Say it isn’t so…

When I was 10 years old, my friends and I loved to skate board.  Now we are talking 1977 so it wasn’t the cool skate boards of today.  The boards were much different back then.  They were very thin, barely fitting your foot – not like the wider versions of today.  And although the wheels weren’t metal like the roller skates back in the day, they weren’t the greatest.  My board was bright yellow and as I think back to what it looked like…it was like riding a banana (smile).  One fateful day as I was riding my skate board home, I had a little accident.  One of my wheels hit a small rock.  The skate board stopped…I didn’t.  I went flying through the air and landed…on my face…specifically…my mouth.  As I was picking myself up off the sidewalk, a little piece of my tooth fell out of my mouth.  It was pretty small so I didn’t think anything of it.  I picked up my board and walked the rest of the way home.

I walked in the front door and told my mom what happened.  She looked at my tooth and admitted that it wasn’t that bad (in fact…she had chipped the same tooth – in the same pattern).  But then she said eight words that rocked my world, “If your tooth dies, it will turn black.”  What?!  Your tooth can die?  She explained that when you injure your tooth sometimes the root dies and it can turn black.  I started crying.  I didn’t want a black tooth.  It was my front tooth! Everyone would see it!  Moments ago I landed on my face and didn’t shed a tear, but my mom tells me that my tooth may change color and I completely fall apart.

When I first learned that my son was gay, it was upsetting.  Not so much because he was gay, but at the time I believed that something somewhere along his life went wrong.  It was my fault…or his dad’s.  I never believed it was a choice, but rather something that could be “fixed.”  So although it was upsetting, I had hope that he could change.  I read everything I could get my hands on regarding the subject.  What I found was very conflicting information.  Upsetting information.  From the Christian standpoint, orientation could be changed.  I read articles from organizations from ex-gay ministries that were very hopeful.  Stories about how people were able to become attracted to the opposite sex.  From the LGBT standpoint, orientation could not be changed.  I read articles from people about how the ex-gay ministry techniques had hurt them.  Stories from parents that had lost their children to suicide because the shame and pain were too much for them to handle when the change they prayed for didn’t happen.

I read my Bible and articles from people who study the Bible.  Scholars of the different languages and cultures of the time.  I found the same thing here.  Compelling arguments from both sides of the debate (Christian and Gay).  What was I supposed to do?  What should I believe?  I found myself distancing myself from God.  I started to read my Bible less, and my prayer life was dwindling.  I felt like I had to make a choice.  Love God, or love my son.  It seemed the two could not co-exist.  I realize now that I didn’t come to this conclusion from reading the Bible, or from reading the articles I had found.  It came from the body of Christ.  The conversations I was hearing among believers on this subject.  People didn’t know that I had a gay son so they spoke freely in front of me about how they felt about gay people.  And what I was hearing was ugly and hateful.  I felt so torn…I didn’t believe what my fellow believers were saying, but I also didn’t want to be blinded by my hopes and dreams for my son.

So I went straight to God.  I told Him that I needed His help.  I didn’t know how to do this.  I was confused.  I so desperately wanted to do the right thing.  I told Him I was at a crossroad…I couldn’t take all the back and forth information.  I didn’t know if I was strong enough to do whatever it was I needed to do.  It was scary because I wasn’t sure I was ready to hear what He would tell me (just like I didn’t like hearing my tooth might turn black).  This is the gist what I heard:

“In case you haven’t noticed, I am God…you are not.  Stop trying to figure this out.  I got this.  It’s between myself and your son, the child that I created.  I love him and it is ok for you to love him too.”  My response was something like, “But God he has stepped away from you right now.  How is he going to hear you?  How will he know what you want him to do?”  And again I heard that it wasn’t for me to figure out…just to love him.  “But what if he dates someone.  What am I supposed to do then??”  And I heard, “Love him too.”  WOW…really?  Well, I can do that (smile).

dont worryI found this on the internet this week.  It reminded me of my brief crisis of faith through this experience.  There were lots of tears, many prayers, and unbearable pain at times.  God saw me, He heard me, and He gave me peace.  I am so thankful for that.

