Plop, plop…fizz, fizz…oh what a year it’s been!

If you are old enough, you will remember this catchy jingle to Alka Seltzer. It was the kind that you could get stuck in your head. “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is!” Oh what a relief it is to say goodbye to 2020! I know not everything will magically get better now that the ball has dropped on New Year’s Eve. It is nice to have a clean slate and a new year to look forward to though.

I’ve been trying to find the words about what this year has been like. I’ve given up. I don’t think I can do it adequately. I also don’t think I need to remind anyone of all the turmoil that we experienced this last year. My Facebook memories these last two days have been of me and others expressing what the new year would hopefully bring us. Oh boy did we have NO IDEA what was to come our way. I have seen the worst and the best of humanity.

When my mom died 25 years ago when she was 50 years old and I was 28, I was reminded of how fragile life is and how we aren’t guaranteed how much time we have with someone. But then life gets busy and you tend to forget (or at least I did raising two little ones) until the next death comes along and knocks the wind out of you again. As hard as I tried, the fragility of it all faded. It was there, but never in the forefront of my thoughts. I’m not saying I should sit here wringing my hands worried about who is next. That is no way to live. Instead…I want to remember it so that I treat each day and more importantly each person that I come in contact with each day with love and kindness.

I don’t think this point could have been driven home any harder than what this year has done. I stood in this aisle at Target thirteen times this year. Thirteen. The most I’ve gone into this aisle others years is three. I stood here and over again trying to find the right card to express the sorrow I felt for my friends who lost loved ones. Nine of the thirteen times were due to Covid and the others were cancer or other natural causes.

Losing someone you love is hard. Having a good chunk of the population think that what your loved one died of to be fake is a pain I can’t imagine. Every time I saw someone online making fun of people for wearing masks or saying the virus was fake or some sort of conspiracy theory I felt the slap my friends must have felt.

2020 has definitely driven home the point that we don’t know how much time we have here. I don’t think of that and live in fear or worry. Instead it drives me to make each moment count. Each person count. I don’t know if I will ever forget this lesson now. I sure hope I don’t.

2021 is a clean slate.

I hope we can do better this year. I hope we can garner some much needed empathy for others. I hope we can do a better job at loving one another.

Because love matters…

Color matters…

When I was a little girl, one of my favorite summer time activities was coloring.  My grandmother watched my sister and me while our parents worked.  She didn’t have air conditioning so coloring was a good activity to stay cool. I can still remember getting a new set of crayons for the summer.  The jackpot was when I could get the 64 pack with the built in sharpener on the back (smile).  So many colors to choose from to create a plethora of masterpieces each day.  The crayons were like little soldiers waiting to be called on for duty. Crisp, clean papers encircled the sticks with the name of the color printed on the side. Each one having the perfect point to get you started.  If I close my eyes, I can still smell them. Ahhhh….

Having that big pack of crayons was important.  You had all of the hues at your fingertips to make your picture or coloring page to your exact specifications.

Color matters.

I have so many friends that are becoming grandparents.  It’s been fun to watch their excitement.  All of the pictures on social media counting down the months and letting you know how big the baby is getting are fun to peruse.  From blueberry, to apple, to acorn squash, to honeydew melon and lots of things in between.  But the thing I see them get the most excited about is the revealing of the gender.  They do this in many different ways.  Some have cakes made with the pink or blue icing in the center declaring whether it’s a boy or girl.  I’ve seen balloons popped with pink or blue confetti spilling out revealing what was to come.  I’ve seen firework type cannons shooting out billows of pink or blue smoke to announce the news.  In all of these scenarios…

Color matters.

Another way that color comes into play in our lives is with sports.  Here in Maryland we say we bleed orange in the summer for the Orioles, and purple in the winter for the Ravens.  On any given Sunday during football season, you can tell who someone is cheering for just by observing the color they are wearing.  Here in Maryland we even have purple Fridays during football season to get everyone excited for the game on Sunday.

Color matters.

Another thing that you see on social media right now are the freshly graduated seniors declaring with pride what college they are attending in the fall. You can usually see them in a t-shirt or sweatshirt with the name of the school printed in big letters splayed across their chest in you guessed it…their school colors…

Color matters.

If color matters in all of these fun, but in most cases trivial things…how much more does or should color matter when it comes to the color of one’s skin?

I don’t think I need to tell you what is happening in our country right now. It saddens me to my core. We have so much to learn! I’ve sat with this for some time because so much has already been said about it. I guess this is my way of documenting my thoughts at the time. My hope is that when I see this next year or at least in the years to come I will be able to see changes that have taken place.

