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

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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 as of October 2017 has more than 2,200 members. The space was especially created for open minded Christian moms who have LGBTQ kids and want to develop and maintain healthy, loving, authentic relationships with their LGBTQ kids. The members call themselves “Mama Bears” and their motto is “We are better together”  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. The guests include authors, pastors, LGBTQ people, bloggers and public speakers.

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

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Love Others and Hate Your Own Sin

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Recently, my husband and I were interviewed at our home by the good people who create the Christians Talk videos.

During the interview they asked me what I thought about the phrase “love the sinner, hate the sin”

You can watch their video HERE that includes responses from several Christians about the phrase.

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What I wanted to say but probably failed to say because I was nervous that day when we were being interviewed was this:

Instead of saying “love the sinner, hate the sin” Christians should be saying:

“Love others and hate your own sin!”

The phrase “love the sinner, hate the sin” doesn’t honor the basic tenets of Christianity because it leads Christians to focus on hating rather than on loving.

When someone says “love the sinner, hate the sin” the focus is not on “loving” – the focus is on “hating”

The person using the phrase is thinking about how much they hate the sin of homosexuality and how much they want to get that point across.

The lgbt person hearing the phrase is thinking about how the person who is using the phrase hates who they are at the core of their being because they know that being lgbt has more to do with “who they are” than who they might have sex with.

As someone who is serious about following Jesus I always want to know what Jesus had to say about it and as it turns out Jesus never said “love the sinner, hate the sin” – in fact, no one in the bible said it.

But …

In Matthew 7 Jesus did say:

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

In other words, Jesus was saying worry about your own sin and when you have rid yourself of all your own sin then you can worry about hating someone else’s sin.

Jesus also said:

“love one another: just as I have loved you”

So …

I think “love others, hate your own sin” would be a better phrase for Christians to use.

Or even better, let’s just shorten it to “love” and leave it at that.

#loveisthemovement #loveoneanother #love #greatestcommandment


 

Liz Dyer is founder and owner of Serendipitydodah for Moms, a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids.

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 2,300 members. For more info email lizdyer55@gmail.com

 

Stories That Change The World #37 – THIS IS MY BODY by Caitlin J. Stout

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

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Caitlin J. Stout is an out and proud gay Christian, doing her best to navigate faith and friendship while attending a non-affirming evangelical university.  She has her own blog where she writes about the joy, pain, anger, and beauty of being #FaithfullyLGBT. Caitlin originally posted this piece on her own blog. I am sharing it here with her permission. I love the way she lays her heart open and shares so transparently. She doesn’t have all the answers but she gives us a lot to think about and reflect on. Her stories are powerful because they are real and true. Her stories are changing hearts and minds. Her stories are changing the world.

THIS IS MY BODY by Caitlin J. Stout

Imagine for a moment that you strike up a conversation with a young woman sitting next to you on a long flight. You exchange pleasantries, talk about work, family life, etc. She starts to tell you about her boyfriend. She tells you that the two of them have been together for years and that she has no intention of ever leaving his side. She talks about the joy that he brings her. She says that she cares about him, and that she wants the best for him. The longer you listen, the clearer it is that this woman has fallen head-over-heels in love.

The conversation starts to take a turn when she admits that her boyfriend is far from perfect. Sometimes she thinks that she puts more work into the relationship than he does. Actually, if she’s being perfectly honest, he can be pretty hurtful. He scares her sometimes. He threatens her. He makes her feel undesirable, and he doesn’t even try to understand her feelings. He has a tendency to treat her as a lesser human, and she spends a lot of time crying about things he has said when he thought she couldn’t hear. She calls him out when he does this kind of stuff, but he always finds a way to turn it around and insist that he’s just acting out of love. She wants to believe that he’s telling the truth, but sometimes she just can’t. She stays anyway.

After all, he’s not always like that. On good days, she feels like she and her boyfriend could change the world together. Those are the days when she feels known and wanted and understood. On good days, she knows that she belongs with him and she doesn’t care what anyone else thinks of her. Yes, she’ll admit, it seems like those days are becoming fewer and farther between… Like she said, he’s not perfect. But she’s pretty sure that if she sticks around, she might be able to fix him. Besides, she needs him.

What would you say to her?

Would you tell her that she’s in an unhealthy relationship?

Would you say that she’s being abused?

Would you tell her to move out and end it?

Have you ever heard an LGBTQ Christian talk about the Church?

This weekend, as a part of the Reformation Project Conference in Chicago, I attended a seminar on spiritual abuse and trauma, led by Teresa Pasquale Mateus, the author of “Sacred Wounds.” She started the workshop by asking the room full of Queer Christians, “What words or phrases do you associate with spiritual abuse?” The answers came rolling in with a disturbing level of ease, requiring no deliberation or second thoughts.

