When Did Life Get So Ugly?

I have a confession to make, O readers of the daily news! Lovers of newsprint. Subscribers to U.S. News and World Report.

“Hello. My name is Kim and I get my news online.”

I used to devour the daily news in paper form. Folding it this way and that, getting black ink on my hands then on my clothes. Loving the scent of the ink and the newsprint and even dreaming of a chance to be Kim–Girl Reporter.

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But after living in a remote location with no daily newspaper, I now get all my news online.

And I’m not sure I like it.

The world has shrunk. The internet has grown (thank you so much, Al Gore.)

We laugh at the insurance commercial where the pretty girl is meeting her “French model boyfriend” she met on the internet. “Bonjour!”

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We know not all is truth. We know that often the good doesn’t get reported. We know that there is so much spin that we get dizzy on the merry-go-round of information.

And yet. When did life get so ugly?

I have to believe that it is beyond just getting one-sided news. That gore sells. That ugly sells. That we are voyeuristic and flawed and want to read the sensational.

Instead we are pummeled by a world I no longer can comprehend.

Last night I perused the news. Online.

An Australian man, aged 22, in the United States on a college baseball scholarship goes for a jog in a small Oklahoma town and in the proverbial story of being in the wrong place at the wrong time story, jogs past a group of bored teenagers who decide to kill someone “for the fun of it.” They followed him and shot him in the back and he died in the street.

Since when did the option of killing someone become the answer for teenage boredom?

Our kids were bored plenty of times and my go-to answer to the summer-time, “I’m bored” wail was the garage needed cleaning, the house paint needed scraping and there was always laundry to be done and I was amazed at how quickly the boredom was squelched.

But murder? For fun?

What have we come to?

And a story out of Denver. Not in the “hood” but in an area where people walk to ball stadiums and restaurants and shops, a place where man of my dreams and I walked a few short weeks ago, a man walked into someone snapping a picture. Called a photo-bomb–where someone you weren’t wanting in your picture drops into it unexpectedly, the group of three took exception to this man’s mistake and beat him unconscious. In front of witnesses who called 911. In a crowd of people. Broke his facial bones. Caused him to go blind in one eye. Beat him till his brain bled. Beat him until he could not speak.

Because he dared to disturb a picture being taken on a cell phone.

???????????????????????????????

They were arrested and are out on bail.

Which I’m sure is comforting to the man recovering in a Denver hospital.

You know, we’re not talking National Geographic photography here. Trying to get that just-right photo that will win the Pulitzer. And some oaf sees you taking the picture and decides to be a spoiler. By all accounts, the man just walked by not realizing he was cramping the photographers style by getting in the picture.

Haven’t we all done it? And said, “Sorry.” Or “Excuse me.”
Or laughed in embarrassment and offered instead to take the picture so the photographer could get in the shot with friends.

I don’t even know who or what they were taking pictures of, but whatever it was, or whoever it was, was it worth beating another human being senseless for making a mistake?

Who are we? And what happened to decency? And mercy? And grace?

What happened to simple kindness? And patience? And understanding life is less than perfect?

And sometimes life is boring. And sometimes things go wrong. But life is precious. And precarious.

And there, but for the grace of God, go I?

The final straw was this.

A letter slipped under a grandmother’s door in Canada. A grandmother who cares for her Autistic grandson in the summertime and it appears, God forbid, allows him to go out in public.

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Here is part of the letter via Yahoo News.

Dear Lady living at this address,

I also live in this neighbourhood and have a problem!!!! You have a kid that is mentally handicapped and you consciously decided that it would be a good idea to live in a close proximity neighgbourhood like this???? You selfishly put your kid outside everyday and let him be a nothing but a nuisance and a problem to everyone else with that noise polluting whaling he constantly makes!!! That noise he makes when he is outside is DREADFUL!!!!!!!!!! It scares the hell out of my normal children!!!!!!!!!”

The letter goes on to state:

  • Crying babies, music and even barking dogs are normal sounds in a residential neighbourhood!!!!! He is NOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • He is a nuisance to everyone and will always be that way!!!!!! Who the hell is going to care for him????????? No employer will hire him, no normal girl is going to marry/love him and you are not going to live forever!!
  • [T]hey should take whatever non retarded body parts he possesses and donate it to science. What the hell else good is he to anyone!!!!
  • You had a retarded kid, deal with it… properly!!!!! What right do you have to do this to hard working people!!!!!!!!!
  • I HATE people like you who believe, just because you have a special needs kid, you are entitled to special treatment!!! GOD!!!!
  • Go live in a tralier in the woods or something with your wild animal kid!!! Nobody wants you living here and they don’t have the guts to tell you!!!!!

