hopesightings

finding hope and sharing it

RELEASING OUR SON March 29, 2017

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

 

I Crossed the Line…Segment 4 January 27, 2017

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

 

I Crossed the Line December 5, 2016

Filed under: Hope — Brooke F. Sulahian @ 4:06 pm
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line-in-the-sand

He slowly drew a line in the sand

He looked at me

I looked back…my expression making it clear I needed an explanation

He asked me to step over the line

What?

Step over?

Leave what I know?

Leave the “places” and “ways” I have met with Him, my Savior, for years?

With thanks for my visual relationship with Him, I “looked” at where we have met these last years

– the still pool of water where I have found stones of wisdom,

– the open green grass where I have seen my family, the sisters I serve, and myself dance and play

– all that I knew of my relationship with Him

How could I step over?

How could I give up what I KNOW for what I DON’T?

“Do you TRUST Me?” He asked.

“YES!” I replied

However, I still could not move

Could not or Would not?

I hesitated

Hoping for a distraction…something to give me time to think over my options

He just waited

Thinking back to how He has guided me and telling my heart what my head knew (He knows best and has a plan for me)…I gave in

With COURAGE from Him and FAITH and TRUST in Him I stepped over the line

This was not a confidant leap

This was a small, timid step

I remember forcing myself not to look back but to look in His eyes

Although physically small, this was a huge step of faith

I was filled with excitement and anxiety

I told my husband and a few friends…

“I stepped over the line! But…I have no idea where I am going!”

Joy and fear resided in my voice and heart

I was TRUSTING in Him big time

This occurred weeks ago…

(See more of my journey in my next update)

© 2016 Brooke F. Sulahian

 

STRENGTH THROUGH BROKENNESS August 17, 2016

Filed under: Hope — Brooke F. Sulahian @ 12:48 am
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grbr

Angola was AMAZING! God OUTDID Himself again! So, why was I unable to write about it? So much to share! Meeting 38 women (34 awaiting fistula surgery, 4 already dry), participating in 4 fistula awareness/prevention sessions, seeing future prevention effort doors open, viewing an emergency C-section (prevention), and more, I thought I would be writing every day. The words simply pouring out of my heart. THAT HAS NOT HAPPENED.

I realized I needed to first write about ME. I did not want to focus on MYSELF. I want YOU to meet our SISTERS. However, I believe if I write about MY JOURNEY, the STORIES from the trip will flow. In TRUST I share.

Part of me did NOT WANT TO GO on this trip. Most of me did. It was time. Our schedule fell beautifully into place. I wanted to connect with PARTNERS and meet more SISTERS I knew I would LOVE the moment we met. Why not go? FEAR. I was AFRAID for my heart. As many of you know, the first trip left my heart SHREDDED and BROKEN IN PIECES. I know God gently and patiently put it back together. I know He uses that experience to fuel my efforts with Hope for Our Sisters. Even so, the FEAR remained.

A mentor once told me that at times our HEAD needs to share TRUTH with our HEART. This was such a time. I knew God was sending me to Angola and He would watch over me. I knew if my HEART BROKE again it would be for my SISTERS’ benefit, according to His plan. My HEAD knew all this. My HEART did not. As the TRIP APPROACHED and the FEARS GREW, my husband, family and friends lovingly shared how this trip would be easier on my heart. I had been before. I would not be as shocked. I would be MOVED, HURT and ANGERED on behalf my SISTERS, but not SHREDDED.

Strengthened by others, I moved from FEAR to TRUST to SURRENDER. I WENT and I am SO GLAD! He had so much in store for our SISTERS and US as YOU can see above and as YOU will learn through my future updates.

My HEART? I shed TEARS, I asked WHY, and I got ANGRY, but I also saw PROGRESS, witnessed COURAGE, and experienced SOLIDARITY with our PARTNERS and SISTERS. When God healed my heart, it was as if He made SPACE for each and every SISTER I have met and will meet. The HEARTACHE and BROKENNESS have been experienced and now each SISTER has her PERMANENT PLACE in my HEART. I had to be BROKEN to become the most effective VESSEL to serve God and my SISTERS. I, a broken vessel, am thankful for every crack.

May my words inspire YOU to move beyond your FEARS and experience all He has for YOU. May the stories from the trip begin to flow…

Changing the lives of women, one woman at a time.

http://www.hopeforoursisters.org

© 2016 by Brooke F Sulahian

 

Freedom Through Surgery April 30, 2015

Filed under: Hope — Brooke F. Sulahian @ 2:43 pm
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Freedom

“Mommy, will you be able to run? Will you be able to jump and play? Will you be well?” These were my children’s questions when I told them I was having surgery…surgery to heal my incontinence. Yes, I leaked urine ALL THE TIME. For the last 8.5 years, it did not matter if I was walking, running, coughing, sneezing or simply sitting still…my bladder was broken, I leaked, and it kept me from really living.

As much as I appreciated this physical connection with my sisters with fistula and an incredibly small sense of their physical plight – isn’t it amazing how God works? – I was DONE, FED UP and READY to try SOMETHING. The women and girls we met in Angola were also DONE, FED UP and READY to be WELL.

Our sisters ask about healing through surgery. Is it possible? I asked the same question… weeping with my husband, Tim, the night before…what if something goes wrong, what if it doesn’t work, what if I can never really be free? Surgery results are never 100% guaranteed. As Tim held me, I felt I could give it a try. Most women with fistula have no husband to hold them when they weep. Yet they amazingly find the courage to try.