Fear. Control. Threats. Dehumanization. Gaslighting. Blame. Shame. Homophobia. Scapegoating. Isolation. Rejection. Forced compartmentalization. Second class. Silencing. False security. Abandonment. Feelings of inadequacy. Manipulation. Conversion therapy. Anxiety. Dependency. Conditional love. Damnation.

As these words were spoken, faster than Teresa could write them down, I looked around the room and saw weary heads nodding in understanding and legs bouncing nervously. I heard deep and troubled sighs, occasionally accompanied by exasperated laughter. The kind of laughter that says, “This isn’t funny at all, it’s just so incredibly fucking true.” It was devastatingly obvious that no further explanations were needed.

The parallels between the non-affirming church and an abusive partner are startling. And I don’t always know how to deal with that. I don’t always know how to reconcile my genuine love for the Body of Christ with the ways it continues to do harm. I don’t always feel like the relationship is justifiable, and I don’t know if I can tell LGBTQ Christians to keep pouring their energy and affection into an organization that barely tolerates them. I don’t know how to not be angry with the fact that some churchgoers would ignore the hypothetical abusive boyfriend, but lose their minds if the imaginary woman on the plane were dating a female metaphor instead.

I carried this abusive partner analogy in my mind for the rest of the day after that workshop, hoping desperately that it was insufficient and praying for the metaphor to break down.

That night, we took communion.


During the summer, I would sometimes creep into church halfway through the Sunday services. I’d time it so that I got there right after the sermon and the passing of the peace, that way I could walk in, take communion, and then leave before anyone spoke to me.

After coming out, the Eucharist is what kept me coming back to places of worship. I can say with confidence that it is the only reason I still go to church at all. I think for a while I saw taking communion as an act of resistance, and I still acknowledge that there is something powerful about participating in a sacrament that certain people would rather deny me. I felt a need to claim my seat at Christ’s table, even if I wasn’t yet ready for the post-service coffee and fellowship hour.

My understanding of the Eucharist has evolved since then, though I still don’t have the theological language to fully express its beauty or its meaning or its centrality to my faith. I can’t explain the mystery of it, or how the enormity of concepts such as “unity, inclusion, remembrance, and love” seem to somehow be contained in a wafer and a sip of wine. But I can tell you that as I partook in the Lord’s supper on Saturday night with several hundred of my LGBTQ siblings– these refugees and exiles whom I call my friends– the abusive partner metaphor began to weaken.

The thing is, Queer folks are not dating the Church, we are the Church. And I’m beginning to realize that as soon as I start talking about the Body of Christ as an entity separate from myself, I am doing what non-affirming Christians have been trying to do to me for years. Spiritual abuse makes you see yourself as an issue up for debate. It distorts the beauty of the sacraments and turns them into these badges of belonging that you have to fight and work and bleed for. But the reality is that God has already given you a seat at the table. Jesus has already invited you to take and eat. The Body of Christ is already Queer.

This is not to minimize the very real abuse that does happens within the Body. This is not to say that anyone needs to stay in a congregation where they are not celebrated as equals. This is a reminder that “Child of God” is a title that cannot be revoked, and when we internalize that title, we are liberated. We can no longer settle for being tolerated, nor can we ignore the ways in which we have been hurtful to others. After all, the Body of Christ is also Black. The Body of Christ uses a wheelchair. The Body of Christ is undocumented. The Body of Christ is hungry and homeless.

Yeah, sometimes I still worry that I’m acting like the woman on the plane. I still don’t know what kind of advice to give to my fellow gay people who so desperately want to follow Jesus and remain in fellowship with the Church. But I know that when the love of my fellow Christians is insufficient, Christ’s is enough. Christ’s perfect love casts out fear, along with shame, homophobia, manipulation, abandonment, isolation, damnation, and all those other words that we shouted out during Teresa’s workshop.

Christ’s love does not ask me to fight for a place at the table.

Christ’s love says, “This is my body, given for you.”

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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 2,300 members. For more info email lizdyer55@gmail.com

Mama Bear Story Project #24 – Jackie McQueen

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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.

Jackie2

 

On April 8, 2014 my life was changed forever. That day marked the beginning of a painful journey my family would be forced to travel. It is only now that I can honestly say it was a journey worth taking, and it took a long time to come to this realization.

My husband was approaching his 10th anniversary of ministry in our current church, as a Southern Baptist Pastor. We were in the middle of revival services and he called me at work to ask me out for lunch. I always love a lunch date with my husband, but when he asked during such a busy week, I knew something was up. When I pressed him, he told me that our youngest son, Addison, had told some kids in the youth group that he is gay. When I heard those words, my heart sank. I felt true panic. I couldn’t breathe. I was terrified.

