I added a small bookshelf from the flea market, a rug from the dining room. I dusted and rearranged the chairs ó all the while thinking that the front porch would be a welcoming place for my friends and I to sit and visit this summer.

A well-placed plant here. Vintage soda crates there, and the porch was open for business. But many of my friends are busy or live a little too far away for a leisurely breakfast on the weekend. So, they come when they can and we eat strawberries and catch up on work and family and craft projects.

And in between those visits? I notice a steady stream of neighborhood kids sitting in my chairs. They leave their scooters on the sidewalk and they wander in to grab the chalk or the bubbles or the badminton set, and before I know it, Iím putting down my book and answering questions about the tattered globe Iíve decorated with. The basket of seashells is dumped out on the floor and Iím offering an old paperback book on how to identify them.

Thereís sweet tea and water fights and muddy footprints and talk of families and home states ó and hints of some of the struggles they face. Those hints make me realize that although I decorated the porch for my friends, itís dedicated to whomever God sends.

So, the snow-white rug might not have been the best choice for this summer, but I need to be open and willing to adjust my plans. Itís not just grown women who need a place to rest from the tough things we face and a place to feel welcome. We all do.

College graduate or kindergarten graduate. Six feet tall or still counting to six on our fingers.

Thankfully, God cares for us all.

ó Marketta Gregory is a former religion reporter who canít stop writing about what is sacred and holy. She is a native of Oklahoma but makes her home in Rochester, New York, with her husband, two crazy boys and one very vocal Pomeranian. Find more of her writing at SimplyFaithful.com or check out her book, ďSimply Faithful: Finding the Sacred in Everyday Life.Ē