I felt like all I did today was clean up. Muddy shoes, feathers from boas, dress-up hats, playing cards, jackets and toys. I finally sit down after entertaining and feeding almost the entire neighborhood of children. I almost told them to go home before dinner. I had a headache and I just wanted a quiet meal with my family. But then I thought about what Jesus would do.
It had been raining all week due to Hurricane Matthew. School was closed today due to flooding in some rural parts of the town. We were out of power for over almost 24 hours, while others in our town have been out of power for days.
Most adults still had to go to work, so what do 10 kids of the neighborhood do when mom is at work all day? Of course, play outside. With 66 degree weather and a beautiful fall day, they couldn’t stay inside.
While playing tag, some neighbor notices the kids playing and sticks her head out of the door and yells out, “Go away and play somewhere else!”
I was outside with my kids, kicking a soccer ball around the front driveway, and I saw 10 neighbor kids not know what to do.
I have had these kids over several times before: sometimes to play games, other times to play outside, while other times, making s’mores in the backyard. My house is one of the only ones with a swingset in the back and a fire pit. It’s become kind of a safe place for these kids.
When everyone’s power was off, the kids ran to our house to play board games. We do have quite the collection (over 20 kinds…).
Today was day two in a row with ALL of them. I’ve never seen my cupboard eaten alive like that! It was if all the kids had never eaten. I think one of the little boys hadn’t. He asked for three bowls of tortilla chips.
One activity that we did was a fun fashion photobooth. I pulled out some old dress up items and some hats and had the kids take some pictures while my camera was on a tripod. More than posing, the kids LOVED pushing the button and taking the pictures. They even asked to take pictures outside.
After five hours of playing at my house. I was done. I laid on the floor with a splitting headache. I have no idea how the Dugger’s did it. I am completely exhausted. I even told the kids to go home while my two youngest slept for a little.
Around dinnertime they were back. Now they were hungry again. I text my husband to pick up food for dinner. He picks up two rotisserie chickens from the grocery store, thinking that it will be enough to feed seven kids (3 had left) and our family of five.
Right before dinner time, six more kids show up. I really hoped that our meager meal of chicken and rice would be enough. I hoped and prayed that Jesus would multiply our little meal. He did! We had an entire chicken leftover!
I ask the kids if we could have s’mores around the fire again. It’s like their favorite activity. One mom shows up from 6 doors down just to snapchat about her son eating a s’more for the first time and then leave.
Andrew tells the kids a zombie story for Halloween from the Bible. You know the one- with Big “L” and Jesus rising him from the dead. The kids had a kick out of it. As Andrew was talking, I was praying under my breath that the kids would see Jesus in us. One encounter with the LORD is all you need sometimes for your life to be changed.
I can see the LORD already using us. One girl told me that she and this other girl couldn’t be together and do s’mores because of fighting with each other. We took a moment to talk about how our home is a safe place and that we can “check” our bitterness and grudges at the door. I told them about my experience as a young kid and being bullied. It was like they were really listening.
After we said goodbye to them, I walk into my house. I see muddy footprints up and down the stairs. I see dishes piled-high in the sink. It reminded me of these kids’ lives. It just takes someone to tidy up- someone who is not afraid to get their hands or their house dirty for the sake of Jesus.
True Christianity is messy. It’s imperfect, it’s vulnerable, it’s sticky. At the end of the day, you are exhausted and tired. If you aren’t tired after being with God’s children all day- serving them, then you aren’t doing life right.
I finally put my feet up for the day. I’m pooped. But I can’t wait to see the kids again. Because they aren’t going to remember the mess, just that we made room for them in our home and our hearts.
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