And finally, this. “Do the right thing and move or euthanize him!!! Either way, we are ALL better off!!!”

I especially love how this highly educated and caring neighbor who never met an exclamation point she didn’t like, who types a letter but can’t use spell check, calls on the name of God, the creator of ALL life, to proclaim her hatred for this poor grandmother.

Recently, I went to Wal-Mart to get some things for my Mom. The moment I entered the store I could hear a boy sobbing and wailing in the front of the store while his Mom coaxed him into the checkout line. He looked to be about 10. Clean and neatly dressed but obviously upset that his mother had not done what he’d wanted. It was loud. It was disruptive. There were murmurs of “If it was my child, I’d….” from other customers and lots of staring and dirty looks.

All the while, the mother ignored the wailing, writing her check, conversing with the checkout clerk over the noise about did her frozen food need double wrapped. She looked hurried and harried and did not make eye contact as she finished her shopping and took the boy’s hand to leave. The quiet was deafening.

I had a hard time watching this sad ballet of life with an autistic child. Knowing that while it had worn on my nerves the fifteen minutes I stood there, how it must erode the life and heart and soul of this mother.

She had to hear. She had to know. But she needed bread and milk and out of the house for a few minutes so she depended upon the kindness and understanding of strangers.

Because isn’t that what we are supposed to be?

Is my life so puffed up and important that I no longer can be kind and instead of chastising a mother who has laid upon her bed night after night asking the question, “I won’t live forever. What happens when I can no longer take care of my beloved son?” we can be kind and if not offer a hand at least not offer a knife that cuts to the heart of a woman who did not ask for what she has.

Because did any of us?

When I lived in Houston and was at the lowest of the low points of my life, when I really wondered if I could get up the next day and even put one foot in front of the other because my heart was broken and life was raw, I stopped at a stop sign in my subdivision. Ready to be home at the end of another long day. Another car stopped at his side of the three way stop and as I started to pull forward, the car load of teen age boys made faces and rude gestures and screamed ugly words out the window while screeching tires as they cut me off in the street.

Lauren was car seat small. Too small really to know or understand what had happened. But scared because of the slamming brakes and her Mama crying over boys she didn’t even know and had never seen before being ugly for fun.

I’m sure they don’t even remember it 20 years later as they live now in subdivisions just like that and have car seat small boys and girls that they love and look at the world around them and read the news and wonder when did life get so ugly.

Small graces change a life. A smile. A whispered prayer for the mother of the hard child (for who hasn’t wrestled a temper throwing two-year old wishing for all the world the floor would swallow the both of you while the world watched you struggle?) instead of judgement. Not using the gesture or making the face or showing that you were in a hurry and your messy life is causing me grief. Because the next time it may be us. And we all need the milk of human kindness.

So today, speak love. Show mercy. Speak grace. Bring beauty into your corner of the world because if enough of us do, the world will be filled with love. And mercy. And grace. And kindness. In darkness, light shines the brightest.

Please, by all that is holy, shine the Light where ever you are. Create beauty. Practice kindness. Teach it to your children. Our lives depend on it.

"Be ye kind to one another." Ephesians 4:32

“Be ye kind to one another.” Ephesians 4:32

Square Pegs in Round Holes

square-watermelons-1Someone in Japan didn’t watch the old margarine commercial where Mother Nature brings on a show of thunder and lightning after eating Chiffon margarine that she thought was butter. “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature!” she says as the thunder rolls and the animals cower.

So what would she think of this photo from Japan?

Square watermelons!

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for progress. And good food. And plenty of fridge space.

The idea behind the square watermelon is that it fits better in the fridge and is easier to cut.

Guess they never watched Gallagher with a sledge-o-matic! Not sure he cares. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gasAFyonmmI (sorry for the bad word. Just watch the first part :0)

 

But maybe he does! No one has to worry about that pesky watermelon rolling off the table just as the sledge-o-matic falls to splatter said watermelon across the first 3 rows of people who hopefully wore rain coats to the show.

But something about the picture got to me.

Did anybody ask the watermelon how it felt about being squished into a square?

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Not to get all Earth Mama on you, but did they? Does it matter? Is it just another improvement and another quirky thing and who cares?

I guess the thing that bothers me is that mankind is never satisfied with things as they are. And God did create us with intelligence and curiosity. Where would we be without it? But how far is too far?

