The Very BEST Tablescape Ever …

I recently asked you HERE to look at this picture … really look … and tell me what you saw. Thanks to all of you who responded. If you haven’t already done it, take a minute to look now … please … then I’ll tell you about these girls.
When I wrote HERE about my “new” husband, I told you that Renaissance Man is president of the international non-profit ministry Hope Unlimited for Children, offering hope and transformation to children at mortal risk in Brazil. Although he is responsible for the U.S. side of the organization (budgeting, fundraising, speaking to churches/civic groups, etc.) he also makes multiple trips to Brazil each year; sometimes I go with him.
Before he left on a recent trip, I asked him to take tablescape pictures for me. Today I’m sharing them with you. This table is not “my” style. It’s not laden with beautiful dishes and linens — or coordinated, casual, fun ones, for that matter. But this table represents THE VERY BEST TABLESCAPE I’ve ever seen. Stay with me! You just might find that you agree…

Much has been said and written about the art of the tablescape. Varying heights, coordinating colors, enhanced textures … You know.  The kind of tables I like to share with you each week. But while they may be well done — or sometimes even beautiful — they’re superficial, and I know it. The most satisfying tablescapes are the ones that focus not on the art, but on the heart.
A tablescape with heart may or may not incorporate matching dishes and linens, but it always – always – offers a welcome embrace, sincere acceptance, and the warmth of family … whether or not those seated shoulder-to-shoulder are actually related. (I wonder who rearranged the silverware after the first pic was taken … She has an obvious artistic flair!)
This table has heart — a really big heart — and it must … because those who sit around it desperately need all of the acceptance and embrace, the love and security, the stability and hope that it offers.

They’re just children — on average 10-16 years of age — but their young lives have known a lifetime … or several lifetimes … of pain.

They’re little girls … who have faced abandonment by family and society, unspeakable abuses, and unimaginable exploitation, often including forced prostitution. (Yes, even the youngest ones.)
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There are FIVE tables like this at the girls’ campus of Hope Unlimited for Children — each one embracing up to 16 girls. There are similar tables at the two boys’ campuses … and in the day student cafeterias … and in the preschool. By the time all of the place settings are counted, over 1200 children are served a life-transforming portion of hope every day.
Where would these girls be if they didn’t live with us? I shudder to think …  But I do know that each of our residential children are considered to be mortally at risk, which means that if they had remained in their previous circumstances, their life expectancy would have been — at best — only another 3-5 years.


It’s hard to imagine that in one of the wealthiest countries in our world, millions of children live on the streets. Millions who are just like these beautiful girls. Millions who will die before they ever experience hope …
For the past 20 years, the presence of Hope Unlimited for Children in Brazil has offered hope and a future to hundreds of children. I wish I could tell you that every child has been a success story, but I can’t. Life doesn’t work that way. But I can tell you that two years after they graduate from our program, 75% of our kids are meaningfully employed and in a stable living situation. Yes, I realize that’s an amazing and virtually unheard of statistic, but it’s documented … and we’re very proud of it. We achieve such statistics because we don’t “drop” our kids when they turn 18. We continue our family relationship with them, moving them into their first apartments, encouraging them in their first jobs, loving them through the sometimes poor choices of young adulthood … just like you and I do with our own children.

But even incredible statistics aren’t enough for us to claim success. What more could we possibly want?  Well, I’ll tell you … ONLY when the cycle of abuse and abandonment is broken for a child do we consider it a “success” … and we have many success stories!  We are now “grandparents” as many of our graduates have started families of their own, giving to the next generation the love, stability, and protection that their families and society never gave them. THAT is the transformation for which we prayed. THAT is when we know we’ve been successful … when the cycle is broken.
Renaissance Man has just started writing a blog. It’s called the least of these.  A story he posted last week is a difficult one to read, but it shows a beautiful transformation in a young girl’s life. It shows the result of the hope that was offered to her every day … around the table.  The table with heart …  I hope you’ll read it HERE.

If you want to know more about Hope Unlimited for Children, I encourage you to visit the website by clicking either the logo above — or the logo that’s always on my sidebar. Now you know why this is my favorite charity. Because I have a “behind the scenes” view. I know how decisions are made … how money is spent … how hope is offered … how lives are transformed
If you would like to join me on behalf of the children (or if you still have questions after looking at the site), never hesitate to contact me … any time.
I’m linking to these great blog parties:
* Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday
* At The Picket Fence for Inspiration Friday
* Spiritual Sundays


  1. You’re so right…it’s one of the best tablescapes i’ve ever seen 🙂 What blessings those children receive by just one encounter from someone who shows a minute of understanding and caring.

    Many blessings!

  2. That table scape was ROCKIN! very sweet and loving post.

  3. I claim the Lord’s protection for the Renaissance Man, these precious young women, and you as the priceless jewel of a ministry moves forward. Praise the Lord! Thank you for sharing your journey and the most perfect table. Come visit my post again soon. Cherry Kay

  4. This is truly one of the sweetest and most wonderful tablescapes of all times! Bless you for sharing it.
    It just breaks my heart everytime I hear these stories and blesses my heart to see the work you all do to help them. There will be many jewels in your crowns when you get to heaven.
    Blessings, Nellie

  5. Stories like this steal my heart. There’s so much to be done in this world, as much here as anywhere, and the question is always how to help everyone who needs it. How a table is set really doesn’t matter, it’s the spirit at the table that counts.

  6. I’m smiling through tears…how beautiful your husband and the children are, How simple a picture with such strength if you look. I’m going to check this out further. God be with you both and the children we don’t even know yet.