Just like the church doesn’t have to condemn gay people from the pulpit for them to get the message, one doesn’t have to be outright taught racism for us to have some tendencies towards it. I definitely grew up with preconceived notions about black people. It took me time to work through them. I think the majority of people don’t want to be racist (of course there are always the exceptions). I also think that most people don’t even realize that they may have racist ideas.

I think people hear the word racist or racism and immediately become defensive.  I see it time and time again. Communication gets completely shut down. People stop listening. Even if those words aren’t used just the idea gets people so worked up that they can’t see the pain the other person is experiencing.  We once again have people arguing whether or not they are right and the human experience gets stomped on in the process.

One way that I’ve seen this when engaging in this topic is the statement that black lives matter. I’ve seen so many people respond to this with all lives matter. I posted something on my FB page that explained that when someone says black lives matter it doesn’t mean that only black lives matter. We know that all lives matter it’s just that black lives need our help because they are being hurt. I had someone go on and on about the Black Lives Matter Movement. I told this person I wasn’t referring to any movement. I was referring to people’s lives. They went on to call me names. I couldn’t convince this person to look at human life. All they saw was a movement.

Yes all lives matter. Of course they do! Our society, however, does not treat people as if all lives matter.

There have been some examples of Jesus on this topic floating around the internet. One example is the beatitudes. When Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” the crowd doesn’t respond “all lives are blessed!” When Jesus says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted,” the crowd doesn’t respond “all lives are blessed!” Jesus declares these people blessed precisely because they never have been. Their society never blessed them. If you don’t see a disparity in how black people are treated in certain circumstances, I’m going to ask you to look harder. The other example that has been given is Jesus’ parable about the lost sheep. The shepherd leaves the 99 to find the one that is lost. That doesn’t mean the 99 aren’t valuable or loved by the shepherd. It simply means that they aren’t in trouble and don’t need him at the moment.

I went to a seminar at a church about two years ago and the topic was racism. I think I even wrote about it here. I was sickened by what I learned. I left so distraught for the people of Baltimore. I learned about systems that were put into place years ago that are still in place today. I encourage you to look up things like red lining, blockbusting, and systemic racism.  Learning about these things will give you an idea of what white privilege means. Mention that and people lose their minds. “But I worked hard for what I have. No one handed me what I have!” are their mantras. It’s not what it means. I would offer that if things like that offend you dig deep to understand why.

We have lost the art of empathy. We don’t listen. We jump to conclusions. I could go on, but I won’t. I certainly have tons more to learn. I’m sure I still have things that need to be unlearned. It’s a process. I’m just so disheartened by people’s reactions.

I hear, “Let’s not make it about race.” We can only do that when everyone is treated equally. “I don’t see color,” sounds nice. I believe for most people that comes from a good place, but God did not create the multitude of shades of our skin for us to ignore them. They are beautiful!

Color matters…and right now love matters more than we can imagine.

 

A little Pride sent your way…

I usually do a post about my experience with Pride.  This year Pride events have either been cancelled or postponed until the fall.  Since we can’t all be together this Pride month, here is a little project I participated in to bring Pride right into your home. Remember…you are loved, you are worthy, you are enough! Check out this video:

 

Be patient…we’re working on it…

I woke up the other day to a memory from when I was a 10 year old girl.  It was strange because the dream I was having before I woke up had nothing to do with the memory, but there it was nonetheless.

I was in the 5th grade.  A boy in my class was having a surprise party for his birthday.  It happened to fall on the same day my family was moving.  In order for me to go, I had to get there an hour or two before the party was starting.  My mom contacted his mom and she was more than happy to have me arrive early so that I could attend.  It wasn’t a big deal to me to sit with an adult I had never met before.  Back then people would have said I had an old soul and I was very comfortable with adults.

I can remember so much about that day.  I can see myself sitting in his kitchen chatting with his mom.  I even helped her with some of the party prep.  I can remember bursting at the seams about the gift I was going to give my classmate.  It was a five dollar bill.  Just a few weeks prior, my mom’s boss had me go around our neighborhood and put an advertisement on everyone’s door.  For the task, I was rewarded with a five dollar bill.  I felt like the richest kid in the world.  Back then to a 10 year old that was a lot of money.  So I could barely contain my excitement to give my classmate this same joy.  I also may have had a crush on him (smile).

During our chat, I mentioned to his mom what I got him for his birthday.  She sternly said, “Oh honey that is too much.  You can’t give him that.”  I immediately regretted sharing with her.  She insisted that she replace my five dollars with a two dollar bill that she had tucked away.  She said that her son would love it.  I had never seen a two dollar bill before, but I can tell you that I didn’t love it.  I didn’t know what to do.  I mean…what could I do?  I was a 10 year old girl.  I had to listen to my elders.  I reluctantly gave her his birthday card and she made the switch along with giving me the 3 dollars in “change.”  I was crushed.

