Serendipitydodah for Moms – a private facebook group for moms of lgbt 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 2,500 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. 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. 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. However, moms do not have to be Christian to be a member of the group. In addition to providing a space for members to share info and support one another, a special guest is added each month for a short time so members can ask questions in the privacy of the group. The guests include authors, pastors, LGBTQ people, bloggers, medical professionals and public speakers.

There are more than 40 regional groups that are available. The regional groups are independent of Serendipitydodah and are created and used by members to coordinate both social events and advocacy work with other moms in their area.

Serendipitydodah for Moms also has three subgroups:

Serendipitydodah MTK is a subgroup where the conversation is trans specific. It is mostly made up of moms of trans kids. All the members are in the main Serendipitydodah Facebook group.

Serendipitydodah Blue Ocean Faith is a subgroup for members of Serendipitydodah for Moms who want to connect with and become a part of the Blue Ocean Faith Ann Arbor community via it’s online presence. Blue Ocean Faith is a faith community that fully includes, affirms and supports lgbtq people and those that support them.

Serendipitydodah Mama Bears to the Rescue is a subgroup for Serendipitydodah Mama Bears who are willing and able to be available to do small acts of kindness for LGBTQ people in their local community who may need connection, care or assistance. This subgroup makes it easier for members to coordinate and organize to do things such as visit someone in the hospital, help someone get settled in a new area, provide some transportation, include someone in their holiday gatherings, provide temporary housing, send a note of encouragement, attend a wedding etc

Email lizdyer55@gmail.com to join Serendipitydodah or for more info.

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Rise Up Like A Phoenix – A Mother’s Day Message

Watercolor “And still I rise” by Jessica Buhman

As a mom myself I know the ups and downs of motherhood. It’s one of the most overwhelming, fulfilling, challenging, thrilling, terrifying experiences in the world.

Nothing can really prepare us for motherhood. It’s scary and wonderful at the same time – it energizes and exhausts us simultaneously – it inspires and paralyzes us regularly – it’s a pleasant surprise and a terrifying shock day after day – it messier and harder than we ever imagined.

Just when we think we have it all figured out our kids change and throw us a curve ball – they keep growing and changing and somehow we have to keep up.

The constant changes we have to face are probably some of the most challenging aspects of motherhood because change always involves loss.

In her book “Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow” Elizabeth Lesser writes about how life is full of change, how human beings resist change and how ironic it is that the difficult times we fear the most end up being the very things that break us open and help us blossom into who we were really meant to be. She calls it the Phoenix process.

If you haven’t heard of the Phoenix before, it is a mythical, magical bird which lives a cyclical life as it regularly dies and burns and is reborn and rises from the ashes to live and fly again.

Lesser likens parenting to a spiritual practice that produces transformation and causes us become a better version of ourselves.

She writes:

“If you would like to be broken open—if you want to pursue a Phoenix Process of the highest order—I would recommend raising children. Parenthood is a clumsy yet majestic dance in the flames. When you parent you fall in love with a person who is always changing into someone else, and whom you know will leave you. Yet most parents will say that they have never given themselves to anyone as fully as they have to their children. Parenting is a career with the crazy-making job requirement of simultaneously surrendering to and letting go of someone you love, over and over and over again.

Parenthood is a never-ending journey down a wide river of worry and love. You get in that boat with your kids and you never get out. They get out—they build their own boats and row into their own destinies—but you stay in the original boat, always their parent, forever caring and forever kvelling (a useful Yiddish word that describes how parents express pride in their children).  

Sometimes the act of parenting is an awe-inspiring adventure. Your heart expands to accommodate a vastness of feelings so tender and unselfish that you step boldly into the nobility of your true character. And sometimes parenthood is tedious yet unpredictable, demanding yet ever-changing: Just when you get the hang of sleeping upright in a rocking chair and changing dirty diapers, your child sleeps through the night and poops in the potty, and the job description changes. It’s a lot like the comedian George Carlin’s complaint, “Just when I found out the meaning of life, they changed it.”

So you go back into on-the-job training. By the time you have mastered communication with a tantrum-throwing toddler and become addicted to the warm, wet smell of your little one after a bath, he squirms away and goes to kindergarten. Now you have to learn to deal with play dates and social studies reports and parent-teacher conferences. And then school plays and Little League games, and friends and hurt feelings, and that shifting boundary between granting them freedom and giving them direction. Soon they are teenagers and there is no manual for that, so you take it one day at a time, difficult decision by difficult decision, and finally, if things go the way they ought to, your children leave home, they leave you, and they push off into the future.

Parenting in all of its stages is a spiritual path with mythic twists and turns. If your spiritual goal is to embrace life, moment by moment, in both its rapture and its pain, then parenting offers you that opportunity every day. Holy texts throughout the ages tell us that the truth is to be found between the seeming opposites in life—between your own will and a greater will; between limits and liberty; between the call to care for others and the need to care for yourself. In the parent-child relationship these concepts become supremely real. And you get excellent feedback all the time from a pint-sized spiritual master—your own kid—whose specialty lies in teaching you how to keep on loving even when you are tired, scared, confused, or pissed off. Isn’t that what every seeker is after?

At each stage of your child’s growth, you are given ample opportunities to use parenthood as a mirror. Whatever it is that wants to be transformed in your psyche will be revealed as you parent. If you accept the challenge, parenting becomes a perpetual process of change and transformation—a dynamic experience of being broken open by love.”

I love that! The Phoenix is the perfect symbol for motherhood!

As mothers we all know what it means to be broken open and changed by love.

Mothers are the Phoenix.

We keep on rising, spreading our wings and flying again and again, day after day.

****

So, my message to all moms this Mother’s Day is …

Keep rising up like the Phoenix that you are!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Mama Bear Story Project #30 – JoAnn Forsberg

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.

JoAnn Forsberg

 

1984. After hanging up the phone, I went and turned on the shower. Standing in there crying, head upon the wall. Thinking everything I knew for years in fundamental Christianity was washing down the drain with my tears.

It wasn’t my son, yet. It was my brother who had just came out to me as gay. Gay in an era when people still whispered in church pews about anyone who even remotely seemed different than the picture perfect post card we all joked about. You know, the postcard with the picture of a white (straight) American Christian.

At that moment everything I knew about Christian life was now over. For if God was going to hate my brother, he would have to hate me too. The search began as I tried to imagine how a loving God could reject any child of his?

Of course, the normal happened. I was asked to shut up or leave church. So I left. I started studying every theology book I could find. It was a tough study, but, I was no longer going to rely upon a preacher to teach me. I wanted to know what great minds of history had to say.

No internet yet, just a soul seeking knowing in my spirit that God had to be more vast than the minds teaching Christ.

In 1989, my third son, Chad, was born, by the time he was five, we realized this creative child was unique himself. So, when he “came out” at fifteen it was more a celebration of him being able to feel comfortable with himself. To be comfortable in his family. To be fully loved and embraced.

Today, in this family, we joke about half of our extended relatives being gay. Some are “adopted in” as we will wrap our arms around any who need a family.

It’s normal, it’s just real life, it’s just family. We don’t even think about who is gay or who is straight. We are just family.

Blessings. JoAnn

That’s A Really Good Question #2 – What do all the letters mean and which acronym should I use?

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Serendipitydodah for Moms is a private Facebook group for moms of lgbtq kids. This series will address common questions that often get asked by members of the group. For more information about the group email lizdyer55@gmail.com

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There are some common questions that we hear over and over from moms of lgbtq kids and one of those questions goes like this:

What do all the letters mean in the longer lgbt acronyms and which acronym should I use?

