Sunday, June 25, 2006

Wearing Out Your Welcome

When I was growing up, my mom would tell me before I went over to a friend's house to play, "Don't wear out your welcome." In other words, don't make your presence taxing to your hosts. Some people get this feeling when they've had house guests for an extended period of time. Its difficult to be "hospitable" over time. Why is that?

Kristina has only been here four and a half days and yet I find myself growing weary of being hospitable. "What!" you say, "Shocking!" But this state doesn't really have anything to do with her. My day in and day out routine has been interrupted. My comfortable way of life has been altered. As much as I want to provide for this child, it is a struggle to do so. Her very presence forces me to examine my mothering skills. After many years with my own children, I don't find myself questioning why I do the things I do with them. But with Kristina, I must look at where my weaknesses are as a mother and as a womanly example. And so I am weary of being hospitable. Its much easier to do things the way I have always done them. But my "house guest" has caused me to look at the relationships in my life. That's a painful process.

For those of you who are checking in to hear about Kristina's experience, I apologize for the running commentary. Let's get on to what you're really here for! Today is Sunday and we went to church or "Jesus' house" as Kristina called it. I used the online translatr to explain where we were going and what to expect. I asked her if she knew who Jesus is. She typed her response in Russian and cliked the translate button. The screen said, "Son of God. The divine one." Kristina has been particularly blessed to have a number of Christians in her life. People like Galina, Larisa, Olya, and Lela have faithfully ministed the gospel to the children in her class. We attended early service at St. Andrews and then to Orangewood for a quick visit. It must be difficult to not carry on a full conversation for several days and so I wanted her to be able to see Alex and chat a bit. She did fine at both places. I had forgotten how easily she gets cold. She is not accustomed to air conditioning. By the time the offering came aroud, her hands were like ice and she was shivering so we slipped out of the Orangewood service. We headed home and enjoyed just vegging for the afternoon. We had plans to swim at Patti's house again until I got a call from camp and learned that Joshua had hurt his hand and was going in for an X-ray. You'd be proud of me! I didn't go into a tail spin at all! We waited for the return call to learn that he had fractured a finger but would be fine. Later in the evening Sasha called to invite me to movie night, a long running tradition with these girls. Kristina and I headed over to the Torrez home and had a wonderful time. She is becoming more and more at ease with the people in our life. She instantly took to Gabby (I think the two of them are a lot alike :). After several loud card games, pizza, and endless Torrez puppy kisses later, we left for home to keep from wearing out our welcome. I think we will take Kristina bowling tomorrow. I'll take new pics and post them soon!


kelly said... are human...and a much better hostess than I am.

When guests are in my home, even ones I dearly love, my mind is often wandering to the things I "need" to be doing or to the "disruption" in my routine.

It is not an indictment of my guests...just my own silly compulsiveness. So, you are way ahead of me (if that offers anything).

Leslie, go easy on are doing beautifully! XO, Kelly

Kim Houck said...

I was feeling the same - and equally as guilty, you don't have a corner on that market. I feel like I have to entertain Alex, even though I know that it isn’t necessary. In living our “normal” everyday lives, I’m still trying to “add” to his experience. I baked a cake for him this evening. In a million years I would never bake a cake for my family but I did it to please Alex, even though he didn’t ask. I just sat down to look at your blog after standing in the kitchen icing the cooled layers. The thought going through my head as the page loaded was “my calf hurts from standing on the tile floor all day. What have I been doing in the kitchen all day – I have nothing to show for it but a silly little cake?” For those of you who don’t know me particularly well, and for those of you who think you do, I’ll let you in on a little secret: I’m not Holly Homemaker. I don’t cook Joey breakfast and lunch. For years he has been responsible for these meals. Dinner is hit and miss; sometimes it’s a fabulous meal but more likely than not it’s what Joey calls fend-for-yourself. Today I cooked three meals and then baked a cake. So has my guest worn out his welcome in less than a week? No. I am making changes to my everyday life for him. Unasked, unnecessary and certainly not required but none the less a disruption to the fairly selfish way I normally spend my time. But I wouldn’t change it for the world. If nothing else, Alex has quickly shown me a very long list of shortcomings I need to be more aware of.