Although it was a shock, I must admit it really came as no surprise. We had suspected this for most of Addison’s life, yet we dared not speak of it. But now it was real. The one thing I had dreaded and feared most for my son. He had spoken the words we would have never ever said ourselves. He said, “I’m gay.” The news had already spread to other parents and church staff, leaving us no option to handle this privately as a family. We were forced to deal with it immediately, and there was much more to consider than just our son, even though he was, by far, most important. We were a Southern Baptist minister’s family and I knew what that meant for us. Fear overtook me as I imagined what lay ahead for my family.

I used what little time I had that afternoon to research, “How to talk to your kid about being gay.” I didn’t find much, but I did come across these statistics. 40% of homeless youth are LGBT. 30% of gay youth attempt suicide near the age of 15. Almost half of gay and lesbian teens have attempted suicide more than once. Upon learning this, my mind raced back to when Addison was 14 years old. He went through the normal awkward teenager stage just as his brothers did before him, but it was more than just that. He was angry, and he seemed to hate everything about his life. One night, I caught him on his way upstairs to his bedroom, carrying a ziplock bag of pills. It was a mixture of Advil and Tylenol. His excuse was that he wanted to keep medicine upstairs for convenience whenever he had a headache. The youth minister revealed to us shortly after, that in a youth group meeting, Addison shared having suicidal thoughts. Around that same time, he came to us wanting to be re- baptized. He said he just didn’t feel like he had been saved before. We were very puzzled by this, but Scott counseled him and he prayed to receive Christ, followed by baptism in our church. We watched him very closely during that time, and things eventually got better. But looking back, I realized what my precious son must have been going through years earlier and it scared me to death!

That night, after an emotional wait, we finally had the opportunity to talk with Addison. We approached the conversation with an undeniable love for our son on one hand, and our deeply imbedded conservative theology on the other. When we confronted him, he admitted to telling his friends. He had participated in an “honest hour” online where people can ask questions and you must answer honestly. Someone asked if he was gay and he simply said, “Yes”. He did not intend to come out that way, it just happened. I never will forget hearing Scott tell him how disappointed we were that he had made this choice, and then seeing the look on my son’s face when he said, “Dad, this is not my choice! Why would anyone choose this? If I could choose anything, I would choose not to be this way!” He said he had prayed every night for years for God to change him, only to wake up the next morning, still the same. He had always heard from us that being gay is a sin. He heard his dad preach it from the pulpit, and he heard me say it at home. We had unknowingly created in him such a fear of rejection that he was too afraid to talk to us about it. He said he believed what the Bible said, but he couldn’t understand why God would say it’s wrong and still create him like that. It was at that moment I began to wonder the same thing, as I sat there with my heart breaking for him. Scott ended the conversation that night by making a deal with Addison. They both agreed to make it a matter of serious prayer and seek God’s direction concerning this. Scott told him if they both did that, he was convinced God would change one of them. I began praying too. I desperately wanted to pray for my son not to be gay, but instead I just prayed for answers. I had so many questions! Could it be that my son really was born gay? If so, why would God’s word clearly condemn homosexuality when it’s not a choice? Why would God give us a gay son, knowing it meant the “death penalty” for a Southern Baptist minister? We couldn’t reject our son, but were we wrong to accept him? How could anything good come from this? It felt like a curse!

For the next several days, well…actually weeks, I grieved. It took a conscious effort to even breathe as I merely went through the motions of my daily routine. I finally came to terms with the fact that this was real. It was not going away. I grieved the loss of my hopes and dreams I had for my son. The dream that one day he would marry one of those pretty girls he hung out with. The hope of him giving me grandchildren. I looked back at my son’s life and wondered where I went wrong. What could I have done differently? Did I mother him too closely? I guess I had a full blown pity party. Then one day I realized that this wasn’t really about me. It wasn’t about me at all. My son was gay. What did this mean for him? It meant that he would have to face prejudice throughout his entire life. Prejudice from people just like me who saw this as a sinful choice. A prejudice that could cost him family, friendships, employment, safety and basic civil rights. A prejudice that could leave him exiled from the church, and even worse, could cause him to leave his faith behind. This was my son. My son. MY SON! And then suddenly, I felt myself go quickly from “poor pitiful me” to “protective Mama Bear!” I went from, “Oh my God my son is gay!” to, “Yeah, my son is gay, what have you got to say about that?!” That’s when I realized God was changing me.

Meanwhile, my husband was devoting every spare minute he had to research, desperately searching for answers to reconcile our faith with our reality. He plowed through the Hebrew and Greek, researched Biblical culture, and read every book he could find on the subject. The more he read, the more he began to understand the scripture like he never had before. God was changing him too. I remembered the deal that Scott made with Addison that night in our bedroom, and I realized it wasn’t our son that God wanted to change. It was us.

