32 Comments

Thanks for sharing, Holly. The decisions we make can often seem to be a battle between closeness and freedom. When to give, when to take care of ourselves. How wonderful it turned out to be a great growth experience for you and your family.

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Holly, this is so beautiful. The writing itself is captivating, and the story equally so. What a study in "opening". Thank you for the gift of this story.

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As I read more of your writing, it's clear to me that God has given you the gift of hospitality. It's a challenge to me, as I am not only introverted but can also be very self-focused. It's easy for me to go about my day and get frustrated when people "interrupt" me or talk for an extended period of time when I'm trying to think about other things (or just want a chance to open my big mouth!).

Your time with Kennedy sounds so precious. Bless you for listening to God and following His leading. It's so true that, as we follow Him and humble ourselves to His service more and more, He uses us to bless others—and works through those experiences to grow us.

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I never considered myself as having the gift of hospitality because my house is often a wreck and not picture perfect. But then while leading a group of young adults through a study on spiritual gifts, they remarked that I had this gift. Me? What? They said that to them, hospitality was more about my being available to sit with them and listen. I'm not sure why I never thought of it that way.

I was very self-focused for much of my life. I'm not really sure when that shifted--maybe it started with what I published in part 1 of this series. Anyway, it's not something that comes easily. I find that I have to be intentional when faced with the decision to answer the door or phone, to speak to someone in the grocery store, or to just listen when someone shares. Not always easy for sure!

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God grows us through those moments! Walking by the Spirit is definitely a daily choice. We're always warring against the flesh, but God brings us into situations that stretch us in the areas He knows we need to work on. I'm experiencing a lot of this right now. It's uncomfortable, but I know it's ultimately for my sanctification.

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What an absolutely wonderful story! I've always thought something like that might happen to my husband and myself, but hasn't happened yet. But who knows!

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But Michael, y’all move too much!🤣 Seriously, though, I do believe you guys are creating bonds with others that will last a lifetime with every place you live--I think of those friends you write about that you met in one location then meet up with again in a different one. Not everyone has a permanent home, but you can create “home” anywhere you go. I know you and Brent do that.

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We do and I value those beyond measure. But I wouldn't mind an opportunity to help a young person out one day. Give them a place to stay, a respite from whatever has made their lives difficult. But, yeah, we need to stop moving for that to happen!

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Some of my most valued seasons were spent mentoring young adults. 18-24 was such a difficult time for me--the most lost period of my life--and I’ve enjoyed helping others as they navigate new independence and responsibilities in education, jobs, love, parental woes. So I can understand your desire to help. I’ll pray for you to be surprised with such an opportunity.

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Beautiful story! So glad Kennedy landed with your family - like it was meant to be! When I was growing up, my cousins had an exchange student for a year, and it was so exotic to have a *real Italian* in our nordic family! 😂

(Loved the “except he didn’t” cadence!)

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This is so beautiful. I would say I'm praying for a similar experience, but I'm afraid that God would say yes 😂

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Right?!

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Nov 21, 2022Liked by Holly Rabalais

"I am notorious, however, for having to learn many lessons the hard way." Boy, can I relate!

I love this story and always believe God has a plan. We're not always let in on what that plan is (usually until later), but I believe there's always a plan. It sounds like there was one with Kennedy, as well.

Have a great Thanksgiving holiday!

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Ha! Glad to hear there's someone else out there like me--although I have some young adult kids who fall into the "learn lessons the hard way" category as well. I think that's part of our human nature--our pride and independence.

I agree--there's always an ultimate plan in place even though God let's us make our own decisions (kind of a like a choose-your-own-adventure book!). I'm so glad we collective chose to host Kennedy.

Enjoy your holiday--hopefully with lots of people you love!

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I loved reading this story - thanks for sharing it.

When I was 11, we opened our house to two native Americans as a host family for the summer. They stayed with us to expand their opportunities to play baseball. I recall how I felt as a child in the house who was forced to share everything - and I loved every minute of it. I don't know who learned more - the two visiting boys immersing themselves in a culture foreign to them...or me and my brother who loved learning about their culture.

I look back on that time fondly. I think that summer with our visitors taught me an incredible amount about cultural differences, acceptance, sharing...you know - being a good human! I hope your boys think the same about their time with Kennedy...

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Ah, the sharing--this was a dilemma for me when Mike and I married. When my boys were small, they shared a room and at some point we all made the decision it was time they have their own rooms. So with impending nuptials and a move into Mike's 3-bedroom house, I was worried that maybe it wasn't "fair" that they should have to share a room again (my two brothers always resented that I had my own room while they had to share). Can you believe we actually thought about adding onto the house so they could have their own rooms?! Typing that now makes me feel so...American!

In the end, I knew it would be okay for them to share because that's the reality of adult life if you have a roommate in college or marry. Better for them to learn early. And it definitely sounds like your host experience did the same for you--though I can't imagine having TWO new people instead of just one!

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It was great, Holly - especially learning about Native American culture through their eyes and realizing their interests were the same as mine. I think it's a shame we are not really taught anything useful about Native American culture in the American education system!

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I agree wholeheartedly! I think it's also a shame that many people live in such isolated worlds without consideration that perhaps not every person holds your same values or lives life the same way you do. When we really get to know someone--their culture and their ideas--we become more educated and open-minded.

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Holly, Thank you for sharing. Your writing is beautiful, honest, and real. Thank you.

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When our son was a toddler we decided, after some debate, to apply for an au pair. We thought it was a simple deal--we host a young person for a year, and they help take care of our kid. Well, the au pairs are teenagers, with all that that entails. We had to become their second parents, though that was never said out loud--helping them cope with homesickness, culture shock, an eating disorder, broken hearts, coming out (yes) and, occasionally, some really awful behaviour. I say "them" because despite, or perhaps because of, all the challenges, we renewed every year for twelve years. Our son is still close to some of them. We had set out to do something practical, and it turned into something so much more.

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I never thought about au pairs being teenagers, Charles. I guess that was a handful! But the fact that you renewed year after year speaks to the value of the experience!

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Heartwarming and encouraging. Thanks for letting us have a window into your experience.

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Nov 20, 2022Liked by Holly Rabalais

Such a beautiful story! I also loved all the photos! Such adorable teenagers!

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I’ve been on the same boat as Kennedy where I didn’t have family around me when I moved to the West Coast. Till this day, my heart is filled with gratitude for the people who welcomed me into their lives and treated me as family. God bless you, Holly! I read your post and felt grateful all over again. 🙏

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I know exactly how you feel! When I had my first son, I lived hours away from any friends or family. I remember, in particular, my apartment neighbors Sheila and Jerry. They were such a lifeline to me!

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Great story Holly! You sure know how to write these things. 👍 It was nice of you to help him. I'm sure you knew all along that this is what you needed to do, even though you had your reservations. And Noah finally got his outside room, although I'm sure you were still nervous about it. I like the photo with the small fish. It might be small but I'm sure the story he tells people is, "I caught this big fish. It was this big (exaggerating it)." We all do that!

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You’re right, Matt--sometimes knowing what we need to do isn’t enough. Making a choice to do is often harder than actually doing the thing. And yes--I was VERY nervous about Noah getting that room!

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Oh, Holly. Beyond gorgeous. A wonderful story absolutely beautifully written. 😊😊😊

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Lovely story! 💟

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