Audra Krell

On Purpose

Archive for the category “Respect”

ICU

Our last day in the Centro Medico San Lucas hospital was the most difficult. We had few patients in post- op for hours and then the unit exploded. Suddenly there were several discharges, four new patients and an emergency trauma sitting in the waiting room. I’d heard about him all day. His injuries were extensive and he only spoke Mayan. Not a bit of Spanish.

The boy was 18, one year younger than our oldest son. He’d been in a horrible fight; someone hit him in the face repeatedly with a broken beer bottle. A local alley war changed the young man’s life forever. A split second decision left him with vision in only one eye and deep cuts which will certainly scar. He’s the victim of a drama with eternal consequences for all involved.

When he came to the PACU, his face bore the tracks of a hundred stitches. Some curved in the shape of a bottle, some random and jagged, the way angry glass carelessly claims it’s real estate. Surgical bandages covered his eye, his expression passive.

I expected terror and even rage, but the boy was somewhere deep inside himself, far away. My momma heart broke, for him and for everything that would be different now.

But it was his father who took my breath away. His father’s eyes that made me want to cry out in pain. His father spoke a little Spanish, but there aren’t enough words in the world, in any language, that I could speak to comfort him. As a parent, I grieved with him, worried over his internal heart injuries and wished I could literally infuse him with hope.

All I could do was use my eyes. We took gentle care of the boy and heaped grace and mercy on him in the form of blankets, water and pain meds. I smiled at his father at every turn, praying he could “hear” me.

I still pray he can hear me.

I see you brother. I’m standing with you. There is something much bigger than us here. God is with us and has plans for your son, plans to prosper and never fail him. Amen.

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Shifty Grades of Prey

 This is perfect for one of the covers of the 50 Shades of Grey Trilogy. So symbolic of the masks we manipulate to project our false selves.

My 16-year-old son and I sat in a small California airport last Friday night, waiting to catch a plane. He told me to look across from us, to my right and then behind me. Three women were reading 50 Shades of Grey. When we boarded, another woman was engrossed in her copy. That’s four women out of 60, plus those reading it on their e-reader. It was unlike anything I’d ever seen; that kind of math never happened with Potter, Hunger or Twilight.

As a writer and avid life-long learner, I read a lot of different things. This book was highly recommended by someone dear to me, I had no idea what it was, so I read it. The writing is repetitive, amateurish and won’t be up for literary awards. The content is mature, often erotic and mindless. In this case, none of those words are synonyms for entertaining.

Notice I did not put “shocking” on my descriptive list. Not because I’m experienced in the BDSM lifestyle, but because there is nothing new under the sun. A lifetime ago, while studying English Literature, I took a course called Principles of Obscenity. We read all the big ones, Story of O, Story of the Eye and shorter works by D.H. Lawrence. They were shocking to my 21 -year -old mind and unguarded heart. I learned, that really there are no principles to obscenity. Rather it’s the absence of principle that makes these fictional accounts a literary genre.

I find Fifty Shades simply the latest culture crusher to stand firm against. Next week a new magazine, book, essay, speech, movie, song, album, picture or other entertainment medium will prey on us and take it’s place in the number one spot.

Tomorrow we will still have to stand tall against the message that our marriage isn’t enough, your spouse isn’t everything you deserve, you’re not thin enough, we’re not pretty enough, you don’t think right, do things right, believe right, you’re too far right and you’re weak. All in all, the sun will probably rise tomorrow and with it the message that you aren’t enough and never will be.

The most troubling issue regarding 50 Shades, is the term “Mommy Porn.” Why is this okay? If one in six of our men were sitting in the airport reading a little “Daddy Porn” women would go crazy. It’s believed that pornography damages the image of women in the name of a cheap thrill.

50 Shades portrays the female character being degraded and emotionally damaged. Our culture embraces it by giving it a name and touting it on a national talk show. Why aren’t our men asking if they can have their porn featured on a talk show? It would never happen and the uprising would be like none other if  it did.

Even some feminists have praised the book. What? Women dedicate their lives to fighting for equal rights and then embrace a series of books that are in direct opposition to what they stand for.

People however, don’t need our judgement for reading this book or even for liking it. We need to see it for what it is, a gale wind in the storm of life. It’s an opportunity to stand right next to God’s people, shore them up and pray against cultural norm.

It’s not the first time the wind has howled and it won’t be the last.

Take the high road, ride your high horse if you must, but I won’t stop praying for you.

I hope you’ll do the same.

What has been your personal reaction to 50 Shades of Grey ideology and hype? Do the themes and content seem new?

Breakfast Club on Jazz

We attended closing night of the Phoenix Film Festival and saw Blue Like Jazz. The film opens nationwide on April 13.

