hopesightings

finding hope and sharing it

MY NOT-SO-QUIET “QUIET TIME” October 12, 2017

Filed under: Hope — Brooke F. Sulahian @ 6:02 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

For as many years as I can remember

I’ve started my day with “quiet time”

It’s looked different during different seasons

But one thing holds true…

It was NEVER PURE QUIET

 

My quiet time was full of things I did

Reading devotionals…sometimes four at a time

Reciting Scripture

Journaling

You name it, I did it

 

Maybe I did not speak aloud, but

My mind, soul and spirit were not quiet

They were not still

They were busy

A better name for this time would be

“Doing time”

“Checking off my list time”

“Routine time”

Anything but quiet time

 

What a gift to discover recently that

I had no pure quiet in my life

It never occurred to me

But when it did, I wanted it

I yearned for it

God used the book Loving My Actual Life by Alexandra Kuykendall

To open my eyes, heart and mind to pure quiet with Him

I know He’s got more for me in this book

But this has been a real gem

My time with Christ has never been more sweet, pure and nourishing

to my heart, mind and soul

 

I like how each of us can have a unique relationship with God, Christ and the Holy Spirit.

There is no cookie cutter way of doing life in Christ

It makes me feel special knowing this is MY way to simply connect with Him

Quiet time crafted by my Father

Just for me

 

As you know, my spiritual relationship is very visual

I can “see” myself meeting with God

I can “see” where I interact with Christ

I can “see” how the Holy Spirit guides me

And I love “seeing” myself experience PURE QUIET each morning

 

The idea of pure quiet felt very uncomfortable at first

Maybe that’s why I chose to do it for 8 minutes

I’m not sure

But now I look forward to it each day

This is what my pure quiet with Jesus looks like

In this current season of my life

 

After reading a psalm and one devotional (Jesus Calling)

I enter in to pure, non-agenda-based quiet with Christ

I actually “see” myself approach a small, still pool of water

I set along the bank all of my responsibilities

I come into the water and simply float beside Jesus for 8 minutes

He stands beside me and watches over me

 

Why water?

What floating?

I think it’s because it requires all of me and only me

I need to remember that I am enough in Him

Also, anything else I carried in the water would

Get wet and ruined or

Weigh me down

He invites all of me

Only me

I am enough

 

This is not about escape

This is about saying yes to His invitation to be with Him

I think He loves it even more than I do

It has become the most beautiful time of my life with my Savior

For the first time I am simply being with Him and receiving His love

With no strings attached

Just as He wants it

 

Sounds nice, doesn’t it?

Sounds pretty fabulous, right?

Wanna give it a try?

What does your PURE QUIET look like?

 

 

(P.S. I would sincerely enjoy hearing from you about your pure quiet journey during your current season of life.)

 

© 2017 by Brooke F Sulahian

Advertisements
 

An Unexpected Journey July 19, 2017

Filed under: Hope — Brooke F. Sulahian @ 11:22 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

(Thoughts from my May/June 2017 journey to Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo)

It was a trip, a journey, I did not plan

But one I knew was mine to take

The gift of a journey

Far from family

Home,

Comfort and

Knowing

 

Where would it lead?

Would it change me like prior trips?

Would it break my heart anew?

How would it fit within the Hope for Our Sisters mission?

 

I could not predict

I could not foretell

I could only say,

“Yes…I will go”

 

1 friend going in

10 friends coming out

A team of 11 formed through

Stories and prayers,

Laughter and tears,

Courage and celebration,

Food and sickness,

Dreams and heartache,

Lush landscapes and bumpy roads,

Languages and new adventures,

Plans and uncertainty,

Shared passions and hopes

 

An unexpected gift occurred on this unexpected journey

The gift of a moment, captured in time

Me surrounded by beautiful, joy-filled African children

The fulfillment of a vision God birthed in my heart seven years ago

 

What does it mean?

God will guide and time will tell

Could it be a reminder?

A reminder of the precious children of the next generation

A generation that is starting to see and taste more hope

A generation that can continue their parents’ work to drive culture shifts for beneficial and lasting change

A generation that can take hold of what their parents are unleashing today to establish a better tomorrow

A generation of precious and powerful change-makers

 

An unexpected journey with a newly-formed team

Returning home with hope for a

New day in DR Congo…A new future of

Healing,

Peace,

Medical access,

Sustainability,

Strength,

Ownership,

Renewal, and

Hope

Written while flying back to America…

6/11/17

 

© 2017 by Brooke F Sulahian

 

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

 

 

 

Motherhood is Eternal, as is Hope May 10, 2017

Springtime brings with it new life – flowers blooming, baby animals being born, the miracle of Easter. With our attention on creation, we as a society choose to mark a Sunday every May as “Mother’s Day”, pouring extra gratitude and love out onto the women who birthed us, raised us and supported us. We also reflect with reverence and fondness on the mothers in our lives who have passed away – some older, like our grandmothers, and some younger, dying of illness or accidents too soon.
There is a special group we are challenging you to consider in your prayers this year – women suffering with fistulas. Women who may or may not be mothers to living children, who may or may not have anyone celebrating them at all. According to a United Nations report from 2015, 70-80% of the babies born to mothers in obstructed labor (the mothers who are most likely to develop fistulas) will be stillborn.  Of those who do survive, there is a high risk of para- or quadriplegia, cerebral palsy and other defects related to low fetal oxygenation while the mother is pushing.
Motherhood is simply defined as “the state of being a mother.” This definition doesn’t exist solely in the present tense, it doesn’t have conditions. Famous artists, like Michelangelo with his Pieta, and famous authors, like Maya Angelou in Mom & Me & Mom, have tried to capture the spirit of motherhood and its endlessness in ways we all understand – but find so difficult to put into words.  Mothers who have departed from us do not stop being our mothers – so what of mothers who suffer on the opposite end of the spectrum? Are mothers who lose their baby or a child any less in that state of motherhood? Their child is with them always, a part of their existence and the course of their life. Whether their child lived thirty seconds or thirty years, the hopes, dreams and prayers for the life a mother supported likely differ little from those of every other mother around the globe. Surely the very act of hoping, dreaming and praying is an integral part of the transition from “woman” to “Mother”.
Women with fistula are desperate for new beginnings and life of their own – for repairs that will help them transition back to their communities and families, for cesarean sections that will bring their babies safely into the world with less risk of consequence from obstructed labor. They are desperate for HOPE. Is there a better place from which to honor our own mothers than from a mother’s constant place of generosity, support and love? As Mother’s Day approaches, we invite you to partner with us to honor our own mothers and these beautiful mothers in other parts of the world with your prayers.  Additionally, if you feel so moved, please consider making a gift for a mother in your life by supporting fistula care and prevention programs, whether by way of a Mother’s Day card or any other donation format available at hopeforoursisters.org.
Motherhood is eternal, as is hope. Thank you for your support of the sisters we care so deeply for at this special time of year.
Written by Cara Daniels, Hope for Our Sisters Team Member & Hope Generator
 

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