A World With No More Victims.

The bell rings and the doors open, dark figures file into the massive theater and the chatter of the high school fill every corner of the room. I look at my list, check my headset and walk across the stage to select a few forgotten props and share a few announcements to the cast and crew on stage right. I take a deep breath as I cross back to where I belong, I steal a glance of the audience, the theater is filled and so alive. I rush behind the curtains and prep the actors, I hear someone talking in my headset telling me it’s almost time. The principle’s voice floods the rooms as he makes every student turn off their phones and talks about the importance of listening. He exits the stage and the lights dim, voices in my headset tell me it’s show time. I say a silent prayer, a prayer that this show resonates with those that need to hear it the most, that lives would be saved, life would be spoken, and hope would be shared. I pray for a world with No More Victims.

 

For the past several months I have been volunteering with another non-profit called All Access Production. They are a production company that is united by its mission to lend a voice to those that suffer in silence. They use the stage as their platform and tell the stories of those who are and have been bullied. They choose to speak truth in a world that tend to look away. I have been making appearances both on and off stage by serving as a stage manager, playing minor roles and helping with a few hairstyles. If you know me, you know I thrive on stage and I love everything about it. I thought about auditioning for a role, but with my work with YWAM it was hard to try and fit it in, so as they started I offered to help and was asked to stage manage. This was something I had not had a lot of experience with but I instantly fell in love with the cast, crew and ministry.

 

All Access was founded several years ago and started touring the East Coast schools and making a change in the lives of so many, but after some serious health issue, it was put on the shelf until this year when God opened doors again. The cast of the Spring 2014 All Access Tour is made up of a local Long Islanders, raging in ages from 14 to 40. The production is a 40 minute eye opening, life changing, drama complete with music, dancing and a carefully thought out script. It follows the journey of the Prom Queen, the All-Star, the New Girl and the Victim, showing that our choices can truly change a life. It ends with a brief message from one of the founders on the importance of speaking life and how we hold the key to either damaging or saving a life, they offer a short Q & A time for the students and as people file out of the theaters several usually remain and talk to the cast about various things, from costuming, to auditioning, to bullying around them and even their own personal stories. We also try to spend lunch with the students and talk to them and get to know them.

 

We as a cast, sat together several weeks ago and talked about bullying and shared stories with each other. As we went around the circle I thought about what I wanted to share when asked; if I was the bully, the victim or the bystander. I thought about my school experience, I was bullied in elementary school, there was a group of boys that always found a way to bug me, to this day I still can remember the day, one of them said, “Your mom died, get over it, it’s nothing to cry about”, I can remember everything about it, where I was standing, who was there, what I was wearing. I remember all the harsh and mean words, people spoke over me. The saying my mother taught me as a child was, ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”, have been proved wrong for me and every other person that was bullied. I sat in the circle waiting my turn; hearing those hurtful words again, seeing the face of the people who spoken so harshly and reliving, remember the many words, situations and rumors that tore me apart, broke me and stole a piece of my will to live. I lived as a victim, not because everyone in my life bullied me and was mean, but because those words, those names, the lies people spoke over me stuck, I started to be my worst bully, I felt I could never do anything right, that I could do nothing good enough and that if I were smarter, prettier, or skinnier things would be better. When it came my turn I spoke quickly and shared briefly as I hate having attention on me in that vulnerable state. I have been the bully, the victim, the bystander and the hero. I joined into crowds that chose to use words as weapons to tear people down, even though it was short lived I was that person, I was a victim, a victim of others and myself, I was a bystander who was insecure and turned eyes and ears in hopes not to be noticed, but I was also a hero, I remember being in high school and my class was working on a project where we shared with different classes about bullying through different ways. I went to a Christian school and I saw people cut others down with their words, spread rumors, and hurts others, in hopes to make themselves feel better.

