Oct 21

Before She’s Famous

Tegan, age seven at the time of this writing, wants to be famous when she grows up.  It’s not even that she wants to now that I’m thinking about it.  It’s that she believes, with every fiber of her being, that she will be famous.   Sometimes it’s for singing, sometimes for acting….. and sometimes she doesn’t even know what it’ll be for.  But she knows, and she talks about it often.

So it didn’t surprise me when she suddenly announced, “I want to be interviewed!” yesterday. She wanted me to interview her (about unschooling, about her life, about whatever I could think to ask her), and she wanted it to be shared.

I say this with all the bias that a mom could possibly have, but she is a JOY to know, and a joy to parent.  And if you watch her interview, you too can say you “knew her when.”  :)

Tegan, before she’s famous:


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Oct 14

On Being a Straight, Christian Ally

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Sunday, October 11th was National Coming Out Day.  At first I thought the day would pass by largely unrecognized, at least by myself.  I mean, I didn’t have any sort of coming out to do.  I’m a straight, 41 year old mom who’s been married forever, and I’ve been pretty open about where I stand on the issue for awhile now.  I fully support and respect everyone’s right to love who they want to love, to express their gender and their sexuality in the way they feel as right, and to be honored as the whole, unique, and perfectly imperfect individuals that they are.

But a “Coming Out” day?  It doesn’t really affect me.

Except that it does.   Especially as a Christian.  Because the thing about being a LGBT affirming ally as a Christian is that you often feel alone.. slogging uphill and constantly getting knocked down, spit on, and trampled by your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.  Never do I get such mean-spirited comments and/or passive aggressive Bible-verse-as-weapon condescension (which is often even worse) as I do when I write about this issue… which means it’s a conversation that needs to be had.

The conversation isn’t over.

The conversation is far from over, because that backlash I get?  The nasty comments, the arrogant preaching, the let-me-outline-for-you-why-you’re-going-to-hell judgement is not even a fraction of what the LGBT community endures at the hands of Christians day in and day out. It’s for those people that I write.

So, while I’ve written about much of this before, consider this my official coming out.  I stand with all of you as an ally.

I stand with you because the way that Christians treat the LGBT community is shameful and hurtful, and not okay.  I stand with you because it breaks my heart to see people using the name of the Bible and the God that I love as a front for fear, and hate, and bigotry, and discrimination.

I stand with you because of these poignantly and perfectly crafted words by John Pavlovitz:

All this “love the sinner, hate the sin” talk is just a pretty, painted, cheap facade nailed overtop a destructive, hateful, hurtful expression of fear, allowed to be called Religion.

It’s not fooling the LGBT community who receive the damage daily; who are driven to the very brink of hope (and many times well beyond it) by people claiming to follow Jesus; professing faith in a God of love, while speaking and doing violence to them.

I stand with you because I see your lovely and brave (you are so brave!!) coming-out posts on social media, and I see the hurtful comments. I see the supportive comments too, but those judgmental ones…. they stand out like a cancer.  I stand with you because I need you to know that you have another person in your corner, holding you up, watching your back, and absorbing some of the darkness so you can feel more of the light.  I stand with you because I don’t want you to forget that those comments, and the people attached to them, do not represent all of us.

I stand with you because 40% of homeless youth are LGBT.   Because 30% of gay youth attempt suicide near the age of 15.  Because almost half of gay and lesbian teens have attempted suicide more than once.   I stand with you because I cannot fathom how anyone can look at those numbers and not be horrified and filled with compassion.  I stand with you because I don’t understand how anyone can read those numbers and not just STOP.  Stop with the bible verses, stop with the “love the sinner” rhetoric, and just reach out a genuine hand of help and support.  Let’s be honest for a minute here: if the goal of the typical Christian’s response to the LGBT community is to show them the love of Christ…. it is failing, in a colossal, colossal way.

I stand with you because I know that as stressful and frustrating and lonely it is to be a Christian ally, it is all of that times a million for the young person coming to terms with his or her sexuality or gender identity.   I stand with you because I’m tired….. tired of seeing you mistreated over and over, tired of watching my fellow Christians using “religion” as an excuse for being damaging and hurtful… but most of all, tired of the ache in my soul from the knowledge of how tired you must be.

I stand with you because I strive to be more like Jesus, and Jesus would stand with you, too.  I need you to know that today, because too many people have gotten the wrong message from too many Christians, and for that I want to apologize.  Jesus stood for LOVE.  Love for all people, but especially for those who were ostracized in some way.  Those who were disparaged by others.  Those who were alienated by their family, by their friends, and by their churches (the very people that are supposed to be providing a safe refuge!)  I stand with you because:

… these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.  (1st Corinthians 13:13)

 

I stand with you because as a Christian, and a human, I’m called to love.  Full stop.  I stand with you because true love and acceptance should never be followed with a “but.”  I stand with you because as another living, breathing soul doing this thing called life beside me…

you matter.

And I thank you, sincerely, for being you.

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I’m going to keep the comments closed on this one (and honestly, just the fact that I’m compelled to do that tells me how far we have to go).  I can handle your comments, negative or otherwise, but I don’t wish to allow my page to be a public forum for any disparaging remarks aimed at others… especially those who are young and/or questioning… and I regret having done so in the past.    This space is affirming and safe.

If you want to reach ME, I welcome and encourage your feedback, especially if you want to stand with me!  You can tweet at me, or find me on Facebook or Instagram.

For now, I leave you with the words to one of my new favorite songs, because Rachel Platten says it best:

Hands, put your empty hands in mine
And scars, show me all the scars you hide
And hey, if your wings are broken
Please take mine so yours can open too
Cause I’m gonna stand by you
Oh, tears make kaleidoscopes in your eyes
And hurt, I know you’re hurting, but so am I
And love, if your wings are broken
Borrow mine ’til yours can open too
Cause I’m gonna stand by you

Much love to all.


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Sep 21

Temporary

Photo Credit: Ivo Ivov

Photo Credit: Ivo Ivov

I’ve been sick for the past six months.

I’ll spare you my laundry list of symptoms, both because it’s boring and because I’m so tired of thinking about it, but they concerned my doctor enough to order a CT, an ultrasound, and blood work, and eventually led her to send me to an oncologist. HE was concerned enough to order still more blood work – 12 vials in fact – and a whole-body PET scan.

None of the above gave us any answers.  On paper, I’m the healthiest sick person that ever lived.  My next step is an infectious disease doctor, not because anyone really thinks I have an infectious disease, but because they do the kind of detective work necessary to diagnose these weird and hard-to-figure-out whatever-the-heck-this-thing-is that’s been making my life miserable since last spring.

It’s frustrating feeling terrible and limited every day and not knowing why.  It’s even more frustrating to feel like you’re going through it all alone.  This summer was truly one of the loneliest summers of my life.  And that doesn’t sound right, does it?  Feeling lonely in a house full of six people?  But it’s exactly how I’ve felt. And I’ve learned that feeling alone amongst other people is a far more harrowing feeling than feeling alone when you’re actually… well, alone.  I never feel lonely when I’m by myself.  But when I’m around other people?  I’ve become an expert at it.

And I can never figure out if it’s actually real life  (Is it real?  Have I really created a life with so few people to support me when I need it?), or if it’s simply a product of manifestation….combined and created somewhere in the abyss of physical pain and the inevitable depression that comes with it.

Whatever the case, I’ve been resting there:  Holding on tightly to the simultaneous frustration and safety of my own self-pity.

I don’t recommend it.

I have missed writing so very much (just one of many things I’ve missed in the past several months) but even when I have gotten the energy to sit at my computer, I put my fingers to the keyboard…… and there’s nothing there but a wordless, guttural whine.

Then yesterday I finally heard something that helped, if only a tiny bit.  In a classic case of “the right thing at the right time,”  I was watching a movie with my groom, and what was meant to be entertainment ended up being inspiration.   Between me not feeling well, and him being exhausted from work, and the both of us spending all our spare minutes getting everything tied up for the conference, we’ve been desperately clinging to our lazy Saturday morning movie-while-we-drink-our-coffee dates whenever we can get them.  Anyway, yesterday we were watching this movie, and there was a scene where one of the characters, an angst-ridden teenager, was standing on the precipice of a cliff, contemplating ending his life.  His panicked family had all gathered around, and were literally trying to talk him down from the edge.  They were delivering a fairly standard issue, “you have so much to live for” motivational speech, and eventually told him,

“Shit’s temporary!”*

And in that moment, those words were the much-needed balm to my weary and battered soul. It’s temporary.  It’s ALL temporary.  And yes, I get that there’s nothing new or revelatory about that observation, but it was something that I’d forgotten…. and forgotten so deeply that I didn’t even remember that I’d forgotten it.  I’m always the first person to reassure new moms that their toddler’s frustrating experiments with biting or throwing or shoving things into the DVD player drawer is but a season.  It’s temporary.  Why on earth wouldn’t that apply to adults as well?

Trials are temporary.  Frustrations are temporary.  LIFE is temporary.  And I needed the reminder to sit tight, put on my galoshes, and get out there and dance in the storm.  It’s a season, bringing whatever lessons it’s going to bring.

I feel like I’ve spent so much time chasing things.  Chasing answers, chasing peace, chasing rest.  And I think that sometimes you need to just stop chasing.  Stop moving.  Just stop.  Stop and remember that it’s all just…. fleeting.  I’ll feel better, or I won’t.  But either way, it’s still temporary, because it’s ALL temporary.

I don’t know what’s going to happen next for me, or this blog, or all my plans that have gotten put on hold with my health issues.  But for the first time in a long time, I’m pretty okay with not knowing.  And the next time I’m not okay (because I do know there will be a next time), the next time I give in to the stress and the fatigue and the frustration of it all, I hope I can remember that no matter what it is… whatever negative, stagnant yuck I’m feeling…

that it’s only temporary.

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*(Sorry I said shit.  Sorry I said it again)

 


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Sep 14

You NEED This Mug (Mighty Mug Review & Giveaway)

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Confession:  I have ruined more than one laptop due to a spilled drink.

In my defense, at least one of those instances (the instance that will heretofore be referred to as “the red wine incident”) wasn’t actually ME that did the spilling, but one of my lovely offspring.

But still, liquids and electronics don’t generally play nicely together, especially when they’re under the not-so-watchful eye of a busy, distracted mom and/or her busy, distracted children. Enter The Mighty Mug, or as I like to call it: my new best friend.

It doesn’t have a suction cup or anything weird or sticky.  Instead it uses something called Smartgrip Technology that allows the Mighty Mug to grip the surface of your desk or table, and stand up to all those accidental bumps, knocks, and elbows without falling over.

You guys, for real.  This thing is pretty slick.  And yes, there’s actual coffee in here:

 

And when you’re ready to take a drink?  Just lift it straight up and it lifts without a problem.

It keeps your cold drinks cold, and your hot drinks hot for hours (which is especially nice if you’re like me, and end up nursing the same cup of coffee all morning)

Quality-wise, you won’t be disappointed.  These are truly beautiful, sturdy and well-built mugs. They feel nice in your hand, and they’re easy to use and wash. They come in a bunch of colors and styles, so you’ll be sure to find your favorite.

And did I mention they’re almost impossible to tip over?!

Want one?  (You know you want one.)

My new friends over at Mighty Mug are hosting a giveaway just for you, and will be giving away one Mighty Mug to one lucky reader.  Just go here to enter, by Friday, September 18th.  And send all your friends!

Your laptop will thank you.

Thanks, Mighty Mug!

**Disclaimer:  I was given a free mug by Mighty Mug for this review.  I was not required in any way to leave a positive review.  All opinions are my own.**


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Aug 31

Six Things I Hope My Daughter Learns From Miley Cyrus

Photo credit: Vijat Mohindra

Photo credit: Vijat Mohindra

Two years ago, when Miley Cyrus debuted her infamous, gyrating, Blurred Lines performance at the VMAs, I (I’m sorry to say) responded like a host of other people.  With an aghast, “What on God’s green earth did I JUST WATCH??”  I felt traumatized. For me, it was never about the overt sexuality of the performance.  It just felt so….. awkward, and forced, and embarrassing to watch.

Before I knew what had happened, I’d jumped on the “What’s become of sweet little Miley Cyrus??” bandwagon.

Sometime in the past two years though, something changed.  Besides conceding to the fact that there’s just really nothing kind, nor productive, about gossiping about the life and career of some poor young girl I don’t even know, I started looking at her in a new light.  She really is a talented singer (I love this one.  Oh and this too), but she’s also just a fellow human, growing up in the public eye, who doesn’t deserve our collective ridicule.  And maybe it’s the mom in me, or maybe it’s simply a matter of my own growing up (I’m nearing 42;  it was bound to happen eventually) but when Miley Cyrus comes on my screen now, I’m filled with both compassion and fascination.

So last night, when she returned to the VMAs as a host, I sort of held my breath as I watched all the comments rolling by calling her “trashy” and “disgusting” and “disappointing.”  When people started to lament the fact that she had so many followers, and served as such a poor role model to our nation’s girls, I actually found myself feeling saddened and defensive, and – even though I’m aware it makes no sense – a little protective.

Yeah, she’s outrageous. Yeah, she goes for the shock value.  Yeah, she swears like a trucker and is open about her drug use. But surely we have something to learn from Miley, just as we have something to learn from everyone.  Surely, she possesses admirable attributes that her detractors are just all too happy to overlook.  And as I thought about it, and as I thought about my kids (and especially my daughter, who so looks up to her favorite singers) I quickly realized that indeed she does… qualities that I’d not only be okay with, but proud of my daughter for emulating.

Here are just six of them:

  1.  Always be an advocate for helping others – Miley used her position of influence to found the Happy Hippie Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to fighting the injustice faced by homeless youth, the LGTBQ youth, and other vulnerable populations. Say what you want about her methods, but she gets people’s attention.  And when she has it?  She uses her platform to work tirelessly to educate and spread awareness about this important cause.
  2. Never be afraid to laugh at yourself –  Jimmy Kimmell collaborated with Miley recently to run a segment in which she disguised herself as an Australian newscaster, and did a sort of man-on-the-street collection of little interviews, asking passers-by what they thought about Miley Cyrus.  She stayed in character, was a ridiculously good sport about the whole thing, and played along as she listened to people’s uncensored opinions on everything from her family to her singing to her outfits.  She’s so true to herself, so unruffled by other people’s perceptions, that she willingly lets herself in on the joke…. even when it’s at her own expense.
  3. Other people don’t get to define who you are – I can’t imagine what it must be like growing up not just in the public eye, but in the public eye as the daughter of a well-known country artist, AND as the former beloved child star, Hannah Montana. She’s got basically a whole world of people watching, and criticizing, and expecting her to be this person, or that artist, or this young adult.  A lot of people would cave to that pressure.  A lot of people have caved to that pressure, both in and out of the industry.  But Miley recognizes that other people don’t get to make her decisions.  She essentially says, “To hell with all of them”, and she just does MILEY.
  4. It’s okay to make mistakes – And look, I’m not saying that the whole VMA/Blurred Lines thing was a mistake.  Maybe she’s really proud of it.  But it stands to reason if you’re going to live out your career as… boldly as Miley has been doing, that sooner or later there’s going to be some video, or picture, or sound bite or blurb that she considers a mistake.  And that’s okay! I can’t imagine her ever doing anything but completely and totally owning it.
  5. It’s okay to live out loud – “Finding yourself” doesn’t have to be linear.  In fact, it’s usually NOT linear.  It’s messy.  You’re figuring things out, you’re learning who you are, what you’re about, what you stand for.  There are fits and starts.  There are mistakes (see number 4).  There are supposed to be mistakes.  It’s how we grow.  Being bold and being brave and putting yourself out there, for better or worse, is all part of the ride. When I was young, I was afraid – of everything – and when I went through those messy periods of growth I just went more inward.   And I’ll tell you what:  Stuffing things inside because you’re scared of them isn’t the healthiest way to live.  In fact, I can honestly say that I’m still recovering.  Living out loud, being unafraid and unashamed and unabashedly YOU is so important, and Miley Cyrus seems to understand that so very well.
  6. Be strong in the face of criticism – I saved this one for last because it’s one I need to most work on myself.  I still wilt in the face of criticism.  Criticism makes me want to hide, preferably in my pajamas.  Under the covers.  With my cat and Netflix as my only companions.  But Miley Cyrus?  She doesn’t hide.  She takes the criticism, and the hate, and the unkind words, and the unsolicited advice, and the trash-talking from millions of people.…. and she puts on a series of wild outfits and she hosts the VMA awards (with some major aplomb I might add).  She keeps being Miley.  She keeps singing.  She keeps performing.  She keeps doing interviews.  She keeps putting herself in the public eye.

