Well, within an hour of my call for help, I had an offer. Marie N., whom I have never met but with whom I have been corresponding with for a while now via our blogs, contacted me to offer hers and her husband's home to my chess pilgrims. Details were quickly worked out, and the following weekend my husband and son had the pleasure of meeting this lovely family.
Here are Marie and her husband Rick :
Here is their daughter, "The Artist":
And here is their son, "The Scientist."
This family let my family into their home sight unseen, having only "met" through email and blogging. If Marie had called me up, we would have gladly done the same. What would possess someone to do that? Especially in this day and age?
I think it all boils down to world view. Marie and I are alike in several critical, life-defining ways. Number one, we are both confessional Lutherans, and that identity informs all other aspects of our lives. Number two, we are both homeschoolers. There are other things we have in common, but these two are the most significant, because they indicate a set of deeply shared values and a way of looking at the world that others are sometimes puzzled by. It helps that because Marie and I belong to this relatively small community of folks known as "confessional Lutheran homeschoolers" we run in similar circles and know some of the same people. And because we value this community so highly, we all tend to leap at opportunities to meet each other and develop flesh and blood connections with those with whom we already share so much.
Thank you, Marie and Rick, for opening your home to my family. They were blessed by their time among you, and I hope you were as well. Please let us know if we can ever return the favor.