Roses vs. Thorns

Thank you to the Rodriguez Family for sharing this winter hosting testimonial.

There aren’t words to describe how I’m feeling. I honestly don’t even know. Yesterday, which already feels like months ago, we said goodbye to our host son. There are so many unknowns. Will he be fed well? Will he continue to stand tall? Will he get to keep his belongings he hauled back? Will he be moved? Will we be able to host again? Will he stay safe? We just have to let go as best we can and let God take over. My husband and I agreed, as fast as hosting happened and as insane as it might have seemed to some, this was God’s plan for us. Nothing felt out of place, nothing was shocking to us, it’s as if this was exactly what we were supposed to do and I can’t explain the peace that brought. Challenges, pleasures, travels, joys, heartbreak, stresses, barriers, happiness – all of it was what we needed to do right at this exact time in our lives. I don’t know why and I may never know why but this was right. It was fast, crazy and unexpected. It was God’s will.

Hosting was hard, not because our teenage host son was challenging but because I had three kids instead of two. My toddler said “MINE” at least 547 times per day, my teenage host son said “Steph!” about 390 times per day and my baby cried plenty. The first week felt like the longest week of my life. Possibly even longer than the first week with my newborn son. My already frazzled mommy nerves were a little more rattled. Add in the inability to speak with our host son fluently and I was just DONE at the end of some host days. I also found myself guarding my heart because I (selfishly) didn’t want to hurt when he was gone.

Our host son was an instant best friend to our almost three-year-old son and he loved on the 4-month-old baby like it was his little baby. He learned English so fast, was respectful, kind, patient and smart. I loved watching him love on my husband and kids. Once he learned my name, he never stopped saying it. And, once he figured out how to spell it, my name was written everywhere. I felt like I was back in middle school because he was doodling my name so much. He was a perfectionist, in the best way, he worked hard until a task was accomplished. He was so proud of his freshly made bed and his clothes hanging in the closet. He wouldn’t wear his new clothes initially. I couldn’t figure out why. Finally, I went in with scissors and cut off all the tags. He instantly began putting together outfits. I don’t think he really believed they were his. He most impressed me with cut-out paper snowflakes and soon our house looked like the apartment in the movie ‘Elf’ after Buddy decorated. And what about hosting at Christmas time? How many of us roll our eyes when we think about another Christmas with the family? Or another party? Or another get-together? I’m guilty. I have absolutely been there. Well, talk about a new perspective. My heart was so full of love and joy and gratitude watching our host son on Christmas morning.

“Happiness is doing God’s will.” I remember when I heard that at church and the light bulb went off. The next obvious question was, what does God desire of me? What is my mission? Am I doing God’s will? Our hosting was wonderful, about 89.2% roses and 10.8% thorns. Not perfection. It never will be because we’re human and imperfect and require grace. I have no idea what to do next. There is no perfect answer. My life isn’t perfect and we aren’t ‘perfect’ for hosting an orphan. So, I ask the question, what will you have me do, Lord?

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, Whom shall I send?

Who will go for us?

Here I am, I said; send me! 

Isaiah 6:8


*This article summarizes several different posts from Stephanie’s blog, which can be found here: