Time to Break the Ice

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My four-year-old, Grace was the most excited. She doesn’t care about missing school – in fact, she’d prefer not to. It was the actual snow that had her jumping and screaming.

Living in the south, we don’t see too many flakes fall. Grace was almost two the last time we got a good snow day and doesn’t really remember it at all. When the forecasters predicted 1-3 inches in our suburb north of Atlanta, I figured it was safe to assure her, that indeed, it would definitely snow. So, of course, by late afternoon Tuesday in the “surprise” or “predicted” (depending on who you are asking – the meteorologist or the mayor) snow, we were all dressed with four layers, boots, mittens and scarves ready to play. Who knows when we’ll see it again?

I followed my crew and a few neighborhood kids with the camera, snapping the obligatory pictures of snowball fights and sledding. Even my husband was home; his work released him early. He even beat my fourth-grader home on the bus.

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But somewhere between snapping pictures, drinking hot chocolate, changing into dry clothes, posting on Facebook and heading out again I was made aware of the many who didn’t make it home before their children’s buses and those buses who never showed up on the street corner with waiting mothers.

People all over my home city of Atlanta were stranded. One of my husband’s co-workers left work before him but headed into the storm and had to seek shelter at a Walgreen’s. He spent the night on the floor somewhere between the feminine products and Valentine’s candy.

Wednesday morning, as my children awoke to a full day of sledding and merriment, the news shared stories of those who spent all night in their cars, people needing food and medication.

At one point I stood in the backyard, camera to my face, framing up a picture of my daughter throwing snowballs at my husband, and I felt a little guilty. Not that I was wrong for enjoying my family. I don’t believe that at all. I just struggled with the dichotomy of my family enjoying the snow while others walked miles in it to be with their children or deliver food or babies. (Yes, one lady gave birth on I-285!)

No sooner than the guilt appeared, the Lord impressed on my heart – “Carol, how is this different than any other day?”

You see, every day there are hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands of people hurting all around us. Those with pains we cannot see – broken hearts, broken lives, loss and grief, disillusionment, hopelessness, bondage, loneliness… The list goes on and on.

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While I’m so proud of my city for stepping up and helping out during this crazy, icy mess we’ve been in for the past couple of days, I’m also asking myself what about every other day? What happens on Saturday when the weather is predicted to be 60 degrees, and the sun returns? Will the Snowed Out Atlanta Facebook page continue to be a source of help for people after the ice thaws?

I’m looking at the sequined lady in the mirror, too, friends. How can I live my life to serve those around me everyday? I want to be an Everyday Missionary – a person who stops to help when someone drops their groceries, who sacrifices to give to those who need, who gives time to friends who need to talk and shows grace when school systems make the call to close school too late.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:36-39 NIV

So as the snow thaws, I ask you fellow Atlantans and Americans, what are we going to do now? Let’s don’t wait for the next disaster to show love to our neighbors.

It’s time to break the ice. Don’t you think?

Carol

Boys with Guns

My son was nine when he got his first gun. Don’t worry – it was a Daisy Red Rider BB Gun. My husband claimed the bullets would bounce off a cat. Somehow I think he knew for a fact.

Still. I worried. I fretted. I called every girlfriend I knew with boys and asked if their sons were shooting guns. (I live in Georgia. Most ALL of those boys were already shooting guns.) But my dad wasn’t a hunter, so we didn’t have guns around the house (other than that rifle my mom used once to shoot a snake in the backyard to save my brother when he was three).

With much prayer and apprehension, I finally agreed to the gun. Of course, there were specific rules that would accompany the gun because, you know – he could shoot his eye out.

Christmas morning, the children opened all their gifts, except the gun. My hubby had to do it “Christmas Story” style and pull it out from behind the tree at the last minute. Colin was elated and ran outside immediately to try it out.

Shift gears with me now.

I chose to give my son a gun. A BB gun. Knowing full well he may shoot dings in my fence, stray birds and possibly – cats.

But what if someone gave my son a gun without my permission. An AK-47. And forced him to shoot people. Or me.

It’s happening, even as you read this. Sometimes in broad daylight, frequently in the dead of night, men are coming and snatching children from their homes and families to force them to become soldiers. The boys are often made to do unspeakable things to other boys or family members. Things they will be so ashamed of they wouldn’t dare try to return home again. The girls are most likely sold as sex slaves.

Lately, there’s been a lot of press on Joseph Kony, a Ugandan warlord that heads the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army). While numbers upward of 104,000 have been tossed around, it’s been said Kony has forcefully recruited at the very least 60,000 children.

I hate talking in big numbers because it’s not easy to grasp their enormity. So allow me to break it down for you. Imagine that each child is represented by one mile. The distance by plane from New York to Los Angeles is approximately 2,139 miles. So 60,000 of them would be a total of 28 flights or 14 round trips from one side of our nation to the other and back again.

Or let’s look at it another way. Each child is represented by a matchbox car. If we place those cars side to side (not end to end), with each one being about an inch wide, we could place side-by-side toy cars for almost an entire mile. That’s a lot of cars! Or I should say that’s a lot of kids!

So, why am I telling you about this? Because, Beloved, we need to know what is going on in the world around us. We have to stand with one voice and say enough is enough. Would you sit on your couch munching chips if it were your child?

So, let’s talk about what you and I can do.

1. Educate
Learn all you can about what’s going on. I’m terrible about not watching the news because it depresses me. But I need to be aware of what’s happening around me. Watch the movie about the Invisible Children. (Find it below) Click HERE to read some startling facts about child soldiers.

2. Give
Whether you give your time or your money, donate where and what you can. You can find the website for Invisible Children HERE if you want to donate to help support the child soldier cause. Or you can go HERE to Do Something. It’s a great website to find ways to help. You have the option to put in how much time and where you will be able to serve, then they will tell you some available places and opportunities.

3. Tell
Share what you’ve learned with others. Use Twitter, Facebook, Google +, Pinterest and other networking sites to share information you’ve found helpful to educate others. If others know, then these causes won’t be invisible anymore.

4. Pray
This really should be the first thing you do. Pray for those in political office to continue to support the search for Joseph Kony. Pray for the children who are sleeping by the hundreds on the grounds outside of hospitals and local village building so they do not have to sleep alone in their huts and risk abduction.

I won’t be able to watch my 10-year-old son shoot his BB gun without thinking of those precious boys who have been forced to take lives. Would you become an Everyday Missionary with me as we work to make a difference?

 

*This movie is 30 minutes long. It’s worth the watch. If you are like me, it’s hard to find a 30 minute block of time. So watch 15 minutes now and 15 minutes later, but please watch it. It’ll really help you understand what is going on.

 

Carol