I was recently talking with a friend about the idea of “sowing” into someone else’s life. So often in hosting, we focus on the sowing that we do in the lives of these children—we keep showing them love and healthy relationships and the heart of the One who loves them the most, and we hope that they will sink into the fertile soil of their souls. This is the reason we are doing this, after all…we want these children to be soaked in love.
But, my friend noted, we don’t always talk about the ways that others have sown into us in order for our hearts to be prepared for this adventure of hosting. Usually, it takes a spark to move down this road of hosting… a Facebook post, a comment, a question. The timing is always different, but without it, most of us would not have hosted.
I have had the privilege of watching two new families decide to take the leap this summer and host. And to celebrate the exciting arrival of their host children, I wanted to marvel at the way seeds have grown in their lives.
The first new family hosting are my friends Joe and Jamie. They go to my church, and they have eight children. I don’t know that I ever would have thought to talk to them about hosting, because it seemed rather silly. They must be so busy investing in the lives of their own children; they really weren’t in my thoughts at all when I considered “host families.” But last Christmas, something changed. A boy was listed and every time I looked at him, I thought he looked like their boys. I had never stepped out and talked to someone about a specific child before when they hadn’t ever expressed interest in hosting. I had had probably only had three or four interactions with them about anything, so talking to them about this was quite a jump. It was really difficult for me, but I finally got up the courage to message them and ask if they had ever considered hosting and if they would maybe consider this boy.
To my surprise, they did not laugh in my face. Instead, they were intrigued and genuinely investigated the idea.
And then they said no.
But a seed was planted. I didn’t know it. I assumed that the no was probably a long-term no. So I was surprised when they called this summer and said “we want to ask you about some children available for summer.” And this is how they found their girl. They will be spending the next five weeks with a beautiful teenage girl.
They have jumped in full force and we have done several fundraisers together. Without Jamie coming alongside me for our recent spaghetti dinner, it would not have happened; there’s no way I could have done it alone. She has amazing skills and it has been my joy to get to know them better. They will always have a special place in my heart as my first official “family” that I am responsible for as a regional coordinator.
The second family hosting is one that has me giddy with excitement: Mark and Sara are hostng an older teenager!! And this is a seed story that I treasure. A year ago, I contacted Sara. I told her that I had seen a post about this hosting thing on Facebook. I thought she might be good at it…maybe…what did she think?
She said that maybe I should start thinking about it myself. And she was so sure I should that she would take personal responsibility for my fundraising. And she did. She organized a hoagie sale, and she stuffed, addressed, and mailed every single one of my support letters.
I never would have hosted when I did without this woman.
Sara’s belief in me was the seed I needed to take that first step. Without her, I never would have met Soccerboy. If he hadn’t come, Bryan & Stephanie would not have decided to host their sweet Sprite. Without Soccerboy, I would not have started writing again, and I would not be a volunteer for New Horizons right now. Most of all, I know I never would have been brave enough to select my dear Sunshine over Christmas without my hosting experiences last summer.
There are no words adequate enough to express the depth of my gratitude for the instrumental part Sara has played in my life. Without her tiny mustard seeds of belief in me, and her love-in-action cultivation, I would not be where I am today.
And now, a year later, she and her husband are hosting, too. I couldn’t be more excited.
It’s funny, because all along, she has said that hosting was not something that their family would likely do themselves. They are very active in serving in Haiti and I know that she really has enjoyed her role as an encourager for those who are hosting. She’s our one-woman cheerleading section.
But all that time she was planting seeds in my life, seeds were being planted in her heart, and her husband’s heart, too. And in a truly 11th hour moment, those seeds blossomed and they found their summer host daughter.
And now, these two families are preparing to get their girls. They are ready and they are eager to have them here.
They leave for the airport in only a few hours.
How I wish I could be a part of the moment of greeting, and seeing all these seeds flower and being used to invest in the lives of these two girls.
But we have five wonderful weeks to spend together, planting and sowing, leaning into each another and into the One who has orchestrated the timing of all of this. And I know that this is only a small part of what might be to come. This is only the beginning.
Welcome, girls. You are loved.