Tag: fiction

Joy! It’s right in front of you! A little to the left…..

A Christmas Story

Once upon a time, there was a little princess who lived in my castle with her 5 brothers and sisters. She loved to read. She had a favorite, “Harry Potter,” by J.K. Rowling. She was given the first book, the first year it was released and she was a major fan and Christmas was coming.

The King and Queen met in the counting-house and counted all their gold. Each prince and princess would receive special gifts from their royal parents in the amount of $100 dollars! It was a fortune.

The King and Queen called all their little royals to the throne room and asked them what they wanted for Christmas. The little princess was the first to announce her request for all things Harry Potter. She wanted the broom, the hat and most of all the wand.

The King and Queen wanted very much to make the little princess happy, but their kingdom was in the country of Oregon, in the City of Seaside, far, far away from any Malls or shopping. This was a dark time, before Amazon, and they did not know how they would ever fulfill the princess’s request.

The Queen immediately announced the need for a quest. She had the King gas up the royal junker and with peanut butter and jam sandwiches they made the long trek over the mountain, through the snow, hours of driving with only an AM radio, to the magical mall in the city of Portlandia. But, alas and alack, no sign of anything Harry Potter.

They charged from mall to mall while calling with their magical 3-pound cell phone, Finally, as the sun set and rain fell, they located all things Harry Potter in the mall of Washington, at the All Things Expensive, Rare and Must Have store. The shelves were almost bare, but the King wasn’t afraid.

He joisted past the paisley hippie and lept over the Tickle Me Elmo line. Glory was in his grasp. He had 4 action figures and a magic wand all for a little more than gold he had saved.

As he and the queen went to pay the merchant they found one last thing, a 7-dollar pair of Harry Potter Pajamas. It was a sign! They bought the pajamas, even though they were far too small for the little princess and would have to be given to the royal toddler.

The night before Christmas, the royal parents began preparations for Christmas Morning and the royal family social media Christmas photos by having elves deliver new Pajamas to each of the royal princes and princesses.

When all the princesses and princes received their new, clean photo ready pajamas, they were thrilled, except for the little princess. When the little princess saw the little toddler in Harry Potter pajamas, her Harry Potter pajamas she wailed! She felt betrayed, heartbroken, unloved and green with envy! The little toddler, however, felt wet, so she giggled, laughed and ran for the bathroom with joy. The little princess chased her. The little prince chased the little princess. The dogs barked and the Royal parents, royal mouths fell open. How had they made such a tactical error! What would they do!

“What shall we do?” cried the king.

“Oh, what shall we do?” Cried the queen.

They could have given the little princess her Harry Potter toys but then she wouldn’t have any presents to open Christmas morning. They couldn’t find another pair of Harry Potter pajamas in their tiny kingdom. All they could do was try to comfort the little princess.

The king called the little princess to his royal throne. He pulled the little princes onto his lap, hugged her and wiped her tears.

“Don’t worry,” the king whispered to the little princess. “Have faith,” he said. “You know I love you and want you to be happy. Your Christmas is coming.”

That night the little princess went to bed early wearing her “Fozzy the Bear” pajamas. She lay in her bed, tossing and turning because as everyone knows, Christmas Eve is the longest night of the year. The clock kept forgetting to tick, time kept forgetting to pass, and Santa kept setting the clock back to eat just one more cookie and maybe some dough.

Finally, the stars got tired of twinkling and Santa’s sleigh was empty. It was time for Christmas morning. Excited to see the joy on the little princesses face, the king and queen snuck downstairs and tried to program their new ten-pound video camera. One by one the little royals began to stretch and open their eyes. It was Christmas morning!

The Royals ran from their tower. They ran downstairs, around hallways, through ballrooms and finally made it to the throne room and the royal Christmas Tree.

The camera was rolling and the paper was ripping. Squeals of delight and joy came from every child, but the little princess in Fozzy Bear jammies.

The king was dismayed, the queen was faint and swayed. The little princess opened package and after package, Harry Potter action figure after action figure and finally a magic wand. She tossed each gift aside and cried!

Not knowing what to do, the king turned off the camera, got down on one knee and said, “Oh my little princess, what can I do to make you happy?”

There stood the littlest princess, surrounded by everything she had wished for, prayed for, written Santa for and she pointed her finger and cried. “I don’t have any Harry Potter pajamas!”  The king followed her pointer finger to the end. It pointed to the toddler wearing Harry Potter pajamas. There, the princess’s gaze was fixed. The room was full of Christmas and all she could see was the Harry Potter Pajamas she didn’t have.  

Do you have a pair of Harry Potter pajamas in your history? ‘

Many of us have had disappointments, bad experiences and major losses in our lives. Maybe we had a failed marriage and now find ourselves alone. Maybe we did everything right and lived every commandment and still were abused.