To answer the first part of the question here are some of the longer acronyms and what they represent:

LGBTIQCAPGNGFNBA –  Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer, Curious, Asexual, Pansexual, Gender-non-conforming, Gender-Fluid, Non-binary, and Androgynous

LGGBDTTTIQQAAPP – stands for: Lesbian, Gay, Genderqueer, Bisexual, Demisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Twospirit, Intersex, Queer, Questioning, Asexual, Allies, Pansexual and Polyamorous

LGBTQQIP2SAA – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Pansexual, Two-Spirit, Asexual, Allies


Which acronym should you use?

That’s a harder question to answer.

There isn’t one acronym that has been designated as “the best,” but, I do think it is important for us to strive to be inclusive.

One way to be inclusive is to add more letters to the lgbt acronym but that isn’t the only way.

Presently I’m using LGBTQ and plan to use it until something shorter or something that rolls more easily off of the tongue takes over. Queer is becoming widely known as an umbrella term that includes all sexual orientations and gender identities, therefore, the LGBTQ acronym is typically seen as inclusive

BUT, I still feel like there is something better on the horizon.

Here are some examples of some of ideas that are circulating:

MOGAI – Marginalized Orientations, Gender identities, And Intersex

GSD – gender and sexual diversity

GSM – gender and sexual minorities

Many think that either GSD or GSM will end up being the primary acronym to replace the longer acronyms, if for no other reason than it is becoming increasingly difficult to say the longer acronym out loud when you are speaking on the subject.

But, there are others who think we should give up all the letters and just go with the word “Queer”

Those who are advocating for “Queer” point out that the word is inclusive of everyone in the lgbt community and doesn’t highlight just a few. They think as the community continues to strive to recognize and validate ALL genders and orientations we desperately need a word that reflects the community’s diverse membership.

I actually like the the idea of using “Queer” instead of acronyms and the only reason I am still avoiding it is because I have several LGBTQ friends over 40 who still cringe every time they hear the word.


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 2,400 members. For more info email lizdyer55@gmail.com

That’s A Really Good Question #1 – Should I tell my friend about my child’s lgbt status?

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Serendipitydodah for Moms is a private Facebook group for moms of lgbtq kids. This series will address common questions that often get asked by members of the group. For more information about the group email lizdyer55@gmail.com

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There are some common questions that we hear over and over from moms of lgbtq kids and one of those questions goes like this:

Should I tell my friend that my son is gay? my daughter is lesbian? my child is transgender?

Like many questions, there may not be one answer that is right for everyone, but, there is some conventional wisdom that can be very helpful as parents think through their own unique situations.


Because we live in a world where lgbtq people are still oppressed and marginalized, because we live in a world where lgbtq people are often bullied, because we live in a world where lgbtq people are known to be treated like second class citizens, because we live in a world where lgbtq people still receive the message that they are broken and need to be fixed due to their lgbtq status, because we live in a world where lgbtq people still don’t have equal rights and protections, parents need to be extra thoughtful, considerate and careful about who they talk to about their child’s lgbtq status until their children (no matter the age) are completely out.

My advice is:

Always check with your child if they are not completely out before sharing their lgbtq status with someone.

If a child is too young to be able to consider all the factors parents will have to make the decision independently of their children.

The younger the child the more careful parents may want to be about revealing their child’s lgbtq status to others.

When your child is not completely out it is important to consider how well you know the people you want to confide in and how trustworthy you believe them to be.

Once your child is an adult and completely out you can decide for yourself who to tell.


I often hear people say it’s not necessary to tell anyone because it is no one’s business but I don’t think that is the issue here. I think the issue is more complex than that.

Let me explain …

I have two kids – one straight and one gay. Over the years I have talked to other moms about who my straight son dated – something in a relationship that hurt him – who he had a crush on – who had a crush on him – who he wanted to go to prom with and other similar things. These were his business but they were things that were going on with my son at the time – they were things on my mind and on my heart because my son was on my mind and on my heart – sometimes I talked to other moms about these things because I was concerned and wanted to know how to best support my son, sometimes I talked to other moms because I was excited for my son, sometimes I talked about something because I thought it was cute and moms often share cute little things about their kids with one another. I’m pretty sure if I had asked my straight son if I could talk about any of these things with other moms he would have probably said no.

There are also other “personal and private” things parents talk to other parents about for regularly – a medical issue, a behavior issue, a problem with a friend, a problem at school – things our kids wouldn’t have want us to share with anyone else. We don’t talk about such things to violate their privacy – but because we are seeking wisdom, insight, support, and/or encouragement.

My point is that we often talk to other moms about confidential and private things about our kids. It is a normal part of parenting – probably even more normal for mothers than dads because women often tend to process verbally and it helps them to talk about stuff they care about and are dealing with – it helps moms be better moms to share their situations with one another and learn with one another and from one another – it helps moms be stronger and steadier, and more loving, kind and patient when they can get some things off of their chest and say them out loud to another mom … because motherhood is a significant bond that mothers share and it really does take a village to raise a child.

It’s hard to be a good, smart, capable mom without depending on other moms, without having the freedom to share with and talk to other moms about things on our minds about our kids. And trying to keep our kid’s sexual orientation a secret can limit us when it comes to having these normal interactions and those limitations can make being a mom a LOT more challenging and even limit our knowledge, wisdom and effectiveness when it comes to being a mom.

So, I see being able to talk about my gay son with the same amount of freedom that I talk about my straight son as progress.

Sometimes I hear people say they look forward to the day when they don’t need to tell anyone their kid is lgbtq – but I don’t see that as progress.

Instead, I look forward to the day when all of us can openly speak of our child’s lgbtq status and not have to worry about it. I look forward to it being as normal to say “my son is gay” as it is to say “my son is left handed” or “my son has blue eyes” or “my son is an introvert”

When I hear people say “being gay doesn’t define my child” or “my child is more than his sexual orientation or gender identity” or “I don’t have to tell anyone my straight kid is straight so why should I have to tell them my gay son is gay” I hear defensive remarks that are a response to the kind of world we live in. Those remarks remind me that I look forward to the day when we don’t have to say anything like that or think anything like that.

After all, the only reason we don’t have to tell anyone our straight kid is straight is because we live in a world where being straight has been the default. We don’t have to tell anyone our straight kid is straight because we have been living in a world where anything other than straight has been erased, pushed to the margins, kept hidden. If nothing is said people assume that someone is straight and that can feel like erasure and disregard to lgbtq people.

Of course, people are more than their sexual orientation or gender identity, and, of course, there are many things that define us as human beings. But, our sexual orientation and gender identity are important elements of who we are. They are elements of ourselves that can impact our opinions and perspectives, how we engage with the world around us, what we are interested in, our comfort zones. Our sexual orientation and gender identity exist in the core of who we are. I would argue they are more important than many other things that we readily admit define us. I would argue that our sexual orientation and gender identity are among the few things that are central to who we are.


This is the time of year when lgbtq people and those who stand with them and support them are preparing to participate in Pride parades and celebrations.

Pride parades and celebrations are a response to a world that wants to erase the existence of lgbtq people, a world that wants lgbtq people to keep quiet about their lgbtq status, a world that wants lgbtq people to hide their status, a world that wants to diminish the significance of being lgbtq.

It’s very common for conservative Christians who support conversion therapy to tell lgbt people that they should not think of themselves as “being gay” – they often use phrases such as “attracted to someone of the same sex” or “struggling with same sex attraction”

That way of thinking and speaking is rooted in shame. The idea that people should not identify as lgbtq or make it a main part of their identity are ideas that have grown out of anti-lgbtq belief systems. They are ideas that cause lgbtq people to feel shame and self loathing regarding their lgbtq status.

Pride parades are a protest against those kinds of ideas.

