This picture says a lot. We have 40 plus broken, men, women, and kids; people all inside our Greenhouse looking for protection from the outside environment, looking for nourishment, hope and if we are honest some pruning. Outside in our “backyard” also known as the courtyard we have tomatoes, collards, peppers and other veggies along with beautiful flowers. What a beautiful reminder of the ways that God provides exactly what we need. Thankful for the friends who have provided a way for us to see the growth happening in all of us in such a practical way.
Father, THANK YOU. Thank you for the sun that is shining, the rain that makes things green and grow. Thank you for Nancy and her team serving us in such a sweet way. Thank you for the time they put in to cultivate, prune, and nourish the courtyard space so that life could grow and flourish. All things that we know you do with us too.
Thankful. Amen. AT
We all want good news. And the really great thing is we have the good news. But what do we do with that when it seems like there is nothing but bad news on TV? I would like to tell you there are GREAT things, in fact amazing things happening all around us; in our cities, in our churches, in our families, God is moving and working towards reconciling all things to himself. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to visit a ministry in Chicago that is doing something similar to what we hope to soon be able to do too. In a part of the city broken like ours by violence, drugs, prostitution and poverty they are a significant beacon of light. Too often we get hung up and weighed down by the heaviness and don’t rejoice in the good. Lord thank you that you are good and all that you created is too!
Father thank you for giving your leaders in ministries, churches, businesses, schools and homes the grace they need to live out your will each day. May we not grow weary in seeking you and trusting that you are making all things new. Thank you that in you we have the victory and though the battle is not quite over the war is won. Thanks for letting us join you on the front lines to win back each and every one of your beloved children – we are honored and humbled that you would trust us. Lord, we pray as you taught us – thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Oh, kingdom come!
We’re ready, amen.
You’re a force.
A common phrase I hear our kids (young and old) say around here. In fact more often than not it is used in a teasing way, when someone is gettin’ on the last nerve. Although it is something we laugh at, sometimes the reality is the force is necessary. Like all people, our men, women, and kids can push things to the limit in hopes of getting by with just one more thing. In this Greenhouse, there is only so much that can be tolerated before it begins to tamper with the environment that we work so hard to cultivate.
Dad, I pray that we would see the value of the people in our lives who be forcin’ it. That we would remember that a different way of going at things no matter how difficult it is, its not always bad. I pray that we would all allow the culture in the Greenhouse to thrive and not stifle it with our own mess and desire for something different. Please protect us from the toxicity that rests right outside our doors begging to come in. Remove the drugs, theft, rape, abuse, and any indignity; may it all be met at the door by your saving grace – we are counting on it, counting on you.
Amen – AT
I smile, even though I hurt I smile,
I know God is working so I smile,
Even though I’ve been here for a while
I smile, smile..
it’s so hard to look up when you’ve been down.
Sure would hate to see you give up now
You look so much better when you smile.
I Smile – Kirk Franklin
Smile. Honestly it is one of the most contagious things you could do all day. Have you slowed down enough today to smile? To see someone else smile? Life seems to be moving a million, yes a million miles per hour some days. With the exciting new partnership with James Place (resource center), the 40 some men, women, and kids who call Hope Street home, volunteers, and staff there is A LOT going on in the Greenhouse. In the midst of all the “busyness” that is life, we have people excited about new job opportunities, new healthy relationships, and the warm sunny weather. We also experience the reality of the setbacks from relapse, poor choices, and cancer. Depending on the moment what may cause us to smile one second could quickly be stolen away by the brokenness that is evident in all our lives. But more often than not, God sends one of his children (age 3 – 70) running or walking into my office with a big smile to remind me that he is present and oh so very sovereign.
Dad, thanks for the smiles that remind us that we are not alone; we can do it, and we are loved. Thanks too for the moments where our smiles are upside down. We know it is in these moments where we really remember to lean into you and trust your presence even if we aren’t feelin’ it. We give you Cornelius as we all battle together the disease infecting his body. Encourage our kids as they finish the school year out strong. Last but not least help us to go slow enough through the days to see all the things we have to smile about.
Hey! This is Rachael Stricker the new Ministry Director here at Hope Street. I am really excited to be on staff at Hope Street. I am part of the new team of people that God has strategically placed together for such a time as this! I cannot wait to meet more residents, volunteers, and Board Members. I cannot wait to see how God will continue to bless this Greenhouse for People during this new growing season.
I am a daughter of the Most High King, a wife and a mom. I have been married to my hubby, Matt for 13 years and we have two awesome daughters, Emma (11) and Sarah (9). Both Matt and I were raised in Illinois (don’t hold it against us that we still cheer for the Bears..there are just some things that you cannot change about people), but we have happily called Wisconsin home for the past 9 years.
