One day last summer a couple of girls rode their bikes past our home. They stopped to chat with us.
The next day they came back. An hour later we had 10 kids in our back yard.
The next day we had 12. Upon finding out that we homeschool some asked if I would teach them during the Summer. I agreed.
Nearly everyday for the remainder of the Summer I had kids coming over. Most would do some sort of school. Some wanted to do Spelling, while others wanted challenges in Math. Others wanted to play basketball or skate. What they really wanted? Someone who cared about them. A safe place to play without worry. A snack and a friend.
So our family became the caring face and listening ear. Our home and yard became the safe place; we played basketball, let them ride our skates and our bikes. We would dish out snacks and we definitely made friends.
One girl in particular would stop by nearly every day. Before long I noticed a spark about her. I knew she had faith. One day the Holy Spirit nudged me to ask her what she prayed for. So I did. I will always remember her answer.
"I pray that my friends and I will be safe!"
I knew God had called me to open my home to these kids and I now I knew why. Our home, our family was a direct answer to her prayers.
Fall came. Kids went back to school. Temperatures dropped and the kids came around less and less.
All except Taylor!
She would come over every now and then. We had tea parties, played school and board games. Before long she was joining us on trips to the YMCA. So we helped her get a scholarship so that she could come with us every time. Eventually pretty much everywhere we went Taylor came too. And then Chi.
Chi started coming over with Taylor and we loved on her as well. Sharing meals, conversations, games, trips to the Y; life.
They have joined us on skiing trips, trips to the animal farms, parks, the circus and the Youth Gardening Conference.
Here is a picture of Taylor getting over her fear of snakes at Nature Discoveries Go Wild weekend.
These girls have become more than my neighbors, they are my adopted daughters.
I am carrying on a great project and it is this; TO LOVE MY FAMILY AND TRAIN THEM UP TO BE FULLY FUNCTIONING CITIZENS! AND TO LOVE MY NEIGHBORS! FEEDING THEM, LOVING THEM, TEACHING THEM, NURTURING THEM AND ACCEPTING THEM AS THEY ARE AS IF THEY WERE MY OWN.
I am carrying on a great project and I can not come down!
My desire for this year is to involve my new family in something productive and rewarding. So we will be starting a youth community garden a couple of blocks away from my house. Together we will dig up the earth, plant seeds, weed and water. We will see the fruits of our labor. I will pour into them in every way possible. I hope to teach them more than how a plant grows. I hope to show them how they too can grow into productive people. I hope to show them that they will be known by their actions as either good fruit or bad, the choice is theirs. I hope to see them succeed both in gardening and in life. The teacher in me hopes they will learn great things. The mother in me hopes they will know they are loved. The neighbor in me hopes we can be a positive light to our community.
Today in church I learned that Nehemiah was in the midst of rebuilding the wall, doing a great work that God called him to do, while others tried to call him away from the work. His response every time was, "I am carrying on a great project and cannot go(come) down." He kept to the work God called him to do and did not let the opposition steer him away.
I take from that this; I will not be called away from my calling to care for these kids. Be it two or twenty. Even when I get crazy looks and glances when I arrive somewhere with my "Gaggle of children." Even when I struggle to transport them to the various things we may do. Even when life happens and they go through hard times, especially then. Even when my garage door gets beat up from skates banging into it. Even when the pantry is thin. Even if our vegetables refuse to grow or the labor is hard.
Even then... I am carrying on a great project and I can not come down!