Alex has asked me for nothing except of food. But I’ve planned outings, special meals, bought clothes and toys just to name a sample of the preparations for his two week visit. All Christ has asked of me is love. I scoffed at Patti when she said to me that this was me stepping outside my comfort zone to be Christ’s love and in doing so, my way of returning a small portion of the love Christ has shown me. Leslie, I have told you so many times how incredible it is that you have such a heart for hearing and following the Spirit’s voice. I’ve witnessed others repeating how incredible it is, this outpouring of love you have for Kristina and your wiliness to embrace her. And I’ve had people repeat to me as well over the past week how gracious it is to invite a stranger into my home for two weeks. I didn’t really get it till today. All Christ has asked me for is my love. I think I expected to feel this grandiose swell of spirit, a sense of being filled by the Holy Ghost when I responded to the Lord’s call. Certainly one small boy was not the Lord’s call. But it was, and I almost missed it. I did this because it needed doing. Not because it felt right, not because it is something I am particularly comfortable with but because I had the resources and someone else needed them. It only seemed natural to simple and quickly say yes. Reading your posting about outstaying ones welcome, and feeling very much the same way (I’m glad I’m not the only one!), really made me stop and think about the amount of thought I’d given this enterprise before jumping in. I didn’t think, I just did it. Stupid me, you’d think for all the messes I’ve landed in by doing just that I would have learned by now. I keep wondering why I’m not feeling this overwhelming fulfillment that everyone says I must be feeling. Read II Corinthians 8. (For those of you with busy schedules it’s very short and will only take a minute or two.) It’s a message to the church in Corinth, obviously, where Paul comments not only on what they have given but how and why. They did it because it needed doing, without excessive thought or over planning, but with the true Christian spirit of grace.

So what’s the point of this long narrative besides using your blog as an outlet for my random babbling? I don’t know – and I did get a little off topic so for that I appologize. Maybe you’re not supposed to feel anything because if you serve logically without question it truly is Christ living in you. You don’t have to think “what would Jesus do”, you just do what Jesus would do. Am I not feeling this sense of fulfillment because I’m looking to “feel” something. Or do I already possess fulfillment and just greedily want more? It’s taken a week but I think I’ve figured it out, or at least a portion of it. Alex smiles, there’s my sense of fulfillment. Maybe I need to stop analyzing my motives, my inspiration, and the impact I want to have and start seeing with clear eyes the blessing I am living right now.

patti said...

BRAVO Kimberly!!! I loved reading how God is moving!!! His spirit is incredible in both you and Leslie...the ripple effect that the visit of two orphan children from Ukraine has had is tremendous! I love you all both so much!!!
Kim, I was thinking about our conversation yesterday and thinking about how God does indeed change us. You are changing...Leslie, so are you...I get to watch it and see from a third person point of view what is going on even as God changes my own heart as fallout from your own changing. Leslie, you are being still...Kim, you are finding places in yourself that you didnt know exist...and me, well Im seeing that how I live my life is often one of shall we say, " an unlooked at life " Im thinking!
Yes...Im thinking that GOD has taken "Charlie's angels" and is turning them into something else! I love the view from here! xooxoxoo

Goes On Runs said...

i must say that i envy patti's view..... i get the view via the internet - but how thankful i am to have this insight into what god is doing. thank you leslie, thank you kim for being so open and honest...... and i thought that i would never tire of the bliss of being a mother - then he became a toddler..... thanks lord for showing me where i get lazy and fail to interact with my child. i am so amazed at the mundane things that god uses to show us his glory, his abundance, and his unfailing love for us - through children who don't ask for food, through our own weaknesses, through friends that are sounding boards. how i miss you ladies!!!!