Preparing our Space

During the past weeks we have been transforming rooms into a welcoming space for our residents. Many volunteers have spent hours working. Generous donors have provided us with most of what we need. Community minded businesses have given us discounts or donations to help prepare.

There are three spaces we have worked on.

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Our office has new paint and curtains and looks great.

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The artwork is on the wall.

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This will be our dining area and space to work on homework.

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Our store room is full of bedding, towels and toiletries that have been donated.


Volunteers have set up the wardrobes.2014-01-16 00.01.51

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built stairs for emergency exits,

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and added exit signs to meet fire codes.

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The rooms are set up and ready for our residents!

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Holy Cross Students made beautiful welcome signs. Thanks to Maytag, Lowes, Ace Hardware, and all the generous donors and volunteers! We are ready to welcome our residents!

Joy and Thanksgiving

untitledWe are in the middle of “the holidays.” Thanksgiving is the time we celebrate how thankful we are, and during the Christmas season we are supposed to be full of joy. It is wonderful to take special seasons to focus on these things, but in reality, thankfulness and joy are not always evident in our lives, especially when we go beyond surface “happiness” and “I get what I want” to the deeper experience of true contentment. I have been thinking about how thanksgiving and joy are connected.

Our greatest joy comes not from accomplishments or accumulation, but from relationships. Look at a baby laughing at the loving face of a parent or crying when left alone. Knowing we are loved and giving love in return creates joy! This is true for us adults too! If we get separated from others or never connected, we have a huge unfilled space within that keeps us from true joy.

We learn joy as we are loved by others, but we have someone even greater who can make up for any love we lack or missed as a child. Augustine wrote in his spiritual autobiography, “Lord, you have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find rest in you.” (Confessions 1.1.1.)  God fills that need for relationships directly and in giving us people in our lives to fill our need to be loved.

What happens when we lose our joy, either because of circumstances or because of being hurt in our relationships? One way we access this joy is to be grateful and praise God for all he does. When we have trials and don’t see the way out, we can pray with thanksgiving.

I did this recently. I had an experience where things did not go the way I wanted them to. I found it very easy to blame one person in particular. I was beyond upset! My husband encouraged me to thank God for the things I was most bothered about as well as the things that went well. As I did, I found my tension easing and my anger fading. I began to trust God to work in my circumstances and my relationships the way they were, not as I wanted them to be. God is acting whether we see it or not, and if we can trust in him, we will have joy and peace. It is hard to be mad about something or at someone if we are grateful!

If we fill out minds with gratitude, we will not just focus on ourselves, but see others needs. We can join God in spreading His love, both with our family and friends and with those in need. As I grow in gratitude, I have more joy. As I have both gratitude and joy, I am more able to reach out to others in love since I am overflowing myself. And as I do so, making more relationship connections, my joy and gratitude keep increasing. That’s the kind of circle I want to be in! That’s why I want to be part of the Community of Hope!

Pampered Chef Party

KarenJean and her bags of goodies.

KarenJean and her bags of goodies.

We had a great time at the Pampered Chef Party. KarenJean showed us how to make a great dessert using outstanding Pampered Chef items.

Thanks for your support!



I’ve probably been guilty of all the relationship-wrecking behaviors that I’ve occasionally seen in others.  When hurt, slighted or offended, we want the offenders to get their “just deserts.”  We want to be right.  Maybe we just want what’s fair, for ourselves or for others. We think we want justice. In either case, we might believe we need to fight to protect ourselves from hurt and to get what we think we or another needs or deserves.

I’ve learned that justice is more about restoring God’s order. It’s about relationships more than economics or legalities. If our relationships are in right order, justice will follow, legally, economically, and morally. Instead of defending ourselves against hurt or lack, we can be thankful for all we have received. When we know we are cared for, we can seek good for others.

If we are in right relationship with others, we will act out of love, above fairness. How can we love someone and allow them to starve while we feast?  If we view our money and possessions as good gifts from God, then we are stewards of them for God. How does He want us to use them? If we see injustice in our economic system, the poor becoming poorer, how can we work to reverse that process? What can we do to make it easier for someone who has less?

I think God’s justice is in partnership with mercy. God does not want us to hurt each other, nor to be hurt ourselves. Vengeance does not really make us feel better, but reconciliation does. Yes, those who do wrong should stop hurting others and they should make the wrong right in whatever way they can, giving back what was taken and repairing the hurt. And those who have been hurt should allow the relationship to be restored if possible and so become free of bitterness and anger, whether apologies, changed behavior and recompense happen or not.

God does not pretend that we have never done anything wrong or that there are not consequences for wrongdoing. But He moves beyond that, not to punishment but to restoring right relationships.  His justice is a saving justice – a resurrection from a death. As we die to old ways of life and rise to new ones with Him, we move to a relationship where love rules. That takes precedence over right and wrong or getting what is fair. God loves us enough to set us free!

I would like to suggest that this is what we are doing in the Community of Hope. The need for good jobs and affordable housing in our community is great! Some people who lack stable housing have made bad decisions.  Some have never learned better. We can bemoan the disparity of income or think some are less deserving of help, or we can choose to work at restoring relationships. We can give today, financially or with our time, to offer help to a few families at a time to restore relationships. We can make it possible for them to have a place to stay while they gain skills to have more long-term stability. If we see that others have made decisions that caused them to struggle right now, we can help people gain new skills to support them in making good decisions while loving them as they are continuing their journey. Most of all, we offer true freedom of God’s love in concrete ways and seek His healing care for all of us. None of us can make everything right ourselves, but each of us can make some small effort to move the balance toward more healing, equality, and right relationships when we partner with God. Join us in working for justice, one family at a time.

Fundraiser Breakfast

We had a great time at the breakfast last week! We enjoyed the excellent food, good company, and Roosevelt principal Charlene William’s inspirational talk!



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Thank You

Thanks so all the community members that helped to make this event successful!

The Charles Jordan Community Center did a great job of serving us! We couldn’t have asked for better support!

Megan Boaglio created the video.

The following businesses and organizations helped us create a beautiful space and great foods to enjoy!

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262214_179962275393832_5351389_nJamie Hicks, Interior Design, Commercial and Residential did our beautiful decorations.

Kassenboom Nursery helped make our space beautiful with many plants and bushes.

New Seasons provided cut flowers.

rcc_2013_0418St Johns Ace Logo3Ace Hardware donated the pots for them.

Members of Rivergate Community Church catered the meal.

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People of Praise Christian Community and Preserve and Serve lent us linens and dishes.