With sixteen 8th grade girls under our roof, plus a recently turned three year old, it can be tricky to meaningfully connect with each of them everyday. Add in after school sports, drama practice, and a 90 acre campus and some days we may not even see some of the girls until their 7PM in-dorm curfew. 7PM rolls into a mandatory study hall, group and personal devotions, and then before you know it, it’s lights out.
And so this school year, with our hearts desiring real connections, we adopted a suggestion given to us by another set of experienced dorm parents. Every Tuesday and Wednesday night we add a 4th plate as we set the table and the girls take turns joining us for dinner. The food’s not necessarily fancy, and often we’re juggling a near bedtime toddler, but those nights have become my favorite of each week. Just those 30 minutes of (relatively) uninterrupted time gives us a chance to hear pieces of their hearts we wouldn’t otherwise catch: a shared joy, a recent struggle, a whispered prayer request. Sometimes there are tears, other times laughter or even awkward silences, but regardless, those nights are always worth it.
We pray that these nights continue to show our girls that we are for them. We want them to know that they are a priority and that they are loved. God has given us the awesome privilege to stand in the gap for these girls as they are away from home and sometimes that looks like setting an extra plate and inviting them to dinner.