Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas is a time for love

I hope your Christmas was as wonderful as ours at Hope Alive. I was at Hope Alive Christmas morning and it was inspiring to see the love that our families shared. Two of our moms read scripture and talked about the true meaning of Christmas before all the children were allowed to open their gifts. Every child was so excited as they unwrapped gifts that had been donated for them. Amy was thrilled with an art set and Julie loved the outfits that had been picked out especially for her. One mother came into the kitchen with tears streaming down her face after opening a simple gift card that had been purchased for her. With this gift she can purchase food, clothing, even needed medications. Another mother said this Christmas made up for the last four when she and her daughter moved from place to place.

After breakfast, all the moms and children spent the next couple of hours playing games together – laughing and having great fun. It was so heartwarming to see the love between them. As another mother once said, it’s just one big overwhelming family at Hope Alive.

It’s this loving, stable environment that Hope Alive offers that provides our families with the foundation for growth, healing, and the courage to move forward toward self-sufficiency. Thank you for supporting this life-change and for offering hope of a future. Thank you for keeping hope alive and for walking with us on this amazing journey of faith. May you enjoy an especially blessed New Year! Until next week …

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive Director

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas comes from the heart

Last night I watched a popular Christmas movie – “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”. My favorite part is near the end of the movie when the Grinch learns that, “Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store, perhaps Christmas means a little bit more.” As desperate as the Grinch was to steal Christmas from Whoville, he found he couldn’t because it lived in the hearts of the people.

Friday morning as I drove through downtown Frederick for an early morning meeting, I stopped at the traffic light at “square corner” (the intersection of Market and Patrick Streets). What happened right there in the busiest intersection in downtown Frederick was a wonderful reminder of what the Grinch discovered about the true meaning of Christmas. In the middle of the crosswalk, two friends met and embraced with a big hug and smile. In the hustle and bustle of the busy Christmas season, their embrace was a beautiful reminder that love from the heart is the true meaning of Christmas.

The Bible says that love comes from God. And it's His love that God gave to the whole world in the gift of His Son Jesus. “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” 1 John 3:1. “For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. Fod God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” John 3:16-17.

Once the Grinch experienced love through the little girl Cindy Lou, he was never the same again. He found forgiveness, joy and meaning for life. How much greater love can we experience and how much more can our lives be changed when we receive the gift of God's Son Jesus as His gift of salvation for the world? Immeasurably more and beyond anything we can ever ask or imagine.

From the board of directors, staff, and resident families at Hope Alive, our prayer for you this Christmas is that you will receive God’s gift of His Son – the Christ child – and know His life-changing love! May your hearts be filled with God’s love this Christmas!

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive Director

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The spirit of giving

This Christmas season I’ve been especially impacted by the spirit of giving – but in two totally different ways.

Last week one of our resident moms bounded up the steps to the office and presented the staff with a bouquet of roses. She wanted to thank us for everything we’ve done for her and her two young children. Your first thought may be, “Why in the world is she spending money on flowers when she doesn’t even have a home of her own?”

This amazing young woman has achieved so much since coming to Hope Alive. She’s maintaining her budget with controlled spending. She’s reducing her debt and is saving for her family’s future which qualified her for a vehicle from Second Chance Garage. She’s working as a substitute teacher and will earn an associates degree in 2012. She’s shown spiritual growth and maturity and is a godly role model for her peers. She and her children will graduate from the Hope Alive program next spring and live on their own for the first time in their lives. So, her giving in this way was not a foolish waste of money, but a loving expression of her gratitude that encourages the staff and makes her feel even more loved and valued.

I’ve also been impacted by the overwhelming spirit of giving from the community. Like every other Christmas, we’ve been inundated with gifts from generous individuals and groups who want our families to know they are surrounded by a community who loves and cares for them.

But there was one wrapped gift that arrived that I can’t stop thinking about. (If any gifts are delivered wrapped, we unwrap them to verify the contents and make sure they go to the right family.) One such gift was a pair of fashion boots. They were stylish and something that one of our moms or older girls would love. But … they were worn, scuffed, and had a hole in the sole. This gift just broke my heart … mostly for the person who gave it.

I would hope that when we give to others – especially those in need – that we give our best. God gave His perfect gift to us in His Son Jesus Christ.

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

God did not hold back His best, but offered His one and only Son as the sacrifice for the sins of the world so that we might have new life through Him … all because of His great love for us! May this Christmas be a season filled with the true spirit of giving by giving Him our best in response for the precious gift of love He has freely given to us! May your Christmas be filled with the wonderful celebration of the indescribable gift of Jesus Christ!

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive Director

P.S. There's still time to take advantage of our challenge grant matching dollar for dollar every new gift we receive!