A picture is worth a thousand tears…

Well that isn’t exactly the saying is it?  It should be, “a picture is worth a thousand words”, but this morning that wasn’t the case.

Pictures are amazing things.  They can transport us back in time in a blink of an eye. Sometimes they are memories that make us laugh.  Sometimes they are memories that make us swell with pride.  Sometimes they reduce us to a puddle of tears.  That’s what happened to me today when Facebook decided to remind me of a memory.

The picture that greeted me this morning was one that most people would think would be a happy memory.  After all…it’s a picture from a vacation 8 years ago.  But it was a reminder of one of the darkest times my family has experienced.  And in light of losing another young person to suicide this past week, it hit me hard.

Here’s the picture.  We are at the beach having our yearly end of vacation bonfire. img_1193Roasted hot dogs and of course smores were on the menu.  You can see how happy McKensie is with her marshmallows.  Now look at Kyle’s face.  Can you see it? When I look at this picture, the pain I see is palpable.  It crushes me.  And it brings me back to the fear and desperation I felt.  This was taken 3 months after we learned he was gay, and just four months before he landed in the hospital for suicidal thoughts.

I share this because of the suicide I mentioned that happened this week.  The young man who took his life was afraid to tell his parents that he was gay.  I don’t think people understand what a traumatic experience this is for the LGBTQ community.  I posted this on Facebook, but wanted to share it here as well in hopes that it might prevent another tragedy.

Why would a child be afraid of their parents?

  • They may hear them speak about the subject of being gay in an unfriendly, unloving manner.  Watch how you speak about it.  At least 50% of the parents I come in contact with had no idea their child was gay.  It totally threw them through a loop.  Why?  Because they have a stereotypical idea of what being gay is in their minds and their kid didn’t fit that mold.  Be careful what you are against because it could be the very thing you love most in the world.  Our.Kids.Are.Listening.
  • If they come from a Christian home, they may have heard that it’s a sin and that gay people are going to hell.   Let’s commit to love our kids towards God…not away from God.   Let your kids know you love them without putting the word “but” in the sentence.
  • They may know kids that have been kicked out of their homes for being gay, and they are afraid their parents will do the same thing.

There could be many more reasons.  Silence can be deadly as well. Talk to your kids. Having a difficult conversation with them is sure as heck better than burying them.

Of course parents can do all the right things and still may face the tragedy of their child taking their lives.  I’m not here to place blame or shame anyone.  I just ask us all to think about how we treat others.  This could have very easily happened to my family and I want to prevent it to happening to any others.

Fast forward almost 9 years and look at this picture.



I hope you can see the difference that I see in Kyle. This is the face of love and acceptance.  Not just our love and acceptance, but the love and acceptance that he has for himself.  He couldn’t have gotten there without our love and support.  We went through such a dark time. This is what love, acceptance, and freedom look like. You can get there too.


If you have thoughts of hurting yourself or ending your life and feel like you have no one to turn to, contact The Trevor Project.





Again, this post isn’t to place blame on anyone.  It’s just a reminder that words matter. Attitudes matter.

But most of all…love matters.


I’ve had the radish…

When my family planned a trip to New England a few years ago, my friend from Vermont taught me a few of the sayings that are from there.  Her family was traveling with us so it was really fun to have our very own tour guide.  We visited Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine both times that we vacationed together up there.  The saying, “I’ve had the radish” was the funniest to me.  I mean…what do New Englanders have against radishes (smile).  She explained to me that when her mom was at her wit’s end with her and her brothers she would let them know that she’d had the radish.  They knew then that they better settle down or they were going to get it.  They would also say it when something was worn out or ready for the trash.  Pretty funny, but then again being from Baltimore has its own little world of sayings as well.

This is how I’m feeling right now…I’ve had the radish.  I’m wondering seriously if this is even real life.  Am I living in one of my crazy dreams?  It feels like it.  My chest physically hurts, and the only thing that keeps going through my mind is what breaks God’s heart is breaking mine.


