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.

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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?

Can I get a do over…pleeeease!!

2013.11.29 20.03.17.746Kids seem to have a universal language.  I’ve yet to meet a little one that didn’t know this special way to speak.  It’s the whining, drawn out kind of language that drives parents crazy.  If you tell them no, you get the “Whyyeeeee??” If you ask them to do something and they don’t want to, you get the “Nooowah” (they have this way of adding syllables to words that don’t really belong there.)  Then there’s the, “Can I have more candy…pleeease?”  What is it about drawling out the word please that makes kids think they will get their way?  I used to use this word when it came to bedtime. “Can I stay up later…pleeeease?”  My dad would take me over to the clock in our kitchen to show me what time it was and explain to me that it was time for all little girls to go to bed.  I didn’t know it at the time, but I found out when I was much older that there were some nights that he and my mom would move the arms of the clock to 8pm when it was really earlier than that.  Can you believe that?  I’m sure I was a delightful child at all times and there was no need for those shenanigans. (smile) My dad bought me the exact kind of clock we had back then for Christmas a few years ago.  It hangs in my kitchen today and brings back fond memories.

When I found out my son was gay, the first place I went to were Christian websites to find out what to do.  I told him that I loved him no matter what and that was really how I felt, but I had no idea how to handle the situation.  I never believed that someone chose to be gay, but I did have the belief that something happened to them when growing up that somehow caused them to be gay.  The Christian literature that I was reading and listening to confirmed this belief.  Unfortunately, the reasons were all pointing to his dad and I.  I knew that he wasn’t sexually abused (one of the reasons that they give), so the only other thing it could be is that we had done something wrong. According to the Christian ministries I looked into, some of the reasons children turn out to be gay are their mother is overbearing, or their father is distant, or one or the other parent is aloof, they are too controlling, unloving, not spending enough time…the list goes on and on. As a parent, this is devastating to read.  Then imagine that you discover in your adolescence that you are gay.  You are distraught by this and don’t like yourself.  Then you learn that it’s your parents fault.  You blame them. You are angry with them.  Imagine thinking that your child is gay because your spouse didn’t give your child what they needed.  Do you know that some marriages are destroyed and some gay children stop speaking to their parents over these beliefs? It’s a no win situation.

When my son got out of the hospital (you can read about that in my post Buttons and shoestrings), he started his junior year in high school.  It was a new school and I was hoping it would be a new beginning.  The school is across the street from our development, so I drove him to school everyday. And everyday I said the same prayer, “God please put kids in his path who love You.  May they point him to You…show him Your love.  Lord please let there be a teacher who notices his pain and takes him under their wing. Protect him.  And Lord please send a girl his way that is like no other girl he has ever met.  Let him discover feelings that he didn’t know were possible.”  I prayed it everyday for two years.  Nothing changed.  Then as a child I went to my heavenly Father and I would also pray, “God, can I have a do over…pleeease??  Show me what I’ve done wrong so I can make it right.”  He can do anything.  He can turn back time and let me have my do over…right?  It was such a painful time.  I would read posts on Facebook about other teens dating and it would make me cry. I would see dads in the grocery store with their sons and I would cry.  I would see toddlers and I would cry.  I did a lot of crying.

tears

I was referred to an “ex-gay” group for help for my son.  I looked into it, but it just didn’t feel right.  I think God was protecting us.  The things that they teach are the very things that I mention above.  They cause damage and because of that one of the oldest Christian ministries dealing with homosexuality issued this statement:

Exodus Int’l President to the Gay Community: “We’re Sorry”

Leader of 37-year old ministry admits grave errors

Irvine, Calif. (June 19, 2013) — Exodus International, the oldest and largest Christian ministry dealing with faith and homosexuality, issued an apology to the gay community for years of undue suffering and judgment at the hands of the organization and the Church as a whole.

The apology dovetails with the ministry’s 38th annual conference in Irvine, Calif. – and the Thursday, June 20, airing of the television broadcast “God & Gays” on Our America with Lisa Ling. On Ling’s program,Exodus President, Alan Chambers, sits down with gay and lesbian people hurt by the Church with the goal of reconciliation.

“It is strange to be someone who has both been hurt by the Church’s treatment of the LGBTQ community, and also to be someone who must apologize for being part of the very system of ignorance that perpetuated that hurt,” said Chambers. “Today it is as if I’ve just woken up to a greater sense of how painful it is to be a sinner in the hands of an angry church.”

