Monday, June 29, 2015

Some New Faces

I thought today that I would introduce to you some new people that have recently starting working here at New Hope.
Shelva Hess has been with us since March of this year. She is a licensed social worker who worked for 20 years with the Lancaster County Children and Youth Agency. Shelva fills the void that was left by previous counselor Shannon Shertzer. Shannon saw quite a few women who were from the Plain sect and we were looking for someone who would work respectfully with the Plain women who come to us with their counseling needs. We are delighted with the acquisition of Shelva and are excited to have her on board. She is also available to counsel non-Plain individuals and we are sure that everyone who seeks her counsel will find her friendly and understanding and easy to talk to. Above all, she has a deep faith in God and her desire is to help her clients improve their relationships with God and with their families.
Our Community Closet Thrift Store has two new faces. Our new manager is Mary Brusstar. Mary had served on the Board of New Hope for several years and when the job opportunity arose at the Closet she expressed interest in it. Mary had previously worked in the corporate world and she is very excited to use her skills to serve others and show God's love to all those she meets. She brings creativity and enthusiasm to her position and we are so grateful to put the management of the store in her capable hands.
Jennifer Milligan is the new Assistant Manager at the Community Closet. Jennifer's husband is the pastor of one of our supporting churches, Little Britain Presbyterian. Jennifer has worked as a classroom teacher, a writing and Hebrew tutor, and in various retail positions. She is excited to use her organization, creativity, and love of people in her role at the Community Closet. We are so thankful for her and her excitement for her new job.
We know that nothing remains the same forever. And while we were sad to see some of the people who had been with us for many years leave for other employment opportunities, we recognize that this is life and that God has his hand in everything that happens. We are grateful for his perfect timing and so happy to have these three new people join our ministry.

Mary Lehman

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Bitter, The Sweet, and the Bittersweet

Sometimes we have to embrace the bitter cup that is set before us, allowing our souls to empathetically come alongside, to join into the sorrows around us and even to stir up the sorrows buried deep within us.

As we do this, we must also be aware and cultivate our end of a real conversation with Jesus in this process.

Even if He is not heard from or even felt within this cloud of sadness we have chosen to be blended into, or forced to walk through, we must never forget that He is still there with us and in the entire situation, in ways that are deeper and more significant than we will ever understand.

Just holding onto that Truth of truths… matter what things look like or feel like, will keep us from being sucked too far into the darkness.
Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and yes, forever.

Jesus will never leave us nor forsake us.
Jesus is with us always, and in all ways, even until the end of time.

Whether sooner or later, if we hold on in faith, with or without a discernible response, there will come… almost imperceptible lightening of our load.
...a subtle brightening in our hearts.
...a small taste of sweetening within the bitterness.

The circumstances may not change, nor ever have been able to be any different, but we are enabled to change our hearts, our minds, our understanding, our acceptance.

What was so so bitter, becomes slowly bittersweet, not because it is actually any better, but because we have become better, bigger, and stronger in our deepened and empowered faith, closer to Jesus... Who was with us the whole way through!

Neil Uniacke
Executive Director

Monday, June 15, 2015

A Sad Week for Quarryville

Last week was especially difficult for the people of Quarryville. A mother and two daughters (a third daughter was not home) were brutally stabbed in the middle of the night by a man who was about to be sentenced for sexually assaulting two of the girls. The mother and oldest daughter died from the attack. The girls had reported the assault to their mother who then passed it on to the proper authorities. Ultimately, they lost their lives for doing the right thing. It is very sobering for those of us who counsel these victims and encourage them to speak out to realize that sometimes harm may come to them for doing so.

We feel that our friend and counselor, Heidi Scott, from Morning Star Counseling Center, speaks for all of us in her Blog that she wrote about this tragedy. Please follow the link below to read what she has written.

Thank you, Heidi, for your well-written piece on this difficult subject. We join with the Solanco Community to pray for those affected by this horrible incident.
The Staff and Counselors at New Hope Community Life Ministry.

Monday, June 8, 2015

What Makes a Dad?

     As Father’s Day approaches, it makes me especially think about my dad. Although he is no longer here on earth I treasure the wonderful memories and the legacy he left behind. I also think of dads everywhere who follow the leading of the Lord as they lead their families. I want to share a poem that I found. God bless our Dads.

What Makes a Dad?

God took the strength of a mountain,

The majesty of a tree,

The warmth of a summer sun,

The calm of a quiet sea,

The generous soul of nature,

The comforting arm of night,

The wisdom of the ages,

The power of the eagle’s flight,

The joy of a morning in spring,

The faith of a mustard seed,

The patience of eternity,

The depth of a family need,

Then God combined these qualities,

When there was nothing more to add,

He knew his masterpiece was complete,

And so,

He called it … Dad

Author Unknown
Submitted by: Ann L. Gantt, Ph.D., LCSW, New Hope counselor

Monday, June 1, 2015

Who Are You, Really?