This is an issue that deserves our attention.  Those of us that have gay children feel like we have been plopped down into the middle of a war.  A war we didn’t ask for, a war that our children didn’t ask for.  I have read story after story from parents about how they and their children have been treated by the church…by other believers, in very unkind, unloving ways. Kids are dying.  I love my church…I love the Church.  I just think we need to have some conversations.  I would like to tell people things like think before you speak.  You have no idea what it is like to go through this unless you experience it first hand.  Have your opinions, but speak them with love.  It is possible you know.  And maybe before you give your opinion…ask questions.  Make sure you truly understand the impact of what you are going to say.

We all have trials in this life that we go through.  Whether it’s having a gay child, going through a divorce, dealing with illness, having an addiction, chipping your tooth (smile).  God always sees, always hears, and He will deliver. Most of the time in very surprising, unexpected ways.  By the way…my tooth didn’t turn black.  And after many years of harassment from my dentist…I finally got it fixed 12 years after my accident (smile).

Love each other…God commands it…because love matters.

Coffee-for-Your-Heart-150

 

Extreme heat, no food, and wild hair…oh my!

I’m changing things up a little with this post.  I haven’t had a decent night sleep since December 11th when my husband Mike herniated a disc and with his recent surgery it’s been 14 days of even less sleep.  So, I am going to share a story that my friends have been telling me I need to write for years.  I like to have peace about what God wants me to write about and due to lack of sleep I just don’t have that right now.  So today something more lighthearted.

Coffee-for-Your-Heart-150I’m joining Holley Gerth and her “Coffee for Your Heart” challenge to encourage others.  The encouragement in this post is even if you have a horrible day, years later you may find amusement in it.  I will try to do it justice (I think it’s better in person because I’m a bit animated when I tell it – smile).

When my children were little, my husband Mike traveled quite a bit for work.  I was a stay at home mom at the time and he was always bugging the kids and I to go with him.  It was not only too expensive, but I have a bit of an issue with flying.  It messes with my equilibrium and the airplane literally does tumblesaults through the air (but that is a story for another time).  He was thrilled when he had a conference scheduled in Crystal City, Virginia because it was driving distance from our house.  It’s close to DC so he assured me that there would be lots for me and the kids to do and he even called the hotel to make sure.  The lady at the hotel told him that there was plenty to do even for a boy who just turned 3 and a little girl who was 19 months old.

So, I packed us all up and we went with him.  It was a really fancy hotel…full of nothing but businessmen. There was not one other family (at least not any that I saw) in that hotel and those ladies just ate my kids up.  I think they told my husband there was something for the kids to do just so they would have kids to play with.

The conference was at the end of August.  It was the hottest week of the summer.  The kind that they say to keep the elderly and young inside.  There was absolutely nothing for me and the kids to do.  My husband was in the conference all day and afterwards would eat dinner with us, but after that he spent the entire rest of the night on the computer trying to keep up with tasks at the office.  So, it was just me and the kids most of the time.  There is only so much running through hallways and riding elevators that you can do in a WEEK.  I was losing my mind.  The ladies at the front desk did arrange for the shuttle bus from the hotel to take us to a mall.  But really it was just a building with businesses in it with some shops and a little food court.  I had a double stroller and this mall had steps so lets just say it wasn’t very kid friendly.  There was another day that the hotel shuttle took us to a little “park” (it was in the middle of the business district) that had a little fountain in the center.  I would swear that the water was boiling and not an actual fountain since it was so hot.  We were there for a total of 15 minutes until we couldn’t take it anymore.

By the fourth day of absolutely nothing to do, the ladies at the front desk convinced me to go to the Children’s Museum in DC.  They told me I would just need to take the metro to DC, and the museum was not far from the station.  They said I wouldn’t even need to take my stroller because it was so close.  I was instructed to ask a policeman where the museum was located when I got off the train.  Now, I had never in my life been on the metro.  I really had no idea what I was doing…and I had a 3-year-old and a 19 month old.  But I was so desperate I would do anything to keep these kids occupied.  I was told by the ladies that the museum had a nice cafeteria and plenty to do to keep us busy all day.  Sounded like heaven, and I was told it should only take about 40 minutes to get there including hotel shuttle to metro station, the ride to DC, and then the short walk to the museum.  So it was a go.

