hopesightings

finding hope and sharing it

Imagine December 8, 2018

IMAGINE
Imagine a beautiful world where Hope for Our Sisters doesn’t exist.
Not because it ran out of money.
Not because people stopped wanting to help.
Imagine that Hope for Our Sisters doesn’t exist because it doesn’t need to anymore…because of prevention.
When my daughter gets hurt and I get to rescue her with a big hug and an ice pack, I feel like a hero.
It’s a great feeling.
But then my next thought is, “How can I stop her from getting hurt the next time?”
I might find out more about how she got hurt, and scan the area for what made it dangerous.
Because even though I like being a hero, I’d rather feel confident that my daughter is safe.
When it comes to helping our sisters, there’s something instantly rewarding about funding a fistula surgery or providing a new dress–we can see the problem, and provide a solution.
We see a woman’s face and think, “I helped pay for her surgery!”
But what if instead of a fistula, she had a life-saving c-section instead?
Immediate aid is critical.
Not only because it saves lives, but because it helps doctors and nurses understand the problem better.
With each sister arriving for a fistula repair surgery, we have the chance to learn more about their bodies, backgrounds, cultures, and beliefs.
But prevention is the next step.
We take what we know about human anatomy and pregnancy, and pair it with what we know about many women’s journey to motherhood.
We can take all of that and use it to ask, “How can I stop her from getting hurt the next time?”
Through the Ultrasound Empowerment Program, doctors can help women make healthy, educated choices by determining if a c-section is necessary.
Knowledge empowers women.
Choice empowers women.
Prevention empowers women.
Imagine again that beautiful world, one where women have increased access to prenatal care and know exactly what’s happening in their bodies.
Imagine they are empowered to choose to have a c-section.
Imagine they go home with their babies, fistula-free.
By continuing to fund not only aid but prevention, we give our sisters true hope–hope for their safety, hope for their babies, hope for the future.
Guest blog written by Dianna Sawyer, Hope for Our Sisters Partner in Hope
Find out more about our prevention efforts at hopeforoursisters.org
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MY UNEXPECTED RETURN TO JOY (PART 4) November 28, 2018

Filed under: Hope — Brooke F. Sulahian @ 3:26 pm
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It call came to a head at a silent retreat

Located at a beautiful monastery

With inviting paths and stunning stained glass windows

 

Although a silent retreat, group sessions allowed for talking

Each session began with a song or poem

Friday night’s poem was about living in the gray versus living in full color

I immediately thought, “I want to live in full color for God, living to the full…”

 

However, I suddenly realized in order to do that

God needed to work on my heart first, during this gray period,

As I climbed out of my valley

I needed to believe with my heart, soul and mind that

He loves me for WHO I AM, NOT WHAT I DO

I prayed that night that this truth would move into my heart during the retreat

And stay there forever

 

The next morning, I was doing my Bible study at a small table with soft, comfy chairs

The sunrise through the wall of windows was breathtaking

I felt God ask me to sit with Him for a bit

He then opened His hand and showed me my dark, disbelieving heart

I did not lack faith in God

I lacked the belief in His love for me…just because I am…well…me

 

God then showed me a new heart in His other hand

A new heart that believed this critical truth

God held out both hearts to me so I could choose

I could choose my old, disbelieving heart or this new one, full of this truth

God asked if I believed that He loved me for who I am,

Not how I perform or what I do

I hesitated, I pondered

I had prayed for this very thing, this very offer to occur

But thought it would take much more work on my part

I’ve been a striver my entire life

Trying to earn what I could only receive

However, I wanted this and wanted it badly

But I knew this was a big step, a door through which I could not go back again

After what seemed like many minutes

I eventually replied, “Yes, today, this day, I believe You love me

With Your complete, unique, tailored, all-encompassing Love”

 

I felt God place my new heart inside my chest

It felt lighter…still does

It beat differently…still does

After my actual birthday and the day of my healing from depression

This day, 9/22/18, feels like my third birthday

I feel reborn with this new truth residing in my heart

I am overjoyed at His gift, His investment in me

 

I then asked God to remind me of this new truth every day

So I would never forget His gift or His truth…so I could make it my own

He has reminded me each day since and I know He always will

 

As I arrived home that following day

A dear friend gave me a birthday gift for my actual birthday

A bit delayed if you looked at the calendar

But from my view, it was perfectly timed

The motto at the monastery is

“How good is our good God?”

