My youngest daughter has one of the most beautiful hearts I know. She is so kind, loving and full of compassion for others. Her favorite thing to do is help the homeless and serve in assisted living facilities bringing joy to seniors without family. So when we recently walked through a horrific, devastating season in which she was sexually assaulted it shattered my heart and hers in multiple ways. I watched all the joy and life fade as she began to crawl within herself becoming very insecure, depressed and full of self-hatred and shame.
As she laid on my floor in a flood of tears one day I did all I could to remind my precious girl of the truth she needed to hear:
You ARE valuable, You DO matter, this is NOT your fault, you did NOT deserve this, you are NOT alone, no you will NOT remain silent….I promise we will make a difference with this pain.
Aniya is a constant, daily reminder of what Jesus would do in the face of unexpected, undeserving, unwarranted pain. As we walked through the aftermath of our grief and devastation, this is what my compassionate, brave girl decided to do…..she created our non-profit Love Speaks to help pour love into the dark places of other people’s pain.
As part of her healing she began to take these words that she needed to hear and paint them on cavasses. While she attended her weekly sexual abuse trauma counseling one day we began to notice all the other children and families around us in their own pain. There were so many. One day she said, “Mom I think God wants me to give this painting to another child at my counseling center.” The painting said, “You are CHERISHED”. We asked the center if we could bring a painting to donate every week to another child who may be having a hard time, who is feeling depressed and discouraged, who is feeling alone and scared….she just wanted love to speak through her paintings.
She began writing more words like you are valuable, you matter, you’re not alone, you’re brave, I believe you….determined to dispel every lie that children face walking through this trauma.
The center absolutely loved this idea. They shared that they have a room remodel program for kids who are sexually assaulted in their own bedrooms. They completely remodel their room to reduce trauma, nightmares and make it a safe and comforting place again. They asked if they could use her paintings to donate to that program. Additionally, they use her paintings to donate to children who are preparing to testify in court against their offenders or if they have a child who is having a hard time, contemplating suicide and a multitude of other issues that these children face. They have shared repeatedly how many children she has helped and how her paintings always bring warm smiles and strength to the kids who need it most.