The morning of my surgery, I realized I would be put in the same position as our sisters are for fistula surgery. Wow! Another amazing connection. However, when I underwent surgery, I was accustomed to a hospital, knew my doctor well, and fully understood the procedure and desired outcome. I wonder about our sisters being in a different environment at the hospital, facing language barriers, and fear of the unknown.

Today is 3.5 months since my surgery…guess what? It worked! I am free from my physical limits. I can run, jump, sneeze, play…enjoy life to the full. In fact, I played dodge ball and kickball at my friend’s son’s birthday party and fully appreciated this renewed freedom. Such a gift!

We at Hope for Our Sisters want this same freedom for our sisters with fistula. YOU can help us give them the gift of freedom. Freedom provides me the opportunity to experience life with my husband and kids to the full. However, I was never isolated and shamed due to my leaking. I could cover it up and manage it. Since our sisters with fistula are most often isolated, shunned, and blamed for their condition, successful surgery not only frees them from leaking but gives them the CHANCE at COMMUNITY, at HOPE, at LIFE.

My answers to my kids’ questions were “Yes, I can run. Yes, I can jump. Yes, I am well.” It is our hope that one day soon our sisters with fistula will all be able to say, “Yes, I am dry. Yes, I can be in community once again. Yes, I can really live. Yes, I feel whole.”

© 2015 by Brooke F Sulahian

 

Out On A Limb October 31, 2014

Filed under: Hope — Brooke F. Sulahian @ 12:25 am
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Out on a limb

I can’t do this. It’s not coming together. Maybe I got it wrong. What was I thinking?

These were my thoughts in September of 2010, three months after receiving my calling to raise awareness and support for women and girls with fistula. God asked me to invite women to serve in this way together, but I couldn’t find them. My hope, courage and boldness had transformed into despair, fear and insecurity. Not a great start, huh? But God had a plan for Hope for Our Sisters and He gets full credit for the fruit found along our path.

Looking at the last four years, God’s timely provision amazes me. Whenever I feel like I am out on a limb alone, He always finds me and walks with me. More challenging times are ahead, but I am learning to seek His presence, His fruit, in each moment. Saying Yes does not mean things get easier, but you just may get the chance to live and serve in ways you never imagined possible.

Encouraged by His presence, I continued to walk this new path and found that women started to hear the message and say Yes. One, then another, then a few more. Men also came our way. We now have Partners, Regular and new Donors, Directors, Executive Committee Members, Advisors, Prayer Warriors and a Hope for Our Sisters Team of over 50 volunteers! Real fruit!

I remember our joy upon funding our first 10 fistula surgeries as a volunteer organization. We thought the goal was unattainable. Then we increased our goal to 100 surgeries. Yikes! How was that going to happen? God, again, had a plan.

After becoming a registered non-profit in January of 2012, things took off in new exciting directions. It seems crazy to think that that over 250 fistula surgeries have been funded. At times, it is also hard to believe we traveled to Angola to visit Central Evangelical Medical Center (CEML). Not only did we view and participate in fistula surgery and meet with doctors and staff, we met 15 women and girls with fistula. Many of these women and girls are now dry! Incredible fruit!

Our Donors, Supporters and Team keep spreading ripples of hope. Hope is flowing into Nepal through prevention, a main reason we registered as a non-profit. We want to stop fistula before it begins. Hope is also moving into the Democratic Republic of the Congo through restorative care and skills training. Enabling women and girls to be accepted within society again is a passion.

HFOS is spreading hope. Hope is reaching women and girls with fistula, those at risk of fistula and those recovering from surgery. Hope is also penetrating the hearts of those who hear about fistula. Everyone who donates to and supports this cause does so because of hope. Hope also penetrates my heart when anyone says Yes to our sisters in whatever way they choose. Hope is on the move and it can change lives!

I almost missed out on this journey. I could have said No. God would have called someone else. I am thankful I said Yes and did not give up when I was out on a limb. In addition to doing such meaningful work, I get to watch God continuously turn my despair, fear and insecurity into hope, courage and boldness.

As I write this, I am very thankful for everyone else’s Yes for our sisters and HFOS! Your Yes has enabled hope to flow in life-transforming ripples. May the ripples keep spreading.

© 2014 by Brooke F Sulahian

 

Limits November 7, 2013

Filed under: Hope — Brooke F. Sulahian @ 2:49 am
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rubble-546765

Recently convicted that I had set up limits around my life

Limits to protect those I love

Limits to maintain a sense of control

Limits to protect our level of comfort

Limits that I built without knowing it

Limits that could get in the way of God’s plans for my family and me

Limits…

Once convicted, God gave me a picture

The boundary I had constructed was quite expansive, not right around me

I wanted to fully live for Him, but even far-off walls limit us

The walls were not high, but very low to the ground

My walls were beautifully constructed with care

My walls were strong

My walls held inside of them my husband, our two children and me

My walls were set up to protect our lives, health, education, and future

I have plans for tomorrow…don’t you?

Then God asks me to tear down these walls, my limits

In my prayers I watched myself deconstruct the walls I had so carefully built

Tear down the walls that I had built without even knowing it

Destroy the walls that could limit what God has in store for us

Walls meant to protect us

God asks, do you trust Me?

Do you trust Me with what you value most?

Your husband?

Your children?

Your future?

As I sit within the rubble of my torn down walls, these questions play through my mind

I want to say yes,

But can I?

Can I really trust God with everything?

I know I should

I know He is faithful

The questions simultaneously bring me

fear, joy, confusion, anxiety, and excitement

Where will I place my trust?

In man-made walls or the hands of God?

I know what my answer should be…

Am I brave enough in Him to say yes?

Am I brave enough to walk with my family beyond the rubble and truly live in Him?

Will I say yes today?

Will you?

© 2013 by Brooke F Sulahian