Pride parades are lgbt people saying “I am gay, I am proud of it, it is a part of who I am, it is an important part of who I am, I am not going to be ashamed about it, it matters, I am not going to hide it, I am not going to apologize about it, I am going to declare it, I am going to say it out loud, I am going to own it, I am going to flaunt it, it is a big part of who I am.”

As beautiful as I think that is – to see lgbtq people let go and fully embrace their sexual orientation and gender identity with no apology, with no downplaying, with no shame – I look forward to the day when Pride parades are no longer necessary, I look forward when it will be normal for people to share they are lgbtq, when it will be normal for parents to share that their kid is lgbtq, but no longer necessary to have a parade about it, no longer necessary for us to be careful about who we tell …

But, for now we DO live in a world where Pride parades are necessary.

For now, we DO live in a world where we have to worry about people’s reactions towards our lgbt children.

There is still a lot of work to do and the work that needs to be done will surely not be completed in our lifetime.

So – we have to be careful and thoughtful – especially if our kid is not completely out.


Moms share confidential things and stuff that is no one else’s business all the time when they are close with each other – it is normal and good and helpful.

But, because we still live in a world where lgbtq people are still oppressed and marginalized, because we still live in a world where lgbtq people are often bullied, because we still live in a world where lgbtq people are often treated like second class citizens, because we still live in a world where lgbtq people still receive the message that they are broken and need to be fixed, we have to be extra thoughtful, considerate and careful about who we talk to about our kids lgbtq status until they are completely out.

Not because it isn’t anyone’s business – but because we still live in a world where it isn’t always safe to be lgbtq.

#Question #GoodQuestion


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 2,400 members. For more info email lizdyer55@gmail.com

 

Jen Hatmaker And The Women Who Make Magic Happen

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magic

Back in 2016 Jen Hatmaker came out as a Christian who had become affirming of same sex marriage. She said she and her husband had taken a lot of time to think, study and pray about the issue and, over time, she and her husband had become convinced that scripture did not condemn same sex marriage and non affirming theology was producing bad fruit, so, they changed their view.

Jen was attacked and rejected almost immediately by the Evangelical Conservative Christian camp. Lifeway stopped selling her books and she received a lot of bad press and horrible messages from conservative Christians.

Many of us had suspected Jen might become affirming because she had expressed concern about the way lgbt people were being treated by conservative Christians. We thought she might be discovering what we had discovered and we were watching and waiting to see where she landed.

Many of the moms in Serendipitydodah for Moms (my private Facebook group for moms of lgbt kids) wanted to offer Jen some support so I wrote a letter and more than 400 moms signed the letter and it was sent off to Jen.

Jen was quiet for a while and then, in 2017, she rose up out of her pain and wrote a little bit about the hurt she had experienced and once again she was attacked.

The moms in Serendipitydodah once again wanted to reach out to Jen and so, we gathered short notes of encouragement and sent them off to Jen.

I don’t know if she ever received the letter or the notes. I hope she did. We wanted her to know we had her back and were standing with her. We knew what it felt like to be treated the way she was being treated. We could relate to what she was feeling and we wanted to encourage her.

Recently I’ve been watching Jen and I’m really excited for her and about her. She obviously was fortunate enough to have a lot of good people in her life who stuck by her, and in the process of changing, like so many of us, she was fortunate enough to find some new friends too.

A lot of the people who stood with Jen were women. I’m not surprised by that because Jen has a knack for bringing women together. It is one of her superpowers. And it is an amazing thing to watch … because when women come together with a collective intention something magical happens. They empower each other. They make each other stronger, wiser, braver, better. They are better together. They make magic happen. Even people like Jen, who serve as a catalyst to bring the women together, become a stronger, wiser, braver, better version of themselves. The magic happens for everyone involved.

Recently I saw that Jen was bravely and confidently involved in the March For Our Lives. She got some push back but she didn’t back down. She stood for what she believed in with no shame or apology. Maybe she would have always been able to do that but I sensed something more was going on. I sensed something magical had happened or was happening in her and through her. I thought she seemed stronger, wiser, braver, better than ever. And that’s no small thing, because Jen was already amazing before any of this stuff happened in 2016 and 2017.

It seems to me that once you are knocked down and get back up you are better … especially if you have the good fortune of being surrounded by women who are on the same journey as you are – especially if you have women who will show up and stand with you – who will offer you a shoulder when you need one and cheer you on when you are standing up and moving again.

I see that happen in Serendipitydodah for Moms all the time.

It’s like magic – watching women go from hardly being able to stand to being strong, empowered and confident. Watching them rise up together and live confidently into their own authenticity. Watching them support one another, laugh and cry together, cheer each other on. Watching them use their strength, newly gained wisdom and confidence, their creativity and passions to make the world a kinder, safer, more loving place for all people to live. It’s amazing! It’s magical!

I love seeing that magic happen and I am grateful that I get to be a part of it.

And I am grateful for women like Jen who keep showing up and pouring their life into making that kind of magic happen among women because that magic is the kind of magic that changes the world into a better place for everyone.


Below are the notes of encouragement that we sent to Jen back in 2017. I don’t know if she ever saw them. If not, I hope she sees them here now, because we, the members of Serendipitydodah, want her to know that we are grateful for her and the magic she continues to help us make … and we want to give some of that magic back to her … because that is the way the magic works – it circles back around again and again – lifting, encouraging, supporting, breathing life into each others’ spirits over and over again – giving it away and spreading it around doesn’t diminish it – instead, the more you give it away, the more it grows – that’s how it works – this magic that women make when they join together.


NOTES OF ENCOURAGEMENT TO JEN HATMAKER FROM MEMBERS OF SERENDIPITYDODAH FOR MOMS

Jen, I just wanted you to know you have an army of sisters who love you and are walking with you down this path. Not all of us have chosen this journey, but it is the one God has willed for us. And so we walk together, on His path, loving each other and our children. You are not alone and you are not wrong. You have a beautiful spirit and will light the way for others. Hallelujah! – Susan

Jen, keep living into your true self, following the Holy Spirit. It is not easy to hear or follow the One Voice in the midst of chaos. May there be time to listen. Peace and blessings. – Debra in Tennessee

Hi Jen, please know that you are LOVED and respected over here on the other side in Christianity. Be brave and know you have a great heart. – Adele

Hi Jen, I just posted on your wall! You hang in there girlfriend! I’m one of 1800 mama bears that have your back! Love your decision to love. – Deb in Virginia

Jen, As a lifelong conservative Christian and a devotee of your books, teaching, WOF and Belong, I can’t tell you how much your loving stance has helped me through finding out (really just confirming) that my daughter is gay. She is now married and we were able to be completely accepting and loving to them, in part because you and BH helped us know that God is good with us doing this. Handy really since it is exactly where my heart leads. I love you and appreciate you. – Carole from California.

All of us cannot be wrong!!! We will stand with you, when you tell God how much you loved Him and tell Him who and why you loved rather than who and why you didn’t!!!! – Gerry from the Big State of Texas

Jen, thank you for caring enough about my family to tell other Christians how to really follow Jesus. The mama bears have your back. – Renay

Hi Jen. This mama bear from NYC is so encouraged by your stand for the LGBTQ community. Thanks for being Jesus. – Rose

Jen, I just recently learned about you. As soon as I did, I went to look at your Facebook page and immediately “liked” it. You are doing a fantastic thing and will continue to touch lives and encourage so many. All I can think of right now is “blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake for so persecuted they the prophets that were before you.” God has your back, my sister in Christ. – Shirley

Jen, I want to love on you and encourage you just the way I do my gay son. Know who you are, and how perfectly you are made. Be true to yourself and hold your head high. There is no shame in love. – Michelle from Texas

Thank you, my sister in Christ, for being courageous and standing firm in Jesus’ footsteps. You may have been exiled from your former community but you are loved here. Being a true follower of Christ may be hard at times and you have been harshly persecuted but do not waiver, he will not forsake you! I love you for your beautiful soul and kind heart!! Thank you for your courage!! – Julie in Ohio

Jen – I’m so sorry that the church is causing you pain. I know for certain that YOU are not wrong! I am so grateful that you are loving the way that Jesus wanted us to love others. Those that say you are wrong and condemn this community have forgotten that the first and greatest commandment is to love one another! Please know that I am thankful for you – Vicki in Michigan.