Let me first say that I loved the book. God used it to change my life. Donald Miller gets abandonment. It was one of the first times I felt understood in my struggle with parental abandonment. Miller helped me to see that even though I didn’t feel worthy of people sticking around, I have a Father who has never left me.

In my ongoing heartbreak with subsequent familial abandonment, I return time and again to the truths I finally understood through Miller’s writing. God’s love lasts much longer than the stabs of current rejection. His love is the only thing that is eternal.

Now on to the movie. It’s not advertised for, nor is it appropriate for children or young teens. We took our 13 and 16 year old sons. I was embarrassed, and as mom to three teen boys, it takes some doing to make me blush. I also was uncomfortable with the mocking of Christianity. I get that for free every day out in the world, through all social media and especially on TV. My son lives it everyday at the University he attends, the other boys at their middle and high schools.

Some reviewers say the movie is a great conversation starter for Christian families and helps them transition their young adults to the next stage of life. I wonder where they think we live? Do they really believe all Christians live out in the country where the most violent act we witness is a calf being born? Where our biggest problem is what dress to wear to church on Sunday? No, Christians face the exact things the world does, on the same moment- by -moment basis. When I attend a film, I want to be taken away from the world, not forced to relive my college days in all their lewd glory.

Reviewers said the movie was going to have a hard time and comments like the one below tend to polarize viewers:

A challenging book to turn into a film due to its stream of consciousness narration, director Steve Taylor and crew have for the most part succeeded in turning out a generally entertaining film, but one that will probably be too centered on Christianity for those averse to religion and too “edgy” for those of the Christian faith who like their films Kirk Cameronesque. -Linc Leifeste, Smells Like Screen Spirit 

I agree, it was too difficult to turn Blue Like Jazz into a film. As a person of faith, an avid movie goer and someone who respects Kirk Cameron, I don’t prefer my films to be Kirk Cameronesque. I further don’t consider mocking Christianity for 95% of the film to be edgy in any way. It’s an effort to reach the masses with an attempt to entertain. Mocking anything is usually good for a sure laugh.

The central message of Blue Like Jazz the movie, is that every flawed creature is worthy of respect, which we know is the gospel truth. The film had the chance to go deep with that and ended up a glorified, modern day version of the Breakfast Club with a jazz soundtrack. Basically an “accept all sin now, just be certain to ask forgiveness later.”

I highly recommend the book, it’s a completely different experience.

Blue Like Jazz the Book

Inbound Marriage

This morning I was invited to the launch of the book Married But Looking. I have no idea what it’s about, but from a marketing and personal standpoint, it’s a message I don’t care about. I’m not intrigued.

Marriages everywhere would do well to think in terms of inbound marketing. We need to stop pushing our messages out and start pulling our spouse in. Many people spend time making themselves marketable to an unnecessary audience. As a committed partner, we shouldn’t even be looking for an audience; we have all we need at home. We spend thousands of dollars making ourselves presentable to the world, when the nurturing of our private life is neglected, choked and tangled.

All any of us want is to be known and loved for who we are. Often the persona we present to the world, isn’t at all who we are. Again, lots of money wasted on a mask that will crack and break. We don these masks and wake up one day lost in the culture, touting messages we never intended and dying, literally dying to be found.

I too, used to be caught in the sticky web of trying to please the world. When I woke up face down in a proverbial gutter, something whispered above the worldly noise. God’s voice reminding me I hadn’t been abandoned and never would be. He further reminded me of my purpose; to love my man. Getting back up wasn’t easy, but the less I looked at the world and the more attention I paid to my marriage, the quicker I healed.

A couple of weeks ago, I played percussion with the orchestra at church. We did one of my favorites, an amazing gospel version of I’ll Fly Away and Soon And Very Soon. I was to lay out during the intro and come in on the verse. I was just having myself a time; counting, swaying and tapping my foot.

Then I saw him.

My handsome husband’s face stood out  in a sea of 2000. It took my breath away and I was lost in him, thinking over and over, “I love him. I love him so much.”

My entrance came and went.

Come on Audra!” I snapped out of my dreamy reverie as the conga player commanded me to do my part. I spazzed on the tambourine and played on 1 and 3 instead of 2 and 4. All the while trying not to laugh out loud, because he still gets to me. (My husband, not the conga player.)

After knowing him for 26.5 years and being married for 19, Steve still deeply gets to me.

And so I’m grateful for the gift of God cracking my mask. I see much better now. The world is a cold, dark place which will never be satisfied with my efforts. But at home,in the safety of our marriage, the warmth and acceptance is everything I’ve ever wanted.

To connect intimately with your spouse, quit investing in outbound, pointless messages and take a hard look at what’s right in front of you. Use your powerful energy to build, grow and nurture a healthy, inbound marriage.