A young man who I met about a little over a year ago took his life yesterday.  I remember hearing his story.  I remember sitting with his mom as she tearfully told my group that her church refused to baptize her son.  How distraught she and her husband and her son were about that….rightfully so.  I can’t get his face out of my mind.  His shy demeanor, his intelligence, his compassion.  The church was going to meet with them to discuss this with them further.  After many attempts to do so…and simply just being blown off…I guess they waited too long.  I wonder if these leaders will sit down with this family now.  (he suffered from depression, but I promise you the church’s response did not help)

The church and their statements…their policies…I wonder as they sit in their meetings if they consider the consequences of their decisions.  Do they know any LGBTQ people?  Have they learned their stories?  Asked what they needed?  I am often asked, “Why don’t the LGBTQ people who aren’t happy with their churches find an affirming church?”  The answer is simple…in many areas of our country…there aren’t any affirming churches.  There are the churches that will say they are welcoming, but they don’t have anyone LGBTQ attending.  If you were truly a welcoming congregation, you would have them attending because they would know that you were welcoming.  In many cases, churches tolerate the LGBTQ community and then pat themselves on the back that they let them attend.

The Mormon church recently introduced a policy in November regarding the LGBT community.  Since then there have been 32 LGBTQ suicides in the last 81 days.  Let that sink in…  While it’s impossible to know whether the new policy triggered the reaction of these suicides, the circumstantial evidence can’t be ignored.  The church was asked about this and they replied, “they do not reject LGBT members.” Really?  Have you asked them how they feel about your new policy? Clearly there is a disconnect.

I gotta be honest.  I feel sick…I feel hopeless…and I feel helpless.  It makes me want to have NOTHING to do with the church.  I know that’s harsh.  I know there is a good possibility that we all may never agree, but making people feel as if they are unworthy of love…thrown away…is not how we should handle that disagreement.

If you have a conversation with someone about God, Christianity, the Gospel…whatever the topic regarding faith…and they leave feeling less than, unloved, belittled, etc…you are DOING IT WRONG.  As Christians we are to bear good fruit. What kind of fruit are you bearing?  How many lives must we lose?

For now I will remind myself of Isaiah 61:1-3

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to comfort all who mourn, 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.


Lord bring us beauty from ashes.  Love each other…love matters…and how we love matters even more.




Say what?…

I recently watched a funny YouTube video of a comedian.  He was explaining how he and his friends like to go out to bars on karaoke night.  They like to sing and this gives them the perfect opportunity…you know…since they aren’t in their own rock band and all.  He talked about how surprising it is to him when he picks a song that he thinks he knows inside and out…only to find out that when the words start to scroll on the screen he has the lyrics completely wrong.  It was hysterical hearing what he thought were actual lyrics in songs I know.  (I would share it here, but it had some bad language).  He would mention what he thought the lyrics were in certain songs and then he would play them for the audience.  It was really hard to hear the right lyrics once he told us the wrong ones!

It’s happened to me before too.  For the longest time I thought the Age of Seventeen by Stevie Nicks lyrics were “just like the one winged dove” instead of “white-winged dove.”   And the GoGo’s song Our Lips are Sealed I thought for sure said, “how does it feel.”  And then there is Blank Space by Taylor Swift that I could have sworn said, “list of Starbucks lovers” instead of “got a long list of ex-lovers.”  Maybe it’s because I love Starbucks (smile).  This is why as a teenager I loved when an album came with the lyrics.  Score!

I think this type of thing happens in other areas of life as well.  How about when it comes to the Bible?  Do you think that there are times when people read something and think it means one thing when in fact it means something completely different?  This happens a lot when people take a verse from the Bible out of context and use it to make a point.  That verse can completely lose its original meaning when we do that.

