Serendipitydodah for Moms – a private facebook group for moms of lgbt kids

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Serendipitydodah for Moms was created as an extension of the Serendipitydodah blog. The group is secret so that only members can find it or see what is posted in the group. The group was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 1,700 members. The space was specifically created for open minded Christian moms who have LGBT kids and want to develop and maintain healthy, loving, authentic relationships with their LGBT kids. In addition to providing a space for members to share info and support one another, a special guest is added each month for a few days. The guests include authors, pastors, LGBT people, bloggers and public speakers.

 

For more info email lizdyer55@gmail.com

Mama Bear Story Project #12 – Linda Mueller Robertson

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The Mama Bear Story Project is a collection of portraits and autobiographical essays from members of Serendipitydodah for Moms – a private Facebook group for open minded Christian moms of LGBTQ kids.

LR123

 

On the night of November 20, 2001, a conversation held over Instant Messenger changed our lives forever. Our twelve year old son messaged me in my office from the computer in his bedroom.

Ryan says: can i tell u something

Mom says: Yes I am listening

Ryan says: well i don’t know how to say this really but, well……, i can’t keep lying to you about myself. I have been hiding this for too long and i sorta have to tell u now. By now u probably have an idea of what i am about to say.

Ryan says: I am gay

Ryan says: i can’t believe i just told you

Mom says: Are you joking?

Ryan says: no

Ryan says: i thought you would understand because of uncle don

Mom says: of course I would

Mom says: but what makes you think you are?

Ryan says: i know i am

Ryan says: i don’t like hannah

Ryan says: it’s just a cover-up

Mom says: but that doesn’t make you gay…

Ryan says: i know

Ryan says: but u don’t understand

Ryan says: i am gay

Mom says: tell me more

Ryan says: it’s just the way i am and it’s something i know

Ryan says: u r not a lesbian and u know that. it is the same thing

Mom says: what do you mean?

Ryan says: i am just gay

Ryan says: i am that

Mom says: I love you no matter what

Ryan says: i am white not black

Ryan says: i know

Ryan says: i am a boy not a girl

Ryan says: i am attracted to boys not girls

Ryan says: u know that about yourself and i know this

Mom says: what about what God thinks about acting on these desires?

Ryan says: i know

Mom says: thank you for telling me

Ryan says: and i am very confused about that right now

Mom says: I love you more for being honest

Ryan says: i know

Ryan says: thanx

We were completely shocked. Not that we didn’t know and love gay people – my only brother had come out to us several years before, and we adored him. But Ryan? He was unafraid of anything, tough as nails, and ALL boy. We had not seen this coming, and the emotion that overwhelmed us, kept us awake at night and, sadly, influenced all of our reactions over the next six years, was FEAR.

We said all the things that we thought loving Christian parents who believed the Bible – the Word of God – should say:

We love you. We will ALWAYS love you. And this is hard. REALLY hard. But we know what God says about this, and so you are going to have to make some really difficult choices.

We love you. We couldn’t love you more. But there are other men who have faced this same struggle, and God has worked in them to change their desires. We’ll get you their books…you can listen to their testimonies. And we will trust God with this.

We love you. We are so glad you are our son. But you are young, and your sexual orientation is still developing. The feelings you’ve had for other guys don’t make you gay. So please don’t tell anyone that you ARE gay. You don’t know who you are yet. Your identity is not that you are gay – it is that you are a child of God.

We love you. Nothing will change that. But if you are going to follow Jesus, holiness is your only option. You are going to have to choose to follow Jesus, no matter what. And since you know what the Bible says, and since you want to follow God, embracing your sexuality is NOT an option.

We thought we understood the magnitude of the sacrifice that we – and God – were asking for. And this sacrifice, we knew, would lead to the abundant life, perfect peace and eternal rewards, even if it was incredibly difficult.

Ryan had always felt intensely drawn to spiritual things; He desired to please God above all else. So, for the first six years, he tried to choose Jesus. Like so many others before him, he pleaded with God to help him be attracted to girls. He memorized Scripture, met with his youth pastor weekly and went to all the youth group events and Bible Studies. He chose to get baptized and filled journals with his prayers. He read all the Christian books that explained where his gay feelings came from and dove into counseling to further discover the origin of his unwanted attraction to other guys. He worked through difficult conflict resolution with Rob and I and invested even more deeply in his friendships with other guys (straight guys) just like the reparative therapy experts advised.

But nothing changed. God didn’t answer Ryan’s prayers – or ours – though we were all believing with faith that the God of the Universe – the God for whom NOTHING is impossible – could easily make Ryan straight. But He did not.

Though our hearts may have been good (we truly thought what we were doing was loving), we did not even give Ryan a chance to wrestle with God, to figure out what HE believed God was telling him through scripture about his sexuality. We had believed firmly in giving each of our four children the space to question Christianity, to decide for themselves if they wanted to follow Jesus, to truly OWN their own faith. But we were too afraid to give Ryan that room when it came to his sexuality, for fear that he’d make the wrong choice.

Basically, we told our son that he had to choose between Jesus and his sexuality. We forced him to make a choice between God and being a sexual person. Choosing God, practically, meant living a lifetime condemned to being alone. As a teenager, he had to accept that he would never have the chance to fall in love, hold hands, have his first kiss or share the intimacy and companionship that we, as his parents, enjoy. We had always told our kids that marriage was God’s greatest earthly gift…but Ryan had to accept that he alone would not be offered that present.

And so, just before his 18th birthday, Ryan, depressed, suicidal, disillusioned and convinced that he would never be able to be loved by God, made a new choice. He decided to throw out his Bible and his faith at the same time, and to try searching for what he desperately wanted – peace – another way. And the way he chose to try first was drugs.

We had – unintentionally – taught Ryan to hate his sexuality. And since sexuality cannot be separated from the self, we had taught Ryan to hate himself. So as he began to use drugs, he did so with a recklessness and a lack of caution for his own safety that was alarming to everyone who knew him.

Suddenly our fear of Ryan someday having a boyfriend (a possibility that honestly terrified me) seemed trivial in contrast to our fear of Ryan’s death, especially in light of his recent rejection of Christianity, and his mounting anger at God.

Ryan started with weed and beer…but in six short months was using cocaine, crack and heroin. He was hooked from the beginning, and his self-loathing and rage at God only fueled his addiction. Shortly after, we lost contact with him. For the next year and a half we didn’t know where he was, or even if he was dead or alive. And during that horrific time, God had our full attention. We stopped praying for Ryan to become straight. We started praying for him to know that God loved him. We stopped praying for him never to have a boyfriend. We started praying that someday we might actually get to know his boyfriend. We even stopped praying for him to come home to us; we only wanted him to come home to God.

By the time our son called us, after 18 long months of silence, God had completely changed our perspective. Because Ryan had done some pretty terrible things while using drugs, the first thing he asked me was this:

Do you think you can ever forgive me? (I told him of course, he was already forgiven. He had ALWAYS been forgiven.)

Do you think you could ever love me again? (I told him that we had never stopped loving him, not for one second. We loved him then more than we had ever loved him.)

Do you think you could ever love me with a boyfriend? (Crying, I told him that we could love him with fifteen boyfriends. We just wanted him back in our lives. We just wanted to have a relationship with him again…AND with his boyfriend.)

And a new journey was begun. One of healing, restoration, open communication and grace. LOTS of grace. And God was present every step of the way, leading and guiding us, gently reminding us simply to love our son, and leave the rest up to Him.

Over the next ten months, we learned to truly love our son. Period. No buts. No conditions. Just because he breathes. We learned to love whoever our son loved. And it was easy. What I had been so afraid of became a blessing. The journey wasn’t without mistakes, but we had grace for each other, and the language of apology and forgiveness became a natural part of our relationship. As our son pursued recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, we pursued him. God taught us how to love him, to rejoice over him, to be proud of the man he was becoming. We were all healing…and most importantly, Ryan began to think that if WE could forgive him and love him, then maybe God could, too.

And then Ryan made the classic mistake of a recovering addict…he got back together with his old friends…his using friends. And one evening that was supposed to simply be a night at the movies turned out to be the first time he had shot up in ten months…and the last time. We got a phone call from a social worker at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle asking us to come identify our son – that he had arrived there in a coma, in critical condition. We spent 17 days at Harborview, during which time our whole family was able to surround and love on Ryan. We experienced miracle after miracle during that time, things that no doctor had any medical explanation for. God’s presence was TANGIBLE in Ryan’s room. But that is a long, sacred story that I’ll have to tell another time.

Though Ryan had suffered such severe brain damage that he had almost complete paralysis, the doctors told us that he could very well outlive us. But, unexpectedly, Ryan died on July 16, 2009. And we lost the ability to love our gay son…because we no longer had a gay son. What we had wished for…prayed for…hoped for…that we would NOT have a gay son, came true. But not at all in the way we used to envision.

Now, when I think back on the fear that governed all my reactions during those first six years after Ryan told us he was gay, I cringe as I realize how foolish I was. I was afraid of all the wrong things. And I grieve, not only for my oldest son, who I will miss every day for the rest of my life, but for the mistakes I made. I grieve for what could have been, had we been walking by FAITH instead of by FEAR. Now, whenever Rob and I join our gay friends for an evening, I think about how much I would love to be visiting with Ryan and his partner over dinner. But instead, we visit Ryan’s gravestone. We celebrate anniversaries: the would-have-been birthdays and the unforgettable day of his death. We wear orange – his color. We hoard memories: pictures, clothing he wore, handwritten notes, lists of things he loved, tokens of his passions, recollections of the funny songs he invented, his Curious George and baseball blankey, anything, really, that reminds us of our beautiful boy…for that is all we have left, and there will be no new memories.  We rejoice in our adult children, and in our growing family as they marry…but ache for the one of our “gang of four” who is missing. We mark life by the days BC (before coma) and AD (after death), because we are different people now; our life was irrevocably changed – in a million ways – by his death. We treasure friendships with others who “get it”…because they, too, have lost a child.

We weep. We seek Heaven for grace and mercy and redemption as we try – not to get better but to be better. And we pray that God can somehow use our story to help other parents learn to truly love their children. Just because they breathe.

________________________________________________

Linda originally posted her story on her Facebook page on January 14, 2013 which would have been Ryan’s 24th birthday and shortly after that she started her blog “Just Because They Breathe” so she could share her story with more people. Please share Linda’s story with your friends so that more parents can learn to truly love their children just because they breathe.

