Sometimes I need to remind myself of some of the non-academic benefits of homeschooling my kids, especially when academics aren’t going so well–daily distractions, sickness in the house, kids lack motivation, dishwasher breaks, toilet overflows, dad goes out of town that week for work (where’s the principal when you need him?!), and so on…
I was having one of those kind of weeks when one afternoon my daughter Megan said, “Hey, mom, can we make some cookies and take them over to our new neighbors next door?” “Sure,” I replied. “That’s a great idea.” (Now there’s a distraction I don’t mind entertaining!)
So my girls got busy in the kitchen baking chocolate chip cookies and writing a sweet note to welcome the neighbors none of us had met yet. We prayed God would bless our new neighbors and give us an opportunity to share the love of Christ with them as we got to know them.
I let them take the cookies over themselves (they felt very grown up), making sure they knew to graciously decline any invitation to enter their home, at least until I had an opportunity to meet them myself at a later time.
They came home with nothing remarkable to share. The neighbors accepted the cookies and thanked them, and that was that. “Well, I’m sure you really blessed them,” I tried to encourage them when they weren’t so sure.
A few weeks went by and we all kind of forgot about the incident. Then, in the middle of a school day I get a knock on the door. Opening it, I saw an older thin man with very long, graying hair pulled back in a pony tail, and wearing an old flannel shirt and stained jeans.
My first thought was, “Oh, I bet this is another biker dude who’s going to ask me for some money because he ‘ran out of gas,’ and needs to get somewhere right away.” Then I nearly dropped my jaw as he said, “Hi, I’m your new neighbor, Wayne, and I just wanted to say thank you for the cookies your daughters brought over awhile back. They were really good…No one’s ever done that for me before.”
As I heard his last sentence, my eyes started to fill with tears. “Oh, Lord. Forgive me for thinking the worst of someone because of how they look. Thank You for the tender, thoughtful hearts of my children, and thank You, Lord, for touching this man’s heart by their small act of kindness.” “Come on in, Wayne,” I nearly shouted in reply! I was so happy to have this opportunity to reach out to this man very different from me, but our new neighbor nonetheless, the one the Lord put right next door to us.
Over the next several years, our friendship grew. Our kids looked out for their pets (including a cockatoo that escaped late at night and was flying around in the trees very scared. We all joined him out in the back yard with flashlights calling for it to come home.
My son John met Wayne’s grandson, who lived there for a couple of years when his mom was having financial difficulties. They became good friends, with Tristan sharing adventures with John, and John sharing his faith with him. We even let Tristan sleep over a few Saturdays, when he would join us in family devotions and then go to church with us the next day. He always seemed open to the Bible and we prayed often that boy would come to know the forgiveness and life that Jesus offers.
What I learned from that experience with our new neighbor (besides not judging people who knock on your door by what they look like!) is that when your child desires to bless another person, jump on the opportunity to let them. These are wonderful, God-inspired moments, for them, for you, and for those they want to bless. You never know what God will do if you just say yes.
Enjoy the journey … there’s no place like home,
photo credit: first image taken and designed by Charity Klicka, second image taken and edited by Tracy Klicka MacKillop