Empowered: Stepping into God’s Promises

Empowered, an apt word for this season, don’t you think? Fall presents many challenges and tasks for us. If you’re a parent there is the ‘back to school’ process happening right now, which can be overwhelming but also full of hope and anticipation. Fall can also provide us with a reset, a chance to set new goals, overcome new challenges, and lean into the new that is coming. Ultimately, to be empowered is to have choice–choice over the steps you take, choice over the path you want to pursue, but also the opportunity and confidence to actually take that step. No person can fully empower you, not even you, yourself. Only God can do that.

This awareness is a crucial component to healing. Only then can you own your personal recovery and take responsibility in processing the trauma, pain and harms in your life. God desires us to remain dependent on him to empower and guide us on this journey. He has never asked us to walk alone, but promises to be with us and help us. “Fear not, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you. I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 40:10)

An integral component of recovery that the staff, leaders and women work through includes making ‘direct amends’ to those we have harmed. This is a big step, facing the reality that our actions have harmed others, and choosing to take responsibility for that. Making direct amends does not merely amount to a contrite apology, but involves a profound acknowledgment that we have played a role in damaging relationships. We want the other to know that we recognize our part in the causing damage. It is an action step that requires humility, a recognition of one’s own brokenness and a desire to bring change and restoration. 

The Holy Spirit is the one who empowers us and brings conviction and clarity to our hearts and minds as we work our recovery. He softens our hearts to recognize our wrongs and empowers us to take action towards healing. Because God created us as relational beings, he is also ignites our desire to love others and to seek the healing of damaged relationships. He produces the fruit of mercy as we take action towards reconciliation. 

So, as you ponder this new season ahead and what your action, goal or step might be, hear these words and promises of Jesus:

 “Blessed [content, sheltered by God’s promises] are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.” (Matthew 5:7)

“Blessed [spiritually calm with life-joy in God’s favor] are the makers and maintainers of peace, for they will [express His character and] be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)

As he spoke to those surrounding him on the mountainside many years ago, he also speaks these promises afresh to you and me this fall season. May you know that the God who delights in you will also empower you, as you trust him and step into his promises!

Reflective: Seeing the Effects of Our Brokenness

The journey to freedom doesn’t stop due to the seasons. God always wants to help us heal and find new levels of freedom regardless of sun, rain or snow. The summertime may prove full of distractions and other things going on in your world, but this month we are choosing to remain REFLECTIVE. This pause in our daily whirring of to-do lists and struggles helps us to remain both connected and focused on God, the only one able to transform us from brokenness to wholeness. Part of personal brokenness is a disconnect in relationships. In our brokenness and pain, we also hurt others. We are responsible for our personal actions and attitudes, for owning our issues, and for knowing the effect we have on others. However, we also recognize we can’t do things differently without God’s guidance and love transforming and renewing our minds.


Unforgiveness can become a big underlying root in so much of our personal battles and the pain we feel currently in our world today. We want to justify ourselves and point the blame onto others, but in doing that we create barriers to healing. It breaks our relationship with God and others. God invites us continually to have our hearts searched and known by him, to keep us close and abiding in a relationship with him, that moves us to a place of seeing our part in the harms and brokenness around us. From this place of being seen, known and loved already we can begin to see the others in our lives that we know we have harmed through actions or words.


In the 12 Step process of healing, there is a time for writing out a list of those we have harmed with a willingness to own our part in the pain we have caused them. Reflective time allows us space to process and hear God’s voice to lead us in this journey. This is not a time for self-condemnation, but a way forward that leads to life, hope and freedom. We can’t and shouldn’t do this alone. God also grants us his peace as we bring our lack to him. He is the God of restoration and renewal, and says to us today, “with people [as far as it depends on them] it is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)

PURPOSEFUL- In the Pursuit of Freedom

I used to think that being purposeful meant checking every box on my to-do list. Purposeful was a striving to do more, to be more, to feel accomplished. My purpose was always in the ‘doing’, so ‘being’ still or even resting often felt purposeless.  Being purposeful can also be described as being intentional. Intentionality is about being deliberate in what you do.

The trouble with our busy lives and distracted hearts is that we often rush past the intentionality or the deliberate pursuit of healing. You see, we never just ‘drift’ to a state of greater healing, faith or freedom. Time doesn’t just heal us from our hurts and traumas. These things require more than just time. They require our focus, effort and attention. Healing is not a mere tick-box exercise, but a journey or process based on a relationship with God, yourself and others. 

