Cha cha cha changes….

Change.  For some people this is a four letter word.  Me…sometimes change is easy for me and other times not so much.

When I was younger, I changed schools several times.  This was hard for me.  I made friends at each school and it was really hard to say goodbye to those friendships.  Then there were the houses.  Yes houses.  I get attached to the memories in places.  I grew up in a two bedroom row home in Baltimore City until I was 10 years old.  It was hard to leave that little house.  We moved into a four bedroom house with a big yard not too far from our other house.  I felt like we were rich because it seemed SO big.  So although it was sad leaving the only house I had know, this new house seemed like an adventure, AND almost all of my cousins lived in the same neighborhood.  I eventually got married and left that house when I was 22 years old.  We moved to a three bedroom town home in Harford County. Coming from the city, it seemed like the country.  Well back then it was the country (smile).

Although it was fun to have my own house, it was hard when my parents sold my second childhood home.  Even though it was no longer the house I lived in, it had so many memories from my childhood and teen years.  Birthday parties, sunbathing by the pool, first kisses on the front porch swing, family and friends gathered at the holidays.  Some really good times.

We lived in our town home for nine years.  Leaving that house was REALLY hard.  We started our family in that house.  Firsts for the kids like crawling and walking were worn into the carpets.  First days of pre-school and kindergarten were recorded by the front door.  But the hardest part of saying goodbye to this house was the fact that it was the last place I had where I could sit and visually see memories of my mom.  By this time, she had been gone for three years (you can read what happened in my post “I will see you again”), and my dad had sold their house and moved to Florida.  May seem strange, but again, I get attached to memories in places.  Changes.

I’ve had some job changes over the years too.  Some were easy to leave and some not so much.  I got my first full time office job at a moving company right after graduating from high school.  I didn’t last long there.  One of my bosses would curse at me if I asked a question.  It was not a good first job experience.  The second job I got wasn’t much better. I was hired to work at the front desk of an orthodontist.  I never dreamed they would have me working on patients!  It was doing simple things like removing bans and putting in wires…but still…I was a secretary!  Didn’t last long there either. Change…change is good! My third job was with a security company.  I worked there for 3 years.  My boss was wonderful, but the pay was crappy.  Hardly above minimum wage.  I was about to be married and I needed to make more money so we could buy a house (the town house I mention above).  Leaving that job was hard because my boss was so caring…he cried when I quit.  Then there was Price Club (which is now called Costco).  I started out as a data entry person there, moved to sales auditor, took on payroll and office lead before I left four years later.  Price Club could be a pain (when it was busy I had to go out to the register which made it hard to get my work done), but it was a lot of fun too.  We were one big family there and it was the first time that I got to work with people more my age. In fact, I met one of my very best friends there (smile). I still keep in touch with a lot of people that I worked with there.  I left that job for my fifth and in my opinion most important job…motherhood.  Talk about changes!

I stayed home with my kids for 10 years.  It was hard, but I wouldn’t have traded it for anything else.  My son was 10 years old and my daughter 8 when I decided I wanted to go back to work.  This change was exciting.  They were in school all day and I looked for something I could do while they were there.  Do you know how much happened in technology from 1992 to 2002??  When I left my office job in 1992, there was no email, there was no Windows, there was no internet. I was like a fish out of water.  I got a job at a dance studio where a friend of mine taught. I didn’t know anything about all this new technology.  I literally learned by trial and error.  Word, Publisher, Excel, Power Point…far cry from the shorthand and typewriter days!  Changes!

I started my current job back in 2007.  I am an administrative assistant at my church.  It was kind of weird at first.  Even though it’s kind of like a business…at the same time it isn’t.  We do business types of things, but our relationships are much deeper than any other place that I’ve worked.  When you carry the burdens, trials, victories, heartache, etc. of a congregation, it knits you together.  There were four of us in the beginning, but a few years ago my co-worker retired so it’s just me and our two pastors now.

It was 2008 when we found out our son is gay…one year after starting my job.  I held the secret from my co-workers for about two weeks until I couldn’t take it anymore. Our kids have a coming out of the closet story, but we as parents have our own journeys out of the closet too.  I remember being afraid to tell them.  Back then I couldn’t say the words without crying.  It took a long time for that to stop.  Part of the reason for that was the shame I felt for believing that somehow I had done my kid wrong and the other part was wondering how the person I was telling was going to react.  They didn’t bat an eye.  They didn’t fire me either.  Sadly that’s not the case for a lot of people.  Crazy isn’t it?  I have been nothing but supported.  We are able to talk about it, express our opinions (which don’t always line up with each other), pray about it, cry about it…and remain the closest of friends through all of it.  We have a lot of fun together too.  Probably more fun than you should at work at times (smile).  I blame them for the extra laugh lines that I have around my eyes.   That’s why this next change is so hard…

A few months ago I gave my notice.  I had been feeling a “nudging” from God for some time, but wanted to make sure it was really from Him.  I did lots of praying.  And when I felt that it was God telling me it was time to move on, I went in the very next day and told them.  I about went into full panic mode when I left that day. “What did you just do??” I asked myself.  “Are you sure this is what you are supposed to do?”  A peace came over me. Yes, this is what I’m supposed to do.  We’ve had some time to process through it together…and times when we are in denial like it’s not really happening.  It’s hard.