Miley Cyrus kind of rocks.  I’ll be very curious to see where her career goes over the next several years, but wherever it leads I’ll be over here in the corner, pulling for her, hoping for good things…. and standing up for a girl who’s really just trying to figure out who she is….. with a whole heck of a lot of people watching.

 

 

 


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Aug 28

Fifteen Years

1383689_10152444855833309_8424233825201971084_nPaxton turns fifteen today.  I woke up in a panic yesterday, because I’d remembered that I’d made slideshows for the other three this year, so that meant that I needed to make one for Paxton too.  And it wasn’t that I didn’t want to…. I love doing it.

But it positively guts me.

My mama heart drowns in nostalgia.  I mean seriously, how’d I get so lucky?

Paxton at fifteen.  What can I say that I haven’t already said so many times before?  He remains one of the strongest, kindest, funniest, most truly loyal and steady teenagers I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing.  And his genuineness and integrity?  This guy has more of it in his little finger at 15 than I had when I was twice his age. He’s awesome,  and I’m so glad that I get to be his mom.

Have the happiest of birthdays, Paxton. Thank you for being so perfectly and simply you.


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Aug 24

Little Girls and Made-Up Faces

A few weeks ago, someone asked me this question:

I was just wondering what your thoughts are on young girls and makeup? I never really thought it was an issue, but I am seeing more young celebrities wear more and more makeup and society is lashing out on them calling them awful names just for some mascara and lipstick! Will you limit how much and at which age your daughter can wear makeup?? I am torn.

I love this question, because I just happen to have a young daughter who loves makeup. Because she’s multi-faceted like the rest of us, Tegan (seven years old at the time of this writing) loves lots of things.  She loves playing with her friends.  She loves singing and dancing and jumping on the trampoline.  She loves video games.  She loves swimming.  She loves playing in the mud.  She loves making things with her hands.  She loves being my cookie dough taste-taster.

And she loves makeup.

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She posted this on Instagram with the caption, “I did my makeup all by myself!”

She is garnering quite the collection of her own, and loves to experiment with mine as well.  She comes racing into the room every time my Ipsy subscription comes each month, and we sample it all together, product by product.  She loves putting it on herself, but she loves making up others as well…. myself, and even her dad and/or brothers when they’re feeling in the mood to let her.

Makeup is fun.  It’s expressive.  It’s an innocent exploration.  It’s a way to experiment with creativity, with different moods, with different looks. It’s art!  Yes, children (and adults) are beautiful without it – and Tegan knows that as well as anyone – but there is nothing wrong with feeling beautiful with makeup as well.  There’s been a lot of vilification of makeup lately, and to be honest, I’ve grown really tired of it.    It’s just makeup!  Do we really need to continue to have the same conversation about looking at people’s hearts, rather than at their packaging?

Save for some lip gloss she snags from my purse, Tegan very very rarely has any makeup on outside the house. She’s seven;  she’s busy.  When we’re running out the door for a play date or the ice cream shop or Target, she throws on some pants, slides into her Hello Kitty flip flops and she’s good to go.  She’ll usually brush her teeth. Sometimes, if she’s still wearing her breakfast on her face, I’ll ask her to go grab a wash cloth.   Makeup has so far remained a mostly at-home pursuit, when she’s relaxed and unhurried and has time to experiment.   But – to answer the original question – will I limit how much and at what age she can wear makeup? No, I won’t. That’s her decision.  Despite the futility of the emotion, I do sometimes worry about my kids, for various reasons. Whether or not, or how much, or when, or why Tegan wears makeup never makes the list.

I was recently following a thread on Facebook about little girls and makeup.  Even now, days later, I cringe as I think about it.  We adults have some pretty big hangups.  There was one mom, adamant that her daughter not wear makeup until she was 18, who vowed that she wouldn’t have her child walking around looking like those “dance moms'” young daughters, the ones who look like “hoochie mama little whores.”

………….

