Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 blessings

It’s hard to believe that we are just about to enter a brand New Year. Where in the world did 2010 go? As we close out this year, I am most grateful to God for sustaining His ministry through 2010 and bringing Hope Alive to a much brighter place financially than we’ve been in the past 3 years. It’s just one more confirmation from our heavenly Father that He is in control and intends for us to continue serving the growing number of homeless families searching for help and embrace them with God’s life-changing love offering them hope and a future.

As I look back on this year I’m especially grateful for our dedicated staff that goes far above and beyond the call of duty. Few know that all of our staff – whether they work daytime, evenings, or weekends – have helped to fill gaps in overnight coverage since September. The dedication of these wonderful women is truly inspiring and I am blessed every day to serve alongside such amazing servants of God.

Also this year, we’ve been blessed with the addition of new developmental assessments for our resident children participating in our child development programs. These new assessments – conducted initially upon intake and then quarterly – measure developmental progress and milestone achievement as well as identify developmental delays that require special services or individualized care and nurturing.

And as always, I am grateful for the ministry that God provides for the women and children who call Hope Alive home. Hope Alive’s residential program has proven to be effective in addressing the diverse and complex needs of our families and moving them forward in their journeys to health, wholeness and stable permanent housing. Each family – despite their length of stay – finds hope of a future. I find such encouragement in my own life journey from our moms who face overwhelming challenges head on with such courage and determination. They are among the most inspiring women I know.

I know that I speak for the Hope Alive staff when I say that the opportunity to serve at Hope Alive is life changing by strengthening our daily walk with Christ and seeing who He is and what He is able to do in and through us. I treasure the times like this morning when the staff gathered around our children to pray for the day and they all chime in with a loud "Amen!"

I want to say a special thank you to Sharon May who is leaving us after 3 ½ years of faithfully loving our Hope Alive families to spend more time with her grandchildren and to Doree Lynn Miles who has committed her gifts and talents over the last 4 ½ years to help make Hope Alive what it is today. We will dearly miss both of these wonderful ladies and wish them God’s richest blessings.

In these last few days of 2010, I encourage you to take the time to give thanks to God for His abundant blessings this year. And may we look forward to the New Year with anticipation and excitement at what God will continue to do!

(If you are interested – or know someone who is – we are searching for Doree Lynn’s replacement as our Development Coordinator. Check out the job posting on our website at

Until next week …

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive Director

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Wishing for a do-over

As I’ve shared in earlier blogs this month, I’ve been watching for holy moments this Christmas season when God reveals Himself to us in special ways. Unfortunately, God gave me one this week and I rushed right past it. After a Tuesday morning meeting, I parked my car in downtown Frederick to pick up some donations for Hope Alive from my friends at the Dancing Bear Toy store. After dropping my quarter in the parking meter, I ran across the street and walked down the sidewalk to their store when I saw a poorly dressed man with long hair and gray beard. He had a Styrofoam coffee cup in his hand. As he neared the trash can on the sidewalk, he placed his coffee cup on the wide rim of the trash can and reached down into it to rummage around – most likely looking for food.

Sadly, I didn't even stop to ask if he needed help or something to eat. After leaving my friend's store, I briefly glanced down into the same trash can wondering if he found something to eat and then headed back across the street to my car. As I turned to unlock my car door and get in, there he was again – standing near my car with the same coffee cup in his hand. He didn’t say a word, but just looked at me. I hesitated, but then hopped inside my car and pulled out into traffic and drove away leaving him behind - or so I thought.

As I headed north on Rt. 15 toward Hope Alive, I started to think about him again and God reminded me about an important lesson He taught me while working at the Frederick Rescue Mission 10 years earlier. God showed me through a holy moment that my loving Him is dependent on how I love and serve those who are needy and living without hope. Jesus tells us in Matthew 25:35-40, that when we love and serve the “least of these brethren of Mine” that we minister to Jesus Himself. By reaching out to those in need we meet Jesus face to face.

I haven’t stopped thinking about this missed holy moment and found myself wishing for a “do-over”. This opportunity is gone, but I know I won’t let the next one go by without reaching out to the one in need with love. May these last two days before Christmas be filled with holy moments that fill us with God's love and peace ... especially the most holy moment we can experience by embracing the miraculous gift of God's Son Jesus who came to give us life. Merry Christmas!

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive Director

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas baby

On Tuesday morning we welcomed our newest resident to Hope Alive. This was not a new family moving in, but the birth of a newborn baby welcomed by her mother and big sister. Each resident mother and staff member was thrilled that our baby had finally arrived. Jody - our Family Ministry Specialist - couldn't wait to get to the hospital to meet our youngest resident and brought back photos on the digital camera to share. It's not only a new addition to this one family, but to the entire Hope Alive family. This new mother received several visits from other resident moms and staff making her feel especially loved. She'll have many hands to help when they return to Hope Alive.

