Who inspires you?

Inspire 

: to make (someone) want to do something : to give (someone) an idea about   what to do or create

: to cause (something) to happen or be created

: to cause someone to have (a feeling or emotion)

Who knew that seven simple letters could accomplish so much.  I find a lot of things inspiring…God’s beautiful creation, words of encouragement, someone’s personal story.  These things can spark my imagination, spur me on to do something I might otherwise think I can’t accomplish, and touch a part of my soul that connects me to the One who created me.

Coffee-for-Your-Heart-150I’m joining Holley Gerth and her “Coffee for Your Heart” challenge to encourage others.  This week’s theme is “Who inspires you?”  Hmmm…well anytime I see someone overcoming adversity…or striving to survive while in the midst of it…I am inspired.  So naturally the first person to come to my mind is my son.  Since my blog deals with our struggles over the years, I thought I’d take some time to brag about some good stuff (smile).

My son inspires me…it started when he was a little boy.

Anytime we were out and about in a place that there was an opportunity to play with kids he would join them…and he was always asking if they could come home with us to play…even though he just met them.  They were his instant friend.  In the second grade, he was voted the “king of kindness.”  The whole school voted and he won complete with crown and bag of candy (smile). For his 8th birthday, he decided that he didn’t want presents for his birthday, but instead wanted his friends to make a donation to the Johns Hopkins Children Center.  Our local radio station was having a telethon at that time to raise money for the hospital.  After his party, we went to the radio station and presented the money that was collected.  He was so excited, but at the same time very shy about it.  He may joke around today that he doesn’t like people much, but when it comes right down to it, he cares deeply about his genuine friends and even when life may separate him from those friends…they remain a friend to him forever.  He cares and that inspires me.

When he reached puberty and discovered he was gay, he definitely went to a dark place.  It seemed that depression and anxiety were going to overtake his life and he struggled a great deal with both. I am amazed, however, at what he was able to accomplish during that time. He had an English teacher in high school that encouraged him to write and he discovered that he is a very talented writer.  He won state contests and was able to read one of his pieces in front of a live audience.  I’m not sure how he did it since he struggled with crippling anxiety, but he did it…and that inspires me.

He decided in high school that he wanted to learn how to draw so he took an art class.  He discovered that he is a talented artist.  It takes him some time, but he has many amazing pieces to show the talent that God has given him. The fact that he pursued something that he was interested in at a time when he doubted everything about himself…in fact at times hated himself…inspires me.

He got really good grades in high school and went off to college where he has made the Dean’s list every semester. May not seem like a big deal, but throw in panic attacks and suicidal thoughts and it’s pretty amazing if you ask me…and it inspires me.

He decided that he wanted to learn how to play the piano, took a few lessons, and when school consumed too much of his time, he went on to continue teaching himself and in a short time has become quite the piano player.  I played the piano when I was younger and had lessons for years and never reached his level…and that inspires me.

Today he gets up each day knowing he may face discrimination because he is gay.  But that hasn’t stopped him from continuing to pursue the things that are important to him.  He went from having so much trouble socially (from years of bullying – making him closed off to people), to totally blossoming this year.  He actually says that he is sad that this is his last semester of college because he is finally having fun.  He decided at the end of last semester that he wanted to learn how to swing dance.  He got a few friends interested, they went and took lessons, and now just about every weekend they head to the city and dance half the night away.  As he puts it, “hey mom…I started a thing.”  They all love it and it’s become an important part of their social life…and that inspires me.

There really aren’t words to express how much things have changed for him.  You would have to know the deep despair that he felt. But somehow, through the darkness, he has found the strength to press on…but not just press on…to thrive.  He is a delight…he is quirky…he is funny…and he is super smart.  He inspires me to pursue my own creativeness, to try things that might be scary (like starting a blog), and my heart swells with love whenever I think of him.

People have told me that I’m brave to be so honest here.  I’m not the brave one…he is…

inspire-2

Now it’s your turn…who inspires you?

Advertisements

Does someone need a hug?

