I remember her well, my best friend's mother...
She always had a kind word for me. I felt loved when I was around her, not the nuisance I most assuredly was.
No matter what trial she was going through, sickness, divorce, or single parenthood, she exuded the peace and joy of the Lord. "Come here, Joye-Joye", she would beckon me from the bed she was confined to by illness, "and tell me how you've been". And she made me feel like I was special to her. She was a beautiful woman, inside and out. I feel lucky to have spent so many of my youngest childhood days at her house.
There is something rare and wonderful and so beautiful about those people who don't merely love their own, but love other people's children as well. Who invite you not only into their homes, but into their hearts too and you never feel like an outsider or that you don't measure up to their standards. You're just accepted as you are, dirty feet, annoying habits, and all.
And now I'm the mother with young children and my house full of their neighborhood friends. And just as my friend's mother planted those seeds of loving other people's children in my heart those many years ago, I'm wanting to follow her example.
Kids track muddy feet through my house continually, snacks never last more than a few days around here- gobbled up by starving youth, there's attitudes and squabbles and sharing issues, dirty cups and loud voices and continual interruptions.
But there's a refrain in the midst of all the chaos, those time tested words of Jesus, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them..." (Matthew 19:14)
I never want to be too busy that I don't open my door wide for the children in my neighborhood to come inside and find an oasis for their souls. To find acceptance and kindness and love. To breathe freely and not feel like they're walking on pins and needles. Not to fear judgment or harsh correction. It's my prayer that I will love them as Christ calls me to, that I will pray for them and let them come to Jesus just as they are, without any hindrance. For what child would want to become a part of the family of Christ if they do not see something in my own family that is desirable?
On the days when I get absolutely nothing accomplished other than serving snacks all day and I'm mopping the floor for the fourth time and cleaning the pool for the fifth, I let Jesus speak to me, let those words remind me of the eternal value of it all,
"Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:13-14)