Simple Smile: Anti-Bullying Song by Ashley Stringer

13062129_113038522435091_1799273581811935992_n

“Simple Smile” is an anti-bullying song written by Ashley Stringer. Ashley is a fourteen-year-old singer-songwriter who has a passion to share her gift of music to bring hope and healing to those who need it most. She writes:

“This song was written when I was twelve years old. I realized the value of affirmation that would come from a smile, and the deep hurt that can occur when one feels rejected by their peers.

My prayer is that we would recognize that smiles are priceless, and when shared, they can change someones outlook. Share a smile, and be givers of hope.”

“Bullying is a physical or psychological aggressive behavior intended to harm or hurt others. The bully uses offensive bullying words in the process of victimization, states NoBullying.com. ” The general view is to make the affected person seem worthless, unloved, and uncared for.”

The Bully Project says, “Bullying today does not just happen at school. It happens on the streets of our towns, in our homes, at extracurricular activities, at camp, online (cyberbullying), and in many other places.” They’ve created a film called, “Bully” that speaks to this issue. According to their website, 3 million kids are bullied each month, and 13 million kids are absent from school every year because of bullying.  

Many youth suicides have been connected with some form of rejection or bullying, to the extent the victims no longer felt welcome in this world. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website on youth suicide states that suicide is the third leading cause of death for youth between the ages of 10 and 24, resulting in approximately 4,600 lives lost each year. Read my blog Victims of Bullying.

Whether bullying occurs at home, in school, in a public venue or online, it is always victimization. It is always connected to rejection or trying to diminish another’s self-worth. And it is always wrong.

The Bible says that out of the heart, our mouths speak. Unfortunately, too many hearts, instead of being filled with contentment, goodwill and joy are filled with just the opposite and it’s spilling out and doing incredible damage. I’m grateful for people like Ashley, who understand that even the simple, under-valued things like befriending someone who’s lonely, listening and showing compassion, helping someone in need, offering a prayer, or a simple smile can literally change someone’s day, their mind, their world and possibly even their future. Just by knowing someone “out there” cares, means there is still hope. Listen to Simple Smile and Watch the Music Video by Ashley Stringer and share with someone who needs to hear it!

HELPFUL RESOURCES:

“Understanding Bullying” CDC Fact Sheet

Information on Bullying by StopBullying.Gov

“Impact of Bullying Words on the Victim” by NoBullying.com

Anxiety, Depression, and Suicide: The Lasting Effects of Bullying 

The Bully Project

Online Security Tips for Parents & Kids

Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance — United States, 2015

Stop Bullying Now!: A resource website sponsored by the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services that addresses the warning signs of bullying, how to talk about bullies, how to report bullies and cyberbullying and offers a 24-hour help hotline for victims at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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

Share

Feelings Are Often Liars

 

Feelings Are Often Liars

How we feel is not necessarily indicative of what is. How we feel is often subject to those we have chosen to surround ourselves with, the voices we choose to hear, and the choices we’ve made for ourselves based on circumstances. Choice is about freedom. But our choices are not always what serve us best. Sometimes, through our freedom of choice, we end up crippled and imprisoned by that same freedom. Not by way of the freedom itself, but because we mishandle our own freedom. We sometimes make the wrong choice, and in turn, hurt ourselves or others in the process.

As I said in my last post, Feelings: Friend or Foe?, feelings can sometimes be fickle and sometimes be liars. A person can be told that they are worthless or ugly or that their dreams are stupid and will never come true. If they begin to believe those lies,  they’ll start to feel that they are worthless or ugly or that their dreams are stupid and they will never come true–essentially, coming into a false agreement.

There are people whose own parents, bosses or culture told them that they were worthless and would never amount to anything, and so, they didn’t. Women who have countless times been turned against by a lover, family member or so-called friend who labeled them “ugly” or “less than”, and they took that sting and allowed themselves to start believing and perpetuating that same lie to themselves. How often have we seen the pulling back of someone who once believed in their dreams, but because someone’s words tore the roots of their dream right out of their heart, they curled up and wilted right in front of our eyes?

On the other hand, there are people we know who have faced the same exact accusations, and yet, in the face of hate, hardship and hurt, chose to reject those words and those feelings. As if symbolically taking the poison arrow out of their own heart and saying in faith, this is not who I am. What a better way to take a stand and show the world, than to rise and to shine? It’s beauty from the ashes. It is shining a light of truth on a lie. It’s calling foul on the lie and on our own negative feelings. Even when it’s painful or uncertain, we stand. We keep moving forward. And importantly, we don’t wait to rise until we feel strong and able, but in our smallness, our weakness. Because we know, when everything feels hopeless and broken, feelings are often liars.