At the risk of everyone thinking I am totally cuckoo, I’m going to share a childhood story with you.  When I was really little (well…young…people would say I’m still little), my parents got me a pet rabbit that I named Puff.  I don’t remember my pet rabbit because I was so young, but apparently when Puff went to heaven I was one sad little girl.  My mom told me I would stand at the back door and cry, asking Puff why he left me because I loved him and wanted him to be with me.  I guess my parents felt bad for me so they got me a goldfish…which I named Puff.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I can appreciate the beauty of fish, and really enjoy fish in aquariums, but a goldfish in a glass bowl just was not meeting my nurturing spirit to love an animal.  I remember my fish Puff and I remember how sad I was when he died.  parakeetSo, my parents got me a bird.  You guessed it…Puff the parakeet.  (Don’t ask me why I named every pet Puff.  Maybe it was because I was young and didn’t have a very large vocabulary.)  Now Puff the bird was better than Puff the fish, but I found that having a bird was still not quite meeting my need to share love with a pet. I can remember putting my little fingers through the cage bars to try to pet him and he would peck at them. It hurt!  I remember crying asking him, “Puff why did you bite me.  You hurt me!  I love you.  I want to pet you.”  Well occasionally my parents would let Puff out to stretch his wings and he would fly around the house.  I became very good at sneaking up on him.  I would wait until he was at a level I could reach, and I would move very slowly towards him and snatch him up when he least expected it.  I would then run with him to a very small coat closet that we had so he couldn’t get away from me, and I would hold him close against my chest and stroke his little head and hug him.  I can still remember the feeling of his little heart beating a mile a minute against my chest.  Now don’t worry.  He never got hurt.  I just desperately wanted to show my love to him and I so wanted to be able to hold him all the time and hug him.  Pretty weird, huh?

I’ve gotten lots of questions since coming out about my son being gay (yes, the parents have their own sort of coming out).  One of the most common questions/comments I get is this:  “I know that we are supposed to love everyone.  But when it comes to someone who is gay – I’m not sure what that is supposed to look like.”  I have to admit…I’m a little taken aback when I hear this.  To me, this sounds like conditional love.  I’m not sure why love would look different. If it’s because they take the stance that being gay is a sin, aren’t we all sinners?  Should I ask how I should love the proud, the addict, the gossiper, the adulterer?  I don’t think so.

I read a post the other day that has haunted me. I will add the link at the end of this post so that you can read it for yourself.  I don’t want to misquote it.  The post was discussing the GCN Conference that took place in January.  GCN stands for Gay Christian Network.  The annual Gay Christian Network conference brings hundreds of brothers and sisters in Christ together for fellowship, worship, support, Bible study, and more.  It’s for the LGBT community, but anyone can attend and sometimes parents attend with their gay children.  Here is a quote from the post regarding the conference:

“The parents had their own meeting time to share their stories with each other and be support for each other. What they decided to do later that day was beyond amazing. Those that were comfortable enough agreed to line the hall outside one of the meeting rooms and give hugs to those of us that needed and wanted them. When they made that announcement, I realized I still carried a lot of pain due to my father’s reaction. I KNEW I was going to get a hug from a dad!”

Shew!  Still makes me cry reading it.  Imagine…being rejected by your parent and wanting to be accepted so badly that a hug from a stranger takes some of the sting of rejection away.  So, how does it look to love a gay person?  It should look the same as loving your spouse, your children, your neighbor…because that is what God commands.  You have no idea the pain and suffering that they’ve gone through.  They are rejected for how they were born.  They didn’t choose to be gay. Picture that hallway…and the line of men and women…young and old…waiting for a hug. Some human contact that lets them know they are loved and accepted simply for being themselves. We need to change the perception that is out there.  This can’t continue.  I’m so glad that God grabbed a hold of my heart and taught me how to be different.  I’m so glad I listened.  My son will never have to stand in that line.  It is one of my life’s missions now to one day be at that conference.  To stand in that hallway…and hug and show love to as many people as I can.

If you consider yourself a Christ follower, how you treat people matters.  You are an ambassador of Christ.  Do you want to turn people away from God, or turn people towards God?

When Puff the parakeet died, my parents got me the pet I wanted all along.  I was at my great grandmother’s house and my mom walked in with a brown paper grocery bag.  She sat it down in front of me and it started to wiggle.  me and cherieI peaked inside and saw a tiny little ball of black fur. My very first dog! No, I didn’t name her Puff…my parents wouldn’t let me (smile).  Can’t you just see the joy on my face as I give her a hug.  I know she doesn’t look as thrilled (and she could really use a haircut in this picture), but she became my best friend.

