News & Articles

Hello from Janine

Musings from the desk of our CEO

As 2023 unfolds with endless possibilities, I reflect on all God has miraculously provided for Destiny Haven since our opening in February 2007, often through the bountiful and unexpected generosity of supporters who believe in our mission to restore the lives of broken women to their full potential. From the installation of our commercial chocolate kitchen to the gifting of Valley View Luxury Retreat, right through to finally paying off the impossible property loan just last year, the 16+ years of Destiny operations have seen provision abundant for dreams to improve the support we are able to offer Australian women in need.

I don’t personally make new year resolutions, but I do believe it is important to learn from past experiences as we lean into the future. Stillness and reflection appear to open an emotionally clutter-free space that allows feeling and thinking, questioning, and even dreaming to occur. I am often heard to say, “If you can achieve your dream, you are dreaming too small!” To that note, Destiny is on the eve of a totally new venture that is beyond exciting, yet incredibly daunting to say the least.

As I was driving into our local Dungog for supplies late last year, I noticed an “AUCTION” sign on a property 4km up the road from Destiny Haven. Most of you will know that for over two years now we have had a submission before council to open a café/shop on our property. Although we were granted a DA, with unexpected red tape the goal posts continued to move, causing arduous challenges and delay. Feeling weighed down by this hold up on a dream I believed to be so beneficial for the growth of our mission, my heart leapt as I discovered Carriageway was to be auctioned.

Just a short trip up the road from Destiny Haven, Carriageway had long caught my eye and imagination. The incredible property has an established café/restaurant, complete with toilet facilities, a swimming pool, four train carriage accommodations, two one-bedroom spa cabins, a two-bedroom cabin and a two-bedroom cottage. It also boasts an outdoor chapel where many marriages have been held. I couldn’t shake the sense that God had something in mind. I called the owner who by chance had for some time been a generous supporter of Destiny Haven.

On the phone call I asked the owner what the reserve price was (knowing it would be an impossible amount for us to ever find). She of course asked me why I wanted to know. The owner knew all about our struggle with our own café/shop proposal, and I shared that her property would be perfect for us, not only the fact that it had a café there already but also for the potential for transition accommodation for Destiny mums and their children – another long held dream to enhance how we can help women re-establish their lives. I was dumbstruck and overwhelmed when the owner told us she would take it off the market and see how we could make this work.

So, dear friends and supporters, we are about to embark on the biggest yet! Following planning and negotiations with the owner, Destiny will begin with a twelve-month lease takeover of the Carriageway property, with option to buy interest free after that should we choose. I am now about to (once again) live my own words as together we dream bigger than what current circumstances suggest we can achieve. While I do not yet have clear answers as to how all that’s required will be achieved, I see God’s hand in every step of the journey to us taking over this property. I believe the possibilities are endless and we are asking those of you who support us to partner with us as we plan this next stage.

We will start by operating the café at Carriageway as well as letting unique accommodation for couples, families, or larger groups. Designated accommodated will provide transition housing for Destiny mums and their children as planned. As we get up and running, the new property will need many kitchen items and some updated items for the holiday rentals, as well as for our mums and children. If you would like to give a gift to support this dream, you can donate via our website here.

I am continuously awestruck by how amazing God is and the way that He provides in ways that are far greater than we ever expect. Last year, the word we believed for over our organisation was “MIRACLES” and we saw God provide in ways that meant we are finally debt free. This year, we believe the word for Destiny Haven is “ABUNDANCE” and we watch with excitement to see how everything will unfold. Thank you, our dear supporters, for your ongoing prayers, gifts and generosity as you partner with us to see women’s’ lives changed for eternity.

A Minute With Nikita

We caught up with diamond graduate and Intern, Nikita!

Start date and current position with Destiny Haven: I started the program as a diamond in January 2021, have since graduated and joined the team as an Intern.

What I like best about being a part of Destiny Haven: Having the privilege to be able to see lives transformed (and I love family meal times!).

Best part of my job: Being able to learn new, fun skills.

Worst part of my job: Waking up to the sound of the washing machine through my bedroom wall!

Favourite place I have lived: At home with my mum in Gwandalan.

Personal motto: Be the change you wish to see in the world.

I’m happiest when: I’m with my two sons, spending quality time together.

I’m proudest of: Seeing who I once was, to be where I am now. Not only personal growth but growth in my family also.

Favourite sports or pastimes: Swimming at the beach.

The Top 3 Highlights of my Life: 1) Having my 2 beautiful sons, Kody and Kaleb. 2) Getting my relationship back with my gare and pop. 3) The beautiful memories that I got to share with my mum.

People would be surprised to know: I have always had a dream to work with youth.

If I could do it all over again, I would: I definitely would have made better choices in many areas.   

Favourite Memory: Going to Fiji with my best friend and spending time at a little school in the village, learning the different culture and seeing how happy the kids were despite having so little.

Favourite Movie/TV Show: Kath & Kim

Program Insights

Drawing from the Heart: Art Therapy at Destiny Haven

You may have heard that diamonds participate in art therapy at Destiny and have probably seen some of their thoughtful and creative pieces. But what exactly is art therapy? 

