Category Archives: Uncategorized

Video Tuesday: Inland by Jars Of Clay

I love this song from Jars of Clay’s new album. Hope you enjoy and happy Tuesday !

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Mommy, What Does Gay Mean?

I Was Told There'd Be Cookies

There it was . The question I had been scared of oh for about 8 almost 9 years, in other words since my daughter was born.

Why is this question scary to me, you might ask? Well I will tell you and it’s probably not for the reason you think, but first let me give you some background.

My dad is gay. My mom knew he was gay when they got married.It wasn’t one of those “ Let’s try to be normal and hope it fixes my gayness” things. It was more of a “ We don’t know how or why God want’s us to do this but we just know he does” kinda thing. And the blessing is it turned into a “ love of my life sort of thing” you can read part of that story here,or here ,if you’re curious (it’s really beautiful. )

I grew…

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Gay Parents or No Parents. What’s Better?

holding-hands-380x252Like being a hair stylist or a bar tender, when you work in retail cosmetics people tell you their stories. It’s amazing to me sometimes how compelled people seem to be to talk when I have them in my chair. I’ve had people weep, spill their deepest secrets, and talk all kinds of crap about their next door neighbor. You get used to it after a while.

Last week I had an interesting one. I say interesting for several reasons… I was working with a woman who I guessed to be nearing 60. She was a kind, soft-spoken woman who struck me as being a little overwhelmed in her surroundings. It was no surprise to me at all when a conversation about her skincare turned into a conversation about her daughter who was going through a divorce. She felt her daughter was making a bad decision and was concerned for both her child and her soon to be ex-son in-law, whom you could tell she loved very much.

After that she went on to lament how the world was changing. She took a long glance around the store I work in and then quietly asked if I work with many gay men. It’s important to understand that I live and work in a small town. This small town is pretty liberal in its views– to an extent. But at the end of the day it’s still a small town and the majority of the people here are senior citizens. I replied that yes, having been with the company for nearly six years I had worked with quite a few gay men. She commented on how places like my store and salons always had lots of gay employees, and then with a look of plain confusion admitted that the gay men who’ve cut her hair had always done the best job. I was doing my best not to chuckle and agreed that I’ve had many male co-workers who are amazing artists.

I could see in her face that she had more to say and just about the time I thought she’d decided against it she stepped closer to me and her thoughts just started pouring out. She told me that she is a social worker and deals with the placement of foster children. A lot of her job has to do with monitoring how a child is doing in their foster home and sometimes seeing to the details of adoption when the fostering goes really well. She was particularly concerned over a set of parents she would be meeting in a couple of days, gay men, who were fostering a little girl who had been removed from a heartbreaking abusive home. It was clear without her having to say the actual words that her moral compass dictated that she believe there was no way that this gay couple could be good parents for the little girl, the trouble was that all reports were to the contrary. Everyone she spoke to who had visited the couple couldn’t say enough about how much these men love that little girl and how well she was doing in their care. There was nothing but praise for their parenting.

As she spoke I could see the battle going on in her mind. Her face showed how she was weighing her genuine desire to see children safe and happy against her understanding of truth.  Right and wrong as she understood them were colliding in a way she didn’t know what to do with and were causing her to pour her heart out to a sales girl in a makeup store.

As I listened and wrestled with my own questions I felt compassion for this woman and grateful that she was wrestling too and not just making hard and fast decisions. Once she’d finished talking I asked  for myself as much as for her, “You said the little girl came out of an abusive home, can we trust God enough to believe that it’s better for her to be loved by two gay men than to be abused by a straight couple?”

In the moment I had forgotten where we were, that she was a client– we were just two people having a conversation about very real things in our world. As soon as the question was out of my mouth, however, I remembered and I was a little nervous that this was a little more than she’d bargained for out of her trip to buy cosmetics. Fortunately her response was one of gratitude, relief even. Maybe she just needed someone else to ask the question, I don’t know, but we both walked away liking one another better and with something to think about.