________________________________________________

Serendipitydodah for Moms is a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids. Our official motto is “We Are Better Together” and our nickname is “Mama Bears” The group is secret so that only members can find it or see what is posted in the group. It was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 1,600 members. For more info email lizdyer55@gmail.com

 

Moms of LGBTQ kids are rooting for Stephanie Rice on The Voice

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Serendipitydodah for Moms is a private Facebook group created as an extension of the Serendipitydodah blog. The group is secret so that only members can find it or see what is posted in the group. The group was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 1,700 members.  For more info email lizdyer55@gmail.com

SR

Stephanie Rice earned a spot on Team Gwen Stefani when she sang “Piece by Piece” by Kelly Clarkson for her blind audition earlier this year – and, she earned a spot in the hearts of a lot of moms of LGBTQ kids when she shared that the vulnerability in her performance came from her parents disowning her after she came out to them.

Her parents freaked out when they discovered she had love letters from a girl when she was 17 years old, and as a result she tried to suppress her feelings for women to please her dad. However, when she started dating her first girlfriend at 18, Stephanie’s parents completely disowned her and she hasn’t been in contact with them since.

Moms in the group “Serendipitydodah for Moms” were deeply touched by Stephanie’s story and have been watching and voting for Stephanie as she continues to advance in the singing competition. They wanted to do something to let Stephanie know about their support so they decided to send the following letter to Stephanie to let her know they support her and accept her just the way she is!

Dear Stephanie,

We are members of a large private Facebook group called Serendipitydodah for Moms. The group was created for open minded Christian moms of LGBT kids who love and support their kids and want to develop and maintain healthy, authentic, loving relationships with their LGBT kids. We have more than 1,700 members in the group and many of us are working to bring attention to acceptance and equality, sometimes in personal relationships and sometimes publicly. 

We are writing to you because we want you to know that we were encouraged when you shared your story on The Voice. Of course we are sad and broken hearted to hear about the way your parents abandoned and rejected you, but we are so thankful that you are willing to share your story because we believe it is important for others to hear stories like your own. We also want to let you know we care about you and recognize the courage it took for you to share your story publicly. We are moms who understand because some of our own children have had to exhibit the same kind of courage when they finally determined to come out and begin living fully into the person they were created to be.

Although there is a lot of ignorance and hate out there, we want to encourage you. Every day there are more and more people who are supportive and affirming of LGBT people. The tide is turning and things are getting better. Laws are changing and many, many people do care about you and support you.

So, hang in there and never give up on your dream to live a full, happy, successful, good life. 

More than 500 of us are signing our names to this letter with much love, gratitude and encouragement sent your way. We think you are amazing! We love to hear you sing! Your voice is beautiful! You are beautiful – inside and out! We are rooting for you and wish you the best in all that you do!

Thank you for the way you are encouraging others.

We will continue to fight for you, pray for you and support you just as you are.