Dear Jen, the pain of rejection, betrayal and judgement is all too familiar for many in the lgbtq community and their allies. Nothing I say can take away that pain and hurt, but maybe knowing that there are many of us moms that understand that journey will help you to know that you’re not alone and that your bravery has touched us deeply. Thank you! We love you! – Sandy in Southern CA.

Jen, This mama bear is grateful for you and your unconditional love ❤ Thank you for loving others as Jesus has commanded us to do. Keep up the good fight and know you have so many standing with you! In His name, – Karla from NC

Dear Jen, I’m so sorry that you’ve been the recipient of so much vitriol and condescension from some people who profess to be Christians. Please know that there are many people who stand with you and appreciate you. I recently read “For the Love” and grew to like and respect you even more. You are the real deal, Jen. Anyone who tries can easily see your heart, mind, and soul are in the right place. Thank you for the comfort and healing you’ve given by affirming those of us who have dearly beloved family members and friends who are gay. It means more than you even know. – Jammie in NC

 

Hi Jen! I really have an awesome God story of how your interview with Religion News back in October was the same exact day that my 16 year old son came out to us as gay. He was raised in conservative Christianville as both my husband and I became Christians in our young 20s, (as singles and then met later). Your interview gave me the courage to love my son anyway, pursue God on this subject and not die of despair. I knew you loved Jesus, I had read your books and followed you on fb since 2010. I knew you were the real deal and I am so thankful that the timing of my precious son’s revelation to us worked out the way it did. We are not out completely yet, and have a journey ahead of us. But our faith has been challenged on a good way. Thank you thank you thank you! – Lisa in New Mexico

Dear Jen, I can’t say thank you enough for everything you have done for our family. Because of you my daughter knows God loves her exactly as she is. It means the world to all of us.  We stand with you! We love you! – Katie in Arlington TX

Thank you, Jen, for being brave enough to do and say the right thing, even though it is so very hard. It would have been easier to carry your belief in your heart and keep doing what you were doing. Some people have been damaged by the church, but you, your husband, and your beautiful family are being examples of what love should look like, what Christ would look like if he were here. – Michele from central Texas

Thank you Jen from Elk Grove, CA! You have been such an inspiration and a source of courage and strength. Your beautifully written words that reflect the immense love that our God has for us is exactly what my family has needed to hear. Please stay strong and know that your words of love do sink in and strengthen us. – Sherilyn

Hi Jen, I’m so sorry you are on this hard path. It probably feels lonely and unending. Keep running the race – don’t give up! Fix your eyes on Jesus and let those running with you help hold you up. Pay no attention to the people on the sidelines – don’t let them distract you or trip you up. They are too frightened to commit to the race themselves. Your Father is proud! Praying for you! – Chris

Jen, I can’t thank you enough for your bravery. Your courage has given me so much more courage….courage must be contagious! A woman once told me not to let someone’s bad manners ruin my day. I know what you are enduring is way more than bad manners but you have a lot of mama bears praying for you. Focus on us and the faces of so many hurt children everywhere. I live in Comanche and still hope to see you in Rockin J someday, even more so now to hug your neck. Thank you again. – Jodi

Jen, Just when I was feeling like “the rest of the world” didn’t get it, you came into the picture. You showed up, stood up, and spoke up. For this I am forever grateful. You have taken a beating for your courage, but those of us who needed you were able to catch our breath in the shadow of your wings. From a tired mama bear, thank you, thank you, thank you.  – Julie

Jen, your wit and sarcasm (my spiritual gift as well) are so appreciated in a world that can be so unfunny! I have cried tears of laughter through reading some of your posts and that is a rare gift. It hurt my heart when I read of your hurts and hope that you can find encouragement here. – Chris

Jen, it breaks my heart that a beautiful person who loves words, was hurt by the words of others. That someone so loving and safe has not been given the same love and safety from those who should be the most loving and the safest. Thank you for the sacrifice you have made, for the love you continue to give and for not letting anyone take away the essence of who you. Thank you for sharing yourself with us – we are blessed! – Cindy in Washington
From one Jenn to another–thank you for being brave enough to fight the Evangelical position on LGBTQ issues. I have at least one child who falls into this category, and showing her things like your writing is essential to encouraging her. – Jenn from Pennsylvania

Hi Jen! Thank you for your support and for loving like Jesus!! Mama bear hugs & love to you! – Lee Ann

Dear Jen, you publicly carry the pain we mums understand so well. We have tasted rejection by long time friends and family members because we love our LGBTQ children. You had a choice to stand back or to speak up, and you chose to put love in action. Thank you for your courage. You are being the hands and feet of Jesus, and we send our love to you. Hugs from NC  – Morven

 

Hang in there Jen! Thank you for loving our LGBTQ children like Christ and for taking a stand! One person and one story at a time is how we do it and it is very tiring and can be worrisome for us mama bears! God is good! – Vicki

Jen, during the dark lonely days of my child first coming out to me, the only thing this lifelong evangelical Christian could do was ask, “Who am I now?” Every single thing I thought I knew in that moment shifted. I can say now the only thing that didn’t survive that catastrophic shift was my position among my “church”. Through it all, love remained. Through it all faith remained. Hope remain, Mercy remained. Christ remained. As the realization that my relationship with God is mine alone and the threatening hoards could not penetrate the power of that bond, peace returned, joy returned, grace returned. In the two years since, I have been so encourage by the changing of hearts I have witnessed. Though I have been content to walk out my Christian faith without the benefit of the support of those voices who were so important to me in my former faith, I can truly say I am so thankful each time a person who professes Christ walks across the divide from feared adversary to beloved friend. Stay strong, friend. This journey on the other side is not for the faint of heart. – Anita in Missouri

 

Dear Jen – You already know that you don’t NEED those who are inflicting these hurts on you, but, of course, that doesn’t lessen the sting. We Mama Bears are so fortunate and blessed to have you join our ‘team’ – and we will have your back. I wish you continued strength, courage and boldness. – Tenley in Canada

 

Jen – thank you for your contagious love and faith. You are truly an inspiration. Please continue to share your heart, your wit, and your wisdom. –  June in Michigan

Jen- Long before I became a foster (and then adoptive) mom to two LGBT kids, your books and blog posts had an impact on my life and my walk with Christ. So for you, someone I already admired and respected, to have the courage to be affirming of your LGBT brothers and sisters right when I was questioning and wrestling with my own theology on the topic was beyond helpful to me. The way you have handled yourself in the face of cruelty and rejection from fellow “Christians” is just another way you show the world what true, authentic faith looks like. I love your heart, your words and all that you stand for. Keep shining bright for Jesus! – Love, Melissa in south Florida

 

Jen, We love you! Thanks for standing up for the human race! – Colleen

Dear Jen, thank you so much for struggling along with us as you wrestle with how to stand strong in your faith and love the way Jesus called you to. My plan was to thank you in person at Women of Faith in Hartford but wasn’t able to go so my sweet sister delivered my message to you…thanks for having my back, know that I have yours. – Laurie