Maybe we have prayed, wished and wanted to be healed for years, to find joy. Maybe we are like the little princess. Are we surrounded by Christmas? Are we surrounded by children who love us, have a good friend, have a home, food, blessings so many people in the world lack and still focused on Harry Potter pajamas. If you will just look a little to the left…..

The night before your Christmas can feel like forever, but we have a loving Father in Heaven who wants us to be happy, and as our Heavenly Parent knows what is best for us, what we need and what will bring us joy. Is he showering you with little blessings, while he asks you to be patient, little princess, and have faith? Your Christmas morning is coming.

It isn’t too early to celebrate….is it?

 

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Stand by Survivors in October 2017 Domestic Violence Awareness Month – Safe House discounted in honor of survivors

In honor of

October 2017 Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Cedar Fort and I have partnered to give you

Safe House

on Kindle for .99 Cents!

Go to Amazon HERE.

And because we believe everyone deserves a Safe House, there are 8 copies of Safe House in a Goodreads Giveaway HERE!

AND just to make sure you are aware and have a great autumn read we are giving away a copy of Safe House on New LDS Fiction

during October Thrills and Chills HERE!

AND to keep you in good books for the winter, we are giving away another copy of Safe House at the Rockin Book Reviews Blog Hop HERE!

Haley Miller of Captures photography created the photo above for you to share and let the world know you stand by survivors. Make it yours and pass on the message to the world, we are more than victims, we are survivors who can heal, and help others.

I believe survivors and those who have never experienced abuse need to stand together and choose love, hope, and healing. We can make the world a better place one heart at a time.

Here are some inspirational quotes from a recent LDS conference to get you started. I hope you enjoy them.

 

In Loving Memory of Robert D. Hales

 

 

Please standby survivors.

Share our Domestic Violence Awareness photo or an inspirational quote and let the world know, we are so much more than what happens to us.

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Survivor

I may be a little unraveled, like a dress caught in the rip tides of the cold Pacific Ocean, weighed down by sand and coming undone, but I survived. And even if the tide comes in again and tries to drag me back to the cold, dark sea, I will survive. I have learned to swim, I have learned to navigate the currents. If I can just reach God’s hand someday, I will learn to dance on top of the water in celebration of finding the joy beyond the horizon of endurance.

There was a time when I spent my nights watching the moon and moving stars, anxiety rolling me over and over. Then I realized, I could travel with fear or faith, the outcome was always better with faith.

When I looked at my life through the lens of fear, the sun never seemed to rise and the day was a chain of storms, and energy spent trying to control an uncontrollable universe.

When I finally let go and swam, I looked up at the Son, and let the mighty waves carry me to shore. I learned that I arrived at the almost the same destination, filled with joy. In the light of hope and faith, I saw the miracles which had been there all along. I was delighted by the blessings laying scattered on the sandy beach. In the watery reflection of each day, I caught a glimpse of Heaven.

New Testament, Matthew 14

28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.

29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.

30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.

31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

More soon.Photos may be copied, shared, printed or used by anyone for the purpose of healing and spreading joy. FaceBook link here. Instagram here. More about Haley Miller and Captures Photography here. More about Shannon Symonds novel “Safe House” here.

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Will they kill?

The risks survivors of domestic violence face are very real and can be deadly.  Abusers can affect more people than the intended victim.  Recently Fox 12 Oregon reported,  “A man walked into his estranged wife’s elementary school classroom in San Bernardino and opened fire without saying a word, killing her and an 8-year-old student before shooting himself in a murder-suicide…A 9-year-old student also was critically wounded. He and the boy who died were behind their special-education teacher, Karen Elaine Smith, 53, the target of the man she had married months earlier, police said.”

The day after the deadly assault in California, according to Fox12 Oregon a woman in Oregon contacted police to say her husband and two daughters were missing. She reported, he was suicidal and had threatened to take her 8 and 11-year old girls. When police located the man, he was shot after setting his SUV on fire. The children were found dead inside the vehicle.

Domestic violence and the surrounding traumatic events touch friends, family, witnesses, co-workers and first responders. Even the strongest first responder is impacted when a child is murdered.

Whether you are a survivor of abuse, or know a survivor, learning to recognize the red flags which indicate an abuser is capable of murder may save a life. Learn how to reach out to professionals and create a safety plan for the survivor, yourself, schools and other locations like work or church.

If you are a survivor of abuse the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the National Domestic Violence Hotline can help you find resources where you live.   A trained advocate can walk you through a risk assessment to help you determine the level of danger you may face.

The Battered Women’s Justice Project describes a risk assessment. They say, “…risk assessment tools in the domestic violence field have been developed to assess both an offender’s risk of re-offending and a victim’s risk of lethal assault.”  Click here to look at the Lethality Assessment Model Maryland First Responders Lethality Assessment and take their test.

As an advocate, I have been trained to provide an evidence-based lethality assessment. When there isn’t time to take a test, and I am working with survivors, there are three questions I always ask:

  • Has your abuser ever threatened to kill you or your children?
  • Has your abuser ever threatened suicide? Did they have a plan?
  • Has your abuser ever strangled you or threatened you with a weapon?

