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From the Desk of Dave McLean

God’s Word and way are not complicated. Sometimes we like to think it is complicated. I saw a picture of the healthcare legislation that was passed during the Obama administration (Obamacare), and the caption stated that the paperwork associated with that law was stacked over eight feet tall. Dread; that’s complicated. The Bible alone is about an inch or two thick depending on the paper and print. The wisdom from God for all of life in one small book. To make it more simple, the Lord tells us that the Scriptures are trying to teach us just one thing-To Love! That seems simple. It is - but, here’s one little complication. He wants us to love Him and our neighbor. Ugh! Complicated. Mat 22:36-40 “Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” A few thoughts here: The second is like the first; If we love Jesus, we’ll love our neighbor. If we’re loving our neighbor, we’re loving Jesus. The Father wants his children to love each other. We’re called to love our neighbor as thyself. Huh? The Scripture tells me I already know how to love!!! I’m loving thyself! That’s a good start. Now I just need to love you like I love thyself. The problem with loving you the way I love thyself is I’m probably going to have to elevate you a bit, which means knocking thyself down a little (or maybe more). That’s not easy. It’s not natural for us to love others as much as we love ourselves. Even those that I meet and counsel who are in a serious hurt are struggling with this. They may say that they’re looking out for others more than themselves, but their bitterness comes from their love of self and anger over the fact that they are having to elevate and love someone else more than they care to.

“Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

It’s our love of self that gets in the way of our love for our neighbor and the Lord. When I problem solve at A Ray of Hope, parent my children or try to see through my own problems it always comes down to this one issue! I need to love myself a little bit less and my neighbor a little bit more. Humility is the soil of which all fruit is borne. Lifelong struggle, but we must be gaining on it. I have found something that helps in this area. If I can come to a greater love of Jesus, then my love of my neighbor comes more naturally out of my love of Jesus. Conversely, if I’m not loving my neighbor, then it shows I’m not in love with Jesus like I think I am. So, the question needs to be asked; How do I love Jesus more? I’ll answer that with a few questions; How can I find the Lord that I don’t seek? How can I love someone I don’t know? How can I love someone I don’t spend time with? You can’t! The more time I spend with Jesus, the more I love Jesus. He’s pure everything. The more I see that in Him, the more I’m inspired to honor Him. I find that desire to love Him is the motivator to try to put away my sin and to love my neighbor. If I try to focus on commands, I fail. If I try to focus on loving my irritating neighbors, I get irritated. But if I focus on Jesus and see Him more clearly, He inspires me to try to be like Him. I know, I have a way to go. Whatever mess we are in, our only hope in seeing change is seeing Jesus. Our flesh does not contain the power or wherewithal to bring about Christ like change. We can’t do it on our own. The Lord tells us in Matthew 6:21; “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” The only way we can get the heart that will serve us as we desire in our inward being is to treasure Jesus, then there will your heart be also!!! Pursue Him, seek to treasure Him, your heart will follow. It is here that we can forgive, seek forgiveness, stop the endless cycle of destruction and sin and begin to rise above the flesh and gain the elusive victory that we so long for. The love of Jesus is our hope.

From the Desk of Rachelle Hernandez

We Can’t Say Thank You Enough! Although I would like to be, I am not privy to every single person who stops by, gives to this ministry or sends donations. This is a testimony to how many generous supporters we have in this community. In fact, there are so many people who stepped up from our Grand Opening of Peggy’s House 2018 to Christmas 2019 that it’s almost a guarantee I will inadvertently forget someone. If this happens to be true, I truly apologize from the bottom of my heart. Thankfully God knows your hearts and acts of service. I strive to be grateful in life and I find it is important for us to publicly thank all of you in the Flathead Valley for coming through and helping us assist 71 families with dinner and presents through our ‘Adopt a Family for Christmas’ program. It was not only a blessing to witness people’s desire to give but to see the humble appreciation of those receiving. It was truly a splendid sight and we are so proud we could help facilitate this event. So bless you and thank you for those who opened up your wallets and hearts to give to strangers in need. Also praying for blessings over the families who had the courage to seek assistance; may you reciprocate the love you received, in order to pay it forward to others in 2020. I would also like to express appreciation to the following: Heavenly Father, we would like to thank you for your love, patience and allowing us to serve you. Bob & Peggy Christensen, thank you for creating a refuge that allows us to reach the tired, lost and lonely and to introduce them to our Savior. There were also those of you that financially supported us. Those funds went to buy gifts and dinner for those we weren’t able to match with adopters for Christmas. As well as continuing to help us fund this ministry and help people who want to help themselves have a better present and prosperous future. Thank you for picking us worthy of your charitable donations and we appreciate your continued support! We also want to make sure we thank everyone who took the time to pick a Wish off the Giving Tree at the mall and those who donated gifts directly to the women, children and men living in our shelters. It allowed us to ensure each guest had gifts with their names on them. It truly was a special Christmas. One of the ladies actually stated, “This was the best Christmas she has ever had”, as she grew up with parents who were addicts. So many people donated to our Thrift Store throughout the year making this one of the best Christmas shopping seasons we have ever had. We thank everyone for thinking of AROH and your generous giving. Dave E. and Thad because of your guidance the store looks amazing as well. To the very special lady who made sure the men in Helmville had a great Christmas, we want to say thanks, you are truly what this ministry is about. Your selfless generosity, your sweet spirit and the hours you volunteer remind us to treat strangers like family. It’s what the Lord asks of us, to slow down and take the time to think not of ourselves but what can we do that would be a hand up to someone else. We also appreciate our Hope Thift volunteers Debbie and Jo Scott as well as Arvid who greets customers coming in and out of Hope Thrift. Volunteers! Volunteers! May the Lord bless you for donating your time. Amy and your sweet boys, you blessed us and others by shoveling and wrapping presents. Thanks you all so much! Marcella and Nikki your generosity truly blessed others this Christmas. An enormous thank you to Mrs. MacGregor’s class at Trinity Lutheran, bless your precious hearts. We are grateful as well to the foreign language students from the high school who shopped for families. Linda and Kathy we thank you for always making A Ray of Hope a priority and dropping by much needed donations. Dan, thank you for Walter’s new oasis. Sherry and Bonnie we appreciate your prayers and support. Thank you to Dave, our Director and Tom, our Office Manager, if we could all have the God fearing, generous hearts you both have, we would truly be blessed! I am grateful to think of all of you as friends. To Betsy and Central Christian Church for putting on your annual Christmas dinner with ambiance, it has become a cherished annual event. And to Lois for your dedication to feed us once a month, we appreciate you and pray for a speedy recovery. We’re grateful to the egg lady, dessert lady and Farmer, for always providing us with farm fresh eggs, fruits, veggies and desserts. Thanks to Mr. & Mrs. Ottey and Carol at Trinity Lutheran, we had the best flower gardens on this side of town. For those who bought bricks, our entry way into Peggy’s House is full of praise, prayers and remembrances. Bricks are also still available to be purchased as well, for those who thought they missed the opportunity. Thank you to the Senior Center, the Linus Project and all the churches and organizations who brought blankets, hats, gloves and more for our guests.

