Updated: Oct 7, 2018
I’ve written all about my family in previous blog posts, but I’ve never shared about our other “daughter”. Last year, we opened our home to host a terrific, young lady named Liv. We were surprised at how quickly Tim, myself and our three kids made the decision to be a host home/family for her. It was scary, yet we decided to stick to my favorite motto: "Do It Anyway". My daughter, Ellie, found out what it was like to have a sister and for that alone, I’m grateful.
We had mutual friends that put the need out on Facebook last summer. Tim told me that there was a young lady that had received a full scholarship to The Ailey School, Manhattan, but was in her last year of high school and would need a host family. After meeting Liv's family on Skype, the decision was made and in less than a couple of weeks, she arrived. Little did we know the firecracker that would come to live with us for nine months! It taught us a lot about who we are as a family. It showed me that my children can open their hearts to others in a way I don’t think I ever could at their age. I can honestly say we miss her thumping around the house, getting ready to go into the city for her day of dance class. The first family dinner night together was quite the surprise for Liv. Five loud and opinionated New Yorkers were enough to scare anyone right out the door!
I was thinking the other day about this moment with her. On her 2nd to last day with us (sad face) I drove Liv to the bus stop early in the morning. I had so much to accomplish that day; chauffeuring, airport run, etc. Getting in the car, I forgot I didn’t fill my favorite closed lid coffee mug, but the Yeti one with the opened top. Well, shall we say I found myself sitting in a puddle coffee? Yes, we shall! Maybe it was just a little too early of a start. I turned to Liv and said, “Girl, if you come back to NYC for any reason and don’t come to visit me, I will write you off! You will be dead to me!” Then I said, “Not really. I just always wanted to say that. I think I heard it in a movie once.” As we cackled laughing, I realized just one more day and she would be on her way back home to North Carolina. We look forward to her visiting us again. Thanksgiving would be pretty terrific and our hope is that she returns to NYC for college. I thought it was hard to love others. Its difficult to make room in our hearts. I believed there was a limit to my capacity, as if the love I had for my nuclear family took all I had. But I’ve learned there is always a greater capacity for love. All it really takes is being open to it. I know, it’s dangerous to love in that way because we don’t know what the outcome may be. We may open up our heart to others and they may wind up rejecting that love or take it for granted. But oh, to fully love is to fully live. Making room in my heart to love others has enriched my life, not diminished my capacity to love.
You never know what adventures await when you love another. Les Miserables is our family’s all-time-favorite Broadway show. At the end, the last line that Jean Valjean sings before crossing over into the great unknown is a lesson hard yet won. He sings, “To love another person is to see the face of God...” So beautiful and universally true. Another great story I have always loved is the life of Mother Theresa. Recently, I laughed with my husband, Tim. I told him it’s really hard sometimes to follow my favorite Mother Theresa‘s “Do It Anyway” motto. At the end she says do it anyway; love immensely, serve greatly, even when others don’t reciprocate. She says "do it anyway" because it was never between you and them, anyway.
I choose the path that is less traveled. It's the path that Jesus showed is the best way. Not the easiest, but definitely the best. The reason I said it was hard to love was because sometimes you just feel like you get kicked in the gut, time and time again for your kindness. Though I've determined to choose to “Do It Anyway”, I have to remind myself that it was never between me and them, anyway.