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The Kansas Road Trip

Posted: April 17, 2015

Last weekend I was down in Lawrence, Kansas visiting my youngest son. It was Mom’s weekend at his fraternity. As I drove through two hours of snow and sleet, I was finally rewarded with spring when I crossed the Kansas border. The tulips and lilacs were in bloom. Everything was lush and green, because of the recent rain. I always love a road trip! Usually, I am traveling with my husband and children. We have missed Kevin, because he was not able to come home for Easter. His invitation was a great excuse to visit!

When I saw Kevin, I thought he had grown a couple of inches. There was a new confidence in his stride. What was unmistakable was his upbeat mood. He is a happy freshman. He likes college and has met lots of new friends! Kevin made a point of introducing me to one of his friends, Josh. I liked him the minute I met him. He had a big engaging smile. Josh quickly extended his hand when we were introduced and was very friendly. Kevin said he was really motivated and saved thousands of dollars for college and also took a self-funded gap year and traveled around the world by himself. When Kevin started telling me about his family, he said, “He’s from a family of 20, I think.”

I was curious and hoped that I would have a chance to meet his mother. I got lucky and met her at the dinner dance on Saturday night. She was lovely. After we started talking, I asked her about her children and wanted to know if she had 20. She said, “No” we only have 14. I didn’t say, “Wow,” but I was thinking it!

As we started talking, I asked her how she came to have 14 children… She said they had four birth children and, “the rest joined the family.” She said it began with her daughter. She said when her daughter started first grade she asked, “Who wants to be friends?” She said, “You know how some children collect stray animals, well… she said my daughter found stray children instead.”

She said in middle school and high school when she heard about kids who didn’t have any place to stay, she invited them to come to their house. The children range in ages from 16-30. She said Josh has a brother from the Congo who is the same age. I wondered how she managed so many children and she said simply, “grace”… She said they all love each other and get along. 

As I listened to her story, I was deeply moved that they found a place in their hearts for all of those children. She was smiling and laughing as she described meals and the luck of having a chef in the family. She said their house wasn’t large, but there was lots of love. 
In that moment, I was so delighted that my son made friends with a boy who had so much love in his life. What my son admired about his friend Josh was his family and his own determination to travel and to go to college. 

Over the years, I have often prayed that people will be sent to our family. I thought this was another way that God was opening a door for my son far away from home… 
The hand of God is always moving through our lives. Sometimes it is through the hand of a stranger, sometimes it is through a beloved family member or a friend. God’s presence is always with us. Love shows itself in so many ways.

During the weekend, another mom introduced herself. She said that my son had stayed at their house in Kansas City. I thanked her for her hospitality. Her son had driven him to the airport and picked him up at the, “crack of dawn” for the Thanksgiving holiday. She said, “He’s welcome anytime”… Again, I thought what a gift that another family had opened their home to my son.

Our lives are blessed by acts of generosity and kindness. Sometimes, we may not know how our actions touch the lives of people we meet. As I drove back to the Twin Cities, I savored all of the new friends I met over the weekend. And, enjoyed the miracle of spring!

--Maura