Dear Jen, I am praying for you as you practice the unconditional love of Jesus. You are not alone and an inspiration to many. Stay strong in Him and He will deliver you from your adversaries. You are a light in this dark divided world and an angel God has sent to His church at this time and season. You are loved. – Judy in Texas

Dearest Jen just know that I have no words to describe how grateful I am. You give me light when all seems dark. You are my hero. – Brenda from South Africa

Jen, please know that you are brave and you are strong! So very many of us who dare to do our best to love EVERYONE have felt tremendous rejection from our church communities for just that. Us Mama Bears have your back!!!! – Carrie

In college my heroes were Sandi Patti and Amy Grant.  Both banned by the good Baptists and Lifeway. You are in good company. People ask why I “changed my theology” when my son came out last year. Sadly I just had not given the gay issue enough time and prayer and research. It was easier to just go along with everyone else. When it hits your home you go to your knees. I know my son is loved and accepted by Jesus just as he is. And I think he is darned amazing. Hold your head up. And thank you for your inspiration to all Mama Bears! – Kathy

You have touched me deeply with your love and encouragement for the LGBT community. You are a blessing to so many and truly reflect the heart of Jesus. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. – Joyce in Vancouver BC

Jen, Thank you for your courage to do the right thing in the name of Jesus. I know it took a lot of courage, understanding that sacrifice would come with it. But God has given you a platform to reach so many with His love, and you are faithfully doing that and changing hearts and minds as you do. We love you! – Kim

Dear, Jenn: You are doing Jesus’ work. The Holy Spirit has begun a work. The floodgates are opening and you are at the forefront. It will not be stopped. – Cheryel

Jen, hang in there and let your love continue to shine in the dark places! – Leslie

My priest (totally affirming Episcopalian) told me once: The more your life centers on God, the more you will be attacked. Jen, hang in there and keep being a witness for the love of Jesus – the broad, wide, all-encompassing love of Jesus. You are being persecuted in his name, actually. Not because they are right but because you are being faithful to his teachings and that will cause conflict. Jesus was a rebel and a radical. You go girl. – Molly

Dear Jen, the church condemned Galileo for believing the earth was not the center of the universe. –Toni in MN

Carolyn Cage Johnston Jen, I grew up conservative evangelical, and I know first hand how difficult it is to disagree with the received wisdom within conservative churches. I know how much strength, courage and love it takes to be able and willing to voice a dissenting viewpoint – especially a viewpoint that embraces LGBT individuals as image-bearers of God, just like their straight brothers and sisters.  As the mother of an LGBT daughter, I thank you for that love, strength and courage from the bottom of my heart. I know what it cost you. You are following Jesus, whose love and courage cost him everything, in affirming the worth of everyone. It is difficult to express just how much that means to those of us on the front lines, facing the ‘judgement in the name of Jesus’ crowd, as we protect our children from the damage they cause. Again – thank you so very very much. – Carolyn

Thank you Jen! You have eyes to see and ears to hear. Not everyone who claims to be a Christian chooses this narrow path that Jesus offers us. We Mama Bears are so thankful you have chosen it and have taken on the mind of Christ to be loving and inclusive as you welcome all to God’s table. The pain “Christians” who act like Pharisees cause is great, but please know you are loved and supported by others who see God’s image in everyone just as you do. – Felicia in TX

It’s hard to put into words how encouraging it is to have you & your husband as allies for our gay sons and the LGBTQ community, of which my husband & I now count ourselves a part, Jen. Thank-you for your bravery and transparency on this journey with us. You have our prayers! Late last year my husband left a 25 year ministry in a small, conservative congregation, due to ‘irreconcilable differences’, after our 2 sons came out almost 6 and 3 years ago. We’ve moved and changed our lives completely, by God’s grace and goodness. It has been hard. It has been good. Any loss we’ve experienced has been more than restored in miraculous ways. We pray God’s blessing on you, your family & your ministry. – Patty

It breaks my heart what the church is capable of when we disagree. We’ve got your back, here! – Cathy

Jen, much love coming your way from Cleveland TN. You don’t know how much your willingness to walk the walk on this has encouraged me. It gives me hope that Christianity can be saved from the Pharisees and that it can be done right. Hang tough, don’t listen to the haters, know that there are many more people out there who are seeing what is happening to you, seeing the unfairness of it all, and looking at the establishment church with new eyes. Even in your pain you are doing good. We love you and embrace you with big ol’ mama bear hugs! Keep up the good work! – Jennifer

Dear Jen, Thank you for boldly sharing your heart. We rarely see Christians take the stand that they know is right, because there will be consequences. I’m sorry for the hurt that you and your family have endured. To overcome the fear of God and claim His love for all, is wonderful. I recently read that MLK daughter said that her Father’s death wasn’t due to hate, but to the absences of the church standing up. This is frightening true for our kids, too. Thank you for standing with us.  – Debby

God loves you just the way you are! He created you in His image. Continue to live for Him honestly and openly. You have the support of many Christians! Love from Angel in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

You can never know how much your courage means to me- you are a blessing to all faithful souls who strive to support love in all its infinite beauty. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. – Jessica

Thank you, Jen! We Mama Bears and our families are working for justice and praying for the wisdom to effectively do God’s work on earth – that of changing hearts and minds towards loving affirmation of our dear ones and others who happen to be born LGBTQI. You are an influential and articulate advocate and we are grateful to have you as one of our leaders! Thank you so very much! – Carla

You’ve been in our hearts since you were a toddler and our entire family sends you love and blessings. Welcome to the road that is no longer less traveled. New York City stands graciously and joyfully with you. Time for another visit!! – Laura

Jen, You embody the spirit of God by choosing love over system. You choose the hearts of people over conformity. You’re going through a lot in order to be deconstructed and then re-constructed which produces real faith in God. I am proud of you. – Monica

Jen, I am so thankful for your courage to stand up for the side of all that is right and good and definitely Jesus. Stay strong and may God bless you and hold you up during this time. – Laurie

“Sometimes following God is the worst. I can say with some confidence: if you go wherever God says and when, expect to be misunderstood. And go anyway.” – Jen, your words have been a lifeline since my 13-yr-old came out this year, pointing me to the tenderness of God’s heart. I pray that the people closest to you — the ones whose rejection, or silence, has wounded you most deeply — will see things clearly soon. But if they do not, may it point to what God is doing…because when He is at work, it will cost something. A favorite section of mine from Interrupted is your writing on The Last Supper, and Communion. Paraphrasing here… Someone must be broken for someone else to be fed. That’s the gospel right there. ❤ Do not grow weary, my friend! – Adrienne

Hi Jen, I don’t know that much of your writing, but if “they” are attacking you so viciously, you must be doing something right. You are standing up for those who do not have a voice in “their” presence. You are taking heat for people who may not be able to survive the heat. I stand with these moms to encourage you, to pray for you, to believe in you. Thank you so much for all you do.  – Elizabeth

I keep typing a post and deleting. I can’t even put into words what your fight on behalf of the lgbtq community has meant to me….to my gay son who loves Jesus. You are a hero to us. Your husband is a hero to us. How lucky are your kids. Please know how much you are loved and appreciated and needed. We need your voice. – Kimberly

Jen, please know that the work you are laboring in is not in vain. Your voice is so deeply needed. When the church let’s go of its own like it has the LGBT community I believe God sends us his angels and administering spirits .You are an encouragement. We look into the eyes of our children and we will never let them go. I don’t believe God will ever let them go and we moms want to thank you for standing with the principles we ourselves believe. We realize the incredible power of what has come against you, the shunning, retaliation and hurtful words. We pray for you and your family. Remember, something new is being birthed in your life. Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies it remains alone but if it dies it bears much fruit. Thank you for allowing your life to be used to help birth something new. All of us moms and kids are in your fruit basket now – Pauline