Love & light,
Liz Dyer, Founder & Owner

Abby De Fiesta Cortez 

Adele Berardi

Alecia Moss

Aletheia Wall Zambesi

Alise D Chaffins

Alison Defrese

Allena Brown

Amanda Corry Thorderson

Amanda Curtis Dwyer

Amanda Dalton

Amy D’Arpino

Amy Goad

Amy Hansley Bennett

Amy Rueter

Andrea Larson Schultz

Angela Maria Coble

Angie Laws

Angie Silver

Angie Stratz Ashmore

Anita Jewell Carter Cockrum

Ann McGee Green

Ann Zweckbronner

Annie Shelton

Arlene Schulz

Barb Cressy

Barbara Winkler

Beau Simcoe

Becky Abbott Kelley

Becky Cantrall

Beth Barndt Ruthenburg

Beth Breems

Beth McGill-Rizer

Beth Wiggins Baswell

Bethany Kirwen

Betsy Bruce Henning 

Billie Jo Marrs

Bonnie Miranda

Brenda Holloway Bratcher

Bridget Murphy

Brittney Jo

Candace Winters

Carie Poynor Downes

Carla Iturregui Picasso-Brown

Carla Michaelsen

Carla Short Spivey

Carlee Roche

Carol Mason

Carol Smith

Carole Bass

Caroline Williams Joyce

Carolyn Cage Johnston

Carolyn Walker

Carrie Black

Carrie Colladay Stell

Carrie Garske Shank

Caryle A Cox

Cassy Taylor Campos

Cathleen Frantzen Schaber

Cathy Ledbetter Lafever

Chasity Davis

Chelsa Nunn Morrison

Cheri Nill

Cheri Simpson

Cherie Walker

Cheryel Lemley McRoy

Cheryl B. Evans

Cheryl Bakkila-Perkins 

Chris Behne

Chris Clements

Christie Hoos

Christie Nader

Christina Aronovici

Christina Lehmann Bergevin

Christina Rosbury

Christine Foster Shaw

Christy Emigh

Cilla Thomas

Cindy Helzer Baldwin

Cindy Jo Conner

Cindy Morgan

Cindy Naas Nathan

Cindy Richard Broussard

Colleen Hepler Brassington

Colleen Kane

Connie Dupuis

Crista Mason

Crystal Baker

Crystal Squires

Crystal Wagner

Cyndi Silva Raugh

Cynthia Corsetti

Cynthia Gaye Rahm-Clark

Dana Baker

Dana Huntington-Smith

Danette Mohring

Dawn Bellotti

Dawn Bennett

Dawn Pulley Ervin

Deb Foreman Cyr

Deb Gallagher

Debbie KIng

Debbie McCullough Hayhurst

Debbie Rogers Greenan

Debbie Wasielewski Tavarez

Debbie Woods Coy

Debby McCrary

Debi Jackson

Debi Tucker Boland

Deborah Carlyle Enman

Debra Hill

Debra Honeywell Myott

Dee-Ann Bodenheimer-Enslin 

Deena Corwin Pfahler

Deleise Carper Brewer 

Denise Ramirez-Tatum

Denise Trainer Webb

Diana Dermit McCarthy

Diana Walla

Diane Simms

Dina Palmisano Wolstromer

Donna Campbell Thornbury

Donna Holmes

Donna Thompson Spencer

Donna Turner Hudson

Dorene Rose

Doris Wright

Dyanne Khalaf

Elaine Falk Parker

Elisa Stoneman

Elizabeth Frauenknecht

Elizabeth McConnel Sutton

Elizabeth Pierce

Ellen McCrory

Eva Sullivan-Knoff

Felicia Dodd

Frances Lavender

Gena Rogers

Genell Brown

Georgi Persons

Gerry Phifer

Gina Williamson

Glenda Crump

Glenda Moore

Glenda Purkis Boulton

Gloria Melton

Greta Medrano

Gretchen Doornek Mueller

Harriet Sutton

Heather Clevenger

Heather Gee-Thomas

Heather McCracken Bottoms

Heather Shamp Mitchell

Ineka Estabrook

Irene Gilliland

Jacque Wright

Jacqueline Rutledge

Jacqueline Steverson Brown

Jade Cutter

Jamie Hovland

Jamie Tessing Bruesehoff

Jammie Risley Hahn

Jan Pezant 

Jan Roberts

Jan Wightman

Jane Clementi

Jane Moody

Jane Quintanar

Janet Phillips

Janice Dunn White

Janie Romine

Janine Sarah Moore

Jaron Terry

Jayne Tucker

Jeannette Cona-Larock

Jeannie Babb

Jen K D-Lewis

Jenn Riedy

Jenna Robertson

Jennie Young-Walczyk

Jennifer Angulo

Jennifer Donovan Jasgur

Jennifer Dunnam Stringfellow

Jennifer Hancock

Jennifer Robinson

Jennifer Schaffner Burkhardt

Jennifer Seeger

Jennifer Stake White

Jennifer Sumner

Jennifer Tatum Downs

Jennifer Teeter

Jennifer Wilkins Pearson

Jenny Bishop Morgan

Jenny Williams Hines

Jerri Surles Collins

Jessica Fahlgren

Jill Blythe

Jill Johnstone

Jill Pote Yarbrough

Jillian Jones

Joani Lea Jack

JoAnn Forsberg

Joann Thompson

JoAnn Tyndall Larsen

Joanne Lee

Jody Miller Vanderzell

Joy Denton

Joy Millikan

Judie Brown Gordon

Judith Davis

Judith K Volkar

Judy Witzel Harper

Julia Lunardo

Julie Ackerson-Armstrong

Julie Bean Bisgaard

Julie Elliott O’Neal

Julie Greene

Julie Kennedy Eaton

Julie Lenox Haines

Julie Manning Waters

Julie Mendell Lumpkin

Julie Pruitt

June Test Castonguay

Karen Adams

Karen Decker Kusserow 

Karen Sullivan

Karin Paulus

Karin Triola

Katherine Brown Leidy

Kathi Nicholson

Kathie Hegert

Kathie Moehlig

Kathrine M Kraft

Kathryn Zentner

Kathy Anderson Giannuzzi

Kathy Ann

Kathy Davenport Isakson

Kathy Ewing-Finley

Kathy Goodwin-Banko

Kathy Green

Kathy Nickles Baker

Kathy Reim

Kathy Renne Post

Kathy White

KathyMae VanLacken Hoepner

Katie Jenifer

Katie Krone Connell

Katie Miterko

Katie Willhite Brooks

Katrina Black

Kay Holladay

Kay Kelley

Kay Otting

Kay Whistler

Kelli Henry Alamond

Kelli Lewis Decker

Kellie Taylor-Lafevor

Kelly Beane

Kelly Cantwell

Kelly Dembiczak

Kelly Jamie Koffler

Kelly M Hunsaker

Kelly McKinsey

Kelly Rae Holiday

Keri Lynn Riley

Kim Belcher Messick

Kim Freeman Weill

Kim Huddleston McMahon

Kim Kendall

Kim Lue

Kim McMahon

Kim Sonntag

Kim Stone Haltiwanger

Kimberly Jones

Kimberly Shappley

Kimberlyn Graham

Kirsten Shaw

Kris Gromm

Krista Burdine

Kristen Capp

Kristi Chenoweth Dubois

Kristi Kodos

Krisztina Inskeep

Kyle Jump

Lannette Sargent

Laura Beth Taylor 

Laura Sparks Turner

Layla Raquel Lesley

LeAnn Fenner

Leba Shallenberger

Lee Ann Howdershell

Lenora Lea Gill

Lesa Edwards-Schepers 

Lesley Davis

Lesley Williams

Leslie Jones Webster

Linda Baker

Linda Hedrick Cox

Linda Ling

Linda Rooney

Linda Slater Tow

Linda Wiebe Dickinson

Linda York O’Connell

Lisa Bray

Lisa Burgess Berry

Lisa Cousins

Lisa Giordano Bontemps

Lisa Golden Dugger

Lisa MacGregor

Lisa Maniscalco Hildebrand

Lisa McCrystal Holley

Lisa Nickerson

Lisa Rhea

Lisa Schramm

Lisa Scott Wofford

Lisa Wetmore Shinn

Liz Dyer

Loretta Davila

Lori Black Manning

Lori Bradley-Lewis

Lori Chavers Blankenship

Lori Love-Wise

Lori McCoy Simmons

Lori Rogers

LuAnn Shaffer Welham

Lyndah Kolkmann

Lynette Joy

Lynn Kato

Lynne Steele Ford

Madai Girard

Maleea Shaver Castillo

Mally Shell Hatch

Marci Cobb Cox

Marcie Castiglione

Margi Wilmans 

Margie Candler

Maria Breeden

Maria Mongelli Glanzmann

Marianne Minier Walker

Marilynn Bourne Fowler

Marjorie Rudolph

Marlene Hoefer Brummond

Marlene Lund

Marsha Ladd

Martha Maust

Martha Parshall Richards

Marti Parsons Grahl

Mary Carter Knisley

Mary Estelle Montgomery

Mary Jo Whitley

Mary Kay Weil

MaryRuth Green Gossett

Meg Shull Bierwirth

Melea Broekers

Melina Madolora Wikoff

Melissa Ballard

Melissa Brady Silva

Melissa Morritt Coble

Melissa Nicholson Smallwood

Melissa Sosenko DeStefano

Melissa Talarico

Melody Dolle

Meredith Webster Indermaur

Merryl Dietz

Micah Hoshi

Michele Engle

Michele Manuel Fuselier

Michele Wessel Tarnow

Michelle Bradshaw McComb

Michelle Zulch

Millie Donnell

Miriam Pendley

Monica Ausderau Larmon

Monica Maday

Monica-Niki Elenbaas

Morven Roberts Baker

Nancy Adams Smith

Nancy Barron Booher

Nancy Dryer Deeb

Nancy Johnson Campbell

Nancy MacDonald

Nancy Ruh

Nancy Thompson Flikkema

Nancy Villegas

Nancy Wance

Nancy Williams Eakin

Nanette Sanderson Sparrow

Nicole Garrison Park

Nicole Havlen Hair

Noreen Sharp Wendeln

Ofelia Dafne’ Barba Navarro

Olivia Santos

Paige Gant

Paige Stover

Pam Ensinger Antos

Pam Swendig

Pam Walsh

Patricia Detzel

Patricia Sjöberg

Patti Atwood Grossman

Patti Detzel

Patti Mercer Churner

Patti Stone

Patti Stratton

Patty Dave-Meriwether

Patty Yamsek

Paula Unrau

Pauline Carlson

Pauline Daly

Penny Watne

Phyllis Barber

Rachel Drouillard

Rachel Fields

Rachel Keyte

Rachel Sargent

Rachel Whitehall

Rebecca Fako Uecker

Rebecca Hedges Lyon

Rebecca Sayre

Regina Pitts Woods

Renae Erickson

Renae Shaffer-Stone

Renay Boyes

Renee K Williams Erwin

Renee Utley Bennink

Rev. Mally Baum

Rhonda Eubanks

Rhonda Hartzell

Rhonda Morrison

Rita Daruvala

Rob Ullinger

Robin Gowan

Robin Protsman

Robinette Nacca-Cooke

Robyn S Haag

Ronda Zylstra

Ʀosaııie Ĺane

Rose Stucchio

Roseanne M. Shannon

Rosemarie Varrichio Campbell

Rossana Neglia McLaughlin

Roxanna Villars Gambrell

S Anderson

Sandra Cathers

Sandra Miller Lenard

Sandra Van Dyne

Sandra Vincent Richard

Sandy Collins

Sandy McClure

Sara Cunningham

Sara Hoel May

Sara Lunde Larson

Sarah Langley

Sarah Mills Holbrook

Sarah Thacker-Estell 

Shannon Eaton

Shawna Dicintio

Shay Bisbee Haude

Shelley McBride

Sheri Martin 

Sherilynn Hickenbottom

Sherri Jackson Simancas

Sherrl McFerrin Townsend

Shirley Carley

Sondy Eklund

Spring Davidson

Stacey Frazier

Stacey Jackson Baeumler

Stacy Gouge Drake

Stephanie Anderson

Sue Howard

Sue Tresatti

Susan Berland

Susan Cloys Seaman

Susan Cottrell

Susan Foss Naranjo-Stultz

Susan Hammontree Fortney

Susan Jewell

Susan Ledbetter

Susan Merritt Slattery

Susan Metcalf

Susan Ridley Griffin

Susan Wardzinski

Susy Rowe Barnhill

Suzanne Lambert Mann

Tamara Darbin

Tamara Totoro Dick

Tammi Perkins

Tammie Jarnagan

Tammy Flowers Mejdrich

Tammy Watson

Tammy Wenzinger

Tamra Jennings

Tana Lightbown Hendricks

Tanya Hutchinson

Tari Card

Tenley Dyck

Teresa Medlin Poston

Teresa Parker

Teri Henderson

Teri Stueland Kay

Terri Cook

Terri Gervasi

Terri Nolt

Terri Schempf

Terri White

Terry Hall Sanchez

Terry Moran

Theresa Cooper

Theresa Moore Martinez

Theresa Tasker

Tiffany Powell

Tina Tocheri Thomas

Tonda Campbell Hoyt 

Toni Ann Bradley

Tracey Gombold Bell

Tracie Sells

Tracy Jepson

Tracy Trotter Nagy

Tricia Kaufman-Waddell 

Tricia Willard 

Valencia Greene Foster

Valerie Amoling Cronin

Vanessa Ford

Vanessa Horton-Hendershot

Vanessa Melchiori

Vicki Kemp Whorton

Vicki Luna

Vicki March Belsterling

Vicki Westphal

Vicky Barnes

Vlada Knowlton

Wendy S. Dillehay

Wendy Wiley Canedy

Whitney Straub

Yvette Griego

Zenia Robertson

Zora Oh


Serendipitydodah for Moms is a private Facebook group created in June 2014 as an extension of the Serendipitydodah blog. The group presently has more than 1,700 members and was especially created  for Christian moms of LGBTQ kids who want to develop and maintain healthy, authentic, loving relationships with their LGBTQ kids. Our official motto is “We Are Better Together” and our nickname is “Mama Bears” The group is secret so that only members can find it or see what is posted in the group.  For more info email lizdyer55@gmail.com

Mama Bear Story Project #11 – Jeannie Moran Androsoff

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The Mama Bear Story Project is a collection of portraits and autobiographical essays from members of Serendipitydodah for Moms – a private Facebook group for open minded Christian moms of LGBTQ kids.

Jeannie1

I’m especially happy to share this Mama Bear Story with you. Jeannie was one of the original Mama Bears and she was dearly loved by all of us who knew her. She was always a great encouragement to us – always offering a loving and kind word – always seeing the best in everyone and cheering them on to pursue their dreams – always reminding people how much God loved them. Our hearts were broken when Jeannie’s life was cut short a few years ago. But the legacy of love and light that she created lives on in the communities she helped create and in the hearts and lives of those she touched with her radical love and inclusion. I am filled with gratitude that Jeannie’s son, Matt Moran, has given me permission to share her story here and for the beautiful closing message he wrote. Jeannie was an amazing person and a passionate mama bear. Matt is also an amazing person and his mother’s fingerprints are all over his life. 

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Jeannie’s story:

Had anyone told me twenty years ago that I would be sharing my story as the mom of a gay son, my response “… And you are crazy” would have been an understatement.  My son would not, could not, be gay.  You see, I raised him as a Christian.  We attended church every Sunday morning, and on a good week, we were there on Wednesday and Sunday nights as well.  Matt attended a Christian school.  He accepted Christ at the tender age of six, and still remembers the moment that he looked out the window of his bedroom one day, “knowing that Jesus was real” and asking Him into his heart.  I was a single mom, and while I wasn’t perfect, I was a good mom, living a Christ-honoring life to the best of my ability, and teaching my son to do the same.  But more importantly, I prayed for Matt consistently from the day he was born.  My favorite verse to “claim” was that God was a Father to the fatherless.  He had answered many prayers and had shown Himself faithful to us in hundreds of ways throughout the years – so could my son be gay?  Absolutely not!

I will never forget the night Matt told me “Mom, I’m gay.” He was 24 years old at the time, had been out of college for two years, and was home from Nashville for a visit.  I recall the shock and disbelief as I heard the words, yet almost simultaneously, my mind rebounded with the thought that “this is just a bump in the road and we will get through it.”  I immediately attributed his struggle to the fact that he had been raised without his dad, and I figured “God has brought us through everything else; He’ll bring us through this.”  I assured Matt of my love for him, and that I knew we’d get through this like we had everything else – together.

After Matt went to bed that night, I went into the bathroom, crawled into the fetal position on the floor, and laid there for hours, as I cried out to God from a place so deep in my soul that I seriously wondered if one could die from emotional pain.   “THIS could not be happening.  God, I did my best.  I raised my son to know and honor You, I instructed him ‘in the way he should go.’  I gave my all to be the best mom I knew how to be and Matt was a good kid.  But more importantly, I trusted in YOU, God, and Your promises. NO, NO, NO!!!”

The months following Matt’s revelation to me were difficult for us.  We had always been close, sharing our faith, our joys and struggles, and simply being good friends who laughed together as we enjoyed what was for both of us a great mom/son relationship.  Matt had moved to Nashville after college and I quickly grew to love the city and his friends when I visited there, but now, for the first time, I felt unwelcome.

