[To put this post in its proper context, PLEASE READ THIS ONE FIRST from two months ago.]
At various times over the years, Joe and I have needed to find homes where our children could stay when we were away from them. Each time, without exception, I have felt some level of anxiety about doing this.
Who won’t feel flustered about having all those children? Who will accept them and make them feel loved and enjoyed? Who is not too busy to welcome them? Who has the space for them? Who will not see them as a burdensome inconvenience? Who can provide a safe environment for them?
Many times, I would have preferred to cancel our plans, but instead have had to trust my husband’s judgment in the matter.
Well, this time we had no choice! Nine children simply cannot stay at the hospital for days on end! But how could we ask anyone to take on such a responsibility? We knew God would provide somehow. But when He prompted our friends to call and offer their home, and we realized how ideal that home would be, we were speechless at His good provision for us!
That’s not the end of the story by any means! This formerly Amish family has made room for our children in their big home and even bigger hearts during all three of our hospital stays. And they have called us over and over, to renew their offer to take all of our nine one day a week to give me a day to rest. And they keep trying to convince us that we are doing them a big favor by allowing them to enjoy having our children! Amazing!
That is still not all. We have been watching in wonder as God has brought nothing but benefit to our children through the bonds of this remarkable relationship. The cross-cultural experience, the new skills learned, the wide-ranging and thought-provoking discussions, the fun of everyday life in the company of good friends, the close observation of another family who desires to live out what the Bible says in their own unique setting–not only has God’s provision been good, it has been perfect! Perfectly suited for our family, just as God had known and planned it to be.
Would we have planned to have a child with Down syndrome and a serious heart defect? No. Are God’s plans better than our plans? Yes.
Thank you, friends, for bringing glory to God by opening wide your hearts to our children in this way! We thank Him for you. May He bless you as you have blessed us!
This Scripture sums it up~
“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”
The following pictures don’t all have the same photographic quality, but they were chosen for how well they captured the essence of this friendship.
The two Stephens playing together in unity~
Many hands make light work. I mean they make tomato soup.
Joseph tuned their piano. Did you really have to take the whole thing apart and put it back together in order to accomplish this, Joseph?
[He does have a head, by the way.]
He was also able to make himself useful in their home business.
In the process, he learned some of the inner workings of a machine shop.
Sorting machine parts.
Where parents see an excavating project, children see all kinds of possibilities. Hmmmm, there’s some dirt here just sitting, waiting.
We can really get creative with dirt, but…
…wait, is that mud I see?
Mud has even more possibilities. Neat house there, kids!
Yep, mud pies, too! Nice job, Jane!
(Anyone see what’s coming?)
Enough of that sophistication. They’re already dirty, anyway, right?
We’ll draw the curtain over the rest of the scene. Moving on…
Now the real work begins.
Unless you’re one of the spectators…
How many ways are there to swing, anyway?
Lasso golf is harder than it looks.
John Michael grinding wheat on a “millstone.”
A happy Peter~
And a happy James~
My, how quickly the children are shooting up these days. Must be the hard life. Hard work, hard play.
You know it’s a bona fide table if nineteen can fit around it~
One of our big guys with their littlest guy.
Look at these poor suffering kids who have to wash the dishes and sweep the floor.
Yep, they’re suffering through it, all right!
One big happy family!
[Note: With this post we made an exception to our self-imposed rule that we not post pictures of our friends. We don’t want them all to feel nervous around us, never knowing when they’ll show up here in this very public place. So a SPECIAL THANK YOU to this family for giving us your permission to post these pictures! And to Joseph for conquering the task of posting a video!]