 

Jen, thank you for all you have been doing in this crazy, mixed-up world. May Christ’s love and light continue to be a beacon in your life. God Bless! – LuAnn

Jen, thank you for taking a stand and affirming those we love who are LGBTQ. I’m sorry you have endured such awfulness from the “mainstream”, but hope you can feel and receive the support and thankfulness for your voice and courage from all of us in this community. – Frances

 

Jen, Reading through all of these notes brings tears to my eyes because the words of these Mama Bears reminds me how badly we need more brave and beautiful people like you who “get it” and are willing to talk about it out loud! As moms with LGBTQ kids we are on a mission to make the world a kinder, safer, more loving place for all LGBTQ people to live and we are always ready to embrace those who show up to stand with us. Thank you for showing up and for standing with us. Thank you for taking the time to study and listen and pray and learn. Thank you for being brave enough to be open and authentic about what you discovered. I don’t know if you are aware of it but you are leaving a little sparkle wherever you go these days – don’t let anyone dull that sparkle – the world needs more sparkle! – In fact, my advice is “when in doubt, add more sparkle!” We love you, Jen, and as far as we are concerned you are a member of our tribe now and that means that we are showing up for you and standing with you! Love & Light – Liz Dyer, founder and owner of Serendipitydodah for Moms – a private facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids

  


 

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 2,500 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

A Prayer for Holy Week

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Holy Week is an important time for those of us who profess to be Christians to reflect on what it means to be a Jesus follower. May the words of this prayer remind us we are called to be God’s hospitality in the world.

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A PRAYER FOR HOLY WEEK by Liz Dyer

Give us eyes to see the deepest needs of people.

Give us hearts full of love for our neighbors as well as for the strangers we meet.

Help us understand what it means to love others as we love ourselves.

Teach us to care in a way that strengthens those who are sick.

Fill us with generosity so we feed the hungry, clothe the naked and give drink to the thirsty.

Let us be a healing balm to those who are weak, lonely and weary by offering our kindness to them.

May we remember to listen, to smile, to offer a helping hand each time the opportunity presents itself.

Give us hearts of courage that we will be brave enough to risk loving our enemy.

Inspire us to go out of our way to include those in the margins.

Help us to be welcoming and inclusive to all who come to our door.

Let us be God’s hospitality in the world.

When we know better, we do better.

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Know Better

Moms of lgbtq kids sometimes make mistakes when their kids first come out – sometimes they aren’t as strong as they need to be – sometimes they let their feelings lead them to say the wrong thing at the wrong time – sometimes they hurt their kids even while loving them more than their kids can imagine … my advice to moms of lgbtq kids when their kids come out include these three things:

(1) Be intentional about letting your kid know you love and support them unconditionally, that you are going to be with them on their journey and do your best to make sure they have the resources they need to be healthy and whole. Ask them questions and listen to their story – learn from them – learn what they need from you. Don’t share your feelings of fear or grief with your child no matter what age they are. They have enough on their plate and you don’t want them to feel like they have caused you pain. Your grief could make them feel guilty or ashamed.

(2) Find people, either in real life or online, that will understand and support you where you are at and at the same time empower you to move forward on the journey so that you are strong for your kid. PFLAG, affirming churches, affirming friends and family members, online groups like my private Facebook group for moms of lgbtq kids are all places to seek that kind of support. (contact me if you want more info about the facebook group)

(3) Educate yourself as much as possible because a lot of a parent’s feelings in the beginning are about the loss of what they perceived as a relatively safe and predictable future. A lot of the emotions are connected to fear and concerns about the unknown. Being well informed can bring a lot of peace and confidence and help parents move forward and be supportive in the way their kid needs them to be.When you know better you can do better.

I try to meet moms where they are and help them become better. Any mother that is open to learning and growing is welcome in my facebook group for moms of lgbtq kids. I believe we are better together. I believe we can learn from each other and with each other and become stronger and more loving and more understanding of ourselves, each other and our kids.

Our motto in my group is “better together” and I believe we are better together.

And I always say “when we know better, we do better”

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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 2,500 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. Their official motto is “We Are Better Together” and their nickname is “Mama Bears” The group is secret so only members can find it or see what is posted in the group. 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. However, moms do not have to be Christian to be a member of the group. In addition to providing a space for members to share info and support one another, a special guest is added each month for a short time so members can ask questions in the privacy of the group. The guests include authors, pastors, LGBTQ people, bloggers, medical professionals and public speakers.

Serendipitydodah for Moms also has three subgroups:

Serendipitydodah MTK is for trans specific conversation and is mostly made up of moms of trans kids. All the members of Serendipitydodah MTK are in the larger group also.

Serendipitydodah Mama Bears to the Rescue is a subgroup for Serendipitydodah Mama Bears who are willing and able to be available to do small acts of kindness for LGBTQ people in their local community who may need connection, care or assistance. This subgroup makes it easier for members to coordinate and organize to do things such as visit someone in the hospital, help someone get settled in a new area, provide some transportation, include someone in their holiday gatherings, provide temporary housing, send a note of encouragement, attend a wedding etc

Serendipitydodah Blue Ocean Faith is for members of Serendipitydodah for Moms who want to connect with and become a part of the Blue Ocean Faith Ann Arbor community via its online presence. Blue Ocean Faith is a faith community that fully includes, affirms and supports lgbtq people and those that support them. Ken Wilson and Emily Swan are the pastors of Blue Ocean Faith.

Email lizdyer55@gmail.com to join or for more info.

2018 Free Mom Hugs Tour

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“Every time I’m out with the (Free Mom Hugs) 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,” said Sara Cunningham, who tells of the tears of teens and older adults alike, many of whom haven’t even spoken to their moms and families in years. “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.”

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I’m really excited about the 2018 Free Mom Hugs Tour that Mama Bear Sara Cunningham and friends are putting together!!!

Sara is a member of Serendipitydodah for Moms, a private facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids who started a Free Mom Hugs movement a couple of years ago.

In the beginning Sara was going to Pride Parades and other local events handing out Free Mom Hugs to LGBTQ people who needed to know they were loved and accepted.

Then last year she got the crazy idea to travel across the United States and hand out even more hugs … and with a little help from some friends she did it.

 

Now she is ready to do it again.

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This year’s adventure will begin in Oklahoma City in May and from there the tour will stop at 9 other cities where lots of Free Mom Hugs will be given out along the way with some resources and information to help friends, families, educational institutions and local leaders know how to best support LGBTQ people in their community.

On May 13, Mother’s Day, they will spend time at the Matthew Shepard site in Laramie, Wyoming as a special tribute to LGBTQ people and their friends and family members who love and support them.

Here is a press release that has lots more details.  Please share it if you can!! 

 

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PRESS RELEASE:

 

Free Mom Hugs is a non-profit group of Christian moms who love our LGBTQ kids unconditionally, and take those hugs of love and acceptance to others. We also provide resources and education for LGBTQ youth, as well as parents, family, faith leaders, education providers and more.

Last year, founder Sara Cunningham, author of How We Sleep at Night, took the Free Mom Hugs banner on its first national tour, ending at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. She met with educators at a public library in Ohio, cooked homemade dumplings for the largely LGBTQ residents of a homeless shelter in Pennsylvania, and offered hugs across the street from the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas. Free Mom Hugs was officially the first organization ever to be awarded a permit to exercise their First Amendment Rights at Stonewall Inn, where most believe the gay civil rights movement began.

May 4-19, Cunningham will take the Free Mom Hugs banner on its second annual tour across the country, stopping at the Matthew Shepard site in Laramie, Wyoming, on Mother’s Day. Shepard was a 22-year-old gay university student who, in 1998, who was beaten, tortured and left to die. Cunningham and her gay son, Parker, will share their stories with civic, faith and business leaders, and share their hugs with the local LGBTQ communities.