To a striver like myself, this healing process can feel challenging, since I desire that quick ‘tick’ to show that I am making progress. A relationship, however, can never be a tick-box exercise. Instead, we must embrace the journey and lean into faith, trust and surrender for these relationships to heal and grow.  It is often in the stillness and the resting that we come to appreciate this journey and gain the humility–knowing who we are in light of who God is–necessary for change. We must become purposeful in desiring the change that God wants to bring into our lives. He desires us to flourish and look more like him, who is Love, rather than to remain our fearful, striving or apathetic selves. He knows that we can be free of these shortcomings when we ask him to remove them, but taking that step requires faith and action. 

And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.” 1 John 5:14-15

In light of this perspective shift, purposeful now means intentionally pursuing a right relationship with God and others, seeking to look more like love in this world. Our world is in desperate need of seeing and experiencing this kind of love and freedom through others. So, in what ways can you be purposeful today?

June Blog Post: Confident Because of Trust

Having just recently witnessed the graduation of one of the participants, confidence and humility shined through her sharing. She stood assured of her value and worth, as a beautiful and brave woman, whose life has truly been transformed. Confidence like this comes, in part, through coming to know ourselves and coming to know and trust our Creator. The process of recovery, ultimately, is a journey of both of these elements, and as we quickly discover along the path, honesty and humility are key ingredients to this refining and healing process. 

As we look through the issues in our hearts that have held us stuck, we recognize our destructive patterns and our part in the perpetuation of these issues. These can be called character defects, such as pride, vanity, jealousy and selfishness. These are things that are in opposition to God’s ways. The truth is that we cannot remove these defects in our own strength. Once we have become aware of these defects, we must become willing to have them removed. Only God is capable of truly transforming our hearts from self-willed stubbornness to loving tenderness. As God reveals, speaking through the prophet Ezekiel to his people:

“And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” (Ezekiel 36:26)

This confidence we are speaking about comes from that humble desire of wanting transformation, having had enough of the ‘stuff’ that has held us captive. We become confident that God can and will do the work, as we bring it into the light before him and desire the freedom he has for us on the other side of our defects. 

For many of us, the illusion of comfort and control can bring a false sense of confidence. Like any illusion, however, it vanishes when we try to grasp it. Confidence can be defined as

“the feeling that you can trust, believe in, and be sure about the abilities or good qualities of someone or something.” (Online: Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries)

God invites us through the recovery journey and refining process to put our confidence in Him and let go of the defects that have gripped us. The question for all of us is, are we willing to let God do that in our hearts?

EMBRACED- (By God and Others)

What an apt time to discuss community and belonging in our current reality, where our world is gripped with fear and isolation. This week is also Mental Health Awareness Week, which points to the necessity of understanding our emotions, empathy and community. Now is such a crucial time to reach out to one another in love.

So, what do you think of when you hear the word ‘community’? Is it something you value and treasure? Is it a nice thought but not a reality for you? Or is it your very lifeline for survival? We all have a different level of understanding what it means to belong and to be embraced by others. For us at SA Foundation, we see community as being essential for healing and hope. It is a guiding principle of our organization, alongside personal recovery and servanthood. So why is it vital for us and the women and children we serve?

Well, we believe we were made to live in community. We serve a God of love and relationship. Our triune God exists always in harmonious community: God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit. Love is therefore fully expressed in relationship and in community. At its core, community offers a place of acceptance, love and belonging, something we all desperately need! This is what we want to invite others into, especially those that may never have experienced this kind of love before. 

God embraces us in our weakness and failures. He is always open-armed to receive us back, as we bring our lack before him. Like the prodigal son returning home, we are met with joy and celebration, not scorn and rejection! As a community that centres around the necessity of recovery, our desire is that we demonstrate this open-armed welcome of receiving one another in our brokenness. We know it takes courage to admit our wrongdoings, but to know that we will be held and not rejected by God and others allows for the trust and faith to take that step. 

We have come to see and believe that whatever remains in the darkness and silence traps us in some way, limiting the life of freedom we were designed for. The way out of this hold is often through confession. There is such power in using our words to bring light into the darkness, to release fear and to allow others to come alongside us in comfort and understanding. We are not separated by our weaknesses; we are actually brought into closer relationship and empathy through our limitations. The book of James shares practical ways to live in freedom with one another, with Jesus at the centre of all of life. 

Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.” (James 5:16 The Message paraphrase)  

We see through this that confession actually leads to life and wholeness, and that it’s supposed to be a regular practice to keep us living in freedom. We desire this for ourselves and the women we serve. We need others to help us heal, to point the way forward, to show us the love of God in being accepted even in our weaknesses and brokenness and to be a safe place of belonging. What a gift it is to be that community for one another. So, who are your people that you are inviting into your journey of healing?

Humbled: Seeing Correctly!

Throughout scripture we see Jesus continually meeting the needs of others, from a place of peace, knowing exactly who he was. He understood his identity and mission, and humbled himself to follow all his Father asked of him, even to death. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:8) Today is Good Friday, the day that we remember this incredible sacrifice by which Jesus died on the cross for us, in our place. This is the ultimate example of love and humility. 

A common misconception about humility is that it is being down on yourself or talking yourself down in front of others. But actually, humility is simply knowing rightly who you are, as one uniquely created in the image of God. The gift of this lens is that we can also see the wonderful strengths and DNA that God has intricately woven into us. Humility allows for confidence in being fully who we are, knowing our assets and our shortcomings, yet still trusting we were made wonderfully and with purpose. From this place of assurance, we can begin to look outside of ourselves to meet the needs of others, just like Jesus did. 

In the message paraphrase of 1 Peter 5: 5-6, Peter shares how we are to approach relationships with God, self and others. “In every relationship, each of you must wrap around yourself the apron of a humble servant. Because: God resists you when you are proud but multiplies grace and favor when you are humble.”

Isn’t that a wonderful picture- wrapping around yourself the “apron of a humble servant”? Jesus did this when he washed his disciples’ feet, giving us the example to follow of right heart posture of serving others in love. In this place of ‘washing others’ feet’, “grace and favor” are multiplied. But let’s not be mistaken. These are acts motivated by God’s love and his Spirit at work in us. When we step through the door into God’s invitation of relationship and surrender to him, the fruit of the Spirit actually become evident and grow in our lives. The fruit developed within us are aspects of God’s character, such as love, gentleness, peace and patience, which actually allow us to humbly see and serve others. 

There are many things, however, that prevent the fruit of the Spirit from flourishing, things that actually cause division in our relationships with God and others, such as resentments, unforgiveness, apathy and shame, to name a few. God is continually drawing us out into greater levels of trust and freedom, and in order to live free in him, we must rightly assess and bring to light, with the Spirit’s power, these dark areas in our heart that we often choose to hide. The psalmist writes this prayer that we are invited to echo: “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24)

When we know who our God is, our perspective of who we are gets renewed. Pride falls away, when we finally look through the right lens. We are always in the process of being refined, but as we surrender and step out in faith, it is God’s kindness and love that draws us to heal further from the past or current situations that have harmed us and others. In this place of being held by God, we can shine a light on the darkness and expose it without fear, trusting that God will enable and bring about healing. 

God wants to bring us back into right relationships, into community, and to let our light shine before others, not run and hide from him or others!  True humility grows as we become increasingly aware of  how great our God is to extend mercy and grace to us fallen humans time and time again. This is what we celebrate at Easter. Even though we are not yet perfect, God still desires a close relationship with us. Jesus died to pay the price for our sins- all the times we miss the mark- past, present and future, so we never have to run or hide from him, or feel separated from his great love. He continually invites us to come as we are, bring him our lack and failures and let him lift us back into freedom. This is living in humility. This is hope!

Released: Stepping into the New

Do you remember the last time you had to take a step of faith? Do you remember how you felt? Nervous, excited, vulnerable, supported? 

Faith is not sight, at least not in the way we usually think of seeing. It is the opposite, in fact. We don’t usually get the full picture of what we are stepping into, but we get the opportunity to exercise our faith, to step forward with confidence anyway,  trusting God in the process. When we come to know that there is a God who is willing and able to restore us and bring us the peace we so desire, the next step becomes affirmative action, DECIDING for ourselves to place our lives and will into his care. This is like opening a new door and stepping through it, leaving behind the old ways of self-sufficiency to take that step of faith into the new.