Little by little my friends arrived and we got into our hiding places to yell surprise when our classmate arrived home.  It was a success…he was very surprised.  When it came time for gift giving, my stomach was in knots.  I dreaded it.  One by one, he opened cards from our fellow classmates, and one by one five dollar bills floated out of the cards.  Until he got to mine.  He opened it and the two dollar bill spilled out onto the floor.  He was so sweet and made such a big deal about it.  I wanted to melt into the floor and disappear.  I actually felt ashamed.  I remember it as if it were yesterday and to this day (42 years later) I get anxious when I give someone a gift…every time.  I am always afraid they aren’t going to like it or it’s not going to be enough.

A friend contacted me back in November regarding a message she had just heard at her church.  She wondered what I might think of it.  This particular message was about the Bible, Sexuality, and Gender.  Oh boy!

As the pastor spoke, he explained that it’s important to remember that God loves everyone.  No matter what.  He reminded the congregation that we are also called to love everyone as God does.  He explained that the church has harmed the LGBTQ community and that saddens him.  He reminded the congregation that we are all sinners…and one sin isn’t worse than another.  He mentioned that we are all broken.  He said that we should go further than “love the sinner, hate the sin” and instead we should “love the sinner, and hate our own sin.”  He explained that sexuality is broken for everyone.  He explained that when having conversations with the LGBTQ community we should speak truth with love and grace.  And then he went on to say that Jesus loves us and knows us and wants to have a relationship with all of us.

He said all of this with a spirit of humility.  He was loving and kind.  On the surface it sounds good.  Would I prefer to hear this type of message rather than the messages of hell and being an abomination?  Of course…it’s a step in the right direction.  But…

Let’s break it down just a little.  The message that God loves everyone is a good message.  Since it is part of the greatest command, we should also love our neighbors (that means everyone).  No exceptions.

One sin isn’t worse than another. I can’t tell you how many conversations I have with Christians regarding the LGBTQ community that start off with the person telling me that they are a sinner.  They are the worst of the worst.  They go on to explain to me that they have no right to judge anyone because of how awful they themselves are.  Here’s the rub with this conversation.  The topic of sin only comes up when talking about LGBTQ people.  If they learn that Sally is dating Johnny, they don’t immediate start talking about the sin in their life.  They don’t make assumptions about straight people’s relationships.  They don’t reduce straight people to sexual acts.  Are Sally and Johnny having sex?  Who knows!  But if they talk to me about my gay kid, it goes right to sin.  Sin is what we do. Sinning is a choice…being LGBTQ isn’t.

This is the same with “love the sinner, hate the sin.”  When we compare being sinners to being LGBTQ, we are telling them that the very core of their being is sinful.  Straight people don’t always handle their sexuality in the most righteous, holy way…but we never call people sinners due to their “straightness”.  The conversation always goes to sin when the subject of being LGBTQ comes up.  Always.  I’ve never heard a straight person say they had a significant other and the person respond with, “well we love the sinner and hate the sin.”  It’s not assumed that anything sinful is happening.  Although the pastor mentions changing that saying up a bit, I think it would be better if we completely removed it.

We are all sexually broken. LGBTQ people have the same choices as straight people do when it comes to sex.  There are so many straight people in the church that do not handle their sexuality in a way that the church would find acceptable.  The difference is that straight people aren’t subjected to the same judgement just because they are straight. I bet if you are straight…you haven’t had Bible verses quoted at you just because you love someone of the opposite gender.  Happens to LGBTQ people all of the time…even if they aren’t dating someone.

Speaking the truth with love and grace.  I simply want to ask with this one…
WHOSE TRUTH?

Well of course the truth of the Bible Lesa.  I think we can all point to something in the Bible that was believed to have one meaning when in reality it meant something quite different.  I’ve written about that before.  Are you speaking your truth in love?  Are you expecting the LGBTQ person to accept your truth?  I don’t know one LGBTQ Christian who has not tortured themselves, to the brink of death in many cases, going over the Biblical verses that seem to condemn them.  They have prayed and searched and have come to a place of acceptance within themselves and with God.  Your truth or the way you interpret the Bible is just that…your truth.

