hopesightings

finding hope and sharing it

On The Outside Looking In May 28, 2017

When I turned 11 I found myself on the outside looking in.

I grew up in warm Southern California as the youngest of three.

I would describe it as an idyllic childhood…

Riding bikes with my brothers, lots of friends on our street and at school,

good grades, fun times of soccer and softball, and a loving family.

I also had a strong sense of who I was.

I felt anything was possible.

I felt I could conquer the world.

Then we moved…

My life was rocked to my core.

I no longer belonged.

I forgot who I was.

Moving to Texas at 11 is still one of the most impactful and difficult experiences in my life.

Not only did I move to a new town in a new state, but

I moved into a new and totally different culture.

I felt as if I had moved to a new country.

I did not have the right clothes.

My accent (or lack thereof) was wrong.

I even had different slang.

No matter what I did or how I tried to connect, I was constantly reminded that I was

An outsider looking in.

Once we entered Texas, I had lost my sense of who I was.

I did not feel valued but lost.

I felt as if I was stranded on an island, in the middle of an ocean.

Over time I found my way “in” through new friends

Who accepted me for who I was.

I made friends just being “me”.

I learned that I could overcome and rise above obstacles by being myself…

The one God created me to be.

As a child, I always cheered and spoke out for the underdog.

Now, I had become the underdog.

I had a new appreciation of the value of community and

This increased my life-long compassion for

Those on the outside,

Those considered less than,

Those considered not important or of value.

I should not have been surprised that the issue of fistula would resonate with me,

Even though at the time I felt it hit me out of the blue.

As I first read about fistula, the focus of Hope for Our Sisters,

I was not only struck by the injustice of the situation but

The aloneness,

Isolation,

And lack of community

Suffered by these sisters of ours.

At Hope for Our Sisters we extend our reach beyond fistula surgery and prevention

By directly investing in each woman.

Just like you and me, each one of our sisters has value.

Each one of our sisters has a story to tell.

Each one of our sisters has a contribution to make.

Each one of our sisters has the right to rejoin their communities.

Each one of our sisters has the potential to change the world.

(NOTE: A session with the organization Resonate helped me tap into this story behind my passion for HFOS. I fully believe God broke my heart for this issue but I also believe He used this very difficult experience of mine to help fistula resonate with my heart.)

 

© 2017 by Brooke F Sulahian

 

 

 

Hope is on the Way this Mother’s Day April 25, 2017

Filed under: Hope — Brooke F. Sulahian @ 5:40 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

