I am obscene.

I clicked on the video link: “Iraqi Christians Persecuted”.  As the three-minute tragic story ends, a legitimate tear appears in my eye.  I think, “so sad”, but don’t even utter those words aloud, as I slowly shake my head.

And then I clicked another link.  I opted for a 2:14 feel-good video.

That really happened.

I have gotten into the habit of watching one or two or, if time permits, three short videos a day.  It has become part of my personal entertainment grid that I have added to checking email, Instagram, Facebook and, well, whatever.

Somehow, though, the Iraqi Christians getting beheaded got lost in that grid.

Until God.  Until God put this article in front of me last night after I played with my Pinterest and before I clicked on my Kindle app.

It was short, well written and even had the accompanying 3:55 audio to keep my brain in focus.

One line punched me in the face: Not mincing any words, the author called the world’s indifference to ISIS’ mass execution of Christians “obscene.”

It insulted me, calling out MY obvious indifference.  IT called ME obscene.  No, it screamed to me: YOU ARE OBSCENE.

I have never had one of my links condemn me.

The article was the last thing on my mind last night as I toss and turned and finally, and comfortably, fell asleep.  Then, it was the first thing on my mind this morning.

So, this morning, I  re-read the article.  And re-read it again. And then, once again.

imagesIt’s true.  I am one of the obscene.

I am one of the many that has buried my head in the sand under the guise of “but what can I do about it?”

I believed the blatant lie that “I am help-less.”

But am I?

I had read and heard the word ISIS MANY times recently.  But, I confess that I haven’t known (nor did I care enough to find out) what that acronym stands for.  I had surmised that ISIS is the BAD GUYS.

But then I finally clicked on the link inside the article.  It tells me this about ISIS:

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is not a loose coalition of jihadist groups, but a real military force that has managed to take over much of Iraq with a successful business model that rivals its coldblooded spearhead of death.   It uses money from banks and gold shops it has captured, along with control of oil resources and old-fashioned extortion, to finance its killing machine, making it perhaps the wealthiest Islamist terrorist group in the world. But where it truly excels is in its carnage, rivaling the death orgies of the Middle Ages. It has ruthlessly targeted Shiites, Kurds and Christians.

“They actually beheaded children and put their heads on a stick” a Chaldean-American businessman named Mark Arabo told CNN, describing a scene in a Mosul park. “More children are getting beheaded, mothers are getting raped and killed, and fathers are being hung.”

I also learned that this is taking place in NINEVAH….yeah, remember when Jonah preached and the people repented and turned to God?  Yeah, it’s their great, great, great, (etc) grandchildren.  Their families are the ones that are being raped, beheaded and massacred.  Their descendants are being driven from the very place that Jonah preached THOUSANDS of years ago.

This is not a one time, isolated event.  It is going on while I am checking Facebook and pinning on Pinterest.  I have attempted to imagine that kind of fear–that type of aggression–in my town, my neighborhood, my street.  What would it look like for them to drive their jeep into my driveway…?  Our American borders mean nothing to them.  I know this now–I am, finally, becoming informed.

We are part of their several-thousand-year-old-plan.  When I say “we”, I mean those of us that won’t renounce our Christian or Jewish faith…well, basically any faith that is not theirs.

This isn’t a trend.  This is not a Youtube video that stops when the 3:55 is over.

My indifference has been obscene.

Truly, all (ok, most) of us WANT to DO SOMETHING.  That has been proven by the recent ALS challenge.  We are ready and willing to pour a cold bucket of water over our heads, post the video AND even write the check.  We are also eager….

So what can I do?  (Emphasis on any of these words.)

I have four suggestions, not necessarily in this order:

1. Think.  What do I have at my fingertips?  Where is my influence?

When I lived in Montgomery, I had a LOT of influence, but now that I live in Georgia, I have almost nill.  But when I THOUGHT ABOUT IT, I realized that I blog.  As a fairly new blogger, I have 72 subscribers, and if only 25% of those read it, than I have influenced a handful of people to possibly not be obscene!  That is progress.

Who do you influence even in small, seemingly insignificant ways? 

2. Ask God.  Yes, ask God what YOU can do.  He speaks to those that have ears to hear: i.e., Jonah.

3. Google.

We all Google everyday, all day.  And we Google what we want to Google

So take time, a real purposed block of time, to Google a few things, like the phrase: Arabic N  (It is the symbol/letter on this kid’s shirt to the right. You will be astounded.)

Then, Google ISIS.  Google Persecuted Iraqi Christians. This is not for the faint of heart.  Nor is it for the obscene.

Also, watch the videos–they are horrible but watch them anyway. 

Then, think again.   And ask God again what your role is in this.

4. Become less obscene.  It really is a choice.

 

 

 

 

 

Thoughts on Liquor (“see beer”) and Other Unsolicited Advice

As we dumped each of our three boys at their respective colleges, I slipped an envelope onto their pillows.

