I’m an American mom who raised two sons, one stepson and one stepdaughter. We were your classic “blended family,” I suppose, and it wasn’t easy. Issues that come up for blended families can be extremely complex.
All four of my children were teenagers at the same time. It was challenging.
I would hear things like, “My dad lets me do … ” or “My mom cooks dinner like … ” It seemed my particular “momming” abilities (for my kids or my stepkids) were never good enough. Consequently, my self-esteem took a beating and I felt unappreciated most of the time.
I have to admit, the years of parenting teens left my heart wounded. The pains of these old wounds have stayed with me. I often wondered if I would ever be released from them.
Then, without expecting it, a special gift from God found its way into my life … all the way from the Dominican Republic.
A Special Call
Last year, Compassion and Moody Bible Institute partnered to raise money for three scholarships. The scholarships are awarded to Compassion Leadership Development Program (LDP) graduates and enable them to come to the United States and obtain a master’s degree at Moody.
When the three scholars were chosen, they flew from their home countries to Colorado for Compassion orientation, and Celina Baldwin put out a call seeking volunteers to host the students while they were in Colorado Springs.
Being a sponsor, I thought to myself, “I wonder if my family should offer to host a student?” and all the memories from parenting young adults came rushing back. I felt a pain in my stomach.
As a compromise, I told Celina to give me a call if she did not get the volunteers she needed. I figured I did my part and was off the hook.
A Divine Appointment
Not so! Celina called. She needed me to host 23-year-old Tony Beltrán from the Dominican Republic. Uh oh! What did I get myself into?
Tony was the first LDP graduate from the Dominican Republic, graduating summa cum laude with a degree in computer engineering. He stayed at my home for 10 days before flying on to Chicago to begin a master’s degree program in theology.
I didn’t know what to expect. Would he be shy? Would he like the food I cooked? Would he want to talk with me? I didn’t know it. But God did. And He had a divine appointment scheduled for me and my heart.
What first amazed me about Tony was the fact that he saw everything through eyes of appreciation and gratitude. He was a computer engineer, but had never seen a dishwasher before. He took great pleasure in saying with a big smile as he loaded his dirty dishes into the machine, “Don’t worry, I’ll wash the dishes for you tonight!”
Tony and I had long conversations about God, school, family and girls. He listened to everything I offered him and took it to heart. He responded with things like, “That’s right, that’s in God’s Word and I want to live an obedient life for God.”
He appreciated the time I spent with him and he was proud to be with me. I made lasagna for dinner and it became Tony’s favorite. He would say to me, “Can you save me a piece of the lasagna? I want to have some later before I go to sleep?” I could feel the healing inside my heart.
Released by a Compassion-assisted Child
Sometimes people can be so kind and caring that my defenses cannot stop the love from coming in. That’s what happened with Tony. He’s such a fine young man and his authentic integrity, respect and appreciation for people (and all that God has done for him) has a healing affect on those he’s in the same room with!
I didn’t realize the full affect Tony was having on me until it was time to say goodbye and I burst into tears.
Looking back, I’ve determined it is because God used Tony to reach the dark places of my heart and heal them. It’s an amazing thing.
I’m an American and I love to sponsor children and release them from poverty (whatever that looks like in their lives), but they in turn release me. Oh we have a very clever God!
If you ever get the chance to host a Compassion-assisted child in your home, don’t hesitate, just do it! You will be blessed in ways you never dreamed of. Oh! You do have that chance.