I am sitting on a train, headed from my job in the city to my home, where my daughter has a fever and needs her mom. But I am not worried. Help is on the way.
After an all-morning meeting, I checked my phone: 3 missed calls from daycare. My daughter had a fever of 102, and needed to be picked up, preferably within an hour. Unfortunately, it had already been an hour since they called. I checked the train schedule. A train had just left; the next one wouldn’t leave for an hour, and with the commute, I wouldn’t be able to get her for another two hours. I briefly panicked-what do I do? How do I get there in time? Then I took a deep breath and called for help. My mother-in-law works closer to my home, and I took a chance she’d be able to leave sooner than I would. She answered immediately, and in no time, she was on her way to pick up my daughter. She loves her granddaughter, and as much as it was a gift to my daughter to be taken home, this act of love was a gesture of love to me: “I will help you.”
Meanwhile, I had an hour to kill in the train station. I ate lunch. I bought some books for my daughter, a special treat to give her on her sick day home. And while I wished that I had been able to get there in time, I also felt deep gratitude that someone else who dearly loves my daughter was able and willing to step in and help. The message to my daughter was, “Help is on the way.”
And this is what God asks of us.
When our sisters are bleeding dangerous amounts during childbirth, suffering excruciating labors, delivering stillborn babies, and sitting alone in their huts, outcast and abandoned because of their leaking and stench, God turns to us. He says, My daughter needs help. I want to help her, but you can get there faster. Will you help?
When our sisters need emergency C-sections but can’t afford one at the only hospital trained to perform the surgery, God turns to us: My daughter needs help. Will you help?
When our sisters need education and skills to continue their lives after healing, God turns to us: My daughter needs help. Will you help?
Like my desire to be immediately by my daughter’s side in her time of need, God would love nothing more than to immediately pick up each and every one of our sisters at risk of, suffering from, or healing from fistula. So He has designed a way to do so: by calling us when His daughters are in need, the same way I called my mother-in-law. My daughter needs help. Can I send you?
Thankfully, my mother-in-law answered the phone, was able to leave work, and joyfully responded to my need-which, in turn, led to my daughter being taken care of more quickly. Had she not answered, or been too busy, or not been interested, I would have felt panicked. Had she said, “Not today, maybe another day,” I would have been crestfallen. I know that eventually I would have made it home, but it would have taken longer, delaying my daughter’s ability to get home, put on pajamas, and snuggle up to rest. And it would have meant that the next time I needed to rely on someone, my mother-in-law might not have been the first person I called. She might have lost my trust.
Clearly, a fever is not as serious as fistula. But as a parent, anything that ails your child can break your heart. And while I’m not God, we share this in common: we are both parents, and we both call on others to help us take care of our dearly beloved, spectacularly adored daughters. None of us can fill the role that God fills in our sisters’ lives, no more so than my mother-in-law can take my place in my daughter’s life. But in a moment of need, she was there. That tells my daughter two things: first, that someone loves her enough to be right by her side. And second, that her mother can be trusted-even though I couldn’t physically be there, I didn’t abandon her. I made sure she was taken care of.
So when our sisters need help, and God calls us to step in, what will we say?
For every daughter of God whose pain has become hope, and whose hope has become joy, I pray the answer is yes. By saying yes, we teach them that they are loved dearly by women around the world, sisters they’ve never met. And we teach them that God can be trusted-that He hears their prayers, knows their names, and will send help, if only we will answer the call. This Mother’s Day, let us honor God’s love for His daughters by letting them know that help-and hope-is on the way.
Written by Dianna Sawyer, Hope for Our Sisters Partner in Hope.
hopeforoursisters.org
 

ONE HEDGE AND FIVE KEYS April 5, 2017

Filed under: Hope — Brooke F. Sulahian @ 2:34 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Strange combination

A hedge and five keys

A hedge that is green, lush and somewhat open

You would not scratch yourself if you were to go through it

You would merely have to push the bushes to each side

Yet the hedge is still a boundary of sorts

Five keys to my heart

Five parts of my heart that have been locked away

Surprised since I don’t remember using the keys

I don’t remember locking my heart

Yet, here I am with

A hedge and five keys

I believe as I sit with Him in stillness

I will eventually understand the meaning of the hedge and each key

In fact, I am beginning to think the hedge is around my heart

Thankful it’s not a wall of concrete or rock

It is permeable

My heart is still accessible by the One I need most

Yet the hedge is there

A boundary I don’t want to exist

A boundary between God and me

The hedge grew in my sacred place without my knowing

One day I had to pass through the hedge for time with Him

There was no opening, no entrance

I simply pushed through and did not think much of it at the time

Now I wonder why it is there

I wonder when it was built

I wonder…

It is still there

I truly believe one day, in His time and way, it will be torn down

Torn down for good

My first key

I held it in my hand just yesterday

What will this key open?

I wonder…

© 2017 Brooke F. Sulahian

 

RELEASING OUR SON March 29, 2017

Filed under: Hope — Brooke F. Sulahian @ 2:30 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I feel dry

Weighed down

Overwhelmed, actually

I felt God lead me to write this morning

Writing often open up my way when it feels blocked

I planned to write about something else but

these words

simply

poured

out

of

my

heart

Our precious son is not well

He’s not dying…it’s a chronic condition with treatment

Painful treatment potentially, yes…but treatment

I am sincerely thankful to You for answering our specific prayer for answers

No more “we don’t know what’s wrong with your son”

These answers are a wonderful gift…thank You

Yet, I find myself wondering if there is more to discover

I keep dreaming about surprise findings, unexpected discoveries, lack of control

more to process

more to grieve

more to accept

We learned new information this week

processing

praying

talking it out

What else is happening in his body that I cannot see?

Is this my deep fear?

What else is happening in his body for which I cannot prepare?

Is this what is weighing me down?

My desire (i.e. idol) of having control is being challenged like never before

This is our son

Is this the reason parts of my heart are closed off to everyone, even You?

Is this why parts of my heart are locked?

I did not even realize I held the keys…did I lock my heart?