That envelope contained two decades of brilliant advice on many of the intricacies of life from road trips and beer to porn and dating to fraternities and stupid stuff. (Connecting the dots, optional.)

One son stuck it on his bulletin board where it stayed all year.  Another son carried it around in his back pocket and made his friends read it–one of his friends absconded it and reprinted in the UA student newspaper.  

The other son?  Ahhhhhh, it may still be in the original envelope! 🙂

Sending kids off to college ain’t easy…after all, for many, it truly is a 4 (or 5 or 6) year party.  So unsolicited advice, especially from mom, may not be, uh, appreciated.  That, however, didn’t stop me from putting it out there!

Herein lies the greatly abbreviated version.  The full version in PDF form is available for here for download:  Alphabetical Advice BLOG COPY

Enjoy!

Alphabetical Advice from Your Mama

Authenticity. Be the same with everyone, all the time, no matter where you go.

Beer. You can legally try it when you are 21. It dulls the brain and heightens your ability to make really stupid decisions. (Note: “Stupid Stuff”)

Bible. Read it. If it bores you, there’s a reason.  Ask God why and don’t be surprised by the answer.

Cynicism. Defined as pessimism, sarcasm, and suspicion. Catering to this results  in skepticism in life. It coughs up like the flu causing no one to want to be around you.

Dating. Take girls out on REAL DATES! Every date helps you to hone down what you want and don’t want in a future bride.

Drugs.  They are not an option for your life. Don’t take any meds without your name on the little plastic bottle. Leave the pot for potheads.

Education. It’s why you are there.  It’s expensive. Real expensive. Get our money’s worth.

Eternity. Think about it. It is real.

Eyes. Avoid pollen and porn. Both are irritants that will totally alter your vision of reality and make you itch when you need to be doing other things.

Fraternity. It’s not life. Just a part of it. Don’t sell your soul, your morals, your ethics or yourself to it. Be real in it. Don’t waste the myriad of opportunities that God gives you there.

Friends.   Treat them how you want them to treat you, even when they don’t deserve it. Dispense grace freely. You will never regret doing that–never. Build a good range/type of friends and try to talk with them deeply. Ask them occasionally how they really are, and really listen to their answer.

Girls. Treat all girls like ladies, even when they are not acting like ladies. That is a true gentleman. Avoid the easy ones.

God.  Trust Him, especially in the dark.  Unfortunately, there will be lots of dark.

Honesty. Don’t ever hedge the truth. Ever. Not even once under any circumstance. If the truth ain’t good enough, the truth ain’t good enough.

Humble. Be humble. Take the least seat, the last place, the lowest job. Rewards abound.

Ignore.  Ignore the voices.  There will always be voices.

Injuries.   Broken hearts heal–nurse them but not too much or people won’t want to be around you. Broken bones need casts. Broken skin needs Neosporin. Broken souls need Jesus.

Jesus.  Get to know Him better.  He will be more faithful than your friends, your brothers or your parents.  He gets where you are in life.

Kangaroos. This has nothing to do with your college experience unless you transfer to Austin College in Sherman Texas. (yes, that is their mascot.)

Laziness. Avoid it. If you are bored, then it’s time to really re-evaluate your life…and likely your grades!

Liquor. (see “beer”)

Mirror. Look in it once a day to check for stuff in your teeth and to make sure you know who is looking back. Make sure you like who is looking back. If you don’t, get a new mirror. 

No. Good word to use when your friends ask you to go out and you have a test to study for. (see “Education”)

Others. Look for the “least of these” and be kind to them. You will never regret doing that.

Parents. We will treat you like an adult and we expect you to act like one. But, we are still your parents. So, when you need a shoulder to cry on, we have four.

Politics. Listen more than you talk. Weigh your words carefully before you talk. Verrrrry carefully.

Quiet time.   Personal quiet time is good. You need it more than you realize. No phone, no computer, nobody.

Reputation. It is a lot easier to screw it up then it is to maintain it. It always goes before you.

Road trips. Make as many as you can if a) you can afford it, b) it doesn’t affect your day-to-day education. (See “Education”)

Roommates. When you are ticked at them do something nice for them. It is a good pattern to get into. And it works wonders.

Smoking. It’s illegal until you are 19. It causes cancer.  Listerine don’t hide the odor. (I know what both smell like, separate and together.)

Snobbery. You are not better than anyone.

Stupid Stuff. It happens. Get it right, then get over it.  Fall down seven times, get up eight.

Tongue. Guard yours or it will bite you.

Underwear. Make sure you always have some that is clean.

Venereal disease. It’s fairly simple to avoid, so avoid it.

Video Games. If you are more proud of your game scores than your GPA, be concerned. (See “education”)

Weather. Dress appropriately. I won’t be there to remind you to wear your coat 🙁

Xcess. Anything in excess is not good for you. Especially M&M’s.  

Yodeling. It relieves tension. Go ahead, try it.