I’ve been thinking about it for a week now, actually I haven’t been able to get it off my mind.

It’s interesting to me that the conversation happened at all. If she’d have gotten pretty much anyone else in the store to help her and had that conversation the chances high that she would have offended them. So I just wonder why, knowing nothing about me personally, she felt safe to talk? I can only assume that it was God.

I haven’t been able to get that little girl off of my mind and a couple of nights ago as I was thinking about her and the whole situation God brought a new question to my mind.

“I can use all things for good. Can you consider that maybe I am using the love of two fathers to teach my child who I am?” 

I can’t imagine being a little girl in a world where the mother and father you are born with aren’t the anchors of love and safety they are meant to be, but instead are the cause of pain, fear, and abandonment. It is humbling and powerful for me to realize that maybe for the hurt she has suffered, the love and protection of two fathers is exactly what she needs.

I believe in a God who can use all things for good. Because He is God.

This understanding doesn’t change my ethics when it comes to sexuality, but it does change my heart for the way that we, as followers of Christ, view the bigger picture and how we relate to other people. Whether or not that gay couple adopts that little girl, they have made an impression on her life for love. What will it say to her about God as she grows if His followers are dead set on condemning the people who showed her kindness and protection when she needed it most? The answer to that question bothers me.

This is a challenging place to be in, it’s a challenging way to force myself to think, and yet, I have to. I have to believe that we can do better than we’re doing.  I’m not suggesting that we give in, or that truth doesn’t matter.

We need to be careful to focus on individual people, not categories and labels. There is no universal solution to a problem based on categories or labels, only individual solutions to individual problems based on individual people. It is a lot harder and messier, but it is the only way to be loving. In the thick of things it’s easy to lose sight of the actual lives involved. I see it happen all the time– a lot of Christians seem to want to think that because only families made from married heterosexual couples are “real” families and so all of the pseudo “families” out there can’t possibly have real bonds to one another and we become disconnected to their real human feelings, we don’t empathize with the fact that from where they’re sitting it sounds like we’re determined to tear their families apart. When we make a habit of categorizing people and giving them labels instead of relating and engaging with the people, we dehumanize them and justify treating them as though they have no feelings.

We also need to consider that if we’re going to be opposed to a solution, such as gay couples adopting and fostering when there are SO many children who need safe homes, then we have to have an alternative solution that we personally help make happen. We have no right to kick and scream when gay couples foster and adopt when we aren’t doing anything ourselves to solve the problem of parentless children. Remember, “Whatever you did for the least of these, you did for Me.”  The problem it’s easier to fight other people’s solutions than to find them ourselves, and I think in doing that we’re missing the entire point.

Through it all we can’t lose sight of truth, which means actually and actively seeking it. It’s hard work, it means not only investing in our relationship with God, but being invested in relationships with others and it will cost us everything we have, but it’s worth it. The problem with our culture is that people want everything to be not only black and white, but black and white all the way down the column–  If you think same-sex attraction is a sin then you’re anti-gay marriage, anti-gay fostering and you don’t want any gay people (even chaste ones) in your church. Likewise, if you think it is ok for gays to adopt then you can’t possibly believe what the bible says about sexuality and that you must completely condone homosexuality. The thing is nothing, not people, not issues fits into these black and white standards and we miss what God is actually doing when we try to force them.

What it all comes down to is that we can’t allow a desire to affirm the good in a bad situation turn into a willingness to let what is merely good not be better. We have to let what we believe speak through our actions, we have to know what we are for and then give our lives for that, rather than sitting back and raising hell about how other people have sought to meet needs in the world around us. This is where we find the balance in truth and love, when we take responsibility instead of casting blame, when we choose to find reasons to relate instead of reasons to draw a line in the sand and choose sides.

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I Am A Unique And Delicate Snowflake !!

Beautiful Snowflake The thing about really good friends is that sometimes they tell you things that you don’t want to hear and sometimes (a lot of times) they are right.