 

I sat with a girl at lunch last week who told me she didn’t think bullying happened in her school, that no one was beat up, no one was called names and that it just didn’t happen. As the bell rang and she walked away, I thought about it, I had seen it happen in the lunch room around me, heard conversations as students passed by and watched aggressive situation take place minuets after the production. We turn our eyes, avoid it and believe the various lies that entangle lives in order to get by and survive. But this epidemic of bullying has grown , kids are being attacked, made fun of and hurt because of what they believe, because they are different, because someone else decided that they could push them down in order to feel better about themselves. It has gotten out of hand, a few days ago someone told me bullying isn’t a big deal and that kids will be kids, I silently shook my head and my heart ached for those who are afraid to go to school, those who are attacked with harsh words and quick judgments.

 

This morning I woke up to my CNN App going off, telling me that 20 high school students had been stabbed in Pennsylvania. My heart broke, school shootings have risen significantly in the past few years, I realize living in America I am more aware of what is happening. Even in the school district where I live, one of the high schools was recently put on lock down for a serious threat from a student. Last year kids I knew were scared to go to school as there had been threats from students, the next week security was tighter than ever and they functioned in lock down mode. I sit here and wonder what has happened to our world, when kids in America are scared to go to school because someone has threatened to show up with a gun and shoot them? I don’t know about you, but this is not okay. It is also not okay for kids to be scared to go to school in fear of being bullied, attacked and hurt.

 

The definition of ‘bully’ according to the Webster Dictionary is, ‘to inflict physical or emotional harm upon another, or to make someone timid or fearful of threats.’ This is an epidemic that plagues our schools. It happens, there is so much more I want to say, but I feel that this post needs to come to a close as it is already a jumble of mixed paragraphs and confusing sentences with absolutely no poetic flow, but before I do I want to ask you two things. One, were or are you the bully, victim or bystander and what are you going to do about it? And two, think about the words that left scars, tell me that those don’t hurt, that it is just kids being kids. It is an epidemic that is taken so many innocent lives as victims. So my challenge, speak life, it won’t cost you a thing, but it might just save a life.

 

Red Queen Of High School

 

This is the second post in my 6 part ‘impossible things before breakfast’ series. So just a recap. Alice tried to think of 6 impossible things before breakfast, so I have compiled ’6 impossible things before my breakfast’, meaning thing that would seem hard or impossible to people that do not have a relationship with Christ. The first Impossible thing was the Cheshire Cat and my mom’s death.

“Off with your head!!!” We all know that phrase from the Red Queen/Queen of hearts from Alice in Wonderland. This tyrant violently reigns over Wonderland with her own rules and anger issues. She bullies others and is a royal pain. People are afraid of her and she thrives off of their fear.

I feel like High School is its own Red Queen. Not because of one particular person, but because of all the pressure, cliques and drama that takes place. To survive from our own Red Queen, we work our way up the totem, trying to please people, get good grades, dress to impress and fit everything into our schedule.

For me, my first year of high school was more than a struggle. I had just moved schools and had a hard time fitting into my small Christian school where the 18 people in my class were tight knit from grade school. I was new to the town and school. I thought it would be ‘impossible’ to have friends and to enjoy high school. But fast forward to 2010 when I walked down the aisle with my robe and graduation cap I realized that I had overcome this ‘Impossible Thing’. Even though I faced thousands of trials in those 4 years, I came out stronger, braver, and with a better knowledge of myself and what I believed.

High school was where I struggled the most but also where I found Jesus. After 1.5 years of rebellion, heart ache, dark make-up, scars, and depression I was at the end; warned out and saw no reason to keep going. People that I thought were my friends were spreading rumors, others turned out to be people they weren’t. Than during the summer of ’07, after a phone call with a friend, where she said, ‘Sara, you have to chose heaven or hell and to end your life and keep going the way you have would be hell, I wanna see you in heaven.’ I payed no attention until I was sitting in a pew at a Church Teem Camp. Those words she spoke echoed through my mind and then I looked around me and realized that I was missing something. There was a God that loved me even though I didn’t love myself. That night on August 16 2007, I dedicated my life and heart to God and where ever he would take me.