I have always felt a desire to be in community and relationship with people. I am a people person. I love meeting new people, hanging out with old and new friends, coffee dates, and lunch dates, conversations outside the car at the drop off at school. A common question when we are out as a family is, “Where is Mom?” The common response, “Oh…she’s talking.” I guess when I think about it, that is where God wants us to be, right? In community with others. In relationship with others. In relationship with Him. We were never intended to “do life alone”. Nope. Life together. As I start this new journey here at Hope Street, I am really excited to “do life” with a lot of cool people in a flourishing community. I hope you come on this journey with me.
“If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am there will be my servant also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.”
I know some people who say they don’t like to be surprised. I don’t believe them. I have been surprised at how often I am surprised, and because I like to win at everything, I tried to beat Surprise and not let Him get over on me. No surprise, Surprise whooped my butt. Then one day I got one more piece of the surprisingly sweet puzzle…
I am made to be surprised.
It’s actually a sin not to be surprised. Part of the consequences of eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil I suppose. We think our lives would be better if we knew everything, had no surprises. Then along comes the Word, wrapped up in flesh… Surprise!
Baby King Jesus you are so surprisingly humble. Thanks for keeping me wondering about you, wondering about the surprises. I need help to stop eating that fruit of the tree that tells me it would be better if I knew it all, even more help because I have already eaten some of it and surprise, I think I do know it all! So keep me safe and humble like you. Strengthen my surprise muscles so I can search for the mysteries your Way brings to life. All grown up dead on the cross King Jesus you are so surprisingly dead. Honestly I am surprised at how often I cringe, cower, and convulse at tearing down my kingdoms; never-the-less, not mine, but your will be done. All dressed in white, firey eyed, sword mouthed, secret named King of Kings Jesus you are so surprisingly unimaginable. Let each of us see the future we can imagine is no match for the You we can’t. So for today we trust your surprises to keep us engaged because we know that while you are our Surprise, we also believe you will never be surprised. Amen-pb
All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen
Ralph Waldo Emerson
I have seen some crazy stuff in my nearly 56 years. But it’s what I haven’t seen that is really crazy. I never saw the angels that kept me safe when a semi truck loaded with wheat ran a stop sign going 50 mph and broad sided my pickup right in the middle of my door. I never got a scratch. I didn’t see the demon or demons that crushed me in bed but I felt their weight as I prayed for the young man who was demonized. I didn’t see the Spirit of God when he healed hearts broken by the loss of a daughter while I spread some mulch, but those whose hearts were broken said healing began.
I have lots of proof that not seeing is really believing.
Father we have some hard stuff that we can see and we are hopeful you will deal with it whether we can see the results or not. Our kids see some really violent behavior sometimes. Protect QT from the scars and pain of what she saw this morning. Emphysema is a nasty, low down, no good bum. Get that bum off Sheila’s back and don’t ever let him come back. No matter how many babies you have or how old they are when you lose a baby the whole world falls. I know that baby is with you but pick up the pieces of T’s broken heart and put them back together like only you can do. Keep breaking our hearts, add to our humility, and throw us out in water way over our heads the way you always have. We love finding you in the mess of your Greenhouse for People on 26th and Capitol.
“I chose to reach out and grab a packet of seeds.
Even once I said yes, I wondered what shall I really do with them? Should I put them in a drawer? Maybe I should just throw them in the garbage to avoid too much trouble? Or should I appreciate them and plant them? Several weeks passed, then one day I said enough! There had been a tugging at my heart. No more waste of those good seeds I have been given.”
Seeds. It is where everything begins. Life that is. That seed wants a full life, a joyful and complete life. How does that happen? Is everything or everyone given that same choice or opportunity? In reality no, not every seed is valued, nurtured, or even given a chance. In reality there is always some higher authority that asks themselves the very same questions written above. Is it worth it? How much time will it take? Will it be too difficult? Each seedling matters to God, because He created it. You and I He created and has known us intimately from the very moment of conception.
“For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.”
Lord, you have given us seeds; here at the Greenhouse those seeds are your beloved children. To many they are washed up, bruised, ugly, no good, defeated, or maybe unborn. But to us, they reflect you, they reflect the reality that YOU knew them in the moment they entered the dark, hidden, secret place, and you saw purpose. Enough purpose to write out the days to come. Please Father open the doors for dignity to be restored to your seeds. May we not throw out, ignore, or put off that which you intentionally created to BE.