Having so many friends visit has been a blessing in many ways. We've been reminded of the joyful privilege it is to have friends - and reminded as well what a means of grace Christian friendships can be.
Not that we have no Christian friends who live here in North Wales, but when people just pop into your life for a few days or a week of concentrated "friendship" and then leave just as quickly, you tend to feel their presence and absence a little more acutely than those you see more often. And what a range of feelings!
Excitement (because they're coming),
relief (because they're finally here),
fatigue (because we all stayed up late - again),
hilarity (often when up late),
urgency (because you don't want to neglect your regular responsibilities),
longing (from reminders of friends you've left behind),
elation (over good news from home),
and, of course, gloom (because our home seems so empty when they've gone).
We would not want to have friends visiting all the time (who would?!?), but the Lord has taught us a lot through this past stretch as well as given us things to think about and work on for the future.
Things like: How do we stay close to the Lord when our routine is disrupted for several days? How can I lead our home in a way that makes visitors feel welcome, protects Marcia from wearing herself out too much, prevents the kids from going completely feral for lack of normal discipline, and leaves me room to carry on with the work to be done in Abergele?
We so want to build a family life that displays the grace of God to people who visit - but not in a put-on preachy kind of way. Of course, that requires not mere doing of certain things but actually being a certain kind of person - through the grace of God.
To some extent, this is what I've been experiencing this summer, not that I blame anyone of course. It's been fun to see almost every week there are different friends who wanted to see us. But as Steve mentioned on his entry, there is always a cost to pay.
I had not read my bible as regular, I had not do my quiet time talking to my Saviour as I used to do, I lost my quality "family only" time, I didn't give my son and my husband the slice of 24-minus-working-minus-sleeping-minus-household-chores that I used to give.(Just in case you are wondering it work out that I have about 2 hour for that a day). My husband is unable to be as efficient in writing his thesis, and obviously, my lack-of-attention son turn deaf to my command even turn callous to punishment. Even at some point, I feel that office is much more comfortable than home!!!
So why do I STILL accept friend in my house for a stay, for chat, or for consolation anyway?
Most of the time the guilt that bothers me to reject a friend visit, or someone asking for help, which end up make my own schedule, my family schedule, all fall apart. I always think it is the Lord's will for me to be a good Samaritan to anyone and providing them not only with hospitality, but also with my time and money. But I guess, Steve and Marcia make me realise, there is time to say "No" when you need to minister your own family with their spiritual and physical needs.