Living Life to its fullest often means a full house.

Even on those quiet days, I guess our home is full compared to many, but this weekend it was extra full – to the tune of an additional 16 gems, namely 8th grade middle schoolers, who whipped in like a hurricane for a Discipleship weekend organized by our church each year.

Yes, you heard me correctly. Middle Schoolers. All weekend!

Even though presently, we have a 13 year old daughter, so I am not removed from that age group AT ALL, how have I so quickly forgotten what a large mass of them together in one home for the entire weekend sounds like?

Such fun, such noise, such emotion, such beautiful life filled this home, and its truly an honor to host this each and every year. (I tried to get out of it because it was our 20th anniversary on Wednesday, but they were desperate. Anniversaries are only a “date on the calendar,” right?)

Now I know what some of you are thinking because I heard it from many of my friends. “I could never do that. Where would they sleep? My house isn’t made for that. I couldn’t stand the chaos.”

Well, if you are in a one bedroom apartment, then no, this probably wouldn’t be the ideal scenario, but lest you think that I had rooms for all of them to sleep, think again.

Let’s play I Spy Jen’s three teenage boys (who were not involved in the D-weekend, but forced to endure the “benefits” of chaotic hospitality.)

Yes, do you see our three boys? Smooshed on the floor in our bedroom, all our kids found a place to lay their weary head amidst the clean laundry that got stacked in mountains on our coach.

It’s all about creative concealment when you have a large group sleeping all over your home. One of our teen boys had a friend come over and the only place for them to hang out was our bedroom.

I looked at him before he entered and made him promise that he’d still love me the same once he entered the dungeon haven. Anything in our house that didn’t have a place was thrown into our bedroom for creative concealment issues.

My main responsibility of the weekend was literally to just welcome, host, and feed, then feed again.

I didn’t have to do any teaching, but I am a firm believer that feeding bellies is a conduit for feeding ones soul.

Why are so many memories made around the dinner table? There’s something about food that draws people together and creates community. We relax and let our guard down which allows for conversation to flow.

It was so cute because last year, we hosted 7th graders and this year, our group was 8th grade. One of the guys was placed at our house again and he was precious because he remembered all the food that I made. (Bummer, since I was repeating a bunch of the recipes.) He kept telling everyone about how  my fruit salad was his favorite and he had so many helpings.

fruit salad opt Balancing Healthy Summer Eating Choices
My secret ingredient to the best fruit salad? Mix in a dash of yogurt.

I always get asked for the recipe of my fruit salad. I chuckle  because the “special secret ingredient” is just a dollop of yogurt mixed into whatever fruit I have on hand. There’s something special about it though. It truly makes it taste “special.”

The most difficult part of the entire weekend was making all these favorite foods of mine while I am still doing my 17 day diet. My Hashbrown casserole and taco dip are my absolute favorites and I didn’t even eat a bite. That was painful, but it’s worth it. I am down ten pounds and determined to drop a few more before indulging.

 What to Feed a House Full of Middle Schoolers?

My Sausage Crescent Roll Recipe is always a hit for friends of all ages, and there are never any leftovers.

Cracker Barrel hashbrown casserole recipe What are Your Comfort Foods? (Impromptu Tasty Tuesday Poll)Copy Cat Cracker Barrel Hashbrown Casserole Recipe

Opening our home like this is about so much more than food.

It’s about building community, making memories, and discipleship. It’s about modeling for our children that no one has to have a perfect house or five bedrooms to welcome strangers. It’s about realizing that when one gives out of little, even when schedules are full and bodies are completely worn out, the benefits multiply over and over again and the inconvenience is worth every minute.

I pray these weekends reap eternal rewards. Hopefully, one new concept was introduced that will revolutionize the way these teens think of relationships, and that will affect future choices.

And here they think the weekend was just about hanging out with their friends. 🙂

So what are you cooking up for Tasty Tuesday?

What are some of your favorite foods to feed a house full of teens?