Matt eventually shared with me that he had realized at the age of 22 that he was gay (two years prior to telling me.) He said that he sought counseling as soon as he arrived in Nashville, and he told me that one of the first things he said to his counselor was “My mom will never know about this.”  He knew how I felt about the issue of homosexuality, that it was a sinful lifestyle choice and one that no good Christian would make.  As I struggled to accept the fact that my son was gay, praying earnestly for God to change him, the divide between us grew.  What had previously been a comfortable relationship was now strained and awkward.  It broke my heart to call and get his voicemail, rather than hear the friendly “Hey, Mom.”  I knew he didn’t want to talk with me.  As I made attempts to talk with him and try to understand his “struggle”

Matt eventually told me “Mom, you need to find your own support system.  I can’t help you with this and I need my space.”  I know now that my very presence induced shame as he felt my disappointment in what I thought were his “choices.”

Suffice it to say, I did the work.  I sought counseling. I went to conferences.  I read every book I could find, and most of all, I prayed, and I prayed, …and I prayed some more.

I cried nearly every day for eight years, pleading with God to change my son.

God answered my prayer… just not in the way that I expected.  Instead of changing my son, he changed me.

Years later I’m at a much different place than I was that first night. While much of my journey has been lonely and challenging, I’d go through it all again to arrive where I’m at today and to know the amazing people that I have met along the way.

C.S. Lewis said “I have no answers anymore.  Only the life I’ve lived.”

I hope by sharing a bit of the life I’ve lived I can encourage other parents like me.

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A message from Matt:

A week before my mom passed away from cancer, she underwent a series of strokes that left her rather confused and incoherent.  But as my family stood around her hospital bed watching her sleep, she awakened suddenly, her eyes wide and sparkling, and she said, “You guys!!  You guys!  Every heart…is a masterpiece!”

Even today, I can’t help but believe that, in that moment, Mom was somehow standing between this world and the next, and seeing with eyes that were clearer than most of us could ever hope to have.

I have been overwhelmed by the number of emails, cards and letters I have received from other “mama bears” (my mom used to say, in reference to me, “Hon…you are my heart walking around outside of my body.”) sharing with me the impact that she made on their lives.  And I know that I know that nothing…absolutely nothing…would make her happier than to know that her story and message of unbridled love and acceptance are being passed along to those who need to hear it most.

You all are making a difference in the lives of gay folks and their families that is changing the course of history, and I am so incredibly thankful for the work you are doing.  In the words of my mom, you are truly “melting hearts and changing minds,” and, in my heart of hearts, I am confident that she is cheering you on (and even pulling a few strings.) to the finish line.

From the bottom of my heart – thank you.

Yours truly,

Matt Moran

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In addition to being an amazing Corporate Coach/Trainer/Consultant, Matt is also a very talented musician. He released a CD last year called Awakening. I love it and highly recommend it. I recommend buying the actual CD as it includes a booklet with some special words from Matt. There are some especially meaningful songs on the CD including”The Story of Us” which is a song that Matt sang for his mother in her final days and “Hallalujah Chorus” which he dedicated to the Mama Bears last year on the day that would have been Jeannie’s 66th birthday. You can go here to see and listen to the music video of Hallalujah Chorus.

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Serendipitydodah for Moms is a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids. Our official motto is “We Are Better Together” and our nickname is “Mama Bears” The group is secret so that only members can find it or see what is posted in the group. It was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 1,600 members. For more info email lizdyer55@gmail.com

A PIECE OF MY HEART – Messages from Moms of LGBTQ Kids

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Serendipitydodah for Moms is a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids. The group was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 1,700 members. Each day moms of LGBTQ kids gather virtually to share a journey that is unique and often very difficult. The group is a place where they share a lot of information, ask questions, support one another, learn a lot and brag on their kids. (Email lizdyer55@gmail.com for more info about the group.)

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Members of the private Facebook group “Serendipitydodah for Moms” were asked to share a piece of their heart with you by answering one simple question: “What do you want others to know about you, your kids, and your family?”

Here are their responses:

Don’t say, “I understand and support you all” and then disappear from our lives. Please don’t say we’re brave. Brave is dealing with a serious medical diagnosis. We are not brave, we are just being normal, loving parents who support our child. – Cathy Hoff from Ballston Spa, NY

We’re worthy. We matter. We’re valuable. We’re doing our best just like everyone else. We celebrate the wins and support each other through the losses. God does not see us as less redeemable than anyone else. See us. We’re no different. – Whitney Treloar from Naples, FL

That my child is exactly who God lovingly and perfectly made him to be. – Tammie Jarnagan from West Fork, Arkansas

Love is Love is Love. My daughter is the same relation to you now as when she was known as my son. She is your sister’s child, your daughter’s child, your neighbor’s child. Love me, love my Child, as Christ does. Love one Another.  – Cilla Thomas from Lincolnville, Maine

Our love is so true to each other. We have stood by each other, even as you stepped away. If you could have only stayed to share with us. Love knows no barriers. God has stood by us and we are so blessed. – Lori Chavers Blankenship from Gilroy, CA

Having a son who is gay has helped me become a better Christian and taught me to live and love better. I never had to choose between my Christian faith and my son. My faith helped me realize that condemning same sex relationships is wrong and unjust. – Liz Dyer from Fort Worth, TX

Our family is just a regular family, and we want the same for our child as you do for yours. – Jennifer Robinson from Portage, Michigan

I thought I knew what it meant to be a Christian. After all, we were a Southern Baptist minister’s family. I’ve always taught my kids to love God and love people. But I’ve learned more about the love of Christ from my gay son than I could have ever taught him. I’m a better person because of him. We no longer call ourselves Baptists, and we stay away from organized church. I will never subject our family to that kind of hurt again. We’re just Jesus followers and it feels good! – Jackie McQueen from Tuscaloosa, AL

My kid would be a regular, well adjusted, normal, everyday kid with everyday goals and concerns. If the world would just let them. – Lannette Sargent from Seattle, WA

My son was pretending to be a girl for 18 years. Now he can live as his authentic self. He’s never been happier. Our love stayed the same! – Danielle Castellini Giannascoli from Buena, NJ

Simply put, we love our kids and will stick by them. Just because one is gay and another is transgender is no reason to condemn us. We love fully and fiercely, just like God loves us! – Renae Shaffer-Stone from College Place, WA

The world is a better place because my child is in it. – Mary Jo Whitley from Winston-Salem, NC

I have been given the greatest gift by having a gay child. I have learned to love more completely and freely. The greatest heartache has not been with my child, but with others and how their beliefs have impacted my child. – Tana Lightbown Hendricks from Vancouver, BC

That my child is my most precious gift and to throw her away would have been the greatest sin. She is an amazing person. – Adele Berardi from Bayville, NJ

My daughter has a GREAT relationship with her father. Our family is intact. We raised both our kids in the faith. My faith journey towards affirmation started LONG before my daughter came out and when she did, I already kinda knew and my heart was well prepared. – Nicole Garrison Park from Lewisville, TX

I would like others to know that we are happy living our authentic lives and that they are loved. – Linda Ling from San Marcos, TX

We are the same people you knew BEFORE my daughter came out. – Shirley Carley from Midlothian, VA

Our family’s love does not come with buts, if onlys, asterisks, strings attached or conditions. We live for love, we live for each other.  – Tammy Flowers Mejdrich from Charleston, IL

To my ex pastor: You baptized my child in a freezing cold river at family camp when she was a child. She went to YOU and without my knowledge and asked you to baptize her. How you could turn your back on my child because she is gay is unconscionable. That is why I no longer attend the church I had been a member of for over 2 decades. Our family loves the Lord but will love Him in a place where people actually “love like Jesus”. – Nancy Villegas from Dinuba, CA

We have & will always love our daughter unconditionally. Those that matter support her; those that don’t support her don’t matter. Love people, love God. Namaste. – Katie Krone Connell from Arlington, TX

She is not depraved, sick or sinful for being gay and I am not “in bondage” for loving and supporting her just the way God created her. – Elizabeth Frauenknecht from Dayton, Ohio

We all travel roads that take different paths, but all strive to end up at the same location eventually and that would be healthy and happy. If we just cared enough to help each other reach our destination without judging who we bring along, we would have an amazing journey. My immediate family represents unconditional love on each path we take.  – Marcie Loeffler Castiglione from Burleson, TX

I am a mom! It took a while for me to wake up and affirm my girl, but praise the Lord I’ve awaken! I won’t be stopped. I love my girl and so does the Lord! – Sherry Pyles from Middlebury, CT

The silence and the avoidance of the “the subject” of my gay child is just as painful as hateful words that my beliefs offend you. You can’t tolerate one of my children and support the others and call it all unconditional love. – Kristen Capp from Monroeville, PA

Our family is about unconditional love. We work at being fully present in the life we have now, appreciating and respecting it as the gift that it is. We do not try to force our views onto one another but rather appreciate that our greatest lessons may come from those that are different than us. – Cheryl B. Evans from Ontario, Canada

This adventure has taught me more about how God truly wants us to love others than 50 years sitting in a church ever did. I have been stretched in ways I never thought possible, but the end result has caused me to love my child even more than before. – Deniece Williams from Canton, IL

Just love people, who they are and where they are, and let God figure out the rest. It’s not our responsibility to have all the answers. – Dena Heinen Edwards from Edmond, OK

I used to sing “Jesus loves you this I know, for the Bible tells me so. He loves me and he loves you, he loves pink and long hair too” to Grace. She always knew who God made her to be, we just had to catch up. – Ann Vinson Zweckbronner from Mechanicsville, VA

I am so proud of the wonderful people my children have become despite the unkind and harmful things they had to endure from uneducated and misinformed people. – Rose Stucchio from Massapequa, NY

My kid is the same kid they always were before they came out, Now I know one more little piece of information about them. Nothing scary, nothing much, just another revelation as they grow into the person they were meant to be. – Jennifer Stake White from Cleveland, TN

From the moment we stopped fighting our child’s authentic identity as a girl, our lives became simultaneously easier and harder. Easier because she was immediately happier being able to dress as a girl, present as a girl in public, grow her hair out, and just be herself. Harder because her dad and I became immediately aware of the increased danger to her from people who oppose trans people, which included some friends and church family.  – Katie Jenifer from Fayetteville, NC

My gay son makes me the luckiest mom on earth!! – Genell Brown from Shelton, WA

My family is happy, now. We laugh and smile and grow, now. Please stop negating the hard fought battles that brought us to this point because you disagree with our outcome. Instead ask us about the journey, you might find it wasn’t what you think.- Rachel Drouillard from Kettering, OH

I want others to know I don’t need you to pray for my daughter to be changed. I have raised amazing human beings. Don’t feel sorry for me because one happens to be gay. We are in a good place in our home, our hearts, and our walk with the Lord. – Brandy Doty from Nolanville, TX