Best not to mix the past with the present. The present paints the past with gold. The past paints the present with lead. –Henry Rollins

The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there. –Lesley P. Hartley

Bring the past only if you are going to build from it. –Doménico Cieri Estrada

The obstacles of your past can become the gateways that lead to new beginnings. –Ralph Blum

Look not at the days gone by with a forlorn heart. They were simply the dots we can now connect with our present, to help us draw the outline of a beautiful tomorrow. –Dodinsky

Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt. –William Shakespeare

Courage is the power to let go of the familiar. –Raymond Lindquist

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage. –Anaïs Nin

I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship. –Louisa May Alcott

There is much in the world to make us afraid. There is much more in our faith to make us unafraid. –Frederick W. Cropp

Never let the voice of others drown out your dreams. Never let how you feel dictate who you are or where you want to go. Never let your past define you. Never let the circumstances of what has been, keep you from what can be. Our courage to climb a mountain, real or perceived, always begins, as the saying goes, with a single step.

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

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

Share

Are You In?

God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house.

God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both of their lives.

God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war.

God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives, and

God is with us if we are with them.

Bono, Lead Singer, U2

Share

Risks Worth Taking

Life, hope, love, all risks worth taking…

To laugh is to risk appearing the fool
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental
To reach out for another is to risk involvement
To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self
To place your ideas, your dreams before the crowd is to risk their loss
To love is to risk not being loved in return
To live is to risk dying
To hope is to risk despair
To try is to risk failure
But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing
The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing and is nothing
They may avoid suffering and sorrow, but they cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love, live
Chained by their certitudes, they are a slave, they have forfeited their freedom
Only a person who risks is free.” -Author Anonymous

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

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

Share

DO SOMETHING NOW: Youth Unite to Abolish Human Trafficking

A Generation Taking a Stand for Freedom

 One of the things I love most about Passion 2012’s Do Something Now initiative is it’s bold declaration: “We Refuse to Stand by and Do Nothing!”

27 million people are trapped in modern day slavery… from young girls and boys trafficked for sexual exploitation, to children abused in factories, to men and women trapped as bonded labor slaves and countless other horrific abuses. This isn’t just a massive statistic… these are people. Real, living, breathing people. Men, women, and children living with no hope of escape or a future.

From Doing Nothing, to Do Something… BIG!

We all know that when we unite around a common goal, things happen!  40,000 young people gathered for this year’s Passion 2012 conference where Human Trafficking was a central theme.

“We will lend our voice to the 27 million who have no voice and do everything we can to fight for freedom”

With an emphasis of bringing darkness into light, Passion participants have committed to partner in very specific ways with organizations that are already empowered to be the hands and feet on the street–but who can do even more with increased funding.  Not only do the young abolitionists want to lend their voice to the cause of modern-day slavery and sexual exploitation, but they want to come along side and put their money where their mouths are. The goal?  To raise one million dollars toward the abolition of human trafficking.  As of this writing, that goal has already been far surpassed… let’s keep the momentum building!

WAYS YOU CAN DO SOMETHING NOW

Intercept Trafficking Vicims

Along the border between India and Nepal, an estimated 10,000 Nepali women and children are trafficked each year. Once over the border into India, these women and children are sold, abused, and dumped in city brothels where they are forced to live as sex slaves serving countless customers a day. Funding will help fund 8 new Border Monitoring Stations and Safe Homes which will aid in the rescue hundreds of women and children from the hands of traffickers.

Restore Free Child Slaves

Every year, thousands of individuals are bought, sold, and then exploited in Cambodia’s bars, massage parlors, brick factories, and brothels. With more than a third of Cambodians struggling to live on less than $1 a day, children are often the silent victims.  This option allows you to join in the mission of providing aftercare for 25 children rescued from slavery in Cambodia.

Provide a New Beginning for Exploitation Survivors – Atlanta, Georgia is a major hub of human trafficking and child sexual exploitation in the U.S.  This initiative will allow you to be a part of these victims road to recovery.  Rescuing from the darkness is one thing, but we can’t stop there. This program will help the healing process as women and girls re-enter into the wholeness of their true identity and personhood, back into the light. Funding will provide 12 newly restored and furnished homes providing a fresh start to exploitation survivors.

Rescue Forced Labor Slaves

Forced labor slavery is a crime of overwhelming proportions, particularly in India. There are an estimated 20 to 65 million bonded laborers in India alone and sadly, children represent 45% of all forced labor victims. Funding will make 22 rescue operations possible in India that will result in freeing hundreds of children from bonded slavery.