  7. I agree. That is the best lookin’ table ever! Thanks for reminding me that it’s not about the ‘stuff’, it’s about who’s being served at the table, and who’s being glorified by the table. God bless,

  8. Susan, this is the most beautiful of all the tablescapes tonight. I am so glad I was able to get online to read this (I’ve had computer problems… serious ones). OH, this made me cry. Those beautiful young girls!

    Thanks to you and your husband for what you do to make this HUGE difference in their lives.

    Big, BIG hugs…


    Sheila 🙂

  9. Most beautiful tablescape ever! What a blessing you to are, and I can only imagine how blessed you are in return.

  10. Best tablescape that can be! Love is the best setting and you have blessed everyone with this post.

  11. Wow — very powerful post, Susan! Thank you for sharing the children’s stories. I’m so glad to know the ones in the photos have a place around the table. Blessings!

  12. loved your post full of fun and happiness love that tablecloth as well what great colors

  13. Susan I have tears reading this. This is truly amazing.

    Blessings to you and your hubby.
    Warmly, ~Melissa 🙂

  14. You’re right: the best tablescape ever!

  15. You’re right: the best tablescape ever!

  16. What a cute tablescape! Love how you crossed the forks.

  17. I had to run right over to see. You are right – this is the very best tablescape ever!! Thanks for sharing this bittersweet story. Prayers going their way, God’s Blessings To Them!


  18. I love this post. When I was a missionary in Romania, many amazing memories were made sharing meals around a table. Blessings to you and your husband.

  19. Susan, this table fills me with joy. Those faces, those smiles! What wonderful work is being done. Bless your husband and all the work that so many people are doing to make life better for these children. Indeed, the best tablescape ever! Thank you so much for your kind words over the last few weeks. They have meant a lot.

  20. God bless them everyone! You are right. No prettier tablescape than this. This post touched my heart. And blessings to you and your hubby for doing such a great work.

  21. Such a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing this story of hope lost and hope regained. God bless this organization.
    I am going over to your husbands blog now.
    God Bless, Ginger

  22. When you commented on my blog that this was your best tablescape ever, I just had to stop by to take a peek. What joy! I was so impressed and inspired by your post. The idea of saving these beautiful chldren with love and compassion is a life well lived. You are blessed and so are they for having you in their lives.

  23. Thank you for sharing your story with us. I literally had tears in my heart. Oops! I meant to say tears in my eye but look what I typed! 🙂 That is a beautiful table setting indeed! May God continue to bless you and your good works!

  24. Yes, this IS the most beautiful tablescape…the love that goes into the room, the setting, the food and ultimately into those children’s hearts…there is no greater tablescape. Thank you for inviting me in to see…I will go read your husband’s blog. My prayers are lifted for this wonderful ministry that the Lord has placed you. God bless. Christie at Three Pixie Lane

  25. Susan, the most beautiful accessories around that tablescape are those beautiful faces. We contribute to World Vision and our ten-year-old daughter is involved as will be her two-year-old sister when she is older. When she gets home from school I will show her this post and then she will not hesitate to tell me what we will do next! May God continue to bless you both for doing His work!

  26. I went from getting chills to wiping away tears while reading this Susan. I agree that it is absolutely the MOST beautiful tablescape I’ve ever seen and I am beyond thrilled that you shared it with us at Inspiration Friday. I can’t think of anything more perfectly fitting and I know you and your husband have been richly blessed by extending God’s love to these children and blessing them in this way.
    Love, Vanessa

  27. Yes, I agree! That is the most impressive tablescape I have ever seen.What a wonderful thing you are doing and what a need is there for these kids. I will be praying for all of you!

  28. Thank you for sharing the best ever table and the story of it. Susan, thank you, also, for all you do for these children.

  29. This brought tears to my eyes.You are amazing. May the Lord be with you always. I love~~~This tablescape,the children make it beautiful.
    God Bless,

  30. What precious guests at the table! Thanks so much for sharing.

  31. What a blessed table this is! Thanks for sharing — I’m sure that we’re all inspired by the love gathered here.

  32. Precious and Priceless!

  33. Wow…amazing!!! You are so right about what makes the perfect table. Incredible story. What an amazing thing to be part of!! Thanks for the link and the info too and for caring:-)))) BEAUTIFUL!!

  34. love that pic of the girls in the treehouse.

  35. Hi Susan,

    Thank you for sharing an inspiration post on faith, love and compassion. The smiles on the faces of each child reveal a joy that what you’re doing works.

    Thanks for sharing the link to Hope Unlimited for children (I will be sure to visit).

    Blessings and peace.


  36. The tablescape is not my style either, but, Oh my, it could not be more beautiful. Thank you for sharing this amazing mission with us on Spiritual Sundays.
    Be blessed.

  37. A table of abundance definitely! overflowing with friendship, support, sustenance and grace. Thankyou.

  38. What a blessing! I must say I agree with all the above posts. Giving to another person is with out a doubt the highest of callings. Thanks for sharing this beautiful post! Lynn

  39. Thanks for sharing this special tablescape surrounded by happy smiles.
    He is using you to make a difference in these sweet young people.

  40. That truly was the loveliest tablescape ever and a table full of Love. This was a beautiful post.

  41. Thank you for sharing this beautiful tablescape and even more beautiful story of Hope. May the Lord continue to bless you and guide you in this fabulous ministry – I am so thankful that there are dedicated people like you and your Renaissance Man in the world – it gives hope to all of us for a better world.

  42. This is truly a beautiful post.