You’re not alone…

I was talking with one of my friends who was gushing about being a grandmother.  Her excitement was contagious.   She was telling me about the recent weekend that her granddaughter got to spend with her.  She was explaining that when it was time to go to bed her granddaughter told her she was scared.  Thinking that this would be a good teaching moment she said to her granddaughter, “honey you won’t be by yourself…Jesus is always with you in your heart.”  Her granddaughter looked up at her with big crocodile tears, “but Grandma…I want someone with skin.”  I thought this was the cutest way to describe that she just wanted someone to be physically there with her.  Do you know that feeling?

Coffee-for-Your-Heart-150Today I join my fellow blogger Holley Gerth and her “Coffee for Your Heart” challenge.  Today’s topic is…You’re Not Alone.  I have to tell you when I first read this I cried.  It reminded me of the many years I spent keeping the secret that my son was gay and how lonely that made me feel.  I didn’t keep it a secret because I wanted to…I felt like I had to.

We ALL have “stuff” in life that we go through.  It’s so easy for us to share the happy and joyous moments of our lives, but it is so much harder to share our struggles.  This can leave us feeling like we are all alone.  We know that the Holy Spirit is always with us to strengthen us, to give us life-giving energy, and to help us accomplish things that we could never do on our own. Nothing can compare to the gift of the Holy Spirit.  He is our helper.  I would always tell you to completely rely on his wisdom and guidance. But God also calls us to love each other, to be there for each other…because sometimes we just need someone with skin (smile).

It can be a scary thing to share your insecurities, your struggles, your grief, etc.  But I am here to tell you that if you can find someone to share those things with, it can completely help to change your life.  If we could all open up our lives to each other, we would all realize that there is no reason to feel alone.  Let’s look at my life for a moment.  I can share with you about the trials and tribulations of having a sibling that is an alcoholic…and about practicing the most difficult form of love…tough love (I’m happy to say that my sister is now 10 years sober…woo hoo…and I couldn’t be prouder of her).  I can share with you about the grief of losing a parent…especially in a sudden and unexpected way (see my post I will see you again).  I can share with you about the stress of dealing with family members that deal with OCD, anxiety, and depression.  I can share with you about having an illness for a long period of time without having answers about what is wrong with you (I’ve had fevers, headaches, pain and chronic fatigue for 20 years).  And my latest is… I can share with you (and have with this blog – smile) what it’s like to be a Christian and have your child come out to you.  As I said earlier…we all have difficulties that we deal with along this journey we call life.  One of the things that gives me great joy is to be able to share these life experiences to help others.  It makes the pain somehow worth it.  You are not alone my friend.  There are others out there who struggle with difficulties…just like you.

I mentioned that I felt like I had to keep the fact that my son is gay a secret.  It was to protect him and my family. We weren’t ready for people to know.  We had experiences with fellow Christians that made it clear where they stood on the subject and it wasn’t one of love.  We couldn’t help but be fearful about how people might respond to the news. It took time and prayer to get to the place where we were strong enough to deal with what might come our way once the news was out there.  I’m happy to say that the response has been mostly good.  It was worth the risk. And I don’t feel alone anymore.

If you or someone you know is gay or has a family member who is gay, and they don’t feel like they have anyone to turn to, please have them email me.  I would be happy to talk to them.  If you go to my contact page, it will send me a private email.  No one else can see it but me.  It’s a start.  You don’t have to go through it alone.

Take some time this week to prove to someone that they aren’t alone.  It will change not only their life…but yours.

And remember to love each other…because love matters.

More than just a peanut…

When I was younger, I was a peanut.  Unfortunately, because of my size, I was a target for bullying.  There was one girl in particular in my neighborhood that was relentless.  When I was 8 or 9 I was so fed up with her picking on me, that I went to my dad and asked him to teach me how to punch.  (I am not an advocate of violence in any form.  I simply wanted to be able to protect myself if it came to that).  I don’t remember if I told my dad the reason, but he not only taught me how to throw a punch, but he also taught me how to block one.

My best friend at the time was also named Lisa.  Because we were always together, most people called us by our first and middle name.  So, I was known as Lesa Page (yes my parents spelled both of my names wrong).  We were out in the neighborhood playing one day and “bully” girl started harassing me.  She was always telling me she was going to “kick my butt” so I basically told her to do it and get it over with…I was tired of her threatening me.  So she did…or at least she tried. She pulled back and threw a punch.  I blocked it with my left arm and bawled up my right hand into a fist and hit her right in the stomach.  (again not supporting violence, I was 8 or 9 and at my breaking point). She was shocked and ran home crying.

