Celebrating Women: International Women’s Day

 

emma-frances-logan-barker-200050

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”

Share

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”

Share

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

Scars Speak

9fzcbfucmxi-allef-vinicius

What comes to mind when you read the word SCAR?

A scar can be left over from a surgery or a “trophy” on a veteran of war. It can be a reminder of a painful accident or a traumatic physical assault. And not all scars are visible to the eye. Sometimes we carry internal scars caused by wounds from a verbal assault, emotional or psychological damage.

“We’re stronger in the places we’ve been broken.” – Ernest Hemingway

One thing all scars have in common is they tell us that at some point in time, trauma occurred. They also tell us by their nature, the incident that caused the trauma happened in the past. The hurt may or may not remain, but the scar always does.

Some may look at their scars and be unaffected or even laugh because they don’t have any recollection of the actual incident. They may have had surgery and been under anesthesia. Or, they may have received their wound in an accident but their memory of the event has been erased.

There are some people, however, who have to look in the mirror and live with negative memories associated with their scars every day. They are the ones I’m writing about today. Scars caused by abuse, neglect or violence. Their scars are a constant and merciless reminder of pain. The relentless pain of hatred, rejection or violence against their person or spirit. Those memories summon our worst nightmares and haunt us with torment. Sometimes the scars taunt as if to say, “You deserved what you got” or “You’ll never be good enough. You’ve got the scars to prove it”. They are reminders of the powerlessness in abusive encounters. To some, a permanent warning sign to stay inside an imposed boundary. And they can’t be erased. The most we can do is cover them so the world can’t see. Because if the world sees them, they will wonder how our scars came to be, and we can’t bare to reveal or re-live the trauma.

Donita’s mother burned her with cigarettes and left scars from beatings with an iron hanger. Veronica’s uncle sexually assaulted her and her sister leaving a different set of scars. The pain of shame on top of sexual assault with the pressure of keeping a secret no girl should have to bare. Morgan’s arm is scarred with needle marks from a life she desperately wants to forget from her drug-addicted past. As beautiful as she is, Chandler wears scars under her clothes from cutting. No one knows because she masks it with a fake smile. Shauna wears long sleeved blouses and lots of bracelets to cover her wrists after attempting suicide. Makeup and jewelry cannot completely hide years of abuse to Trina’s face and neck at the hands of an abusive husband. Women and girls with faces and bodies acid-burned by their own husbands, fathers, brothers and family members–people they should’ve been able to trust to love and protect them. Every single scar from abuse cries out, “Why me?” Our faces, our bodies, our minds and our spirits are such a deep part of our identity. When we are assaulted in any way that is meant to inflict injury and pain by another, visible or not, it is inexcusable. When it is self-inflicted pain or abuse, we hurt and scar the same.

Thankfully, as the saying goes, beauty truly can come from “ashes”. We can rise to a better place. The other thing that all scars have in common is they Tell a Story. Your story. A very personal story. A painful story. A pain-filled story. But yours, nonetheless. So what’s so great about having a personal painful story? Nothing. That is, nothing in and of itself. But your scars, our scars, tell us and the world, “I am here!” They say without speaking a word, “I lived through it!” THAT is the story. THAT is the grace. It is your badge of courage. It says you are a fighter, a victor.

The truth is, the scars are proof that you made it through. You are meant to be here. And maybe one day, you will come to understand that you lived (or made it through the pain) to tell your story so that others can learn from it. And in so doing, what someone tried to take away from you, (your confidence, self-worth, freedom, identity, voice) ended up positioning you to give strength (and courage and hope) to another. And in the process, gave you back the voice no one could ever truly take.

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

Share

America: We Can Choose Better

American Flag (Kevin Morris)

I’ve been thinking a lot about the current personal, national and now global discourse about our nation. About our future. About our families. About us as unique individuals. Sadly, the “discussion” phase buckled under the weight of disrespect, mistrust, hatred, violence and eventual anarchy. Tidal wave after tidal wave of blame. I suppose it’s nothing new to the human race. But it’s ugly and messy and us not at our best. We can choose better.

People are fighting for what they say they believe in for the whole. But in so much of the activity, it is not. It is for themselves. When our soldiers fight for our nation, they check their political party and personal beliefs at the door. Why? Not because these things aren’t worthy. Because they believe in something much greater than their own personal preferences and opinions. They are fighting together to secure and strengthen something that transcends the individual struggles. And importantly, they know that unity matters. There is power in unity. The same goes with families. Healthy families choose to go higher. They choose the greater good. When we step outside of our personal protective walls, we can see a world much bigger than ourselves. Humanity seems to trip on “self” a lot.

Unfortunately, we have come to a place in history where we can’t even agree on the definition of “greater good”. Therein lies the rub. A nation divided against itself. Sounds cannibalistic. And because of our collective intolerance, pride and catering to self-interest, we’re about to lose much more than an eye. I would like to see a nation fighting together, not AGAINST itself, fighting FOR its common good. But then again, we can’t seem to agree on what “common” means anymore either.

