Motherhood is Eternal, as is Hope May 10, 2017
I Crossed the Line…Segment 4 January 27, 2017
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
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…
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
Can You Find Value in a Field of Rubble? December 16, 2016
We tend, as an accomplished, well-educated society, to base our future prospects on merits of excellence and opportunity. Cultural and economic freedom have provided ample life outcomes, and we recognize that our future is directly tied to stewardship. In my view, the groundwork required for our culturally inspired potential was forged elsewhere. I believe the Lord, at one spectacular time in our history, anointed us with a gift, and at many times since has provided the grace necessary to sustain it.
In Angola, Nepal, and in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Creator continues His redemptive work. He who speaks in a whisper holds a tiny seed of purpose intended for the broken community of women thought most unlikely to receive it. The God Who Sees is visiting the woman in Angola whose name we do not know, and His words to her are compassion and hope.
In the midst of pain and suffering, she has learned to recognize His voice by the steady consistency of a hand stayed on His purposes. His is the path that doesn’t sink, and as she learns to walk by faith, she gains confidence and strength. Through her journey, she has been given a sure foundation and an unshakeable, unstoppable vision for her future. She is to us a reminder of the undeniable strength and potential that God provides for those who love him.
She serves a God who speaks life from dust, who places treasure in jars of clay, and who carries His “Yes” in those who are despised and rejected. Confronted by hopelessness and impossibility, He has repeatedly revealed His power to make a way. The result that was prescribed for her is silenced by His faithfulness to personally see her through. The promises of God that find their “Yes” in Him continue in spite of her hardship, and He has appointed for her next steps.
As a Hope for Our Sisters Partner in Hope, I seek to find genuine inherent value among a field of rubble claiming to be. I weight this against prospective growth, and choose holders of time and resources based on the perception that I have on these characteristics. As a follower of Christ, I believe that these are spiritually discerned. I understand that only His mission will withstand fire; only His hand creates that which cannot be tainted by decay. I seek the investment that contains His whisper, for I have found that only in this will there be a return.
With Hope For Our Sisters, we venture into the rubble of cultural and economic oppression to find the beauty beneath the surface. We lift her up, and set her free, and turn her eyes to the future; her joy becomes our own. I use my own gift of freedom to plant God’s seed of redemption, for I know that it will grow. The Lord, at one spectacular time in her history, has determined to anoint her with this gift, and will continue to provide the grace necessary to sustain it.
“There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God. God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.” Psalm 46:4-5
Written by a Hope for Our Sisters Partner in Hope
UNDENIABLE, BEAUTIFUL STRENGTH! September 9, 2016
Loving, yet Tough
Weak, yet Strong
Gentle, yet Feisty
Who do these words describe? The beautiful sisters I have met on my journeys to Angola. The incredible women we serve and invest in through Hope for Our Sisters.
Battling through their days as they suffer from fistula, they exude sadness along with hope, dismay at their loss with strength in their core, and love for each other with an inner strength hard to describe with mere words.
Undeniable, beautiful strength!
These words also came to mind these past two days as I shared precious moments with my 97-year-old grandmother, Mimi. Given the gift of time, I flew to Texas to see my parents, aunts and Mimi. Simply sitting beside Mimi, swapping stories, and watching her do the basic things required of life inspired me.
Mimi is one of the most giving, loving and selfless people I know. However, there is also an inner fire that runs through her veins that makes her who she is. I see this fire in my mom, my daughter, and myself. (My husband can attest to this!) An inner fire that shows itself through loving others, living out of our weakness, and being gentle as well as tough, strong and feisty. All women have this…
Undeniable, beautiful strength!
It touched my heart to see the same strength in Mimi that I do in our sisters in Angola. All of us, no matter where we live, are connected. All of us can find within ourselves what is needed for each day. Don’t get me wrong, men have this too, it’s just different. Men and women, when both celebrated, can complement each other, serve with passion, strive for lasting change, and live out the beautiful lives we and others were meant to live.
May we all recognize and live out of our own undeniable, beautiful strength. Think about what would the world look life if all of us were willing to be…
Loving, yet Tough
Weak, yet Strong
Gentle, yet Feisty
Changing the lives of women, one woman at a time.
