It is what they take with them every time they go that gives me pause today.
Andrea and Cassandra, two struggling migrant teenagers, are frequent visitors to my home on the weekends. They come in like a whirlwind bringing their school work for me to see and recounting every detail of their often chaotic week (...if you only knew!). Sometimes their eyes are red, distant and sad. Sometimes they are hyper and rambunctious. BUT they are always happy to be here.
Fascinated, I watch the transformation as they realize they are in a safe place. There are no drugs, no alcohol, no BB guns, no strange men, no prostitutes here. They do not have to shout or cuss to be heard. They are surrounded by eager listeners. They do not have go hungry. The cupboards are full of nutritious snacks and dinner is always on the stove or in the oven. They do not have to sleep on the floor of a tiny room elbowing their three younger siblings for space. The bed is made with fresh linens and they have a place to call their own. They do not have to be scared. This mom is always home. Hugs are free and plentiful...as is the discipline.
Their time with us is defined by boundaries. They do not watch explicit videos on the computer. PG-13 and rated R movies get confiscated at the door. Cell phone get handed to Knight-in-Shining Armor upon arrival. Text messages are screened. Facebook is not allowed. Respect is demanded...it is NOT optional. We use indoor voices and we all have chores. We are all for one and one for all when they are here, so that means every one participates in marshmallow roasting, flag football, and game night. Prayer is essential. Church attendance is a must. They thrive watching my children respond and react to responsible parents. They soak up the peace and happiness displayed by a husband and a wife who truly enjoy each others company and wear their hearts on their sleeve. Love and laughter are a natural by- product of us weathering the storm of their lives together.
Though they come in like a whirlwind, they leave like a gentle breeze...refreshed and renewed. I never dreamed that two complete strangers, teenagers nonetheless, from the "other side of the tracks" could blow into my life and into my home and profoundly change who we all are.
Yes, on Monday mornings there are always left over remnants of their visit to remind me that they were here and every time they go, they take a piece of my heart.
They are beautiful.