As I said high school was my Red Queen, but after I was starting my true relationship with Christ things didn’t seem ‘impossible’. I graduated with a decent GPA, I had been on the yearbook team, school newspaper, active in the drama department, played on the basketball team, led worship in chapel, ran a Jr. High girls bible study, worked hard in all my classes, and was close with all my peers. I defeated my second “Impossible Thing”!

 

 

Cheshire Cat & The Circle Of Life

“`Cheshire Puss,’ [Alice] began, rather timidly, as she did not at all know whether it would like the name: however, it only grinned a little wider. `Come, it’s pleased so far,’ thought Alice, and she went on. `Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’

`That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat.
`I don’t much care where–’ said Alice.
`Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cat.
`–so long as I get SOMEWHERE,’ Alice added as an explanation.
`Oh, you’re sure to do that,’ said the Cat, `if you only walk long enough.’”

“`But I don’t want to go among mad people,’ Alice remarked.
`Oh, you can’t help that,’ said the Cat: `we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.’
`How do you know I’m mad?’ said Alice.
`You must be,’ said the Cat, `or you wouldn’t have come here.’
Alice didn’t think that proved it at all; however, she went on `And how do you know that you’re mad?’
`To begin with,’ said the Cat, `a dog’s not mad. You grant that?’
`I suppose so,’ said Alice.
`Well, then,’ the Cat went on, `you see, a dog growls when it’s angry, and wags its tail when it’s pleased. Now I growl when I’m pleased, and wag my tail when I’m angry. Therefore I’m mad.’”

This is the first post in my 6 part ‘impossible things before breakfast’ series. So just a recap. Alice tried to think of 6 impossible things before breakfast, so I have compiled ’6 impossible things before my breakfast’, meaning thing that would seem hard or impossible to people that do not have a relationship with Christ or that ‘beat the odds’.

I wanted to take a look at the character the Cheshire Cat and how he reminds me of someone in my life. It hit me as I decided to write this that some may not know what the Cheshire Cat’s role was apart from appearing and vanishing. So for those of you that have not brushed up on your Alice and Wonderland characters and history here you go.

Often we think of the pink and purple cat with a smile that appears and vanishes on a whim throughout the Disney cartoon or the blue and gray cat that helps the Hatter escape from the Queen’s beheading in Tim Burton’s film. But the original Cheshire Cat was the cat of the Duchess. When Alice leaves the Duchess’ house, she finds it in a tree. Cheshire Cat’s constantly grin and can appear and disappear whenever, sometimes leaving behind a grin. Being the only character in Wonderland to truly listen to Alice he often responds and teaches Alice the rules of Wonderland. Back in Carroll’s day the phrase “to grin like a Cheshire cat’” was a common but the origin is unknown.

There is a Cheshire Cat in my life. Now that doesn’t mean that they appear and disappear, but rather is just in my life for a short time before she went to heaven. My mom was in my life for only 8 years when she died. She, like the Cheshire Cat taught me about the world around me. She did all she could to provide for me and to show how to survive. Even though cancer ran rapidly through her body, she never stopped fighting and because of that, I still never give up even though at times I am exhausted. For 6 years she fought. She is my first impossible thing. You see I was given a family, after my mom died the door was opened to live with my best friend and her family. To most people these doors do not open and children are put into foster care and forgotten. That is my first Impossible thing before breakfast. . . literally its before breakfast. :)

 

 

Impossibly Possible

“Alice laughed. ‘There’s no use trying,’ she said: ‘one can’t believe impossible things.’ -Alice

When I first heard Alice says this and describe Wonderland I giggled at her shock of talking flowers, hookah smoking caterpillar, a rabbit what was contently late for something and a very mad Hatter that was always stuck on tea time and celebrating un-birthdays. Than as she progressed through Wonderland things stopped seeming impossible and strange and turned to be normal for Wonderland; a cat with a smile, and an irate queen were all possible for Wonderland. Alice started to realize that as she left her world and entered Wonderland she had to look through the eyes of Wonderland, knowing that everyone back home would say that those things would be impossible and that she was bonkers.

