The Best Dinner I Never Ate

  • There are approximately 41,000 Christian denominations and organizations in the world, according to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC) at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

    I do not believe I am the measure of all things. I am aware of many of my inabilities, and because of my shortcomings and lack of understanding, I admit I do not know it all.

    Because of my limitations in interpretation, I admit I do not know which of the 41,000 denominations are “right” and interpreting the Bible “correctly.” So I pray for wisdom and recognize that the Bible is about love. And my application of the Bible’s word stems from that.

    During cold months, we open the spare room in our home to the homeless and destitute. When six different people responded to my post sharing we would have a vacant room in a week, we were faced with a dilemma. What were we supposed to do, homeless triage? How were we supposed to figure out who came in and who slept in the cold? Easy to say children first, but some of who contacted us were the elderly. Some people were sleeping in the back of their cars while it snowed outside.

    So I asked my husband what no wife wants to ask. “Could we give our bedroom up to a complete stranger?”

    “That’s true, they might steal us blind.”

    “ Yes, they may refuse to leave.”

    “I never thought of that, they could raise our electric bill.” Last month’s bill was $472 and we could only afford to pay half of it.

    “Can they come?”


    God relied on people being open to the idea of miracles. This required a flexible mind, a mind willing to accept the “impossible.” A mind willing to take a leap of faith so we could trust in him. Are our minds really flexible? Are we willing to change our opinions and beliefs when presented with new information? Are we too prideful to consider we could be wrong?

    Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Jon Bon Jovi (just kidding), these are dudes who seemed to be ahead of their time in their thinking. I would wager most people consider them very intelligent. But if we were to time-travel back and try to explain to them we were going to launch vehicles into space, they probably would have been flabbergasted – unable to accept it as reality. With the information and thought-process they had available to them at that time, they could just not see the connection. Is that to say space travel wasn’t possible back then? The same rules of physics applied, but their limited understanding and resources and probably a bit of being set in their own concept of truth would have kept them from fully understanding space travel.

    Could we be in the same position today? When we read and interpret things, could we be limited by our own thoughts, by the technology of our day, by the miracles we haven’t seen? When we listen to arguments, are we listening as though we have something to lose if our ideas are challenged or changed? Could our perceptions about someone be holding us back from seeing their true needs, from seeing how we could put aside our own to-do list and leave the dishes in the sink so we can help them.

    We have perceptions shaped by our experiences, (usually) biased research searches, and influential people in our lives. We’re describing the sky based on how it looks from our window at our latitude and longitude. When we see that we only see a piece of the sky, and apply that to thoughts and interpretation of the Bible, we can pray for wisdom and allow God to shine through our window.

    Oh, and when He shined through our bedroom window that snowy day we couldn’t see it, but that sweet homeless lady could.

    Our story got in the papers when we were looking desperately for a young couple with a nine-month old baby sleeping outside. I had exhausted an entire day driving, calling, searching. I couldn’t have an empty room while a little baby in my town sleeps outside. I called up the local media and asked if they could give a shout out looking for the couple so they would find out we had a room waiting for them. Some interviewed me for forty-five minutes, but if there’s a murder around, the uplifting stories get the backseat.

    We never found that couple. But the week the newspaper article was published, I had a strange knock at the door. It was the mud room door, the one used by family.

    It was the little girl who initially moved me, three years earlier, to skip Thanksgiving dinner and drive an extra nine hours to fix up our spare room. Her family lived with us for a month and a half, long enough to save up a security deposit for a permanent place. I remember her being fairly shy, a gentle spirit. When she came in this time, practically skipping toward me, she was exploding with a gigantic smile. “I have to do current events every week. I got to share our story!” she said.

    Now, she was anonymous in the article, but she chose not to be anonymous amongst her friends in class. She chose to share how another group of strangers took them in and made them family for a month. She was not nervous, she wasn’t scared. She wasn’t afraid anyone would judge her. She had been shown enough love and given enough support to feel not only confident in her homeless past, but proud of it.

    I wouldn’t have been able to open my heart towards her if I had an inflexible mind. If I listened to the stereotypes about the homeless, if I had worried too much about my things being stolen, my world being disorganized. If I thought I knew it all about the homeless, I wouldn’t be writing to you with a changed heart today. If my own comfort and peace-of-mind were at the forefront of my family’s agenda, that little girl would have been homeless and maybe that would have affected her for the rest of her life. I’m pretty grateful I had an open mind, it felt really like God stepping in. I think being homeless WILL affect her for the rest of her life. And I think she will be stronger.

    If this story touched you, watch our 5 minute video with testimonies from some of our guests. We would like to turn this story into an illustrated children’s book via Kickstarter and would greatly appreciate your help to make this a reality.

    Lori Prentice

    Lori is the creator of Brain Romp—the active approach to learning that incorporates physical activity and games with learning to read. A wiggle worm herself, Lori homeschools their three kids, Melanie, Tim and Ginger, in a structured, yet look-for-an-opportunity-to-put-your-skills-to-good-use kind of way. Lori is proud of her ADHD and considers it a blessing. Without it, many projects would have been deemed too risky or would never have been started. Lori has always wanted to be an “otter” (that was her long-ago kid-speak for “author,”) and with The Best Dinner I Never Ate, she had her chance. Lori loves writing, and has an obnoxious streak (woops, can you tell I wrote my own description??).

    View all posts by Lori Prentice.

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