The framed photo mingled with others on the fireplace mantle.
“He’s our extra son,” she replied. “We wanted him to feel like family so we put his photo up with our other kids.”
That “extra son” is a college student. He lives far from home and on holidays he’s usually sleeping in or hanging out in his apartment because home isn’t a safe place to go.
They met him through their son when he came to visit. He was pretty tight lipped about his family, but over time he felt comfortable enough to share.
What they found out was hard to hear.
That weekend visit led to others and then they started showing up at some of his college events to cheer him on.
They became the family he had prayed for.
They have no desire to replace his mom or dad. In fact, they pray for healing and restoration in this young man’s biological family. They just want him to know that there’s a group of people who love him, who see the good in him, and who he can count on.
Maybe you grew up in a stable and loving family.
Maybe you have a stable and loving family wrapped around you today.
What a gift! Sure, every family has issues, but if you have people that you can call and celebrate when good takes place, and that will show up at your side when the bad hits — then you are blessed.
Because not every one has that.
In fact, too many don’t even know what that feels like.
When I was growing up, there were families that opened their home to me (and others). We played games. We ate brownies and popcorn. We toilet papered the neighbor’s house (this was after they went to bed). ♥
Like a kid in a candy store, I watched how they interacted. The words the man spoke to his wife. How the mom offered love in the form of gooey chocolate cookies. How they fussed at one another, and at the kids, but lightly and how they worked through conflict on the bigger stuff.
They had no idea the impact they had on my heart by letting me be a small part of their family.
When Richard and I married we decided our home would be a sanctuary of sorts.
Over the years we were blessed to have a few live with us for a short time, while others stayed longer. Some showed up on Friday nights. Some came for dinner.
We didn’t have a perfect home — not in the Pinterest kind of way.
We didn’t have a perfect family — but we did have love. We had food. We had laughter.
And we had Jesus, who held us all together.
If we believe that everything we have belongs to God,
does that include our family?
I think it does.
One young mom from my church said, “I invited a college student to spend time with my family. I was worried because most days I’m in yoga pants in a toy-strewn house with loads of laundry waiting to be folded.”
She invited the girl to come once a week to her home and live life with her for a few hours. They folded laundry. They played with the kids. They went to the park. They had lunch.
Nothing big, but as they folded clothes this college student saw a young mom balance the nitty gritty of motherhood. They talked over sandwiches and interruptions from toddlers. They prayed together.
It doesn’t seem like much, right?
Except living life with each other is exactly where the glory of God can show up.
What does this look like for you? I don’t know. That’s a you and God question. For us, it means that we don’t wait for our home to be perfect before we let people in.
It means that holidays are super special for family, but family might include someone who doesn’t share our DNA.
It means that there will be non-related people who see me without makeup (gasp), or running gleefully after a grandchild who just sprayed Gaga with a hose.
It means that we eat together and if the Pinterest recipe goes south, we order Subway sandwiches (umm, I love a mean chicken-bacon-ranch on honey wheat).
Family. It’s a gift.
Are you sharing yours?
You just might be the family someone has been praying for.
My example of family didn’t come to me until after my daughter was born. I had a wonderful woman take me under her wing. She invited me to her home and just loved on me and my family. She introduced me to God in a wsy I had never met him.
Next week, my family and I are starting our own lifegroup! We are so excited to open our home to this group that God has handcrafted for us. I can’t wait to extend the same love and grace through my family that Judy extended to me through hers. Thank you for this timely reminder.
What a perfect way to create community and family!
May you be blessed beyond measure for sharing your heart and home! Small groups to share life and the Word with are such a blessing!
Thank you Suzie! As always spot on for my heart! I bounced from open door to open door growing up! I have so many wonderful memories of families who welcomed me in. I love that you pointed out we don’t have to try and be a mom/dad and we can pray for their biological family. This is near to my heart.
The one thing I know about you, Jodie, is that you love well. <3
Thanks Suzie! I’m a work in progress. I’ll be loving on some girls tonight at pop up bible study! Pray for us! Love you heart for ladies and for Jesus!