He is very good, y’all

 

© 2018 by Brooke F Sulahian

 

MY UNEXPECTED RETURN TO JOY (Part 3) October 24, 2018

Filed under: Hope — Brooke F. Sulahian @ 1:35 pm
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Soooo…what did I do?

I went for it!

I jumped in with both feet

I chose God rather than comfort, fear or routine

I started my day with Him, not His verses

I am so thankful He gave me the courage to choose His way

A way that seemed so foreign and strange

What happened?

God met me throughout the day

Popping into my head

Dropping prayers into my heart

Prompting me to stop and sit with Him

Just to be WITH Him

This is NEW

Not striving FOR Him

But being WITH Him

It’s as if God cleared away a barrier

I was seeing and hearing Him more

But I was not just seeing and hearing Him more

I was seeing and hearing Him in a NEW way

He was reaching out to me in a very tailored way

A way to best reach me

As if I am the only one who mattered

I had prayed to be more awake to Him

He was answering my prayer

This was His gift

I was climbing out of my valley with

God by my side

Little did I know He had a great surprise awaiting me

What was it?

(More of my journey soon…)

© 2018 by Brooke F Sulahian

 

MY UNEXPECTED RETURN TO JOY (Part 2) October 10, 2018

Filed under: Hope — Brooke F. Sulahian @ 1:08 pm
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I went for a run

(I enjoy such sweet God time when I run)

At the beginning of my five-mile journey

God invited me to take a new path out of the valley

It felt very unconventional

It almost felt sacrilegious

What was it?

It was a request to STOP

 

He asked me NOT to recite my daily memory scripture verses

What? Was this really God asking me to do this?

It felt so strange to even consider this

But it WAS God, so I needed to think about it

 

Let me stop here and say that memorizing scripture from the Bible

Is a great gift for many others and myself

Having His Word in our head and hearts

Can nourish us when we most need it

 

However, for me

My routine of memory verses was blocking my awareness of God

I realized I was reciting my verses in the morning

Placing a big check by “Time with God”

And not checking in with Him again

 

I had been praying that I would be awake to Him

Was this God’s way of helping me be awake?

Not just in the morning

But throughout the day?

Could I do this?

Fear crept in…what if I forget these treasured verses?

Would I choose God or fear or the comfort of routine?

(More of my journey soon…)

© 2018 by Brooke F Sulahian

 

MY UNEXPECTED RETURN TO JOY September 26, 2018

Filed under: Hope — Brooke F. Sulahian @ 1:21 pm
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My joy was gone

I had no idea it had vanished

But I knew I was in a valley

A very deep valley

 

My return to Joy was truly unexpected

Because I don’t remember walking away from it

I don’t remember choosing stress, anxiety, fear and hurry

But I did…again

I’ve been here before

I have come to realize one of my greatest joys

– Hope for Our Sisters –

Can also be my greatest Achilles heel

My greatest weakness

I often turn from God and turn inward

I try to lead this organization without Him

It never works

I had no idea I had made this choice again

But I knew I was there

Stress, anxiety, fear and hurry reigned in my life

I was not present with my family, friends or God

They may not have seen it, but I knew it

I was miserable and did not see any way out

Eventually, I looked up

God was there

He had a very unconventional idea for me

A unique way for me to climb out of the valley

Would I give it a try?

(More of my journey soon…)

 

© 2018 by Brooke F Sulahian

 

Interruption or Appointment? July 17, 2018

Off to barre class…walking the same path I take each time…hoping for a great workout to begin my day

Without expecting it, I saw him…sitting along my path…crutches, backpack, soiled pants, weary

I felt prompted to stop…I was interrupted…I felt prompted to ask if it would be helpful to him if I brought him a sandwich…he said “Yes”

We shook hands…exchanged names…his name is “Eden”…life has been hard

I told him I’d be back after my workout (thinking to myself: I had an appointment with barre and did not want an interruption to get in the way…I would help Eden after)…he promised he would be sitting there

It is so hard to type those words…to admit and acknowledge that I saw him, a person with value, as an interruption…however, I’m willing to be very real here

As I got back on my path, it was clear there was another plan for my morning…not 100 feet further up I saw him…I had seen him before…backpack, weary, tired

He never accepted my offerings of help before but I was prompted…so I asked if it would be helpful to bring him a sandwich on my way back…he surprised me with his emotional reply…”Oh, yea…”

We shook hands…exchanged names…his name is “Kevin”…life has been hard for him too