Care for Freed Forced Labor Slaves

Forced laborers are often physically, sexually, and verbally abused, work 18+ hour days in mills and factories, and have no access to education or a future beyond the doors of the factory. This option offers you the opportunity to be a part of the healing process for 1,100 freed slaves through comprehensive an aftercare program designed to equip them with the skills and confidence to flourish in their new found freedom.

Prevent Human Trafficking

Ukraine is currently one of the largest exporters of women to the international sex industry. Nearly half a million girls ages 15 to 27 have been trafficked in the past decade alone. Educating young Ukrainian women on the strategies and methods used by traffickers is  top priority for this generation. The goal of this campaign is to reach 45,000 students through the Ukraine Prevention Program.

The Atlanta Project –  As a major U.S. trafficking hub, it is estimated that more than 5,000 girls are trafficked and raped for profit in Atlanta every year. The average age of children being sexually exploited in Atlanta is 14, and some are as young as 10. Through a strategic church-state partnership Passion has formed with the Mayor and city, The Atlanta Project was birthed. This initiative will address and fight the issue of human trafficking in a major U.S. hot spot, and bring hope and life change for those victimized and exploited.

WATCH the CNN VIDEO

“Together we are a force for good!  This is hope of a brand new life for people who cannot help themselves.  None of us can do it alone. Follow your heart.  Do Something Now.”

Are YOU ready to join tens of thousands of young people to expose the darkness of human trafficking by using your voice to speak destiny and bring life to these young child slaves and women?  Learn more about each partner organization initiatve above and donate online. Go to: Do Something Now.

Join over 61,000 268Generation Abolitionists on Facebook, or Follow Passion Conferences on Twitter:@passion268 (“A student movement inspiring a generation to live for what matters most”)

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

Share

Peace, Hope and… Fashion? — WORN for Peace Project Serves Refugee Women

She was born in the jungle between Burma and Thailand. Her family's home was burned down during the war. She fled to a Thai refugee camp where she lived for 20 years before finding her way to the U.S. and her work with the WORN Project.

Do you have a special interest in women’s issues?   Do you have a heart for disenfranchised women who could use a hand up to make their life just a little bit brighter?  Then maybe like me, you look for ways to personally plug into social enterprises with a life-changing purpose. 

There are a number of organizations whose missions fit that description, but let me share just one with you today:  Catholic Charities, Fort Worth–an organization focused on serving women (and families) that have fled persecution and oppression in their homelands.

Gratefully, these women find themselves welcome in the United States of America, yet they are not fully equipped to function in a foreign society. Many need help learning a new language, fitting into the culture, caring for the needs of their families and earning an income. As such, the vision is, “to provide the necessary skills that allow these refugees to be self-sufficient and regain a sense of both self and dignity”.  Over 113,000 individuals, families and children were assisted just last year alone.

And although a majority of assistance comes from local charities, supplemental income is pivotal to the long-term financial stability of these refugees. Enter: WORN–a scarf-knitting project that provides a supplemental income for refugee women and an opportunity to rise above the poverty level.  Each circle scarf is hand-knit by women who have survived the afflictions of their war-torn and poverty-stricken homelands.

             WORN symbolizes:

  • Peace – Teaching that peace is more than just security, it’s dignity
  • Hope – Enabling refugees to find value in both product and self
  • Fashion – Making a statement for those in need by wearing it over the heart

Purple "Eternity" Scarf handmade and initialed by a Refugee Woman. A soft blend of alpaca and wool, available in a variety of colors.

Catholic Charities also provides social services to strengthen families, reduce infant mortality, resettle refugees, assist the elderly and disabled, and prevent child abuse. One of my favorite parts: 100% of the profits from this project go directly back into the community to further equip the women with the necessary skills to become self-sufficient.  As the website states:“WORN but not abandoned…”

WORN is a socially-conscious business founded by Catholic Charities Fort Worth, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that has served the community since 1910.

Visit the WORN for Peace Website, Blog, or on Facebook and Shop!

Read Article: “Knitting Hope”, Agencies Helping Hand Venture Tailored for Refugee Women”

Read Article: “Refugee Women Knit Scarves as Part of Catholic Charities Project”

As promised, I will be highlighting organizations throughout the remainder of the year that offer unique ways to give the gifts of love, joy and hope to women and girls in need. Share the true spirit of Christmas and, spread the love… Tell a friend! 

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

(Photos by WORN, a Catholic Charities, Ft Worth organization)

Share
©Destiny's Women™ is a blog founded, written and published by April McCallum -- "Championing the Life, Freedom and Destiny of Women" Creative Commons License
This work by April McCallum is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.