Itinerary:

• May 4 – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
• May 5 – Wichita, Kansas
• May 5-7 – Kansas City, Kansas/Missouri
• May 8 – Des Moines, Iowa
• May 9-10 – Sioux Falls, South Dakota
• May 11-12 – Rapid City, South Dakota
• May 13 – MOTHERS DAY – Laramie, Wyoming
• May 14-16 – Denver/Boulder, Colorado
• May 17 – Colorado Springs, Colorado
• May 17-18 – Santa Fe, New Mexico

If you would like to help contribute, all donations are tax-deductible and very welcomed!

You can donate in the following way:

• Check or cash

• Through the Free Mom Hugs Go Fund Me page 

• Through the Free Mom Hugs Paypal Account Here or via the email: FreeMomHugs@gmail.com

Be sure and follow the tour on social media!
Free Mom Hugs Facebook Page
Free Mom Hugs Twitter Account

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Mama Bear Story Project #29 – Dena Edwards

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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.

Dena

“I’m gay, please don’t make me leave, I like living here, I like our family, please don’t make me leave …”

My heart shattered. I’m not going to lie, the homosexuality part terrified me to my core, but what shredded my Momma heart was knowing my precious son really thought we would kick him to the curb because of it. My beloved boy who was once a literal part of my body and was then a living, breathing, 17-year-old piece of my heart walking around in a man’s body. Not possible that I would ever turn him away. And I felt like a total failure as a mom that I had not gotten that message clearly and deeply embedded into his brain.

A seed of determination was planted that day, although I didn’t fully realize it in the swirling vortex of negative emotions that overwhelmed for the next many months – fear, isolation, despair, regret, guilt, doubt, anger, depression. As a conservative Christian, I believed my trusted, worn, NIV Bible said homosexuality was a sin. I knew Satan was a lion seeking to devour, and I believed my son was on the ground, belly exposed to those snapping jaws. It was my job, my DUTY as mom to swoop in and save him from the devil’s blood lust.

I had been dropped into the most desperate spiritual battle of my life. And I was going to call on the power of my mighty God, and we were going to win.

That IS what happened. But not exactly how I envisioned it.

I am one of those weird people who enjoys playing Monopoly. But only once I’m actually playing it. Prior to that, I avoid it like the plague, knowing that once I commit, I’ve given up the next several hours. I say no to whoever is asking me to play and stand strong until lots of begging finally plants me in front of that time-suck colorful cardboard square. God simply skipped the cajoling part, shoved a little metal shoe in my hand, placed me emphatically on square one and yelled “GO” in big red letters into my ear. He knows me so well.

My wise, all-knowing Father and I started rolling the dice and making our plays. What is interesting to me in hindsight, is I thought He and I were playing the same token. On the same team, as partners, working towards the same winning move of saving my son from the temptation of his same-sex attractions. What I came to realize much later is that I, in my human fallibility, could never be partners with God. We were on the same team, but our mission was different. I was working towards a win for my son; God was working towards a win for me.

What, ME? I’m not gay; this couldn’t be about me! There is nothing wrong with me …. Oops, ok, maybe some self-righteousness in there, but nothing as bad as homosexual- … yes, ok, I heard that one. Serious self-righteousness going on here. God, I got Your message, I’ll get to work on that so you and I can go back to the goal of fixing my son.

I’m kind of dense sometimes.

Many months and many grace-filled Get Out of Jail Free cards later, and I knew why God had made me play with the broken shoe instead of the cool car. I needed to get me out of the driver’s seat and let God lead me where HE wanted me to go.

If I’ve lost you in analogies, what I’m trying to say is I had it wrong all along. I thought the issue that needed addressing was my son’s homosexuality. In reality, the issue was my self-righteousness and lack of faith. In God’s seemingly backwards way of doing things, He used my son to get to me. To work on me. My son’s homosexuality changed my Christianity completely. Beautifully. Not in spite of him being gay, but because he is gay.

As I studied the various word choices in biblical translations, as I studied the culture of the time in which the bible was written, as I let the word of God come alive with the Word of God (Holy Spirit, see John 1:1) the verses spoke to me in different ways than ever before. Instead of attempting to read a 2,000-year-old book through a modern lens, my goal became reading a 2,000-year-old book through a 2,000-year-old lens and applying it to modern times. Big difference. Passages I had read hundreds of time in my Christian life took on new meanings. I saw the scriptures on homosexuality as they were intended – addressing rape and pederasty (abusive adult male to young male sexual practice that lasted through many hundreds of years in ancient Greek culture) and overindulgence, not modern, loving, monogamous same-sex relationships. That gave me peace, and was a nice appetizer, but the main course was still being served.

God opened my heart to people. All people. To His humanity. To the fringe, the hurting, the outcast, the poor.

Along the journey, God and I made a pit stop with Free Mom Hugs. Free Mom Hugs is an organization of Christian Moms of LGBTQ kids who are loving their kids unconditionally and sharing that love with others. At the time, I hadn’t quite gotten to where I saw homosexuality as a part of God’s beautiful creation, but I recognized His love when I saw it. The first time I put on a Free Mom Hugs pin at an LGBTQ event, I was overwhelmed at the need. Kids and adults alike were drawn to the Mom love – something I had always taken for granted, and something that should be a given. I saw that it wasn’t. I was humbled to the point of embarrassment, and still am, when LGBTQ people tell me thank you for giving Free Mom Hugs. For supporting my son. I want to shout, “That’s what ALL moms should do!!” It hurts me and angers me and moves me. Moms, and dads, should love their kids. Period. End of story.

But the reality is, unconditional love isn’t just the realm of moms. It is the realm of Christ. Of Christians.

God used homosexuality to show me how wrong I had His message. I’m not here to identify the sin in others. I’m not here to change others. When I start to think I’m even capable of that, I know I’ve fallen back into the pit of self-righteousness and need to climb my way back out again. I’m here for one thing and one thing only – to love God completely and to share God’s amazing, empowering, unconditional love with everyone I meet. (Ok, two things.) God has got the rest.

My story as a Christian mom of a gay son has changed. The story I would’ve told even a year ago was the story of how I made the switch from non-affirming to affirming, and the difficulties and challenges I faced. How we lost some of our family in the process. How scared we still are that we might lose more. How silence has become the norm when the topic comes up. I would’ve (and have) told of the different books I’ve read and people I’ve met and talked with and fallen in love with. How I see Sodom and Gomorrah differently. How Paul’s life and times affect how I now read his books. A year ago, I talked about conversations I had with my son in which he shared what it really was like to be gay, and how different it was than what I had always thought. How that affected me.

Those things are all true. That story is important. And I’ve watched many moms and dads and siblings go through that same journey. It’s such a hard one. But, fellow travelers, when you battle your own fears and make the trip, it’s so much different than you expect. So much better. God fills you with love … such love …

My chains are gone, I’ve been set free!

My God my Savior has ransomed me.

And like a flood His mercy reins.

Unending love, amazing grace.

I look back three and a half years ago to when I saw the world as I knew it crumble. I remember the failure I felt as a mom that my son thought even for a second I might abandon him for something I then saw as sin. That wasn’t just a Mom failure, that was a Christian failure.

I have been fighting the spiritual battle of my life. But it wasn’t for my son’s endangered soul, as I had thought. It was for my own. And my God and I, we are going to win.


Dena Edwards is a member of Serendipitydodah for Moms and is helping to make the Free Mom Hugs 2018 Tour a reality.

