July 4th – A Day to Lament

JUSTembrace loves to host our neighbors for big ol celebrations as often as we can! They are a ton of work, but every moment is loaded with the new Kingdom Jesus established for us to live into on earth! These parties provide glimpse upon glimpse of God’s desire to restore all things. Our entire community… Read more »

Theological Reflections on Dad’s Stroke

Last night at open house and small group I was overwhelmed by the deep love and compassion my neighbors have for me and my family. It is a real gift to know that my neighbors felt concern and fear right along with us when they first heard about dad’s stroke. My dad is Santa to… Read more »

Self-Giving Tuesday

Some thoughts to consider as you are bombarded with many ways to “give-back” in these final weeks of 2016. (including from us!) The other day I saw an ad in my Facebook feed from a local food pantry that said: “Feel Better – Make a Donation.” It reminded me that #GivingTuesday is right around the… Read more »

A Violent Awakening

It was 5:30am when all 9 of us in the house woke up to the desperate screams of a woman being beaten.  At the sound of her screams, I grabbed my phone, dialing 911 as I staggered to my window to see where the yelps were coming from. I gave a groggy report to the… Read more »

Death and Life in the Yard

It’s been a week since Guy Oppedisano suddenly passed away.  We were gathered together for our weekly meeting on Sunday night when we got the call. In the span of 10 months, his is the 8th death to directly impact our community.  4 of those including Guy, were members of our intimate JUSTembrace family. Today,… Read more »

Grace Upon Grace

As the reality of Warren’s death is just beginning to sink in – I am ASTOUNDED at the graces we have been given. Grace Upon Grace. God has been so evident to us in this tragedy. Am I angry? Oh my goodness, yes! Am I heartbroken? I have only a taste of the grief that is… Read more »

Remembering Mike

Last night, as I walked outside to harvest the tomatoes, a detective was at the gate to inform me that our neighbor and community member Mike Primeau had been found deceased in his room across the street. It was what they call an unattended death, so they are doing an investigation to determine how he… Read more »

Farewell to JUSTembrace

Guest post by Payton Zemke On a snowy, winter day in Chicago, I went out to shovel the snow before I headed to school. I had recently moved in to the JUSTembrace house in Uptown, Chicago and it had been the first place in the city I lived in that had a yard. So in… Read more »


It was at least 8 months ago when I finally sat down and watched The Butler. A common disturbance recurred in my heart during that movie.  A feeling like I had missed out on being part of an important time in American history.  I started to glorify the role I was sure I would have… Read more »

Joy in a Shadow

Over the last few years I’ve been realizing that I have a real coping problem. I numb joy. The longer I live here, the more joy I encounter, and the more intense and destructive my coping has become.  I knew I had some coping problems, but in the last week I have had light after light… Read more »