A somewhat unexpected surprise

Last Saturday, Elisa and I celebrated anniversary number eleven by (as we usually end up doing on our anniversary) working. That’s just how it has always worked out. Not a big deal. Tons of people are scheduled to work on their anniversary. We did not even consider taking the day off. However, one of the boys treated it as if it were one of life’s great tragedies that we were working. 

Fast forward to last night…..

Elisa and I were off yesterday and spent the afternoon and early evening hanging out at the library with our kids before doing a little shopping in Brookneal. Upon our arrival at our house, we were met at our back door by one of the residents of our house who refused to let us come in. Oh, and by the way, it was really dark in the house and the windows were partially covered.

What is going on?

I thought he was joking at first but then he said, “No, you have to go around to the front of the house and go in that way.” Okay, well, not a big deal. I’m still wondering what is going on in the kitchen but I walk around regardless. As soon as I walked in the house, I could smell food everywhere. Whatever they were making in the downstairs kitchen smelled amazing.

After about thirty minutes of sitting upstairs, one of the boys called for us to come down to the kitchen. When we got to the bottom of the stairs, they all jumped out and shouted, “HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!”


We were led into the kitchen to find a candlelit meal for two awaiting us. The boys had made a well-seasoned chicken breast dinner with mashed potatoes and corn. We were given tea to drink and cheesecake for desert. Everyone left the room and gave us the privacy of the dining room to celebrate. It was such a blessing. I don’t think they even understood how big of a deal it was.


See, I have spent the last seven years of my life housing 70 different teenage boys. For the most part, these boys don’t notice that my wife and I are actually people. To them, we are part of the rules and structure. We are part of what is keeping them from being who they want. The moment they go back home, we don’t exist anymore.

There has only been one other group of boys who recognized Elisa and me on a personal level like this. The fact that they set aside their evening to serve us speaks volumes to the work that is being done in their lives. I am grateful to be a part of that.

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