You can read the whole article here:  http://wespeaklove.org/exodus/   – I haven’t looked into their new ministry yet, but I’m curious to see what they do.

I am thankful that my God has not forsaken me.  He has guided me through this journey and taught me that it’s not my fault.  I’m thankful that my faith has remained intact.  To be honest, there were times when I questioned if that would be the case.  I pray that one day my son will once again be able to feel God’s love for him.

Because love matters…

Buttons and shoestrings…

dress upWhen I was a little girl, if you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would say I wanted to be a mom.  I couldn’t really think of anything else that I wanted to be…it just seemed like that is what I was meant to do. My friend and I would play for hours pretending to be mommies.  Her aunt had the most amazing collection of clothing, hats, and accessories.  I think she liked to go to yard sales and flea markets and we were allowed to play with the items before they were put up for sale.  This isn’t us, but it’s a pretty good depiction of what we looked like.  So you can imagine how happy I was when these two came along (smile).

K&M Christmas

I have to tell you…being a mom has been the most rewarding job by far. It has also been the most difficult. Being responsible for little beings is a big responsibility, and most of the time you just hope you are doing a good enough job.  As my kids grew, it was so rewarding to watch their little personalities take shape.  My son was very strong willed…oh was he challenging at times.  And my daughter was always willing to express her little temper.  Her nickname was “little miss attitude”, but overall they were really good kids.

There are times in your child’s life when you get to experience overwhelming joys with them, and at times immense pain.  When your child hurts, there aren’t words to express the hurt that you feel with them.  This became real to me on April 20, 2008.  My husband and kids had just gotten home from an Acquire the Fire event.  God had been whispering to me that something was wrong for some time, and I asked my husband to check our son’s computer.  We found that he had been to a website on homosexuality. We called him into the family room to ask him about it.  He told us that he was working on a paper for school that needed to be about a controversial topic.  He chose the topic of homosexuals and the military.  I then asked the question that changed our lives forever.  “Do you have any questions about homosexuality?”  That is when the tears came flowing down his cheeks.  He told us that he was confused about feelings that he had for his friend…a friend who was also a boy.  It’s hard to describe all the emotions that I was feeling when I heard those words.  It was like getting the wind knocked out of me…a jumble of emotions and if you could see inside my brain it would look something like this:

wordle

We immediately told him that we loved him no matter what.  His response was that we had to…we were his parents (he later learned from other gay teens that isn’t always the case).  Through uncontrollable tears, he told us that he was a terrible person…and that he had been praying for a while for God to take away these feelings.  He told us if God was real He didn’t love him because He never answered those prayers.  It was a long night and I have to tell you that I really had no idea what to say to him.  I was completely taken off guard…and I had so many questions myself.

It was clear that he felt really badly about himself so he started counseling.  There were times when he wanted to hurt himself so there were many sleepless nights sitting up with him to make sure he didn’t. And when we were not sitting up talking with him, we certainly weren’t sleeping soundly.  We were on constant pins and needles; terrified that if we let our guard down something awful would happen. Every little sound was amplified to deafening decibels. This went on for four months.  In August, we found a note that he had written.  Let me just say that it was a note that no parent would want to read.  We called his counselor and we were able to meet that same day.  We concluded at the end of that meeting that we needed to take him to the emergency room.

The hospital psychiatrist met with him and then told us that he would need to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital. The doctor was so concerned for his safety that we were told if we didn’t agree to hospitalize him, our parental rights would be taken away.  There weren’t any beds available at the time so he had to spend the night in the ER.  You have no idea what it is like being told that your child’s care is basically out of your hands.  There is no researching doctors…finding the best care.  Your child will go wherever a bed becomes available.  My husband stayed with him overnight and I went home to get his things.  I was given a list of acceptable things to bring.  For clothing they had listed shirts without buttons, shoes without shoe strings…the last time I packed my son’s bag for an overnight stay there were legos and stuffed animals in it.  Now I was worried about buttons and shoe strings being used to hurt himself.  I had to cut the drawstring out of his pajama pants. No one ever should have to cut the drawstring out of their child’s pajama pants so they can’t strangle themselves with it.  No one.  After I packed his bag, I laid on his bed and cried…and prayed.