Behold, I stand at the door [of the church/of your heart] and continually knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with her/him (restore her/him), and she/he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20 paraphrased)

The old ways of fear, shame, hurts and addictions are often our prisons, trapping us internally from moving into freedom, but as we take a step of faith, open that door, and accept God’s head-spinning offer to guide us, and even “EAT with us”, his power starts the ‘restoration’ process within us. It is humanly impossible to change our own hearts and negative thought life independently. We know this, because we have tried and failed. No amount of “trying harder” ever worked. When we release our old ways of thinking and believing that WE know best for our lives, we are able to continue the journey of faith and healing. We no longer rely on our own intelligence, determination, or anything else, but instead rely on God’s wisdom, voice and direction. He is more trustworthy and his ways are far better than our own unstable, changeable feelings and thoughts.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; don’t rely on your own intelligence. Know him in all your paths, and he will keep your ways straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

“Released” is such a word of God’s loving action in our lives, promising the joy of freedom, and lifting our burdens from us. It is in this space that we become open to explore new vistas, new ways of seeing that we have maybe never tried before. For the women and children we serve, we desire that they know they are loved and valued and that they, too, are invited to open that door and start the journey of faith, stepping into the fullness of freedom that God so desires for them. God is continually announcing and delivering “freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoner” (Isaiah 61:1). He wants to bring them and us into spacious places, no longer prisoners to our thoughts or fears, but free to know abundant life with him.  

Maybe God is guiding you to take a step of faith today. Maybe he is knocking and asking you to open the door to receive his freedom today. How will you respond?

Supported by a Greater Love

February is here, and this month so often gets marked by the romantic notions of Valentine’s Day. On that one particular day you show love for the special ones in your life. Love is a word that has so many meanings and often we get bombarded by messaging that romantic love is the ‘true’ love. God however gives us a broader understanding of the true meaning of love and how it is to be lived out. In 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, Paul states the certain attributes that evidence this true kind of love.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

Patient! Kind! No record of wrongs, even! This sounds pretty fantastic, and totally not in our human nature to represent at all times! This also isn’t the kind of love that the ‘world’ has us chasing after. This kind of love is deeper, more steadfast, more unconditional. Humanly, we might desire to show each other this kind of love, but often we fail. We cannot love in this way independent of God. True love, therefore, is truly Divine. It is a gift that only God can display in its fullness, because it is his very nature. It is only in his perfect love, a love that “expels all fear”, that we find our self confidence, peace and belonging.

Isn’t this the love that everyone is really longing for?

For the women we serve, fear has been a predominant issue in their lives and sadly ‘love’ has  often been a manipulation strategy used by others. Due to this abuse of love, trusting in others is incredibly hard.  In their personal recovery journeys, as in our own, coming to understand, and trust, that a power greater than ourselves is willing and able to restore us and help us in our failures and weaknesses, is a challenge. We try for so long to do things on our own, admitting we need help, or believing that we are even worthy can be an obstacle. However, we know that doing things ‘our own way’ hasn’t resulted in the desired outcome of more peace, more love or more freedom.

This next step in our healing becomes a point of faith, where we need to have a willingness to open up our minds and hearts to consider a new way of doing things. This is where seeing and hearing others that have gone before us on this journey is vital for all of us. Our community helps point us onwards, towards the One that is offering us not only true unconditional love, but also the healing we all so desperately need. 

So, as we think about what being SUPPORTED means this month, let us look afresh to Jesus,  the One who is love and who is willing and able to restore us, the One who desires fear to be expelled and freedom to come in all our lives. 

“I LOVE FREEDOM….” Do you? Our love for freedom compels us at the SA Foundation to take action. This February stay posted for unique ways that you can join in with our community in putting your SUPPORT and LOVE into action for ‘Her’ freedom!

DETERMINED VS POWERLESS

I think coming into a new year holds many different emotions for different people and we want to acknowledge that it can be tough and hold space for however you are feeling currently. The year 2020 has certainly left its mark on all our lives, and we may feel less than excited to run head first into a new, uncertain year. The word that came to mind in thinking of this season for us here at the SA Foundation was DETERMINED, for a few different reasons. Firstly, this is not the ‘determined’ that states: ‘Just keep trying harder and maybe you will get there.’ This is also not the ‘determined’ that is individualistic and believes purely in achieving it alone. No, this determination is actually derived from a place of what we call in the recovery circles  POWERLESSNESS. These two words at first seem to completely oppose one another, one striving forward, the other one admitting defeat. So how do these two strong, seemingly different words work in harmony with one another?

If 2020 taught us anything, it is that life is unpredictable. The things that we so dearly hold on to for a sense of peace and control, can be taken away from us in a moment. Powerlessness is admitting that there are things and areas in our lives, despite our striving, that we cannot push, hold or control according to our whims and desires. These things can include people, circumstances, illness, etc. When we try to manipulate and control things that are out of our control, we ultimately lose focus and peace, and our lives become unmanageable. 