The Free Moms Hugs 2018 Tour plans to take off from Oklahoma on May 4, 2018 and stop at 10 cities over a two week period. One of the highlights of the tour will be a visit to the Matthew Shepherd Memorial on Mother’s Day. You can visit the Free Mom Hugs Facebook page here for more info.


Serendipitydodah for Moms is a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids. The official motto is “Better Together” and the members call themselves “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 2,500 members. For more info email lizdyer55@gmail.com

Love Is Very Much Like Courage

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Love is very much like courage, perhaps it is courage,
and even perhaps only courage. 
– Galway Kinnell 


The following piece was written by Meredith Indermaur.

Meredith is a member of Serendipitydodah for Moms, a private facebook group for moms of lgbtq kids, and like so many moms in the group, she has discovered that love is very much like courage.

courage...

Nearly ten years ago, a dear friend gave me a Willow Tree figurine for Christmas, as she does every year. In fact, she’s the one who got me interested in collecting the unadorned, faceless sculptures, and I’ve been hooked on them ever since. Beautiful in their simplicity, they have a childlike, innocent quality about them. They are striking on their own but stunning en masse. Each little figure represents something meaningful (like hope) or commemorates an important event in life (like a new baby). The angel I unearthed from her box that winter’s day is called “Courage.” She stands about 5 inches high with arms outstretched in a V-shape, her little head turned upwards toward the sky, looking like every other child I know who’s ever scored a soccer goal or aced a math test. My friend explained that she sensed I’d be facing some situations requiring me to be “bold and courageous,” and this gift was her way of reminding me to remind myself of who I am in Christ. That’s funny, I thought, because I’ve never considered myself to be particularly courageous, statue or no statue.

The artist penned these words about her “Courage Girl:”

“I sculpted the first Angel of Courage in 2001 to celebrate the triumphant spirit, inspiration and courage we call upon to face challenges in our lives — whether they be our health or the well-being of our loved ones. In response to an overwhelming request for this sentiment, I re-sculpted Courage in 2006. I hope this figure can be a reminder of people in our lives who inspire us with their strength and courage every day.”

Two years later, our oldest son came out as gay to my husband and me in a letter he wrote before leaving for church camp for a week. He was afraid to be home when we read it. At the time, his fear made perfect sense, given off-hand comments I’d made over the years about “biblical truth” and “the LGBT lifestyle,” but when I think about it these days, I shudder. That I’d put him in any position to fear me for being honest about himself shames me to my core, which seems fitting, given how I’d unwittingly shamed him. I’ve sought and received his forgiveness, thank God, and we are and have been on the same page for a long while now. I take none of this for granted; I know how easily I could have lost him.


As a high schooler who was born and bred in North Carolina, I inhaled every book Thomas Wolfe wrote with the same gusto I give today to a bowl of kettle corn. Too young at that time to comprehend the deeper meanings attached to his own life experiences, I missed a lot of what he was trying to communicate in my favorite of his works, “You Can’t Go Home Again.”

My teenage self really didn’t understand anything about “home” – and would not – until I’d grown up, moved away, and returned for visits a couple times a year. I thought Wolfe was trying to convey that New York City had a hold on him that Asheville, North Carolina, which must have seemed backwards by comparison, could never have. But he was writing about something much larger, much more intense, and much more true than I could grasp in my limited experience. He was writing about the pains and gains of growing up. In effect, he was reiterating Jesus’ parable that begins, “Truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.”

“Something has spoken to me in the night…and told me that I shall die, I know not where. Saying: ‘[Death is] to lose the earth you know for greater knowing; to lose the life you have, for greater life; to leave the friends you loved, for greater loving; to find a land more kind than home, more large than earth.'” – From You Can’t Go Home Again

Death and resurrection. Loss and gain. Putting away childish things. All these take courage.

Growing pains are real. I remember my eight-year old legs aching when I’d lie in bed at night and my mom reminding me that they hurt because my bones were growing. Spiritual growing pains are real, too, but by the time I began experiencing them in full force, my mom wasn’t here to reassure me that all those “something[s] greater” à la Wolfe were awaiting me. In fact, I was terrified I was losing my faith, tumbling down that proverbial slippery slope, and keeping company with all those people who’d “traded the truth for a lie.” I was nothing if not steeped in what had morphed into what I call American evangelicalism – the thing that lived off fear like a fungi lives off its host – rather than steeped in the Jesus kind of evangelicalism that simply proclaims, by word and by deed, the Good News of God’s loving presence to everyone.

meredith
My son’s coming out forced me to take another look at my previously held belief system, and I don’t mean “take a look” as in revisit some things but actually roll up my sleeves, grab a shovel, and dig down deep, turning everything over and over again. I worked up a mean sweat for nearly three years. A mom will do that for her kid, and I have to tell you, it took a helluva lot of courage to begin and to persist. A researcher by nature, I sought out alternative translations of Scripture and studied any verses hinting at homosexuality in their original languages. I pored over scholarly articles, psychology journals, and medical books. I listened to and learned from LGBT people, starting with my son. I got connected to other Christian moms of LGBT kids. And I prayed – oh, how I prayed. This was a true labor of love, which I owed my son, if nothing else. It was also my faith deconstruction, an often fear-filled, messy, and lonely business that gave me a deep appreciation for what my son and others like him experience on a daily basis. My fearful reliance on certainty was blown to smithereens, so I’ve learned to peacefully co-exist with doubt. The god I thought I knew – the disapproving, occasionally angry, and ever-disappointed One I was introduced to in childhood – continues to fall by the wayside. In that god’s place is Someone Who embraces and sustains us all, Who finds delight in us, and Who continues beckoning us to step outside our tight theological boxes for open pasture. Many of the beliefs of yesterday that built and carried me – in fear – are the ones I offer again and again as a sacrifice to this embracing, sustaining God. I was overdue for a dismantling. I now know from experience that spiritual maturity, among other things, is birthed out of a good shell-shocking, and I didn’t want to waste mine; in fact, I want to continue welcoming it.

“Toil on, son, and do not lose heart or hope. Let nothing you dismay. You are not utterly forsaken. I, too, am here–here in the darkness waiting, here attentive, here approving of your labor and your dream.” – From You Can’t Go Home Again

Having a child in the LGBTQ community is a gift of the highest order. This gift is God’s invitation to stand on the outside and in the margins with others that He loves but who may not yet know that love. This gift is God’s invitation to view Him and others with a different hermeneutic – one that takes to task a small, narrow, restrictive, and exclusive belief system and offers us a more expansive and inclusive one. It’s also God’s invitation to see Him in and through my son and others like him. This is the heart of God’s heart. Thomas Wolfe’s words about death and resurrection, about losing something for gaining another thing, about leaving something in order to find something else are really Jesus’ words and are now a part of my own experience, which is the only way any of this could ever make sense to me at all.

I am finally putting my face on the little figurine as I stand with my arms in a V-formation with my head tilted upwards toward the sky. I don’t stand alone but alongside my son and others in the LGBTQ community who are the epitome of courage.

And we are stunning en masse.


 

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 2,500 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. 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. 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. However, moms do not have to be Christian to be a member of the group. In addition to providing a space for members to share info and support one another, a special guest is added each month for a short time so members can ask questions in the privacy of the group. The guests include authors, pastors, LGBTQ people, bloggers, medical professionals and public speakers.

Serendipitydodah for Moms also has two extension groups:

Serendipitydodah MTK is for trans specific conversation and is mostly made up of moms of trans kids.

Serendipitydodah Blue Ocean Faith is for members of Serendipitydodah for Moms who want to connect with and become a part of the Blue Ocean Faith Ann Arbor community via it’s online presence. Blue Ocean Faith is a faith community that fully includes, affirms and supports lgbtq people and those that support them.

Email lizdyer55@gmail.com to join or for more info.