Is it Time Yet? to Light it Up Blue …and Pink and White

Lately there have been some odd confluences such as Easter and April Fools day and snow falling on the first day of spring. And last Saturday was the Trans Day of Visibility and Monday was Autism Awareness Day and so I’ve been deeply considering that it may be time to finally come out on Facebook and let everyone know that my child is a double rainbow kid. She is someone who lives on both the gender spectrum and the autism spectrum. But then another coinciding event – my former church announced that they will be discussing (again) what they think the Bible says about homosexuality and transgender. And I thought, oh no, maybe this is not a good time, because I’m pretty sure they haven’t changed their minds since the last time I heard a sermon about it there. And a large percentage of my Facebook friends are people I met at that church.

But then again, if these days are set aside to give visibility to transgender people and autistic people in order to increase understanding and acceptance, then maybe its the perfect time to let everyone know that not only does my child exist, but she is a wonderful human, created in God’s image. She lives and breathes among you and she is not someone you should fear or shun. If you meet her, you’ll be impressed by her.

MJ has become a skilled photographer and outspoken activist. She designed and 3-d printed a sculpture reminiscent of the Bernie Boston’s Flower Power image from the Vietnam War protests in 1967. She produced quite a few of them that were carried by activists and photographed during the March for Our Lives event on March 24.

As a person with Asperger’s Syndrome, she knows a great deal and can speak articulately about the things she’s passionate about. She’s currently developing a speech regarding internet privacy issues, Facebook, and net neutrality which she will deliver to groups of college students next week. She has an in-depth knowledge and detailed grasp of the issues and is working hard to explain them in a way that will convince people to protect themselves and to get out and vote intelligently. I’m so happy that she’s found a productive outlet for her some of her frustrations. She is a beautiful person inside and out.

While MJ has been out for a long time now, I’ve been carefully choosing who to come out to. As a protective mother, I have been surprised by and incredibly grateful for all of the love and understanding of family and friends that I’ve shared with. One of the reasons I thought to come out on Facebook now is because I want to share freely about all of the cool stuff MJ has been doing and not have to debate about which pronouns and which name to use.

I think its important for people to understand there’s always another side to the story, other perspectives and other interpretations to consider. I don’t have any illusions of me changing everyone’s mind. But I wish that my Facebook friends would be humble enough to consider that they might be wrong about their beliefs and to remember that its more important to love than to be right. Consider the questions posed by Noel Koenke in her article published in the National Catholic Reporter:

Could we be born inherently good instead of with “original sin”? What kind of person do you think a child could grow to be if from birth they were told they are inherently good and worthy of love? Less anger, less sadness, less depression and more authentically living the life God intended?

Could we pursue happiness in this life instead of “carrying our cross” and waiting for a reward in the next? What does venerating sacrifice do to the self-worth of the individual? How does a life in pursuit of joy exist in any contradiction to the love of God?

Could we simply be human and treat others with kindness, actively making time to connect with the universe and all that is in it, rather than having the “commandment” to love our enemies? Isn’t love only love if freely given? Is commanding it of others with the threat of punishment a free choice?

Could we radically accept all people, celebrating the diversity of difference rather than shaming their uniqueness? I speak directly in favor of LGBT persons who are marginalized and chastened for their honest expression of God’s love. Where is Jesus in all this? What does the church lose, other than a monopoly of control, in loving and accepting and smiling upon all God’s people?

MJ has stated many times that she doesn’t want me to make a big deal about her gender identity and I don’t want to make a big deal about it either. But I’m tired of hiding and feel its important that people know my story. I want to be able to share MJ’s accomplishments freely. Maybe I just start posting about the things she is doing, using her preferred name and pronouns. If people ask, then I’ll be happy to answer their questions. But I don’t know if I want to deal with any negativity and unsolicited advice. Given all of the criticism of Facebook, and the convincing arguments that MJ has made to completely get off of it, I’m so conflicted! April is Autism Awareness Month so if I don’t do it soon, I guess I’ll wait until next year. Or, maybe I post and then close my Facebook account. Ugh!

What do you think? Should I go for it? Light it up blue …and pink and white? Will it make a difference or would it just be asking for trouble?

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Mama Bears Dig Deeper, Love Wider

Last weekend I was privileged to attend the Gay Christian Network Conference. I was invited to go with my dear friend, a fellow “Mama Bear” as the mom’s of LGBTQ kids are called. When I got home, MJ said, “I can’t believe you went to that.” I told her that I went because my journey is different than her journey. See, as a Mama Bear, I will protect my child fiercely and do everything I can to give her the opportunity to grow into the person she was created to be, to set her on the path that God has chosen for her. I want to know that she will be granted salvation and we will see each other in eternity.

I went to the conference with not a lot of expectation but I knew that I would come away with, at the very least, some language. And, I learned far more than I thought I ever could. I’m still processing it all but I can tell you that God has definitely broken my heart for what breaks his. The LGBTQ community yearns to be known, to be affirmed. The world tells them they are not worthy, but God loves each of them.

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Waited Out the Storm, Got Rewarded by A Rainbow

Recently, as is often the case in summer, a quickly moving thunderstorm passed over us at the beach. My husband and I decided to wait it out and as the sky cleared, a rainbow appeared on the horizon. That’s kinda the way life is for us, isn’t it?

Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.
– Genesis 9:16

While the news has been filled with reports of occurrences demonstrating unrest around the world, I think there’s a widespread concern that we are on the brink of certain disaster. And here in the U.S., no matter what side you fall on, the political climate and upcoming election has us on edge. Yet most of us also have more personally pressing concerns to deal with in our families and everyday lives. We are waiting out the storms, praying for change, and anxiously waiting for better days to come.

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Orlando: Our Hearts Are Broken But Prayer is Not Enough

Like most of us, I had just started to wrap my head around what happened as I checked my emails and social media the other day. And then I received an email message from a dear friend, addressed to a pretty large group of her friends and family, that really disturbed me. She had crossed a line and I had to respond before all of the people on her list started to think she might be right. She is a wonderful, loving person who means well, but she is not a believer does not believe the Bible to be true. I think that will be pretty clear. Below is the string.

“The Islamic extremist in Orlando, Florida who killed so many people on Saturday thought he was following God’s will.  It is so sad. Hitler was so devout that he had bible verses inscribed on the belt buckles of every soldier. The point is that it is a person’s belief of ‘doing God’s will’ that gives religious extremists permission. They actually believe they are doing ‘right’. They believe they are following God’s instruction. For example they will take a concept/section from a holy book where it describes how God condemns homosexuality or God promotes slavery or God promotes sexism and they try to promote the concept because this is what God instructed in the book. They believe they are being good because they are the ones following God’s instruction. They believe they are just following orders. And this is why teaching religion using these books is so detrimental. Because these extremists are just reading and following the instructions which other humans have taught them, usually from a young age, are the instructions directly from God. So they believe if they follow the instructions ‘they are good’ and if they do not follow the instructions ‘they are bad’. It is the continual teaching that these books are actually God’s words/God’s will/instructions that causes the problem combined with a person who really wants to do what is ‘right’ by following God’s orders exactly that leads to all this inhumanity. We have to stop teaching people that these books are God’s words. Otherwise there will be people who will want to follow the instructions to the extreme thinking they are doing good.”

Wait…What??? Are you kidding me?? Unfortunately, I can see that a lot of people think this way… that “religion” is the cause of war, “religion” is what is wrong with the world.

Here was my carefully worded response.

I follow your train of thought but I have so many issues with this message. And this is not a conversation to be had in a short email (with no paragraph breaks). With all due love and respect, I have to respond.

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Happy Chinese New Year! Happy Mardi Gras! Happy Valentines Day! Happy MJ Got An Internship Day!

Yesterday MJ went to the interview with the Pathways people and it went well. She starts a 12 week internship in just a little over a week! Yay Pathways! Yay God!

This opportunity is so clearly orchestrated by our intimate, loving God. First of all, you know MJ is not very comfortable driving yet, so this company is only 6 minutes away from home. It couldn’t be any closer! The team at this company was so impressed by MJ’s visual resume that they tailored the internship to her strengths. They already have projects in mind that will be perfect for her skills. It is with a company that creates software products so she will be able to use her skills in beta testing as well as give them graphic design support. They keep pretty flexible hours and have a late start time of 10am so she won’t have wake up too early! The offices are in a townhouse, which creates a nice casual office environment. They eat lunch there so she won’t have to drive any place to get food and it sounds like she can spend a little time socializing, which she really needs to do. And because it’s in a townhouse, the bathrooms are not gender-specific!

What a gift life is to those who stay the course! You’ve heard, of course, of Job’s staying power, and you know how God brought it all together for him at the end. That’s because God cares, cares right down to the last detail.
– James 5:11

The light of the eyes rejoices the heart, and good news refreshes the bones.
– Proverbs 15:30

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Snowzilla: God Makes Us Wait

I haven’t posted in a while, mostly because I’ve been very busy at work, but also because there wasn’t much to report. We weren’t making much progress toward the new year’s goals. MJ still hadn’t gotten back to that great sleep/wake schedule she had going before the holidays. And then “snowzilla” happened. I won’t kid you, I had a hard time staying focused on the positive and finding encouragement. But I know that God sent the snow, reminding us that He is in charge. He ordered us to be still for a bit and take a break. (Yeah, that’s my car under that pile of snow.) I recognized that I was deep in waiting mode… waiting for Pathways to find an internship opportunity, waiting for the weather to give us a break and for the roads to be cleared, waiting for God to work things out.

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!
–Psalm 27:13-14

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Changing Church

It has taken me a long time to write this post because I don’t want to offend anyone. I like to think of myself as a peacekeeper. So, I took my time with it and chose my words carefully. Also, as we got closer to Thanksgiving, I wanted to be sensitive to the timing of this message. Let me just say that this is written in the spirit of me trying to think things through. Let’s work this out together.

I had originally planned to write this post as a one-sided bashing of the church for its failure to include and minister to transgender people and the people that love them. But, a few weekends ago I went on a retreat with some of the most godly women I know. While there, God showed me a few things that softened my heart. I still feel “the church” needs to change but the church is made up of people. Some of those people, like the women I joined on the retreat, are individuals who radiate Jesus’ love so brightly. Some people are just like me, who love the Lord and are questioning things. If you wonder how you might better serve the LGBTQ community, this message is for you. If you have been rallying against “the church” this message is for you too.

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