Give someone a hug…because hugs matter too…

The post I reference is from FreedHearts.  If the link doesn’t take you directly to the post, the title is “When he hugged me, I just fell into his arms.”  There is also a link to the GCN website.  Hover over the name (both FreedHearts and Gay Christian Network) and it should give you a link to click on.  

Joy in the journey…

Coffee-for-Your-Heart-150I’m joining my fellow blogger Holley Gerth in her “Coffee for Your Heart” challenge of encouraging others.  This week’s theme is “What brings you joy?” This was a timely theme as I read a post from someone else this week that was upsetting and it has plagued me ever since. I plan on writing a post about it in a day or two.  It goes along with something I was already working on.  So, thinking about what brings me joy was a good distraction.  Here’s just a small glimpse of what brings me joy:

I love me some coffee – Venti decaf non-fat no-whip mocha lattes.

Walking my dog Lucy in the rain…we have the whole neighborhood to ourselves…so peaceful.

Sitting on the beach with a good book.

Hiking in the mountains.

Listening to music…really loud (smile).  This also includes singing and dancing along to the music.

Celebrating 25 years of marriage this past September.

Babies laughing.

Holding hands with my husband.

Watching my daughter’s creativity blossom.  She is a talented artist that can make something out of just about anything.  Can’t wait to see where God takes her talent.  She can draw, paint, sculpt, etc. Her creations make me smile.

Seeing the changes in my son this year at college after such a tough year last year.  He went from losing 15 pounds last year, because he couldn’t leave his room to go to the cafeteria due to anxiety, to this year joining clubs, becoming an officer in one of them, tutoring, being in a film for the school…the list goes on.  Reading his writing (he is also a talented writer) and listening to him play the player also brings me joy.

But the thing that brings me the most joy lately is when someone tells me that this blog has made them think about homosexuality differently.  That this issue isn’t as “black and white” as they first thought.  This makes my heart smile.

Just a glimpse of what brings me joy.  The list could go on and on.  Life isn’t always easy, but if you look you can find joy in even the simplest of moments.  My journey has been one of many tears, but lately the tears have been tears of joy.

Psalm 126:5 (NIV)

5 Those who sow with tears
will reap with songs of joy.

joy in the journey

Remember to find Joy in the journey…and as always love each other…because love matters.

You’re going to be okay…

“If you really want to do this, you will need to pass my test.”  Words to me from my dad. “You need to swim from this end of the pool all the way to the other end – without taking a break.”  We were at our yearly family reunion and this was a public pool for the whole facility so it was a big built-in swimming pool.  As a girl of about 10, it seemed like a huge task…but one that I was willing to take on.  If successful, I would be able to jump from the high dive.  This particular swimming pool had two diving boards.  The low board, and the coveted high board.  Every year I would bug my dad to let me jump from the higher board, but was always told that I was too young.  But that particular day I swam the whole length of the pool with no rest.  After getting the nod from my dad, I went to stand in line to wait my turn for the high dive. When it was finally my turn, I climbed the ladder with excitement, got to the top, and froze.  Diving_BoardIt seemed so much higher up there than it did from the ground.  I was terrified.  Unfortunately, there was no turning back.  The next person was already at the top of the ladder and was waiting for me to take the plunge.  I didn’t know if I could do it.   What was I doing up here?  But then I remembered…this was something I had bugged my dad to do for years.  He tested me to make sure I could handle it.  He made the determination that I was ready for this moment.  I also knew that my dad would be watching me the whole time….ready to rescue me if need be…and I jumped!

Coffee-for-Your-Heart-150I’m joining my fellow blogger Holley Gerth and her “Coffee for Your Heart” challenge to encourage others.  This week’s theme is…“No matter what happens, you’re going to be okay…”  I’ve been thinking about this all week…because it’s been one of those weeks.  Well actually it’s been a few tough months.  My husband herniated a disc in his back on December 11th and has been in excruciating pain for the last two months.  It’s been decided that he needs surgery to fix it.  Here we are finally…the week of surgery and I got a stomach virus and some crazy rash that covered my whole body, our daughter had an “accident” with a curb in the snow and not only blew out her tire, but did damage to her undercarriage, and tomorrow, the day of surgery, they are calling for a possible foot of snow.  What can I say other than…it’s going to be okay?  Right?

