Thursday, March 26, 2015

Sharing the Grace

In our Lenten small faith sharing group last night we discussed the concept of “vertical Eucharist” and “horizontal Eucharist”, vertical being between us and God, horizontal between us and others here on earth. We thought the vertical took place each Mass during the transubstantiation, when God comes to us in physical form as the Body of Christ; and horizontal as the call for us to take that grace received out to our fellow man and share the Word. Working at Hope House feels like doing exactly that!

Until I have a day like today. My morning started before we opened with having to call the police about two men who have been causing repeated trouble here on the church property. Hearing one of them call me a “cold hearted b****” and having the police trespass them from the property for life did not feel like sharing the grace, needless to say. If this had not been the 3rd call to the police about these two, I would never have made the decision to be so stern. I was literally begging the Holy Spirit to help.

Follow that up with a visit from a registered sex offender showing up and having to tell him that he could not be on the property of our church due to the school full of children. Even when I told him to send someone in for what he needed, it felt like I was hoarding the grace and mercy of Christ!

Then came “Kirk”, a longtime client who is very fragile mentally, emotionally and physically. Over the years, we have helped him with many things, boosted his spirits and even talked him through a possible suicidal episode.  Today he came in with plans to move to Texas where he has family, and a card of thanks  to Hope House for years of assistance and support. We wish him well in his new life with his loved ones.

On Monday, TJ, another client we have been working with, came up to me to let me know he has 35 days clean and sober. When I gave him a hug, he said “thanks to Hope House for being here for me”. He is a delightful young man when his demons are not driving him.

“Mary” and her two little boys are weeding, edging and planting our front flower beds for us, because, as she says “Hope House has helped us so much, we want to give back”.

So there is an upside to horizontal sharing of the Body of Christ with the Body of Christ!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

About us....

Please take a couple of minutes to watch this video about Hope House and see some of our cutest clients! God bless...

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Servants Song

“Will you let me be your servant
Let me be as Christ to you
Pray that I might have the grace
To let you be my servant too”

While we (the staff of Hope House) usually are focused on how we may serve our clients, often we are moved by the simple kindness they share with us as well. Sally brings in a handful of wildflowers to brighten our desk; John offers a box of donuts he received from a local bakery; Irina shyly hands us a box of homemade cookies at Christmas. This is in addition to the kindnesses they share with each other: rides home, offers of babysitting while someone shops, and sharing of resources in the community.

“We are pilgrims on the journey
We are brothers on the road
We are here to help each other
Walk the mile and bear the load”

The hardest part of our intake process is sitting with those (usually men) who are embarrassed and ashamed about needing help. They stress this is temporary and swear to help when they are back on their feet. This is when I tell them about the “circle of life” and how we are all going to make it if we work together and help each other. Sometimes you give and sometimes you receive—that is how life works.

“I will hold the Christ light for you
In the night time of your fear
I will hold my hand out to you
Speak the peace you long to hear.”

Local agencies send clients to us with these instructions about how to find us: “the big white house with the red door”. This white house and red door are old, the furnishings shabby and the rooms are crowded, but our clients (actually, our family members!) will tell you this is a home. A safe place, a hangout space where all are welcome and everyone feels accepted for who they are and where they are. It is truly a community holding out its hand to those who need someplace to belong.

“I will weep when you are weeping
When you laugh, I’ll laugh with you
I will share your joy and sorrow
Till we’ve seen this journey through.”

Our greatest joy at Hope House is hearing a client come in and proclaim that they have: found a job, obtained housing for their family or that their child is excelling at school, or they have a new precious baby or grandchild. Conversely, we also weep with those who have lost a loved one, their job or their housing, or have found out they have a serious illness. We share the mountains and the valleys of all our family members with love and compassion.

Hope House is a special place and I am honored to be part of it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Loaves and fishes.....

Every year Hope House adopts 60-75 (except for the year God told me to keep on going and we ended up with 114—but that’s another blog post!) families for our Christmas list. In these families, each child receives a stuffed stocking, a clothing gift and a toy gift. It’s a wonderful program and one of the highlights of our year is the distribution of gifts. We encourage families, groups and companies to adopt whole families each year, so that it makes the gathering and distribution easier. This year, we were blessed with 74 families being adopted outright! This leaves us with no whole families on our list, so we were able to put generic gift tags on our Angel Tree at church. What that means is that starting yesterday; we began to distribute single, wrapped gifts to those children whose families did not make it on our list—I put 140 tags on the tree and we still ran out of tags! People brought us random gifts and toys in their place.

So here is how wonderful this place is. Emmanuel means “God with us”, and sometimes I think we should change our name to Emmanuel’s House. Why? We started giving out gifts yesterday morning with 3 bookcases full of wrapped gifts. We were VERY busy all morning, and yet, at the end of the morning, we still had 3 bookcases full of wrapped gifts; they just kept coming! He has let us know many times that He is with us every day, and this is just the latest example. God is truly with us and our mission at Hope House.

When I squint, I can almost see Him handing out the loaves and fishes………

Friday, December 5, 2014

Family and Football.......

