“Breath of Life,” my last post, was inspired by my friend Allyson’s appreciation of the love that helped her heal, and this one, “Chain of Love,” grew out of our follow-up conversations about how it was spreading encouragement around the world. When I shared the stats with her, she said “That is wonderful to hear! I hope it starts a huge chain of kindness and reminds us all that the simplest gift — love from our hearts — can mean so much to someone who is struggling. The worst feeling is thinking you are alone in your sadness, that no one can help, that you have no breath left in your body to get through the day. You have gone above and beyond — in such a way that it gave me hope — and reminded me that there are people in my life that I can lean on.” While blinking hard in response to her words, a “Chain of Love” started flowing down my cheeks, which got me thinking about the precious life of Rachel Joy Scott, and the never-ending need for love and kindness.
Rachel Joy Scott
Rachel was born to Darrell Scott and Beth Nimmo in Denver on August 5, 1981, and died from gunshot wounds to the head on April 20, 1999 at the age of 17 — the first of those killed in the Columbine High School Massacre. It was 20 years ago today that Rachel lost her life, and began saving the lives of others. Her journals revealed that she had a more direct relationship with God than many, and that through this divine connection came the gifts of prophecy, real love, and a supernatural understanding of her life. Unless we have experienced this ourselves, or known someone with these gifts, it might be hard for us to believe — but it is oh so real. And the beliefs of others are not a requirement of our own.
When she was thirteen, Rachel traced her hands and wrote inside them”These hands belong to Rachel Joy Scott and will someday touch millions of people’s hearts.” Years later, after being reunited with the source of her prophetic realizations, her angelic spirit began reaching out, through her words, and touching hearts around the world — as they still are. Can you feel her precious hands on your impassioned heart right now?
Sarah Hartland, in “Rachel Joy Scott’s Journals Will Inspire You To Keep One,” says “In the wake of the tragedy, when the horrific story dominated news cycles across the country, Rachel’s story stood out. She was remembered by fellow students and her profound impact unfolded. But her story was not over, it was just beginning.” “As a teenager, Rachel kept a detailed journal of her struggles and her faith, a rare discipline for a modern teenager.”
The foretelling of her hands touching hearts was one of many prophecies contained within the pages of her six journals. On May 3, 1998, less than one year before her tragic death, she wrote “This will be my last year Lord. I’ve gotten what I can. Thank you.” On the morning of April 20, 1999, the fateful day that would take Rachel’s life and the lives of twelve others, she drew a picture of two eyes crying thirteen tears on to a flower. The tears turn into droplets of blood when coming close to the flower. Really. She drew this that morning before going to school. And the perpetrators hadn’t planned to kill 13 people — their plan had been to kill more than 500 with two bombs. They only began their shooting spree when the bombs failed to detonate.
“Rachel’s journals impacted her entire community in Littleton, Colorado, but her impact didn’t stop there. Her life’s story inspired ‘Rachel’s Challenge,’a popular anti-bullying school program, and the movie ‘I’m Not Ashamed.’ Rachel was right. She did touch millions of hearts.” says Hartland.
“Rachel’s Challenge is the most powerful intervention I have seen in 40 years of working in education,” says Dr. Robert Marzano.
Profile of Rachel’s Challenge
Rachel’s Challenge exists to equip and inspire individuals to replace acts of violence, bullying, and negativity with acts of respect, kindness, and compassion. Rachel’s Challenge is based on the life and writings of Rachel Joy Scott who was the first victim of the Columbine school shootings in 1999. Through her example, Rachel’s Challenge is making a positive impact in the lives of millions of people every year.
Superintendents, principals, teachers, parents, and students bring Rachel’s Challenge into their schools because of escalating problems such as: bullying, student isolation, teen suicide, discrimination, school violence, and increased disciplinary actions. Through powerful presentations, trainings, community events, and professional development, Rachel’s Challenge provides the sustainable solution.
Rachel’s inspiring story provides a simple, yet powerful example of how small acts of kindness and acceptance motivate us to consider our relationships with the people we come in contact with every day. Rachel’s Challenge renews our hope that our life has meaning and purpose. Rachel’s story gives us permission to start our own chain reaction of kindness and compassion, which positively affects the climate in our schools and communities.
Scope of Effectiveness
A few weeks after the tragedy, Darrell Scott, Rachel’s father, spoke to a Congressional House Judiciary Committee regarding issues of school violence. His speech has become one of the most widely read documents on the internet. Shortly afterwards, he founded “Rachel’s Challenge”, a bullying and violence abatement program. More than two million students annually experience Rachel’s Challenge and have the opportunity to accept the challenges, modeled after Rachel’s life and writings.
Students in the United States and several other countries have heard the universal message of kindness and compassion through Rachel’s story. Since inception, over 25 million people have heard Rachel’s story in live settings around the world, at least eight school shootings have been prevented, and over 500 suicides have been averted. The Scott family and other Rachel’s Challenge certified presenters have reached millions more on popular media outlets like CNN, Fox News, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Larry King Live, Oprah, Dateline, O’Reilly Factor, Hannity and Colmes and numerous others. Mr. Scott has also authored three books, including the bestseller “Rachel’s Tears.”
