Displaying items by tag: housing

What's love got to do with it?

 

Tina Turner got it wrong.

When answering with the question, "what's love got to do with it?" she called it “a second-hand emotion." No way. In the Christian walk, love is both the ultimate goal (being unified in Love with God) and the way to get there (loving God and our neighbor).

In our homes, the demands of love are a constant invitation to show up, speak up, and lift up. Here’s a few ideas for how you live and love incarnationally within the work of maternity homes—loving tough, yet unconditionally.

Love as a Invitation to Perfection (Tough Love)

  • Notice the small movements of growth in others. Don't overlook even the seemingly smallest advances in the lives around us. Often progress is very subtle!

  • Ground yourself in the dignity of every person. It’s especially important to remember that when dignity isn't being shown!

  • Foster willingness to hear feedback and admit your mistakes. Be an example of openness even as you pursue growth in holiness. You’re not perfect, and you’re not expected to be, so live in the freedom that comes with admissions and apologies.

  • When you have to correct, speak out of a calm, reflective place. Refuse to speak from an angry, reactive place. When you do correct, ask God to purify your motives, so that your correction is truly correction, not frustration masquerading.

  • Recognize the power of timing. Are you and the other person able to have a meaningful conversation right now? Or, are other circumstances (anger, hunger, loneliness, fatigue) affecting the exchange?

Love that Sees through Brokenness (Unconditional Love)

  • Grow in your ability to give and receive forgiveness. Let mercy gush out of you.

  • Love your imperfections—they are part of your humanity. But, don't coddle them. Instead, always be stretching past them. Allow others to have imperfections as well. They’ll have imperfections either way, so better get used to them!

  • In a maternity home, the mothers need to be able to relax and be themselves. Yes, there are battles to fight. But, choose each battle wisely. Your goal with each mom is to create an environment where they can open hearts and breathe deeply. 

  • Because each person has a different set of challenges, we’re stronger operating as a team or community. Create an environment where each individual functions out of her strengths, and where the community protects each other’s area of weakness.

  • Love is a moving target—sometimes it requires giving, other times receiving. Sometimes it requires action, other times inaction. Stay attuned! 

There is a spiritual insight that suffering expands one's capacity to love. The women who join our homes have often known great suffering—some due to their own decisions and some due to the horrific decisions of others.

We have the noble challenge of trying to help each mother understand that the heartache of their lives can produce a bedrock strength and a beautiful ability to love deeply. Starting with themselves and their children.

As we exercise compassion—literally, suffering with—the moms, we too are being perfected in love!


by Mary Peterson, Housing Consultant

 

4 ways to build community today

home sweet home

Image courtesy NorthWestGifts.com

by Mary Peterson, Housing Consultant

The mothers often arrive to our homes without a social safety net. Many have burned bridges in their relationships, or are coming from a history of deep dysfunction.

In addition to all of the other skills we encourage, such as life skills, educational attainment, and parenting strategies, maternity homes are meant to model and teach relationship. In our example and structures, homes invite the moms into regular, healthy interactions.

Beyond the high-drama, over-sharing, or closed-off habits, we invite the moms to build a network of genuine friendships.

We are inviting them into community.

With that said, the big question becomes "How?" Here's a few practical brainstorms to consider!

1. Direct Traffic

Goal: Use the physical space to encourage people to interact.

  • Put the phone / message boards / calendar in the common area.
  • Put the computer in the common area.
  • Only use the primary entrance (nearest the common area) of the home.
  • Have extra heat and/or air conditioning in the common area.

2. Set the Tone

Goal: From the very first moment she arrives, welcome the mom as a true member in the home.

  • Paint a picture during the intake of belonging, family, and community life.
  • Have welcome baskets or signs.
  • Have the moms complete a roommate agreement to curtail disagreements early.
  • Build a quick welcoming routine that is simple (i.e. over dinner or at the house meeting).
  • Immediately put the mom's name on the chore list, the message board, etc.
  • Give the mom a t-shirt from your home.
  • Have another mom give an "insider" tour of the home.

3. Build Routines

Goal: Build a relational aspect into every part of your structure.