The next morning a bed became available.  He was taken by ambulance to the next hospital, and we followed in our car.  We got him checked in and they put us in a room to wait for a doctor.  First they took him and did a strip search to make sure he wasn’t hiding anything on his person that he could use to hurt himself.  How humiliating for him. The doctor came in and chatted with him briefly and then we were told we would need to leave.  When the doctor left the room…he freaked out.  He started screaming that he couldn’t believe we were doing this to him.  He said it was going to make him worse.  He said he would run away.  And when he had nothing left to hurt himself with…he used his own body.  He took both of his fists and started punching himself in the stomach….like a samurai warrior would do with a knife…dying the “honorable” way.  I’ve been thinking about how to put this into words for days.  There are no words.  There is nothing in me that can describe what this was like for us.  There are still nights when I close my eyes and I see my baby hurting himself.

It was time for us to leave.  We were given the times for visiting hours, and we left listening to our baby boy’s screams….and from all the Christian literature we had read so far…this was ALL OUR FAULT…(to be continued).

(So as you can see…this is a very personal post.  Why did I feel the need to share it?  Well first because it is part of our journey.  Second, I think it’s important for people to get a glimpse of what it might be like to be gay, or to have a gay child.  I know not everyone’s journey is the same, but I think some people in the Christian culture have this idea that gay people are defying God deliberately…that it’s a choice that they make.  I’m here to say respectfully that they are wrong… and I will believe that until God tells me otherwise.  I no longer believe that this is my fault and my hope is to tell you how I came to that conclusion in other posts).

Beauty in ink…

I have a confession to make…I am absolutely fascinated by tattoos.  I think they are so beautiful (well most of them…some are downright scary).  If you asked my kids, they would probably tell you that I am totally against them.  It’s not that at all. I’ve just always told them if they are going to get one to be smart about where it is on their body…and to make sure they will still like it when they are 80 (smile).  I really appreciate the artistic expression of a tattoo. I envy the talent and confidence it takes to draw something permanently onto someone’s skin.  I’m sure there are times in public that people think I’m a total creeper for staring at their tattoos.  I’m just fascinated about the story behind them.  One of these days I’ll get up the nerve to ask someone.  Every once in awhile I will catch one of the reality TV shows that have competitions for tattoo artists.  It is just amazing to me.  As much as I appreciate tattoos, I personally do not have any.  I’ve never come across a design that I like enough to put on my skin forever (that I would still like when I’m 80).
Flower-Orchid-Pretty-Tattoos-Designs
The shows that I watch give the stories behind the tattoos that people get.  Sometimes it’s to honor someone in their lives…maybe someone they were close to that has passed away.  Others get tattoos to pinpoint a moment in their lives that is meaningful to them.  At times, it’s because they have a design that they just really like and want to be reminded of on a daily basis.  And let’s face it, there are those who get tattoos when they’ve had one too many to drink.  Regardless of why, it’s always a personal choice to get a tattoo.  It got me to thinking…what if we didn’t have a choice.  What would we do if God decided to tattoo our bodies with our sins.  Something to help us to remember what we’ve done…maybe as a deterrent to not do it again.  Things like…

I’m a cheater

I’m a thief

I am prideful

I’ve lied

If God did decide to do this, I guess we could cover up the tattoos.  There are many people who get tattoos and no one ever knows about them. As a matter of fact, this year will be the first year that a Miss America contestant will show her tattoos.  She said that many girls have them in the pageant, but they choose to cover them up.   But if they were our sins, how could we ever cover up all of them…

I harbor bitterness

I hold onto anger

I’m jealous

How about…I’m gay

I think if you are a believer you can agree that we all sin.  Many of our sins are private…no one knows about them (except for God of course).  But if you are gay, and you come out, that is something that is very visible.  Something that the church calls sin.   I feel, however, that most believers (I know not all of them) treat the person themselves as sin.  Someone to be totally avoided. And because of that, many gay people go to great lengths to keep their true selves hidden.  It is a terrible way to live.   This brings me to my point…and the point of this blog.  My son is gay.  I would like to share my journey that began six years ago when I learned this about him.  I know for “church people” this is a controversial subject,  but I invite you into my story to share with you what I’ve learned along the way.

There is another reality show on TV about tattoos that is my favorite.  The artists help people who have the most embarrassing, ugliest tattoos and transform them into beautiful works of art.  It is truly amazing what they are able to accomplish.  When they are finished, it’s like the old tattoo never even existed.  As believers, we have someone who does that for us too…Jesus.  He takes His blood, covers our ugliness, and transforms us into new beings.  Forgiven…the old is gone.  Why…because He loves us…even gay people.cross And…love matters.