Give Love to Survivors this Valentine’s Day

Give Love // TrihopeMichigan.com

Since Trihope began in 2015 we have touched the lives of 40 survivors of sexual trauma. 40 survivors, some of whom, by attending a Survivors Night, admitted to themselves and others for the first time that something traumatic happened to them. Some of whom made the decision to meet with us privately to determine what the next step should be in their healing journey. Some of whom decided to take a giant leap forward by attending our “In the Wildflowers” Support Group. 40 survivors whose lives have changed because a handful of people decided to give love.

As we on the board and staff prayed about what God would have us do in 2018, we felt God calling us to strengthen our foundation. If you look at our three pillars, Trihope exists for prayer, survivor support, and community enablement.

God is calling us to strengthen our foundation.

If you think of Trihope as a building, Prayer is the foundation. It goes deep into our core and gives us strength, stability, and direction. Without Prayer, the building of Trihope wouldn’t exist, the building itself being Survivor Support. What sets us apart from other good, solid organizations, is the belief that God can and does transform lives the Enemy meant to destroy and turns them into shining examples of healing and power to the praise of His glorious grace. The third pillar, Community is our base. By educating the community and training others to support survivors, we are able to reach far and wide, allowing us to get the word out about what we do, who we are, and what resources are available to survivors in the Tri-Cities.

As we were first getting started we poured much of our attention into Prayer and Community as a matter of necessity. We couldn’t reach survivors without letting them know we existed. However, this year God is asking us to go deeper in Prayer in order to build tall our offerings in Survivor Support. These two pillars are our focus for all of 2018.

We need you to make our foundation strong.

The thing is, the building of Trihope cannot grow taller or wider without first strengthening our foundation both in Prayer and in Financial support. We are at full capacity with our current staff hours. The only way we see ourselves moving forward into the calling of God is by adding another staff member to help free up time for additional programs and resources.

Our monthly donors are the rebar in the foundation that gives the whole thing stability.

Large, one-time gifts are wonderful, but we can’t budget on them. We can’t plan for the future with them. They are helpful and we are so grateful for them, but they don’t strengthen our foundation. Small monthly gifts enable us to plan and prepare for the future.

God can multiply the smallest of gifts.

We are asking you to join with us first in prayer, and then in giving. For the next 7 days, we are asking you to pray, and even fast and pray if God should lead you to do so, for God to strengthen our foundation. We are even providing you with a beautiful download for you to print as a reminder to pray each day. Together we will link arms to pray for 10 people to give $40 a month through Trihope and for 40 people to give $10 a month through Trihope in honor of the 40 survivors we’ve been blessed to serve thus far.

We say through because we’re not asking you to give to Trihope. We’re asking you to give THROUGH Trihope to make a difference in the lives of survivors. We believe by praying for 7 days and then giving for 7 days that God will take our offerings, our 5 loaves and 2 fishes if you will, and multiply them in the form of many more survivors finding hope, healing and freedom through Trihope in 2018.

Are you ready to rebar?

  1. First things first, click here to download the Give Love prayer reminder and post it in a place so you will see it every day and remember to pray, like the bathroom mirror or the refrigerator. As you pray, ask God what He would like you to do personally to strengthen the foundation of Trihope.
  2. Then, share this blog post, or any of the other posts you may see on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook to spread the word and use the hashtags #givelove and #hopehealingfreedom.
  3. Lastly, as the Lord leads you, give through Trihope to survivors in the Tri-Cities area. Already a donor? Consider expanding your monthly giving by $10 or $40 this year.

We understand for some $40 or even $10 in new or increased giving is simply impossible. You are maxed out and as much as you would love to give, you just can’t. Or can you? You can give by using your social media influence to fundraise on behalf of Trihope. You can do this through the Trihope donate page, or by setting up your own fundraiser on Facebook under our full name Tri-Cities House of Prayer and Hope. Feel free to use the graphics in this post to share the word about what you are doing and be sure to tag Trihope so we can share your posts as well.

Give Love Prayer // TrihopeMichigan.comThank you for being part of our foundation!

We are believing God for miraculous, life-changing things this year and we are so excited to have you take part.

(Click on the image to print your prayer download)

 

2018 Wildflowers Support Group Retreat

2018 Wildflowers Retreat

Trihope is hosting our fourth In the Wildflowers Support Group Retreat this coming February 15-18, 2018. The retreat is for all female survivors of sexual trauma ages 12 and older and will be held locally in Saginaw, Michigan.

