The Gun Death of Innocence

I had planned to come home from Mass tonight and write about the incredible joy I felt at the honor of helping distribute ashes for Ash Wednesday tonight.

As it turns out, I was in such a rush to get to Mass, I had forgotten to turn off my TV. I knew there had been a school shooting in Florida, but I had seen a news scroll that had shown one dead.

At 9 pm, by the time I talked to friends after a long and crowded service and got some food to bring home for a late dinner, I walked in to hear there were 17 dead in the 18th school shooting  in the U.S. since the start of 2018 alone.

And my joy disappeared. All I could think of was the little babies and toddlers whose foreheads I had marked with the Sign of the Cross this evening. I don’t know any of their names ( we have a large, bi-lingual Church).  But I pray for all of them that they do not grow up to experience as teens what those students did today in Florida.

I saw so much innocence tonight at Church. And as the I-phone clips of the shooting and the interviews of the teachers, students and parents unfold across my TV screen,  I see the death of innocence too.

We can ask God “why.” But we also already know the answer. We love our guns too much. We value our privilege to own one far greater than we value human life. Our political machine loves the moneyed-oil of the NRA more than it cares about those victimized in our gun-obsessed society.

Bullets mean more than souls.

It is time for our elected officials, for gun fans, for all of us to ask – who in our society really needs semi-automatic and automatic rifles to protect their homes, to hunt animals in the woods? Just because we can have them, should we?

Why are we so afraid of thorough and complete background checks for the privilege of gun ownership if we have nothing to hide?  Why is it so inconvenient to wait a week or two to take possession of a weapon for that background check to be complete? I have waited longer to get a doctor’s appointment!

Why do we require people to take driving classes for the privilege of being on our streets, but not to carry a gun in public spaces?

Why do we allow people to carry those guns in a concealed manner so we don’t even know they have them?

We know these questions and we already know the sane answers to them.

Yet we let the insanity continue.

The real question is why we continue the insanity.

 

 

 

 

I Am Too Old for This, Aren’t I?

I am not sure why. I am probably the busiest I have been right now since my working days, and that is while traveling at half the speed of life I used to travel.

Maybe it is the lemming effect. Who knows.

But I have two friends-one younger and one older-than me who have had incredible luck on dating sites recently.

So I did something I told myself the other day I would never do again and joined one.

Not only have I never found lasting love on any dating site I have ever tried, I seem to be an especial target of scammers, be it a dating site, Facebook or even DM on Twitter.

I think I have already been hit up twice by a new form of this scheme on the dating site. Two different people have contacted me on behalf of others who are too shy to do it themselves but somehow they managed to see my picture and their friends want me to e-mail them privately. If anyone out there knows how these stories end, let me know, because I am not bothering to find out for myself.

If someone wants me to correspond, the least they can do is pony up the six-month service fee like I did.

I don’t know what I am expecting to find doing this:   A 60-year-old who doesn’t like golf, isn’t a successful something and hates walking on the beach with his non-athletic body? According to every profile I have read, he doesn’t exist.

They are all adventurous, romantic, honest, excellent communicators who love to travel, go to the theater, read voraciously, exercise daily and are looking for that “one special someone.”  No games please.

Sigh. I feel this may be another fool’s errand and I should have stuck to my resolve to be content on my own. I am afraid of giving up the dignity I have managed to gather these past few years after my last dating debacle.

It probably doesn’t help that the movie I was watching last night was about this English couple about to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary with a party when he receives news that a woman he had been hiking with in the mountains 50 years ago and who had fallen in the fissure of a glacier has been discovered – her body preserved. And that he starts confessing things to his wife about the situation she never knew before. Like he was the dead woman’s next of kin, for starters. In fact, they were sorta married. It goes quickly downhill from there.

I have to finish watching the movie tonight to find out the ending. Somehow I have a feeling the disappeared woman’s plunge into the fissure will have been no accident.

Just think I will be hitting “skip” on all those profiles showing outdoor hiking and climbing photos going forward.

Maybe I need to put “alpiners and scammers need not apply.” Or some new warning on my profile like that.

Then again, there may be no one left to be matched with if I do that.

Sigh.  I have always hated dating.  It is such a tentative state to be in.

What was I thinking? Aargh! Has anyone seen Lucy lately? Is the doctor in?

I may need to have my head examined.

 

 

 

He Only Hit Me Once


Why do we women have to show our bruises, wear our broken bones, expose our deepest humiliations in the most public ways before our tales of abuse are believed?

Why is it so difficult for an Orrin Hatch and a John Kelly to believe us? So easy for them to take at face value the Rob Porters of the world, to believe there is automatic truth in what he says because he knows how to play the game and make himself look good to those who “count.”

Why didn’t these women “count” when they relayed their experiences to the FBI and  were found credible enough to deny Porter a security clearance? How could he have been given a job of such extraordinary importance handling highly sensitive national security materials without that clearance?

What is wrong with the Trump Administration and the Republican Party that it has become standard fare to hear loud affirmations for the moral integrity of wife beaters, pedophiles, sex abusers and serial adulterers?