Surely, I can’t be the only one who recognizes that the red flag in that statement is not the fact that children are wearing makeup, but that an adult thinks it’s okay to ever ascribe those kinds of words to a child?  I did dance recitals as a kid.  I remember the lights, and the music, and the fluttery feeling in my stomach.  I remember my mom taming my hair into long curly pigtails, and I remember the makeup.  Eye makeup, lipstick, blush.  Oh how I loved the blush!  I do not remember being made to feel like there was somehow something wrong with me wearing makeup at that age.  I was a kid!  I was innocent…. feeling pretty and glamorous and wonderful just as I was.

Just the way Tegan feels now.  Just the way kids should always feel.  Makeup or no makeup.

We’re screwing this up, parents.   Makeup’s not evil.  In fact makeup, like so very many other things, is a neutral until you assign meaning to it.  It’s powder and cream and pigment.  When kids are first happy and healthy and whole, makeup is not a problem.  Grown women calling children who wear it “hoochie mama little whores”?

That’s a problem.


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Jul 06

Introverts on the Vegas Strip

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Last week at this time, my whole family was in Las Vegas, Nevada.  The kids and I tagged along on a business trip, with big plans to enjoy the pool, the free breakfast every morning, and the free happy hour every night (the bartenders were lovely and wonderful too… recognizing all six of us and remembering all of our chosen drinks after the very first night)

We were able to catch up with my cousins, one of whom was like another member of the family to us when we used to babysit her several days a week up until she was one.  She’s four now, and beautiful, and Tegan’s new BFF and honorary little sister.  We had a great time getting reacquainted, and spent several hours playing at the Children’s Discovery Museum, which turned out to be the best children’s museum I’ve ever gone to in my life.  We had a wonderful late lunch at a little family owned Mexican restaurant, where Tegan and Luna entertained us by dancing to the music.

In the evenings though, we did the whole Vegas tourist thing, and checked out the strip.  We’ve been to Vegas once before, but we mostly spent it going to shows and checking out the hotels and casinos during daylight. Seeing it all at night was a whole different proposition.  We’d park in one of those giant, ten-story parking garages, and just walk and walk, taking it all in.

We watched the fountain show outside the Bellagio.  We saw a light show set to rock music over Fremont street. We walked around an indoor mall/market thing with a high ceiling that was painted like the sky and made you feel like you were outside.  We saw about a zillion street performers doing everything from mime to playing music to making spin art to impersonating long-deceased celebrities.  We politely declined the dozens of people trying to hand us their business cards with the naked girls on them.  We stopped into a White Castle attached to a casino (because everything’s attached to a casino), and had our very first infamous in-person White Castle sliders, which as it turns out taste exactly like the frozen version you can get at the grocery store.

As an aside, our choice of dinner made me want to watch the cult stoner movie, Harold and Kumar go to White Castle – I adore Kal Penn –  so we rented it the following night.  But the video had an error and quit during the last 20 minutes, so we never did find out if Harold and Kumar ever made it to White Castle!

But I digress.  The Vegas strip.  There were a lot of smells, and sounds, and colors, and lights. My first realization was that the very thing that made it all interesting and entertaining was the same thing that made it so very overwhelming.  It was the exact opposite of everything we embody.  And I don’t mean that from a perspective of judgment;  it’s just that we (well, at least the guys and I) are big introverts.  We’re homebodies.  We’re quiet.  We don’t like to draw attention to ourselves.  We’re…… basic.  What we saw over those couple of nights was very very much NOT basic.  It was flashy.  It was attention-grabbing.  It was loud.  

Tegan, who’s seven and all about the sparkle and the only real extrovert in the family, absolutely loved it, right up until the point her feet got tired and she was ready to get back to the hotel. Loved it. Loved the glitz and the glamour and the costumes and the lights.  Loved the limos and the expensive cars.  Loved the ornate hotels and the fountains and the twinkling casinos.  Loved the pretty girls in the sparkly outfits (on a not unrelated note, this will forever be the trip in which she learned what a “pasty” is.)  She did not however love those guys with the metallic body paint who were statues one minute, and moving around the next.  They freaked her out.  I found them sort of strangely fascinating.

I found it all sort of strangely fascinating.

It was fun, and It. Was. Exhausting.  On the way home, we stopped to tour Hoover Dam, but otherwise made a beeline back to “basic.”  We’ve been home since Wednesday evening, and I’ve barely gotten out of my sweatpants.  I’ve been puttering around home, enjoying sleeping in my own bed, getting reacquainted with Netflix, and catching up on normal, quiet, wonderfully mundane things like emails.

Going away is always fun, but returning home is glorious.

P.S.  Seriously though, did Harold and Kumar ever make it to White Castle??


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Jul 03

40 Answers For Christians Now Worried About Rainbow Flags

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Several people have sent me this list entitled 40 Questions For Christians Now Waving Rainbow Flags.  It was written by a pastor by the name of Kevin DeYoung, in a post in which he expresses his sadness about the new Supreme Court decision.  His questions were aimed at people like myself who are Christ-followers who are affirming of same-sex relationships.  I think it’s always a good idea to question… well, everything… and to take a step back and examine and re-examine why you hold the beliefs you hold.  So I decided to answer them.

It was pointed out to me that I was rude and unkind in my last post, so I did my best to answer the questions with care and consideration.  I don’t know Mr DeYoung, so my answers are not aimed at him, but at the thoughts/ideas/beliefs he’s presented here.