Overview

We feel the retreat format is vital in order to provide survivors an opportunity to disconnect from the busy lives they lead and focus on the next steps God has for them on their healing journey. The retreat is lead by members of the Trihope team, several of whom come from backgrounds of sexual assault. We understand the courage it takes to attend a support group and the emotional struggle to face past hurts. We are prepared to link arms with group members in the difficult but freeing journey of restoration we will embark on together over the four days of the retreat. Retreat topics include sharing stories, releasing shame, healing through God’s love, and ministering to others.

WildflowersRetreat Details

The retreat will begin Thursday at 7:00 p.m. and conclude Sunday at Noon. Enrollment packs are available now by contacting  info@trihopemichigan.com. Completed materials can be returned via email, placed in the Trihope mailbox at NLCF, or mailed to New Life Christian Fellowship, ATTN: Trihope, 6115 Shattuck Rd, Saginaw, MI 48603.

The total cost of the retreat includes lunches, dinners, and a workbook and is $75 per person. All registration forms and the $75 retreat fee (made payable to Trihope), are due February 1.

 

Returning Participant?

Any former participants who have a workbook may take $25 off their retreat price unless they wish to receive a fresh copy for the new retreat.

I was invited to my first “In the Wildflowers” Retreat in 2015 and it changed me forever. I found purpose there. I was important there. – Wildflowers Participant

We have been and continue to pray for every survivor coming to the retreat. We believe God has great things in store for every attendee and we look forward to walking “In the Wildflowers” together!

 

Is It Enough

Is It Enough // TrihopeMichigan.com

I find myself hearing from survivors, with some frequency, that they believe what happened to them was worth it because God was able to use it to bring healing to others.

Now, if that sounds a little like you–I commend you. You’ve come a long way in your healing journey to be able to say that and mean it. And kudos to you for overcoming evil and shame and denial to be able to share your story and use it for good. Wow. You are amazing. I really mean that. And now let me apologize (sort of), because I’m about to chisel into the next layer of denial you’re hiding behind.

See, considering your story worth it only because it could be used to bring help to others is, well, sorta, kinda, another way of shirking around the fact that you are intrinsically valuable. That means valuable simply because…you are. Because you are a masterpiece designed by God. And you are a dearly loved, one-of-a-kind child of His. And more than that, you are part of the Church–His very bride.

Hard to swallow?

If so, then yes, you are hiding behind another layer of denial.

So let me ask you this, is it enough for you if Christ freed you and healed you just so you would be healed and free and made whole? If that was all you ever got. If you never got to use your story for anyone else. If not one other soul ever benefited from the evil that occurred to you. Is it enough that Christ found you valuable? Is it enough that He came for you? Is it enough that He counted you worthy?

Is your wholeness enough?

Today, Precious One, take some time to bask in the love of God. It is scary to consider that you are intrinsically valuable because doing so means facing the reality of the injustice that occurred to you. It means recognizing that whoever assaulted or abused you, regardless of what kind of person they are or were or could be–they could be Mother Teresa for all I care–that they wronged you. It means you should be angry because someone precious to God was grossly harmed, that injustice occurred, that there is a debt owed to you on account of it. And that you may be asked to relinquish that debt.

It also means you must be vulnerable. You must be bare before God to let Him see into the depths of your heart–all that is pleasing and displeasing–and give Him the option to reject you based on what He finds there, to find that He embraces you. It’s scary. It’s probably the scariest thing you’ve ever had to face. Wow.

But until you do, you will never really live. You will never fully be free until you are fully bare before God. You will never fully be healed until you reveal the full extent of the wound to the Great Physician. And you will never be able to bring to others something you have never realized for yourself.

Now is the time, Beloved. Let yourself be loved.

 

Stopping the Generations of Abuse

Stopping the Generations of Abuse // www.trihopemichigan.com

Abuse. Society’s unacknowledged epidemic. Neglect and abuse, whether it’s physical, emotional, sexual or spiritual, happens at an alarming rate in America. “The United States has one of the worst records among industrialized nations – losing on average almost five children every day to child abuse and neglect.”1,2­ Abuse and neglect cross all socio-economic, race and religious borders. It affects us all.

