In February I wrote about the frustration I felt surrounding my family’s busy schedule. The pockets of time I lost in a perpetual cycle of “I don’t have enough” and “not now”. I felt bad about it – and shook my head over it for a while. Then God helped me spot areas in my life where His hospitality and generosity eclipse my ability.  It’s simple and practical and it happens without my thinking about it. I’m learning to ease into a hospitality that works. 

I pulled up to the corner near 125th Street to make an early evening appointment at the National Black Theater.  Three pre teen-aged girls jumped out of my minivan – cute and stylish if a little nervous. I ask them for a quick picture before they run upstairs to meet figure skating star Rory Flack.  So in spite of feigned impatience – they pose. Lit like the glory of a setting sun, I felt warmed by the spirit magic of a gaggle of young women on the verge. Their faces, against the backdrop of a setting sun, filled my heart with cotton candy colored clouds. It’s magic. Magic happens in and around my minivan.  All the time.  

First let me say this – I love these girls. Watching them grow from 1st graders to full on preteen loveliness has been a treat. Granted, sometimes it feels like it’s all I do…shuttle girls around the city, but when I think about it it’s probably one of my most satisfying ministries. My favorite call to service…my way of joining in the radical work of doing the will of Christ in the world. In opening the heart of my minivan I make opportunities happen. Taking them home, returning them at days end to their families, expresses the radical love – the call of service in tuning into the spirit of motherhood. This is the practical hospitality of mothering girls. I know how to do this. 

So a ride in my minivan is never just a ride in the minivan.

Artistic skating

They pile into the car, cold and tired. Three hours at an outdoor rink in the middle of winter in NYC will keep you moving but it won’t keep you warm. Either they’re high on their accomplishments, or tired thinking of undone homework assignments. Are they frustrated by failures or plain old hungry? Maybe there was a little teen tension on the ice and they need to talk it through. Either way I can gauge the mood and settle it with grace over music or food. Most times both. 

And I listen. I listen to them giggle and yell at each other to pass the chips. I get a glimpse of what it’s like to be a young woman – now and how they feel about everything from Bruno Mars to the latest skating equipment. I know it’s a time of ministry but I don’t want to be the Bible-thumping mama. I want to usher them to Jesus during a conversation about the music of Taylor Swift. I want them to feel His love and acceptance every time we trade farewells.

Because the time we spend in the car is something we have to do God graces me the chance to tell a little of His story over chips and slightly inappropriate “your mama” jokes. In the 20 minutes we share 3 nights a week I live the gospel of love with my girls. This isn’t rocket science…it’s better. It’s the practical hospitality of a ride home. 

Hospitality of a ride home

I think most of us just want to be loved. To be accepted for who we are. As is. I make a point of commenting on new hairstyles and ask about skating goals. I point out strengths and give suggestions on “how to be”…when asked. What these girls want is to know how to be in the world while maintaining their unique traits. The particular cocktail of genes that makes them one of a kind. They want to know how to hold onto that and still have friends. I tell them it’s possible…and not always with words. I tell them when I open the door. When I see them. When I share snacks or ask how they’re doing while keeping eye contact. Maybe it happens in the planting of a kiss on a frost bitten cheek.

Maybe something about our time in the car is holy. Our weekly dates in a minivan, consecrated time …set apart for His great pleasure.

I’m convinced it is. Maybe the glimpse of God glory in my rear view mirror, the shining eyes and smiling faces are His reflection. I see it in them. I hope they see Him in me.

Maybe this ride is holy. Maybe they see the same things I do – angels and an undeniable picture of Jesus.

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Lisha Epperson / Posts / Blog
Lisha Epperson is a hopeful romantic, lover of Jesus and most things antique. A happy wife and mother of 5, she joyfully shares a warrior song about her 14 year walk through infertility and the semi-sweet miracle of adoption. Lisha works out a life of faith with fear, trembling, and a whole lot of grace in New York City. Follow her blog at www.lishaepperson.com, and here for Facebook and Twitter
  • Lori Harris
    http://loriharris.me/

    Lisha,
    Your words speak hope to my heart, friend. Yes, the Gospel is advanced in the everyday, mundane things that make up the minutes of our life. May we never long for more than the small, ordinary acts of hospitality that usher in the Kingdom.

