Sunday, June 10, 2012

Living in a Neighborhood

After our first official week of summer vacation, a Saturday at home was needed in order for me to accomplish some basics around the house, in addition to finishing up a project I've been working on for a friend. As I worked in the kitchen, and then on my laptop at the dining room table, I kept a close eye on the boys outside. It seems that our backyard has become the neighborhood hangout for random boys. Sometimes they come through the side gate, other times they climb over the fence in packs of threes and fours.

This is new territory for me because I didn't grow up in a neighborhood. In fact, you couldn't even see another house from our home. We were tucked away in a meadow, surrounded by wooded hills on the outskirt of a small town. If we wanted to play with friends, parents would plan a picnic at the lake,  or they would drop us off at the ski hills.

So random kids showing up at my house is a new concept. I've never met the parents of these kids-- only one grandparent of one little girl. It's strange to me, this freedom that these young kids are given. Maybe freedom is not the right word. Sometimes little girls ages 4 and 5 come ringing the doorbell for Olivia long after the sun has set. I ask if it's OK with their parents for them to be at our house, and they give some confusing answer about being tossed around from parent to grandparent to uncle to whoever. 

Most of these kids are not the type I trust my kids being around, but I welcome them anyway and keep my ears open and my eyes wide. One little boy, who can be plenty of trouble if other kids show up, seems to find solace here. This makes me happy, even though his frequent presence can be wearisome at times. He used to avoid eye contact with me when he started coming, probably viewing me as yet another irritation adult getting in the way of his rebellious plans. Now we can have little conversations, and I make it a game with myself to catch his eye and smile. I think this is my thing: lonely kids who need affection. I like to bring out a big platter of watermelon, or bowls of fresh popcorn when I can.

My kids seem to welcome these visitors, but have never asked to roam the neighborhood on their own. Occasionally they'll play out front, in which case I'll busy myself cleaning out the car in order to watch over their interactions. Other times I'll have the chance to talk with one of the ladies next door.

A few days ago, I heard the boys trying to explain to one of our visitors that we are Christians. I was happy to see how freely my boys engaged in this conversation, even though they struggled to explain what a Christian is. A few days later they were perplexed when this kid came back saying his mom said Christians have to do with devils. Yesterday, Michael asked one boy not to use the Lord's name in vain when he was at our house. A short discussion followed, but the boy agreed.

This all has been good, leading to good discussions and training here in our home. I'm not sure what the summer months will be like now that all these kids are out of school, but I pray that the Lord will use us. 

Olivia was on her own yesterday as I worked and the boys took over the backyard. She played the electric guitar, unplugged, instead of her acoustic guitar because it's so quiet and soft. I love listening to her. She plays O, The Deep, Deep Love of Jesus beautifully.



  1. Lots of memories for me in this post Katherine.Our yard was always full of children and I loved it.Great lessons can be taught and learned while having friends with us.I always preferred to have their friends at my house where I could keep an eye on them.
    I love to see Olivia playing her guitar."Oh,the deep,deep love of Jesus"was one of her grandpa's favourite hymns and he requested it often during that last summer.He would be so proud of his grandchildren.Lots of love to all of you.Carol

  2. Hi Carol, from Laurie Price (a voice from the past)

  3. And Hi to you Laurie (through Katherine's post).Hope things are going well for you.I do ask Jonathan about your family,remembering how kind you were to them when they first moved.Take care.

  4. this reminds me of a little boy that used to come to our house for dinner. his mom never knew that he'd show up at our house and ask to eat with us. what a ministry you're having.

  5. Katherine, that is SO sweet of you to allow the kids to play in your backyard and you showing such Christ-likeness with your hospitality. To these "neighbourhood" children, your family may the ONLY link to hearing or seeing the Gospel. You might be the only example of Christ-likeness to these kids. Praise God that your kids are already witnessing!


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