Memories light the corners of my mind…

I went to a viewing and a funeral this week.  It was for my cousins step-mother.  I didn’t know her well.  I went to support my uncle and cousins.  Funerals are never easy, and since I’ve been to several, unfortunately, I knew what to expect.  What I didn’t expect was the flood of emotions I would experience when I walked into the room.  It was the same room my own mom’s funeral was in 20 years ago this year.

I’m thankful that I’m pretty good at processing information in the moment.  It’s after the moment that things usually hit me. As I looked around the room, I was struck with the vivid memories that came crashing into my mind.  I could actually see where people had taken seats at my mom’s viewing and funeral.  It was as if my mind was stamped with an indelible ink of pictures from the past.  I’m thankful for that because it was a reminder of how much she was loved.  And a reminder of how much my family was loved.  As I watched people interacting with each other in this room this week, I was caught off guard with what seemed like movie reels playing in my mind.  I could recall with vivid details people coming up to me at my mom’s funeral…asking what had happened because she was gone so suddenly.

I feel for my uncle and cousins this coming week.  This is when it gets the hardest…when everyone goes back to their own lives while yours feels like it is in shambles.  I hope that they can find peace in the memories of their loved one.  I pray that the fact that she lives on in their hearts will bring them comfort.  It will never go away…but it does get easier.

It was still daylight when my sister and I left the funeral home.  Dealing with the memories of our mom’s funeral, we felt the need to visit our old neighborhood.  It was close to the funeral home so it seemed like the perfect time to do so.

11150170_10206697958036172_6869328165890414434_nMy sister snapped this picture as we drove by the home we lived in together the longest.  It still looks the same after all these years.  You can barely see the chains hanging from the ceiling of the porch that holds a porch swing.  I loved that swing.  As kids, we would swing so high on that thing.  I spent a lot of time on that porch.  It was bittersweet seeing it again.  As we drove around taking in the sights, we got to an area of the neighborhood where a lot of our friends lived.  We knew that one such friend was living there again taking care of his elderly mom who doesn’t want to leave her home.  We saw lights on so we decided to do a surprise visit.  His face was priceless when he opened the door.  We are friends on Facebook, but I haven’t seen him in person for over 25 years.  We stood in his yard for about a half hour reminiscing about the “good ole’ days.”  We talked about how the neighborhood has changed, but in some ways stayed the same.  We talked about all the crazy things we did as kids.  And for a brief moment in time, all was right in the world.  I was transported to a time when everyone I loved was still a part of my physical world and it was magical.

Mother’s Day will be arriving in a few days.  It’s a tough holiday for me.  It’s a reminder that the person I celebrate is no longer here with me.  When hard things happen in life, you turn to your mom.  It’s been hard not having her here to be part of this journey.  I know without a doubt that she would love and accept my son.  I’m not sure how she would feel about what I’m doing with this part of my journey as she was a private person.  I can only hope that she would approve and be my cheerleader like she was for so many other things for me when she walked this earth.

 

 

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Step up to the plate…

I was not a fan of gym in middle school.  It would be safe to say that I hated it.  My least favorite activity was the dreaded kickball game, and we seemed to play it a lot.  I had a big disadvantage…I was the smallest person in my class.  This usually translated into being one of the last people picked for a team…if not the last person picked. It was quite humiliating.  Each time it was my turn to kick…everyone in the field moved up because I was so small.  I would hear it come from the outfield first, “Move up…easy out!”  This would be repeated over and over again as everyone on the field moved closer.  Moment of truthI would say a quick prayer asking God to PLEASE give me the power to kick that ball over everyone’s head.  I so desperately wanted to shock everyone and run those bases.  And each time I had hope that it would happen.  I believed that one day my wish would come true. It didn’t. This bothered me so much that I actually had a dream about it.  I was at home plate, everyone moved closer, the pitcher rolled the ball my way, and…wham!  I did it!  I kicked it over everyone’s head!  I was so excited.  I joyfully started to round the bases…wind blowing through my hair.  I was laughing as I ran to the next base and…a bug flew in my mouth.  Yuck!  It was so realistic that I woke up to me sitting up…spitting the “bug” out.  In reality, I just spit onto my bed. Yuck again!  Apparently even in my dreams I can’t catch a break (smile).

You know…I really believed that one day I would kick that ball far.  I wanted my classmates to believe it too. I wanted them to see me the way I saw myself.  Although it may have been a silly prayer to pray about kicking a ball…I was taught that you could pray for anything.  It wasn’t really about the prayer any way…it was about my relationship with Jesus.  I knew he was there for me.

Last week was a rough week.  There were two more suicides…two…and the bill in Indiana that caused quite a stir…with ugliness on both sides of the debate. Frustration and sadness seem to be my constant companions these days.

Usually I am filled with such hope and excitement when Easter draws close.  I wasn’t feeling that as much this year.  It really bothered me.  I kept asking God why.  What was wrong with me?  And I felt Him whisper to my soul, “They are taking Jesus away from my children.”  That’s it!  That’s what I’ve been feeling. I’ve been mad and frustrated because Jesus is being ripped away from these LGBTQ kids (and adults for that matter) and their hope right along with him. The results of that are tragic.

Time and time again these kids are stepping up to the plate asking to be understood…asking to be loved, and people are just closing in on them…quoting Bible passages not to them, but at them. When they’ve prayed and prayed for answers to their sexuality, and finally feel like God answers them saying that He loves them just the way they are…they aren’t broken. Love and acceptance wash over them…until they come out to their family.  They are told that they are wrong.  God hates them. They must change or never be accepted by their heavenly Father.  “You can’t be Christian and Gay!” is the common mantra. Jesus is taken away from them.

Jesus is the one they’ve been turning to all this time.  Jesus is the one standing with them when they tell you their story.  They start to accept themselves and and your words and actions take Jesus away.  Do you know what you are doing?  Is your desire to be “right” worth taking the hope of Jesus from someone? They just want you to see them the way Jesus does…as his precious children.

I keep coming back to John 14:9 when Jesus tells his disciples that anyone that has seen him has seen the Father.  What did we see Jesus do while he was here?  He served others.  It didn’t matter who they were because he came for all people.  He showed love to everyone.  The people who got bent out of shape over who Jesus hung out with were the religious people…not God.  He was here doing what God asked him to do.  Shouldn’t we do the same?  Or do we think we are holier than Jesus?

This I know for sure…I will always be an ally for my LGBTQ brothers and sisters.  I will stand at the plate with them…and I will be sure that they see Jesus in me.  I will not let them stand alone.  I will try my best to undo the damage and give Jesus back to them.  Your words and actions matter.  Stop taking Jesus away from them.

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 commandment greater than these.”

Who’s your neighbor?  Love them…because love matters.