I was shaken to my soul when my son came out. I would not have chosen for one of my kids to be gay but now I honestly count having a gay son as a gift from God. God did miraculous surgery on my heart. – Donna Thompson Spencer from Coral Springs, FL

If you say you’re “supportive” and you keep voting to put people in power who want to take rights and protections away from my son, then you are not supportive. Civil rights are not social issues. They are rights. The fact that you don’t openly disapprove of my child isn’t support. That is called tolerance. – Molly Wills Carnes from Houston, TX

I feel fortunate we raised our kids in a fully affirming church. That may have made it easier for my son to come out, although he was still afraid to tell us. We love him unconditionally, and his straight sister, too. Sending you all big Mom Hugs! – Nancy Booher from La Mirada, CA

My gay son has made me a better person, kinder, less judgmental. I love him with all my heart. He is a gift from God. My greatest fear is worrying that someone would judge him, reject and even physically hurt him just because God made him Gay. – Teresa Medlin Poston from Marion, SC

I’m not saying this on behalf of my transgender child because on GOD, she will never go a day without knowing how important and loved she is! I’m asking this for all the others who have been ostracized, ridiculed and told they are not right in the eyes of God to please look into one another’s soul and show kindness and compassion regardless of what’s between someone’s legs and this world will be a much safer, happier place. – Lizz Rosãs from Albuquerque, New Mexico

The best part of having a gay son, is the privilege I have had, meeting and becoming friends with his gay and lesbian friends. They are some of the most loving, creative, compassionate and caring people on the planet. My life has been enriched because of them. – Kay Bradford from Goodyear, AZ

As I told a legislative staffer on the phone today – our family is just like any other family. We work, we volunteer, we go to church, we take vacations, we have pets, hobbies, friends, hopes, dreams. We have good days and bad days, weird family inside jokes and made up words still in our vocabulary from when our kids were learning to talk. We are the same as most families. We want to live our lives freely and go about our business in peace. The only difference is that one of us is gay and a certain faction of society wants to throw up roadblocks at every turn while others may want to inflict physical harm. Normal things have become a fight. This has made me a fierce force for love, justice and equality. – Michelle Bradshaw McComb from Buda, TX

From the moment my son came out, my world changed so much for the better! He opened my eyes to REAL UNCONDITIONAL LOVE! – Angie Laws from Hickory, NC

I want you to know that I love my child completely just the way that God made her. She is the same sweet girl that you have known since childhood. She happens to have a wife instead of a husband. I want you to know that we can talk about it even if we disagree because the silence is killing me. I want you to know that I understand why you think the way you do. I used to think that way too. I beg you to just try to begin to think about it differently. Read some books on this subject. Hear our stories. I’ve put myself in your shoes, please put yourself in mine. – Robinette Nacca-Cooke from Las Vegas, NV

What I want others to know about our family is that we love deeply, passionately and unconditionally. We as parents feel blessed to have a gay child because it has changed us for the better. Our eyes and hearts have been opened to a depth of love that we never completely understood before. Don’t judge what you don’t understand. – Sandy Van Dyne from Palmdale, CA

I don’t understand all my gay sons’ choices, but I do know they did not choose to be gay. God chose them and us to receive this life – with love & joy, or not. We choose love. We choose joy. Join us or not – your gain or loss. – Patty Meriwether from Fort Wayne, Indiana

I guess I want you to know that our house functions just like any other. My daughter identifies as lesbian. She is also a beautiful ballerina, talented artist, and giggles until three in the morning when she has her friends over. Most of our struggles are not because of her sexuality, but because she is a willful seventeen year old that knows who she is. My husband and I are both pastors in a progressive denomination. – Monica L. Banks from Winston-Salem, NC

I have 3 sons and their sexuality is just a sliver of who they are….I have a horticulturist, an artist, and a public servant in a large metropolitan city. Until/unless you have skin in the game, we have nothing to discuss!!! – Gerry Phifer from Jacksonville, TX

We’re just a normal family living our lives, loving who we love. Nothing much to see here. My teen daughter’s girlfriend had a birthday yesterday. We bought a stuffed animal & candy. We delivered the gifts. The girls hugged in the driveway. No big deal, no “gay agenda”. – Amy Hansley Bennett from McKinney, TX

Being a mom is awesome! I love all of my children, when our son came out we didn’t have all the answers, but he is my son and I unconditionally love him! I am 100% affirming, did we know everything, heck no! But I know love is love…what else matters? – Danette Mohring from Orangevale, CA

My son is a gifted writer and painter. His faith is inspirational and his ability to make people laugh brightens up even the darkest days. This world is a better place because he exists. Oh, and he’s transgender, which is just a facet of his amazingness. – Sherilyn Hickenbottom from Elk Grove, CA

I have two amazing sons, one straight and one gay. And I know that God created each of them to be exactly the person they have become. I believe the best gift any parent can give their child is to love them! I celebrate my kids! – Jamie Hovland from Quartz Hill, CA

After years of infertility, we were blessed with two little miracles! They are awesome adults: a straight daughter and a gay son, spiritual beings in human bodies, created by a loving God. We love and celebrate them and continue to love ALL of God’s children, letting Him do the judging. – Dyanne Khalaf from Tustin, CA

I am closer to God, my child, my family now than ever before in my life. My faith is deeper and richer. I fully love, accept and affirm my LGBTQ children BECAUSE of my faith, not in spite of it. – Susan Cottrell from Austin, TX

My daughters are the joy of my life. I always believe that we love unconditionally in our family and in the world. All life is a gift. – Kathy Lutz Hayes from Cincinnati, OH

I am the blessed mom of a transgender teenager and a cisgender teenager. Both were given to me as a precious gift from my Lord and Savior. I will do whatever I need to do to protect, love and support them with the abilities God gave me!! – Melissa Sosenko DeStefano from Gilbertsville, PA

Before I was a judgmental, white, conservative, holier than thou, Republican, fundamentalist, Christian. I had to take a really hard look at myself and when I did I found myself lacking. I’ve deconstructed everything I once believed was truth and am slowly putting it all back together. I think I am going to like the new me when this process is complete and I have my wonderful son, who happens to be gay, to thank for helping me see how wrong I was about so many things. – Laurie Newell Rhodes from Bryan, TX

I am the Mom of two, a straight son and a gay daughter. Both of them are gifts from God, Who made them who they are – straight or gay, talented, smart, and loving. Sexual orientation is no more a choice than eye color, or height, or anything else one is born with. I wish society as a whole would stop treating the LGBTQ community as less than equal. Love is love! – Michele Wessel Tarnow from Valparaiso, IN

My children are not their sexual orientations. My children are bright, caring, amazing humans that I have been blessed with. Love them for their personalities, their hopes and dreams, and how hard they love their family and friends. – Carrie Black from Oklahoma City, OK

I am so grateful that God created my son gay: He is smart, funny, talented, openhearted and deeply loyal to his friends. He – along with others in the LGBTQ community – deserves the same protections, privileges and basic human dignity as anyone. My purpose is to love him unconditionally, and to stand up and speak up for his rights. I’ll always have his back! – Jaron Terry from Hillard, OH

Our son was born 11 months after I was diagnosed with melanoma and 7 1/2 months after we were told I was all clear. He is the perfect gift, born on Christmas morning. God gave us a warm, loving, happy, compassionate, caring son who was just what we needed after a very scary year. God always knows what is best for us and our gay son is a true blessing. – Tricia Willard from San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico

For years we tried to be the “perfect” conservative, evangelical Christian family. We completely towed the party line, and that harmed all of us. The church became irrelevant to us as we went through some very dark times, and once we left we realized how wrong its teachings were–so opposite of light and life. Now we have exited, our gay son has a partner, and we have never experienced so much freedom and love. My message is that God made us in his image, and that means good and intelligent, crowned with glory and honor. Use that intelligence to live in the truth of who you are and not as an institution says you should! – Laura Sparks Turner from Reno, NV

When I found out my son was gay, I fasted & prayed for a year for him to change. The result was that God used that year to change me, not him. He didn’t need to change, he’s perfect just the way he is. God popped that nice, safe ‘Evangelical Bubble’ I was in so I could see the truth. I now look at people through the lens of love like Jesus did rather than the lens of fear that the church does. I am so thankful that I have a wonderful, sweet, funny, talented gay son. I love him with my whole heart and wouldn’t want him to change for the world. – Kim Kendall from Ferndale, WA

My daughter was born into a Southern Baptist family. Members of my family had donated land for churches, built church additions, regularly tithed, and were called to the ministry at young ages. I, too, had felt the call to ministry, but in the S.B. Faith, women are not allowed. I transferred to the Presbyterian church, and met my daughter’s father because he played on the church basketball team and worked at the same place I did. Our child was born after we had been married 3 years. A perfect girl! But later we found she has Rett Syndrome, a spectrum of disabilities. After high school, she came out as a lesbian. I always knew she was gay. She loves God, grew up in the church, and still loves everyone there. But she is not comfortable with their judgmental attitudes and comments. We stay home on Sundays because of that. We went from being very active (Elder, Choir Director, Treasurer, Confirmation teacher, etc.) to no involvement at all. Here is the kicker. No one knows she is gay. She cannot speak because of her disability. We do not out her to people she feels uncomfortable with because of her vulnerability. What she cannot handle is the jokes and comments about other LGBT people. – Susan Cloys Seaman from Whitefish, MT

What I want others to know about me and my family is that we love our son for who God has made him to be. We will not try and change him because that would be trying to change God. – Kelly McKinsey from Bakersfield, CA

I had concern when my child was 3. He was a delight and brought us so much joy. The number one thing I knew to do was to protect him from church beliefs. Whenever I hear, “We love your child but…” I want to walk away and I know that person is not safe. God has given us a heart of love and released us from fear. – Debby Laird McCrary from Orlando, FL

When our son first came out at age 19 we felt very much alone at our church and unsure where to turn for advice. We pretty quickly grasped that his being gay was not a “choice” and not a sin, despite what we had always been told. We found support online, through the Gay Christian Network, Reformation Project and later Freed Hearts. Five years later he’s happy and successful and we have a great relationship. – Kim Stone Haltiwanger from Athens, GA

What I want others to know about me, my kids, and my family is that our mutual love and trust are unshakable. We encourage each other to be the best, most authentic versions of ourselves, because that is why we exist. We are who God made us to be, which means we honor the truest and best in everyone we meet. These are our primary values, and for me these are Christian values. They coincide nicely with the best in all of the other major religions as well, which is how I know we’ve got this much right in our lives. Everyone deserves a place at the table of human fellowship. – Janine Sarah Moore from Freehold, NJ

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Serendipitydodah for Moms is a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids. Our official motto is “We Are Better Together” and our nickname is “Mama Bears” The group is secret so that only members can find it or see what is posted in the group. It was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 1,700 members. For more info email lizdyer55@gmail.com

Mama Bear Story Project #10 – Sara Cunningham

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The Mama Bear Story Project is a collection of portraits and autobiographical essays from members of Serendipitydodah for Moms – a private Facebook group for open minded Christian moms of LGBTQ kids.