The next day the kids and I got up, had a little granola bar for breakfast, and headed out the door at 9am.  We got on the hotel shuttle and we were on our way.  We got to the metro station and I very carefully plotted our route. To get to the train, we had to go down a very long escalator.  I scooped up McKensie and instructed Kyle (Kai) to hold onto my shorts pocket so that I could hold the railing to keep my balance.  As I held McKensie, to my surprise, I felt a naked little butt.  Apparently she took her pull-up off before we left the hotel and I didn’t realize it (she was trying to be like her big brother and use the potty).  I was mortified because she had a cute little denim dress on that she very proudly was lifting up and down as I was trying to get the two of them through the hotel lobby…in front of many businessmen I might add (sigh).  I’m sure they thought I was a stellar parent.

We made it to the train and eventually arrived at our destination.  We walked outside the station and I looked for a policeman to ask for directions to the museum.  Unfortunately, there weren’t any in sight.  I started to walk down the street, but it was so busy with construction and people that I decided to go back in the train station and ask someone in there.  By this time, both kids were tired of walking and wanted to be held.  Now, I need to explain that although they are both toothpick thin now, they were not back then.  They were quite chunky and a little bit of a handful for my 5′ 105 pound self.  We made it back into the station where there were many little shops and I went in one by one asking if they new where the Children’s Museum was located.  Not one person could tell me.  Now the ladies at the hotel said it was close to the station.  How come no one could give me directions?

I decided to go back outside and try to find it.  I asked someone that looked friendly (the ladies freaked me out a little by being very specific about asking a policeman).  They gave me some directions which I followed to no avail. So, I asked someone else…followed their directions to no avail.  This went on…and on…and on.  It was 98 degrees outside.  There was no shade.  And I had two little ones that were tired of walking.  I was carrying them both at the same time on and off during this little adventure.  I was hot, sweaty, and hungry.  I couldn’t wait to get to that museum to cool off and get something to eat.

We walked, and walked, and walked until finally we saw…a policeman!  I had flashbacks to all of the school assemblies when I was a little girl where a policeman would come and talk to us about how important it was to listen to them and how they were here to help us.  We were given little booklets with the title “Officer Friendly” on the front.  I’m pretty sure I heard angels sing when I saw him.  At the time, I had a kid on each hip.  He looked at me and asked, “Are you going to the Children’s Museum?”  He knew!  I replied, “Yes I am.”  And he said…”I don’t think you’re going to make it.”  What!?  So much for Officer Friendly.  I asked him where it was and he pointed to a hill and at the very top was the museum.  Well, you don’t tell me that I can’t do something.  I thanked him (some help he was) and headed toward the hill.  Now I could go up the street and around a corner to get there, or I could take a shortcut through some really tall grass.  I took the shortcut and the whole time I was literally chanting in my head, “I think I can…I think I can.”  Relief was coming…the museum was in sight.

We got to the entrance.  It was basically a big, old stone house that had been converted into a museum.  We walked through the front door waiting to be greeted with a cool breeze of air conditioning.  Instead we got…stifling hot air. The air conditioner was broken.  Are you kidding me??  We paid for our tickets and I asked where the cafeteria was located.  It was right down the hall.  We hurried along, got to the entrance and found…vending machines.  There was no cafeteria.  I only had a few coins, but I was so hungry I bought us some peanuts and a 7-Up to share.  I figured once we scarfed those down I could get more change for more food.  You see it was 2 o’clock.  The 40 minute trip took us 5 HOURS.  We were starving!  We finished our snack and scared peoplestarted to go back out front to get more change when we were greeted with screaming people running down the hall.  What were they screaming you ask?  “He’s got a gun!”  Yep, the museum was robbed.  So much for getting change. The gunman took ALL of the money.  Luckily he took the money and ran so we were safe.  In the back of my mind though, all I could think about was I had no idea how I got to this museum and I had no idea how to get back to the train station and there was some maniac running around with a gun. So glad we came on this trip with my husband.  Not!