This is just a slice of what is wrong with the state of our union right now.  We have a Presidency that is absolutely contemptuous of human beings viewed as “lessor” than the predominantly white males running it, in coordination with a GOP dominated by the same.

At what point are we saved from this farce about “family values,” “respect for life” and “patriotism for Mom and apple pie?”

When does Trumpism fade away and common decency return?

“Have It Your Way”

“What do you have to offer Me that isn’t already Mine? Stop trying to bless Me. You can’t bless Me! The greater blesses the lessor. Let Me bless you. Only be submissive and let Me lead you daily.”  (From “The Prayer Warrior’s Ultimate Handbook”)

Wow, did I need to hear that today. For two days I have been teary-eyed and weary of heart that the sex trafficking event put on by our ministry was not better attended.  I know those who did come were sent by God.  I know those who attended were the ones God thought most needed to hear the message.

But my woe was about feeling like I failed the ministry and those who may fall victim to the sex trafficked life.  I have been in “savior” mode, believing so strongly that if enough people heard and cared, someone, somewhere, would be saved by it.

But that is not my job, to be a “savior.” That was Christ’s job, and his is the only sacrifice that truly counts.

To want to be lauded for doing great things on behalf of God is not the “Little Way” of St. Therese.  Nor is it doing “small things with great love” as St. Mother Teresa has said.

Instead I have been trying to do things Saul’s way, to use my own gifts and talents in the manner I deem important, rather than to “wait upon the Lord.”  I tried to force something to meet a deadline rather than let God’s will be done. Hence the bitterness of my tears.  Everything seems bitter when we don’t have it “our way,” doesn’t it?

”Have it your way.” That’s the world’s message, isn’t it? But like having “alternative facts,” it doesn’t help you live a true life, does it? And while it may be temporarily filling, the hunger always comes back.  While the “alternative” reality may be temporarily soothing, new realities come crashing in all the time, don’t they, upending one’s sense of comfort and complacency.

God’s Word, however, never changes.  Nor does his desire to offer endless grace and mercy, no matter how many times we do face plants trying to work our own will.

It is not just that works without faith are meaningless.  It is that works not led by Spirit are only work and nothing else.

All this I do for the sake of the gospel,
so that I too may have a share in it. (1 Corinthians 9:23)

Sex Trafficking of Teens: How To Spot It, How To Stop It

Suppose you and the dedicated volunteers you worked with spent two months working incredibly hard on putting together and advertising an important forum that affected teens and hardly anyone in the community bothered to show up?

Can you imagine it leaving you deflated, wondering what you did wrong, wondering why God didn’t better grace your efforts?

This is how I feel today, the questions I am asking, when only a handful of people came out to hear presentations on the dangers of domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST) that one of my ministries at Church sponsored last evening

The few dozen of the general public attended in response to the press releases that were written and published.

But the people I expected to care the most didn’t.  No one from other church youth groups, law enforcement, the court system or the public schools administration could be bothered.  Not after dozens and dozens of e-mails sent, personal letters sent, calls made and posters and fliers hand-delivered to Churches, schools, youth organizations, police departments.

Meanwhile, only one parent cared enough to bring her teen daughters to hear how they can recognize when they are being targeted by a trafficking predator.

So I am turning to my blog to share the facts so many couldn’t be bothered to hear last night:

  1. The domestic trafficking of minors is overtaking drug trafficking as the largest source of crime in our country.  Drug sales are a one-time interaction. Teens can be trafficked for sex over and over and over again.
  2. In the Atlanta metro area, the average trafficker earns $33,000 per week. And Atlanta is among the top 14 cities for trafficking because of our international airport.
  3. 76 % of trafficked teens are first contacted via the Internet and other social media. In the age of direct messaging, Instagram, Facebook and Snap Chat, teen girls and boys are one click away from a predator.
  4. Once they are trafficked, the average life expectancy for a trafficked teen is a mere 7 years. The average age of a trafficked teen is between 14-15.  That means that if trafficked, that child will likely die before reaching 22 years of age. The rest of their life time – gone, for the sake of adult pleasure and greed.
  5. Only 1% – or one in one hundred – domestic teens that are trafficked will ever be rescued from that life.  That means 99 out of 100 parents will never know what happened to their children. They will never hug them again.  They may never see them again, not even in death. Those children will simply be -vanished – into a life where they are used and abused over and over again. For adult pleasure. For adult greed.

For those thinking it can’t happen here – think again.  It happens daily in our subdivisions that we think are so safe and secure.  It happens on the Internet and other social media.  It happens in the malls, even when you drop your teens in groups and you think they are safe in numbers.  They aren’t.  It happens.

Please take the time to educate yourself and any teens in your orbit about this issue.  By the grace of God, it will be knowledge you need never use.  But by the grace of God, a teen might be saved because he or she can spot the signs and safely avoid falling prey to seven years of sexual servitude before they die.

Please visit the websites for Georgia Cares, the state agency tasked with this issue, or Rescuing Hope, a non-profit dedicated to education on this subject.

Please take the time.  It matters.  More importantly, it may matter for a teen you dearly love.