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I’ve heard it said “when a gay child comes out of the closet, the parents go into theirs.” It’s true. I spent five years in “that closet” tending to my heart that was willing to fully embrace my son while wrestling with my faith and the spiritual implications that condemned him.

My name is Sara Cunningham and my son Parker is gay. He officially came out to me when I was in the middle of a personal split from a church I called home for 20 years and at the same time the world’s attention was on the Gay/Human Rights conflict between the Church and State.

I now know what it feels like to be walking in the wilderness in the form of alienation from church and society and searching for the Promised Land in the form of hope and acceptance.

It took me five years to go on a twenty block journey that started at the church located at NW 16th and Villa and ended at the Pride Parade at NW 39th and Penn. I was longing for the Lord’s favor and found that it never left me or my son. It was at Oklahoma City Pride parade that I stood alongside my husband in support of our gay son that inspired the writings of the last chapter in my book “How We Sleep at Night – A mother’s memoir”.

Some pivotal moments in coming to terms with accepting my gay child included:

 1. Seeing others accept my son when I couldn’t or wouldn’t.

2.  Hearing my son say the words “I’ve sucked it up for 21 years being your son and now I need you to suck it up and be my mom.”

3.  Realizing that no one has searched the Scriptures, the heart of God or themselves more than the LGBTQ Christian or their mother.

Today I am not only the proud, loving Mom of an LGBTQ child, I hope to be a powerful advocate and ally.

I offer “Free Mom Hugs” at Pride parades and am committed to putting a face on the Transgender community, one that I consider to be precious and most misunderstood.

At the moment I’m working with some other Mama Bears to organize a Free Mom Hugs Tour that will start in Oklahoma City and, if all goes as planned, will end at the famous Stonewall Inn in New York City on Mother’s day.

(Go here for more info on the Free Mom Hugs Tour)

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Serendipitydodah for Moms is a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids. Our official motto is “We Are Better Together” and our nickname is “Mama Bears” The group is secret so that only members can find it or see what is posted in the group. It was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 1,600 members. For more info email lizdyer55@gmail.com

Mama Bear Story Project #9 – Candace Winters

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The Mama Bear Story Project is a collection of portraits and autobiographical essays from members of Serendipitydodah for Moms – a private Facebook group for open minded Christian moms of LGBTQ kids.

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I was raised in the heart of the Bible belt, the buckle, if you will, in Middle TN. I am the oldest of 8 kids and have been in a mother role all my life. I had parents that were more interested in getting high than raising a family. The church was a constant in my life until it turned on me when I left an abusive marriage in my early 30s, with two young children. I was raised thinking that the church, Gods family, would be there for you no matter what. The hole that left in my heart, life and spiritual walk is still there, though not as gaping as it once was.

Co-parenting with an abusive ex has its own challenges but as my youngest grew, she shared with me that she liked girls in a way girls are supposed to like boys. I told her that sometimes we like some people more than others. She seemed content with that answer and dropped to my knees that night before bed pleading with God to remove these feelings from my child. That life, those people were treated so horribly, why would He allow that to be added onto the difficult experience of being human?

The first time I ever heard of anyone being gay, was at the height of the AIDS epidemic. The “Christians” were claiming it was Gods punishment for being homosexual. I remember thinking no one would choose that life on purpose. People, humans, only want love and acceptance. I continued to pray through the years over my youngest, for my youngest, pleading for this to change in her heart. She never really brought it up again, but the thoughts that plagued her little mind were “why can’t I stand to pee like boys” “why do I have to dress like a girl” “why did I have to be a girl, I hate being a girl” “why don’t I have a beard to think with” that one still makes me laugh….  All these thoughts bring me right back to my childhood of neglect and trauma and the promise I made to my future children, that I would always listen to them, no matter what!

My wonderful, amazing daughter came to me her freshman year of high school, the day before her 15th birthday and told me she was gay. She followed with she couldn’t get anyone pregnant, if I was looking for an upside. I wasn’t at all surprised by this news. I hugged her tight and said I love you, thank you for trusting me enough to tell me.

As she navigated her first relationship that also happened to be a lesbian one, I also began to figure out that she was transgender. The pieces just all fell into place in my mind, as we planned for her first military ball and I agreed to let her wear her first tux. I really didn’t want to relive the nightmare of my first son’s wedding and how sad she was in that dress. Her walk resembled Whoopie Goldberg in Ghost when she walking down the street. My heart breaks a bit as I remember all the damage I had caused by making her wear dresses, etc on special occasions. I was hoping one day the “girlyness” would stick.

As I helped my daughter dress in traditionally male attire to escort her girlfriend to the military ball, I noticed her eyes starting to shine, finally. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t figured it out before now. As they posed for pictures, I had never seen my child happier as the day we had a “Footloose” kinda day.

I’m so glad I started to listen, just like I had promised so long ago

 

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Serendipitydodah for Moms is a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids. Our official motto is “We Are Better Together” and our nickname is “Mama Bears” The group is secret so that only members can find it or see what is posted in the group. It was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 1,600 members. For more info email lizdyer55@gmail.com

Learning & Growing Together #4 – Stages of Faith

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This “Learning & Growing Together” series includes posts I have shared in my private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids. The group, Serendipitydodah for Moms, is a place where moms of LGBTQ kids share a lot of support, information and encouragement … it is a place where moms of LGBTQ kids are learning and growing together with the purpose of developing and maintaining healthy, loving, authentic relationships with their LGBTQ kids. One thing I love about the private Facebook group is we are all both teachers and students – we all learn from each other. I love that kind of community learning. The wisdom and insight is so rich. For more information about the group email me at lizdyer55@gmail.com

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Real life often leads us to look deeper and wider at the things we believe. As we begin to dismantle our beliefs, in order to understand what we believe and why, it often feels like we are losing our faith. The struggle to hang on to our faith can fill us with anxiety and fear. One of the things that was very helpful to me when I felt like my faith was slipping away was something called “The Stages of Faith” or “The Critical Journey.” Not only did it make sense, but more importantly it let me know I wasn’t alone. Knowing that there were others who would understand what I was experiencing, who I could share my questions and doubts with, who I could turn to for wisdom and insight relieved me of enough anxiety to forge ahead into the process of deconstruction so that I could eventually start to rebuild a life of faith that was simple enough to be sustainable but rich enough to be compelling.

Take a look at this helpful chart before you start reading as the following is the commentary for the chart.

This is a long read but if you are struggling with your faith this is definitely worth reading.

Please leave your thoughts in the comments.

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Commentary for The Stages of Faith:

The critical journey is composed of six stages.

The first three are primarily external; the second three, internal.

In the first three stages, our faith or our spirituality takes its expression most frequently in ways that are prescribed by external standards, whether by the Church, a specific spiritual leader, a book, or a set of principles… Stages 4 through 6 represent a difficult personal transformation and reemerging that require a rediscovery on a different level of what faith and spirituality are all about. These are inner healing stages (spiritually and psychologically) for which the journey cannot be prescribed.

The First Three Stages: The External Journey

Stage 1 “is the discovery and recognition of God”. Accepting the reality of God can begin while one is young, or it can occur later through a religious experience or conversion. This conversion can be instantaneous or can occur over a long period of time.

Our first experience of God is wonderful and refreshing in its newness.

Regardless of our age, however, it seems true that most begin the journey in a childlike way. We come to it with innocence and freshness which is seldom ever again as vivid or vital. Consider the way we feel during the first stage of a romance or new friendship. Swept away by the experience of the relationship, we do not look at any of the negative aspects.

Stage 2 is “a time of learning and belonging” labeled “the life of discipleship”. This stage primarily involves learning in a community setting from spiritual leaders or religious writings. “Now, we stumble upon a set of ideas, a belief system or a group of people who show us the light and answer our questions. It is such a big relief and feels so safe and secure – like a haven in a storm. And for now, that is what we need.”

Stage 3 is “the productive life” and involves consciously serving God through one’s spiritual gifts. The truths learned at stage 2 find an outlet in service at stage 3.

Most evangelical models of Christian growth stop here. The implication is that the pinnacle of Christian maturity is faithful, committed service (usually in the context of a church). The most committed people serve professionally in the church. However, it is obvious that a person can arrive at this stage and still be self-serving, legalistic, immature, and inwardly unhealed. Christian service is not the best determiner of spiritual maturity. This is the value of Hagberg and Guelich’s model. According to them, “the productive life” is important, but it is not the goal. Indeed, on the map of the Christian journey, those at this stage are only half-way there!

Stages 4 – The Inward Journey

Stage 4: The Journey Inward Stage 4 is “the journey inward” – “a deep and very personal inward journey” that “almost always comes as an unsettling experience yet results in healing for those who continue through it”. In this stage, our former views of God are radically challenged. The disruption can be so great that we feel like we are losing our faith or betraying loyalties.

At this stage, many face an abrupt change to almost the opposite mode. It’s a mode of questioning, exploring, falling apart, doubting, dancing around the real issues, sinking in uncertainty, and indulging in self-centeredness. We often look hopeless to those around us.

The move from stage 3 to 4 is most often precipitated by a crisis in our life or our faith. That crisis makes many of the former truths and answers inadequate or inappropriate for the next phase in the journey.

The crisis “shakes our strongly held beliefs or assumptions and we feel adrift on a restless sea, fending for ourselves. Our sense of God is shaken and we can find no new direction, only more questions”.

The crisis shocks our system. We lose comfort and question our convictions as our previous faith-supports crumble before our very eyes.

For the first time, our faith does not seem to work. We feel remote, immobilized, unsuccessful, hurt, ashamed, or reprehensible. Neither our faith nor God provides what we need to sooth us, heal us, answer our prayers, fulfill our wishes, change our circumstances, or solve our problems. Our formula of faith, whatever that may have been, does not work any more, or so it appears.

