In prior columns, I’ve written about wanting to drop the lip from service; not just to say, but to do.
And last month, I finally did.
In June, 70 members of Atlanta’s Shallowford Presbyterian Church Choral Ensemble brought their summer tour to our church. In turn, the church was asked to provide host families.
The request fell on a weeknight. A weeknight when I knew Rett had a work conflict. And, we only have three functioning bedrooms occupying the four people who already live here.
I said yes anyway.
As the date grew closer, though, I started second guessing that decision.
What if they were allergic to or terrified of dogs?
What if they were troublesome?
What if our kids freaked out with strangers in the house?
But the night before, as Rett and I worked side by side to prepare for our guests, I felt less anxious and more excited.
I took extra care to fluff and angle the pillows as I made the bed. I carefully folded our thickest matching towel sets, and arranged them on the bathroom counter alongside a vase of freshly-cut hydrangea blooms. And I stocked the fridge and pantry with all manner of foodstuffs.
By the time the concert evening arrived, my kids were so excited they wanted to dress up.
It wasn’t until they came downstairs, my three-year-old in full firefighter gear and my five-year-old in her Wonder Woman costume, (complete with gold headband and superhero belt), that I realized I’d been outsmarted by kid logic. But with less than 15 minutes until the first number, we’d no time to debate appropriate clothing choice.
The show itself was worth waiting for; we were surrounded by hand bell ensembles, skits and character sketches, and songs that made you want to jump on your feet and shout out loud – very un-Methodist like.
Afterward, as we waited in the hallway to meet the students with whom we’d been matched, several of the ensemble’s senior high girls were good natured enough to make a fuss over my costumed companions.
“Oh my gosh! Wonder Woman! I’ve waited, like, my whole life to meet you. Can I please give you a hug?”
Moments later, we arrived home with our guests – quiet Anna, a rising sophomore, and outgoing Ally, a rising senior. They settled in right away, and before I knew it, there were four pajama-clad kids piled in our den, watching The Little Mermaid and occasionally trotting into the kitchen for snacks.
That night, our master bedroom functioned more like a sleeping porch, complete with air mattress, a five-year-old, her requisite stuffed animal quota, and two snoring dogs.
When my alarm went off the next morning, I flew through the morning prep routine and rushed downstairs, excited to set the table and prepare the morning spread – homemade waffles, thick-sliced bacon, fresh fruit and Dunkin’ Donuts coffee.
We made easy conversation over our shared meal. Even Anna, who’d rather kept to herself thus far, opened up, laughing and sharing stories.
As we finished loading up the car, Ally turned to me in the driveway.
“We have a gift for you,” she said. “Jesus humbled himself by washing the feet of others, and by hosting us, you, in a way, have washed our feet.”
At this time, I internally panicked, praying this sweet girl was not about to try and wash my un-pedicured feet in the middle of our suburban driveway.
As she presented me with the gift (a monogrammed towel, thankfully), I gave both girls a hug, and reflected on Ally’s comments.
I’d not done anything extraordinary, and I felt embarrassed by her words. In no way does a 12-hour stay in my home constitute the work of Christ.
But if I kept them comfortable, and sent them well rested and nourished onto their next destination, where their music could bless others as it blessed me, maybe I did a little good after all.