    April 20th, 2015 12:27
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    • Lisha Epperson

      Ila will travel more independently next year. I know I’ll miss these rides and I look forward to being a skater mom on her out of town competitions. God has graced me with the opportunity to be available like this to her and her friends. It’s is a gift. Thanks for reading Lori!

      April 20th, 2015 19:24
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  • layla bb solms

    i used to believe that my home needed to look perfect before i welcomed folks into our house. the everyday routine of driving, carting our small and tall people from one activity or class to the next can become tiresome; thank you for sharing your wisdom that even the minivan, or in our case, the honda wagon or the subaru hatchback can (and should) be a place where we make the most of life. discussions, prayers, and laughter all have a place in the daily act of transportation. i had the great privilege of offering hospitality over the weekend to some wonderful, Godly women – our subaru was the shuttle to and from the airport, hotel, and convention center; the simple act of offering a fresh bottle of water and a light snack – and the peace of mind that the weary traveler need not worry over traffic and directions… i have been humbled and am truly thankful for this opportunity.

    April 20th, 2015 15:15
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    • Lisha Epperson

      It’s humbling work Layla and often I grumble about it but God is showing me how to steward the time well by viewing it as ministry. I love those girls and our time together. I’m grateful to serve. Glad you had a great time hosting in your ministry mobile.

      April 20th, 2015 15:38
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  • Karrilee Aggett

    Oh sweet friend… I SO MISS those rides home! There was something holy about them, indeed!

    April 20th, 2015 16:11
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    • Lisha Epperson

      I know I’ll miss it all Karrilee. They’re growing up so fast.

      April 20th, 2015 19:26
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  • Marcy Hanson

    I so much love this. Yes, the car the minivan the mom taxi-it is a place of ministry and worship and I love that you love these girls there!

    April 20th, 2015 19:57
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    • Lisha Epperson

      Yes Marcy! The minivan ministry is real. I’m remembering to count it a blessing – I get to be around for all these little moments. Making the most of it, and it really is fun!

      April 20th, 2015 21:26
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  • Shannon Evans
    http://www.agreatparade.com/

    Lisha, this is so good. I am keeping these words close to my heart as my children age. Right now they are so close to me, so maleable, so fully influenced by only things of my choosing. But I know this season is fleeting and soon I will have to hold their hands (and eventually, let go of their hands) as they navigate through this world more and more on their own. I am so inspired by you and the way you’ve expressed that here.

    April 20th, 2015 19:57
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    • Lisha Epperson

      Thats the point Shannon. This special time is fleeting. My girl and her skating friends will turn 13 this year. I remember them skating to Michael Jackson’s “ABC” wearing poodle skirts when they were 6, looking cute on the ice but not skating much. Wow, how time flies. Thanks for reading Shannon!

      April 20th, 2015 21:30
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  • Kathy/Holy Vacation Queen

    What a precious post!! I just love the idea of carpooling being a ministry, and holy! My son is 17 and refused to get his license right away since his schedule is jammed packed. At first I was upset, but now I realize he gave me a precious gift of time with him where we share, talk about God, I tell everyday stories about Jesus. I also have time with his friends that I carpool..these precious budding individuals! One, who doesn’t know Christ asked me about God one day. Before I could answer, he said ‘I guess God is everything that is good.’ Yes that’s right I say. Everything great. I love your post. Thank you!

    April 21st, 2015 20:32
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  • Meredith Bernard

    This makes my heart and my face smile in so many ways, Lisha. I tend to forget that all of these moments…even the rides to and from school and practice…while maybe hard at times with children fighting and fussing and food everywhere- are still times to love them like Jesus. Times to make what could be considered wasteful- holy instead. I love that. I needed that reminder. And the thought of ushering around teen ice skate queens in NYC is somewhat romantic for this country girl living on a cattle farm. <3

    April 23rd, 2015 23:31
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  • pastordt

    Yes!! Car ministry is right at the top of the list, especially when dealing with preteens and teens-before-they-drive-themselves. Thank you for doing this, Lisha. And thank you for writing it out in your usual graceful way.

    April 24th, 2015 16:42
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