Jim often responds to my description of my feelings with something along the lines of, “… everyone feels that way.”  This used to infuriate me. It seemed harsh and as though it minimized my astronomical problems into something generic and unimportant. There was a time it just felt unkind to me for him to respond that way, however, I have come to understand it as one of the greatest kindnesses anyone has ever done for me.  What I’ve come to see is that I have this habit of trying to let my problems be the defining source of my individuality. No one understands me, no one can truly help me, because no one in the known universe has been through what I am going through as me. Maybe they have experienced something similar, but they aren’t me so they can’t possibly know what I feel and understand.

 

I AM A UNIQUE AND DELICATE SNOWFLAKE!!

Over time “everyone feels that way” stopped sounding so harsh and started making me think about something other than myself. If everyone felt the same way, even if those feelings manifest in different ways, it meant that we could relate to one another, rather than be isolated in our own snowflakey corners and that according to scripture our differences make us a part of a greater whole, not an island unto ourselves.

1 Corinthians 12: 12-26 says,

12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body-whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free-and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor.
And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

I think Christians have formed a bad habit of doing exactly what I was doing with myself… catagorizing people by their problems and concluding that they have nothing to offer to people who’ve had different struggles than there own. I’ve heard church leaders suggest things like no one can minister to, say, the victim of sexual abuse the way that another victim of sexual abuse can, and at this point I have to strongly disagree with that. I don’t mean this to sound like a minimization, but pain is pain. We all have it, and what we need isn’t painkiller, what we need is relationship. What Paul is telling us is that the best relationships aren’t necessarily between things that are identical and that all of our pain boils down to broken relationships. I certainly have known the comfort that comes from relating to someone who’s pain has been similar to my own, however, a lot of the most healing relationships I’ve been in, have been with people who’s pain is completely different. And not just because their response to me is different than it would be if they had “walked a mile in my shoes”, although that certainly gives sight to some of my blind spots, but it’s been in stepping outside of myself and trying to relate to them. I get out of my own head and my own pain, and I see how they hurt and because I know what it feels like to hurt, it doesn’t so much matter that I know exactly what it feels like to be in their circumstances, so much as I know that it matters to walk beside them, to be their friend.

I don’t say this lightly, because as I’ve pointed out, I am guilty of it in my own life, but thinking this way isn’t just selfish, it’s lazy. It gives us permission to stay safely within our area of comfort, never having to really get messy.

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What Do You Do When Your Son is Gay?

I don’t know how I could add anything to this so I won’t try. May we all learn to stand against fear and in the face of it, love courageously .

Susan Cottrell & FreedHearts

Ryan-Profile

“Mom, I’m gay.” Earth-shattering words to many conservative Christian parents — tragically, many view it as right up there with, “Your child has a brain tumor.” Actually, Christians will empathize with a brain tumor, but just try telling the church your child is gay and you will find the limit of grace withheld not only from gay Christians but from their accepting families. Not only what is said but unsaid can be oppressive for a family seeking love and truth.

I do not blame the parents in these situations for one nanosecond. Lord knows, they are trying to respond, with the wind knocked out of them, in an area where the church at large allows no breathing room. Parents blame themselves and Christians blame them. Seriously. No sooner do we hear the word gay or lesbian than we brace for impact — because we know the attack is coming.

This…

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You Fixed Your Eyes On Us

seenI love Kristin (that’s not to say I don’t love my other siblings, I’m just about to use her as an example).

I love the fact that she posted this article to my facebook wall late a couple of nights ago, because she knows that a big part of who I am needs to have compassion for those who’ve done the unthinkable. I also love that she was waiting for me last night after work to show me a song that she knew I would love by an artist she also knew I would love (I’m going to include the lyrics to the song at the end of this post and I encourage you to listen from the link about and read the words, they are beautiful).

I am fortunate in having people around me who know me. Who see me.