  • Include community-building moments into your house meetings by celebrating achievements of the week, doing a quick moment of personal sharing, or having a chance for discussion on issues that affect everyone.
  • Go on house outings together.
  • Consider a house vacation together—does a donor have a cabin you could use?
  • Build a "goodbye" ritual to honor moms who are leaving.

4. Create a Culture

Goal: Have anyone within the home embrace a culture of belonging.

  • Have the mom make gestures of commitment (i.e. signing her name to the rules, signing an agreement of stay).
  • Develop language that elevates the dignity of the mother.
  • Write down the key points that build a sense of community so that they can be shared.
  • Train your volunteers on the language and culture of building community.
  • Build a structure around the ongoing relationship with the mom.

I know you have more ideas. Share them with me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. I would love to hear them!

Becoming a unified coalition

we are the worldby Mary Peterson, Housing Consultant

I call it, "we are the world" love.

It's a slightly sarcastic way to describe the love that brings together a lot of different people with different ideas around a noble purpose, but it lasts just long enough to sing a song.

As we know too well, real love, the kind of love that brings deep and lasting unity, only happens when people start bumping into one another. And, although they may feel a little bruised, love starts when individuals choose to listen, to forgive, to seek understanding, to communicate better, to try again.

Part of the joy of being a Coalition of maternity housing providers is in the variety of perspectives that are included. We are unified in our common work of offering housing to pregnant women, but we differ on many other issues: staffing models, doctrinal nuances, and length of stay, just to name a few.

Because our work as maternity home providers often involves deep personal sacrifice, it is easy for us to bring passion and investment to the conversation. As we begin the work of building the National Maternity Housing Coalition, we may bump into each other just a bit. But as this happens, we have several things on our side.

First is the wisdom acquired from 42 years of holding various works and perspectives together within the same organization. Heartbeat International has been a leader is choosing the difficult but rewarding path of unity amid diversity. Heartbeat has seen again and again that we truly are "better together."

Second, there is the palpable sense of possibility in our work. Whenever leaders from homes are talking to one another, the ideas start flying. In addition, there are deep rumblings of movement in the arena of housing—more interest in starting homes, new programs under discussion, and deeper connection to the pro-life movement. More, new, deeper...all are rumblings of movement.

Finally, we cling to our God who values unity so deeply that He expresses Himself as a union of persons. It is our God, a living unity, who teaches us and gives us the grace to be forgiving, merciful, generous, and kind when we bump into one another.

'Success' and gospel faithfulness

by Mary Peterson, Housing Consultant

Gregory Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries, wrote a simple yet profound book about his work with gang members, “Tattoos on the Heart”.

It’s an impressive story for a variety of reasons, but the chapter entitled, “Success” speaks to any ministry leader who deeply shares life with people. In it, he writes:

Success and failure, ultimately, have little to do with living the gospel. …Jesus was always too busy being faithful to worry about success. I’m not opposed to success; I just think we should accept it only if it is a by-product of our fidelity. If our primary concern is results, we will choose to work only with those who give us good ones. (p.172, 178)

We are all seeking results for our labors, longing for moms to know profound and lasting transformation in their lives…and many times, we get to see incredible successes. But, not always.

Sometimes, we give without ever knowing the impact we will have. Other times, we watch as women make painfully destructive decisions about their future.

In your work as a maternity home leader, you have been called to be faithful to the task of welcoming the stranger…the women standing at the door in need of a loving place. She may arrive bad-mouthing, attention-seeking, closed-off, or beaten-down.

But, regardless of appearance, she is Christ before you in wonderful disguise. In welcoming her into the embrace of your home and your heart, you are living out the gospel…whether you “succeed” or “fail.”

Heartbeat announces the launch of the National Maternity Housing Coalition (NMHC).

nmhc finalbw
Established on June 19, 2012 by a small representation of homes, the NMHC is now launching and recruiting membership.

Over 330 homes exist in the US!  Our goal is to unify the work of homes across the country so that we can strengthen our programs and better communicate the important role that maternity housing programs play in supporting pregnant women.

Key activities:

  • Develop collective tools for people hoping to start a maternity housing programs;
  • Support the conferences of Heartbeat and the National Christian Housing Coalition;
  • Provide emotional and spiritual support to leaders of maternity housing programs;
  • Promote the work of maternity housing programs broadly, within the life.