Facilitated on a weekly basis, art therapy is a component of the emotional and psychological wellbeing program for women at Destiny Haven. Art therapy is based on the concept that creative expression through drawing, painting and other mediums has the capacity to help release blocked energy painful emotions create in the body. 

The staple of the Destiny art therapy program is a seven step module involving a series of guided exercises to be paced over a number of weeks. At the beginning of a new module, diamonds are encouraged to select a painful issue they wish to find some healing from, perhaps a childhood trauma such as the death of a parent, or a more current concern such as their addiction to a substance or a codependent relationship. The women are taught to listen to their hearts, as opposed to their minds, through body centring exercises in our art therapy space, filled with art supplies and calming music. With their hearts as a source of inner wisdom, progressively exploring more healing and positive ways to respond to the painful events and circumstances they have experienced. 

The exercises are structured by prompts such as, “Draw an image of how your soul feels about the pain you wish to heal,” or, “Draw your emotional block to healing.” After completing their art piece, each exercise is followed by a series of processing questions that help the mind interpret the image drawn from the heart. At the end of an art therapy session, the facilitator invites the group to come together and share their creations and personal discoveries, and diamonds may often also choose to take their pieces to counselling for further exploration. 

Women who have participated in the Destiny program will often cite art therapy as a key source of insight and healing from their time with us. After completing the module with one issue, diamonds will then select a new issue and repeat the process once again, offering a cyclical theme for ongoing healing and growth throughout their program and beyond should they wish to maintain the practice. 

Meltem’s Story

Meltem’s Story

I was born into a very dysfunctional family. My birth parents struggled heavily with substance abuse and my biological father was extremely abusive. We often had police and child services at our house, and at 8 years old my siblings and I were removed from our mother’s care. We became wards of the state and got lost in the foster care system. 

With all the disruptions and instability growing up I struggled to believe that I could ever be someone of value. We moved from home to home, often in abusive, neglectful, and unstable environments, with attempts to report a severe incident dismissed. 

I was engaged at 18 and married at 19, with hope that I was on the way out of my messy childhood. I thought all that I had gone through would be put behind me, but we struggled incredibly and clashed in a lot of ways, often not knowing why. After 6 years I walked out. I refused to believe that my husband could actually love me for me. 

I had made some poor choices that led me down a very dark and destructive path. I was working in the Out of Home Care sector for foster children for two years. I became highly triggered, and I burnt out because I was working from an unhealed place; my wounds were still very much open. At this time a colleague referred me to Destiny Haven. 

When I was finally at the end of myself, I contacted Destiny and filled out the application form. The first 5 months were so difficult; I felt like that little foster kid again even though I was 26 years old now. Each day, God tugged at me gently and as I continued to discover my wrong beliefs and challenge them with the truth. 

I hadn’t seen my husband in nearly 6 months, and we had rarely spoken in the last year. After a time I felt compelled to reach out to him, deeply touched by revelations of God’s unconditional love I was experiencing. He hesitantly agreed to counselling together, and a joined healing journey began and flourished. 

I was eventually given a graduation date by Janine, and I mentioned that I’d like to rededicate or renew my vows to my husband and she was fully supportive. We planned a renewal ceremony for the day prior to my graduation (you can read more about this on page 3). 

God has found me in the darkest places and nudged me there. He waited and gave me the choice to fail, but He stayed right where He was. It was when I turned to look at Him that I saw who He was and I saw my reflection in Him, the way He made me. He is the endless giver, and my heart is changed and is given to Him in return. 

Hello From Janine

Musings from the desk of our CEO

The thoughts we choose to think are the tools we use to paint the canvas of our lives.” 

Louise Hay

What we choose to think about, and how we choose to speak and behave, in turn affects how we see life and relationships and the world outside of our own minds and hearts. Most people do not think mindfully. They have spoken the same negative thoughts over themselves for so long they wrongly assume they have no choice but to think and believe the way they do. The truth is we CHOOSE thoughts the same way we choose to forgive…. When we use our wills to choose to think positively, our behaviour and words will reflect that choice.

Many women who come to Destiny Haven have a lifetime of choosing based on feelings and wrong beliefs. Learning to change self-talk and choosing to embrace the truth rather than the lies that have crippled our lives is challenging but so rewardingly possible. When we choose to think based on truth rather than our unpredictable emotions, things begin to shift. We see the world and others through a truth lens, we grow in compassion and empathy and realise the world doesn’t revolve around us. We cease to be victims and begin taking ownership of our own choices rather than blaming others for our circumstance. More importantly we discover that our decisions, desires and opinions begin to actually change.

The Bible says clearly for us to actively choose what we think (Romans 12:2). Nowhere in Scripture does it mention that we should be led by our emotions. We can’t walk in freedom while accommodating our feelings. I’m not for a moment saying to deny what we feel; I am suggesting we should choose to behave and think rightly regardless of our feelings. As we act from a place of choice, our emotions shift and step into line with those right choices.

As the quote states, the thoughts we choose to think are the tools we use to paint the canvas of our lives.