finding hope and sharing it

Fleece Thrown…His Answer? February 20, 2018

Filed under: Hope — Brooke F. Sulahian @ 6:34 pm
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The door to 2018 stood ajar

Inviting me to walk through

Year seven for Hope for Our Sisters

I could not believe it…seven years of hope generation

Seven years of others coming alongside me to serve

beautiful women across the globe

Seven years of empowering our sisters and brothers to

change their culture for the better…

their choosing, their ownership, their version of better

Seven years of seeing God’s hand at work

more clearly than any other time in my life

However, sitting at the threshold,

I felt overwhelmed, stressed and confused

This is not what I expected

Hope for Our Sisters is my sweet spot, my calling

Even though I know this without a doubt,

doubt about carrying out this journey pops up from time to time

Feelings of being overwhelmed can take over when I least expect it

Stress creeps in when I forget that I am not the One in control

I share this because there are others like me…others like you

Serving out of our giftedness

Doing what we believe we were created to do

But feeling overwhelmed, stressed and confused at the same time

What we are doing is beautiful work, but also hard work and heart work

During my time at the door, I read about Gideon

I felt led to throw out a fleece

regarding Hope for Our Sisters


I did not take this lightly

I’m not sure I had ever done this before…ask God for an answer in this way

But my heart, mind and gut were clear…I needed to do this


When you throw a fleece, you need to be open to any and all answers

I had no less passion about my calling

I had no less drive or desire about this work

I saw new doors opening up for us in 2018

However, feeling overwhelmed, stressed and confused held me back

It scared me to do this…what if God said my time was up?

I still wanted to lead this effort, I still wanted to generate hope,

But I am doing this for Him, not myself

With a big gulp and prayer, I threw my fleece

I asked God to replace my current feelings with

Joy (not happiness), Delight, and Clarity

I went to bed…

Again, please don’t take this lightly

I only threw my fleece because I truly believe He prompted me to do so

How did He answer?

In faith, I threw my fleece and He responded

I awoke with a very strong sense of

Joy, Delight, and Clarity about 2018 and the years ahead

This does not mean I will never feel overwhelmed, stressed or

confused about my calling

But it does mean that leading Hope for Our Sisters

will continue to be my calling as I follow Him

© 2018 by Brooke F Sulahian


Leading the Way by Following January 30, 2018

Filed under: Hope — Brooke F. Sulahian @ 2:16 pm
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You and I know our plans for today

I also know what I will do on behalf of our sisters today

But what about tomorrow and the next day?

What will those days hold?


Are we at Hope for Our Sisters setting goals for 2018?

Yes, we are!

We are setting bold goals with our partners that we believe will

lead to lasting change for the better in:

Angola, the DR Congo, and Nepal

We are setting stretch goals for internal growth enabling us to:

Generate more hope for our sisters, and

Create the opportunity for lasting cultural change enabling

greater health and empowerment for those we serve

We are dreaming big once again this year


But can you have goals without knowing the future?

We have to

Even though we can only see the steps we are taking now

We are trusting that Someone else knows:

The impact of today’s actions and decisions on tomorrow,

The paths we are to take today, tomorrow, this year and the next, and

The role we are to play in the lives of precious people

here in the U.S. and abroad

Someone knows

God knows

Just last week I was reminded to keep my focus on Him

Leading an organization requires seeking wisdom and insight

from mentors, team members, partners, investors, and our sisters

I am thankful for every person walking with us on this journey

But my eyes must first and foremost seek God and His plans for us


Walking home after dropping Lucy and a friend off at school last week

I was reminded to seek Him first

Due to the light playing off my glasses, there were beautiful cords of light

appearing to reach out from the sun and end at my heart

It was stunning and inspiring…I did not want it to end

I so wanted to take a picture to share with you,

but it would not work…you could only see it through my glasses at that moment

I felt these cords were pulling me to His light,

showing me the way I am to go


I know not what 2018 holds for Hope for Our Sisters

I have learned that each year is unique

The results of one year do not guarantee any results in a future year

However, as I walk with you, I will look first and foremost to

the One who knows the future

I will allow His cords of light to keep

Hope for Our Sisters and me on His path


We hope you will continue to walk alongside our sisters and us this year

May I be able to lead the way by following the One

Let’s all dream big together!

© 2018 by Brooke F Sulahian



Filed under: Hope — Brooke F. Sulahian @ 7:31 pm
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It’s that time again…

New year

New beginning

New hope

New challenges

New paths

New mysteries

New disappointments

New knowledge

New experiences


Are you ready for 2018?

Are you going to dive into 2018 with a guide or map? Or

Are you going to dive into your new year without a compass?

Your choice

I choose to have a focal point

The word God keeps placing on my heart for 2018 is CREATE

This will be a year of CREATING through…

My walk with God

My role as a wife

My role as a mom

My role as a daughter,





volunteer and

leader of Hope for Our Sisters


I cannot wait to see what the ultimate CREATOR

CREATES through me and my life this year…

if only I choose to fully follow and obey Him each day

with courage, trust and hope


What will be your guiding word for 2018?

What word has been pressed into your heart?


© 2018 by Brooke F Sulahian


Unfinished Stories December 8, 2017

Filed under: Hope — Brooke F. Sulahian @ 4:18 pm
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One of my favorite books is Pillars of the Earth. It’s a 1,000+ page novel that tells a sweeping narrative of the building of a cathedral in twelfth-century England. I’ve read this book at least three times from cover to cover.  I know the plot. I know each scene by memory. And yet, each time a character enters a dangerous situation, I try to think of a new way out. I hope and believe with all my heart that maybe this time it will be different.
            But this novel is complete. It was written a long time ago, and there can be no different ending to any of the scenes within it. Nothing I hope for or imagine for my beloved characters will happen. The story has already been written, and it’s finished.
            However, our stories are not. Our stories, along with our sisters’, are still being written. So even as we experience or witness danger, violence, poverty, and pain, we know the story does not have to end there. We can help each other write new endings. We can imagine new beginnings. We can do this because we have hope.
             This hope is what motivates us to stick with a painful, uncomfortable, or challenging story. It’s what drives us to give generously of our time and resources. It’s what binds us together as sisters.
            And hope is what interrupts painful, merciless stories and redeems them into something beautiful. This year, we’ve heard shocking stories of abuse and rape. Unthinkable stories of neglect and gender-based violence. Uncomfortable stories that seem to have no light.
            But thanks to your generosity, prayer, and hope, these stories have not ended at the darkest moments. Our sisters-fueled by hope for a different, better, brighter story-stood strong. They fought for their futures, for their healing, for their babies. They lived, they thrived, and now they tell their new stories – hope stories.
            For Deborah, Solange, Esinam, and Elsabe, a painful story became one of redemption. But it doesn’t end with these four. Because women around them everywhere are watching. Women terrorized by gender-based violence, women living with fistula, women abandoned by their families and spouses, women recovering from painful deliveries and stillborn babies. These women continue to hope, because they see that good can prevail. They believe that a dark and painful story can become a hope story. And thanks to the help of sisters around the world, their stories are just beginning.
Written by Dianna Sawyer, Hope for Our Sisters Partner in Hope.
You can learn more about our precious sisters and help them write more hope stories at hopeforoursisters.org.

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,


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
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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.