In my continuing journey to be more like the Good Samaritan—we opened our home and invited people to visit!
First, I threw a surprise birthday party for a dear friend, with more than twenty women coming over to celebrate. We had lots of laughter and fun moments that strengthened our friendships.
Next, we invited missionaries over to lunch and Easter egg dying—which led to more laughter and fun moments as our various personalities came out in our egg design choices. Our son, of course, decorated Batman-themed eggs; our teen daughter decorated hers with quotes from Pride & Prejudice.
Our tween daughter drew beautiful flowers on her eggs; while our youngest took as many of the glasses of dye as she could and then kept her eggs soaking in them, while the rest of us waited for her to decide her eggs were ‘ready’ so we could have a go at the dye ourselves!
We also invited new members of our congregation over for Easter dinner and enjoyed getting to know them and learning that we share a great deal in common.
My favorite guest we invited to a family dinner is a dear family friend. He is widowed, having recently lost his wife to cancer. Bill always greets our children with hugs and smiles whenever he sees them—even now, despite the burden of heartbreak and loneliness he sometimes struggles with.
His visit involved little preparation—just simply adding another setting to our dinner table, yet his visit taught me a lesson that I’ll never forget.
Bill is a 94-year-old veteran of World War II. Over our dinner of salmon, rice-a-roni, salad, & pie, he shared memories of those times. He met his wife at a factory. She eyed him as she walked past his station with her girlfriends. One day, soon thereafter, he waited for her to finish her shift, so he could walk with her. They fell in love as they hung out with friends and talked—not so very different than what our youth do now.
He shared how they got married, even though they had nothing. As he shared, there were no memories of, “Our life was so hard. We had so little.” Nope. Instead, he shared how they lived on little, but saved, even if it was only a bit at a time, and how that habit of saving money helped them when later financial crisis occurred during their marriage.
What great advice for our children, as they begin to look at leaving our home and building families of their own! Save your money, even if it’s only a little.
His father was a travelling insurance salesman. During one house call, the husband came out of the home, drunk, and hit Bill’s father. He was so badly hurt that he had to be hospitalized for the rest of his life—leaving a wife to care for four young children—her oldest was only 9 years old! At 9, Bill lost his father.
By the age of 12, he was stocking shelves at the local grocer to pay for family necessities, in addition to helping his mother with chores and taking care of a border—a man they took on to help pay the rent. None of this came with any complaints as he shared with us—it was just told as his history, very matter-of-factly. When I expressed my sorrow that he had to work so young, his response stunned me. “Others had it harder. I did what I needed to do.”
Again, what great advice for our children! Do what needs to be done without complaint.
Throughout the meal and long after our youngest two had gone outside to play, we continued to visit and enjoy listening to his life experiences. When I asked him to share a life lesson, this WWII veteran shared something extraordinarily ordinary.
When he was a young man, he was outside playing. As he came running around the corner of his home, he noticed his neighbor, a young girl crippled with juvenile arthritis, sitting on her porch. He felt an urge to stop and ask her if she needed anything. She responded that she needed him to carry her inside, because she had gotten cold. He did so, then went back to his former activities.
Thirty years later, he was standing outside of his church when up walked a young family, visiting for the first time. He recognized this same childhood neighbor, Dolly, in the cheerful, crippled mother of three. He watched over the next few years as she continued to come to his church and decided this faith was hers as well. And he saw her husband lovingly lower her into the font to be baptized. Bill watched in amazement as she took on the challenge to mentor and teach the young women of the congregation—despite her handicap.
One Sunday, she approached the pulpit to share her experience with learning that there is a God who listens and hears our prayers. She shared how, as a young girl, she had gone outside without a sweater. The weather was colder than she expected and the cold affected her by making her joints freeze up, making it impossible for her to move. She prayed and asked for God to send her someone to help. Her young neighbor, Bill, was an answer to that prayer.
Bill had tears in his eyes as he shared how that moment meant so much to him—to know that he had been the answer to someone else’s prayer. To know that he had been pivotal in helping another person know that God was intimately aware of her needs and cared for her enough to send her someone who was able to carry her indoors.
This was the lesson for me that night: This man has been in war. This man has raised five incredible children. This man has loved one woman deeply his entire life and remained faithful to her throughout. This man has served and cared for so many. Out of all of his many incredible life experiences, he shared how answering another’s prayer was one of the most tender moments of his life. How I hope and pray that I can also be the answer to someone’s prayer.
Growing up all over the world gave Emlee Taylor an opportunity to see the incredible differences the Lord created in humanity; and even better, the passions we all share as members of the human race: love for family, faith, & a desire to make a difference. Emlee lives life with passion—focusing her time now on raising four children and teaching them to recognize truth and to live true to that truth, regardless of others’ expectations. Emlee is passionately in love with her bestest friend and husband of more than 20 years.