11 Mar Stretched to Love
A Host family’s journey to provide care for a homeless mother’s children
It feels like we jumped straight into the deep end of the pool in terms of our first experience hosting. We had barely finished the application to become a host family before we got a placement with 2 siblings: a highly energetic 3 year old girl and an eight year old non-verbal autistic boy. We have 3 kids of our own, one of whom is autistic, so we had a great set up for hosting these two, but I honestly wasn’t sure if we’d be able to do it. My husband was pretty confident we could do it. I think we were both right in some ways.
In one way, of course we had the capacity. We had the space in our home and car and schedules for the extra kids. My husband works from home and I’m a stay at home mom, so we could both be there for the kids as needed. We rearranged our house, our sleep schedules, our routines; we added childproof locks to everything and bought clothes and extra food. But in other ways, we definitely weren’t ready. I don’t know if you can ever be ready. There were sleep interruptions galore, 5 kids all needing attention all the time, tons of extra diapers to change, a new relationship with the kids’ bio-mom to navigate, schools and doctors and extra expenses … it was exhausting. But three things stick out in my mind from this experience:
1) God called us to do this. He told me at the beginning that it wasn’t going to be easy, but it was going to be good. As usual, God was right. Getting to know the kids and love on them was such a privilege!
2) This was an amazing service to both these two kids and their Mom. We helped them so much more than I realized when we first agreed to do this. They probably would have been out on the streets without this program, and instead Mom was able to get back on her feet, find services and housing, and we were able to return the kids to living with their Mom! We were a stable, loving environment in the midst of chaos. We were not perfect, not by any stretch, but we were God’s hands and feet and house and love when they were desperately needed.
3) The only way to grow our capacity to do something like this is by doing something like this. By taking care of these kids, loving them and providing for them, God grew us more into the people He wants us to be. We were able to do it, even if it was hard and exhausting, because we said “Yes” and then were willing to grow into the roles that God had for us. And now we know going forward that we can continue to say “Yes”, because we are better equipped than before and because God is good and will grow us to provide what is needed.