Saturday, May 19, 2012

Wet Sand Hearts...

 Family comes in all shapes and sizes.  Ours is pretty small and there's not really anything you can do about that.  I mean, you can't just manufacture family members out of thin air or twist the arms of relatives in order to get them to multiply like rabbits and as for us, well we have too many dogs, birds and such to think about  enlarging our family in any way soooo that's pretty much that..
     But wait!  There is a way to enlarge your family! We've already done it! It's called open your home to the foreigner, the stranger, the one whom Jesus brings across your path so that you might bless them and they might bless you.
    Ten years ago we invited a stranger, an international college student, to stay in our home.  She became our daughter.
    Today, I heard two very sweet, amazing little girls calling out to me in the pool, Grandma Cathie! Grandma Cathie!  Watch this!  Let's swim here!  Now it's your turn to balance on the water wheel! [They were mistaken about that...]    I just got a mouthful of water but it spit right out really well!
     And probably the sweetest sound to my ears, Grandma Cathie, I just like having you in the water with us!
     I learned things.  That baking is fun and easy - you just put peanut butter on one scoop of vanilla ice cream and you've baked something sweet.  (A great baking recipe for those little people who are not allowed to turn on the oven...:)  That if you put your mouth at just the right angle in the water, you can sound like Donald Duck.     That wet sand is great for making heart shapes in and grass is great for pulling up and replanting in the same sand.   That falling off the balance wheel is hilarious and staying on it gives great satisfaction.  That there are always new worlds to conquer whether on land or sea (er, pool!)
     But that's not all.  After the swimming and the picnic-ing, I got to listen to our daughter describe how God has been working in the ministry she and her husband have had over the past few years. And I kept thinking how she was  searching ten years ago and how, at that time,  I was hoping to mentor her.  And now, ten years later, she is far beyond me in  spiritual experience and how awesome that is.
    And with a daughter and grandchildren, there usually is a son-in-law somewhere  in the mix!  And our son-in-law is a true mix:)  A blend of Godly wisdom as well as  a  zany sense of humor.  I can't be around him without learning something and without laughing, often at the same time.  Together, he and our daughter make excellent partners in marriage, parenting, and ministry - not an easy combination to survive sometimes!  But they do it with grace.
    Sooooo... am I saying that something we did ten years ago, by sharing our tiny home with just one international student, has over the years added 4 people to our family circle?
   Yes, that is what I'm saying!
    God told the people of ancient Israel  to be kind to the foreigner, remembering that once they had also been foreigners when they sojourned in Egypt.
    My husband and I  try to be obedient when we are sure God is calling us to do something. We would be the first to say that sharing your home temporarily with  a stranger from another land is not always easy.  At the same time, we would both tell you that  nothing we've ever done has brought us as many emotional and spiritual dividends as providing home stay for an international college student.
    All I can think is that when God repeatedly instructed the Israelites to care for the foreigners in their midst, He meant it.  And I think He meant it because, quite simply, He has a heart for people who are far from home and from all that is familiar.
    And also for little people who make hearts out of wet sand, distinguish relatives by the continent they live on and/or came from, and spit water with great joy;)
    As others have said, you cannot outgive God.


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