Why does advancing to this stage usually demand a crisis? The reason is simple: No one would choose this kind of experience on their own!

Most of us are so comfortable and self-sufficient at the previous stage (called the productive or fruitful life) that we have no natural tendency to move at all. In fact, stage 4 does not even look like part of the journey for those of us at home in stage 3. It does not appear to be an extension of our faith and growth.Consequently, we are not drawn in this direction.

Our aversion to stage 4 is increased because of the very real dangers that accompany this stage. “Sometimes people drop off the journey totally at this point. Overwhelmed by pain or crises in our lives, we absolutely cut ourselves off from God”.

The end of stage 4 involves an experience of “the Wall” – “a face-to-face experience with God and with our own will”. It is impossible to go over, around, or under the Wall. One can only go through it. “The Wall experience is the place where… psychology and spirituality converge. Up to this point, one can be religious, spiritual, or fruitful and not be healed psychologically, or vice versa”.

At the Wall, we become “aware of all the lies we have accepted about ourselves”. We are forced to “face the truth” in order to move forward. “The Wall invites us to integrate our spiritual selves with the rest of us. And that involves facing our own and others’ demons. We must face that which we fear the most, and that is why it is so unsavory, and why so many people only enter the Wall under duress”.

Only through self-acceptance and surrender to God’s will can one go “through” the Wall to deeper levels of spiritual growth. “The power behind the transformation at the Wall is this: learn to embrace your whole story with loving, forgiving detachment”. We must accept ourselves with all our wounds and imperfections. We must experience God’s love and acceptance of us as we are in all our weakness and humanness. And then we must fully and completely surrender to God’s will, even though we remain in the dark.

If the description of the experience of the Wall and the solution to the challenges it provokes seems ambiguous, it is intended to be. The authors are aware of the great amount of mystery that surrounds this point of the Christian journey.

So the mystery of the Wall remains a mystery. We sit in awe of the process of surrendering and going through the Wall. But, as we emerge, we are able to move along on our journeys with much less clarity about the direction and much more assurance of not having to be in charge of our lives. We are being transformed, turned inside out.

Surprisingly, through doubts and difficulties we come to know God and ourselves better. Communicating this stage to others who have not experienced it is difficult. People at stage 1 can’t imagine such an experience. Those at stage 2 view it as a lack of conviction. Believers at stage 3 wonder whether we have become apostate altogether. It is hard for those at previous stages to recognize that doubt is not disbelief – doubt is faith taking itself seriously. Willfulness, not doubt, is the opposite of faith.

The Journey Outward Again: Stage Five and Stage Six

Stage 5 is “the journey outward” where our “focus is outward, but from a new, grounded center of ourselves”. At this stage, “we surrender to God’s will to fully direct our lives, but with our eyes wide open, aware but unafraid of the consequences”. We possess a new-found confidence that God loves us fully, just as we are. “There is a human tendency to think that if God really knew us God would not love us… At stage 5 we grow into the full awareness that God truly loves us even though we are never fully whole. God loves us in our humanness”.

With newfound inward resources, we “venture outside our self-interests to others”. We are weak, but whole. Aware of our faults, we are confident that God will work through us.

Wholeness looks a lot like weakness at this stage. Wholeness does not make us stronger; it allows God to work through our weaknesses. Wholeness means being very aware of our faults but not letting them trip us… God can use us most in our brokenness, a truth that was very hard to accept until the Wall experience.

To those still at earlier stages, we appear impractical, inefficient, and out of touch.

Frequently, we appear to be impractical and out of touch with reality. The way the world functions around us, people who are other directed, whole, selfless, and called by God are counterculture. When we love people despite their having failed miserably in our society for whatever reason, we are called naïve; when we stay with the grieving, we are considered caretakers; when we give money away, we are considered poor managers; when we yield, we are considered noncompetitive; when we let go, we are considered weak. We just do not fit with the realistic expectations of a world that is out to be productive and to win.Even the productive Christians at earlier stages in the journey think we at stage 5 have lost our edge…

At stage 5 we are not as oriented toward productivity with outward signs or products. Consequently, we appear less productive and slightly isolated. We are in fact quite active. But we have a tendency to do things behind the scenes or on a one-to-one basis. We never realize that we are hardly noticed. This style can be very confusing and even frustrating for those who want us to be leaders in the more traditional way.

Stage 6 is “the life of love” where God’s love is demonstrated through us “to others in the world more clearly and consistently than we ever thought possible”. By losing ourselves, we find ourselves. God’s presence is experienced in all relationships.

Our times alone with God come during the quiet times away as well as in the everyday, unceasing conversations. We have little ambition for being well known, rich, successful, noteworthy, goal-oriented, or “spiritual”… We are Spirit-filled but in a quiet, unassuming way.

We love with great compassion modeled after God’s love. We live with less and delight in doing menial tasks.

At stage 6 we can reach far beyond our own capacity and love our fellow human beings with deep compassion, because we know that all come from and are loved by God. As Jesus was compassionate even in Gethsemane, at his trial, and on the cross, so we are compassionate under extreme hardship…

At stage 6 we become aware that the more of God we have, the less of everything else we need. We do not renounce material possession. We simply learn to need them less; we become detached from things and people as props or bolstering devices…

We are full of surprises because we are so free, so full of God, and so whole. We can say or do preposterous things because we are not afraid of death. We can deliberately give up our lives, materially, physically, mentally, and emotionally for the service of others without feeling afraid of the deep loss.

Our expression of love is selfless rather than needy. We love without the need to be loved in return. We passionately love others in a dispassionate (disinterested, detached) way. We are not egocentric (self-centered), but theocentric (God-centered), christocentric (Christ-centered), and eccentric (others-centered). We love others, not for our sake, but for their own sake; not with our goodness in mind, but with their goodness in mind.

Having shed the false self – no longer rooted in possessions, accomplishments, and human acceptance – we embrace our true self, that of being eternally and fully loved by God.

Insights from the Six-Stage Model:

Embracing Hagberg and Guelich’s six-stage model sheds light on the Christian journey.

It demonstrates that: The stages are normal. For those who are unfamiliar with the normalcy of stage 4 in Christian experience, their newfound doubts feel like an abandonment of faith rather than faith’s rediscovery and enriching. A faith-map that helps them see this as a normal and necessary step along the way to the life of love is priceless.

Growth is painful. Ask any person who is currently transitioning between childhood and adolescence and he or she will affirm this wholeheartedly. Growth comes at a price. It involves more than enthusiasm. It involves commitment, determination, and perseverance. Although we may desire to grow rapidly, our awareness of the difficulty involved in the transition from one stage to another should curb our desires to move ahead too quickly.

After reading about the stages on the journey, you may find yourself wanting to move because it looks better or will move you further along on the journey. This for many is a natural response, especially at stages 2 and 3. But look at some of the consequences. Moving from one stage to another always causes confusion. We are in a time of limbo between two stages. We may find it exhilarating and exhausting. Nothing seems certain. Something undefined lies ahead. Frequently, the move means loneliness, and can be very upsetting… though the change may be welcomed, it leads over an emotionally rocky road.

Maturity takes time and experience. There is no quick fix to spiritual maturity. There is no silver bullet to a deep, intimate relationship with God. Instant intimacy is an oxymoron. Just as in any human relationship, deeper trust and intimacy only comes through trials, struggles, and periods of doubt. The “critical journey” proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that real growth only comes through the crucible of suffering.

A Higher Call Than Service:

Most, if not all, contemporary evangelical models of growth climax at stage 3. For example, the “Purpose Driven Church” model assumes that a person is spiritually mature when they are part of the “committed core” – serving in and through the church according to their gifts.

But it is entirely possible (and indeed, quite probable) that many people minister for selfish reasons. Church activity is not an indicator of maturity. Busyness in church activities does not automatically lead to spiritual growth.

The church primarily focuses on stages 1 through 3 because the contemporary church is best equipped for these stages.

The church is generally best at working with people in stages 1 through 3, so the fact that the highest number of people is in stage 2 fits with how the church sees itself. It does raise some issues through, as to what and how the church relates to people beyond stage 3. So many people leave the church when they experience stage 4 or the Wall, since there are few resources or programs available for them, and they feel estranged when the faith they held dear does not work for them any more.

In his book, Exit Interviews, William D. Hendricks demonstrates that most of the dechurched (those who formerly attended or even served in a local church but have since left church-life altogether) have not lost faith in God. They have lost faith in the church. They have “grown disillusioned with the church and other institutions of Christianity” and have “lost the energy and enthusiasm they once had for programs of spiritual development.” Consequently, they “are now looking elsewhere to meet their deepest spiritual needs”.

The dechurched leave primarily because they are disillusioned with the church. They claim it is not “spiritual” enough – that it is stunting their growth.

Perhaps we should take their criticism seriously. Maybe the dechurched have exposed a very real weak spot in many evangelical churches – a stunted model of spiritual formation that leaves little room for questions, doubts, and rediscovery. Could it be that the stunted growth of the evangelical church comes from a stunted model of spiritual formation?

 

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Serendipitydodah for Moms is a private Facebook group created as an extension of the Serendipitydodah blog. The group is secret so that only members can find it or see what is posted in the group. The group was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 1,600 members. The space was specifically created for open minded Christian moms who have LGBTQ kids and want to develop and maintain healthy, loving, authentic relationships with their LGBTQ kids. In addition to providing a space for members to share info and support one another, a special guest is added each month for a few days. The guests include authors, pastors, LGBTQ people, bloggers and public speakers.

For more info email lizdyer55@gmail.com

 

 

Free Mom Hugs Tour

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I have a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids. We have more than 1,600 moms in the group. The group was especially created for open minded Christian moms of LGBTQ kids who want to develop and maintain loving, healthy, authentic relationships with their kids. One of the bonuses of the group is that many of the moms become passionate advocates for all LGBTQ people. Sara Cunningham and Laura Beth Taylor are two of those moms! They are both passionate LGBTQ advocates who pour their hearts into working to make the world a kinder, safer place for all LGBTQ people to live and this spring they plan to hit the road and take their love and support for LGBTQ people across the country and they are calling it the “Free Mom Hugs Tour.”

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photos by Taylor Elaine

I’m really excited about the Free Mom Hugs Tour that Sara Cunningham and Laura Beth Taylor are putting together!!!

