Monday, August 13, 2012

A Beautiful Challenge

If someone would have told me that a little over a year ago I would completely act out of character by answering my front door with dripping wet, straight out of the shower hair only to find a woman asking me to participate in a foreign exchange student program.... I would have laughed. Hard.

We had done this before. It had been a very long time, but it had been horrible! Both J and I agreed that it would take a serious miracle for us to EVER say "yes" to another stranger coming into our house and lives for an extended period of time.

On a typical summer day last year, God saw fit to perform that miracle as I told this woman at my door that I would talk to my husband and that "Yes, we would like to consider hosting this young man from France." Our lives have been forever changed since that day.

Clement left our home for the second time yesterday. This time he took his mother, father and younger brother with him. We had an incredible time! Clement was here for almost two weeks before his family came to join him. Everyone here picked up exactly where we left off last year. A true sign that we are much more than friends... We are family. After he had been here for a couple of days, he mentioned to us that he would like to bring his family to church while they were here. He wasn't sure they would be open to this idea though. I immediately started to pray about that, and asked that a few others pray about it also. When his family arrived, I just knew that they would be sitting in church with us on Sunday.... And that they did.

After they left yesterday, J and I sat and talked through my tears once again. This boy from France feels like one of my own. It is always hard to see him go, but this time it was easier because I know he will be back. The idea that I will someday get to go see him in his home is something to get excited about also! J told me that unusual circumstances led him to us and us to him.... For very specific reasons. A seed was planted in Clement's heart last summer, and that very same seed I believe was planted in the hearts of his family yesterday. Clement's mother sat at my dining room table Saturday night and explained that they don't attend church in France. Not only do they find their "inherited catholic religion" boring, but the church in France is dying. She told me that more and more churches are closing due to lack of priests and ministers. She shared with me how Clement has talked about "American church" ever since he was here last summer. It was such a sweet and encouraging conversation. I knew that between my prayers and Clement's testimony, the Lord had already began His work in laying the foundation for this family as they attended church the next day. Today I continue to pray that they are taking many thoughts, prayers and words back with them to France as Clement did last year.

Unusual circumstances led us to being gifted with this extended family in France. What would have happened if we would have said "No"? We would have stayed within our comfort zone and missed out on something so extraordinary!! I have witnessed myself, my husband and my children all want to stay within our own comfort zones and push away anything that looks different, hard or intimidating. It's easy to do! There must be balance, because we cannot say yes to everything, but saying yes to something big and unfamiliar, I have learned is something to experience. We will be blessed and others will be blessed too!

As we start another school year this week, I am praying for my family. I am praying that we will all have not only the ability, but the boldness in saying "YES" to something we might not expect ourselves to this year. I am praying that we will be prayerful about what that something is, and then that the blessings will flow... Just as they do between my home and a special home in France.


The Holbrook Family said...

Beautiful!!! Can't wait to catch up with you. Praying for a good transition for all as you venture back to school. Hugs and love

Eric Van Patten said...

Thanks for opening the door to many. Knowing that Jesus opened His door to you as a alien to the kingdom, and now a child of His. You, your family, and His mission, is sweet and I say keep having that open door. Your loved by your Pastor!