If you look at history, you will find some pretty significant controversies about misunderstanding the Bible.   For instance, there was a time when people believed the Bible taught that the cosmos was geocentric (Earth is at the orbital center of all celestial bodies).  Nowhere in the Bible are we told that the Earth is the center of the universe yet for centuries people believed it.  Here are just some of the passages that they thought proved geocentrism:

Ecclesiastes 1:5
The sun rises and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises.  

They believed that if the sun moved, the earth must not move.  And they had passages to prove that as well.

1 Chronicles 16:30
tremble before him, all earth; yea, the world stands firm, never to be moved.

Psalms 93:1
The Lord reigns; he is robbed in majesty; the lord is robbed, he is girded with strength. Yea, the world is established; it shall never be moved.

Psalms 96:10
Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns! Yea, the world is established, it shall never be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity.”

It’s easy to see why when Copernicus and, later, Galileo, who taught the sun-centered (heliocentric) theory, came along they caused a controversy in the church.   People were considered heretics for believing them.  Now if you believe God created the universe, and you believe that scripture is God-breathed then this can cause a real problem for you.  Obviously God knew how He created the universe.  He knew how He set the solar system in the sky.  It was man who misinterpreted the scripture. Bad lyrics if you will.

One of the things that comes up often when I discuss the subject of homosexuality with people is that they tell me they want to follow the “true” scripture.  They want to follow the truth.  My question to them is, “Whose truth do you want to follow?” And they respond, “God’s of course!”  Since we don’t actually know the mind of God, we kind of have to go by how we interpret the scriptures.   And history shows that we don’t always get it right.  It’s hard to get an accurate count, but as of 2012 there was an estimated 33,000+ different denominations in the world.  This doesn’t mean that they all believe completely different things about God, but there are enough differences in theology that they separate themselves from one another. Even if that number isn’t accurate (you know…not everything you read on the internet is true) smile…having even 10 different denominations proves that we can’t agree on everything.

Another thing that comes up when I talk to folks is they tell me they don’t want to look at outside sources…they only want to look at the Bible on this topic.  Since I don’t know the original language that the Bible was written in, I’ve had to look to Biblical scholars for some of what I’ve learned.  However, I don’t look to them as my authority…that’s God’s role in my life.

I’ve read many books along this journey and they have been really helpful.  But I think people misunderstand when I say how much they’ve helped me to mean that they have become my “bible.”  That couldn’t be further from the truth.  For instance, the book Torn by Justin Lee that I mention a lot helped me to realize that you can be gay and a Christian.  I never understood the teaching on that, but I believed it because it’s what I was taught.  It was so refreshing to read Justin’s journey.  He writes about the controversial Bible verses in his book also, but at the time when I read it I wasn’t ready to delve into that part of things.  That came later in my journey.

I’ve done tons of research, but when it comes right down to it…I don’t know what God thinks about this topic.  I know what He’s spoken to my Spirit.  I know without a doubt what He wants me to do.  I have my beliefs…how I now interpret certain passages.  Could I be wrong?  Absolutely…but so could you.

I am so thankful that the disciples asked Jesus the question they asked in Matthew 22.  It is a question I so would have asked. I would have been like, “Jesus…it’s been great hanging out with you.  A lot of cool things have happened and you’ve taught us a lot, but I have to say…sometimes the stories you tell I just don’t understand.  What is the one thing I need to be doing?  Like…if I can’t do anything else…what should I make sure I get right?”

Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV)

 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

When the lyrics of life get complicated and are hard to understand…
This I get.  This I understand.  This I can do.

Love each other…because it matters…a lot.


When my husband and I were dating, he shared a childhood story with me that made me heart ache for him.  He was in the 5th grade and his school was having a talent show.  He was really into magic at the time so he decided to do a set of magic tricks.  He had the costume, the gadgets needed, and a handy-dandy assistant to help.  Everything was going well until he got to the grand finale.  The trick was to pour a pitcher of liquid into a hat and then turn the hat over and place it on his head with the liquid magically08694ef872b480b865a5aad55437c710 “disappearing.”.  He chose milk for the liquid in the pitcher so that it could be seen from a distance on stage.  Little did he know that his assistant had previously fooled around with the hat breaking the device that kept the liquid from escaping.  He proudly poured the milk into the hat…and you guessed it…put the hat on his head only to be instantly dripping in milk from head to toe. He was devastated AND totally embarrassed.  I’m pretty sure tears were involved.  I think at that point he wished he could make himself disappear.  I can’t imagine how he must have felt and I just wish I could give that little 10-year-old boy a big hug.

