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.

Idols aren’t just golden calves…

When I was eleven, I started attending a new school.  Doing that during those middle school years was tough, but I did my best to jump right in and make new friends. Eventually I invited one of the girls to my house for a sleepover to get to know each other better.  We settled in with some snacks and decided to watch some television in my basement.  I can’t remember what we were watching, but I can tell you that I remember what happened when Shaun Cassidy came on the television screen.  My new friend let out the loudest, shriek/scream I have ever heard in my life.  I asked her what was wrong and she exclaimed, “I looovvveee Shaun Cassidy!”  I thought that was all fine and good, but why on earth was she screaming about it.  I got a quick lesson that this was the way she expressed her admiration.  My poor mother came running down the basement steps wondering what in the world was murdering us.  We had a good chuckle about it the next day when my friend went home.  When I eventually went to her house, I discovered that her room was plastered with just about every picture ever taken of Shaun Cassidy.  I didn’t quite get it…my heart throb back then was Scott Baio from Happy Days (smile).

Just about everywhere you look in our society these days, you can see people going overboard with celebrities, sports figures, etc.  All it takes is a night of watching television advertisements for things like reality tv shows to see that we are way out there when it comes to what we look for in entertainment (don’t even get me started on Here Comes Honey Boo Boo). People become famous over the craziest things!  To me, these things are easy to see as distractions and things that maybe I don’t want to spend my time on.  But the idea of idols is nothing new.  I’m in the middle of reading Exodus right now and I’m at the part where Moses comes down off the mountain and sees the Israelites worshiping a golden calf that they had made from their gold rings.  It’s easy to read that and think, ‘What was wrong with those people??  How could they forget what God had done for them.” But I have learned, it’s easier than you may think.  Did you know that your problems can become an idol?

When I found out my son was gay, my world was turned a bit upside down. His being gay was not an easy thing to face, but the real difficulty came more from knowing how he felt about himself.  He didn’t like who he was and because of that he suffered from anxiety and depression.  I can’t tell you how stressful it is to know that your child hates themselves and at times wants to end their life.  You are on constant alert. In my post, The Land of What If’s, I wrote about my prayer journals.  Seems like a good thing to do.  But even though I talked to God about the situation, doesn’t mean I was handling it the right way.  My thought patterns in the first few years went something like this:

What did I do wrong and how can I make things right? to…
How can we help him change? to…
Understanding this isn’t something that can change – does this mean he won’t be able to get into heaven? to…
What does God really feel about this? to…
Am I doing the right thing by supporting him? to…
On and on and on…

I felt like this was all I was thinking about….praying about. It was not only exhausting…it was wrong.  I was living in fear…focusing all my energy on the “problem”, not focusing it on the One who could carry it all for me.  This had become my idol.

2014.01.13 what did I do?  It’s been a process.  I would like to say it was a one and done type of thing, but in reality it took some time to sort things out.  One of the things that was troubling to me was that my son had stepped away from God.  He wasn’t going to Him for strength and guidance.  I decided to take some index cards and write Bible verses on them that I thought would help him and I taped them to the rails of his bed under his mattress.  He would basically be resting his head each night on the Word.  I would read these verses each week when I made his bed.  Another thing I did was prayed over each room in my house.  I also prayer walked around the outside of the house.  I gave the situation over to God.  It didn’t mean that I didn’t ever think about it, or worry about it again, but it gave me some peace.

I had a heart to heart with God one day out on my deck.  I told him how hard this was and I 100_0360wondered out loud if it would be easier if I just walked away from my faith.  What was I supposed to do?  How did He want me to handle this?  I very clearly heard Him tell me that it wasn’t up to me to figure it all out.  This is between Him and my son.  I just need to love him and support him no matter what happens. That I can do…to me that is easy.  God has not let me down…He has been with me every step of the way.  I just needed to get out of His way (smile).

So I love the best I can and I ask you to do the same…because love matters.

The land of what if’s…

FROSTY THE SNOWMANSeeing the commercials for the upcoming Christmas shows for kids always bring back fond memories.  I can remember the excitement of this time of year as a kid.  I loved watching those shows because it meant Christmas was getting close.  Some of my favorite characters were the Heat Miser, Rudolph, the Misfit Toys, and of course Santa.  But there was one show that made me cry EVERY year.  Frosty the Snowman.  It didn’t matter that I knew what was coming…seeing Frosty melt was just too much for me.  I remember trying to come up with a plan to keep Frosty “alive”.  As a child, I wanted to make a house out of ice that Frosty could live in year round.  What if that could really happen?  Then he wouldn’t have to melt…right?

As I’ve mentioned, when I first learned that my son was gay I went to Christian resources to find out what to do.  I read articles, listened to CD’s, researched, and prayed.  I found a lot of resources that promised change. However, the things that were referenced in the materials didn’t make sense for my family.  The things they “blamed” being gay on weren’t in our family dynamics.  I was always left feeling like my husband and I were responsible in some way.  What if…in the beginning of my journey was a phrase I used a lot.

