The Safe Families Director knows me, we work together. Didn’t she remember that I had white couches, white dining room chairs, and an aversion to dirt and noise?
Boys? Two boys? Two gregarious, precocious, energetic boys? No, we couldn’t possibly take them.
But we did.
Before I hung up the call with her, God began to speak to me in ways I could have never anticipated. He began to show me in colored blocks in my mind how I could shift my very busy workload and schedule to accommodate their needs. He immediately brought to mind friends with children of a similar age whom the boys could play with. He started to work in the lives of others in ways I could have never anticipated. And within a matter of hours, we welcomed the boys into our home.
I opened the door. Their freckles were surprisingly disarming. Deep breaths.
Within moments, they were outside playing in the pond and covered in mud. They were running in and out of the house chasing each other with Nerf guns in a “free-for-all match for the ages.” They were laughing and calling to me, “Ms. Kristina, come check out the fish we see in your pond! Can we go fishing? Know anyone with fishing gear?” They asked me to go fishing no less than a hundred times that day.
They were acclimating beautifully, meanwhile, I found myself needing to take more and more deep breaths.
When we relocated to Florida, one of the first things I did was buy a new white leather couch. For as long as I can remember, I had wanted one, and now, in this season of life, with no small kids at home, I figured, why not? When it was delivered, my husband laughed and said, “You know you’re going to regret this, right? A white couch? You’re nuts.”
We have two beautiful children — ages 14 and 18, but no little ones with sticky fingers and grubby hands around to mess up a house. And if one piece of white furniture was okay, why not a full dining room set and drapes too? I was looking forward to days without messes, and I had been spending my free evenings painting, reading, and doing Bible study. I was looking forward to more focused time on the things I wanted.
But God in his infinite wisdom pushed me way outside my comfort zone with these boys and began revealing to me all the ways in which I had selfishly thought, even if it was just for a moment, that God wasn’t big enough to help us care for these sweet boys, and that somehow my free time and clean house was more important than serving others.
How could we do it? I mean we didn’t have clothes, or toys, or fishing gear. We didn’t have scooters or even a football. How would we entertain and care for boys who deserved the best? Sure, we were giving them a safe place to sleep, but they deserved so much more.
More deep breaths.
I began to pray. I began to ask God to help me love these boys as I would my own and to embrace the chaos. I prayed for renewed energy and wisdom to let go of the things that didn’t really need to be done right this moment. I began to realize that I could ask for help and didn’t need to do all of this alone.
I began to listen to God’s promptings — telling me that my perfect house and organized schedule didn’t bring Him glory and they didn’t help these boys or their mother.
I continued to pray — and take deep breaths.
Moments later I received a text from another co-worker. “Are you still attending Summit Church? I’ve reached out to them for wrap-around support.”
Breathing was a bit easier now.
I emailed my Women’s Bible study group and asked for their support and prayers. Immediately, they came through.
I was no longer gasping for breath, just breathing.
My friend Anna, texted me letting me know she had clothes, scooters, and most importantly a fishing rod. Our church, Summit, came through with more clothes, shoes, and sports equipment. A neighbor called and invited the boys over to play.
I could breathe now without telling myself to do so. I was abiding in His peace, watching the church in action and it was beautiful.
Friends, neighbors, church family, extended family…each doing their part to make this a great experience for these boys and help me through it too.
Sure, we could have bought the material possessions they needed, but instead, God showed me that I don’t always have to be the one to do it all; that doing life together, serving others as God intended, isn’t a solitary activity.
There have been so many moments of clarity during the past couple of days. Moments when I find myself wanting to complain or feel inconvenienced, and then, I’m reminded of Hebrews 13:2.
“Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!”
My house is a mess. There are Nerf bullets, shoes, socks, and toys everywhere. There are muddy sock prints on my formerly spotless floors, fingerprints all over the windows, and yes, plenty of marks on my white couches. But, they’ve all been made by hilarious, witty, funny, little angels whom three days ago were strangers to us.
A few days ago I selfishly thought of turning away children because they may make a mark on a material possession when I should have been concerned about the mark I make for Christ and eternity.
I am grateful for these angels. I’m grateful for the community who has come alongside us. I’m grateful for the lessons. God is good to show us where we need to grow and dump us in the dirt to do so.
My prayer is that by posting about our experience you will see yourself and ask how God can use you to impact the lives of struggling families in your community. Could you be someone to provide material resources? Could you be a prayer partner? Could you be a family coach and help restore order to a life in chaos? Could you host a child while a parent makes a choice to better their lives? Everyone can do something to help a struggling family. How is God calling you to serve?