My friend, Missi, called and asked if we would like to come to dinner. I told her I would check with the Captain and get back with her. Then I started thinking.
"Did you mean just Robert and me, or did you mean all of us?" I texted just to clarify--wouldn't want to surprise them with eight additional guests.
"ALL" came the reply (now that doesn't happen very often).
Some of the kids were busy, but last night most of the Sims family loaded up and drove out to the country for dinner with our friends.
The house was right out of Southern Living, complete with rockers on the massive front porch, lights in the trees, and a tire swing that hung directly in front of a large pond.
And it only got better from there. Every corner of the house was decorated in the fall theme, the furnishings were beautiful, and pumpkin scent wafted throughout the house. ("I sprayed it all over just before you came," she laughed.)
Our friends have two kids and two foster kids. The little boy has been there for almost a year. We taught him in Sunday school until just a few weeks ago when he promoted out, so we already knew he had made progress.
But just the night before we came to dinner, they got a new girl. "We were apprehensive, she was skeptical," they told us, "but now we are in love."
I'll call her Jenny. To meet her is to like her, and despite her abusive past, her face radiated a purity and innocence that was refreshing.
As our hungry crowd devoured cheesy meatball subs and watermelon, Mark told us about what led them to be foster parents. "I like my peace and quiet, for everything to be in order, like a museum, really," he began, "but we read this book called Radical by David Platt, and something stirred in both of us."
"It isn't always easy," Missi chimed in, "but the kids are on board. They wanted to adopt, in fact, even before we started foster parenting. Now here we are with two foster kids, and who knows what is in the future. But we are willing to do whatever God leads us to do."
It's true. You never know what will happen when you become willing to do whatever God leads you to do. It is why we have ten kids. It is why some other friends of ours got on a plane yesterday to fly to the Ukraine and adopt a family of five orphans when they already have three biological children. And it is why Mark and Missi have opened their home to children who, in Jenny's own words, "just want to be loved by a family."
After dinner I turned Hope over to her brother, Cory, so the adults could sit on that lovely porch and get better acquainted. We listened to the crickets and shared stories of how we met. And we laughed a lot. Then we called all the kids together and prayed and hugged and said goodbye.
This morning during welcome time, Jenny came over to deliver a hug to Mary and Emma. The whole family sat just in front of us in church, and I could hardly look at them without tearing up.
Visiting with friends was like a night at the museum. Not the kind of museum Mark and Missi had in mind when they began this journey of surrender, but more like a children's museum--you might get a little messy, but you sure learn a lot. And it's way more fun.
"It's chaos sometimes," our friends said, "but there is no where else we would rather be."
"But as it is written, 'Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things that God has prepared for those who love Him'."
I Corinthians 2:9 (NKJV)
Just in case you're feeling stirred yourself, here's the link to that risky book.