Our idea of okay is sometimes different than God’s idea of okay.  When I first learned that my son was gay, I heard God whisper almost immediately that it was going to be okay.  At the time, I thought okay meant that we were going to figure out why it happened, get him help, and he wouldn’t be gay anymore.  I didn’t know any better.  I understand now that what God meant is that I would be okay with the fact that I have a gay son.  That it wouldn’t matter.  That he is still the same intelligent, witty, young man that I dearly love.  God knew that I would be okay, I just needed to lean on Him and trust Him through the process.

After that first terrifying jump off of the high dive, I forced myself to climb back up that ladder to jump again.  Eventually it wasn’t scary anymore and it became fun.  There are moments in life we choose , like jumping off a high dive, and there are moments that just happen, like needing surgery.  There are days we are late for work, days that nothing seems to go right, and days that make us feel like we just can’t do it anymore.  But just like my earthly father tested me to make sure I was ready for the challenge of jumping off the high dive, you have a heavenly Father who tests you to make sure you can handle what life brings you.  He knows that you are ready for the challenges.  He knows that you will be okay because He never takes His eyes off of you.

flySo when you are going through a tough circumstance, remember who is with you.  Take that jump…because you’re going to be okay.

Life from the unexpected…

I was looking through my vacation pictures the other day.  The most recent being of New England…specifically Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.  I love that part of the country.  Everywhere you look you can see mountains. There was something really peculiar though…I was amazed at the trees that grew right out of the side of the mountains. I’m not talking about tree covered mountain sides…but trees literally growing out of rocks. I wish I could have gotten better pictures, but most of the time we were driving when we would see them.

Coffee-for-Your-Heart-150How does that happen??  I’m joining my fellow blogger Holley Gerth and her “Coffee for Your Heart” challenge to encourage others.  This week’s topic is “What are the encouraging words you want to hear when you’re having a hard day?”  To be honest, I’m not sure that there are words that I want to hear when I’m having a bad day.  Sometimes it helps me more to just have someone listen. So, when someone is having a bad day the first thing I do is listen to them.  Let them vent because it helps to get it all out.  I find that sometimes an answer to a problem comes just from talking about it out loud to a friend.  If the circumstances are right, I also use humor.  I’ll be the first to admit that I am just a big goof ball at heart (and my friends have plenty of pictures to prove it unfortunately [smile]).    Now I would never say this to someone in the midst of a hard day (I would probably get smacked upside the head), but the truth is…those hard days can turn into something that is good for us.

quarrySo how is it possible for trees to grow right out of rock?  How can something beautiful grow from something so hard and lifeless?  One of the places that we visited our first time in Vermont was the Rock of Ages Quarry.  They have amazing granite there, and as you can see, there are trees growing right out of that granite.  The tour guide explained that all it takes is a small crack to develop in the rock.  This allows the rain to get down in there and it slowly breaks the rock down into sand and dirt.  Add a little sunshine to the mix and some wind to blow some seed and low and behold…you get a tree!  So what can seem like a flaw in the rock, actually is something that brings forth life.

What does that have to do with a bad day, or month, or year?  Well there are times when life is just plain hard.  Things happen that we just can’t explain or understand (why would God allow this to happen?, etc).  We have a choice when this happens. We can close off our heart to God, our family and friends, and even to ourselves.  Or, we can choose to open up about our struggles.  Share them with someone…with God.  Open our hearts so God can rain down His healing power.  He can take a difficult situation, something that seems so impossible, and allow it to break us down, and grow us into something we never expected possible.  I don’t dare pretend that this process is easy.  But I can tell you that if you allow God to work through your bad days, amazing things can take place.  I never dreamed that having a gay child would strengthen my relationship with God, but it has done just that.  It was hard, it was confusing at times, and it has made me love Him even more.

So, if you’re having a bad day…know that God is with you.  He loves you more than you can imagine.  He cares about what you are going through. And someday, you will see how you’ve grown through the experience.

When it feels like everything is falling apart…remember this:

Love each other…because love matters…