Helping Survivors Changes the Future

When working with survivors of sexual and often other forms of abuse, people frequently view it as helping the individual alone. However, I see it as helping generations of people. In a sense, it is also preventative work as abuse is so often repeated throughout generations.

Am I saying that everyone abused will become an abuser? Absolutely not. However, there are many cases of individuals with unhealed wounds of childhood abuse that go on to either abuse or marry an abuser, causing the cycle of abuse to begin all over again.

Rewrite History or It’s Likely to Repeat

I am a survivor of abuse. Looking back at my parents, I see that they too came from a history of abuse. My father was most likely abused as a child and my mother was emotionally abused as a child. So, what happened? My father became my abuser, and my mother didn’t know her worth and didn’t see the red-flags of abuse in marrying my father.

My heart breaks as I see survivor after survivor who have had abusive husbands and relationships after enduring so much abuse already. One survivor asked, “Do I have some sort of sign on me saying ‘come and get me?’” Whilst there is no sign, per-say, survivors of abuse often walk with the weight of abuse on their shoulders, leading to shame and low self-esteem. They desire love so much that they are willing to sacrifice being cherished and honored to just be wanted.

I was one of these people. I didn’t expect people to care or truly love me, so when a guy was interested in me, I ignored all the red flags of manipulation and emotional abuse that were there from the start.

The Cycle of Abuse Can Stop with You1 Peter 5:10 // www.trihopemichigan.com

The good news? There is hope. Healing from wounds of abuse can help stop the cycles of abuse. Knowing your worth in Christ can break the chains of self-hatred and low self-esteem. You can see yourself as a child of God, worth
y of love and kindness. Choosing to take the very difficult steps towards healing can not only bring you freedom today, but can allow for freedom from abuse for your children tomorrow. It’s never too late! If you feel as if you’ve already let the cycle begin again, you and your family can find hope, freedom and healing! Begin the journey of healing today. You’d be amazed at the years God will restore.

I’m so thankful that God put me on the healing journey that I am still on today. I was able to get away from the abusive relationship I was once in and discover my beauty and worth in Christ, which led me to accept the pursuit of a man who truly would love and care for me. Today he remains one of the biggest instruments of healing in my life. Healing my wounds with love.

If you would like help in starting your healing journey, contact us at info@trihopemichigan.com or visit our website at www.trihopemichigan.com.

 

  1. Child Maltreatment 2015. Published: January 19, 2017. An office of the Administration for Children & Families, a division of U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. This report presents national data about child abuse and neglect known to child protective services agencies in the United States during federal fiscal year 2015. Retrieved from: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/child-maltreatment-2015
  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau. (2013). Child Maltreatment 2012. Available from: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/research-data-technology/statistics-research/child-maltreatment

Bringing Brokenness to the Table: Why Marriage Doesn’t Need You to Be Perfect

Bringing Brokenness to the Table // www.trihopemichigan.com

How broken is too broken? How much healing is enough? Will I ever be ready for a relationship? Marriage? Kids?

Often these questions plague survivors of sexual abuse and assault. I myself had questioned if I would ever be healed enough to even begin dating someone. I had read books by survivors that ended with a short blurb after depicting the seriousness of trauma saying, “I’m now 45, have a wonderful husband and three great kids.” And all I wanted to do is scream at the book, “HOW?!”

Perfection is a lie

There were times in my life that I felt so broken that I thought that I, like Humpty Dumpty, couldn’t ever be put back together again. I didn’t see how in even the next twenty years, I would ever be at a stage of healing where I could get married and have kids. I was terrified of men. I was afraid of being hurt. I was daily bombarded with flashbacks of my past. I loathed myself. I had given up hope on ever being the main character in a romantic story.

In hindsight (oh the beauty of it), I see that my pessimistic outlook came from having an unreasonable expectation that somehow I needed to be completely healed, healthy and basically perfect in order to get married. I didn’t realize this was a lie.

God knows what you need

It wasn’t that I didn’t need to seek healing, or desire to be free from the pain of my past. I needed to allow someone to love me, even in my brokenness. I often would push interested suitors away from me, inwardly screaming “I’m too broken!” My fear of them discovering just how broken I was and then rejecting me caused me to run and hide any time there was even a remote interest from a man. I never thought it would be possible for someone to look at all of me, all of my messiness and stay. But God, in His wondrous mercy, had a plan.

