Heart of the House
Musings from the CEO’s Desk
Two years ago I commented on this quote. There is such rich truth in this that keeps me returning to ponder its wisdom. To embody the extravagance of love, WILL lead to a thousand “mistakes”. It means loving and forgiving many times over and facing betrayal. In my case, women reaching a stage in the program where the deeper work begins – then they leave. Or, believing the best for them and they choose to return to their lives of addiction or other life controlling conditions. Choosing to love and give, again and again, even when it looks like you are getting nowhere with those you are trying to help. Life as a human being is gloriously messy. However, I once lived with crippling fear; paralysed to embrace any meaningful relationship because I had been hurt many times. I knew that vulnerability took courage and the risk was too scary. I am ever grateful for having discovered the gift of God’s extravagant love that has transformed me and caused me to love extravagantly all those who come to Destiny Haven hurting and broken. And yes, I’ve made many mistakes in loving…. but, I would never want to return to a life where I lived wary and closed off for fear that I may get hurt! Fear is a paralysing emotion that prevents us letting anyone see the real us in case of rejection. Fear caused me to live so self protectively, I pushed away the very ones who could help me and who loved me. Love on the other hand is life transforming when given extravagantly and without restraint…even when it sometimes hurts and involves risk – often great risk! Tragically, too many people dread giving love away and so, remain locked in a cycle of perpetual self-sabotage. I choose extravagant love and the messiness that it brings because those who have not known unconditional love need to know that it is available and it is life changing.
CEO Destiny Haven
When we deny our story, it defines us. When we own the story, we can write a brave new ending – Brene Brown
I love this quote because I know it is true. Over the many years I have been privileged to work with lives that are broken, and from my own life’s story – I know that when we push down hurt and pain, or pretend we never struggle, the hurt and the struggles own us. Maybe you’ve spent your life trying to smooth over the hurt feelings of others. But undealt with hurt turns into resentment, anger, bitterness and separation. If we truly desire to live emotionally honest, authentic and connected, our past is part of that. Owning our mistakes and failures enables us to grow and change. Courage and vulnerability never feel comfortable, but owning our stories is standing in our truth and choosing not to allow our past to define our future. I am always amazed how some women come through Destiny Haven and then want to pretend they were never here as if it is somehow shameful that they went through a residential program. Choosing to change your life when it is a mess is the bravest thing I believe a person can ever do. Entering a program knowing that it is going to take many long months to sift through the years of damage and pain is scary. Choosing then to be vulnerable and allow others into that pain is downright heroic! But when women do? We watch them emerge with grace and dignity, choosing to do whatever it takes so that they can finally write a brave new ending that is inspirational. I will never be ashamed of my story because when I finally overcame addiction 25 years ago, I know that my story has given me a much greater capacity to empathise and love unconditionally. I also know my story gives others hope that change is possible, because the woman I was when I was a heroin addict was not a pleasant person at all! I know the depths in my own heart and I know the healing touch in my life of a God who never gave up on me, who never fails me and who gave me another chance at life that I will never take for granted.
CEO Destiny Haven
“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realise how close they were to success when they gave up.” -Thomas A. Edison
Thomas Edison failed over 1000 times before he invented the light bulb! If he had given up on any attempt before? We possibly would be reading by candlelight!! What would you have attempted in life if you knew you would not fail? Unfortunately, moving towards an impossible dream will always come with risk. However, If the dream is from God it keeps you going, hanging tough through difficult, often seemingly impossible circumstances to see the dream come true. When the church that originally owned the property where Destiny Haven resides informed us they were selling the property for $1,000,000, they gave us six months to vacate or to buy it! We had nothing. However, God had planted a dream in my heart way back in 1994 when we were in residential rehabilitation. I vividly remember sitting in my lounge room at the rehab and having this vision of being surrounded by broken women on a rural property who had come to find healing from their life controlling issues. It took 13 long years until we finally arrived at Destiny Haven and then, after only 18 months we were being told that we would have to leave? It didn’t make sense. So, we began praying in earnest for the impossible finances to somehow miraculously appear so that we could buy the property. Within a matter of weeks, the first $100,000 came in the way of a gift from a precious woman who wrote that this was the seed of what would come. The next four months only saw smaller amounts arrive to add to this. However, we knew that if God wanted Destiny Haven to exist (and we knew He did!), then He would have to make it happen. With weeks to go until the deadline, we were still $200,000 short of the amount the church agreed to sell it to us for. Was it scary? Yes, but we had walked the journey of living without a wage and seeing God come through time and again for us since 2001. So, we stood firm with many believing with us for the impossible. We approached banks for the remainder, but no one wanted to take such a risk on a couple with no collateral at all! Until, we shared at a Rotary Club attended by the manager of a local Building Society. He encouraged us to apply with his bank and it was at 4:58 pm on the day of the deadline when he called to tell us the loan was approved. And today, after twelve years of operation, Destiny Haven has helped hundreds of women change their lives. Why am I sharing this story?
