Love One Another

I was planning on writing today about a completely different topic but, as usual, I find my mind focused on somewhere else instead.  And with the largest mass shooting in American history happening earlier this month, I guess that’s understandable.  It would be oh so easy to politicize this horrific tragedy and use it as a soap box from which to broadcast an opinion about a particular candidate or a certain law, which seems to be the popular American thing to do now when these types of events occur.  But instead, please allow me to dig a little deeper and examine what may very well be at the root of a much larger issue. To get right to it, I think it’s hate. At first, hate doesn’t always seem like that big of a deal.  We throw the word around casually, saying we hate this vegetable or that style of music.  This seems to match the simple definition as found in Webster’s Dictionary: a very strong feeling of dislike.  But check out the full definition: intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury. Whoa.  That seems quite a bit more intense.  And a quick skim through the world’s and our own country’s history unfortunately provides a lot of examples.  Native groups and settlers.  Race against race.  Nation against nation.  And, perhaps worst and least understandable of all, religion against religion. There has always been plenty of hate to go around. Maybe that’s why Jesus chose to talk so much about the opposing force: love. Especially as His time on Earth was growing short, Jesus...

A Lesson in Encouragement

I had half of a blog post written when something so cool happened that I realized I needed to write about it instead! So I’ll share some about our program Thank God It’s Girls’ Club (TGIGC) another time, but today I am happy to tell you what happened at our last Teen Council meeting. A little background: Teen Council is a fairly new program at HHD where my co-leader, Riley, and I meet with a small group of high-school students to talk about leadership and give them opportunities to practice leadership skills in our community. As the group progresses, we are hoping that the teens will come up with, plan, and run their own events or service projects in our neighborhood. At our most recent meeting, Riley taught a great lesson about encouragement, and how important this trait is as we lead and participate in whatever communities we are a part of. The main focus was a section in Acts where we see the early believers sharing everything and selling their possessions to meet the needs of everyone in the group. It is here where we are introduced to Barnabas –called this because it means ‘son of encouragement’ – who is so captivated by the early Church that he, too, sells some land he owns and brings all of the money to the apostles to use. As we tried to explain how this radical lifestyle might look today, Riley said it would be like if Gary & Becky sold the Hope House and used the money to meet the needs of the neighborhood. One of the girls made a...

Basketball: A New Perspective

I am not at all an athletic person.  Throughout all my years of school, I was never on a sports team – I did bumper bowling in early elementary school, but I’m not sure that really counts : )  And while I love going to a Tigers game as much as the next person, I rarely watch sports (the World Cup is the only main exception to this…and that’s only every four years!). I tell you all this to explain that it’s difficult for me to grasp how important sports are to some people.  And at HHD, basketball is basically a way of life.  Having a hoop and a half-court is how the original HHD team (which was mainly Gary, Becky, & Ralph) first started meeting some of the neighborhood kids.  And taking them to a Piston’s game was how some of the real bonds began to form. If the court isn’t closed due to an organized event, you can bet it will be filled with kids and teens vying for their time to compete and show their stuff.  A lot goes on that I don’t understand – and I’m not talking about the regulations regarding play.  Respect is fought for in that little space between the yard and the garage.  A teen girl proves she has the right to be there when she gets nothin’ but net three shots in a row.  Younger or smaller boys ‘trash talk’ the most in their attempt to be seen as equals to older, stronger guys.  A teen boy watches my husband take a turn and says to me in a serious...

Street Olympics…and Dance Party!

Hi!  My name is Shalmar, and I’m going to be the official blogger for Hope House Detroit, or as I more typically will type – HHD.  I want you to get to know me and the many other volunteers and leaders who have poured heart, soul, and sweat into this special place on the East Side of Detroit.  And I want to give you an intimate view into what we do…and why.  But today, I just HAVE to share about our recent event facilitated by our partners in the student ministries at Hope Community Church. On June 19th, starting at 7pm, we had a rush of about 50 kids and teens converge on the HHD yard.  And who could blame them?  Street Olympics was all set up and ready to roll!  Orchestrated by over 20 adult volunteers, there was a tricycle race, water balloon launching contests, mini-marshmallow biathlon, helicopter bowling (all I’ll say is that it involved nylons on kids’ heads), and a dunk tank.  I’ll admit – it was fun to watch my husband, Ben, get dunked by kids and teens from our church and neighborhood community.  And I was glad that we never got to my turn! With this many young people and adults participating in and helping with so many activities, the word ‘chaotic’ comes to mind.  But it was organized chaos, covered and made cohesive by rap music and the love of Christ.  And you have no idea how beautiful of a combination that is until you experience it for yourself. After about an hour of balloons splatting, marshmallows flying, volunteers heckling (in good fun) the...