And finally, I’m leaving comments turned off on this post right from the start.  I don’t want to host unkindness and attacks aimed at each other on my page again.

Here then are his 40 questions, along with my response.

1. How long have you believed that gay marriage is something to be celebrated? 

Twenty years ago I would have (emphatically, I might add) agreed with this author.  Sometime between then and now God worked on my heart and something changed… first to, “Okay, it’s a sin, but if they’re not hurting anybody, why all the fuss?”;  and eventually, “Why shouldn’t a committed gay couple be afforded all the same rights and recognition as its heterosexual counterpart?”

2. What Bible verses led you to change your mind?  

If anything, it was a lack of scripture supporting the church’s stance on homosexuality that first prompted me to look deeper.  Despite the divisive, grandstanding issue this has become, the Bible barely mentions it, and Jesus himself didn’t mention it even once.

3. How would you make a positive case from Scripture that sexual activity between two persons of the same sex is a blessing to be celebrated?

The issue at hand is marriage, not sex.  It’s disingenuous (and quite honestly, a little creepy) to spin it into “celebrating sexual activity”.  Marriage is about love and commitment.  It’s about companionship and friendship. Making decisions together, building a home together, going through life together, raising children together if you so choose.  When you look at the years and days and hours that go into a marriage, sexual activity makes up such a minuscule portion that it’s insulting to use it as a defining factor.  So, to answer the question, I’m not celebrating anyone’s sexual activity, gay or straight.

4. What verses would you use to show that a marriage between two persons of the same sex can adequately depict Christ and the church?

The Bible is full of scriptures on how to conduct yourself as a Christian (therefore depicting Christ and the church) including but obviously not limited to John 13:34 – “Love one another as I have loved you.”   There are no qualifiers or disclaimers that tell us it’s only possible if we’re not gay.

5. Do you think Jesus would have been okay with homosexual behavior between consenting adults in a committed relationship?

Yes

6. If so, why did he reassert the Genesis definition of marriage as being one man and one woman?

Because he was speaking to heterosexual Jewish men and rebuking them for their divorce practices.  Context matters. If his statements were meant to pronounce one man/one women as the only acceptable marriage combination at that time, why would polygamy be permitted and blessed by the Jewish people (and by God) throughout the Old Testament and into the first century AD?

7. When Jesus spoke against porneia what sins do you think he was forbidding?

Porneia is a broad term that can refer to many types of sexual immorality:  adultery, incest, rape, bestiality….

8. If some homosexual behavior is acceptable, how do you understand the sinful “exchange” Paul highlights in Romans 1?

The societal climate at the time Paul made the address in question was one in which there was rampant abhorrent and deviant sexual behavior, including predatory, coercive, non-consenting sex between men and prostitutes and slaves, and grown men and boys.  That was the behavior that Paul was addressing.  It isn’t at all applicable to a committed, consensual relationship between two adults.

9. Do you believe that passages like 1 Corinthians 6:9 and Revelation 21:8 teach that sexual immorality can keep you out of heaven?

I believe Ephesians 2:8 when it says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faithand this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God”.  But okay.  A word for “homosexuality” as we know it did not exist in that time. Where that translation is made in 1 Corinthians 6:9 it refers specifically to two words:  malakos, and arsenokoites. When taken in context, they most likely refer to the victim and the perpetrator of sexual violence… again, rape, pedophilia, forced prostitution, etc.  I’m pretty sure we can all agree those are wrong. Revelation 21:8 deals with “the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars”…. any of which are forgiven of repentant people who choose to accept the free gift of salvation by grace through faith.

10. What sexual sins do you think they were referring to?

See question nine.

11. As you think about the long history of the church and the near universal disapproval of same-sex sexual activity, what do you think you understand about the Bible that Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, and Luther failed to grasp?

That’s a pretty loaded question.  I certainly don’t claim to understand things that those people failed to grasp.

12. What arguments would you use to explain to Christians in Africa, Asia, and South America that their understanding of homosexuality is biblically incorrect and your new understanding of homosexuality is not culturally conditioned?

Another loaded question.  I wouldn’t.  I believe my job as a follower of Christ is to 1) continually seek out who He was and what he wanted from me here on this earth, and 2) live out that faith to the best of my ability… not to argue and explain to others why my understanding is more “correct” than theirs.

13. Do you think Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were motivated by personal animus and bigotry when they, for almost all of their lives, defined marriage as a covenant relationship between one man and one woman?

I wouldn’t even begin to make assumptions about someone else’s motivations.

14. Do you think children do best with a mother and a father?

I think children do best with loving, committed, attentive parents… no matter what gender they may be.

15. If not, what research would you point to in support of that conclusion?

I think an answer here is kind of pointless, because a quick Google search will yield you articles that cite research to support any side of any argument.  Here’s a study that says that children of gay parents are happier and healthier than their peers.   But I don’t need research to tell me that healthy, happy parents raise healthy, happy kids.

16. If yes, does the church or the state have any role to play in promoting or privileging the arrangement that puts children with a mom and a dad?

n/a

17. Does the end and purpose of marriage point to something more than an adult’s emotional and sexual fulfillment?

Of course.