I told him I had planned to get a workout this morning but he and Eden were more important (so thankful for this change of heart)…I said I’d be back…off I went

I did go to class, but only to ask for an exception since I would be a “no show”…my instructor gladly said “Yes”

Off to Brueggers…it was on the way…entering the restaurant the tears began to fall

Wow, my heart really hurt in that moment…Now I can see that God was allowing my heart to break over what breaks His heart…I also think He had been preparing me for this interruption which I now see as a divine appointment…just yesterday, Peter, Lucy and I met Roy and Melanie…a couple living on the streets of Boston…we shook hands, exchanged names, and gave them Dunkin Donut gift cards to they could get a meal…they shared a bit of their story with us…this has become simply what we do when we meet those in similar situations

Peter and Lucy thankfully don’t like seeing people on the streets…my son said, “Mommy, they are people, they deserve to have a place to live.” I told him our current systems are not yet set up to fully help those in the margins, but we can do our part, work for positive change, love them, and pray for them

I’ve had a broken heart for those who are homeless for years now…I haven’t write about it since it’s not my calling…my calling is Hope for Our Sisters…my calling involves maternal health and lack of medical care

Then it hit me…our sisters, the women with whom we partner through Hope for Our Sisters, are forced to exist in the margins…Eden, Kevin, Roy and Melanie are also existing in the margins…yes, they may be there for very different reasons, but they are there…all around us

Our culture, our world, deems folks in the margins as unseeable, untouchable, and unknowable…this is why when I travel for Hope for Our Sisters and meet with our sisters, I touch their hands, learn their names and listen to their stories (I even hug those who will let me)…I realized I do the same when I meet people living on the street…they too need to be seen, touched and known

Back to Brueggers…tears kept falling as I ordered sandwiches, waters and gift cards for Eden and Kevin…a little offering of hope…an offering I could give today

Why was I sobbing like this? I could not wrap my mind around it…but as I walked back to Eden and Kevin it hit my heart…hope…hope is what Eden and Kevin need…today hope is wrapped up in a meal, drink, gift card, gentle shake of the hand and a smile

Then it hit me even deeper…hope is at the heart of Hope for Our Sisters…hope is what we work to generate as we partner with our sisters…in our efforts to grow and expand Hope for Our Sisters and do more for women in Angola, the DRC and Nepal, had I forgotten about hope?…I think I have

Maybe, just maybe, God used today to not only give me the chance to see, touch and know Eden and Kevin, but to also be reminded of why Hope for Our Sisters exists…to generate hope and pass it along to those in the margins…hope is what it is all about

I share this not to brag…I share this not to make you feel guilty…I share this not to espouse the best way to interact with those who find themselves homeless (I am not an expert)…I share this because I think God wants me to…I share this because I finally see the connection between those in the margins locally and those in the margins globally…it’s also time to finally share my heart about those who are homeless…they need hope just like our sisters

When first accepting my calling, which grew into Hope for Our Sisters, I made God a promise…I promised I would never be selfish with anyone who attends our events or hears me share…if what we do through Hope for Our Sisters prompts anyone, yes you, to generate hope for another person no matter the situation, that is a win, that is a victory for all of us! That is hope!

May we all view life’s interruptions as life’s divine appointments…who are you supposed to see, touch and know today? You could be the hope someone needs

hopeforoursisters.org

© 2018 by Brooke F. Sulahian

 

HOPE WORTH HOPING FOR June 13, 2018

Filed under: Hope — Brooke F. Sulahian @ 2:19 pm
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Year 7 with our sisters

ADVOCATING

PLANNING

INVESTING

PRAYING

Doing all we can to generate

HOPE

That lasts from year to year to year

HOPE

That will bring about real change for the better

HOPE

That helps our sisters move in from the margins

HOPE

That is embraced and shared with others by our sisters

HOPE

That elevates our sisters within their families and communities

HOPE

That sticks

What does this HOPE need to generate long-term?

To PARTNER with our sisters, hospitals, doctors and

other organizations

To bring about the END OF FISTULA

To provide quality, timely, accessible HEALTHCARE

for our sisters

To provide OPTIONS for health

What does this require?

This requires QUALITY HEALTHCARE accessible to all

Not sure when we will see this

But we will KEEP THIS IN SIGHT each and every day

Quality healthcare accessible TO ALL…

Now, that is something about which to

HOPE

ADVOCATE

PLAN

INVEST

PRAY

© 2018 by Brooke F. Sulahian