Now that I’m advanced in age and can look back over my life experiences, I am amazed at how intricately God has worked in my life!  He didn’t miss a beat.  He taught me to trust Him and to move toward Him daily, trusting Him even with the corners of my heart I can’t see or understand.

You may not be able to see it now, but He is working, because He is faithful to complete the work that He has begun in you (Philippians 1:6).  Not only is He faithful to complete His work, he has been preparing you for your ‘good work’, and He prepared it a long time ago (Ephesians 2:10).

When God laid on my heart to begin the adventure of visiting Christ-Centered living communities that had already done the hard work of creating this beautiful thing that God had called them to, I was struck by the uniqueness and the creativity of each living community.  What I saw before my very eyes was God’s work that he had prepared people to do in advance.  In others words, He has already taken them through trials, lessons, and life experiences, that has equipped them to give back to the Kingdom of God!  Not only had He clearly equipped them, He gave each group the freedom and the incredible honor of carving out something that was a result of individuals coming together collaboratively with their gifts, and creating something unique and beautiful.

Benjamin’s Hope – this place split my heart wide open.  I ran into 2 former students of mine and had the opportunity to sit in a praise service at Benjamin’s Hope and worship Jesus with them, with one on each side.  It was beautiful and it started my adventure of asking God if He could use me for something this beautiful.  Krista offered to me the beauty that God created in her by meeting with me, encouraging me, and then meeting again with me and Sara as we explored the model of community that we felt God calling us to.  We loved their ‘campus’ feel and the beauty they offered to individuals with special needs, as well as, how everything was done with quality and hands of love.

Harbor House Ministries – Visiting this place was a beautiful experience as well.  It showed me that God equipped families to come together and fill a mission of creating, not only a beautiful care facility for their son/daughter, but a care facilities that would provide a home for many more.  It was beautiful the way the community functioned and their love for individuals with significant care needs.  Peggy offered us consultation and answered tough questions for us as we were just learning about what all was involved in a community.

Georgetown Ministries – We visited another place that touched our hearts as Sara and I visited Georgetown Harmony Homes.  Art met with us and answered questions, showed us around, and talked about their model of having an apartment for an RA and what that looked like for them.  Again, another place of beauty carved out by people who were prepared in advance for this amazing work.

David’s House Ministries – Shawn offered us his encouragement, books, advice on independent living (they have Shalom Springs apartments within their campus), and also encouraged us in things that were unique to David’s House.  Their campaigns they ran year after year had sustained them to date, and we were amazed by the support offered through the community and local churches.

Hope Homes – this beautiful home for women with their house mom Peggy who met with us, left us knowing with a model of nicely coordinated and ran homes, with women who poured their hearts into support of these women who were able to do many things on their own.  The internal structure and operating systems they had in place inspired us as a model of community started to take shape within our hearts and our minds.

Rainbow Farms in Holt – this visited was recommended by an attorney in town who worked with Rainbow Farms setting up the longest operating home that we visited (next to David’s house).  We saw the community they created and the place they carved out for individuals to belong, individuals who had tried to make it out on their own, but found they were lonely.  They also shared some challenging experiences they had with some who didn’t fit into their ministry model and how they dealt with tough issues.

Olivia’s Gift – this precious place that Kelly has worked diligently to develop for her daughter and other men and women, is special to my heart.  They serve high medical individuals in the Forest Hills area.  They have a team of 3 young women who are committed to the daily operations of this ministry.  They have pursued excellence in every corner and it has been a pleasure getting to know this ministry.  They taught me that it is possible to be both a non-profit and a profit!  They tailor designed their ministry to meet the needs of the residents and went the extra mile to create their own staffing company to ensure excellent.

Gracious Grounds – last but not least, Gracious Grounds showed us a model for ministry that we have adopted.  They serve individuals who are able to live independently with someone from the organization available, but with each individual carving out their own lives through community mental health services.  Their ministry has blossomed, actually exploded, since its conception which hasn’t been but a few years.  The need for this level of support is huge.  Through their generosity with sharing their experiences and their model, we have adopted a model similar to Gracious Grounds.

We like to say that our ministry is the model of Gracious Grounds with the campus of Benjamin’s Hope but with sprinkles of these ministries, as we gleaned wisdom from their experiences.

All of this was to show that each community was unique and beautiful, carved out uniquely, under God’s care and designed purposes.

Then it occurred to me!  God raises up people, gives them life experiences, shapes their hearts and their gifts, and then says, “Now, go ahead, create something beautiful!”

I am not sure why that thought struck me so deeply, but I was amazed and the uniqueness of each community and the calling of God, in addition to how He equipped each one for a unique purpose.  That was very exciting and liberating to me.  I realized in that moment that God didn’t really have the end result in mind (not discounting that He is all knowing), He was handing our gifts back to us and saying, “Go ahead, I believe in you and I know what you create is going to be beautiful, because YOU are beautiful!”

And isn’t that how God sees each of us, as uniquely beautiful!

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never really felt ‘beautiful’ in my entire lifetime.  But in that moment, I did!  I knew God had created in me something beautiful over the experiences of my life, and now He was going to take that beauty He created and use it collaboratively with other beautiful people, to create (or watch us create) something beautiful.

Isn’t that amazing!

God’s work in each board member’s life (and the calling of us together) has resulted in Homes Giving Hope.  Right from the name all the way down to who is equipped to fill which role.

We started an activity of assigning our ‘titles’ by what we do, not by traditional titles (like board President, Vice-President, etc.).  We have not completed the process yet, but I love where it has taken us, because now we each have a role to play that fits our calling, and God’s specific shaping in our lives.

Isn’t that exciting!  Maybe not from the outside looking in, but from the inside, it is very exciting.  It’s like the filling of a plan bigger than any one of us, yet with ourselves an intricate part of it.

Mind boggling.  That’s God’s ways.  “His thoughts are not our thoughts, nor are his ways our ways.” (Isaiah 55:8)

Our God is amazing and does what He pleases, and what He pleases always turns out beautiful (especially when we let Him be the potter and mold and shape us for His purposes).

So you can know that your current life experiences are the cake, the icing will come later, and when it does, it will be very sweet.  God is creating in you something beautiful.  He has a planned purpose for you.

Be encouraged by God’s ways!

Kay L. Wood, MA, QIDP
Independent Supports Coordinator