Thank you so much for this today Suzie. I know the Lord has brought us to this new place for a reason and to reach new people and maybe part of that is being family to someone. I am so thankful that P31OBS became family to me after moving to the US and being apart from my DNA family. The love that has surrounded me through OBS brings tears to my eyes and if I can do that for one person it would be incredible! 🙂
So Sarah, I listened to your video the other day and it’s the first time I heard your accent and realized you were from outside the states! I love finding this out about you.
What a beautiful post, Suzie. I never thought about us being the family someone is praying for in that way. I will certainly keep my eyes open more now.
Once you open your eyes, you’ll definitely see. It might not be people living with you, but just having them over for dinner or hanging out on a walk. It’s being open to whatever God wants to do through your family. When our kids were growing up, my prayer is that they would see their own family one day as “God’s” to do with as He desired. Currently, one of my daughters mentors a beautiful little girl, scooping her up once a week to do life with her girls the same age. My other daughter and her family just loved a teenager (and my daughter is only 31) all the way through his senior year, opening their home for him to live in and tutoring him and treating him like a son. He just left the nest to live on his own and go to college, something I know wasn’t possible before they loved him. My son reaches young adults all over the nation, breathing dreams into them. So, while we were offering up our home to God, God was imprinting on my childrens’ hearts the concept of loving others. It was a double blessing and I didn’t even know it.
DOING LIFE TOGETHER…simple. real. just like Jesus! Thanks…a great post!!
Psalm 68:6a: “God sets the solitary in families;”
God did this for me when I was in college! The family God gave me was vital during 9/11/01 when our country was shaken apart and we had no clue what would be next. Even though I was a single adult living on my own, they let me spend the night at their home for a couple nights (they wouldn’t have it any other way either) and we prayed those days through together.
How beautiful! The stories from 9-11-01 will continue for generations. I recently was able to visit the museum and my heart was breaking but also filled with joy to see and remember how we pulled together to care for those in need. May we always, always love and care for the needs of others.
What a great example of opening your home in a crucial time.
I loved this post, Suzie. I want to be more like that. ~gina
It’s a prayer that you can pray, Gina, and I promise God will bring someone your way. <3
This is just beautiful, Suzie. I believe sometimes we overcomplicate it but when we open up our lives and our homes, beautiful things happen, even without Pinterest perfect desserts and homes. When my husband and I moved over 2,000 miles away from my family several years ago, the friends we made became our family. I was SO grateful for them. Thanks for sharing your heart here today. So inspiring.
When living life is where the glory of God shows up, connections form. Like the the links that connect a chain, the memories store in tandem replicating a bond similar to that of a family. Sometimes stronger because there is soul connecting taking place. What an encouraging reminder to love well.
Suzie, I’m an only child – of divorced parents, only niece, and only grandchild so I lived much of my life grafting those I held dear into my heart and my family. Thank you for bringing life to convictions I developed as a child in this post. I so appreciate your words. Isn’t it wonderful that an only child can have many extended relatives in the body of Christ. Be blessed! – Kia
This is beautiful Suzie!
I had a broken home, Mom 6 states away and lived with Dad and my Step Mom.
But when I met my husband, though he also had a step mom, I learned that the home could be a haven.
And though I never learned what a gift hospitality could be, because of the influence of his step mom and his mom, he was “the hostest with the mostest.”
When we were newly married he was always inviting people over for games and meals. We did that some growing up, but not like this. To him, he just always wanted to share it with others.
Today, we are working to be that haven of rest on earth for our own family and others. And we have lots of opportunities because we live in a college town!
I am thankful that I learned hospitality from one of the oddest places-my hubby!! 🙂
You make a great point that I don’t think about often enough. What a blessing to be a place of encouragement and refuge for young people. I will be remembering this! Thanks for sharing this.
May God bless you for opening your home and your hearts to others! Thanks for the inspiring post & for hosting & God bless!
What a lovely post! I want to be more like that and am working on it