I’ve been learning lately how important it is to know that I am seen by God. Not just in that “God sees everything” kind of way that most Christians acknowledge, not in a God sees what I’m doing kind of way either, but realizing that God sees me. 

He sees who I am because he created who I am.

Who I am doesn’t always emerge in the best way, or the most right way, certainly not in a perfect way, but that’s ok because God knows who I am.

I don’t have to hide myself from Him.

Not any part of myself.

And the less I attempt to hide myself, the less I allow guilt over my sin to cause me to distance myself from God, the better I see how unchanging and how deep God’s love for me is.

The knowledge that we are seen and that we are loved is powerful. It impacts how we respond to the rest of the world. It influences our choices and our relationships. Jesus was a man who saw people. It’s why his disciples moved when he said, “Follow me” because a part of their encounter with him had to do with being seen for who they really were, and not being seen through to just what they did. Jesus didn’t see fishermen or tax collectors, he saw people and loved them.

As Christians, how often do we look through the people around us straight to what they do, or what they are aligned with, what causes they support or don’t, what political party they are affiliated with or aren’t, the crimes they have committed, the laws they have broken, the damage they have caused?

I saw an older episode of Grey’s Anatomy recently in which there was a shooter in the hospital, there’s a scene where the shooter has his gun pointed at one character and she starts rattling off to him every bit of personal information about herself that she can think of in the moment. Her name, the names of her parents and siblings, where she grew up, what her parents did for a living, where she went to school, her friends… on and on until he tells her to run instead of shooting her. Later she explains that she’d seen somewhere that in that kind of situation giving personal information about yourself will humanize you and make you harder to kill.

Sometimes I feel like Christians behave in the world the way the man with the gun behaved in the hospital. We go through life and we don’t see people, we see problems that need to be eliminated. We see everything we disagree with, everything that doesn’t live up to our “good Christian values”, but we don’t see the actual person or people who is there in front of us.

It’s no wonder people don’t like us, we make them feel invisible.

I don’t have all the answers for how to solve this problem, but I think it would at least help, if we all took a little more time to try to see into people, instead of through them.

Let’s remember Ephesians 6:12

For our struggle is not against human opponents, but against rulers, authorities, cosmic powers in the darkness around us, and evil spiritual forces in the heavenly realm.

Bad Blood lyrics

you fixed your eyes on us,
your flesh and blood,
a sculpture of water
and unsettled dust.

when there was bad blood in us,
we learned our lesson:
genesis to the last generation.

so we wrestle with it all-
the concept of grace
and the faithful concrete
as it breaks our fall.

our questions are all the same.
identical words; how they feel brand new against different time frames.
identical words against different time frames.

we know it all by heart-
the whole is greater
than the sum of its parts.

we’ve heard it all before-
in beauty there echoes a speck of our source.
in beauty there echoes a speck of our source.

like firewood,
burning bright
in the dead of winter,
by only a flicker
we cling to this life.

so we huddle over maps;
is it faith or prediction,
will or tradition
until we collapse?
we argue our bearings
until we collapse.

we study our story arcs-
inherently good,
or were we broken right from the start?

our hesitant fingerprints
trace every mountain,
lace every valley
until we’re convinced…

that we know it all by heart-
every blade of grass
bears our mark.

in the name of being brave,
though it’s just another word for being afraid.

we know it all by heart-
the whole is so much greater
than the sum of these parts.
we’ve heard the truth before,
for in beauty there echoes a speck of our source.
in beauty there echoes a speck of our source.
in beauty there echoes a speck of our source.

Yikes

Hey guys, you might have noticed we’ve not been updating very much lately. This holiday season hit us hard and we weren’t expecting to be so exhausted but we are excited to be coming back and getting some great things out to you. Thank you all for hanging in there. See you Monday !

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 4,200 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 7 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

We can’t wait to see all the incredible things God is going to do in 2013, thank you for joining us this year and we hope to connect with you even more in the coming year!