The museum closed at 5 o’clock so we ventured off to see what we could in our abbreviated time.  It was a really cool museum and the kids loved it.  They loved it so much that they didn’t want to leave.  It was just about closing time and the last exhibit we went to was a little tunnel with flags that the kids could run through.  They got in there and they wouldn’t come out. They were giggling and running through there like a pack of wild animals.  It got to the point that I needed to go in to get them.  Now, I am short, but not as short as a child, and not realizing how low the ceiling of the tunnel was I cracked my head so hard I saw stars.  Great!  I needed to get the kids out of there, find my way back to the metro station, and avoid some gun wielding crazy man…all with a possible concussion.

I finally retrieved my kids and ventured to the exit of the museum.  I was chatting with one of the workers there and she heard about some of my day and took pity on me and hailed a cab for us.  We got in the cab and he literally drove down the street to the metro station.  We were close…it’s just that no one I asked for directions knew that (sigh). Now I don’t know if you’ve ever been at the metro in DC at rush hour, but it was beyond crowded.  I had each kid by the hand as we waited for our train.  The trains were rushing by us so fast that it was blowing us around…I was literally afraid one of the kids would blow away!  Finally our train arrived.  It was so crowded that there weren’t any seats available..standing room only.  A man took pity on us and offered his seat.  I gratefully took it and put one kid on each knee.  I was asking if they were tired because I certainly was and they both chimed in “no we aren’t tired.”  I noticed I was getting some looks, but I figured it was because I had two small children on the train in the middle of rush hour.  Who in their right mind would do that?  But when the train went underground and I caught my reflection in the window I was quite startled.  You see, in the morning I knew it was going to be a really hot day so when I styled my hair I made sure I used lots of hairspray to keep it in place.  After sweating for 5 hours walking through the hot streets of DC, carrying two hefty kids, and then spending the remaining 3 hours in a hot museum…plus the extreme wind from the trains…I literally looked like I had some kind of freakish mohawk.  My hair was standing on end from all the wind and hairspray.  The perfect end to my less than perfect day.  I looked like a crazy woman.

I have to say…it was one of the most memorable weeks of my life.  I can honestly say that I have not been back to DC since.  When the kids were older and had field trips there, I made Mike go (smile).  And he went….because he loves me and he loves our kids…and love matters (smile).

BTW:  I had extra pull-ups with me so my little one didn’t need to go through the whole day with a naked butt (smile).

 

In whom do I trust…

Kai KickI love this picture!  This is Kai doing a jumping side kick.  That’s his dad holding the board that he is breaking.  You can see that there is another person behind him helping to brace for the impact.  It amazes me that someone can be standing perfectly still one second, and in the next jump that high to break a board.  There is a lot of power in that kick…and it takes a lot of trust on the part of the person holding the board because the target area is barely bigger than their foot.  They have to trust that the person is going to hit the board…and not them.  If you’ve ever watched “America’s Funniest Videos,” you know that the kicker is not always successful (smile).

Coffee-for-Your-Heart-150I’m joining Holley Gerth today in her “Coffee for Your Heart” challenge to encourage others.  She usually gives us a theme each week, but this week she gave us our choice of topic.  I decided to write about trust because it’s something that has recently been tested in my family.

On December 11th, my husband Mike was unable to get out of bed.  He had extreme pain in his lower back and literally could not move.  By the next day, I needed to take him to the emergency room.  Let me tell you…that was not easy, and not just because he is 6’2″ and I am only 5’0″ (smile).  The pain was excruciating.  The hospital gave him some pain meds and referred him to an orthopedic surgeon.  When we saw the surgeon, he explained that he suspected a herniated disc was the culprit.  He explained that the body can heal itself given some time, but sometimes surgery is necessary.  My husband decided to try the non-surgical route first.  Well six weeks later, working from home because he couldn’t drive, and hobbling around like an 80-year-old man, he still wasn’t better so he went for an MRI.  At the follow-up visit, we learned that it was indeed a herniated disc…a really big one.  We left the office with a decision to be made…have surgery, or see if the body would heal itself in time.