18. How would you define marriage?

Legally, as a recognized contract between consenting adults that affords them certain rights and benefits as stated by the government (I’m the first one to admit that it’s complicated, and that I don’t know how it all works) From a non-legal standpoint, and in super-simplistic terms:  It’s a deep commitment, and a partnership, and a daily choice to “have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death parts us.”

19. Do you think close family members should be allowed to get married?

I think there are lots of reasons why close family members shouldn’t get married.

20. Should marriage be limited to only two people?

To be honest, I’ve never spent any time thinking about it.  I generally tend to feel though that what sorts of relationships consenting (non-related) adults choose to enter into are their business, and their business alone.

21. On what basis, if any, would you prevent consenting adults of any relation and of any number from getting married?

It’s not my job to prevent consenting adults from getting married.

22. Should there be an age requirement in this country for obtaining a marriage license?

Yes

23. Does equality entail that anyone wanting to be married should be able to have any meaningful relationship defined as marriage?

Anyone?  No.  Consenting adults?  Yes.

24. If not, why not?

n/a

25. Should your brothers and sisters in Christ who disagree with homosexual practice be allowed to exercise their religious beliefs without fear of punishment, retribution, or coercion?

Yes, but…. I really believe this is the other side of the “slippery slope” that those who oppose gay marriage like to cite.  People should be able to exercise religious beliefs, yes.  Absolutely. But if those religious beliefs are being used to discriminate and be unkind, what’s to stop them from picking and choosing who they want to discriminate against, and just citing their religious beliefs as the reason?  Stores proudly display their signs that say that they won’t serve gay people for instance, because it’s against their religion.  I think it’s an incredibly discriminatory and unkind thing to do, but they have the right to do it.  Why stop there though?  Why that one issue?  Why not put up signs that say you won’t serve people who are arrogant, or liars, or gossips, or gluttons, or people who cheat on their wives, or cheat on their taxes, or drink too much, or steal internet from their neighbors, or watch porn?  If you believe it’s a sin, and all sins are equal, I don’t understand how you can use religious beliefs as an excuse to marginalize this one segment of society.  We all sin.   To just answer the question as it’s written though:  Yes, people who disagree with homosexual practice should be allowed to exercise their religious beliefs without fear of punishment, retribution or coercion.  Even if one believes their actions to be wrong, two wrongs never make a right.

26. Will you speak up for your fellow Christians when their jobs, their accreditation, their reputation, and their freedoms are threatened because of this issue? 

This is pretty much the same as #25, just re-framed.

27. Will you speak out against shaming and bullying of all kinds, whether against gays and lesbians or against Evangelicals and Catholics?

I speak out against shaming and bullying of all kinds, yes.

28. Since the evangelical church has often failed to take unbiblical divorces and other sexual sins seriously, what steps will you take to ensure that gay marriages are healthy and accord with Scriptural principles?

I don’t think it’s  my job to ensure that *anyone’s* marriage is healthy & in accord with scriptural principles.  My job is to to focus on my own marriage.

29. Should gay couples in open relationships be subject to church discipline?

It’s hard to answer this question without bias, but I think that churches have done enough damage by focusing on discipline, and on guilt, and on shame.  I believe that the best thing a church could do right now (for all their members, of any orientation) is focus on love and healing.

30. Is it a sin for LGBT persons to engage in sexual activity outside of marriage?

I’m not sure.  But I’ll say that I believe that the same standard should apply to both heterosexual and LGBT relationships.

31. What will open and affirming churches do to speak prophetically against divorce, fornication, pornography, and adultery wherever they are found?

I really can’t speak for what churches are going to do, since I’m not a church.  As for what I think they should do, see #29.

32. If “love wins,” how would you define love?

“Love is patient.  Love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

33. What verses would you use to establish that definition?

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

34. How should obedience to God’s commands shape our understanding of love?  

God IS love.  I think whatever else being a Christ-follower means, it should always start with 1) Loving God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and 2) Loving our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22-37-38)

35. Do you believe it is possible to love someone and disagree with important decisions they make?

Of course

36. If supporting gay marriage is a change for you, has anything else changed in your understanding of faith?

I think faith is, and should be, a constantly evolving, growing, deepening, living organism.  A stagnant faith is a dead faith.  So yes, absolutely, my understanding of faith is always changing.

37. As an evangelical, how has your support for gay marriage helped you become more passionate about traditional evangelical distinctive like a focus on being born again, the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ on the cross, the total trustworthiness of the Bible, and the urgent need to evangelize the lost?  

It hasn’t helped me become more passionate about those things.  It has however helped me become more passionate about loving my brother as myself.  About reaching out to my fellow man.  About extending compassion for those who the world wants to marginalize.  About removing the rather large plank from my own eye before worrying about my brother’s sliver.

38. What open and affirming churches would you point to where people are being converted to orthodox Christianity, sinners are being warned of judgment and called to repentance, and missionaries are being sent out to plant churches among unreached peoples? 

I haven’t looked for any churches like that.

39. Do you hope to be more committed to the church, more committed to Christ, and more committed to the Scriptures in the years ahead?

Yes.

40. When Paul at the end of Romans 1 rebukes “those who practice such things” and those who “give approval to those who practice them,” what sins do you think he has in mind?

