Healing Arts

She can paint for hours.

Peace resides

where unsettled anxious, restlessness and

internal chaos normally live.

But when she paints there is

just Peace.

I slid in next to her to bear witness to this truth.

“I notice such a peace as you paint.”

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“When I paint, I can breathe.”

She inhales and exhales as she says it.

I will never forget that moment.  It gave me a new resolve to integrate art more deliberately into our everyday lives.

There is power in art.

Creating beauty

Pure Communication

Raw

Free of words

On the road to healing, finding the words can be so hard, but maybe we can dance it out, act it out, draw it, sculpt it, capture it in a photograph…and then we can share it.  When we are ready.

 

"The transformative power of art is in the sharing"

- Brene Brown


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I am in awe each day with the level of depth and intimacy that can be achieved with some colored pencils, markers, scarves, photographs and music.  I’m not sure why I am so surprised.  I should know by now the power of “simple” when coupled with connection.

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“May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!”

His Lovingkindness

I had been telling people since January, that I would be in Seattle in July for an art training.   At least I hoped to be.  For years, I had been looking for the opportunity to learn how to use my love of art to help myself and others process and heal.  I knew there was power in creating beauty.  I feel we are made for it.

 

When I finally found an organization that would train lay-practitioners I was so excited.  I knew I would go.  I didn’t know how, but I knew I would go!  After locating the training, I quickly moved onto the next dream of who I would take along.  Who would help me launch art therapy within the walls of New Hope? There were lots of names and different factors excluded some of them, but I finally landed on the perfect fit.  I told them about it and asked them to make room in their schedules. 

 

I mentioned this desire in the last update sent to friends and supporters.  I still had no idea how I would get to that training, but I was certain I was going. 

 

Then, at a gathering, a new friend came up and told me she wanted to help in any way she could.  I told her how much I appreciated how she had already gone above and beyond in her loving support.  I hugged her deeply.  Then she mentioned that if I were ever to make it to her part of the US it would be so fun to connect. 

 

“Where do you live again?” 

“Washington.” 

“Are you close to Seattle?  Because we are going there in July.”

 

She told me that if the training was in the city we would be too far away to stay in her home, “BUT I have a million Marriott points and flight miles for that matter, and if I can help you in this way, I would LOVE to!”

 

I was thrilled at the thought, but I wasn’t going to hold her to it… then she wrote me. 

 

She was able to book our tickets and help pay for the hotel.  Oh, and first class was cheaper—Go God!  I applied for a scholarship for those attending.  We got it!  It was all falling into place.  I ran up and down the stairs, shaking my hands at the ceiling in gratitude, jumped up and down a few times and then literally did a happy dance before writing her to say THANK YOU! 

 

Her response-- “May the wonder of this adventure fill your cup!!!” 

Pursued

A new girl arrived on Friday.  She ran away on Sunday.  She ran right back into the darkness she had been rescued from.  She ran into the arms of those who had betrayed her, sold her.

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I have become really slow to judge over the years, and as I thought about this girl I chose to remember the times in my life I have run into the darkness.  

 

Afraid to hope.

Afraid to be seen.

Afraid.

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At an event recently, they sang this song…

 

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God

Oh, it chases me down, fights 'til I'm found, leaves the ninety-nine

I couldn't earn it, and I don't deserve it, still You give Yourself away

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of Go

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Sometimes the unknown of what we might find in the light keeps us in the dark.

 

The fear of failing.

The fear of being known.

Fear keeps us in the darkness.

 

I began to pray for the opportunity to share this reckless, pursuing love of God with those around me and I heard the spirit whisper…

 

“You have to receive it first.” 

Before we can love with a reckless, pursuing love

--we have to receive it. 

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Lord may we be overwhelmed by your Love.

Love so fierce there can be no fear.

May we never long for the darkness we’ve been rescued from.

May we run toward the light.

 

But may we never forget that you found us in the darkness once

and if we find ourselves there again,

You will be faithful to go there with us.  

The Way of Compassion

There are stories that break your heart, that break you!  There are images that are too vivid, evil, dark and painful to get out of your head.  People ask me how we do it.  How do we manage all the pain without letting it get to us? 

 

The truth is that we don’t always handle it well.  We let the pain get to us.  We carry their burdens with them.  We cry deeply and we enter in.  All the way in. 

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Our mentor,

Jesus.

He entered in

All the way in

He loved deeply

Suffered deeply

He is compassion

 

Com—with

Passion—suffering

 

He let it get to him.