Z. Get some zzzzz’s every night.  They are marvelous!

 Free Downloadable PDF, EXPANDED version Alphabetical Advice: Alphabetical Advice BLOG COPY

 

Inconceivable!

img561He was the least considered person in the room and yet, by far, the one with the most power.

He was about to ask the two of us a few straightforward questions that would significantly alter our lives.

We were expected to give only a pre-planned, two-word response. The implications of these two words were truly inconceivable.

This is what we heard: “Do you, [insert name], promise to blah blah blah blah.”  (That’s not what he said.)

Respectively, we replied as instructed: “I do.”

What were we thinking!?  

We weren’t.

We just loved each other smack dab in the middle of all the butterflies flitting and the gardenias emitting.  We also assumed, like the other 2,487,000 U.S. couples that got married in 1984 (a record high, sorta), that the lovin’ feeling would stick around.

But I gotta tell you, I had put a lot more time planning the menu and sewing my Princess Di wedding dress than I did contemplating or considering those promises that I was about to make.

I do recall a very brief conversation we had with the preacher prior to the big day.  He asked, “You do want the traditional vows, correct?”  “Yes,” we replied, in unison, “of course.”  After all, we had heard them dozens of times, so we were very familiar with them. (blah, blah, blah)

During the thirty years since our “I do’s”, I have come to realize the implications of those two powerful words.   I had literally and legally obligated myself to love this guy, comfort this guy, honor this guy, not cheat on this guy AND even to OBEY this guy.

ON TOP OF THAT, I agreed that I’d do those things whether he was sick as a dog, poor as a church mouse, or mean as a snake!! (Ok, not in those words, but basically, that’s what they meant!)

And this verbal obligation was valid until one of us kicked the bucket.  WOW.  This stuff was MUCH weightier than I thought.  Ok, I hadn’t really thought…img562

Quite frankly, 16 months prior to that moment I had been totally unaware of this guy’s very existence.

The other day I casually asked that same man if he wanted to renew our vows for our upcoming 30th wedding anniversary.  His responding glance said, “why would I do that?  I meant it the first time I said it.” 

I dropped it.

(As an aside to the vow thing, glances are amazing.  With four quick glances, we can have a two-day knock-down, drag-out fight.  This is much less taxing. Zero regrets.)

I, though, have actually put some thought time into the whole vow thing.  If I had a do-over, I wouldn’t say the same thing.  I wouldn’t use those same words.  My vows would be different.

In retrospect, I would paraphrase what our lives have morphed into over the last 30 years.

Let me explain with two tales: (or skip the tales and jump to the end)

Tale #1

A few years back, I held a marketing position at a local restaurant.  During my first few weeks there, some of the employees were very aloof.  But after a while they warmed up to me. (Occasionally, I can be funny; fortunately, that is endearing.)

One day, after a bit of laughter, one of the gals, Regina, cocked her head back, smiled at me and said, “You alright, Miss Karen.  I’d kill a brick about ya.”

I sensed that this was a compliment, but I didn’t comprehend what she said.  I know I looked perplexed so I just uttered, “Huuuuh?”

She smiled and spoke more clearly for me: “I’d kill a brick about ya.”

I squinted my eyes as she grinned, knowing that I still didn’t’ get it.

So, I had to ask, “what does that meeeeean….?”

Regina rolled her eyes, leaned in and very slowly explained, “It means that if anybody ever messes with ya, I. Got. Your. Back.”

Tale #2

The other day while in my kitchen, I was caught up in a Katie Couric show about stuttering.  For a variety of reasons, I was very moved by the few minutes that I watched.  Tears weren’t flowing, but I was sniffling.

About that time my husband walked through the kitchen behind me.  I heard him as he stopped in his tracks and, with a bit of urgency in his voice, he asked, “are you alright?”  I turned around.  He noted with a quick glance that I was ok.  He kept walking out the back door.  The rest of his thought involuntarily came out his mouth, “I thought you were crying.”

This man that I have coexisted with for 30 years didn’t consciously realize that when he asked that very simple question, my entire BEING heard:  “I LOVE YOU, I ADORE YOU!  It matters to me what is going on inside of you!…… I GOT YOUR BACK!!!” 

I swooned.

swoon |swo͞on| verb. be emotionally affected by someone or something that one admires; become ecstatic

_______________________

img565So, if I had a do over, I’d still make my Princess Di wedding dress, I’d have a ton of flowers and I’d keep that very long aisle.  I’d still invite everybody and their second cousin to the shin-dig, I’d still have Margaret paint me up, and I’d still have a gianormous reception.  I’d even have the same groom.  No regrets there.

But I would think more about the vows and try to comprehend the inconceivable implications of each word that I was about to proclaim. My look-into-his-eyes would be just as longing, but, instead, I would say,

 “Tim, I got your back.  I’d kill a brick about ya.”

(Obnoxious organ music. Exit.)