I hope you are still looking for holy moments as we approach Christmas. Here's another one that I experienced right after my blog posting last week. Last Thursday's Gazette featured an article about Deer Crossing Elementary's "Kids Care Club members help the homeless". Here's an excerpt from the article.

"The club currently has about 120 children signed up, spanning kindergarten through fifth grade. The club meets monthly and regularly works on projects to help others. As part of this month's project, students decorated boxes to collect personal care items to help support Hope Alive, Inc., a nonprofit organization that helps homeless women and children. Students are collecting toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, soap, shampoo and conditioner to donate to the shelter. They are also accepting baby care products such as shampoo, lotion, diaper cream, and children's socks, gloves, hats and other similar items. To drive the lesson home on Friday, the students learned about homelessness and the difference between a want and a need." One young student said, "I want a ferret, so I'll need ferret food. I'm also lucky to have my bed."

No one at Hope Alive even knew this was happening. For me, reading the article was a holy moment realizing there were 120 elementary school children in Frederick County who had spent their after school hours with one mission in mind - to help others.

What an inspiring testimony of the power of God's love working through young and tender hearts to make a difference in the lives of struggling families right here in our own backyard. Click here to read the entire article

In our last week before Christmas, stay focused on the real reason for the season - Jesus! May you and your family know God's love through the indescribable gift of His Son who came to give us life and hope! Until next week ...

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive Director

Friday, December 10, 2010

Santa's workshop

I think I’ve seen more Santa’s Workshops advertised this year than ever before. Traditionally they are holiday shopping experiences for children to purchase reasonably priced gifts for family members. Last year my granddaughter shopped for her mom and dad, younger brother, dog Remmie and grandparents at the Santa’s Workshop in her elementary school. I still have my treasured votive candle, cologne, and reindeer bread basket she bought especially for me. But what’s most meaningful is the love that she expressed through her gift-giving.

Here at Hope Alive we too have a Santa’s Workshop each year. The sign went up this week on our conference room door where shopping bags of donated gifts are sorted so our resident moms and children can shop for each other. With little or no income, Christmas shopping is a luxury homeless families cannot afford. So Santa’s Workshop gives our moms the dignity they deserve by allowing them to provide gifts for their children. More importantly, it’s an expression of an outpouring of love and hope! They are overwhelmed by the gifts given for them! They can hardly believe that strangers care so much for families they have never met. We know this is just one more way God reaches into their hearts and souls to embrace them with His life-changing love!

Thank you to all who make this lavish expression of love possible. Thank you for keeping hope alive for each precious life we serve. My prayer for you is that you will know God’s indescribable love by receiving the gift of His Son Jesus this Christmas. Until next week …

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive Director

Friday, December 3, 2010

Holy moments

Yesterday, I received a weekly e-mail update from my church. Reading through the information about worship and activities for next week, I clicked on the YouTube link – Hallelujah in the Mall – “to put some lift in your holiday spirit”. As I watched the video, a peaceful feeling came over me. The video showed an outbreak of the Hallelujah Chorus from choir members strategically seated in the mall’s eatery. As the shoppers caught on to what was happening, a holy hush came over the crowd. The highlight for me was a brief moment captured by the videographer where a mother lovingly reached down to hold her young child’s hand. By the end of the Chorus, many of the observers were on their feet singing with the choir and lifting holy hands in praise to God Almighty. It was a holy moment in the midst of the Christmas rush. (Check out the link at

This is the essence of Christmas. We need to put aside the busyness of the season – the absorption in the shopping, gift wrapping, decorating, and parties - and reach out in love to create holy moments offering praise to God for the indescribable gift of His Son Jesus who came to offer us peace and eternal life.

At Hope Alive, we experience holy moments almost every day with the lavish outpouring of love and compassion that we receive this time of year – from the bountiful Thanksgiving meal provided for our resident families to the hand crocheted caps and blankets made by loving hands for our two new babies on the way to the caring notes of encouragement and support written by donors and volunteers. Through every act of kindness and love, we experience the presence and love of God – truly a holy moment!

Please take time to share your holy moments with us and others to help us focus on the real reason for the season. May you and your family be blessed with a peace-filled holy holiday.

Until next week …

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive Director

P.S. Remember to use GoodShop - - for your online holiday shopping (complete with coupons) to take the stress out of your days. And by choosing Hope Alive as your charity, your gift giving will also benefit our resident families!