Move him

He reached down

His strength came from being connected to

Heavenly father

 



Stretched

As a child, the highlights and growth spurts in my spiritual life took place at camp, so now I take advantage of every opportunity I have to provide a camp experience for our children and girls.  This year, while many were enjoying Spring Break vacations, our older kids were experiencing a survival camp in the mountains hosted by YWAM (Youth With A Mission).

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A few years back, my daughter, Helina, along with New Hope intern, Corinne, participated in this camp and it was such an amazing experience that they wanted our girls to have it as well.  This year Helina went as a leader and was able to be a fly on the wall, watching each group challenge and bearing witness to much personal growth in each participant. 

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There is something about being pushed beyond what you think you can possibly do, taking you past your limits, allowing you to discover where your strength comes from and how strong you really are. 

I wondered if a few of them would talk to me or look me in the eye when it was over, as I knew it would stretch some even more than others. Being stretched can be more than frustrating. It can make you mad! 

Another special dynamic about this trip is that it always takes place during holy week --the week that stretched Jesus to the point of sweating blood.  The hardest week in history.  

Jesus is always our example to follow and if we choose to walk with Him in His resurrection we too will be called to times of stretching, suffering, death.


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They were so excited to go.  Excited to buy the equipment.  Excited to be going on an adventure for the week.  But they had NO clue what they were getting into.  Lol!  Do we ever truly know what we are getting ourselves into? 

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And yet God uses our excitement,

our initiative,

our obedience,

and He fills us with His power, strength and perfect peace. 

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By the way, they all did talk to me and look me in the eye upon their return.  Some confessed they had never been so happy to see Vidal and Grieci as they picked them up!  They were thrilled to have had the chance to learn how strong they are and how faithful God is! We are already looking forward to next year and praying about some of them returning as leaders. 

May God continue to open doors of opportunities to be stretched and grow into our best selves!

Loving Well

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The girls gathered around the 2018 calendar as I hung it up on January 1st and began to add the dates from my own crisp new planner.  It’s fun to see the all the months at the same time.  Every birthday and vacation and visitor is added as we learn of them, and knowing what’s coming makes the girls extremely happy!  They love to be in the “know”!

Looking at the events in the month of January, a newer girl read out loud with terror in her voice, “Dental team with Dr. Dave and Mr. Tom!”  I continued to write without even looking behind me and lightheartedly added, “Dr. Dave is the best, only the best for you!” 

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Then the other girls began to add….

“Yea, he’s the best”

“He’s so nice”

“It doesn’t hurt”

“I mean you can cry, but he won’t make you cry.”

 

That last phrase killed me.  I almost dropped my pen.  That is the kid definition of safety…

 

“You can cry, but he won’t make you cry.”

 

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In the past ALL our girls were terrified of the dentist.  Getting dental care was traumatic, and not only for the girls. The caregivers felt their pain and cried tears of compassion with them as they winced, screamed and wiggled with tight lips and clenched fists. Many left the dental chair without ever receiving care.  Their fear simply wouldn’t allow it. 

 

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Over the past couple years, the dental team with Barnabas Task has worked to build relationships and trust among our girls.  They hold hands, say prayers, cry compassionate tears and always tell the truth. That’s empowering!  They love well.

 

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And what we know for sure is that “Loving well extinguishes Fear!” 

 

To this team: we are so grateful for you and your compassionate servants who are not only healing teeth and gums, but removing infection that, if left untreated, can snuff out a life.

 

Love snuffs out fear. Love always wins. 

 

A look back at 2017

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There is no way to capture a year in a snapshot, a bullet list, a 8.5X11 piece of paper and each year as I am faced with the task of doing so, I am in awe of how much has really happened and how difficult it is to nutshell.  

God has been so good.  

YOU are amazing!  

This work is special and significant and we will never stop trying to remember,

to look back,

to count our blessings

and to live with a heart of gratitude.  

So here is to another year, We are full of gratitude and hope!  We are dreaming big and we can't wait to share it with you!

A Reason to Celebrate

There are layers of pain.  Many complicated layers.  There is an oppression that permeates every aspect of the lives that are affected by it. Children who have been victims of great trauma are filled with fear and operate out of a place of fear almost always! 

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There is only one cure. 

Love!  

Love covers a multitude of past failures,

traumatic experiences, and

truly erases fear. 

Seems simple and it is,

but what does that look like? 

How do we do it? 

Who has the strength and energy for

Wild Love

in the middle of extreme darkness? 