Most of us don’t dream enough. And if we do, we do not dare to dream impossible dreams. If you can achieve your dream, I believe the dream is too small. It took thirteen years to prepare our characters to walk in the dream we are now living at Destiny. And if we had given up at any stage in those years prior to getting here, Destiny Haven would not be here because we probably would have bailed when the church told us they were going to sell the property. And if the dream had been given to us any sooner, we would not have had the character to have sustained living here for this long! The journey toward your Big dream changes you. In fact, the journey itself is what prepares you to succeed at what you were born to do. And until you decide to pursue your dream you are never going to love life the way you were meant to. Those who refuse to dream the impossible are always in the majority. Those who live by sight will always outnumber those who live by faith. And once you are walking in the dream, I challenge you to dream more impossible dreams. I still believe one day Destiny Haven will own a property close to here where women can come with their children. I have had an architect draw up plans for a Chocolateria on-site where one day women can be employed after they complete the program…and the list goes on. What are you dreaming for in your own life? There will be obstacles. There will be doubters. There will be mistakes. But with hard work, there are no limits. As Walt Disney said, “No one has ever achieved anything from the smallest to the greatest unless the dream was dreamed first.”
CEO Destiny Haven
‘Don’t compromise your integrity; whatever you gain won’t be worth as much as what you lose.’ – Aaron Dennis.
Compromise can be a positive thing when it encourages cooperating with others without sacrificing our own moral values. I wish I could say in my own life I have walked without any compromise for the more than 23 years that I have been clean and in relationship with God. Sadly, this is not the case. I think of King Solomon. God said to him, ‘If you will walk before me as your father David did, in integrity of heart and uprightness…then I will establish the throne of your kingdom over Israel forever’ (1 Kings 9:4-5). If you know the story, you see sadly that Solomon chose to build the kingdom and gather nearly 1000 wives and concubines rather than always put God at the centre of his leadership.
Compromise usually happens when we are at our most vulnerable – when its appeal seems to override the importance of our integrity. I can tell you from personal experience that one unwise choice that is compromise leads in a direction that will often have dire consequences. The lie of the enemy is, ‘that really isn’t going to hurt you or anyone else,’ or, ‘it’s ok to have something for yourself’. When you step over the line with that first little step or choice, you endanger yourself in ways you don’t even realise.
I’d love to say that we are fully aware of when it starts, but often it begins in small, insignificant and innocent ways and we underestimate the impending damage. It often starts with a small slip in your thoughts or actions towards God. However, if not arrested, it becomes easier to rationalise, weakening your conscience, your character and hindering your relationship with God and your testimony to others.
Compromise also slowly corrupts your thinking. While you may convince yourself it’s just this one area of your life, it affects every other area. One area of my own life in the past year for example (and there have been others); I realised my attention was slowly and subtly being diverted through social media and the music I chose to listen to. So much wasted time scrolling through Facebook, with very rarely edifying information. Rather, it leads to comparison and wasted time. Many hours in my car back and forth to Sydney each week listening to songs that really did nothing to uplift my soul or edify my spirit. I was compromising my time and my attention and it was affecting my life. Now, I’m not saying I’m against either music or social media, but for me? I have decided to limit what I spend my time on and what I listen to moving forward.
If we are living a life of compromise, God will always gently nudge us to step back into the truth of who we are so He can fully use our lives. Sometimes, when we ignore Him, He will orchestrate a crisis. Truth will always come to light eventually. I pray for us all that whatever the consequences, we choose to return to the only thing that will fully satisfy in life – Jesus.
CEO Destiny Haven