"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near."
If you have been to Hope Street in the last year - there are a few different "things" that may welcome you. It could be our front stoop smokers (which we don't love the idea of, but at least you are greeted by a person), It could be one of our kiddos running through the halls, or it could be Nikki singing. Nicole LOVES to sing. We hear her voice every morning and sometimes afternoon. To many of us - it sounds like noise. But I imagine to our Father it sounds like praise, adoration and joy, deep rooted joy. Even when the songs aren't "worship songs".
Nikki spent years incarcerated and eventually isolated in her own space away from friends and family. She was abused as a child in unthinkable ways, experienced loss of close loved ones, and has been abandoned. Remembrance of these moments bring her great sadness. But, the bright spot is always when she starts to share about her beloved daughters. Her girls whose photos are sprinkled around her room. Nikki lost custody of her girls when she was in prison. Up until this last Sunday it had been 7 years since she last saw them. Nikki made the trip down south, and has been reunited with her girls this week in person. Rejoice! We become numb at times to the pain many of our members have experienced - more than anything out of protection. When we see the joy they are able to experience in this season too, we are reminded that our Father redeems, renews and restores. He gives us a reason to always find something to rejoice over. So that may be singing for you, it could be dancing, it could be telling someone your experience. Are you looking for Him? Or are you stuck looking at the pain?
Father, we rejoice with Nikki for the joy you have instilled in her. We thank you for the opportunity to witness her reunification with her beautiful girls. We ask as she is present this week that she be reminded of what is true of her, that she wouldn't be held back by past mistakes and that she would rejoice! Thank you for the community that our members find at Hope Street. Thanks for a safe space to keep it real, but also rejoice however we decide to do that. Thank you that Nikki chooses singing - it is a good daily reminder to look around and know we have so much to be thankful for.
P.s. Personally, I have missed Nikki's singing this week :) Belle too.