We have all certainly felt the unmanageability creep in this last year, so how do we get grounded again? There is a wonderful prayer used in recovery communities and beyond that we find incredibly helpful and also necessary for our lives to become manageable again and for peace to return. These simple petitions express a profound awareness that we are in fact limited, but there is One who is not. 

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” – Reinhold Niebuhr

Prayer is an integral part of our life as a Christian organization, for only through relationship with Jesus can we recognize our powerlessness and not be paralyzed by it. In fact our need for him actually becomes our strength, as it leads to greater dependency, trust and faith. We are still in uncertain times and there is still so much we can not control. But we can trust in a loving, strong and trustworthy God, who is able to do the things we cannot.

So for focus and determination to take root, there is no need for unrealistic New Year’s resolutions, no anxious comparing and compulsive striving. Moving forward is first of all about  humbly admitting that we are lacking. Our focus, instead of self, must be directed to that power greater than ourselves. God is able to meet us in our limitations and can and will renew us with his strength. In Isaiah 40:29 (NLT) the divine Spirit declares: “He (God) gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.”

God provides us with the determination we need to press on, one day at a time in hope of seeing freedom come. God has planted in us the hope that with his guidance and provision, we will one day see the end of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. We know that this is a big task for us, humanly speaking, but not when we partner our powerlessness with his power- “For nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37, NLT)

What Does Generosity Look Like in God’s Kingdom?

When we speak about generosity we often think about it from our own worldview and how we were taught to be “generous”. This might look like sharing your toys with siblings, or inviting friends over for dinner, or lavishing wonderful gifts on others. How you’ve experienced generosity, personally, often governs how you show it to others. 

As followers of Jesus, we have experienced personally the incredible gift of grace- getting what we don’t deserve. This gift of grace allows us into freedom and right relationship with our Creator. It is the most generous gift of all, since there is nothing in us that has merited this gift. It was freely given, for us to freely receive. God has given us the ultimate example of how to extend grace and how to be generous with all that we have. In the book of Romans, it states that “God does not show favouritism.” He desires that his love and generosity extend to all his creation, and he wants you and me to be vessels of his goodness. 

Sometimes we think, even subconsciously, that there are those that ‘have’ because they worked hard for it, and those that ‘have not’ because they have made bad choices in life. In our minds, there are those that “deserve” our generosity and those that do not. The trouble with this thinking is that we become judges over one another and in the process we fail to offer the very grace that we have received.

Generosity is in God’s very nature and character. Time and time again, through his Word, he calls us to reflect this to others, our neighbours. In order to do this, we must first be challenged to see one another as equals and thus equally worthy of grace and generosity. We will then recognize that generosity starts in a heart of gratitude, that leads us into desiring to live open-handedly with all that we have. We are stewards of the resources God has given us. All that we have is through his abundance, not primarily our works. The amazing reality is that you can never out-give God!

Jesus shows us through this parable in Matthew, that generosity in action, what you do to serve those with need, actually brings the Kingdom of God. 

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?” The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”— Matthew 25:35-40

What a beautiful picture of Jesus inviting us to serve him in love through our generosity and love for those around us. This is the opposite of selfishness, the heart condition that leads to injustice. This is having eyes to see those on the margins, those with needs. To be generous, or to see outside of ourselves to the needs of others, we might need to release or reprioritize the things we hold dear. If time is what you hold very tightly, then to be generous might be allowing yourself to be divinely interrupted, like the ‘Good Samaritan’ in Luke 10:25-37. He chose to extend himself to serve the needs of another, when others were too busy, even paying the bills incurred to see the injured man cared for. 

We are entering into December, the month many associate with Advent and Christmas, gifts and generosity. It is good to note, however, that this isn’t the most wonderful time of the year for many! The women and children we serve are worthy and deserving of love and life in all its fullness, yet as they come into our safe harbours we know that they may never have experienced the things that make life abundant and which many of us take for granted. It is our desire to share with them the heart of our generous God, that they would know and feel that they are valued and belong, also at this time of year.

There is great need in our world, for others to be seen, valued and loved, and that can feel overwhelming at times. You and I are not able or expected to meet every need, except the needs that God places before us. It usually starts with having our hearts and eyes open to notice our neighbours needs, which will lead us into action. 

So who is that “fearfully and wonderfully made” individual that God is putting on your path to see and to share his nature of generosity today?