A Celebration Reflection

March 8 holds so much emotion and reason to celebrate for my team. It is International Women’s day and we serve and work along women internationally, like the day was set apart for us and maybe it was because 13 years ago we launched New Hope Girls on March 8th completely unaware of it’s significance. But there are no coincidences.

This year I was feeling very sick without the normal excitement for the day ahead- I kept thinking about years past and all of my emotion that often surrounded the celebration- but today was different.

There have been years we ordered decorations, personalized cookies, rented tables, cotton candy and popcorn machines and the girls flew around the grounds with little butterfly wings attached to their backs. We prepared slide shows and play lists and giveaways.

But this year all I wanted was to sit on a blanket and worship and pray. I was thrilled to now have 82 staff and girls gather in celebrations, but I longed for something intimate.

Our former intern Karen and her new husband Carlos came for a visit from Colombia and offered to lead worship. I felt tears behind my eyes and I knew I would be unable to speak without letting them flow. I introduced Karen with so much emotion, remembering a young fearless Karen who came for an afternoon and prayed with nine of my girls to receive Christ! I tried to honor a little bit of her journey of service within New Hope and then I sat to let them sing. She shared and led us in community song with so much poise and and passion.

I sat on the blanket under the tree.

The tears flowed, I couldn’t make them stop. I secretly wanted to lay flat and truly have a good private cry but that wasn’t possible, all eyes were on me -instead I wished for sun glasses to camouflage my tears and I rolled in a ball hugging my knees to my chest with my bare feet on the blanket rocking back and forth as Karen sang.

“Look at the birds. They don’t stop singing”
Look how the Lillies celebrate each day.
Your love is my only inheritance, my portion, each day the sun comes up and I have all I need.”

I wondered where all the emotion was coming from- the nostalgia, perhaps? Thirteen years of New Hope Girls surrounded by so many women and girls who that have walked with us from the beginning. This year there were also many young women who had been there in the beginning, but were just now beginning their journey with us.

And then there was Guadalupe. She broke my heart wide open!

It made me imagine so many of our other prodigal daughters and I felt a flicker of renewed hope. There she was- Guadalupe! I almost didn’t want to talk to her. Didn’t want to jinx it, didn’t want to mess it up with human expectations, words or pressure. I know God brought her to us. I am trusting Him to nurture her path home.

She was there in the beginning, I had scooped her up from the stoop of our little mansion on the hill.

She has come and run more times than I can count. She was here under this very avocado tree where we watched God usher in supernatural healing in His perfect time to the previous owners Johana and her daughter eight years ago right before we took over the keys to what is now our Big house, “Luz y Esperanza”. We knew then that this was holy ground and would be a place of healing- I sit here now and I am overwhelmed. Guadalupe was also overwhelmed, but better prepared with a napkin in hand to wipe away the constant flow of her tears.

My spirit whispered, God do your thing, here, now inside us, among us, through us.

“The King is here. He’s alive inside us.” Played in the background and I could barely breath.

Over the last 13 years, there have been so many people—come and go- Love and serve and leave. I was full of gratitude for their time and friendship along the way.

Those who were not sitting under the tree because they couldn’t be there and those who were not sitting under the tree because they chose not to be there. I let their faces fill my mind, I grieved their loss without the sting of betrayal - and my heart was grateful for each and every one.