There is a big push back right now against GMO or genetically modified foods and wondering at the health implications and I don’t want to get into that here. Google it. There is a wealth of info on the safety of our food and how government and big business affects what you and I put in our shopping carts.

But my question is this….when we can so manipulate things like watermelon for convenience, do we do the same with people?

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I always have marched to the beat of my own drummer. Just ask my Mama! Really, each of us should.

Yes, cooperation. Yes, manners. Yes, there are things that we need to come together on so that society can function. Yes, we need to learn to work together and get along and hold jobs and do meaningful work on this planet.

But God made me who I am. And I am not like anyone else. I am unique. (Ask Man of my Dreams!) I may remind you of somebody, but when God knit me together in my mother’s womb putting DNA data from two unique individuals to create another individual, the Kim that was created is the only one. (If you have children, you know what I’m talking about! Your kids may share some attributes, but they are not alike.)

And this probably sounds a little crazy and probably too deep for the watermelon farmer in Japan who just tried to solve the problem his wife was having with not enough storage space for that darned round watermelon, but I felt sad for those little melons all squished into boxes that they were never designed for.

I know how it feels. Being pushed into a box at work or school that just doesn’t quite fit. Told to stay there because that is what is acceptable. Even as you grown and change and the box pinches and you. just. want. out.

More and more society wants everything homogenized. Manageable. We get used to our boxes and seek a safe life. An understanding of how life works so we can manage it. No surprises like a kid who learns better standing by his desk jumping up and down. Or a job loss. Or someone who does not love us anymore.

Man of my dreams and I recently embarked on an adventure of getting from the life we have to the life we want. And the life we believe God wants for us. It is a Grand Adventure and there is a spark in my tummy that wasn’t there a few weeks ago. We’ve seen the signs on the path “Here there be Dragons” but we are forging ahead anyway.

Anything worth having is worth slaying a few dragons.

Or refusing to be put into the box so your life looks like everyone else’s.

What about you? Box? Or No Box? Love to hear your thoughts!

Lessons from Chocolate

Un cuore nel cioccolatoToday women from our church and community gathered for a baby shower. We ooh-ed and ah-ed over tiny crocheted cowboy boots and the scent of baby wash and the softness of tiny sleepers.

It was a good afternoon. There was cake. That I didn’t have to make. Any event is better with cake. And punch. And nuts. And cookies.

(And did I say there was cake?)

We laughed. A lot. And shared experiences. And felt the joy that comes from being with other women and being in a community of caring and coming together for celebration.

Celebrating life. And love. And hope.

Because you cannot look at a glowing expectant woman as the saying goes, “great with child” and not have hope for the future.

And God spoke. (Or I can get all King James on you, and say, He SPAKE.)

To me.

Through chocolate.

Man of My Dreams and I have been spending some time talking about the next phase of our lives. What we want it to look like. What we need to get there.

And we always come back to time.

Time to do the things we are gifted to do. Time for each other. Time to see our kids and one day, grand kids.

And time. Our lives are so busy and chaotic, how do we dig out of the chaos when we have no time? It felt like an insurmountable mountain. How do you get time when you have no time?

I believe God answers prayers. And I believe He speaks to us every day. We just have to look and listen.

We decorated for the shower with gift bags of baby things and scattered bright blue Dove chocolates on the tables for the guests enjoyment. (Even more important to a ladies event than cake is chocolate.)

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I unwrapped the bright blue foil and savored the chocolate, then turned it over and read the message inside…..

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And suddenly all the worries about how do we get from point A to point B seemed pointless. I realized as the chatter faded around me that the journey of a thousand miles truly begins with a step. And the answer to the insurmountable is to MAKE TIME for myself.

Dr. Phil once told me that you have to take care of yourself so you can take care of others.

And as women, isn’t that the hardest thing? If we’re hungry and our kids are hungry, we feed them and we wait. If our kids need to go to the bathroom, we cross our legs and smile and they go first. (Is that altruistic or practical? Because if they wet on the floor we clean it up anyway?) If we need clothes and they need clothes, guess who we shop for? We are masters at taking care of others.

But this seemingly selfish message is something I’m hearing everywhere. And when I hear the same thing over and over? I know it is God.

I’m not sure how I am going to do that. MAKE time for myself. Say no? Get some rest? Seek first the Kingdom of God and He’ll add it to me with the all things?

I’ll update the journey here. But God has spoken. And given permission. And used chocolate. THAT is serious stuff. Only thing more serious is if He’d written it in Royal Icing on the cake.

How do you make time for yourself?