My Host Family
As we sit down to dinner I notice how the meal has been tailored to fit my special needs and desires—gluten free and vegan. Already my heart is warmed.
Seated at the table are three of the sweetest little girls. Charlotte, an 8 year old brunette with the biggest smile, talks about her day and how she has suddenly decided to become vegan. Less than two minutes later this decree is quickly revoked by a strong desire to eat ice cream. Seated across the table is Audrey, also 8 years old. She has the most beautiful blonde hair and hopeful eyes. Audrey has cerebral palsy, which keeps her from verbalizing words, but doesn’t stop her from communicating through sign language. She is incredibly smart and knows exactly what is going on around her. Audrey’s smile and laugh are pure joy—absolute, perfect joy. Finally, in the corner high chair playing with plastic forks and spoons, little Ruby grins. Ruby is 6 months old and is constantly smiling. Having very little experience around kids, I have gotten used to crying babies. As if Ruby knows, she offers grace in the form of a big toothless smile and sweet attempts at words.
Dave and Marni, the loving parents of these girls, sit down to eat with all of us gathered around. During dinner we get to know each other and discuss the epic adventure that led me to Newport Coast. I am suddenly faced with the reality of how much I miss the family dinners I had growing up. Every single dinner, until volleyball started. As I drift away from memories and casually slip back into the conversation, I notice that Audrey has spilled her full cup of almond milk. Without hesitation Marni stops eating, comforts her, and grabs a towel off the counter. After gently cleaning the spilled milk, she returns to the refrigerator to fill her cup. Marni greets Audrey with a full cup of almond milk. Audrey smiles, signs her appreciation, and continues her meal. She spills her milk a few more times and is relentlessly met with love and a full cup.
I stop eating and realize what a beautiful picture of grace is before me. Little Audrey might not realize it yet, but her parents are teaching her the grace of God. Audrey would have been fine with less almond milk, probably the amount that she could logically handle—but Marni’s grace is greater than logic. She wants her little girl to be taken care of and know that she is loved. She doesn’t give Audrey the half-full cup she deserves; she gives her more—the full cup.
Dinner with my host family for the first time was the perfect preface for the relationship we share. Already they have given me more grace, love, and trust than I deserve. They took me in as a perfect stranger and have made me feel welcome beyond anything I could have imagined.
The way they handle their lives, from raising their girls, to making Jesus their highest priority, is incredible. Like every other person on this earth, they are not perfect, but they have been placed perfectly in my path by a loving and intentional God. For that, I am grateful.
Please join me in thanking God for my host family and asking Him to continue to bless them.