We announced on Sunday that I will be transitioning out of my job and will be finished at the end of June.  I’ve had a few people email me since then asking what I’m going to do next.  So, I figured I would let everyone know this way.  One of the hard parts of this transition is that usually you are transitioning into something else.  This isn’t the case for me this time around.  I’m not sure what God is going to have me do.  I don’t have anything lined up, and I’m not looking for anything right now.  I’m just trying to listen to His leading.  What I do know is that my heart has been elsewhere these last couple of years.  Even though I love my church, and I love the people I work with…my heart is with the LGBTQ community.  And let’s face it…they aren’t knocking down our church door.  I want to find ways that I can plug in more and help the community.  One thing that makes this a little easier is that I know my replacement will be great.  She is excited to start and I think she will fit in just fine.

I hope I’ve loved my church community well.  And I don’t plan on going anywhere so I will continue to do so.  But I want to expand out into the world more to let the LGBTQ community they are loved.

Because love matters…

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Down to the river…

A few weeks ago we sang a song called The River by Jordan Feliz.  I haven’t been able to stop listening to it.  It gripped me.  I’ve been feeling down lately and the song just grabbed my heart.  I think one reason is that it reminds me of the day I got baptized.

I was baptized as a baby, but in the church I attend now we baptize people when they can make the decision to follow Jesus.  I had been a Christian for many years, but decided to get baptized as an outward profession of my faith.  The really cool part was back then we did baptisms in a large stream a few miles from our church.  It wasn’t quite a river, but that’s what I think of when I hear that song.  The weather was perfect…clear and sunny.  The water was cold and refreshing.  I remember keeping my eyes open when my pastor lowered me into the water.  I could see the sun, the bright blue sky, and the green trees hovering over the water.  It was beautiful, and it felt like a fresh start.  What made the day extra special was the fact that my husband and son were baptized that same day.

The song opens with these lyrics:

I know a place where we can go
To lay the troubles down eating your soul
I know a place where mercy flows
Take the stains make you whiter than snow
Like a tide, it is rising up deep inside
A current that moves and makes it come alive
Living water that brings the dead to life, oh-oh-oh-oh
We’re going down to the river
Down to the river, down to the river to pray
Let’s get washed by the water
Washed by the water and rise up in amazing grace
Let’s go down, down, down to the river (You will leave changed)
Let’s go down, down, down to the river (Never the same)

I like to visualize nature when I pray and water is something that I find soothing so I visualize that a lot.  This song reminds me of when I go to God with my heartache over what’s happening with the LGBTQ community.  And the river represents the tears I’ve cried because of it.  I go to God and I lay down the troubles eating my soul.  My tears wash over me and it’s a release that gives me strength to continue.  I stepped into this journey and God gave me a passion that has left me changed…never the same.  And although at times it is exhausting, and frustrating, I wouldn’t trade it.  At times I feel like the troubles I see are leading me to death, but God sustains me and brings me back to life.  “Living water that brings the dead to life.”

That all may sound dramatic if you aren’t living it every day.  It looks like we dodged a bullet with the Executive Order that President Trump signed today.  Some of the language that was in the order originally back in February was taken out.  Things like allowing people to discriminate on the basis of their faith for things like housing for LGBTQ individuals, jobs, services, etc.  Do you know what it’s like to worry that your basic human needs and rights can be taken away by the stroke of a pen?   Do you know what it’s like to fight for affection and not be condemned because of it?  Do you know what it’s like to see the double standards and be judged harshly for something you aren’t even doing?  It causes people to go back into closets that are just as damaging…if not deadly.

Since I had never heard of Jordan Feliz and liked his song The River so much I decided to look for some of his other songs.  It didn’t take me long before I found his song Beloved. I will close with the lyrics…

Head full of questions, how can you measure up?
To deserve afftection to ever be enough
For this existance
When did it get so hard?
Your heart is beating, alive and breathing
And there´s a reason why
You are essential, not accidental
And you should realize
You are beloved
I wanted you to know
You are beloved
Let it soak into your soul
Oh, forget the lies you heard
Rise above the hurt
And listen to these words
You are beloved
I wanted you to know
You are beloved
You are beloved
Sometimes a heart can feel like a heavy weight
It pulls you under and you just fall away
Is anybody gonna hear you call?
Oh, oh
But there´s a purpose
Under the surface
And you don´t have to drown
Let me remind you
That love will find you
Let it lift you out
You are beloved
I wanted you to know
You are beloved
Don´t be afraid
Don´t let hope, faith keep your eyes fixed on the light above
In the heartbreak, in your mistakes, nothing can separate you from love
Don´t be afraid
Don´t let hope, fait keep you eyes fixed on the light above
In the heartbreak, in your mistakes, nothing can separate you from love
You are beloved
I wanted you to know
You are beloved
Let it soak into your soul
Forget the lies you heard
Rise above the hurt
And listen to these words
You are beloved
I wanted you to know that you are beloved…and you matter.