Their adventure will begin in Oklahoma City and end up in New York City on Mother’s Day near the historic Stonewall Inn. Along the way they will stop at 10 cities where they will meet with local community leaders at a planned luncheon to discuss the necessity and value of supporting the LGBTQ community. Following each luncheon they will march through an area of each city with the Free Mom Hugs banner.

The purpose of the tour is to demonstrate what love and support for the LGBTQ community can look like and educate community leaders about the unnecessary risks LGBTQ children, youth and young adults face on a daily basis.

Sara and Laura put out a press release this week and it has lots more details.

Please share it if you can!!

PRESS RELEASE:

Oklahoma City, OK – On May 1, 2017, the first ever “Free Mom Hugs Tour” will launch in Oklahoma City, making its way through 10 cities and wrapping up near the historic Stonewall Inn in New York City on Mother’s Day.
 
The purpose of the Tour is to reassure the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer/Questioning) community that they are valued and loved, and to raise awareness of their dignity and worth.
 
The Free Mom Hugs Tour is the brainchild of two mothers of LGBTQ children: Sara Cunningham of Oklahoma City and Laura Beth Taylor of Dayton, Tenn. Cunningham, the parent of a gay man and author of How We Sleep at Night, is a well-known advocate for participating in PRIDE events, carrying her “Free Mom Hugs” banner. When she reached out to Taylor, a transwoman who is the parent of LGBTQ children and author of Shattering Masks, the plan took shape.
 
“This isn’t a march; we’re not setting out to protest something, but rather to attest that all people – regardless of the margins in which they find themselves – are deserving of love, dignity and compassion,” Taylor explains. “Our goal is to express that in each city we visit as we encourage others to do so, too. It’s a simple exercise of loving our neighbors,” she adds.
 
Cunningham notes, “Every time I’m out with the banner, I meet more youth and young adults who need reassurance that they are not alone, that there are people who love and support them. I also meet parents who need to be encouraged on their path of loving and accepting their LGBTQ kids. That’s the message we will carry along with our banner.”
 
The event will include a luncheon for civic and faith leaders in each community along the Tour, followed by carrying the Free Mom Hugs banner through an area. Cities on the Tour include May 1 – Oklahoma City, Okla.; May 2 – Tulsa, Okla.; May 4 – Kansas City, Mo.; May 5 — St. Louis, Mo.; May 6 – Indianapolis, Ind.; May 8 – Cincinnati, Ohio; May 9 – Columbus, Ohio; May 11 – Pittsburgh, Pa.; and May 13 – Philadelphia, Pa. The Tour culminates in New York City on May 14, which is Mother’s Day, near the historic Stonewall Inn, considered by many to be the birthplace of the LGBTQ equality movement. Subsequent annual Tours will conclude on Mother’s Day at other landmarks significant in the history of the LGBTQ equality movement.
 
The overall rate of homelessness and suicide in the LGBTQ community is nearly 10 times the rate of the general population, according to the CDC. Furthermore, it is estimated that 25 percent of LGBTQ youth who come out in religious circles are immediately turned away by their families. The Free Mom Hugs Tour will demonstrate what love and support can look like and educate community leaders about the unnecessary risks LGBTQ children, youth and young adults face on a daily basis.
 

For more information:

Sara Cunningham sara@sophiasojourn.com 405-473-2913
 
Laura Beth Taylor laurabeth@sophiasojourn.com 817-676-2739
 

Mama Bear Story Project #8 – Maria De Santis

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The Mama Bear Story Project is a collection of portraits and autobiographical essays from members of Serendipitydodah for Moms – a private Facebook group for open minded Christian moms of LGBTQ kids.

MD

It was at a family dinner for my son – who had just come home from a holiday overseas – that it all happened. Before he left he had told me “I need to go away and find myself”. I gave him my blessing and told him I would always be here for him.

During dinner my son took me aside and expressed he wanted to share something very important with me and he hoped I would still love him and respect him as I had for the past thirty-six years.

I felt uneasy. Did something terrible happen to him while he was away? I knew that whatever trouble he was in I would support him because he was my son.

The words I was about to hear next were to change my life as I knew it. “Mum” he said “I’m gay. I cannot hide this anymore, I cannot live this lie any longer”.

It seemed like an eternity before I was able to comprehend what he had told me. My first thoughts were about me and I wondered what had I done wrong to have a gay son?

I cannot describe the overwhelming shame I felt as my mind was rushing to process the information I had just been given. Minutes earlier I had told myself that whatever was wrong I would support him because he is my son.

But all that changed when I heard the word “homosexual”.

How could he do that to me? How could he hurt me like this? How could I face anyone? How could I live with the shame of having a gay son? That only happens to other people, it can’t be true!

The next time I saw my son I was still in shock and drained of all “motherly” feelings. I could not face him or be in the same room as him.

He pleaded with me to say something. All I remember is saying words that I now and forever will regret – words that were full of rejection and shame.

I questioned later what kind of mother am I? How could I turn my back on my own flesh and blood?

If I had known from conception that he was gay, would I have felt differently towards him the first time I held him in my arms? Would I have not comforted him when he was hurt or sick or not told him how much I loved him?

Sure it was a shock – no parent wants to hear that their child is gay. But if we as parents don’t love, support, nurture and accept and respect our gay children, how can we expect society to accept and respect them for who they are?

They are the same wonderful loving children that they were when they trusted us and felt safe enough to emerge as their real selves with their dignity.

To say it has been easy for me would be a lie. It has been a painful journey, one of great discovery and new challenges. I have learned that to move forward can bring much pain, but with it comes a new understanding of ourselves and of our children.

I have learned to look at my son through the eyes of a mother who is warm, loving and humble. His sexuality is only one part of who he is and of all the wonderful qualities that he carries within. We have been able to heal from the wounds I caused with my initial reaction. My son has forgiven me and I am so grateful to him for his forgiveness.

I want to reach out to as many families as possible to tell you that it does get better and that there is life after “coming out”.

You are not alone – we are all traveling the same journey with our gay children.

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Serendipitydodah for Moms is a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids. Our official motto is “We Are Better Together” and our nickname is “Mama Bears” The group is secret so that only members can find it or see what is posted in the group. It was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 1,600 members. For more info email lizdyer55@gmail.com

Stories That Change The World #34 – Undercover Mama Bear

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Stories have the power to change the world … they inspire us, teach us, connect us. This is the thirty-fourth installment in the “Stories That Change The World” series.

I have a private Facebook group for moms of LGBT kids. We have more than 1,600 moms in the group. The group was especially created for open minded Christian moms of LGBT kids who want to develop and maintain loving, healthy, authentic relationships with their kids. Our unofficial nickname is Mama Bears because are both cuddly and fierce when it comes to loving and protecting our kids.

One of the bonuses of the group is that many of the moms become LGBT advocates and pour their hearts into working to make the world a kinder, safer place for all LGBT people to live.

Janie Romine is one of those Mama Bears.

Janie recently went undercover in order to help a reporter from ABC news investigate conversion therapy camps for LGBT youth. She was recruited by ABC News and the work she did helped create a documentary that aired on 20/20.  The documentary exposed horrific abuse and torture of LGBT youth that takes place at these camps.

I asked Janie to share, in her own words, what she discovered while doing the undercover work and pretending to be a mother who was considering sending her son to the camp.

Janie

“Parents cannot visit once their kids are enrolled. All correspondence and communication is monitored and censored.

It’s a money making venture so just like privatized prisons there is no incentive for a quick turnaround. The minimum commitment is 2 years. One boy had been there since he was 12, turned 18 the week after we were there and was being put out since his family didn’t want him back.

The Bible and the belt were what Brother Gary said he used to get the kids on the right track. However there was a room without windows at the top of the stairs that we weren’t allowed to enter and I suspect it was used for isolation, perhaps even more than that.

The tuition is $1,750/month and the families must supply suits and ties and work clothes as the boys grow.

Sending birthday gifts and Christmas gifts aren’t allowed. Only cash or gift cards can be sent and I suspect those are never given to the boys.

I wasn’t aware at the time that Brother Gary had a criminal past but I was also not surprised. I don’t believe he had any credentials or a college degree. I believe he was a self professed pastor.

Because he operates under the guise of being a church facility his income (which exceeds $500k annually) is tax free.

There is always a waiting list – because that many parents are that messed up.

Because parents keep sending their kids to him and the money keeps pouring in, Brother Gary believes God is endorsing his work.

The kids at the camp are made to work 16 hour days, 7 days a week.

Brother Gary informed us the kids go to school 4 hours a day, which he said was “mostly the Bible and a little math” and claimed the state considers his teaching as complete and transferable. They get Jesus and Geometry.

The kids are basically trained to be manual laborers. They have no exposure to the arts or science or anything in the outside world. There are no phones or internet or cable tv. They are literally held as prisoners by people who appear to be religious zealots but may be nothing more than people using religion as a weapon for their own pleasure and personal gain.

Surely Jesus weeps.” – Janie Romine

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The fact that camps like this exist is horrifying and disturbing. It is hard to read Janie’s description but it is something that needs to be known.

I was glad to hear that one of the so called pastors was prosecuted, convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison, but, I think it is important to point out that there would not be a market for these camps if churches did not teach that all same sex relationships are sinful.

As long as we have churches, Christian leaders and Christian organizations teaching that the bible condemns all same sex relationships there will be Christian parents looking for a way to “help” their kids.

So, in conclusion, I want to include a list of people who I consider to be indirectly responsible for the torture and abuse that go on at these camps. These people have a lot of influence and many Christian parents listen to what they teach. I personally hold them responsible for the pain and suffering that so many LGBT youth endure. No matter how kindly or lovingly the message is delivered it is damaging and leads parents to harm the children that they love and cherish.

Franklin Graham

Tony Perkins

James Dobson

Robert Jeffress

Anne Paulk

Michael Brown

Janet Parshall

Greg Laurie

Al Mohler

John Piper

Jim Daly

Roger Jimenez

David Lane

Jerry Fallwell, Jr.

And any other pastor, Christian leader, church or Christian organization that holds the position that all same sex relationships are sinful.

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Serendipitydodah for Moms is a private Facebook group created as an extension of the Serendipitydodah blog. The group is secret so that only members can find it or see what is posted in the group. The group was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 1,400 members. The space was specifically created for open minded Christian moms who have LGBT kids and want to develop and maintain healthy, loving, authentic relationships with their LGBT kids.

For more info email lizdyer55@gmail.com