You don’t want your spouse to be married, but looking.

Homespun Normality

I’ve been devouring Henri J.M. Nouwen’s In the Name of Jesus. It’s a tiny book, but busting with intelligent thought, encouragement and honest spirituality.

Recently while reading, I came upon the term “homespun normality.” It’s a glorious phrase, meant for those that understand down home living, authentic relationship and outrageous love. Homespun normality, or HN, as I’ve come to call it, can make most situations better.

If you’re the one who can bring a little HN to the crowd, you probably don’t even know the power you possess.

  • HN takes a serious situation and lightens the load. While it doesn’t make the problem go away, the load just isn’t as heavy.
  • HN creates warmth.
  • HN invites others into the intimacies of daily living.

I’m going to spend this year, trying to keep homespun normality at the center of my life. For our family, Jesus is homespun normality, friends and family linger in the intimacies of daily life, and comforts of home are intentionally packed to go with us wherever we may roam.

HN is a favorite warm blanket in a hospital room, a worn Bible on a bedside table, the sharing of problems and celebrating victory over a Starbucks, the worst version of the Happy Birthday song sung by the best people and red velvet cake with white frosting on a blue plate. It’s stars and stripes blowing high in the wind and the same flag waving at half mast. It’s the celebration of life ended too soon and the pain of birth. It is the simplest thread and deepest intricacies that keep us bound together in a majestic mosiac.

How do you bring homespun normality to your life and better yet, how will you bring it to others?

On Good Villagers

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I’ve had to call on my village quite a bit already this year. In thinking about them today and celebrating how grateful I am, I thought about what exactly it is that I’m thankful for. I also thought about what it takes to be a good villager.

Good villages don’t happen by accident. Over the weekend, one of my new villagers granted me a huge favor. Totally undeserved and unmerited, but he did it any way. And he did it with joy. That trips my “pay it forward switch” and inspires me to find meaningful ways to bless others. Favors are a way of intentionally building a village.

I can actively bless my village by being a good villager.

Here are a few things you can count on from me.

I will work intently to always think the best about you. I believe Waylon Jennings got it right, and you are good- hearted men and women, doing the very best you can. Some of us haven’t met in person yet, but be assured, I already know your heart is good.

Every village has a couple of crazies. I promise you there will be times I’ll be one of them. I’ll make mistakes, I’ll hurt your feelings, misunderstand and sometimes my hair can be big and wild. But I also guarantee this, if you speak the truth in love, I’ll listen, mean it when I say “I’m sorry” and I’ll try to do better. You should know though, that 80’s hair is one of my favorite things in the world and non- negotiable.

When you’re feeling crazy, I’ll stand by you, I’ll speak the truth in love and every day will be a new day. If we have trouble in the night, I’ll fully expect joy in the morning. If you need me during the crazy period, I’ll bring my comb and some Aqua Net. We’ll get you fixed up in a jiffy.

When we are together, I will look you in the eye, I’ll listen, trust you and enjoy your presence. At the same time, I’ll respect your space, privacy and personal rights. If I have a question, I’ll come to you first and won’t ask others about your life.

I’ve got a fightin’ side that I try to use for good. It’s one of those superpowers we all have that can go either way. If I see an injustice against the elderly, minorities or children I won’t quit until it’s right, period. I will organize large groups for the greater good of the village and we’ll have some good music and great food while we work together to make today’s corner of the world a better place.

I will use that fight to storm Heaven for you, and will pray for anything you need, anytime.

Finally, you should know, your past is just that, your past. It’s not who you are, it’s simply things you’ve done, good and bad.

Remember, I already know who you are and I like you.

Actually I love you and I thank God every day for you.

What about you? How’s your village working out for you? Are there things you could do to make it a better place for all?