“To the anonymous giver who provided both shelters with a fantastic Christmas dinner, we appreciate your spirit of giving. Bless you!!

Target, thank you for the baby start bags. Thank you to Badger Excavating, LHC and Montana CAD for the rocks! You guys rock! To Claire Fraser and Jeanne Floyd, you were behind the scenes ensuring this Christmas was special for everyone and I appreciate how much you continuously give back for what you have been given. I appreciate the men at the men’s shelter allowing me to come over and put up lights and a tree at your house. No bah-humbug for you this year. Thanks Wayne & Scott for always keeping it real! We are so grateful for an amazing team of board members and Trustee’s who truly care about the vision and future of AROH. Thank you Dave, M., Glenda and Dorothy for morning Bible Study and helping us to arm ourselves with the Holy Spirit at the beginning of our day. For the guest’s who have passed through our shelters and the one’s yet to enter our doors, you are prayed for. For those who attended the Grinch Fest it was quite entertaining. We would like to thank Tiffany Crystal Photography, Jodie Cross from your 406 Dream Team at Keller Williams Realty and Red Lion. This was a great event and as a bonus, raised funds for renovations needed at our men’s shelter. Bill McGuffie is amazing and has so generously picked AROH to be the nonprofit beneficiary for his ‘Annual Catfish Fry & Gatherin’ for the last 6 years. We also couldn’t raise funds for our fundraisers if it wasn’t for the generous spirit of the organizations eager to help out with donations to our silent auction and raffles. Your help truly makes a difference! Volunteers! Volunteers! May the Lord bless you for donating your time. Amy and your sweet boys, you blessed us and other by shoveling and wrapping. Thanks you all so much! To those organizations that approved funds for grants, you ensured our doors remained open. Thank you especially to the Denny & Phyllis Washington, The Whitefish Community and the Gianforte Foundations. I couldn’t close without a special gratitude to my husband for loving me even when I am undeserving and choosing to live with a house full of ladies and children, so that I can do what I love to do. Thank you dear! With your support, we hope to continue to do God’s work and serve those in the community with nowhere to turn. To provide them a safe harbor and by God’s grace the opportunity for a different future. We look forward to continue serving men, women and children throughout 2020 and partnering with you again next year. God Bless!

Christmas in a Shelter

While others are decorating their houses for the holidays, posting Santa pics on social media, and shopping till they can’t anymore, there are many in our country that do not have a place to call home. I never thought I would be one of the homeless, especially at Christmas time. It really opened my eyes to the plight of others, but it also opened my eyes to the generosity of the community! Living in Peggy’s House is a blessing in so many ways. Having a warm place to rest my head is great, but knowing that the people that run A Ray of Hope care is even nicer. To me the house is not a shelter, but a home. A home for shelter, a home to celebrate, and a home where we make friends that become more like a family. My purpose of this article is to thank you for your support of A Ray of Hope. Without the wonderful people that support A Ray of Hope I would not have had a place to call home this Christmas. Your generosity not only assured my children and I had a warm home at Christmas, but also made smiles Christmas morning for many families that were adopted through A Ray of Hope. This Christmas I was able to see a community that practices what we are told to do in 2 Corinthians 9:6-8, Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. Thank you all and God bless you for your generosity you have shown.

--Jeanne Beth Floyd

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