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Hospitality means different things for different people.  For my grandmother and her friends, it meant cards and drinks and snacks.  Lots of cards, plenty of drinks and bowl upon bowl of snacks.  Her super clean house always looked like a magazine spread.

Grandma knew her friends and she knew them as well as she knew her family.  Before there was even a word for it, Grandma was a prayer warrior.  She held us up and we knew it.

At this point in the Edward’s household, hospitality looks very different.  The kitchen floor looks like it belongs in a stable. Instead of hay on the floor of a stall, I have zoysia chaff on the floors, both sofas and most of the chairs. Add to that the chip bags, plates coated in pasta sauce and half empty cups that accessorize every room.

For 10 hours, boys from 12 to 16 have been tromping in and out.  They’ve played Nerf and Risk and Xbox. There was something about zombies. With the mess, you would think there were dozens but this time it was only seven.  As I write this, we’ve fed them two meals and will soon be giving several rides home.

I had a whole list of things to get done before I go to bed but 7 boys pretty well take over the house.  When my husband was cooking dinner, I was counseling one on girlfriends, a healthy diet and weight loss. Yes, even boys worry about their weight and I’m going to be praying that he focuses on health and not on the number on the scale.

We discussed swim team and the fact that this summer they will be on two different teams instead of the same one. I know they can handle competing against each other. They do that anyway but we’re worried about the boy who has autism and doesn’t handle change with ease. He’s one of them being moved to a new team while his best friend stays on the other team. I’ll be praying that he find a support group who can hold him up long enough to discover his amazing sense of humor and fair play.

Maybe hospitality here really isn’t all that different. As I pray for these boys, I’ll also be thanking God for the grandmother who showed me how to open my home, get to know someone, and hold them up to God.

–SueBE

Jesus PrayerOur house is rapidly turning into the hang out for my son’s friends. I work from home which you might think would cramp their style, teen boys that they are. But even the boys who could stay home with no parents and no supervision, end up over here.

The funny thing is that I’ve never had a boy related problem although I have had problems with a parent or two. Once in a blue moon, I’ve had a mom point out that she wouldn’t let this kid or that kid hang out at her house. “He’s a little rough.” “His mother has a past.”

The thing is, I look beyond the sins of their fathers and their mothers. I look at more than their big, gruff demeanors.

Instead, I get to know the boys. The kitchen opens into the family room so I can ask them questions while I’m fixing them something to eat. And God always helps me see them as who they are – His Children.

Given how judgmental adults can be, I shouldn’t be surprised when every now and then one of the boys deiced to test me and see if I’m one of those adults. “Yeah, I’ve only been in the area for a couple of years. When I was in grade school, Mom got into drugs and moved us to Hannibal. Now I’m back with my dad. I hate Hannibal.”

I’d love to say that I came up with something brilliant. That’s what I’d like to say, but I’m not that smooth. “I’ve been to Hannibal.” Genius. Pure genius.

Yet, somehow I passed the test. Although he had to leave briefly after dinner, he came back for three more hours.  He told my son he wants to hang out this summer.  When he left, he shook my hand and my husband’s hand and thanked us for our hospitality.

Many of these boys aren’t perfect, but then neither am I. I just hope that they can hold off judging me. After all, we are all God’s children, flawed but loved. All that God asks is that we love each other in return.

–SueBE

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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