After doing some research, my husband decided that he should consult with a neurosurgeon to get another opinion as the disc was really pressing on the nerves in his spine.  After consulting with a neurosurgeon, and hearing again that the herniation was very large, he decided to have the surgery.  There was just one problem…they were calling for 17 inches of snow in our area starting the night before surgery.  Sigh.  In the meantime, Mike had done some research (more extensive than he originally had done) and discovered some things about this surgeon that he was a little apprehensive about.  He prayed about it and asked God to give him a sign if he shouldn’t go through with the surgery.  Since the forecast was calling for so much snow, he called the doctor’s office the night before to see if they would be canceling due to the weather.  They assured him that they rarely cancel surgery and it was still a go in the morning.  The hospital was 35 minutes from our house so we decided to get a hotel room 3 miles away to make sure we could make it there in the snow.  The next morning we got up and low and behold…they canceled the surgery. Mike was beside himself.  He wondered what he should do.  Was God telling him not to have the surgery?  Or was God telling him to go to a different doctor?  What did it mean?  He asked for a sign and this surely seemed like a sign. I told him that since he had reservations about the surgeon, I would take the cancellation to mean that he should look for a different one.

So, after tons of research, and asking around to lots of people, he found a doctor that was an orthopedic and neurosurgeon.  He had a very good reputation.  So, we went to see him and were told the same thing.  At this point, we were almost 3 months into this and he was tired of living in pain so he decided to go with the surgery…again.  As the day of surgery was nearing, another snow storm was coming our way…really??  Luckily it wasn’t as big as predicted and it was all clear by surgery day. There was just one problem…Mike started to feel better 3 days before the surgery date.  He had been walking hunched over for months, but suddenly he could stand upright.  He wasn’t completely pain-free, but the pain was suddenly and significantly diminished.  At first he thought maybe he was just having a good day, but after 3 days with less pain he wondered if he was getting better.  Did this mean he was healing?

The day of surgery finally arrived.  We chatted with the nurse as she prepped him.  She asked about his injury and he went through the whole story.  She said she had been a nurse for 34 years surgery had only been canceled twice in all those years.  It seemed clear to us that God didn’t want Mike to have the surgery with that first doctor.  So, the surgeon came in and Mike explained how he was feeling.  The doctor said he didn’t have to have the surgery if he felt like he was getting better, it wouldn’t hurt his feelings (smile).  Mike’s struggle was that he had been praying for healing and he felt like maybe he was healing.  But in his own words, he is a blockhead and he knows that God knows that about him so he had specifically asked for a clear sign.  His partial healing confused him.  Did it mean God would eventually totally heal him?  I felt peace about the surgery, but Mike did not and he wanted to feel peace about whether or not to have the surgery.  What to do, what to do?  The doctor left so that we could chat about it.  Mike said he was praying for a clear sign, but this didn’t feel clear (like surgery getting canceled).  Since he didn’t feel like he had a clear sign, and he knew that God wouldn’t try to confuse him, he trusted that surgery was the right decision.

The surgery took twice as long as it was supposed to because when the doctor went in he couldn’t even see the nerves.  80% of the spinal cavity was filled with the disc and it had wrapped around the nerves.  The reason why he had started to feel better is because the nerve was being choked and was actually dying.  Good thing he had the surgery!

I wrote in another post about “what if’s” and how you can get stuck with that thought pattern.  That particular post dealt with the “what if’s” of the past.  My husband’s “what if’s” were for his future.

What if he died on the operating table?
What if he was paralyzed?
What if the surgery didn’t work?
What if he got an infection?
What if his body eventually healed itself?

On and on…

These “what if’s” had metaphorically paralyzed him.  It made it difficult to make decisions.  He was trying to put his trust in God, but it was confusing.  Looking back it seemed clear that God didn’t want him to have surgery the first time.  The second time was not as clear.  We think that we want clear, concise answers from God all the time.  If we really thought about it though, I don’t think we would like that.  It seems to me that we could become somewhat robotic.  There wouldn’t be much of a relationship if we didn’t have to lean into Him, rely on Him, call on Him in our times of need.  But this trust thing is hard because deep down we know that things aren’t always going to turn out the way we want them to turn out.  We have to trust that God will be with us no matter what happens.  He will always be there to help us.  And He answers us…not always with the answer we want, or with the timing we would like, but He does answer.  The first surgery was canceled.  We felt that was an answer.  The second time it wasn’t canceled and things seemed unclear.  But we got our answer after Mike stepped out in faith.  The doctor said his injury was so bad he wouldn’t have gotten better on his own so surgery was necessary.  In fact, he would have gotten worse.