Reading this I started to ask myself what ‘impossible thing’ are in my life? Do people see me as bonkers because of my relationship with Christ? Would the things I see and do be strange to people in the un-christian world I came from? Do I sound bonkers to people? I instantly knew the answers to these. Whether because of my belief in Christ or the fact that I am a missionary people do look at me like I am bonkers. From the miracles of life in my life here in New York. I have seen “impossible things” and I do ‘impossible things’.

The Bible it says ‘I can do anything through Christ, whom strengthens me.’- Philippians 4:13. As Christians, we sometimes sing songs like “Nothing is impossible…” I really questioned what things I face that are ‘impossible’ in society’s eyes or even my generations stereotype. I mean ‘normal people don’t move from a small town to New York. So I know that I have a list of ‘impossible things’ So have decided to write a 6 part series based on these impossible things.This series I am going to write is my 6 ‘Impossible’ things. ‘

Alice Kingsley: Sometimes I believe in as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

The Mad Hatter: That is an excellent practice.’ (Alice in Wonderland, 2010)

 

Sara’s 6 Impossible Thing without Christ Before Breakfast

1- Chesire Cat

2-The Red Queens of High school

3- Saving Wonderland from the Red Queen

4-I’m late for a very Important Date

5- Welcome to Wonderland

6- Why is a raven like a writing desk

 

 

The Alice In Me.

You see, there is an Alice in me, a part of my mind, spirit, and heart that longs for more than the mundane normality of life. Finally, I embraced her and have learned to enjoy the curiosities of life. I have found my Alice, have you?

‘If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary-wise; what it is, it wouldn’t be, and what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see? ‘ -Alice

You see, there is an Alice in me, a part of my mind, spirit, and heart that longs for more than the mundane normality of life. Finally I embraced her and have learned to enjoy the curiosities of life. I have found my Alice, have you? ‘If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary-wise; what it is, it wouldn’t be, and what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see? ‘ -Alice Since I was a little girl I was captured by the creativity of the stories of Alice. Whether it was ‘Alice in Wonderland’ or the Disney cartoon I loved Alice and her adventures. As I went though my life I always had a vivid imagination and enjoyed thinking about the ‘what ifs’. To have an adventure like Alice’s would have been amazing. But as I sit in my office on this cold day, I realize that I have had Alice-like-adventures.

Most of you know my history, but not all of you know that I am a missionary. No I didn’t run off to Africa to live in the jungle and I am not learning to speak a foreign language. I did move out of Canada and am currently living in my own Wonderland, New York. Now before everyone thinks that this small town girl from western Canada is living the high life in the Big Apple, I want to clear this up, I am living in the state of New York. I live in a small town on Long Island, which is about an hour and a half outside of the City.

I have been volunteering with a nonprofit known as Youth With A Mission (YWAM) . In the fall of 2010, I took part in a six month course that YWAM puts on worldwide called a Discipleship Training School. There is a three month intensive lecture phase where time is spent looking at topics such as, Leadership, The Father Heart of God, and so many more amazing life changing topics. Then it is followed by a two month outreach. I spent mine in Mexico in early 2011. Once I returned to Canada, I struggled to find where I fit. My heart was no longer content with going to university and getting a career like your average eighteen year old. I yearned for more, for an adventure, to make a difference. In the fall of 2011, I was in my car and on my way back to New York.

Like Alice, I have been on an adventure in a world that was far out of my imagination. Being a missionary was never a desire of my heart. But now God is laying countries, injustices and people groups on my heart. In Matthew 28:19 it says “Therefore go and make disciples of ALL nations.” This has spoken to me so much over the last six months. I know that some people are called to be missionaries in their own homes and country and that is a beautiful ministry, but my heart aches for women and children terrorized by human trafficking, for the issues of abortion, for countries like Cambodia, Brazil and Puerto Rico. I am not longer content with the thoughts of schooling and a ‘real job’. As a follower of Christ this is the job of which I have been called. To go to all of His people, to share the message of salvation, to fight injustice and to love where neglect has had chance to rear its head.

