Streams of Hope

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to do a volunteer project at Streams of Hope. Their organization is aptly named – their programs and services offer families basics like food and after school care but also tutoring, classes, and the opportunity to learn how to start a business. 

The driveway is lined with six large cement flower beds and our first task was to fill them with beautiful flowers that were generously donated by Little Bits Landscape Supply.  We had a group of about a dozen people so some started prepping the beds (yes, that’s me!), pulling weeds and turning the soil, others followed a planogram and arranged the various plants, while the rest planted them in their proper place. As the pots were emptied, I grabbed them and stacked them on a pallet, according to size and color, of course.  There was another guy who seemed to have my same strain of OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) and was more than happy to help me with my stacking and sorting. 

It was a beautiful warm day, especially for Michigan in May and I was glad when we finished up that task and went inside the building to wash up and work on another task.  Next on the agenda was sorting a huge box full of canned goods, putting fruits, veggies, beans, and miscellaneous cans in milk crates so they could be used to restock the food pantry as needed. 

We were treated to a fabulous lunch donated by Slows BBQ.  There was barbecued chicken, salad, cornbread with honey butter, and probably the best macaroni and cheese I have ever tasted. Even though I knew I would regret it when we started the afternoon tasks, I ate A LOT! 

After lunch, we headed back outside to prep some beds for the community garden and to clear brush and pick up trash and sticks.  Picking up sticks is one of my giftings, having had years of experience on our five acre mini-farm when I was a kid.  After filling a giant trash bag with wrappers, plastic bottles, and other items that shall remain unnamed, I got after the sticks.  There was a wheelbarrow in the shed so wheeled that around the yard and back to the brush pile a couple of times until I was pretty hot and sweaty and was praying that it was almost quitting time. 

It seemed like a break was definitely in order, so I headed back inside for a drink of water and a trip to the restroom.  I noticed that most of the other volunteers my age had spent time filling up the food pantry.  Hmmm, why hadn’t I noticed that task?  Oh well, it’s probably a good thing that I had a work out after that big lunch. 

We ended the day by washing chairs in the dining/classroom and putting together binders for the kid’s soccer program.  We made a sizable dent in the to do list on the board and had things in good shape for the group that was coming in to volunteer the next day. 

Since my days are normally spent sitting at a desk or around a table in a meeting, I was pretty worn out at the end of the day, but worn out in the best possible way.  It’s truly a blessing that my company allows us to do eight hours of paid community service, otherwise I might never have learned about Streams of Hope and everything they do for the community. 

Is there an organization that you partner with? Please leave a comment and tell us about it!


Ever since I was a kid I have loved wearing flip-flops.  They were so easy to put on, they came in all kinds of colors, and they didn’t cost a lot, which is pretty important when there are four kids in the family.  Sure, there were a few painful days in the spring when you first put them on as you adjusted to having a hard plastic thong wedged between your big and second toes, but it didn’t take long to toughen them up. There was also the inevitable moment when someone stepped on the back of your flip-flop, your momentum carried you forward, and the plug holding the thong in place gave way and your flip-flops were history. It took a little practice, but you could run, ride a bike, do pretty much everything in them.

My Dad, however, was not a fan of the flip-flop.  Whenever we got hurt while wearing them, he made sure to point that out.  In fact, when we got old enough to drive, we were not allowed to wear flip-flops if we were in the driver’s seat.  I still get a little twinge of guilt when I drive in flip-flops today (Mom, don’t tell Dad I do this, okay?).

Today’s flip-fops are pretty fancy – gone is the skin ripping plastic thong between your toes, replaced by comfortable, non-chafing fabric.  Some even have a wedge to better support your feet!  When I lived in Florida, I had several pairs, referring to them as my good flip-flops, my fancy flip-flips and my old flip-flops (those relegated to unsavory tasks like scooping dog poop, working in the garden, etc.).

Flip Flops 1

Flip Flops 4

Flip Flops 3

Flip Flops 2

Just a few of the pairs of flip-flops in the house right now.

Recently I was leafing through a copy of the May/June 2016 issue of Healthy Living Made Simple.  Imagine my horror to see the headline Flip-Flop Hazards.  Say it isn’t so! Apparently flip-flops are bad news in more ways than I ever imagined.  You can read more about it here and here.

Flip Flop Hazards

I mentioned a fairly recent incident related to flip-flops in a post I wrote last fall. Argh, I hate it when my Dad is right! 

I’m not ready to give up flip-flops for good – I mean, they’re the perfect solution for taking Hannah out for the last time in the evening or for walking over to get the mail – but maybe I need to reconsider wearing them when I’m going to be walking for more than ten or fifteen minutes.  What about you?  Are you yea or nay when it comes to flip-flops?  If you’ve been a victim of a flip-flop injury, feel free to share!

Iron Sharpens Iron

Proverbs 27 Verse 17

Today I’ve been thinking about how fortunate I am to have such good friends. Most of us enjoy spending time with our friends, whether it’s the ones we see regularly or those that we only see only occasionally.  With the latter, it’s good to catch up and find out what is happening in each other’s lives.  Sometimes we’ll talk about the good old days and laugh about stuff we did or said or thought. 

Some friends transcend the normal bounds of friendship – a bosom friend, or kindred spirit, like Anne Shirley describes her friendship with Diana Barry in .  There’s a special connection that’s oblivious to age, background, or any other commonality. 

It’s the friend that can tell you in the nicest way possible that you are being an idiot.  That loves you right where you’re at, but then nudges you to do better.  The one to whom you can confess your latest epic fail without shame and then shares her own.

It hasn’t always been easy for me to let someone get this close.  A fair amount of my life was spent trying to be perfect and it was important not to let anyone close enough to see that there were gaping flaws in my veneer.  What I’ve discovered is that the more I’m willing to share, the more I’m willing to allow myself to be vulnerable, the richer the friendship becomes.  Discovering that I’m friend worthy and possibly even likable despite my quirks, foibles, and obvious lack of perfection has been a delightful surprise.

My fervent hope is that you, too, have a bosom friend who encourages you to be the absolute best you can be, who stands by you no matter what, who is your lifeline when things get tough and your biggest cheerleader when you accomplish a goal.  Why not take a moment to let that person know how much you appreciate their friendship and encouragement?