If you answer yes to any of these questions, please reach out and get help. These are signs you may be in serious danger.

A trained advocate can help survivors of domestic violence create a personalized safety plan. Here is a sample safety plan from the National Coalition Against Domestic Sexual Violence

If you are a relative or friend of a survivor, learning this information could save a life. However, be very careful about the way you share it. The abuser may be tracking their victims every move and keystroke. Keep local hotline numbers in your cell phone and link survivors with professional advocates.

An advocate who has lost a victim to murder will remember that last conversation forever. They may remember seeing the signs, and even though they may have done everything they could, they will always wonder what else could have been said or done.  Family members and friends of victims wish for just one more chance to do anything, just something different. We are willing to answer your call 24 hours a day, we are willing to go out in the night to pick you up because we never know when our words will be the last words you ever hear.

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Tell the story…

“1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been physically abused by an intimate partner.” NCADV

As a movement, domestic violence and sexual assault agencies and prevention programs are beginning to see the power and value of survivor stories. The National Domestic Violence Hotline web page reads, “Survivors can find strength and healing in telling their stories to others. Their insight and inspiration can save lives.” But that is not true for an Advocate.

I can never tell the true story; the actual story of advocacy and my work with survivors of intimate partner or sexual violence. As an advocate, if I am doing my job right, I will stay up with you all night, side by side in the hospital or with police, holding you while you cry, see you bruised and bloodied, house you, feed you, comfort you, empower you, go to court with you and then pass you as if you are a stranger when we meet in the grocery store to protect your confidentiality. I will carry your secrets with me to the grave, unless you ask me, in writing, to share the story to benefit you or meet your needs.

As an advocate, I live inside a bubble of confidentiality and am committed to never sharing a single true story with anyone, including my spouse and closest friends. That makes for one short end of the work day conversation.

Friend, “How was work?”

Me, “Good.”

Friend, “What did you do?”

Me, “Can’t say.”

Daily, I am a witness. I sit with survivors at some of the worst moments of their lives and take seriously my sacred duty of witnessing, giving assistance and walking beside a survivor in their journey.

As a survivor, I choose to not tell my story. Telling my personal story would impact my children and extended family. Out of love and appreciation for their innocence, I choose to keep my story safe within my own heart, as do many survivors.

And yet, as a writer and an avid reader, I am converted to the power of a story to change hearts and change the world, to open eyes and to create a movement so powerful it cannot be stopped. I also believe that by never talking about violence, we allow the secrets to continue to give perpetrators safe space to live and abuse. I believe education is important for prevention.

As a child I was molded and influenced by the story of Harriet Tubman who escaped slavery only to return and help others escape at great peril to her. I was in elementary school when I stayed up late, under the covers, reading it by flashlight.

Harriet Tubman was a true advocate for freedom. The domestic violence moment to free victims of intimate partner violence, empower them to survive and find freedom reminds me of Harriet Tubman’s work.  Advocates go out in the night, meet victims at prearranged places and drive them away to freedom.

As an advocate, over the years I noticed several issues I wanted to share with the world. I noticed victims often blame themselves and say things like, “It’s my fault. I am not perfect.  I hit back.” I have watched law enforcement struggle to decide who to arrest.  I also noticed parentified children who took on too much responsibility in an effort to keep the peace in the home, or because the adults were caught up in chaos.

I chose to write Safe House to tell the story of advocacy and survival. By writing a complete fiction, focused on characters and issues, I could share with you what it feels like to advocate for survivors, and what it feels like to live in a toxic environment, where someone else has the power and control, without ever violating confidentiality. I wrote a fiction to bring hope to those who suffer and attention to issues inherent in the work.

It is my hope that you will be so swallowed up by the story in Safe House you will forget the issues and care for the survivors. I hope you cheer for the advocate, worry for the children, laugh with the locals, taste the salt air of the coast and fall into a whole new world, the world of the Advocate.

Are you ready to tell your story? If you are a survivor of domestic or sexual assault, remember, you are not alone. There are advocates worldwide who want to help. Here are some additional resources and survivor stories:

The Story Center: “We create spaces for transforming lives and communities, through the acts of listening to and sharing stories. Since 1993, we have partnered with organizations around the world on projects in StoryWork, digital storytelling, and other forms of digital media production. Our public workshops support individuals in creating and sharing stories.”

North Carolina’s Survivor to Survivor: “Video stories by survivors for survivors:  Their mission, “To provide survivors of domestic violence and their loved ones with a web-based, documentary-style resource guide that serves as a visual toolkit of help and resources available in North Carolina.”

Let go… let peace come in foundation:  Their mission, “We need nothing short of a sweeping shift in “social consciousness” making it okay to talk about sexual abuse…it’s essential! This is how we will help the children to speak up and this is the way we’ll have adult survivors enter the recovery process to learn how to live again!”

 

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