The stories of Alice are ones of adventure, a girl facing a new world with a new outlook, never giving up and keeping her mind open to new ‘curiosities’. This is how I now look at my own life. I am facing a newer, bigger world, looking at it through the eyes of my Creator, knowing I am not in this alone, and not limiting the plans that my Savior has for my life. This is the start of my own story. My own adventure. Down my own rabbit hole. . . Since I was a little girl I was captured by the creativity of the stories of Alice. Whether it was ‘Alice in Wonderland’ or the Disney cartoon I loved Alice and her adventures. As I went though my life I always had a vivid imagination and enjoyed thinking about the ‘what ifs’. To have an adventure like Alice’s would have been amazing. But as I sit in my office on this cold day, I realize that I have had Alice-like-adventures. Most of you know my history, but not all of you know that I am a missionary. No I didn’t run off to Africa to live in the jungle and I am not learning to speak a foreign language. I did move out of Canada and am currently living in my own Wonderland, New York. Now before everyone thinks that this small town girl from western Canada is living the high life in the Big Apple, I want to clear this up, I am living in the state of New York. I live in a small town on Long Island which is about an hour and a half outside of the City. I have been volunteering with a nonprofit known as Youth With A Mission (YWAM) . In the fall of 2010, I took part in a six month course that YWAM puts on worldwide called a Discipleship Training School. There is a three month intensive lecture phase where time is spent looking at topics such as, Leadership, The Father Heart of God, and so many more amazing life changing topics. Then it is followed by a two month outreach. I spent mine in Mexico in early 2011. Once I returned to Canada, I struggled to find where I fit. My heart was no longer content with going to university and getting a career like your average eighteen year old. I yearned for more, for an adventure, to make a difference. In the fall of 2011, I was in my car and on my way back to New York. Like Alice, I have been on an adventure in a world that was far out of my imagination. Being a missionary was never a desire of my heart. But now God is laying countries, injustices and people groups on my heart. In Matthew 28:19 it says “Therefore go and make disciples of ALL nations.” This has spoke to me so much over the last six months. I know that some people are called to be missionaries in their own homes and countries and that is a beautiful ministry, but my heart aches for women and children terrorized by human trafficking, for the issues of abortion, for countries like Cambodia, Brazil and Puerto Rico. I am not longer content with the thoughts of schooling and a ‘real job’. As a follower of Christ this is the job of which I have been called. To go to all of His people, to share the message of salvation, to fight injustice and to love where neglect has had chance to rear its head. The stories of Alice are ones of adventure, a girl facing a new world with a new outlook, never giving up and keeping her mind open to new ‘curiosities’. This is how I now look at my own life. I am facing a newer, bigger world, looking at it through the eyes of my Creator, knowing I am not in this alone, and not limiting the plans that my Savior has for my life.

This is the start of my own story. My own adventure. Down my own rabbit hole. . .  

 

12 Years Of Reminiscing

 As I age, I have started to forget the simple and small things of life, but today is a day to remember. I had no idea anything was wrong. How could I? A child of such a young and innocent age. I remember being with some of the extended family on vacation. We were heading back to my home town and we pulled into the hospital parking lot. I jumped out and assumed that Mom was there for another round of Chemo. When my Dad walked out towards me, I was confused as I had never remembered him being there when Mommy got the shots. But he hugged me and told my Mommy was sick. I remember the thoughts going through my head. Of course she was sick, she had been fighting cancer for as long as I could remember. We often went to doctors and appointments, we walked in and passed by the Chemo ward to a room. The smell of hospitals had always turned me on edge but this day was a little stronger. I happened to be wearing a pink shirt with a T-rex and Big dragon fly. I walked in and was happy to see my mom. I hugged her and kissed her pale, empty cheeks. She pointed at my shirt and asked what it was I told her it was a dragonfly but it seemed like she had no memory of what a dragonfly was. I can’t remember any other response or what happened. However long it was until that dreaded day I have nothing but a hazy and muffled blur.

