Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Home Group (11/29/07)
TITLE: Hostess with the Mostest
By Kristen Hester
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Nevertheless, when we got home, they tracked their way into the house leaving a trail of backpacks, papers and lunch boxes behind them. They headed for the pantry to hunt for an after-school snack. Meanwhile, I had only two things on my mind: completing schoolwork and getting ready for home group.
“STOP!” I yelled. “Just sit down and I’ll get you something.”
“You don’t have to scream,” said my eleven-year-old as she peeled a banana and tossed the skin aside.
I noticed my nine-year-old son was MIA. “Jaaaaaack,” I called. “Get back in here until you’ve done your homework!” Jack reluctantly put his Game Boy down and returned to the kitchen.
“Sit down and do your homework, young man, and don’t get up until you’re finished.”
“I don’t have a pencil,” he complained. We’ve only kept a collection of 10 billion pencils in the same drawer for his entire life.
“Go get a pencil and start doing your homework.”
I heard sniffling. I knew that noise. It was my overly sensitive seven-year-old. She was crying...again. I gave a exasperated gasp. “What’s wrong with you?”
“Why are you so mean on Wednesdays?” These words should have convicted me. Instead they irritated me.
“I’m not mean. I’m just frustrated because there’s a lot to be done and NO ONE’S COOPERATING. JUST DO YOUR WORK AND NO ONE WILL GET HURT!”
My kids sat on their stools with sad, puppy dog eyes, but I wasn’t moved. “DO IT!” I yelled. They picked up their pencils. My youngest diligently started her assignment, big crocodile tears dripping on her paper as she worked.
I stuffed the casserole into the oven and got out the ingredients to make a salad. That’s when the questions and demands began.
“I need help.”
“How do you spell ‘Antarctica’?”
“I don’t understand this.”
My husband walked in the door and looked at me. I knew he was trying to gauge my mood. I wouldn’t blame him if he turned around went back to work. Thank God he’s too good a man for that. He said, “What do you want me to do?”
“Take <I>them</i> away so I can get ready for home group.”
He looked sympathetically at our children. “Everyone, grab your homework and get in the car.” The kids eagerly jumped down and started collecting their things. My husband turned to me. “I’ll feed them, get their homework done, and drop them off at church. I’ll be back for home group.” I’m a very blessed woman.
There were about five minutes of utter chaos as they gathered their things and loaded the car, but what followed was heavenly quiet. I worked up a sweat over the next hour making sure everything looked perfect.
When the doorbell rang my cheerful disposition showed no signs of the manic monster I’d been a short while ago. I greeted the various members of our group, welcoming each with a smile, but I felt fake. I appeared the consummate hostess, but at what cost? My own family feared me on Wednesdays. As we ate and visited in the kitchen I was convicted by my hypocrisy.
My husband flipped the lights, his signal that it was time for Bible study. We reluctantly ended our conversations and moved into the living room. I took my usual seat next to him on the fireplace hearth. We began with prayer requests.
Each week these friends shared their struggles, yet my own pride prevented me from revealing mine. It was time to be transparent. “I have a request. It’s stressful getting ready for group. I often lose it with my kids.”
“We’re your friends. Please quit worrying what your house looks like,” Cindy said. “We don’t come to see your house.”
“And we insist that you finally let us take turns bringing the food,” Angie added. All the ladies nodded in agreement.
The offers of help poured from my friends. There was no judgment, just encouragement, acceptance, and promises of prayer. “Thanks, guys.” I smiled, feeling a weight lift from my shoulders.
We host a home group partly because we have one of the few homes located close to the church and the children’s programs. Tonight my friends reminded me of the more important reason we host a home group.
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