Why all this weight and dryness?

I feel I am being overly dramatic

I have become adept at rationalizing our situation

Others near and far suffer so much more

Many children right now are fighting for their lives

Too many others have already been lost by their parents and families

So many children are lost inside themselves due to other challenges

We have our son…why not rejoice?

Others lack access to medical care

Others lack benefits to pay for medical care

Others lack in far worse ways

Why can’t I be fully, sincerely and consistently thankful?

Is this even possible?

Is this even real?

God, I have often thanked You for not making us like robots

We must choose to love and follow You

We must choose this daily

Our commitment to You is not automatic

We can turn away

We can question

We can get angry…even yell at You

You can take it

We can feel betrayed

That is a very strong word

Is that what I am feeling?

Do I feel You betrayed me…our son…our family?

I know You could take your pinky finger, touch our son’s body and heal it

Yet, you have not done that

Part of my heart trusts You…part of me is where I need to be

Accepting this…at peace…ready to move forward

But I am not all there

I am not yet united

Parts of me are cut off…locked away

The Bible, Your Word, says we will suffer…

why should all of this surprise me?

In addition, You also remind us that

You have overcome the world

You have…I know this in my head

I just want to feel it in my heart again

My mind trusts in the idea of Your larger plan that I cannot see

However, I am not enjoying this current valley

Not at all

You’ve seen me through my deepest depression and desire to end it all

I know how You walked with me

I know the years in my pit were used by

You to prepare me for all I am and all I am doing today

Your plans are best

Your wisdom perfect

Your love eternal

Why is my heart holding out?

You gave me a gift two weeks ago

(Hard to believe I am currently further along my path…

more work ahead of me but some healing through You has occurred)

You met me in my heartache and called me back

You showed me that this is a small story within the larger narrative of our lives

A narrative of You as Provider, Restorer, Lover

This story may even be more like a small chapter

My heart is no longer totally shattered…progress…thank You!

Our son is not his diagnosis

He is far beyond what is happening within his body

He is a treasure of Yours which You lovingly loaned to us

He is taking all of this new and potentially scary stuff so well

He inspires us each day

He is strong because You give him strength

Why won’t I accept Your offer of strength?

It is right before me along with Your offer of

peace

release

fullness

joy

hope

in You

Why won’t I pick them up?

Why won’t I own what You have prepared for me?

Today I am being very real…very open

You, Lord, don’t want me to be a perfect follower, a perfect believer
You want me to be real

Even when I feel weak

Even when I feel my heart will burst if I truly

“sit” within our situation

I wonder if my heart will be crushed…not by You…by the situation

if I truly release it all to You

You created beautiful and restorative treasures that await me

I only need accept them

You have patience to walk with me along this path at my pace

You knew I would be here feeling dry, weighed down, lacking

You won’t leave me or grow weary of me

My realness is never too much for You

My realness is actually a treasure in Your eyes

You love me as I am and will lovingly guide me to where I need to be

Praying my transparency will bring others comfort, community, hope

There is a way out of this dryness…this lack…this weight

The way out is to leave it all with You

The only One who can handle it all

My head knows this…parts of my heart do too

But my heart won’t let go of our son

Even though I know he is best with You

Not yet…parts of my heart are locked tight right now

Locked with keys that I own

May my transparency help me eventually fully release our son to You

He is Yours anyway

You love him most

© 2017 Brooke F. Sulahian

 

15 Minutes of Quiet February 17, 2017

Filed under: Hope — Brooke F. Sulahian @ 2:32 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

clock-15mins_1_large

I have recently been setting a timer for 15 minutes

15 minutes of quiet

As a natural doer, achiever, and activator

it can be so hard for me to just sit

Sit in quiet

Sit in quiet and listen

Sit in quiet and be open to what my Savior has to say

So hard to release my moments, my schedule, even when I know…

It is so worth it

It is a gift

It it best

One morning I received the below…

Trust is sitting with Me

Slowing down honors Me

Being still allows My Spirit to alight on you and fill you

I have a plan for you

But you need to seek it with a heart for Me and My glory –

Not your own

Before you head out today, I want you to know I have carefully and lovingly

placed treasures along the way, especially for you and your journey

But you will only recognize them for all thay are if you go at

My pace with your eyes fixed on Me

Don’t trust in your own readiness…rely on My ability to provide

It’s My power and provision that matter

Those hands – your hands – clenched so tightly

They are trapping gifts and blessings, even miracles, that need to

soar like doves into the hearts of others

Release

Release fully in Me today

Where is Your trust being placed?

