December 4, 2013
After the men (and the new couple from our church) had all arrived at our home, Steve gathered us in a big circle and we joined hands to pray. He asked each person to pray a sentence prayer, which was a wonderful way to start things off; in fact, I got downright teary eyed at some of the prayers.
Here are a few examples:
1. Thank you for a second chance. 2. I’m thankful for my family’s love and support. 3. Thank you for Dare Challenge. 4. Dear God, thank you for the support of my friends in this circle. 5. Thank you, Lord, that my dad let me come to Dare Challenge. 6. Thank you for new beginnings and for forgiveness.
Nineteen different prayers—all straight from the heart. The whole day was worth it just to hear those prayers.
After we finished praying, we got right down to the business of eating. I quickly discovered that those guys could really pack it in! (Which made me very happy since I love feeding people.)
It did my heart good to get to be a substitute mama for the day.
Not only did the guys have big appetites they also had big hearts, hearts that were filled with gratitude. Each of them must have thanked us half a dozen times for inviting them to come—they were so appreciative of every small thing done for them.
From the moment they walked in, conversation and laughter flowed freely. It truly did have a family feel to it.
Sarah was adopted as a substitute sister for the day and did a wonderful job of making conversation with a room full of guys she had never met before. She enjoyed their company so much and they treated her so sweetly and respectfully.
When it came time for dessert, Josh looked at the pie plates we had set out and said half jokingly, “Um, do you have anything bigger?” So we got out a dinner plate for him and gave him an eating utensil for each hand. He was one happy camper.
After dessert, everyone drifted into one room and we all started telling funny stories from our lives. Steve got up and regaled us with several of his Classics.
I looked at all those smiling, relaxed, happy faces and thought, “Ahhhh. Such a sweet sight.”
After the prayer and the food and the stories, we went outside for some badminton. . .
and corn hole.
When we came back in, a couple of the guys jumped in and started doing dishes. Dinner plates, dessert plates, serving dishes, pans, and goblets for 19 people? That’s a lot of dishes!
We were about to start a funny video in the living room and yet they were determined to keep cleaning up. I finally had to pull out my Stern Mama Voice and tell them to go sit down; otherwise, they would have kept right on working. Very impressive fellas, and very good dish washing skills!
After watching a comedy video together. . .
it was time to pose for a family photo. The adopted Smiths!
Before the guys took off, we invited them to pack up all the left over food and desserts to take along with them. (Since our church paid for the food, we wanted to be sure they got it all.)
Also, I would just like to mention that when my mom–who is on a very limited income–heard what we were doing, she sent us a check to go toward the food expense. Thanks, Mom!
After doing some additional clean up, Sarah put on her comfy clothes and went up to our bed with Summer for a little post-Thanksgiving repose. Summer is a Professional Reposer.
As the evening settled down around us and the house became quiet once again, Steve, Sarah and I treasured the memories of the prayers, the stories, the gratitude and the laughter we had all shared together on that special day.
Oh. And one more thing . . .
Just in case you might be wondering whether or not Dare Challenge really makes any sort of difference in peoples’ lives, take a quick look at the photo on the left. This is Austin Smith (one of our dinner guests), right before he entered the program.
These photos show him last year (as a student) then again this year as a staff member.
I talked to Austin on the phone just a few minutes ago and asked him to sum up his story for me. This is what he said:
My parents raised me right, but when I had choices to make, I made the wrong ones. I wanted a taste of more than what I had and that led me to a lifestyle of alcohol, women, and drugs. Although I chose death, God gave me life. He has turned my story and my life around and He is using them for good.
What an amazing transformation, one that has happened over and over and over through the ministry of Dare Challenge.
I’ll close with a Dare Challenge Facebook post from the dad of one of the young men we hosted:
Thank you so much for opening up your beautiful home to these young men on Thanksgiving. It helped us to know that our son was part of your family on this day. Thank you Dare Challenge and the Smith family.
If you’d be interested in helping Dare Challenge continue to change lives, you can make a tax-deductible contribution by going to the Dare Challenge website Just scroll halfway down the page till you see the Giving Button.
Thrift stores, fuzzy socks
and conversing with my Yorkie
are all on the list of things I love.