 

The next clear memory I hold onto- I had returned from school and I wanted to go to the neighbour’s house. I walked in the house on one of the first days of Grade 3 and noticed my Dad on the couch. Since I had returned home from vacation my dad was rarely home unless some other relative was at the hospital and then my dad was only home to shower. I was excited and quickly listed who it could be that was here. When he wasn’t answering me I asked if I would go play. He pulled me up onto his lap and explained it the only way an 8 year old would understand and told me Mommy had gone to be with Jesus. He hugged me and his body shook as he cried. I got up and asked if I could leave. I hopped onto my bike and rode to my best friend’s house. I walked in and they asked if I had talked to my dad I said yes and then the muffle blurs appears and I remember being at the funeral. I remember crying. But that night I remember my Dad putting me to bed and yelling and screaming that I wanted Mommy. Then the grown man, my father crumpled to the floor and cried. I hopped down and curled up and both of us cried knowing that our life would be changed forever.

 

Like every mom I was taught things, mine taught me right from wrong and how to be a kid and enjoy life. Even though today marked the 12 years of her death, she still teaches me things. How to be strong and never give up. We share characteristic, facial features and love for things, music and angels. Forever her legacy lives on and I carry in my heart and I always will… Caroline Winders is my angel, my teacher, my legacy. She is my Mom.

God’s Not Disappointed

Over the past month I have been reading a series called ‘The Bailey Flanigan Series’ by Karen Kingsbury. It’s a story about a girl following her dreams to Broadway, I have been learning so much through these books and the other night the one thing that stood out to me was when one of the characters tells Bailey, ‘God’s not disappointed in you, He’s just not finished with you yet, that’s all.’ This remarkable truth stuck my heart. I have been really struggling with feeling like I have disappointed people and God. I am in a season that is new to me; one of change and transition. I know that I was called to YWAM and to be a missionary, but I just am not sure what the next step is and I can’t seem to please everyone. I feel like I should have been able to work harder or done things differently, like if only I did things differently than maybe I could please everyone, my family, friends and God. I believe we all walk through this feeling. But the good news through all this feeling of disappointment is that God’s not finished with us. I’m not walking through this season alone, He is with me holding my hand.

The word ‘disappointed’, means ‘depressed or discouraged by the failure of one’s hopes or expectations; or obsolete’, according to Dictionary.com. As humans, we place the bar high, which is great but when we fall and fail and hit hardship it’s not the end of the world. God’s love doesn’t stop and He doesn’t withhold it. We pick up, grow and learn. We have all been in situations where people are disappointed where we feel like we should have done more or worked harder. Every child’s fear is to have their parents disappointed in them. It’s still one of my greatest fears.

I was watching a little girl with Down Syndrome and the other day she was reading a book to me during her homework time. She was reading it by herself, I was so proud of her. She has grown so much since I met her 3 years ago. Her words are clear and she knew the words. Whenever I had to correct a word or help her, she would say ‘Oh, sorry, my fault.’ I always respond with, ‘It’s okay, it’s part of learning.’ I was still proud of her even when I had to help. I wasn’t disappointed in her, she was still willing to work and figure out what sounds, letters make and how to form words. As a child myself, I struggled with reading, when I read simple words turned into difficult words as letter jumped around and added themselves to simple words like ‘were’ making it ‘where’. I always hated sitting in classes where we had to each take a turn to read. I hated reading out loud, I was slow and not very good. In my head it made sense and I can read at a decent speed, but when I had to read out loud, I would count the people ahead of me and read the paragraph I would have to read over and over again and pray I wouldn’t stumble and make mistakes. I always was disappointed. As I worked on my reading, the words still were a struggle, but I got to the point where I was confident in myself.

I feel like we all are still figuring out what sounds, letters make and how to form a sentence Sometimes we make mistakes and I feel like as we enter new seasons of our lives that are newer and harder. We get into that ‘Oh, sorry, my fault’ type mode. But I know that with all my heart “God’s not disappointed in you, He’s just not finished with you yet.”

I wanted to share this because in the season I am in right now, I need that daily reminder that He is not disappointed.