Without me realizing it, He wove a beautiful love story into my life. He brought in a man who first became my friend. A friend who stuck by me even in the middle of my flashbacks. I was on the journey of healing when he entered my life, but I was nowhere near to the level of healing I had assumed I would need to be at. But that’s just it. I never got to that place before I got married.

Yes, I had had significant breakthroughs in my healing, but I was still broken. What I didn’t know was that my now-husband could love me fully, even in my broken state, and would become one of the most powerful sources of healing in my life. God knew exactly what He was doing when he put this man at the local food pantry the day I decided to volunteer for the first time.

Three things to understand

What I want to say to you, my friend who is still asking these questions, who is still wondering if you will ever be unbroken enough to be loved, is:

1) You are already loved.

God loves you just as you are. He knows you fully. Inside and out. He adores you, scars and all. You don’t need another man to tell you what the Creator of the Universe has been saying since the beginning of time.

2) You don’t need to hide.

The man God has for you will be able to see all of you and love you for who you are. You just need to be brave enough to trust in His plans for your life. To trust that when the right man comes into your life, you can begin the slow process of letting down your walls and allow love to move in.

3) Life is unpredictable.

You may feel as though you’ve been waiting for this guy forever, and it seems like he’s never going to show up. I don’t know what God has in store for you, but I know He desires good things for you, and I know that you can’t even begin to imagine what they are and when they will come about. But hold on my friend, they are coming.

Love, hope and peace to you.

Lessons from Forrest Gump

Lessons from Forrest Gump // TrihopeMichigan.com

I pause my dialogue as I notice the older gentleman next to me begin to go red and his eyes begin to water. “Are you okay?” I ask, thinking he is choking. He merely shakes his head as tears begin to spill down his weather-worn face. I remain silent, dumbfounded. I’ve known this man for over 2 years and have never seen him cry before. “It’s just so heartbreaking.” He whispers as more tears splash down his cheeks. I pause and reflect. It is heartbreaking, isn’t it?

I had just been telling him about the work I do with women who’ve been sexually abused and sex trafficked. It has become so much a part of my everyday life that I have begun to numb myself from the horror I encounter daily. However, that does not stop the reality of how truly heartbreaking the stories from these survivors are. The situations that millions of people find themselves still in today. It is estimated that 70-90 % of sex trafficking victims have been sexually abused as children prior to exploitation. Let that information sink in for a moment.

For many children, the traumas of childhood continue into adulthood. The trauma of their youth gives way to their mindset that “sex is all I’m good for” or “I’m worthless”, “no-one could love me”. These thoughts make them so vulnerable to sexual exploitation from pimps who know exactly what to look for, who know exactly what to say.

Abuse Happens in the Mind and the Body

I observed this pattern happen in the movie Forrest Gump, which I originally thought was only about the achievements of a boy everyone thought would never amount to anything. Jenny, Forrest’s best friend from childhood, was sexually abused by her father and she ended up being sexually exploited in magazines and on stages. She was used and abused by men for years and years because she didn’t know her worth. She didn’t know she was worth more than her father showed her. Her pain was so obvious as she stands on the edge of the balcony, wanting to jump, or as she sees her father’s house, years later, and begins to hurl rocks at it. All the pain and anger begin to come out.

I’m right there with her in that moment. I know many survivors who are also feeling that same pain and rage. But the moment that tears me apart the most, is the moment Forrest asks her to marry him. Forest is obviously head-over-heels in love with this woman. Most would assume she would say no because of his low IQ, but instead she says, “You don’t want to marry me.” In her mind, someone so kind and loving could never want to marry someone like her. She believes she is worth absolutely nothing. She believes she is unloveable.

God Heals the Brokenhearted

I once believed the same things. I once thought the same thoughts. But God, in His great mercy, brought me to a point of healing where the words of my now-husband broke through the lies. I was able to believe his love for me as he knelt on one knee before me. I was able to shout above the screams from my past, telling me that no-one would ever want me, and say “Yes!”.

The reality of sexual abuse and sex trafficking is heartbreaking, but I know a God who is in the business of healing the brokenhearted. I know a God who brings beauty out of ashes. A God who can heal, restore and set free the captives. Do you know Him?

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.” – Isaiah 61:1-3  

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