When my student-teaching abroad plans suddenly fell apart (things were getting a little too dicey near the international school I was going to be student teaching at in Kenya), I felt like I had been robbed of one of my ‘great life experiences’. After resurfacing from my sulking I was hit with a scary, basic truth: I had nowhere to live!
Eastern University didn’t offer half-semester housing (understandably) and, even if they did, my roommate had already shuffled rooms so that she wouldn’t be alone once I left. It was too short a time to rent an apartment and too long for a hotel. Plus, let’s face it, I’m not someone who thrives with independent living (AKA: I’m a big ole’ baby).
I decided to put out feelers for a room to rent, and asked the children’s ministry director (I think that was her title! - sorry if I’m misremembering!) who I worked for once a week if she might have any leads. She called me back that day and offered up a room in HER OWN HOME and this remains one of the biggest blessings of my life.
I always loved interacting with Cindy. A woman of the Lord who brightened any room with her glowing smile. And her family? Just as lovely. Cindy and her husband Peter have four daughters but the older two where off at college, so besides brief visits, I mainly got to know Susie and Amy. I was blown away by how welcoming the Eichlings were from the get-go. Their hospitality and graciousness was so genuine and so refreshing.
Even though those few months of student teaching were exhausting and, at times, overwhelming the Eichling home was always a respite. They modeled family devotionals and prayer in ways that I had never seen. Everything about family dinners seemed intentional, relational, and Christ centered. We would listen to Peter read from a devotional book, share how we had purposeful focused on that month’s fruit of the Spirit, and pray for each other. It probably seemed like any every day occurrence to them, but it molded into my heart a vision of what I would like MY future dinner table to look like.
And now at dinner we have a little Preschool devotional we read, and we sing, and intentionally pray, all because they opened my eyes to what family fellowship could look like.
More than just dinner was the patience they modeled in so many situations where I would have been accustomed to... impatience? ;) Their calm demeanor and gentle advice. My heart really felt at rest walking into their home.
There was also such a natural JOY in there home. Quick to celebrate. Quick to encourage. Their priorities were so, so right.
Even though we’ve drifted over the years (but thank goodness for Facebook! ;), I am absolutely convinced God put them in my path at precisely that season of my life. In little ways they have helped shaped the daily structure, and the warmth of my family’s home. Cindy has made a lasting impact on how I mother my children, and how I seek to be generous.
Thank you all for blessing me so greatly. So very thankful you took a chance and opened your home to me.
PS: Thank you for teaching me to play Settlers of Catan. It remains my favorite game and, not to brag, but I’ve gotten pretty awesome at it ;) ;)
For my memory of Allie I wanted to share a photo I stumbled upon in my 2004 scrapbook. This (oh, so flattering) snapshot squeezed at my heart as I recalled us filling out crossword puzzles on the beach. Haha! Oh, man. We were such old souls sometimes, but Allie could turn around and be so goofy the next minute. Next month I’ll share one of my favorite silly moments of her from that summer. She’s still making me smile <3
Behind the Lens:
Jessi lives near Rochester, NY with her handsome hubby and their two 'Lovebugs'.