  • What if my husband didn’t have to travel so much when the kids were younger…
  • What if I didn’t have an auto immune disease that left me tired with fevers, headaches, and joint pain…
  • What if we had lived in a different neighborhood with more boys for my son to play with…
  • What if he went to public school where he would have had more boys to choose to hang out with instead of being with the same kids for all 8 years in the private school he went to…
  • What if we lived closer to family so he would have more male influences…

I “what if’d” myself TO DEATH!  I needed to change my way of thinking so of course I went to God for help.  I can’t tell you how many conversations I had with Him…and still have today.  I just wanted to do His will in this situation.  I got a little spiral notebook and started writing verses in it to help me focus on Him.  I filled that one and got another one…and then another one.  I carried these notebooks with me all the time.  I have the Bible verses divided into sections with titles like these:photo (6)

Hope – Isaiah 40:31
Protection – Ephesians 6:12-13
Thanksgiving – Philippians 4:6
Praise – Psalm 95:1-2
Rest – Proverbs 3:5-6
Help – Psalm 147:3
Cares – Nahum 1:7
Faith – 1 Corinthians 16:13
Peace – Romans 5:1

This helped me so much.  It kept me connected to God during a time when I could have very easily stepped away.  I am so very grateful for His strength, love, hope, and confirmation that He loves my son no matter what. Confirmation that my husband and I did not cause this to happen.  So…

  • What if my son was given to my husband and I because God trusted us to handle it in a way that was honoring to Him…
  • What if God has given me a voice through this journey that He wants me to share with other gay people and their families that are ignored by the church…or worse…condemned by it…
  • What if the reason He didn’t “change” my son is because he is fearfully and wonderfully made exactly as God planned for him to be…

What if we are called to love because He first loved us…

Because love matters…

Garments of praise…

girl on swingI absolutely love music.  It feeds my soul.  Even as a small child, music was a part of my life.  I remember singing my little heart out on my swing in my backyard.  I’m sure it drove the neighbors nuts because I really belted out the lyrics.  Songs like “Joy to the World” by Three Dog Night, “American Pie” by Don McLean, “Delta Dawn” by Tanya Tucker, and on and on.  I recently looked up the lyrics to the Three Dog Night song and was glad I didn’t understand them back then (smile). Luckily my favorite part was the refrain:

Joy to the world
All the boys and girls, now
Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea
Joy to you and me

My love of music never left me and when I was in middle school I would camp out by my tape recorder every New Year’s Eve.  Casey Kasem from America’s Top 40 countdown on the radio would play the top 100 songs from the year that night.  I would record the whole thing…minus the commercials…just to be sure I captured all of my favorite songs from the year.  It amazes me how much I still remember lyrics to songs from way back then.  I’ve always said that if my studies were put to music in school I’d be a genius today.  It also surprises me how much the emotions that I was feeling when a song was popular come back to me when I hear it today.  Like I said…it’s a part of my soul.

I am thankful for music because it got me through one of the most difficult times of my life.  If you read my post Buttons and Shoestrings, you know that six years ago my son came out to my husband and I.  He was so distraught by his feelings that four months after he came out to us he was hospitalized because he was suicidal.

How did this happen?  We did all the things we thought we were supposed to do as “good” Christian parents. Our kids were introduced to church as babies and went to Sunday school when they were old enough.  They were taught to serve others starting at the ages of 4 and 3 by serving along side of us.  They both went to a private Christian school – nursery through 8th grade.  They went on mission trips and 6 youth retreats.  We had nightly prayers and devotionals on a regular basis.  Video games, music, and movies were monitored for content and the comment “that’s not appropriate” was met many times with groans.  I felt like we did everything possible to “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it – Proverbs 22:6”.  We weren’t perfect…but surely we did something right.

When I try to find a word to express the emotions of the beginning of this journey, the first one that comes to mind is torture.  I was dealing with three issues simultaneously…my son was gay, he was so distraught about it he was slowly going into a pit of despair, and I was a Christian and knew what the Bible had to say about this issue.  I watched my silly, upbeat little boy change into an anxious, unhappy young man.  It was heart breaking.  His demeanor changed. His clothing changed (to dark and depressing choices).  His taste in music changed.  Everything about him was different.  I felt like I lost my little boy and it was scary.  I prayed everyday that things would change.  They didn’t.  By the time we got to the hospital stay four months later, I can say that this was the first time in my life that I was faced with a crisis of faith.  Where was God in all of this?  Why wasn’t He answering our prayers?

During this time, I was often at a loss of words for prayer.  I knew that the Holy Spirit had the words that I didn’t, but I needed something to feel connected to God.  I needed to feel Him.  I found that in music.  One song in particular at that time was a life-saver for me.  It’s by Robin Mark, a Northern Irish Christian singer/song writer, and the song is “Garments of Praise”.

You can take a listen to it here:

Isaiah 61:3 – (NIV)

    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.

I have to tell you…I would sing this at the top of my lungs in my family room, tears streaming down my face…and yes, at the part when the songs lyrics are:

Hallelujah, sing hallelujah
We give all honor and praise to your name
Hallelujah, sing hallelujah
We trade our sorrows for garments of praise

I did my own little version of Riverdance.

Psalm 9:2 – (NIV)
I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High

To be continued….love each other….because love matters.

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).
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.