NMHC’s Mission Statement:  We inspire excellence among maternity housing providers and articulate a collective voice to advance the culture of life and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We do this by providing training and tools, facilitating an exchange of knowledge and experience, and fostering fellowship among members.

“The power of the Coalition is in providing a unified voice to amplify our message of hope to pregnant women who are in need of support,” said Chris Bell, long-time Executive Director of Good Counsel Homes and founding member of the National Maternity Housing Coalition.  “In our work of building a culture of life, we need to leverage our voices.”

When asked about the goal of the Coalition, Mary Peterson, founder of Maggie’s Pace notes, “The work of maternity homes has been around for a long time, but the challenges of women now are quite complicated involving addiction, abuse, trauma, and lack of support.  In order to be more effective in our work, we need to learn from another.”

“What a great win-win situation to be partnering with Heartbeat,” affirmed Gloria Lee.  As a long-term director of Our Lady’s Inn, Gloria has been involved with Heartbeat for many years.  “Heartbeat’s mission of building up the capacity of life-affirming ministries is a perfect fit with the direction of the National Maternity Housing Coalition.”

For additional information, contact:

  • Chris Bell, Good Counsel Homes, (201) 795-0637
  • Gloria Lee, Our Lady’s Inn, (314) 351-4590
  • Mary Peterson, Maggie’s Place, (602) 262-5555
  • Jor-El Godsey, Heartbeat, (614) 885-7577

Starting a maternity housing ministry

Maternity housing programs are a special part of the spectrum of services offered by pregnancy help organizations. Heartbeat is delighted that you are considering this ministry. The Scriptures are very clear that we must help those in need by meeting their needs.

For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in (Matthew 25:35 NASB).

We are seeing homes develop independently as well as in partnership with other pregnancy help organizations.  

It is important to lay a good foundation in every ministry and this is certainly true for a housing ministry. This work requires great faith and strength and planning.  Below are a few things to initially consider.

Six basic steps as you plan

1. Gather data and information on the needs in your community. Talk to other ministry leaders and understand their perceptions of “gaps in services.” Have a solid understanding of the existing resources in your area. Gather research on unique factors that affect your community. This information will both inform your vision and help make a case for future donors.

2. Begin to write down your vision and how you see it unfolding. Be as specific as possible.

Record the vision and inscribe it on tablets,that the one who reads it may run. For the vision is yet for the appointed time;it hastens toward the goal and it will not fail though it tarries, wait for it; for it will certainly come, it will not delay (Habakkuk 2:2-3 NASB).

  • Who will you serve? How long can they stay?
  • What type of activities are going to happen in the home?
  • What type of property do you think you will need? Who will you serve? How many are you planning to serve? Give the age group and types (i.e., pregnant, single parents). Write these things down.

3. Make plans to visit existing programs. See what other housing ministry locations and programs may be in existence already by visiting the Worldwide Directory. Just type in your city or zip code and it will show you the life-affirming organizations that already exist in your area. To focus on housing organizations, use the Directory Code “Housing.”

4. Look for a small group of people to work with you as you plan. It is often a small group of key visionaries (sometimes called a Founding Committee) who set the cornerstones of the vision in place, recognizing that changes will be made along the way. Eventually, these people could be the beginning of your Board.

5. Be aware of the regulations that govern the work. In the US, a 501(c)3 and/or fiscal agent relationship is necessary to receive tax-deductible gifts. Understand state-level guidelines that impact housing organizations. Research the city-level regulations related to being a “group home” or having a “special use permit.”

6. Start working on a budget. Initial resources may be thought of as Seed Money (funding to begin the ministry) or Capital (funding for purchase of large ticket items like a property, vehicle, computer network, etc). Over time, you will prepare an Operating Budget to outline the annual expense of running the ministry. As needed, begin learning about fundraising strategies and create a fundraising plan.

We look forward to walking with you as you begin this journey. Housing is a beautifully messy ministry filled with life-changing relationships. It is your opportunity to change the life of others…and be changed in the process! Welcome to the maternity housing community!

Housing resources:

We pray God’s blessing on you as you consider this very important ministry of the pro-life community.

Maternity housing programs are a special part of the spectrum of services offered by pregnancy help organizations. Heartbeat is delighted that you are considering this ministry. The Scriptures are very clear that we must help those in need by meeting their needs.
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