Did you know that gay people are good at disappearing?  Well…not really, but it seems that way.  A phenomenon that happens to many parents of LGBTQ children is that our kids seem to no longer exist.  You run into someone at the grocery store that you haven’t seen in a while and they ask you about all of your children except your gay child.  They know how many children you have…they just don’t ask about the gay child or children. I hear this all the time from the parents that I speak with that have LGBTQ children.  It’s happened to me as well.  In fact, it happened just recently.  A member of our church that heard me speak on a recent Sunday about having a gay son came into my office the other day.  I have a bulletin board above my desk with pictures of my family…my husband, son, daughter, and my dog Lucy.  This person stopped in for something and took notice of the bulletin board.  They commented and asked questions about every picture on that board…except the picture of my son.  They even mentioned my dog.  Poof! Invisible.

I’m not sure what people think we as parents are going to say about our gay children if they were to ask.  Maybe they skirt around the questions because they think we are ashamed?  I’m not sure, but I can assure you that we are not ashamed. We are proud of our kids.  And…we would tell you the same sort of things we say about our straight kids.

People who have known my son over the years have said things like this:

“He is a fine young man.”

“I really enjoyed spending time with him.  He is a delight.”

“We just love him.”

“He is so funny!”

“Man he is smart.”

“He is a loyal friend.”

I could go on and on.  It makes me a proud momma (smile).  At the time these things were said, the people saying them did not know he is gay.  For some people when they found out, it didn’t make a difference.

For others, their response when they found out was, “But he’s so nice.”

This is a common response when people find out you have a gay child.  They can’t compute what they know of the person with this new information about them.  I’ve heard it and I know many other parents who have heard the very same thing. I want to point out that the person hasn’t changed.  They are the same person that you knew just moments ago.

I admit that I struggle with this when it happens.  I have a sarcastic nature and my tongue can be sharp.  I have to really watch my response when people insinuate that somehow my child being gay makes him a bad person.  He is the same awesome person you just thought he was before you knew.

Please think before you speak or comment on something about a person…or a person’s child.  And don’t make people feel invisible.  They matter to God and they should matter to you.  Love them…because love matters…and how we love matters even more.


Sacred moments…

It’s finally a nice enough evening to sit on my deck to write.  It’s been a while because there has been tons going on.  Good stuff, hard stuff, meaningful stuff.  It got me to thinking about the sacred moments that God gifts us with when we slow down long enough to pay attention.  I think they happen more often than we realize…I mean God is omnipresent so how could they not.  Right?  Some of those moments though are so big that they can’t be missed.  I had two such moments like that recently…

The first being a weekend away.  Seems normal enough…but this was not your average get away.  It was two days spent with the most amazing women I am lucky enough to know.  A group of kindred spirits who for many met for the very first time…myself included.  It took place in North Carolina and was about a five and a half hour drive from my home.  But really I would have driven 20 hours to meet these women.

I’m part of a private Facebook group of moms with LGBTQ kids.  When I joined sixteen months ago, I was number seventy-eight…now we are over five hundred strong (smile).  The group is a safe place to go with questions, hurts, fears, victories… We support each other via cyberspace and we are located all over the United States and other parts of the world.  We share a common goal…to love our kids unconditionally.  The group is a remarkable place for resources and has been a life-saver to many.