Jesus loves us and wants to have a relationship with us.   We have to be careful how we address this because it seems that the underlying message with many churches is if LGBTQ people really knew Jesus their desire for a same sex partner would go away, or that Jesus would make it possible for them to live celibate.  And if the LGBTQ person would just hang out with our loving church they could learn to trust Jesus.  If they just love him enough…he will help them.  This is the premise of a lot of conversion therapy.  I would like churches with this thinking to talk to the thousands of Christians who tried that.  It is literally killing people.  What about the people who are Christians when they reach puberty (and for some even earlier than that) and realize they are gay?  They already know Jesus. This teaching produces shame, depression, anxiety, etc.

Churches don’t understand why it might be difficult for a person from the LGBTQ community to attend their church if they are loved on there. A gay person can go there and feel welcomed and loved on.  They can feel like they are part of the family.  They have a spiritual leader in their pastor.  Then they fall in love and want to get married.  Now all of the relationships that they have built, the relationship that they have with their pastor…the person they would like to marry them…is gone because the church doesn’t allow it.  Now they have to go to someone they don’t know…that they don’t have relationship with…to get married.  How is that supposed to make them feel?  Or what about serving in the church? I have a lesbian friend who had this experience. She was accepted and loved on.  She served on many ministry teams.  But when she wanted to serve in a role that was less behind the scenes she was denied because of her sexuality.  This happened to her over and over again at different churches.  She commented, “How many times is a person supposed to let this happen before they just give up?”

And I think it was tough to offer the gift I had for my friend?  How much more difficult do you think it is when the gift you are giving…the gift of yourself and your talents…isn’t accepted?  When the person is bursting at the seams to use the gifts God gave them…when they are excited to serve…and they are denied instead.  Do you think it may cause the person shame?  Do you think it may stay with them for a lifetime?

Some churches have come further than others, but for the LGBTQ person who loves God and wants to be in community fully accepted as themselves…well it kind of feels like this…

Naked Pastor (David Hayward).

Let’s understand what feels like love and what doesn’t…because love matters.

 

 

Soul sisters…

I feel like it’s been forever since I’ve stopped by here.  Life has been busy.  Time is flying by at the speed of light.  Seriously…how is it the end of January already?!   I like the “memories” feature on Facebook for this reason.  It gives me a chance to relive some moments that have gone by so fleetingly.  Sometimes I’ll read something that I posted and for the life of me I can’t remember what I was referencing.  Many times it’s from a movie or commercial that made me laugh (smile).  And then there are the memories that bring a smile to my face, while others bring a tear.  Every once in a while, there is a memory that is like a smack in the face.  Like this morning when I clicked that memory button.  This was one of the memories:

“Just in case you don’t check my wall….Monday is perfect unless I get called into work.  I will call you if I can’t make it but as for now 9:30 sounds great. Can’t wait to catch up!”

Seems pretty harmless right?  This was a post from a good friend…at the time.  When my son came out and I supported him, she decided that she just couldn’t be friends with someone who was ok with those people.

Unfortunately it’s a familiar story to many.  Friends, and in some cases our own family, decide that relationship with us is just too unbiblical.  Sigh…

This is why the trip I took to Raleigh, NC last weekend was so important.  I got to spend the weekend with 11 souls that get it.  We found each other in a private group on Facebook because we shared something in common….LGBTQ children.  Our bond formed over that common ground, but it grew into so much more.  We support each other online in so many ways.

We pray for each other…
We are there to offer advice on all sorts of things…
We offer support when loved ones are sick or get a scary diagnosis…
We are there when pets cross over the rainbow bridge…
And so much more…

Online support is great.  It’s needed especially for those who live in states where it’s so difficult to be LGBTQ and getting support in person is often so difficult.  But man oh man when we can get together in person I swear a little bit of heaven reaches down to earth.  It truly is a sacred time for us.  We get each other in a way that others can’t.  It’s a completely safe space.

Some of us have had experiences where we mention we have a gay child and the person looks at us with pity like it’s the worst thing that could happen.  They offer to pray for us.  To be honest…we don’t need those kind of prayers.  Some of us have had experiences that when we mention we have a gay child the person will just outright say, “I hate gay people.”

So…being in an environment where you know you won’t have to explain, or educate, or quite frankly try not to throat punch the person in front of you is a true blessing.  All of the virtual hugs offered online are now able to happen in person.  And as we embrace each other we heal the broken pieces that we’ve endured while being apart…so that when we see a Facebook memory that smacks us in the face…we are able to brush it off a little bit easier.

These are my soul sisters and I just wanted to come here today to tell you how incredible they are to me and to the world.  Many have left the church because they have either been asked to or they just couldn’t stay where their child was not welcome.  I’m here to tell you that we are the church.

I love these ladies.  We love our kids, and all of our “adopted” kids that have been tossed aside by their families.  These hands have wiped many tears.  We love hard…and love matters.