© 2016 by Brooke F Sulahian
MAY WE HAVE ENOUGH ANGER June 29, 2015
May we “possess enough holy anger to assist us in helping to make positive changes in a world so full of so much injustice,” Macrina Wiederkehr, Seven Sacred Pauses.
On June 24, 2015, Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times released a column and video about his recent trip to Angola. After waiting about 5 years to obtain a journalist visa, he took full advantage of this opportunity to shed light on the way Angola operates…the elite get richer, the poor get poorer, and the poor die and suffer due to government corruption.
Hope for Our Sisters has been funding fistula surgery in Angola since 2012. We also just raised funds to implement a new fistula prevention program in this country. We are invested in Angola and its people.
This video and article made me very angry. How can the rich elite live as they do while so many children suffer and die from preventable illnesses and women are left with fistula due to lack of quality maternal care? How can the leaders of our country not see or admit to what is happening in Angola? Thankfully, my anger did not end with these questions. My anger, based on my new knowledge of this country’s leadership, led to a renewed motivation to continue to send more hope to our sisters, their unborn children, and their families in Angola.
It is my desire that you view the video and learn more about this partner country. With knowledge comes awareness. With awareness comes effective action. In the video you will meet Dr. Stephen Foster, our partner in Angola who founded the Centro Evangélico de Medicina do Lubango (Central Evangelical Medical Center of Lubango or CEML) where we visited in 2013. Dr. Foster and his staff provide rays of hope in Angola as they care for their patients with love, knowledge, and respect. We are honored to enable this work. **Please note that the funds we send to Dr. Foster go directly to CEML, not through the government.**
It is our desire that as we continue to advocate for our sisters and brothers in Angola, others will do the same. In addition, may the column and video place the right pressure on those who interact with the country’s leaders to help effect positive change that will benefit those in greatest need…those in need of hope.
Please watch the video. Here is the link: http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/06/24/opinion/nicholas-kristof-corruption-is-killing-children-in-angola.html?referrer=&_r=0
Photo above of Dr. Stephen Foster by Marijn Goud (from A Little Respect for Dr. Foster by Nicholas Kristof, 3/28/15).
© 2015 by Brooke F Sulahian
The Many Sides of Dr. Foster April 10, 2015
I was thrilled to see an article about Dr. Stephen Foster, one of our partner doctors in Angola. We met him during our 2013 Angola trip. Not only did we learn about fistula repair, we saw into his heart. He cares for his fistula patients as a father would his daughters. This love permeates his interactions with them.
Below is an excerpt from the March 28, 2015 article, “A Little Respect for Dr. Foster”, by Nicholas Kristof, New York Times Op-Ed Columnist:
“On a recent trip to Angola, the country with the highest child mortality rate in the world, I came across a rural hospital run by Dr. Stephen Foster, 65, a white-haired missionary surgeon who has lived there for 37 years – much of that in a period when the Angolan regime was Marxist and hostile to Christians.
Foster, the son and grandson of missionaries, has survived tangles with a 6-foot cobra and angry soldiers. He has had to make do with rudimentary supplies: Once, he said, he turned the tube for a vehicle’s windshield-washing fluid into a catheter to drain a patient’s engorged bladder.
Armed soldiers once tried to kidnap 25 of his male nurses, and when Foster ordered the gunmen off the property, he said, they fired Ak-47 rounds near his feet. He held firm, and they eventually retreated without the nurses.
Most evangelicals are not, of course, following such a harrowing path, and it’s also true that there are plenty of secular doctors doing heroic work for Doctors Without Borders or Partners in Health. But I must say that a disproportionate share of the aid workers I’ve met in the wildest places over the years, long after anyone sensible had evacuated, have been evangelicals, nuns or priests.”
Dr. Foster is committed to God, Angola and our sisters with and at risk of fistula. He told us, “If you are going to love people in Jesus’ name, you have to do something about fistula.” His life stories are a mix of true heroism and kindness, amazing surgical talent and genuine care.
It is an honor to partner with Dr. Foster who is not only a creative, resilient and talented surgeon, but also a caring, loving and gentle provider. He works tirelessly and leaves health, healing and hope in his wake.
© 2015 by Brooke F Sulahian