Greater Things by Sally Heit, Admissions Director
Last Friday night (Nov. 3), five friends and I attended a talk given by Christian author Jen Hatmaker and Christian singer/songwriter Nichole Nordeman at Overlake Church in Bellevue. I had no expectations of the evening except to laugh and enjoy the fellowship of these amazing women I went with; however, I got much more from it. We settled into our seats to enjoy the message that Jen had to share. It was about the strength women have to fight and rise through pain with the help of their tribe and God. Main point: You can’t do it alone. You need God; you need community.
Later, in the program she introduced a special guest, Lori Cavender, Founder and Executive Director of Ryan’s House for Youth, a nonprofit organization that assists homeless youth ages 12-24 on Whidbey Island. Here is a woman who almost single-handedly saw a need in her community and acted; she started with serving water and food out of a crock pot from her van and provided a listening ear to troubled youth. She now oversees a 17 acre campus with numerous programs to assist homeless youth in getting back on their feet. On top of that, while she had 4 months to raise the money to purchase the 17 acre property she was also working to change the legislation (Host Home Legislation adopted in 2016) which creates more housing opportunities in rural areas, allowing youth in their community a chance to come in out of the elements and focus on life, not survival. We were amazed. How did she do it all? In her words, “with the help of God.”
Toward the end of her talk my friend Chris leaned over and whispered, “I think I know her.” “How?” I asked. “I think she went to Seattle Lutheran High School with me. I might even know her husband,” she said. Say what?! My heart began to beat faster. As 3,000 women streamed out of the church, Chris approached Lori and her husband and introduced herself. Sure enough, Chris did know them and vice versa! Lori had attended Hope and both she and her husband had attended Seattle Lutheran, and they were married at Hope church.
As our group introduced ourselves, reminisced and compared notes about “old school times,” Lori mentions that she actually hadn’t planned on being at the event that evening. That day while she was at another conference she got a text from the tour asking her if she could come share her story that night. Chills went up our spines. Chris said, “Do you see what is happening here? Can you feel it?” God was at work. It couldn’t be a coincidence. We could all feel His presence, bringing us together through the common thread of shared experiences within the Hope and Seattle Lutheran communities. This moment was a God thing.
Before we departed Lori said excitedly, “See! Hopees can do great things!” (Hopees is what she and her classmates fondly called themselves while in school.) And yes, Hopees can and will do great things with the help of God and the loving and nurturing community that surrounds them. I can’t wait to see what great things come from this moment.