Today is an emotional day, because today we end what a friend called a 'Grand Social Experiment.'
27 months ago, we started our long term house sit of a huge house for some extremely generous friends of ours. All they asked was that we share the blessing with others who may find themselves in need.
15 months ago our friends the Bookers took us up on the offer and moved into the second floor of the house. Mom (Amy), Dad (Kevin), 3 boys (Kaden 9, Jesse 6 and Ransom 3) and 1 baby girl (4 months) made the jump from being friends to being family.
In the beginning there was lots of feeling mortified as our kids did the kinds of things kids do at home that you somehow manage to avoid them doing in public. And there was a fair amount of being mortified at ourselves, and the way we kept house, or parented. But as Amy put it, the secret sauce was "radical grace". Choosing patience, never letting anything fester, and coming to the place where you will genuinely miss being woken up in the night by a crying baby, who became a wicked cute toddler who likes to wake everyone up by throwing things out of her crib.
We knew from the beginning that this would probably not be a forever arrangement. That hasn't stopped it from being an emotional few weeks since they found a phenomenal deal on a little house just outside of town. My Silas felt it first. Since the announcement he has been "off" and not able to articulate exactly why. I was in denial, even when they started taking load after load over to their new place, as they slowly began the moving process. It didn't really hit me until I went upstairs one day and saw just how much they had moved out.
Their kids spent one of their last weeks away, and the house was just too quiet. A portent of things to come. My boys didn't know what to do with themselves with out their extra brothers around, and we realized just how much joy was moving to that little house just outside of town. Even my dear overworked wife whose schedule keeps her working 13-15 hour days has been getting up early to savor coffee and toast with Amy. My dear wife, who, even when it was just the two of us, found 1 person too overwhelming until she had spent at least an hour in silence with her bible and a cup of coffee, has spent her first waking moments several times this week in the natural chaos that is 5 little boys and 1 baby girl, just to savor the last drops of the joy that the Booker family has brought to our home.
My Silas has learned that leading means putting others first from Kaden (and man I will miss having you mow the lawns!). We've all gotten a little tougher as Jesse's 'nothing slows me down' attitude and abundant energy have rubbed off on us. (you seriously are one of the strongest, toughest people I have ever met) Infectious laughter has been a constant in our house as Isaac and Ransom laugh at anything and everything the other says or does. Little London has blossomed from a 4 month only baby to a year and half old little lady who will take my hand and sit me down on the carpet and play with me, clapping her hands when I finally understand what she is trying to get me to do (I am the only one who can call you princess).
I've been grateful for a brother living under my roof. Whether its remembering to take out the trash when I forget. Fixing little things without being asked, using his snow blower to keep a path clear to the wood pile for me, almost weekly basketball games, or just being someone I can bounce big ideas off, I have treasured our unexpected deep conversations in the kitchen as you cooks up you latest kill, and lots of free samples of venison.
Then their is Amy, who has made my transition to "house husband" much smoother. She does so much around the house in her constant attempt to bless Shandy. I swear the woman has washed more of my dishes and folded more of our clothes than I have. While she has been trying to bless Shandy, I have certainly been blessed as well. She makes my wife smile, helps her to process big thoughts, and gives her a reason to express big feelings. Without you being the friend to Shandy that you are, she would not have gotten through her lowest points. You have been the quintessential best friend to her and thank you just seems insufficient.
All of these blessings and one more. We've long desired to be a Haven for those who need it. To provide a place where people can step out of some of their stresses and into a place of rest. Given some of our past experiences we've wondered if we were cut out for it. This was not our first attempt at living with friends. In our 8 years together we have lived with extra people underfoot more often than not. Shandy's sister, a guy from our small group, good friends, a single mom and her 3 kids. Ups and downs, some of which made us wonder if we had misunderstood the calling we call Haven. You have renewed our hope that our Haven is a real and tangible thing. That we can be a blessing and be blessed at the same time.
Thank you for being a part of our experiment. We consider it a huge success. You came to us as friends and go out as family. We will miss having you underfoot. We pray (HARD) that God will continue to grow our connection to each other as you embark on the next chapter of your story. May your little house just outside of town be filled with all of the joy that you brought to ours.