 

We have learned a few things in our years of service.  

The first thing is that we don’t know very much AND

that all our best ideas and solutions are born in prayer. 

 

We’ve also learned to celebrate things that should be normal but aren’t -

like sleeping through the night,

regular meals,

giggles, hugs,

“please” and “thank you,”

“I’m sorry,”

telling the truth,

taking turns, sharing,

a soft answer,

moments of quiet,

and the ability to give a gift and receive one.

Each one of these are miracles that must be celebrated!

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So when the girls decided to make a birthday party the moment they learned their newest sister had never had one…I melted. 

 

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Most every one of them had their first cake in our house. Many didn’t have a birthdate, and one little girl didn’t even have a name when she arrived.

 

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They made the decorations. 

Purchased candy with their snack money. 

Created gifts and hand written cards.

 

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This is the big stuff. 

This was empathy, compassion, initiative, kindness. 

This was LOVE!

 

I knew that if they were stepping out in love,

it was because they knew what it looked like

that they had received enough and healed enough to be ready to give. 

 

New Hope was founded on the idea of dreaming big dreams for our girls. 

The biggest dream we have for them is

that they would Love God AND

love others well! 

 

Evidence of this is true reason to celebrate!

"THE GOOD STUFF"

 

 

The last year has been filled with so many amazing growth spurts for New Hope in terms of facility, staff, and the number of girls we serve.  It has blown our mind and made us sing and dance and cry humble tears of awe and gratitude.  We celebrated a year of firsts in our new home, “Casa Luz y Esperanza" - House of Light and Hope. 

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We have served over 20 girls in our intake room since it opened in March, and we are now serving close to 100 girls each week through our outreach programs.

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Our workshop is now onsite and running eight industrial machines, thus providing vulnerable moms with a dignified way to provide for their kids.  This is a true answer to prayer!

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But there are growing pains, as well.  As we embrace the new, we reflect on the best practices of our past that we never want to leave behind.

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In a recent staff meeting, we remembered the paper chains that hung in our first house, “Nueva Esperanza”- New Hope.  They hung as concrete reminders of our answered prayers.  We prayed over our simplest requests to our biggest dreams that we wrote on strips of paper and then assembled into chains as they were answered.

Mama Negra suggested that we return to this practice, saying, "May we NEVER forget where every good and perfect gift comes from.” Everyone agreed.  We remembered how we prayed in everything from our rice to our refrigerator and then our land.  God never once failed us. 

With the new facility, monthly finances are tighter than ever and it is time to “pray in the provision.” 

Saturday evening, the phone rang.  When I noticed it was Mama Negra, I hoped it wasn’t drama.  It wasn’t!  She was audibly glowing, beaming, and so excited to tell me a God Story. 

She had been praying for milk.  Her weekly food budget wasn’t stretching like before, and there was a company that had delivered milk once and had promised a donation of milk every three months.  But we hadn’t heard from them in a year!  She began to pray for them and pray for milk and pray that God would supply the necessary funds to feed the girls well in her new kitchen.  She specifically prayed that God would remind that company of their commitment to supply our girls with milk.  And not just the expired, inferior quality milk but “The Good Stuff."

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After not hearing from them for a year, on Saturday evening they had shown up with 20 boxes of milk, and it was “The Good Stuff!”  She was overwhelmed.  Every donor likes to have their gift received with gratitude, but they weren’t prepared for her emotional response to their donation.  She had to explain.  “You see, God used you to answer our prayers, and this milk is proof of His provision, His love, His perfect gifts - "The Good Stuff!” 

Another link in the chain, more proof of His goodness, faithfulness and favor.

Hang it up so we never forget!

Why do we ever worry about tomorrow?  We do we fret?  All the “Good Stuff" comes from Him, and He never fails!

"Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God, who created all the lights in the heavens.  He never changes or casts a shifting shadow."  - James 1:17

 

The Rock and Our Reminders

By Corinne Carver

It took place just a few days after I arrived to see the girls that had captured my heart during my year spent with them.

Joy came as she does daily to the house and the moment she began to share this idea with me I was all ears…

There’s something about Joy that is so beautiful: her ability to come up with meaningful, thoughtful, creative and overall signature activities and events for the girls.

I was sure this idea was going to be no different.

She said we would be going on an adventure, that we would go to the river, that we would go searching for rocks.