5 Things Not to Say to College Parents

This is from last year. Update: Our son is heading out in two days for his sophomore year of college. It simply doesn’t feel that much easier this year. So proud of him, but I don’t look forward to saying goodbye again.
The end of August brings the last lazy days of summer, a temperature drop and the bittersweet start of school. For college parents, it can be an especially trying time. Having just moved our oldest into the dorm at a University, I can say that the process couldn’t have gone any better and yet it was one of the worst days of my life.
I’m so happy for and proud of our son and yet I wake up every morning, with a hollow place in my gut. Something just isn’t right around the homestead. Somebody is missing.
Over the summer, strangers and other college parents were full of unsolicited advice. Kind of like a pregnancy, people touch your stomach if they want to and offer home grown advice at will. After talking with countless parents, I know exactly what I won’t be saying to parents whose children are going to college.
Five things not to say to college parents:
  • “You’ve done all you can.”  Right away the parental mind starts listing shortcomings and things you wish you had taught your child. It also implies the parenting process is over. Instead, verbally applaud the parent for all they’ve done to help prepare their child for higher learning and this next adventure in family life.
  • “At least you have more children at home.” This implies that the children are interchangeable and as long as you’ve got someone at home, you’ll be fine. Not true. Every family dynamic changes when a child leaves. Instead, inquire as to how the children at home are coping with the changes in their family.
  • “You shouldn’t be sad, you should be celebrating!” No one wants to be told how to feel or be reprimanded for feeling sad. After working through your grief, and it is a grieving process, you’ll be ready to celebrate the great things your child is doing. Expecting an all out family celebration to occur from day one can come across as inappropriate to the child who moved out. Instead, offer understanding that you’re certain they are proud of their child’s accomplishments but acknowledge that it must be sad as well.
  • “They are only 1, or 2 or 3 or (insert number) hours away.” Maybe this a little dramatic but it’s true; if your child moves next door, they still aren’t living with you and the dynamic in your home changes. This feels like a loss and can still require a grieving process. Location does not make everything okay. Instead, ask when the next visit with their child will be, encouraging the parent to look forward to that.
  • “You need to let them go.” Feeling sad doesn’t mean you aren’t letting them go. It means you simply love your child deeply and are sad that things are changing. Instead, acknowledge how are hard change can be.
As with any situation, if you don’t know what to say, it might be best not to say anything at all. Offer a smile of understanding and maybe a hug, just don’t rub the belly!
 
It’s important to note that my friends have been glorious and supportive and wonderful. They have held me up in prayer and cried and rejoiced with me. In short, they have been a rock and I don’t know what I would do without them. The above advice is predominantly from strangers. 

Respecting or Judging?

I was reading one of my favorite sites this morning, The Simple Dollar and Trent shared some thoughts that have made his life better and they  make a lot of sense to me. One that really stood out was this:

“Whenever I meet someone, I have a choice. I can either respect them and get along with them, or I can judge them. One route leads to good relations. The other route leads to failure.”

We are faced with all kinds of choices daily and that being so, I’m not sure  we give enough notice to relational choices we make every day. I know several people who wonder why they keep failing, why the don’t have or keep many friends and are utterly dissatisfied with life.

When you think about it, if you aren’t choosing to respect someone, you are judging them. You are deciding they don’t deserve or haven’t earned respect, hence judging them.

Do you often ask yourself:

  • Why the world is so unfair?
  • Why you always get the short end of the stick?
  • Why it is hard to meet quality people?
  • Are there any quality people to meet?
  • What is happening to the world?

If this is you, consider the way you interact with people and the choices you make every time you meet someone.

Good, respectful, positive choices lead to success and happiness.

Try it if you don’t believe me.

How to Say No to Negativity

I've seen post after post about people giving up negativity for Lent. Claiming you want to is the first step, but once you're in, how exactly do you do it?

Here are 5 ways to avoid negativity.

  1. Be slow to speak:  Think about the words you will say after someone is done talking. Our first words often aren't our best. Once we've adopted a negative lifestyle, almost 100% of what we say is a negative, cynical comment. A little thinking allows wisdom to prevail.
  2. Be quick to listen: Not just as an exercise, but real, active listening. Maybe ask a question about what you just heard, nod your head at the appropriate time or ask the speaker to expound on their subject.
  3. Drop the need to be right:  A know-it-all comes across negatively. How often do you find yourself saying, " I just love Susie. She knows everything and enthralls us moment by moment with her fascinating facts and opinions on everything, even stuff she knows absolutely nothing about."?
  4. Practice: Listen to the news, radio or podcasts without forming thoughts and opinions until after the speaker is finished speaking.
  5. Believe: Know that you can choose to be positive. Know that you're giving a positively wonderful gift to others!

What do you need to work on most?

Wrestling Faith

By now you've probably heard about Joel, who refused to wrestle a girl and thus had to forfeit the match.

He walked away because of his faith. He believes in respecting women and didn't feel he could do that by wrestling.

Rick Reilly, a noted ESPN columnist wrote a demeaning story (http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/news/story?id=6136707)  about why Joel should have wrestled her. He says the young woman "relishes the violence" and "loathes being protected."

So, she's asking for it Rick? I didn't realize that if we decide a woman is asking to be disrespected that it's okay to do whatever we want to her, because she "deserves it" since she asked for it.

I thought we'd been trying to fight against those messages for a long time.

The world needs a whole lot more real men like Joel. He is a man who stands up for what he believes in, based on who he is, not on who other people may or may not be. Whether the young woman wanted to be respected and defended or not, Joel chose the right way based on his convictions and beliefs.

Integrity and respect mean more to Joel than a wrestling title. My mom taught me that you'll never regret being nice to people. Joel's conviction and kindness will take him a lot further than any wrestling title ever could.

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