     How well do you know yourself? Many of us are still searching to know what it is we want in life, what we want to do, what makes us happy, what makes us unique from every other individual on earth. It's a little scary to think God knows more about us than we do. Yikes! You may be thinking, "I wish He would let me in on His plan." There is true comfort in knowing the Lord knows us so well. Think about it. He has known you since you were conceived and being formed in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13-14). This is God’s reality — knowing and loving you!
     But too many times we get led astray in our thinking. This can be attributed to the environment in which we live. Often our society places many unrealistic expectations on what we develop into being. We are bombarded with images in advertisements and media sites defining what is beautiful and acceptable. We spend thousands of dollars to get rid of the things that do not measure up to that standard.
     There is an all too familiar conversation some of us have with ourselves that goes something like this: "I hate my looks... I'm fat and ugly, I don’t have that wonderful personality, why am I not this or that.”  Sound familiar? Whatever your thought may be, change!  You are pleasing to Him. You are the great love of His life. You matter.  Yes, you do! Every part of you has been created by the Lord of Lords.  The King of Kings. You are beautiful to Him and are a cherished child of the Almighty.
     I work with women who have been in abusive relationships, and the greatest thing to overcome is the messages that their abusers spoke to them. These negative words have become engrained into their thinking and they no longer view themselves as acceptable. If you struggle with self-concept, pray that God would enable you to see yourself as He sees you. It is a natural desire to want to be accepted and loved by someone. But when that acceptance and love makes us struggle in accepting ourselves, it is not a relationship worth pursuing.
     “My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves." 1 John 3:18-20 MSG
     Are you struggling with seeing yourself as beautiful and acceptable?  If you are I suggest reading the following scriptures and then take some time to mediate on them (Isaiah 64:8, Zephaniah 3:17, Luke 12:7, 2 Corinthians 10:12).  Come into agreement with God about whom He says you are, for He only speaks truth and life to your soul.
Connie Hanten, BCMCLC
New Hope Counselor/Life Coach

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Change Your Focus

If you are feeling down and out change your focus.  Have you ever noticed that whatever we focus on seems to grow? Take for instance, if someone is constantly focused on their job they tend to spend more time with job related activities. If someone is focused on getting more and more fit and in shape they tend to go to the gym or constantly workout.  Whatever we give our primary attention to that is what tends to take up most of our time and thoughts. So, if you focus on feeling sad then the tendency is to remain sad and that is what will consume your thoughts.

What I have found throughout my lifetime during bouts with depression is that I become focused on myself. Sometimes I have allowed that to happen. I have used some bouts of depression to do self- reflection and sort out where my life is headed. I have taken a close look to see the mistakes I have made and things I have been doing wrong, and then look at ways that I could be doing things better and how to correct some of my character flaws.  I have found these to be times of real spiritual, emotional and personal growth. 

Now there have been times I admit that I have allowed my depression to swallow me up. During those times, thoughts have been focused on how others are hurting me, how life is difficult, how I’m too tired to go on and in a nutshell “woe is me”. In all fairness, we all need to lick our wounds now and again. However, too much of this is destructive to our own well-being. I am not the center of the universe and the world does not revolve around me. Everyone has their trials and tribulations they have to face. If we focus on only our problems we can sink into a deep dark hole. Reality is rarely found in the kind of thinking that goes on when we give in to this kind of despair.

Now you may be saying it sounds like you think that depression is under our control. There are some depressions that are outside of an individual’s control. But, for many of us the depression we experience is fully within our control. Having struggled with depression throughout the years, I have learned the art of controlling my depression. The one major factor that I have learned is more effective than any other in controlling my depression has been a change of focus. I change the focus from myself to the wants and needs of others. We all share in the sadness of humanity. We and those around us are not perfect and at times we hurt each other. When we change our focus from looking solely at our own struggles to helping others with their struggles we not only help the other person we help ourselves. If I can help to improve someone else’s day, help to make a moment of their life just a little easier, or offer them a leg up in the struggle of life that makes me happy. The depression is gone.

For those of us who are Christians we also have another focus that can leave us in perfect peace. The Bible makes a promise that he will keep those in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on him. If we focus on God and his kingdom then the heartache and hardships of this world disappear. This promise has taken me through many a dark and difficult time. I changed my focus from those who were hurting me to the God above who was lifting me up each and every day. I changed my focus from those who didn’t care about me to the God above who cares enough about me to even know the number of hairs on my head.  I changed my focus from a whole and dying world to an eternity of peace. I changed my focus from a world where you can’t count on anything to a God who can be counted on for everything.

So the next time sadness begins to overtake you, take control and decide how you’re going to handle it. Are you going to make it a time of self-growth or self-reflection? Are you going to do a little self-denial and help someone else through a difficult time? Hopefully you will always choose, even during good times, to grab onto God’s promise for perfect peace and keep your eyes on the goal.

Shelva Hess, MSW, LSW

Monday, May 18, 2015

Thanks, Mom and Dad, for Loving Each Other

I’ve been thinking about my parents lately, most likely because yesterday was Mother’s Day and Father’s Day isn’t far away. On Mother’s Day, my lovely wife, Thelma, and I, had dinner with my 92 year-old Dad and also took him for a drive to see Mother’s grave in Brecknock Township, Lancaster County. Mom died a little over two years ago. On the way back to Dad’s home we also stopped at Thelma’s Mother’s grave near Ephrata. It was a poignant time of remembrance and reflection.

Recently I was bicycling with some friends in Juniata County. The group numbered about 20 people, some of whom I did not know prior to the weekend event. We were sitting in a little restaurant eating Italian food and getting “refueled” for the return ride to the cabin where we were staying. One of the ladies in the group said to me, in the course of conversation: “You must come from a really happy family.” She said this partly because two of my sisters were accompanying the group as hostesses, cooking and providing support for the riders and she saw how my sisters and I related to each other. I thought a few moments on how to respond to Jane, the rider’s, statement about my family. I said to her, “Well, I think one of the most important memories I have about my Mom and Dad is that they loved each other. There was never any doubt about that, and their love for each other provided the security we needed as kids growing up.”

And so I say to my parents today: “Thanks, Mom and Dad, for loving each other. That provided a stable backdrop for my siblings and me to grow up and launch out into the world.” As a young boy growing up in their home, my parents provided me with a great example of how a husband and wife can love each other and live together in peace and harmony, giving most of their attention to loving each other and their kids, rather than expending emotional energy in fighting, arguing and sabotaging each other. That, truly, was a priceless gift our parents gave to us. 

Tom Horst, MA
Marriage and Family Therapist