As remarkable as it is to be a part of this group on the internet, it is even more meaningfull to get to meet a mom face-to-face. I’ve had the opportunity to do that with some of the moms that live closer to me and I’ve made incredible, life-long friends. But on this particular weekend, I got to meet twenty-five of these amazing moms (there were twenty-seven of us, but I had already met two of the moms in person).  We got to break bread together, cry together, laugh together, and share our powerful stories about our kids and the path that they’ve put us on and the journey that God has brought us through.  Each person’s story has a piece of our own…different…but the same.  And when the pieces all come together…fitting intricately each intertwined with the other…you get the perfect picture of God’s abiding love.

Me and Justin

Me and Justin

On Saturday, we had two special guests join us for breakfast.  Justin Lee, executive director of the Gay Christian Network, and the author of Torn:  Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays vs. Christians Debate, and John Pavlovitz, pastor and blogger who shepherds another private FB group of moms of LGBTQ kids where I am also a member.  It was lovely meeting them and I especially enjoyed my time chatting with Justin letting him know how much his book changed my family’s journey.  He is gracious and humble and it meant so much to me to let him know that his heart shined through his book and is making a difference.

Overall, it was an amazing weekend.  This group of women and all of the women who couldn’t be there are some of the strongest and courageous women I know.  We refer to ourselves as the Mama Bears because we fiercely love our children and will go to great lengths to protect them.  We have a mom in our group who is a graphic artist and she came up with the graphic below for us.  (If you are a mama or papa bear, or even a grandma bear and would like to visit her shop you can do so here.)  We could be our true selves without any fear of judgement.  We didn’t have to worry about what we said or how we said it because we knew our hearts were safe with each other.  It was an incredible, God-filled, sacred moment.  The timing of this weekend was a huge blessing to me as it led into my second sacred moment the following weekend.

Graphic design by Jennifer Stake White

Graphic design by Jennifer Stake White

If you ask anyone who knows me well how I feel about public speaking, they would tell you I would rather eat dirt then to do so.  I’m not a fan of being in the “spotlight.”  I’m more of a behind-the-scenes kind of girl.  So when my pastor asked if I would speak about my journey in front of our congregation I said yes with some fear and trembling.  I don’t like to speak in public, but more importantly, this had the potential of ruffling some feathers (to put it mildly).  The LAST thing I ever would want is for something I did to hurt my church.  I took it very seriously and honestly put a lot of pressure on myself.  The series that my pastor is currently doing is on Ephesians and this particular Sunday he talked about Paul standing in the gap for the Jews and Gentiles.  He felt that my journey of standing in the gap for gays and Christians would be a good modern-day example.  I didn’t hesitate to say yes because God had already been whispering in my ear that I would one day speak about this. Part of me hopes that this is all God was referring to (smile), but I’m not so sure about that.  Yikes!

So why was this a sacred moment?  I’m not going to tell you what I said because I’m going to include the link so you can listen for yourself if you like.  It was sacred because God was present.  I had weeks to think about what I was going to say.  I had conversations with my pastor asking if particular things that are part of my journey were ok to discuss.  But how do you sum up an eight year journey on a Sunday morning when SO much has happened?  You let the Holy Spirit take over (smile).  I let go…I told God that this is the journey You’ve taken me on…You tell the story the way You want it to be told.  And He showed up…in a BIG way.

I woke up that morning shaking so badly from nerves that I could hardly get my the toothpaste on my toothbrush.  I knew I had lots of people praying for me and took a moment to zone in on those prayers.  I had an incredible sense of peace come over me.  So much so, that I had to remind myself while sitting in the pew waiting for my turn that I was actually about to get up there and speak (smile).  I got up there and shared my journey.  I survived!  The response I’ve gotten has been overwhelming now that the message is on the internet.  I can barely keep up with the comments I’ve received and I’m humbled to be used in such a way by God.  It was a sacred moment…one that I hope you will take a moment (well a long moment – smile) to listen to:

Standing in the Gap  – I come in around the 20 minute mark.  I have this in written form as well.


sacred moments

Love matters…but how we love matters even more.