Sounds dismal. And it is, if you believe that’s the end. But it’s not. We still have the freedom to dream, create, build, speak, worship and to “become”. To become smarter, braver, kinder, more reasonable, giving, thoughtful, compassionate, prayerful, wiser, loving and discerning than we were before. But it’s a choice. It’s always a choice. Who do you want to become?

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

Share

Sparkle a Little Brighter

 

Sparkle Brighter

There’s an old expression about human existence that says “in the end, no one gets out alive.” While that’s true, we all have whatever amount of time that we do have here, to live. In other words, to “be alive” while we are still living. To choose to be present. To make a decision to bring life to our moments (thoughts, attitudes, circumstances, expectations and relationships) or at least, allow life to infuse them. Life, in part, means energy, possibility and hope.

It is no secret that life ebbs and flows. Some seasons of our journey are simply more of a challenge. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have control over our attitude or mindset in the midst of those seasons. There may be times when you feel darkness creeping in, but that doesn’t mean you can’t turn up the wattage. Sometimes, we just need to plant a flag in it and say, “No more!”

When you feel darkness or discouragement closing in, take time to breathe in memories of goodness and joy, and the little things that have encouraged or lifted your spirit in the past. Let yourself reminisce about the things that once made your heart smile. Look for beauty in creation. Take inventory of the innumerable blessings (whether they’re things, people, discoveries or insights) that you have to be grateful for.

Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark. -George Iles

Once you choose hope, anything’s possible. -Christopher Reeve

Love is the light that brightens every heart’s darkness. -Bryant McGill

When the world says, “Give up,” hope whispers, “Try it one more time.” -Author Unknown

All of us have memory vaults filled with positive and beautiful gifts, some more than others, but no one is exempt. Sometimes we just need to lift the vault handle and be reminded. Hope believes. Love frees.

So here’s a friendly reminder: when the light dims, sparkle a little brighter.

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

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

Share

Twitter Art Exhibit 2015: Postcard Artwork Inspires Hope

Blog - Twtter Art Exhibit (Black)

It’s that time of year when artist, writer and visionary, David Sandum, Founder of Twitter Art Exhibit calls for artists to collaborate across boundaries and borders for a good cause. This is the fifth year for hundreds of artists (both professional and amateur) to gift their own unique little picture to benefit the bigger picture. Submissions of original handmade postcard-sized art literally “fly in” from all around the world to raise funds for a worthy cause.

This year’s event held March 5-26, will benefit children and families through the Home-Start Moss organization in Moss, Norway, and will take place there. All of the artists and those who facilitate the event work on a volunteer basis. Cards are sold at the exhibit for $35 each with 100% of the funds going directly to the beneficiary.

My submission this year is called, “Hope Lives“. In a world with so many uncertainties and concerns, I wanted my little piece of inspiration to be a reminder that hope is alive. When it comes to keeping children safe and families healthy, it’s important to come together as a community to help build strong foundations for them where we can. We are always better together! Though we may not always feel it, we are constantly reminded through each breath we take, every new dawning of the sun, fresh blooms, bird songs and the transformation of the caterpillar into the butterfly, that the possibility of newness and rebirth is a constant. That there is hope.

Connect & Follow:

Website: www.twitterartexhibit.org
Twitter: @twitrartexhibit
Facebook: /twitterartexhibit

Related Reading:

#TwitterArtExhibit 2015

Twitter Art Exhibit 2014: Creating Art for Good

Burton Artist Alistair Kennedy to Join International Twitter Art Exhibit for Home-Start Families

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

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

Share

One Life At A Time

Just One

People who want to make a difference in the world usually do it, in one way or another. And, I’ve noticed something about people who make a difference in the world:

They hold the unshakeable conviction that individuals are extremely important, that every life matters. They get excited over one smile. They are willing to feed one stomach, educate one mind, treat one wound. They aren’t determined to revolutionize the world all at once; they’re satisfied with small changes. Over time though, the small changes add up. Sometimes they even transform cities and nations, and yes, the world. -Beth Clark

Click to Read Related Posts:

10 Quotes about the Power of One

Sometimes It Takes Just One

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

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

Share

End It: Shine a Light On Slavery

#EndItMovement

Love is the light by which all are brought forward out of darkness. -LeeAnn Taylor

Today is Shine A Light On Slavery Day. It’s a day to join other Freedom Fighters from around the world to shine a light on modern-day slavery.

END IT is a Coalition of the leading organizations in the world in the fight for Freedom. With Coalition Partners engaged in work on the ground, together they bring AWARENESS, PREVENTION, RESCUE, and RESTORATION.

Learn More about Human Trafficking, Modern-Day Slavery, the Red “X” and the #EndItMovement. Share your #EndIt selfie on social media to join the collective voice and continue to raise awareness. Here’s your chance to get creative while linking arms with others to stand up for justice and freedom for the millions still oppressed and enslaved today.

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

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

 

 

Share

Beautiful People

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassions, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen. –Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

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.