Every month we take a small group of students to a group home to share a meal and spend some time hanging out together. It's such an enjoyable evening. Our students always leave with a greater appreciation for their own homes, regardless of their present circumstances. They get to go home to a family, even if it's a dysfunctional one. I hope the students that we visit enjoy time with other kids and adults who want to get to know them. I hope they see they are valued and loved.
These nights can feel like a youth group event because several leaders and students are spread all around different tables and we end the night playing some game. Last night was different though. Matt and I just had two students with us and the cottage we visited only had four kids.
This time, we all got a seat at the kitchen table.
Our family had the opportunity to be with their family. They shared their space with us in a way that felt like home. We swapped stories and laughed together. The kids that we visit with are primarily middle and high schoolers, but this time there was a 7 or 8 year old little girl as well. I swear it could have been Em in a few years. One of her favorite things to do was hunt lizards. I'm pretty sure Matt couldn't help but fall a little in love with her.
I have such an appreciation for the house parents who work to make this place a home for these kids. I can't imagine how draining it must be at times. They give of themselves 24 hours a day. I think the national turnover rate is about 9 months. Some of the house parents at this location have been there over a decade. They provide the roots in a setting that is characterized by instability. We have a tendency to want to come in and fix brokenness. These people spend their time sharing in it.
They are the type of people I want to model my life after.
I went home and watched our children as they slept. For now, these are the two beauties that God has entrusted to our immediate care. My prayer is that they can rest confidently in our love, that we clearly display God's love for them, and cultivate a love for others in their little hearts. I pray that as a family we see the people right in front of us, securing the roots of deep love, freeing us to love even more.