! How cool is that! Just when I thought Josh wouldn’t have anything in common with any of the girls, three of them right off the bat were perfect fits. Sarah had even gone hunting a time or two and knew how to process a deer! Not bad! We asked them to tell us about their decision to travel with Life Action, their best host home experience and their worst host home experience. Around 10:30, we all said goodnight and went to bed as the next day was a busy one for them. They had to transform our church into something amazing to be used during the week ahead.
That night I went to bed so excited and full of anticipation for the upcoming weeks ahead. It was hard to sleep but managed to force myself to because I was getting up in the morning to take Sarah out to my mother-in-law’s house to pick up a vehicle they would be using while here. When we got home, Josh had a full on firehall breakfast prepared for everyone. What a guy! I will be writing more about their time here over the weekend. Tune in tomorrow (or later this evening) for more!