5.0.2I few minutes later the “bully” girl and her mom were knocking on my friend Lisa’s front door (they lived across the street from her).  Her mom answered the door and “bully” girl’s mom proceeded to yell at her and tell her that she needed to control her daughter.  Apparently, “bully” girl ran home telling her mom that Lesa hit her (not using a middle name to distinguish which one).  Her mom assumed it was my friend, who was much bigger than me and her daughter.  My friend’s mom looked at the other mom and said “it wasn’t my Lisa who hit her, it was this one,” and pointed at me. When “bully” girl’s mom learned that it was me that hit her daughter, she just took her by the arm, walked off the porch, and went home.

So what’s that familiar saying…don’t judge a book by its cover?  Well obviously we should do this more often with people…and not just because they might haul off and punch you in the stomach (wink).  Unfortunately, the truth is that we do judge others.  Even in a place that should be a judge free zone…like the Church.  When I was younger, I was judged because of my size.  Today I am judged because my son is gay.  The judgement I receive, however, is nothing like what he receives.  I don’t mean to be crude, but in the eyes of many Christians, gay people are seen as a sexual act…not as human beings.  The thought process tends to be about what gay people do…not who they are as people.  This is why many of them stay away from church.  They feel either invisible or like a “problem” or “situation” that needs to be handled.  This is so devastating to them…and their families.  When I go to church on Sundays, and the ushers open the doors for me, metaphorically I am hearing church doors slam in the face of my son.  How will he ever find his way back to the One who created him if God’s people judge him harshly and unfairly?  I think Jesus would want us to be better representatives.  Don’t you?

By the way, I grew up to be a whopping 5 foot, half an inch (smile).

Love each other…because love matters.

YOU ARE LOVED…

I don’t know what I would do without music.  It’s one thing that can keep me going on those days where my fatigue is just getting the best of me.  It’s very common in my house to hear my iPod blasting music with me singing and dancing around the kitchen like an idiot either cleaning or cooking.  I realized the other day when thinking about this post that there is a lot of music that talks about love.  Love going right and love gone bad.  Why do you think that is?

Coffee-for-Your-Heart-150I’m linking up with my friend Holley Gerth and joining her Coffee for Your Heart challenge. Each Wednesday she asks us to encourage our readers with a theme and guess what this week’s theme is – You’re Loved.  Well how about that?  (smile).

I think there is a very good reason why so many songs talk about love.  We all have a strong desire to be loved.  It’s part of our human nature. But how good are you at loving yourself?  I’m not talking about thinking you are all that and a bag of chips kind of loving yourself.  I mean really accepting how your Father created you.  I think all too often we feed ourselves with negative talk.  I think this really grieves God.  He created you with a plan and a purpose.  Uniquely designed just for you.  Doubting yourself and putting yourself down defeats His plans for you. He loves you more than you can even imagine and He wants you to share that love…with others…and yourself.  As a matter of fact, I don’t believe you can love well unless you truly love yourself.  Jesus’ greatest command to us is found here:

Mark 12:30-31
‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’  The second is this ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’.  There is no greater commandment than these.

As you can see, this love thing is pretty important to God.  But notice that He tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves.  Hmmmm…I think if we aren’t good at loving ourselves…we may not be so good at loving others.  If we are tearing ourselves down, how can we build others up?  So, give yourself a break.  Remember that you are loved beyond measure by a God who knows all your flaws.  But you know…they serve a purpose too.  They help us to rely on Him and they help us to grow.  If you have trouble grasping that you are loved, ask someone for help.  Don’t waste another day not knowing the freedom and grace that God can give you.

His love never fails…it never gives up…it never runs out.  And because I love music so much I leave you with this (smile):

Idols aren’t just golden calves…

When I was eleven, I started attending a new school.  Doing that during those middle school years was tough, but I did my best to jump right in and make new friends. Eventually I invited one of the girls to my house for a sleepover to get to know each other better.  We settled in with some snacks and decided to watch some television in my basement.  I can’t remember what we were watching, but I can tell you that I remember what happened when Shaun Cassidy came on the television screen.  My new friend let out the loudest, shriek/scream I have ever heard in my life.  I asked her what was wrong and she exclaimed, “I looovvveee Shaun Cassidy!”  I thought that was all fine and good, but why on earth was she screaming about it.  I got a quick lesson that this was the way she expressed her admiration.  My poor mother came running down the basement steps wondering what in the world was murdering us.  We had a good chuckle about it the next day when my friend went home.  When I eventually went to her house, I discovered that her room was plastered with just about every picture ever taken of Shaun Cassidy.  I didn’t quite get it…my heart throb back then was Scott Baio from Happy Days (smile).

