Friday, October 30, 2009

Up close and personal

Anyone else depressed by the dreary rainy weather we’ve had lately? It doesn’t make my already overwhelmed week any better. Our “bare bones” staff from budget reductions this year is stretched even tighter these days with an added vacancy in our children’s ministry. So I’ve been spending some time with “Abba’s Angels” - our youngest residents – along with grant deadlines, transportation challenges, and even water problems in the house due to us operating at capacity. This all sounds pretty depressing doesn’t it – especially for a Friday – but in my introduction to my blog I said I’d be giving you “an up close and personal look into our ministry to homeless families”. This is the other side of the ministry we don’t often talk about. It’s through these tough times that our character is tested and grows. I keep reminding myself that God uses the challenges to make us more like His Son!

We are searching for a temporary full- or part-time Children’s Ministry Director who is “director qualified” based on Office of Child Care licensing regulations. If you know someone who might feel called to join our ministry team and serve our little ones, please send them our way.

Let’s pray for the sun to come out – and stay out. The fall leaves ARE gorgeous even in the rain! Have a blessed weekend. Until next week …

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive Director

Friday, October 16, 2009

Precious lives

Picture if you will, a 4 month old infant with delicate fair skin, a few wisps of blond hair and the typical bald spot on the back of the head, delicate little fingers and toes, and a captivating smile and laugh.

It’s this precious little baby that I had the pleasure of rocking to sleep this morning. As he lay in my arms I looked down at his innocent face and thought about his life. Even though he’s technically “homeless”, this baby is surrounded by a very large extended family that loves and cares for him. In addition to his own mom and sister, he has 13 other siblings, 8 other moms, and staff and volunteers who can’t resist loving on him every day. He has a warm and safe home and a nurturing child care center that provides the care he needs to grow and develop into a healthy and happy toddler while his sister is at school and his mom is working on her goals leading to self sufficiency.

Is this child aware of the struggles his mom and sister have faced or the great success they have both experienced while at Hope Alive? Does he sense the same hope they have of a new future much different from their past? I doubt he’s aware of anything other than his own needs – clean diapers, food, warmth and comfort. At one point far into the future, he will be grateful that Hope Alive was there for his family and that he’ll never have to experience homelessness as an adult.

Most of us probably take life’s blessings for granted. May we never forget about the moms and children who are struggling to survive in our community and the precious lives we serve at Hope Alive who are committed to change and new life. Until next week …

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive Director

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Touching hearts - the work of the ministry

Last night was my evening shift at Hope Alive. It’s usually a bit chaotic through the dinner hour and then things settle down pretty quickly as moms and children disperse to their areas to complete homework, baths, and bedtime. My hope each Wednesday evening is to get a little work done after things quiet down, but last night was just the opposite.

I had children who kept coming to the office asking for my help with homework. The first was a fourth grader who needed someone to play a math game with her - flipping coins to count the number of times heads or tails appeared and then making a statement about her data. After that assignment, we continued with her multiplication problems. While I was helping her, a third grader came in asking if she could read her story to me that she wrote – and typed on the computer –about animal friends who learned the importance of kindness. The story was really creative! As she was leaving, a second grader came in asking for help charting the moon’s appearance for the month starting with last night. With it being a blustery cold evening and him already dressed in his pajamas, I sent him off looking out every window in the house to see if he could spot the moon. He came back to report it was cloudy.

By this time I was feeling pretty frustrated that this was taking the place of “getting some work done”. But then God reminded me that this is the work of the ministry - touching the hearts and souls of those we serve. Realizing this I set everything else aside and finished the evening by having some deep discussions with our moms in the dining room - including next step housing options, relationships and conflicts - and giving hugs to the little ones going off to bed. There’s always tomorrow for that unfinished “task”.

If you’ve never been to Hope Alive, give me a call sometime. I’d love to have you come for a visit and tour. Until next week …

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive Director

Friday, October 2, 2009

Words of encouragement to brighten our day

Some weeks we find our lives filled with challenges and we wonder if we’ll ever get to Friday. It’s been a week like that at Hope Alive. With 15 children in the Hope Alive house now, our children often fight like brothers and sisters. And when the kids aren’t happy – nobody’s happy!

Today I was reminded of an exercise Ashley Ross, our Children’s Ministry Assistant, did with the school-age children to help change their attitudes. She had them write notes of encouragement and affirmation to each other. I saw one of those notes today hanging in a second grader’s locker in the after school program. It meant so much to this little boy that he taped it up on the inside. Four other children wrote the following messages about him … “You have a wonderful smile! I have seen you share and give to others.” “You are my bestest friend.” “You are a great brother.” “You are a great kid. I really like having you as a friend.”

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all shared encouraging and loving words like these with each other? I think the world would be a much better place. Seeing this note today just brightened my whole week. I hope it does for you as well.

Plan to join us for our upcoming Resident Achievement Banquet on Tuesday, October 20 at 6pm at Dutch’s Daughter’s Restaurant. It promises to be an inspiring evening of encouraging and loving affirmations of our resident families. Check out our new website for more information at Until next week …

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive Director