Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A small start

We made a quick run to the library because Arielle had ordered a book we needed to pick up. Liana immediately ran off to find all her favorite stories that we've already read a dozen times. Arielle searched the shelves for more Nancy Drew mysteries as I debated with the librarians about whether the upcoming storm would leave us with a foot of snow. (Actually, the storm brought ice that left people stranded in their cars on major highways for 24 hours.)

We checked out our books and started out the door. One of the librarians called out to me, "You homeschool, don't you?" She led me to a woman who just moved here and was looking for a homeschooling group. This woman, Gretchen, had just driven from Colorado with her four small children in order to join her husband who is working a temporary job in the area. We discussed homeschooling stuff--the lack of a local social group to join but the co-op at our church where children take P.E., art, and music. Her children gathered around, two of the girls the ages of mine and two little ones.

We talked a few minutes more and then I knew what I should do. But I hesitated. My house was a mess. We'd just finished school and had no time yet for chores. Fred was working late and I had a stress-free afternoon and evening planned--a bit of cleaning, piano practice for the girls, an easy dinner, and maybe even time to work on my quilt. It was tempting to ignore the still, small voice. My closest friends know that hospitality is very difficult for me. And what about these four kids? Were they going to run rampant through my house destroying what little order I have left?

But I followed through. "Do you want to come back to my house so we can talk more?" Gretchen did and she followed me home. We had tea and a nice conversation. She lives at the foot of the Rocky Mountains and her father-in-law hunts javelinas in southern Arizona where I was raised. She is looking for a church and activities for her children. She's eager to explore the historical sites in Philadelphia, the Art Museum, and Valley Forge. She said she and her children prayed that very morning that they would find new friends.

The children were all surprising quiet. No one was running wild. When I checked on them, Liana and the two younger girls were playing, laughing, and talking. Arielle and the oldest girl sat on Arielle's bed, all smiles, chatting away. The sweet little boy played contently with trains on the living room carpet. As they left, one of the girls, named Eliana and who also just turned 7, hugged Liana tightly with promises of future playdates. We said good-bye and I was reminded of my continuing prayer for Arielle that she would find a new friend. My obedience in that small moment answered my own prayer.

No, this was nothing as big as changing the face of a North Carolina town, just an opportunity taken, a door opened, prayers answered, friendships begun. I'm learning to listen.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

True life example

Mid-winter frenzy has filled every corner of my life. It happens every year. I blame it on homeschooling. We're in the thick of things right now. It's the new semester scramble to make sure we're on target with everything we're doing. Arielle just took CATs. I'm taking a new teaching approach with Liana. The girls (and mom) are busy with their activities--practicing for the spring musical and for Arielle's piano exam in Princeton. Five months of surface-only cleaning of the house has taken its toll. Even so, I hold to my New Year resolution and try to keep focused and work diligently for what's really important.

A couple of weeks ago I turned on the TV to distract me while I folded a mountain of laundry. Have you heard of the Hallelujah Chorus, a group of twelve orphan boys from war-torn Liberia who had been touring in North Carolina? What an incredible story!

A woman named Lysa from the Charlotte area took her Brownie troop to see this concert. The boys were performing to raise money for their orphanage and the other 400 children who remained in Liberia. As Lysa watched the boys, she said she heard God speak to her heart and tell her, "Two of those boys are yours." This was an outrageous idea and made no sense. But after the concert two boys approached her and she spoke with them. She called her husband on his cell phone to tell him the news. The family prayed about this decision, and despite having three small daughters, decided to adopt these adolescent boys. How amazing!

The story doesn't end here. Her friends thought she was crazy, but they too attended a concert and met the boys. The results? One friend who already had two adopted children took one of the boys. Two other friends each adopted one boy. Another friend with two sons in college who was looking forward to a different stage of life ended up adopting SIX children because she found out the boys had other siblings in Liberia. In total, from this one North Carolina town, 14 families adopted 31 children from this orphanage!

What if Lysa wasn't listening when God called her to an important task? What if she'd been too caught up in her own world? What if she'd listened to all the "rational" arguments going on in her head and forgot about the boys? Her new sons wouldn't have a family and most likely those other 31 children wouldn't either. What a mighty work of God was done because of one woman's faith and obedience. She was prepared and she responded when the opportunity arose.

My own brother from Atlanta was on a business trip in New Jersey when he attended a local church and ended up ministering to a troubled boy. Our Bible study teacher, Francis, traveling for his job, noticed the man on the plane next to him in tears. Instead of averting his eyes with his face in a book, Francis responded and shared the hope of the gospel with this man. It was not a chance meeting. A couple of weeks later Francis was in the airport mid-week waiting for an entirely different flight when he heard someone call out to him. It was the same man, this time joyful and thankful. We are all called to be missionaries all the time. Where will you be and what will be your response when you hear the nudging of the Holy Spirit? I hope to be "an intrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work." II Timothy 2:21.

Our church is considering taking on a monumental project. A local adoption agency is bringing orphans from Columbia to spent 6 weeks with host families. With the time spent preparing plus the time spent with the children, this will take up a whole summer! The hope is that most, if not all, the children will find families. This project will be at a great financial cost and a great cost of time and emotional resources. Our family signed on to do whatever is required, according to our abilities. We have a "Lysa" at our church. She is diligently researching all the options and doing one woman's best to find families for some of the children of the world. It will be a privilege to partner with her this summer.