I had a situation recently that involved trust.  I’m in a women’s study at my church and there are some new ladies in the group so I knew that not everyone knew that my son is gay.  We were going around the room and answering questions.  There were several ways I could have answered the question, but I decided to answer in a way that let them know my situation.  I have a gay son.  I had to trust the ladies in the room which is not easy because in the past when I’ve shared some gossip has come out of it.  But I had to trust that this is what God wants me to do.  He wants me to tell my story.  And I trust that He is with me every step of the way.  It’s the only way I am able to do it.

As Christians, we want to do God’s will.  We consult with Him when we need to make decisions.  However, when we don’t feel like we get a direct answer, we need to step out in faith and trust God.  He can’t work though us if we are paralyzed by fear and indecision.

Psalm 91:2 (NIV)

2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

And remember to love each other…because love matters.

Small things…big difference…

tastykakebutterscotchWhen I was a little girl, I loved Fridays, and it wasn’t because it was the start to the weekend.  Nope…I loved Fridays because it was grocery shopping day. Now don’t worry…my parents didn’t starve me (smile).  I just knew that when my dad came home from the store I was going to get a treat.  Sometimes it was gingersnap cookies, sometimes it was a Slim Jim, but my all time favorite was Tastykake Butterscotch Krimpets.  Yum!  AND I was allowed to eat them before I had dinner, plus I got to spend time with my dad while he put the groceries away.

Coffee-for-Your-Heart-150I’m joining Holley Gerth today and her “Coffee for Your Heart” challenge to encourage others.  This week’s theme is “A small thing that makes a big difference is…”  Well, a Butterscotch Krimpet may seem like a small thing, but it was a big deal to me.  Not only was it something tasty, but I got to spend quality time with my dad.  It was a special little thing that we shared.  It let me know that while he was at the store…he was thinking about me.  He was doing an ordinary task that people do everyday, and he took the time to find my treat and bring it home to me.

There are a lot of small things that can make a big difference…

Did you ever receive a phone call from a friend at just the right time?  Did they lift your spirits or make you laugh on a day that you didn’t think that was possible?  A small thing…big difference.

Have you ever received a card in the mail from a friend that spoke to you in just the right way…at just the right time? Did it let you know that you weren’t alone…that someone loved you and was thinking about you?  A small thing…big difference.

Have you ever had someone hold the door for you at a store on a day where you felt like everyone was against you? Or have someone stop their car and let you pass in front of them on a day when you just felt invisible to the rest of the world?  Small things…big difference.

Has someone ever said to you, “I’ll pray for you.” during a difficult time, but instead of waiting for their quiet time with God, they prayed with you right then and there?  A small thing…big difference.

These small things make a big difference too…

Posting that comment on FB that was less than kind about someone.  A small thing…but maybe that comment fed doubts and fears already hard for them to control…big difference.

Telling that gay joke.  A small thing…but it is offensive and hurtful to not only the gay person, but to their friends and family as well…big difference.

Pointing out certain verses in the Bible regarding homosexuality to “plant seeds” to your gay family member or friend.  A small thing…but trust me, if they’ve grown up in the church they have been over those verses a million times and if they haven’t grown up in the church…not the best approach to introduce them to God…big difference.

We all need to remember that it’s not only the big things we do in life that people notice…it’s the small things too. And sometimes those small things make a bigger impact then we ever imagined they could…good or bad.

My husband finally had his back surgery yesterday.  We were bombarded with prayers, texts, and emails all with well wishes…small things…big difference.  We could feel their love.  (hopefully this post will make sense…we didn’t get much sleep in the hospital last night)

To this day, I can not see a package of Tastykake Butterscotch Krimpets and not think of my dad (smile).

Love each other….because love matters.