Growing up, I hated that my parents had such inviting spirits. I'm embarrassed to admit that, but I did.
Most Thanksgivings, Easters and numerous other holidays, we didn't simply sit as a family around the dining table. Instead, we broke bread with folks from around the world and various walks of life.
Just like their parents before them, my Mom and Dad (who both worked at my university) always welcomed in college students who weren't going home because they either lived internationally, or simply didn't have the funds to catch a flight for the few days of vacation. They invited in new families they'd met at church, or anyone in situations were they would be alone on a day that might feel a little lonely.
As a child and particularly as a high schooler, I rolled my eyes in irritation and displeasure at the hospitality that was shown to those I considered to be outsiders. Though I liked the idea of opening our home in this way....I wished it wasn't my house that was constantly full of strangers and non-family members on days I wanted to simply enjoy my family.
I SOUND HORRIBLE, DON'T I?
Christ was definitely still working on me and opening my eyes to other cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds. He knew one day opening my home would become a passion and gifting straight from Him.
I think not only that though, He was working slowly on splitting my heart wide to the idea of opening my home and not considering non-family members to be strangers.
Because eventually my household would be filled with children and others who may not biologically related to me...yet are 100% my family, in the most absolute and unconditionally concrete way.
God was allowing me to see in my parents what I needed to learn as a follower of Christ...
Or as The Message version translates verse 40...
Oh Lord, that we not overlook and ignore anyone.
For we're all precious to You.
Many years have passed since those days of rolling my eyes and suddenly we are one of those without family nearby. Even though we're a large gaggle of craziness, it does still get lonely on holidays.
When we first moved to Denver, we begun having what we so unpolitically-correctly call "Orphan Holidays" and invite in folks from the military, unmarried friends, or acquaintances who have recently moved to town or don't have family in-state.
Three years ago, we were having one of these Easters. We had invited my cousin who was in the Air Force and stationed only an hour away. We also opened our arms to one of the student teachers from our elementary school, as well as several others.
It was going to be a full day of fun, the house brimming with people...just the way Ben and I like it.
As we loaded up into the car after a beautiful church service celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus, I helped the little ones fasten their seat belts as I chattered away about last minute preparations and getting various dishes into the oven.
I was so preoccupied by my own prattle and planning that I didn't catch Ben so quiet in the drivers seat, as he poured over his phone ever-so-intently.
After clicking my own seat belt into place, I finally looked over at him and saw tears beginning to stream down his cheeks. Confused, I asked what on earth was going on.
He simply handed me his phone with a wobbly smile and said, "Look!"
On his phone was this photo...
Confused, I kept scrolling to see this one...
...and 20 more photos like them.
Down and down and down I scrolled on Ben's phone, my mind reeling at the images before me.
I finally looked back into Ben's eyes, dumfounded. "Who is this?" I asked. "Who is this infant girl with Abreham?"
"She is our daughter," he replied.
I scrolled up quickly to read the beginning of the email and in it, I read that it was "our turn" on the baby waiting list.
Like little children, Ben and I first begun to snicker. And then giggle. And moments later, we were laughing so hard more tears streamed down our cheeks as we rejoiced in merriment at the surprise of it all.
The kids sat silently puzzled in the backseat, as we remained in the now-empty church parking lot.
"When did we put ourselves on the Baby Waiting List?!", I chaffed.
He looked at me bewildered. "I don't remember. We kept going back and forth on whether to adopt another baby or for you to get pregnant again...I guess I must have decided to just put us back on the list and see what happened!"
I looked at the photo of Abreham again. Our son. The one months ago, God had shown Ben and I on different social media outlets on the very same day. Impressing upon our hearts that this boy was ours even though we weren't looking to adopt an older child again. At least not yet.
He was waiting for paperwork to be completed so he could come home...and now he had a sister in the orphanage with him. He had family right there in his arms, a world away.
I could not believe it. Absolutely could NOT handle the goodness of our Heavenly Father on this day of rejoicing the rising of Christ.
The tomb is empty. But our hearts are not.
Let us open our homes to orphans...whether this means children without the love of a family...or simply those in need of a figurative family on a day where they may feel alone. Let us invite them in.
Because what we do for them, we do for... and to God.