Saturday, 9 January 2016
Food and Friends - A Story of Hope
This sign hangs over our new (ok, we've been here 6 months but it's still new to us) dining room.
And last night the room was full of 15 people, eating and celebrating. Friends who have known each other for years and some brand new ones too.
We had a reason to celebrate too (although this isn't always necessary, as those of you who have been in my kitchen when one of my 'tunes' comes on will know). Last night we were celebrating the journey of two friends who have been on an incredible journey of finding beauty in ashes and hope in the midst of despair. We'll call my friends Beauty and The Chef. Oh yes, food is important!
And to tell their story, I need to start with a confession of my own. I used to be scared of Beauty and The Chef. I often saw them walking to school at the same time as me. Their children were in the same school as mine. I didn't know them. I didn't know how thoughtful, generous and downright fun they were. So I was scared. Too scared to even say hello.
But one day they arrived with their five children at our church gathering, having been invited by someone else. And slowly but surely I overcame my fear and got to know them. What a treat I had been missing!
This last year has been a tough one for our friends. Drugs, fear, financial difficulties and anxiety have threatened to overcome them. Last August, after the drugs had attempted one last kick of death, The Chef made the incredibly brave decision to go into rehab. It would mean leaving Beauty and all the children for up to one year, sometimes with no contact at all. It was a now or never moment and I had enormous admiration for them both at the courage they displayed.
Five months later, The Chef is not only drug free but is also off all his medication. Beauty has had her own triumphs in single handedly parenting the children. And we have watched them blossom. We have witnessed their love for one another grow and have stood to the side cheering them on as they have claimed each small victory. We have seen their hearts soften and watched God bring immeasurable healing as he has gently loved them, spoken to them and treasured them. We have watched their eyes being opened to how awesome their Father God really is. We have seen them become part of our family. And we will continue to walk with them as they carry on the long road ahead.
The Chef now comes home at weekends and sometimes even stays overnight. So, last night, we filled our home with people who love Beauty and The Chef. We ate We laughed. We told stories. We celebrated.
And I looked around, at my dining room full of friends and food, standing in awe of our God who truly redeems situations, transforms lives and gives beauty instead of ashes. Beauty and The Chef are trophies of God's grace and the privilege was all ours to host a celebration of changed hearts and lives.
Hope House was full to the brim of hope. And it gave me shivers for what is to come.