I was waiting at a restaurant so popular you often have to stand in line to get a table. She waited behind me. The mother of older teens who had adopted one more.
She spoke to me, perhaps not realizing how profound she was being.
“Just because you’re older, doesn’t mean you’re done parenting.”
We’d had three exchange students by then, but all had come when we had one or two kids still at home.
When I was standing at the restaurant, we were empty nesters. But life can change with one spoken sentence. So my life was changed.
Last week we welcomed our seventh exchange student, our fourth from China. We are host parents to a “son” whose youth group pastor is our grandson.
Our most previous student came first through an exchange program then returned on a student visa. She lived with us for three years.
We took last year off. The nest empty once more, now filled.
We are parenting again. Like real parenting–it’s both a challenge and a blessing. Every worthwhile endeavor always is.
Others have already done the messy parts. The nose wiping and the potty training. We answer questions. We show places and things. We explain life in America.
He explains life at home. He brings another culture to our home, our family, our neighborhood, his school, and our community.
Our walk through life becomes deeper in those places too.
The world roils in turmoil, conflict, and misunderstanding. He is part of another place in our midst for us to understand.
Someday, our nest will be empty again. Eventually, every little bird finds its own place in the world.
Parenting shapes others. It shapes us. There are seasons to life.
But soul shaping remains through them all.