Although I am always all for adventure, and I love a great day by the riverside, you have to know that what rivers and adventures entail in little old La Vega is much different than what you would normally expect…

Because the river, well, it's usually littered with an unfortunate amount of trash and some interesting characters from time to time.

But still… I was hooked, I was ready, I was already anticipating what these rocks could mean.

Before we left, she began to explain a bit to me about the meaning these rocks would take on once we found them and brought them home with us.

She started to cast a vision of how these rocks would come to be reminders and take the shape of memories that the girls have cultivated and lived throughout the last couple years. Her hope was that we would remember together what God has done, what He has given us, and continue to dream, ask, and pray for more.

So when we loaded the littles into the van and took them closer to our old neighborhood where our mansion on the hill still sits, we huddled them together on the river bank and began to prep them before they began their search.

You could tell that the girls were already gripping onto the chance to be in a less familiar territory, exploring and searching and finding and discovering together.

We let them go free and occasionally had to reign them in from time to time, some a little more daring and prone to straying than others.

By the end of our time, girls had stones piled up on their bellies, holding them in the pouches they made from their shirts and stuffing as many as possible into their pockets and little drawstring bags they had brought.

We rounded them up into the van and began our journey back, but not without stopping for some lunch. At the table we began sharing stories at the table of all the changes each girl had gone through since coming to New Hope. It was the beginning of what these rocks would mean to the girls, mean to me, mean to us.

And it wasn’t till one of my last days with them we were able to finally gather in our upstairs living room and begin to name the stones that already felt like they held such significance. We gathered together in a circle, and Joy began sharing her heart, inspiring each of us to dig into a space with Jesus where He would tell us what it is that we have received from Him and the story behind it all.

I remember closing my eyes, but before I could even begin to ask them a word came so suddenly, so simply, so sweetly.

It was a word that seemed all too familiar, even vague and obvious to most, but I knew exactly what He was speaking to my heart, the stories behind this name He was giving to my last year and a half of chaos and beauty and trial and triumph.

And so we began sharing.

We began picking up markers and making permanent the reminders that these rocks would be to us so that we would be sure to remember, and to share, and to reencounter these God stories that were so precious as they began to be spoken out loud.

Girls began to share words like “family” and “friendship” and “joy” and “new life."

They also put words like “fridge” and “new house” and “patio.” These represented the tangible, material reminders that also spoke so truly of God’s faithfulness and realness to all of us.

We remembered together the things that we had like dirt floors and water tanks and the things that we have like trampolines and fruit trees and decorated rooms.

The girls were wide eyed and excited as one began a story that they all knew, each jumping on the inside, wishing they were the one to be telling the story, just as excited and delighted in the evidence of God’s way of providing that we had received together.

And when it came to me, I almost hesitated to share my word because it seemed so unoriginal and typical and obvious…

But once I finally choked it out I couldn’t help but explain what God had shown me behind it…

The girls waited patiently as I began to speak it out…

“Love.”

“My word is Love.”

And then I explained to them…

“It’s this love that God has for me that has convinced me of my love for all of you.

I wouldn’t be able to be here without this love. I would have never come, let alone come back. It is this love that has made me so sure…. So sure of what I am meant to do.

Because… 

I had to know I was loved in order to love each of you.”

And it was in that statement I was brought back to the moment when I knew I had to be in their lives…

The first time I had come to pick the lice out of their curly locks and walk their little selves to school each morning and venture to their homes and meet their families on the hill.

It was this love that has been compelling me all along, and it started with my ability to receive what the Father has always had for me, a love that has been bestowed and will always be meant to be given away.

This love that we are all made of, that He is made of, that the girls are made of.

I couldn’t think of a greater reminder to be given.

And as I wrote “love” on the rock before me, I hoped that the girls would be able to recall the story behind each time they reached for it… The love that has changed me, changed them, and allows us to change the world.

To be reminded of such a love…

It frees us to then give it away, to remember the purpose as to why we have been loved in the first place.

To be the love that saved us to someone else.

And what a beautiful recollection that will always be.

We finished our circle time with remaining blank rocks, but only because we believe our God continues to give, continues to write our stories, continues to pour into us and New Hope and our lives that so desperately need His vision and favor and kindness.

It was yet another symbol of faith and belief that He will meet us in our present and future, providing for needs we aren’t even yet aware of, but that He is already anticipating to give us… Not because He has to, but because we are His…

And again I am reminded of just how unconditional He truly is.

And I pray that these girls will continue to recognize the Father and search for these rocks daily, finding comfort and hope in what they truly mean.