Darrell meets regularly with politicians and educators, and is also a keynote speaker at many large educational venues. He met with President Bill Clinton on two occasions and President George W. Bush has written a personal letter recommending Rachel’s Challenge.
Contact — For more information on how to have a Rachel’s Challenge event at your school or conference, please contact us at 877- 895-7060, or visit our website at www.rachelschallenge.org.
Turning Tragedy Into Triumph
Love can transform tragedy into triumph — whatever our spiritual orientation. Through love, death can bring hope. Loss can bring compassion. Suffering can bring deliverance from the human things in life. Focusing on the love — our love for humanity, nature, the earth, and spirituality — will help us rise and “see” from up above the pain. Love is everything.
In “How To Turn A Personal Tragedy Into A Triumph,” Jodie Gale says there have been lots of inspirational people who have shown us that, even in the face of unthinkable tragedy, it is possible to find meaning from our suffering. She goes on to offer 11 ways to help us do this, including the suggestion that we read the following inspirational stories: “The Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela, Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl, I Beat the Odds: From Homelessness, to the Blind Side, and Beyond by Don Yaeger, A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer, Gandhi: An Autobiography by Gandhi, The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank and Left for Dead by Samantha Barlow.”
Gary Heavin, who together with his wife Diane founded Curves, the world’s largest fitness franchise, says he had an epiphany while teaching a fitness class one day. In “Turning Tragedy Into Triumph,” Heavin says that, while teaching his class, he suddenly realized that what has driven him all of his life — what has determined his destiny — is his desire that no little boy has to find his mother as he found his. When he was 13, Heavin, along with his eight and nine year old little brothers, found their mother, who had been heavily medicated for high blood pressure, dead from a stroke. He says her premature death, and the high blood pressure that contributed to the blood clot that took her life, were unnecessary. Her life could have been saved by a regimen of healthy nutrition and regular exercise. From her tragic death grew Curves, which is now saving the lives of millions of women around the world.
In “10 Inspiring Stories Of People Who Turned Tragedy Into Triumph,” Heather Ramsey tells the story of Nash Schupbach, and nine others. On June 19, 2014, five month old Nash died of positional asphyxiation at his babysitter’s, while his parents were at work. Shelly and Todd, Nash’s parents, didn’t want his legacy to be one of sadness. “As Nash’s six-month birthday approached on July 9, 2014, family members decided to honor him by doing random acts of kindness in his name. They agreed to do that on the ninth of every month at least until his first birthday. With each act of kindness, they would hand out a card with the baby’s picture and the words “Have a Nash day.”
The idea took off on social media, and soon people all over the US were participating in “Have a Nash day.” Then someone in Spain posted, and the Schupbachs realized it had gone international. Now, Shelly’s excited about Nash’s birthday again because of all the people who are honoring her son.”
Such links of love can together form a chain that will help transform the world. But many of them are invisible — either because people simply don’t know about them, or because they’ve been forgotten over time. So let’s create a Chain of Love Club that will connect them all together, make them visible, and then maintain them in our day-to-day routines.
Chain Of Love
While heading for Hilo on the Keaau-Pahoa Road the other day, I was telling my friend April about the “Chain of Love” post I was working on. Being one of the kindest people I’ve ever known, April was immediately interested, and asked her daughter Juliette to pull me up a youtube song. Here’s the song: “The Chain of Love” by Clay Walker. Wow! How much better could a lyric fit the moment? Even if you’re not crazy about Country, you might connect with the story in this song. Below is the chorus, and for the complete set of lyrics, please click here.
“You don’t owe me a thing
I’ve been there too
Someone once helped me out
Just the way I’m helping you
If you really wanna pay me back
Here’s what you do
Don’t let the chain of love end with you”
Songwriters: Jonnie Barnett / Rory Lee
As an angel lifted me and gave me hope some years ago, I am a messenger of hope for her today. Ally picked me up and gave me strength to carry on, when I was struggling hard a long, long time ago. She didn’t know, we often won’t — but our love WILL make a difference, though its tale may go untold.
The Chain of Love Club
So let’s create a chain to connect all the links of love — a chain of love — that tells the stories of the kindness people show us, those who gave their love and suffered, bled, or died, and those whose kindness hasn’t yet been so applied.
Please stay tuned, as we’re in the process of developing an innovative “Chain of Love” application — a “Chain of Love Club.” Our vision is a web-based social media platform connecting people to share their kindness stories through threads of pictures, videos, text, and clickable links. We will do our best to keep you posted about the shape, color, and texture of this evolving project as it unfolds.
In the meantime, please use one of the methods referenced in this post, follow Joe’s suggestion in the song, or simply offer a smile, encouraging word, or caring gesture to everyone you meet and encourage them to pass it on to everyone they meet — unless it seems unsafe to do so.
And, if you would be so kind, please share your stories as comments to this post — until we get the site or app developed for your use.
Let’s make this a way of life, like breathing — let’s honor those like Rachel Scott and help them make a difference! Together we can do most anything!
Photo Credit: Rachel’s Challenge