Oh, what that does to the soul when someone says: “You are welcome here… even if its not perfect”
I was welcomed into the home of Sheli Geoghan-Massie who hosted me for a night before the Redbud retreat. Sheli had never met me before (other than online), nor had she ever come to Chicago’s ginormous O’Hare airport alone. Despite all the reasons she could have come up with to not host me, there she was with a smile on her face and a big hug to give. As a newbie to Chicago, and my first time away from my 18 month old, I can’t tell you how refreshing that was.
I didn’t know a whole lot about Sheli other than her heart for the orphan and her trips to Africa. I was about to find out how amazing she and her family are.
We arrived downtown Aurora, where Sheli, her family, (and very large St. Bernard, Daisy-May) live in an inner city neighborhood where they are a white minority. They even have a bullet-hole in their window for full street credibility.
The 100 year old house was beautiful to me, full of character and history. Walking in the door I instantly felt at home. I was delighted by her three lovely daughters and energetic son. Soon they will be adopting a little boy from Africa who will hopefully be coming home this summer.
In the culture of the city I live in, we seem to think that every child needs their own room. We won’t dare have people over if the house has a spot of dust, and we easily buy into “bigger” isn’t just “better”, its NEEDED.
But Sheli’s three girls share one room – the room they gave up to let me sleep in while they slept in the basement. Their son and future son will be sharing a room. Sheli and her husband’s room is closely situated right across the hall. And they all share ONE BATHROOM.
I was humbled by the love I felt in that home. Here I’d be buying into my culture, stressing over my two sons sharing a room. I’m ashamed to admit that there have been times I have thought a bigger, newer home would be better for us.
Just to give you a taste of Sheli, here’s what she said about having to replace all their windows; “We found out it would cost us $30,000 to get the windows replaced, due to them having to be custom made, so we decided we would use that money to adopt instead”. Do you not just love her?
They would go another winter of putting plastic over their windows to keep the heat in if it meant they could bring an orphan into their home. It made me think, how much could we be doing as a family if we decided some of the stuff we spend money on could instead be used to invest in things moth and rust cannot destroy?
Over just a 24 hour period of time, I gleaned a piece of Sheli’s heart as she spoke to me about her crossing barriers to love on her neighbors. Her passion burst out of every word as she drove by the women’s shelter just down the street from her house; as she toured me around town and past their homeless shelter.
A big home and fancy things look old and faded in the light of what I experienced in Sheli’s home. I am coming home with her heart of rebellion to let go of material possessions and a desire use my home to be a lamp post of hope in my community.
*disclaimer: Sheli’s house was not messy in the least. The title was only to grip your heart to open the post. Looks like it worked 🙂