Just about everywhere you look in our society these days, you can see people going overboard with celebrities, sports figures, etc.  All it takes is a night of watching television advertisements for things like reality tv shows to see that we are way out there when it comes to what we look for in entertainment (don’t even get me started on Here Comes Honey Boo Boo). People become famous over the craziest things!  To me, these things are easy to see as distractions and things that maybe I don’t want to spend my time on.  But the idea of idols is nothing new.  I’m in the middle of reading Exodus right now and I’m at the part where Moses comes down off the mountain and sees the Israelites worshiping a golden calf that they had made from their gold rings.  It’s easy to read that and think, ‘What was wrong with those people??  How could they forget what God had done for them.” But I have learned, it’s easier than you may think.  Did you know that your problems can become an idol?

When I found out my son was gay, my world was turned a bit upside down. His being gay was not an easy thing to face, but the real difficulty came more from knowing how he felt about himself.  He didn’t like who he was and because of that he suffered from anxiety and depression.  I can’t tell you how stressful it is to know that your child hates themselves and at times wants to end their life.  You are on constant alert. In my post, The Land of What If’s, I wrote about my prayer journals.  Seems like a good thing to do.  But even though I talked to God about the situation, doesn’t mean I was handling it the right way.  My thought patterns in the first few years went something like this:

What did I do wrong and how can I make things right? to…
How can we help him change? to…
Understanding this isn’t something that can change – does this mean he won’t be able to get into heaven? to…
What does God really feel about this? to…
Am I doing the right thing by supporting him? to…
On and on and on…

I felt like this was all I was thinking about….praying about. It was not only exhausting…it was wrong.  I was living in fear…focusing all my energy on the “problem”, not focusing it on the One who could carry it all for me.  This had become my idol.

2014.01.13 17.02.53.228So what did I do?  It’s been a process.  I would like to say it was a one and done type of thing, but in reality it took some time to sort things out.  One of the things that was troubling to me was that my son had stepped away from God.  He wasn’t going to Him for strength and guidance.  I decided to take some index cards and write Bible verses on them that I thought would help him and I taped them to the rails of his bed under his mattress.  He would basically be resting his head each night on the Word.  I would read these verses each week when I made his bed.  Another thing I did was prayed over each room in my house.  I also prayer walked around the outside of the house.  I gave the situation over to God.  It didn’t mean that I didn’t ever think about it, or worry about it again, but it gave me some peace.

I had a heart to heart with God one day out on my deck.  I told him how hard this was and I 100_0360wondered out loud if it would be easier if I just walked away from my faith.  What was I supposed to do?  How did He want me to handle this?  I very clearly heard Him tell me that it wasn’t up to me to figure it all out.  This is between Him and my son.  I just need to love him and support him no matter what happens. That I can do…to me that is easy.  God has not let me down…He has been with me every step of the way.  I just needed to get out of His way (smile).

So I love the best I can and I ask you to do the same…because love matters.

Fresh start….

I have a confession to make…I LOVE going to the dentist.  It’s true.  I know you think I’m weird now, but I don’t care (smile). I hear people complaining all the time that they have a dentist appointment and deep down inside I’m thinking “lucky”.  Why do I like it so much?  First…I have a super nice dentist.  Second…it’s the one thing about my health that I feel like I have control over.  Third…it’s a chance to start over.  Every six months I get a chance to have a fresh start…a clean slate so to speak.  I guess it doesn’t hurt that they tell me how awesome my teeth are…no fillings in this mouth and never had to have braces (smile).  So why am I talking about teeth??  Well it’s actually more about fresh starts.  A fellow blogger, Holley Gerth, is challenging bloggers (well really anyone that wants to give it a try) to write an encouraging post every Wednesday.  It’s called Coffee for Your Heart and every week she is going to suggest a topic to write about to encourage others.  Being new to the blogging world, I’m not sure that I’ll have something every Wednesday, but I thought I’d give it a try.

Coffee-for-Your-Heart-150When you see this picture, you will know that this post is part of Coffee for Your Heart.  If you would like to learn more about this challenge, or Holley, just click on the picture and it will take you to her blog.

So her prompt for this week was:

As you start 2014, I just want you to know… that no matter what you are going through this year can be a fresh start.  You can put behind last years disappointments and look forward to what God has for you this new year.  When it comes to new year’s resolutions, I think we tend to put too much pressure on ourselves and sometimes have expectations that are just too high.  Give yourself a break. Don’t beat yourself up for the things you didn’t accomplish last year. Look at this year as a fresh start to make the changes that are important to you.  You can even take it a step further. Had a bad month, or a bad week?  Every month can be a fresh start, or every week, or even every day.  The point is to strive to meet your goals, but if you slip, don’t throw in the towel.  Just know that tomorrow is another day to try again.

What’s my new year’s resolution?  Eat more chocolate.  It will be tough, but I’m committed (wink).

Happy new year everyone!  I pray that God takes you on an amazing journey this year.  A fresh start.

Love each other…because love matters.