Archives for March 2017

Celebrating Women: International Women’s Day

 

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I’ve been a long-time advocate for women and girls because I believe in the beauty, strength and value they possess. In many places throughout the world, women and girls are still marginalized, abused, treated unjustly and under-valued. Their unique gifts never opened.

To the women of the world… May you know that you are LOVED.

You are seen. You deserve to be heard. You are worthy of all life has to offer you. You are capable of greatness. You don’t ever need to compete with others, because you are enough. Your gifts and talents can never be taken from you, they are yours and yours alone. You do not have to settle for less. You have a voice. You have a place. Right here, right now. You were born with a purpose. Your destiny is calling you. You don’t need to be hard to make an impression because the gentleness of your heart is your strength. Your mind is an asset. Your heart and thoughts filled with love and possibility will guide you. Your dreams were given to you for your fulfilment and to spill out into the world. Dream big dreams. Even if you don’t believe them yet, keep dreaming them until you do. Keep your faith. Believe that God loves you and you are worthy of love. You do not need to fear. Take hold of courage and expect to find goodness in uncommon places. Look for love and you will find it because it’s already looking for you. Breathe in life, because it is short and you don’t want to miss any opportunity to see, really see, what can be. Teach your daughters the same. And whatever you do, don’t settle. You are worthy.

“I know the plans I have for you… plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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SHUT UP! – A Poem About Verbal Abuse

 

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I wrote this poem a few years ago while I was doing research on the topic of women and verbal abuse. I believe in the power of words. The power to inflict harm and the power to produce healing. The power to damage someone’s self-worth and deform reality and the power to lift, inspire and affirm truth. Verbal abuse and bullying are never okay.

SHUT UP!

So predictable

So relentless

So cruel

With your words you carve out a space in my heart

A place you’ve claimed as your space

It penetrates like a fiery dart

So predictable

So relentless

So cruel

What’s your problem?

Why do you make me out to be a fool?

Am I your puppet, your punching bag, your trash?

All your words do is thrash

They cut and wound and pierce

The pain throbs inside, so fierce

The heat inside me ebbs and flows

No one knows, no one knows

And so, on and on and on it goes

How heavy and how frantic I feel on the edge of sane

It’s so inane

It’s so loud on the inside when I scream

Like a dream

Like a mad, mad dream

It echoes from every wall inside my head

From every chamber within my heart

When did this start? Why did it start?

Who even cares

It doesn’t even matter now

I almost don’t matter now

So predictable

So relentless

So cruel

Shut Up! Shut Up! Shut Up!

I just want the pain to go away

Shut Up! Shut Up! Shut Up!

Leave me alone.

Go away!

You,

Yes, YOU…

Take your words and go away.

-April McCallum

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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Cult and Abuse Survivor Comes Full Circle

I love the title of Athena Dean Holtz’s book, “Full Circle.” Picture a half moon, and now, a full moon. When you hear the words, full circle, you know it means completion or the fullness of a thing. You’re hopeful from the outset that things will be set right in the end. The author’s story will lift you up, pull you back, fling you sideways, and then twirl you back around. And then you get to do it all over again! So, fasten your seatbelts. In reading Full Circle, you become an armchair traveler in the author’s very personal journey of restoration, reconciliation and redemption. Including periods of time trapped in childhood sexual abuse, deception, false religion and cults, along with poor personal choices. Choices that led to a ripple effect of mistrust, fear and damage in her personal and business relationships. As is so often the case, early memories of abuse, dashed expectations, not fitting in, or outright rejection can become false guideposts for what is to come, and what we are to become. They help fuel the flames of a morphed personal connection to our God-given destinies, dreams, reality and/or future.

We revisit her places of affluence and privilege, influence and prestige to places of failure and shame, false accusations, heartbreak and loss. A constant juxtaposition between having and losing, success and failure, fullness and emptiness. The author candidly shares of her great love for her father. The father who chooses another woman over her mother, redefining the family as they once knew it. A perfectionist mother who she never fully bonded with and whose approval she struggled to win. And early influences that shaped her perceptions about life and God. She walks us through her entanglement with cults, deception and legalism. And her inner struggles with identity, control, workaholism, perfection and perceived wants and needs. We see how her choices mixed with others’ controlling and manipulative influences made for lethal concoctions. A colorful, sometimes toxic, sometimes confusing, sometimes simply human whirlwind of individual pieces to an ultimately beautiful puzzle.

At the conclusion, we are gratefully relieved and encouraged as we see the necessary course corrections put into place. We are relieved and encouraged in part, because readers can find bits and pieces of their own stories within her story. Places in our own lives where we drifted, (purposely drove, or were manipulated/coerced) off course without our navigational systems fully functioning, only to find ourselves shipwrecked and suddenly wondering how we got ourselves so off course.

The author touches on a multitude of issues in Full Circle. Issues that were no doubt difficult to deal with, much less admit. It serves as a painfully transparent reminder that we all have choices. Choices that will reflect what we believe. What we believe about ourselves, others and God. And because we are a part of a greater entity called humanity, choices that will, for better or worse, ripple out to effect the lives of those who touch ours.

Full Circle is the real and personal story of Athena Dean Holtz. But we all have a full circle story of our own. And even if our stories are stuck at “half-moon,” the best message in this book is that by making wise, discerning, healthy choices coupled with the faithfulness and grace of God, we too can come full circle. The stars can shine that bright for all of us! He is a God of restoration, reconciliation and redemption. He never leaves us alone. That’s his promise. If we seek him, we will find him. That means, step-by-step, thought-by-thought, choice-by-choice.

Thank you Athena Dean Holtz for being vulnerable so that others can be more alert, learn, change and grow. I love that when we give, we receive. As the author chose to give, forgive, “do the work” (reconciled business issues, restored personal relationships, redeemed the time and resources God had placed in her hands from an early age, took personal inventory, underwent counseling and now shares her “lessons learned” with others), she received. Not only wholeness, but forgiveness, restored relationships, healthy perspectives, new opportunities, and so on. I love that God’s plans and purposes for us are always for our good. And they are always so much better than we could ever imagine.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

You can purchase Athena’s book, Full Circle, online. Visit her website athenadeanholtz.com or blog. Athena also produces and hosts the Always Faithful radio show where she interviews authors, artists and women of faith spotlighting the faithfulness of God.

Athena Dean Holtz is an Author, Speaker, Radio Personality, Pastor’s Wife and Publisher. She has been speaking to groups, large and small, for over 30 years. She is passionate to see women recognize the faithfulness of God, no matter how difficult life may be. 

(I received an advanced reader copy of Full Circle. This writing represents my personal and honest review.)

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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