The final paragraph in Romans 1 talks about a “depraved mind” and specifically mentions things like envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice, gossip, slander, arrogance, boastfulness… people being senseless, faithless, heartless, and ruthless.  We don’t have to guess what sins he has in mind. He’s spelled them out for us.  But you can’t stop reading at the end of chapter one, because the entire message (and Paul’s whole point) is tied together in what immediately follows your “those who give approval to those who practice them” quote.

Chapter Two:

You therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth.  So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?

It’s God job to judge, not ours.  It’s our job to love.  Fully, radically, and unconditionally.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

 


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Jun 28

To My Fellow Christians, After the Supreme Court Ruling

crossequalslove

To my brothers and sisters in Christ,

I write this with a humble, heavy, and somewhat broken heart.

As you know, the Supreme Court ruling that was announced this Friday made same-sex marriage a right nationwide. Now, this letter really isn’t about legalities, or whether or not the government has any business being involved in marriages in the first place.  That’s clearly another conversation altogether.

But I can’t keep silent about some of what I’m seeing come out of the Christian community right now, at a time when individuals are simply trying to celebrate that they are finally able to legally marry the people that they love.

Thankfully, I’m not personally seeing any Westboro Baptist-style hatred (I seem to have done a pretty efficient job of culling my Facebook friends list since the Duggar  scandal broke).  What I’m seeing is just as upsetting though, if not even more so, because it’s really the same message of judgment and intolerance;  It’s just couched in “Christian-speak.”

First, I need you to understand that this is not about disagreement.  Disagreements are a normal and healthy part of life, of society, and of relationships.  I disagree very strongly about some pretty big issues with some of my dearest loved ones.  This is not about disagreement.  I keep seeing that syrupy little Rick Warren quote passed around that says,  “Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”  It frustrates me every time.  I’ve never heard anyone, ever,  insinuate that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do.  So to say it’s a “huge lie” that’s been accepted is pretty much just ridiculous.  And as for the first part: Absolutely, yes. Simply disagreeing with someone does not mean you fear or hate them.  That’s correct.  But can your resulting words and actions, even if you intend them to be “loving”, still convey fear or hatred?  YES! Can they still contribute to feelings of persecution, of personal affront, of judgement?  YES!  Can they still push a person (or many persons) further AWAY from God, and Christians, and the church (which I think is probably the complete opposite of your intent)?  YES!

I don’t believe that homosexuality in and of itself is a sin.  I do believe that consenting adults, of any gender or sexual orientation, should be able to marry their loved one, no matter what that may look like.  I absolutely respect your right to disagree with me – I truly do – just as I’d hope you’d respect mine.  But when you make sweeping comments such as, “I believe the Bible, so homosexuality is wrong,”  or, “Well I’m a Christian first, so homosexuality is wrong,” then we have a problem.   Please do not mistake your beliefs as being synonymous with “Christianity” as a whole or with “The Bible” as a whole.  Please do not speak for me.  Please do not speak for the thousands of other Christians who have different interpretations, and different philosophies than your own. Please do not perpetuate the idea that because a person happens to have a relationship with God, that he or she needs to live out that relationship in the same way in order to be “right.”

There are LOTS of different ways to live out a Christian faith, and from where I’m standing, the only one we need to consistently meet on is this:  “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets”. —Matthew 22:35-40.

Which brings me to the point of this letter.  And believe me, I ask this with complete sincerity and genuine sadness and confusion:

Do you honestly think it is loving to continually browbeat this one segment of society by telling them over and over and over how sinful you think they are?  Yes, even if you preface it with, “I still love you!  I still pray for you!  I don’t judge you!”  Do you really think that that love and those prayers are going to come across when you’re reminding them, AGAIN, that you think that by virtue of who they happen to love, that they are sinning?

Because guess what.  They already know you think they’re sinning.  We already know you think they’re sinning. So until or unless you are giving continual updates on ALL the things you think are sinful, it’s just not fair.  And I’m sorry, but it isn’t loving either.  It’s not.  Why them?  Why this one issue?

A real-life, actual threat to marriage in this country is infidelity and divorce.  But no one ever talks about that, unless it’s to cover it with words of, “Oh, well, you know, we all make mistakes… we shouldn’t judge another person… everyone sins.”

You shouldn’t judge another person because they sin differently than you;  this much is true. Well you know what?  You shouldn’t judge a person because they love differently than you either.

I’m so tired.  I’m so tired of saying the same thing over and over again.  I’m so tired of this one segment of society getting so much negative attention from Christians, at the exclusion of anything else.  I’m so tired of the back-handed, “I love you and pray for you and don’t judge you, but I need to keep reminding you that I disagree with your “lifestyle”” rhetoric of disgust.

Please stop.

Please, please stop.  They know you disagree already.  They really do.  They will always know. It has been well-established.  

Isn’t it about time that we reached out to the LGBT community, a community by the way whose teens are three times more likely to commit suicide than their straight peers, and just offer love?  Real, actual love, with no disclaimers?

Let’s bring a little more “loving thy neighbor” back to Christianity.  Thy straight neighbor, thy gay neighbor, thy transgender neighbor, thy black neighbor, thy white neighbor, thy Democrat neighbor, thy Republican neighbor, thy Atheist neighbor, thy Jewish neighbor, thy Muslim neighbor….

and yes, thy Christian neighbor like you, and me, who deep down inside really do want to love, and are still learning how to get it right.

** Comments have now been closed.  Thank you to everyone who provided respectful discourse.**


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