If it’s in yourself

Push ahead

Clench your hands tightly

Even grit your teeth if you need to

Trudge up the hills and down into the valleys carrying your burdens

However,

If your trust is in Me,

Open your hands

Take My hand in yours

Walk lightly up the hills and into the valleys knowing I am with you

I want to carry your “stuff”

I am able to carry anything and everything that weighs you down

You simply need to release your burdens,

your day,

your moments

to Me

You can place your trust in Me

Thank you for gifting Me your heart and time this morning

Let’s meet again tomorrow

© 2017 Brooke F. Sulahian

 

I Crossed the Line…Segment 5 February 1, 2017

Filed under: Hope — Brooke F. Sulahian @ 3:10 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

 line-in-the-sand

Thankfully I chose to be real…I chose to deal…I chose to live in Him and His truth

This is a daily choice as I let Him work in and through me

I have times of peace and pain, clarity and confusion, and everything in between

This is the true path for me but I am not the leader…I am following His lead in full release

 

Hard discoveries are part of this path

I discovered the lies I thought were a part of my past are still there

These lies that I know so well are still vying for real estate within my heart and a hold on my mind

My life-long lies of desiring control, fear of failure, and need for earthly acclaim are alive and well

How could this be?

 

It hit me…

Once again I allowed myself to believe the lie that my value is based on my performance

The lie that my value is based on how Hope for Our Sisters does from year to year

The lie that my value is based on what others think of me

The lie that everything is on my shoulders

The lie that I have to be in control

All lies…

 

On this new path I tell myself…

– I am not my performance

– I am not Hope for Our Sisters’ performance

– I am not what others think of me

– I am – and you are – so much more than that!

What about my value solely because I am His daughter?

I had to acknowledge that these lies are still after me and at times, gaining access and taking hold

Again… EXPOSED and VULNERABLE…

but also PEACEFUL and CALM

A beautiful mix of REAL

 

I crossed the line

I have chosen the path less traveled which can be painful yet also incredibly rich….rich with Him!

Along this new path I seek to “marinate” daily in His Word…His truth…the only place where true freedom resides

I could not have anticipated this AMAZING JOURNEY and I cannot wait to see how He uses it

in His time and way

 

I CROSSED THE LINE

I took a chance on Him because He daily takes a chance on me

It has been so worth it!

Are you ready to step over your line, open your door, accept your invitation, make your phone call?

He is there…waiting…inviting you to the other side

© 2017 Brooke F. Sulahian

 

I Crossed the Line…Segment 4 January 27, 2017

Filed under: Hope — Brooke F. Sulahian @ 6:49 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

line-in-the-sand

Feeling EXPOSED and VULNERABLE?!?!

This is not what I expected

Had I even signed up for this?

This was not part of the journey I wanted to continue

Where did this come from?

I thought crossing the line was the tough part

I felt my heart resist taking more steps

Could I simply stop?

I really wanted to stop

Could I just sit down and stay right where I was?

I told myself I could…so I did

I felt that I lacked the energy for anything else…this was too hard

Thankfully, He did not let me stay there long

As much as I fought my feelings and fears, He patiently softened my heart

He cut through my feelings and fears to my heart…to my soul…

He showed me what was really inside of me waiting to be released

Beauty

Potential

Creativity

Value

I remember the morning I finally saw His full knowledge of me as a gift

I could honestly say to myself, if He knows me so well and loves me anyway, then He truly loves all of me

It took courage to act on this but I decided

– I CAN TRUST Him

– I CAN WALK with Him

– I CAN GO where He leads me

I stood up…I was ready to move on

However, I could not take a step

We still had heart work to do…

Really?

Moving ahead placed me at a fork in the road…a decision was before me

I had to choose: Be real with God and deal with my “stuff” or not

Being real with God would require me to come clean with myself

Being real might be painful at times

Being real would be the harder of the two roads…the road less traveled

What did I choose?

What would you choose?

(Thank you for walking with me. More to come…)

© 2017 Brooke F. Sulahian