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I have the best job in the world! Today is a typical Friday, busy, crazy, noisy and crowded; and yet, somehow it works out and feels homey around here. When I wander out to the buzzing waiting room, I find laughter, teasing and sharing of resources and information. I ask if we are having a party and I get lots of smiles in return. It probably helps that at this time of year, we are blessed with extra goodies to share in the waiting area—people bring us candy, Christmas cookies, oranges—and that makes everyone smile. I am always amazed at the patience my clients share with each other and the “system”.

On Monday mornings, our waiting room becomes the “morning after” football discussion and critique. Our clients are huge Seahawks fans and we wear our colors proudly! When the occasional Bears or Cowboys fan wanders in, the teasing begins, but we all have fun with the whole subject. I wish the Seahawks could see how much they mean to those with little else to brighten their days.

So what’s the point? The point is that Hope House is family to those who need our services. We are a place where people feel valued and welcome. We are a community within our greater community and we are proud of it! Our clients love coming in and being greeted by name, they like that we know who their children are and what they are up to. They love the teasing and laughter they find to go give them armor to face the rest of their day.

At this time of year, to borrow a phrase, “Hope House is one of the happiest places on earth!”

Monday, October 13, 2014

Holiday buzz!

We are officially in the crazy time of the year at Hope House. It all starts with Back-to-School in August, Christmas sign-ups in October and holiday closings and needs from here on to the New Year! Our waiting room is FULL every day with busyness and warmth, Seahawk pride, plans for Halloween and lots of beautiful children. We turn on the heat, break out the pumpkin decorations and hand out gloves and hats as fast as we get them. I love this time of year, both at home with my family and here at Hope House with this family.

My challenge in all of this is always juggling the joy of the holidays, particularly Christmas, and the stress of the added work that our Christmas Program brings. Sometimes I get cranky dealing with people who appear in July asking for Christmas presents or show up on October 1st every year to apply for the program. I have to remind myself that these are parents trying to make sure their children have some semblance of the same holiday experience other children they know have. We have rules in place about how often families can access our Christmas list, and that should be the end of my angst about it!

Every year I also hear from those who think we are too generous with our Christmas Program. In the past, we have not only bought gifts for the children, but also a small gift for each parent. Some say we should only give a small gift to each child, and give the family a big box of food. We have compromised this year in changing the program to be only for the children—no gifts for the parents; but knowing our donors, many of the families will also receive “family gifts” of food, blankets, games, etc. Each year, I am overwhelmed by the generosity of those who support our mission.

So to those who think we are too generous (and to my cranky self in the middle of it!), here is what I say:

Try to think back to your childhood years – remember the excitement building up in school over all the holidays (Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas). Remember costumes, finger puppet turkeys and snowflakes cut from white paper? Every recess in December was dedicated to discussion of what toy was the best to ask Santa for, weighing the merits, seeing what your friends are asking for—all so important to children. Coming back to school in January was so exciting because we all got to compare who got what from Santa!

Now picture being a child who hears all of this, who eagerly joins in the toy conversations before the Christmas break and who goes home to a meager Christmas. He/she finds only a small Dollar Store toy under the tree from Santa. In January, he hears about the Mega-Transformers, the Barbie dolls, the bikes and scooters, the Lego’s that the other children found under the tree from Santa. What does this say to this child about how valuable he is to Santa? What does that translate into his/her soul about their worth in this world? To a child, Santa is God and if he doesn’t value them, then what are they worth?

I refuse to let any children I know suffer this feeling of insignificance if I can help them see and feel that they are children of God and worth far more than they realize.

“But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”


Friday, September 26, 2014


These last few days at Hope House have been all about “reminders” for me. You know, those moments when the situation in front of you “reminds” you of God’s love, grace and mercy? I’ll admit I don’t always pay enough attention, so sometimes; He has to be very clear!

Reminder #1: As Amy Grant sings, “The honest cries of breaking hearts are better than a Hallelujah”. One morning this week, I sat helplessly watching a women silently weep as we did her intake and discerned her needs. As I assured her we are a safe place, and we would love to help, her tears continued to flow. Did she doubt us? No, she was upset at needing help, relieved at getting it, and overwhelmed by the compassion offered. By the time she left, she was smiling through damp eyes, and promising to come back for Christmas assistance. We are God’s hands on earth.

Reminder #2: Like the Little Engine That Could, some never give up. I talked today to a young man who is currently homeless and living in a tent  in his mother’s yard—with his 5 year old daughter, who he has full custody of.  They have been homeless for about a month, she is in kindergarten and is having fun “camping” with her daddy, and he is trying desperately to find work and shelter for them. Today we were able to help with the paperwork he will need to get housing through the local housing authority. He told me he was a foster child, and would never let his daughter go through that system. He referred to her as his shining star. We are God’s eyes on earth.

Reminder #3: Gloria Gaynor’s song “I will Survive” says all you need to know about Linda. A single mom of three beautiful girls, working in the healthcare industry here, but unable to afford the cost of living, she came to me in early summer with a plan to move her family to Oklahoma to a town with jobs and housing. I encouraged her, set her up with financial aid from several area churches, and cheered when I received this email about her: Linda has a job with good wages and benefits, has a 3 bedroom apartment for $500 per month and is doing very well. She expressed her thanks to all who helped and asked that I be told how well she is doing. We are God’s ears on earth.

We are the human and physical representation of God here on earth, members of His Holy body, and we all need to reach out with love to each other. Together, we can weep, pick up the pieces, and move forward.