My family had the privilege of hosting 2 boys for three weeks. We are living life “on mission” from our own home and community, and we are very thankful for the opportunity. Below is a diary of our time with the boys… giving you an inside look into what it is like to be a host family with Safe Families for Children.
DAY 1: Hosting Begins
USD 501 has been great to rearrange bus schedule. Dad and boys got to spend time with us yesterday and we are off to a good start for our hosting!
As a family, we have all recognized we will give up something of our routine, comfort, and space, but being involved in the lives of this family is worth it as we “love our neighbor as ourselves”.
I will jot a note her daily allowing you to see what God is teaching us, struggles, joys, and maybe just maybe how caring for the least of these fulfills His words that we have cared for and loved Jesus too.
Day 2: Shared Attention!
When is it my turn?…teenagers waiting for help studying for a test, husband waiting for “couch time” to connect and share some of the day together, “the boys” needing help with routine and bedtime, the cat waiting for its food, a friend needing support.
I stop…consider how God has His attention on us and we are experiencing sharing our lives with another family…giving them our attention in order to strengthen and empower a single dad to be able to be the best provider he can be…employed, providing, and ready.
Lord, help me today to pay attention to You and help me to give my attention to love to the right people I love at the right time. Remind me to give myself grace when the attention doesn’t stretch.
Day 3-5: Three days in a row!
Youngest son: I appreciate my dad a lot. He’s working hard to get a good job for us!
Oldest son: I am thankful for a family to help me and my family. I am thankful my dad is working.
Our kids: This is a great experience. We love these kids, they are becoming like family to us!
My husband and I: We really believe that God is using this to help all of us experience His love and care and purpose in our lives!!!
A valentine from God…the opportunity to be His hands and feet.
Day 6: Hosting “our boys”
The boys returned to us after some great time with their dad this weekend. They were happy to see us and we were them. It has quickly become a natural relationship…welcoming them to our home, not as guests, but as “cousins”.
Have noticed that now that they are comfortable in our home, it is easy to respond more relaxed and more like “boys”. So…next stage of hosting…learning how to set boundaries and expectations and respect adjustments that naturally occur to living together. Should be interesting.
Day 7: Nothing new today…
Which prompted me to “stay awake”…stay engaged and not take for granted that the boys are doing well and handling “life in transition”. It is way to easy to slip into routine and forget to play, to interact, to give opportunity to share…with our own kids and especially the boys.
So…we prayed for dad and his new job, the used car he needs to buy, and their schools, teachers, and friends. All of these things help to reassure them that God cares for them and has a plan for them!
Every time I prepare to go home at the end of their school day and my work day, I wonder what lies ahead. I, too, am thankful that God cares about the details of my life!
Day 8-10: The days blur together now.
Having the boys in our lives has become “normal”. Interesting to watch the limits be tested when “normal” is normal. We continue to pray for dad…he got the job he’s been waiting for. Now on to stability and accomplishing a few other goals in order to be ready for kids to come home.
Day 11: Into our 3rd week of hosting the boys.
We watched our own kids remember to “put the goals and interests of others ahead of their own” as they welcomed the boys back for another week. The boys spent the weekend with their dad and it was great for all of us.
However, we are amazed at how quickly we “relax” and get “comfortable” in our routines and personal space and how we had to check our attitudes as we open our home again to the boys and help them to feel welcomed and not like “guests” but like family.
It is so good to live outside of our “comfort” and in a life of sacrifice and Biblical hospitality.
Day 12-14: Dad is doing great.
He is working on securing long term plans for child care and being self -sufficient. The boys remain confident and proud of their dad.
As the leader of Safe Families, I often pose to a host family the opportunity to extend their hosting for a few more days or a week in order to give the parent a chance at success. And reality is that getting employment, buying a car, securing day care, etc. does not happen on our schedule…we are at the mercy of others. Extending hosting is decision bathed in prayer and often with sacrifice and adjustments to personal schedule and comfort.
So… now as a host family, I am presented with the reality that dad needs one more week in order to be successful and be ready for kids to be home full time. I ask the Lord, I ask my family, and we pray and YES!
We have jobs, we have cars, we have our needs met. We want the same for this family and the boys are now like family to us so, YES YES YES…no matter the cost (which is very little).
So I probe a little, with what is comfortable. Boys say “we are sad to be leaving” and “we want to play”. Living in transition, being at the home of a stranger, missing dad, and trying to be kids.
What it does to me is cause me to pause and consider how to encourage and support them, how to help them express themselves, and feel secure…not in us as the host family but in the truth that God cares for them and will always care for them!
We have 24 more hours with these boys we have come to love. Tonight will be our last night hosting and we are preparing ourselves for the unknown needs they may have. Tomorrow evening we will have their dad over for dinner and we will celebrate our friendship with their little family!! We will pray for them and take them home to the next stage of caring for each other and family life.
God has provided a job and options for child care! God met their needs through a month of hosting and it is true that we are more blessed than they for having them in our home!
Day 20: A good day. A good good-bye and heart felt appreciation!
Doesn’t seem like the end, but the beginning for them. A fresh start and new ways for dad to stay working and boys to stay supported. Now is the time the church keeps getting to be the church…the bride of Christ.
We offered the hosting, but a local community of believers now knows this family, invites and includes them for worship, kids programs, and then a family meal and fun. Another man in the church has begun to help empower the dad to get a car, get to important appointments and to be a friend…a connection…a break from isolation and an extension of God’s love and care!
Thank you to all who read, prayed, and followed this simple little story of Biblical hospitality and compassion. The opportunity is there for you and your church! TAKE IT!
Sue Smith, Safe Families for Children Host Family
Please call our office to learn more about being a host family with Safe Families for Children (785-783-4577) or visit the Safe Families for Children website HERE.