I wish I could say that everything was easy from that point on, but actually, that’s when things began to get worse. Not only Scott’s job, but his career was hanging by a thread. We knew that if he left the church because of this, no other Southern Baptist Church would want him. What would happen to our family? Would we have to sell our house? How would we pay the bills? Were we facing bankruptcy? We hoped and prayed for the best, but tried to prepare ourselves for the worst, while keeping these worries from our son as best we could. Scott began looking for other job opportunities, but with no success. Ministry was the only thing Scott knew and he had poured his heart into nothing else for over 30 years. We feared for our family’s future, but we wanted to honor God with our actions. I knew it would be difficult to hold back words as our family went under attack, but Scott and I made a conscious decision to treat the church with the
same grace we desired for our family. We were convinced that God would protect us somehow if we trusted Him through this.

People were beginning to gossip in the church. Imagine that! Scott tackled it head on, meeting with the deacons to address all their concerns. He shared deeply from his heart. He told them he was studying to find answers and he didn’t know how it would affect his theology. He assured them that if and when he found himself in conflict with SBC doctrine, he would resign. The deacons said they were in 100% support of Scott, but they had some conditions. They wanted him to take three weeks off “to deal with our family crisis.” (Our family was just fine; the only crisis was with them.) They also wanted assurance that Addison wouldn’t try to “sway” any of the other young people to become gay (yes, really!) and prohibited him from talking about himself or doing anything “gay” on church property. And they wanted Scott to address the church when he returned, announcing to everyone that our son is gay, but that he did not support him and still firmly held to his beliefs according to Southern Baptist doctrine.

Scott did take a couple of weeks off. He honestly needed the break from the deacons! He used that time to research everything he could get his hands on, and we prayed for guidance on how to handle conflict with the church. Our son was our main priority, but we loved our church and we desperately wanted to protect it too. Scott decided against making a church-wide announcement. He met with the deacons when he returned and explained that for him to make a public announcement about our family’s personal affairs would be no different from them announcing all their family secrets. Were they willing to line up behind him to make their announcements as well? Nothing more was said concerning an announcement, but it made me wonder why all the attention was on our son, when all he did was go to school and come straight home to a few chores and homework every day. He had no social life. He wasn’t “doing” anything.

As time went on, the tension only grew as rumors were spread, private meetings were held, Scott’s sermons were picked apart, our parenting was criticized, and our family was put under the microscope like never before. Adults were even stalking Addison on social media, forcing him to close his Facebook account. We pulled him out of the youth group his senior year to protect him from the adult youth leaders, whom we no longer trusted. I was the Women’s Ministry Leader and very involved with the ladies of the church. Those that knew of our situation began avoiding me like a plague. I lost a best friend in the church who just couldn’t support me through this. Another close friend asked me, “Does Addison think he can still be a Christian now that he’s decided to be gay?” One of the ladies suggested my son had a disease and she was sorry we didn’t know about it soon enough to get him help. Another said, “I just want you to know I love your boys, AND Addison.”

Those words hurt me deeply, but what hurt most was the silence from the staff and leadership of the church, who knew our family was hurting. They did nothing to support us or minister to us. Maybe they just didn’t know how. I realized the vast majority of members were not even aware of the issue, and we tried very hard to keep it that way. But I felt so completely alone and isolated. It was a struggle to continue, putting on my smile week after week, as if nothing was wrong. As much as we tried to protect him, Addison became aware that some of the adults didn’t want him to be there. I’ll never forget him saying to me, “Mom, if they don’t want me at church, I can just stay home and Dad can have church without me there.” I told my son, “The day you stay home, I’ll be staying home with you!” My heart ached for him, and there was absolutely no one that could understand.

Friendships were lost, but God was so gracious. I prayed for people I could talk to, people who had been where we were. I was randomly searching the internet one day and landed on The Gay Christian Network (GCN). There, I found a wonderful support group of Christian people, but not like the Christians I was surrounded by at church. These people knew what it was like to be judged by other Christians and exiled from their churches. These people were gay Christians, and they became my new best friends. They were patient and understanding, even though they knew I saw them as sinners. They traveled my journey with me, treating me with unconditional love and compassion as they watched God change me right before their eyes.

Another life saver for me was a private Facebook group of moms that I found. You name it; these moms have been through it, from being outcast from their churches, losing their jobs, having their spouse leave, being disowned by family, and some even losing their gay child to suicide. I’ve cried with these women and they have cried with me. Although I may never meet most of them in person, they are my true friends.

Out of all our church members, God blessed us with two great couples that stood by us and loved our family through the fire. I realize the courage it took to support us, and the cost to them was great. Scott and I desperately needed them when others betrayed us, and I’m so thankful for their friendship.

With Addison’s permission, we told our family about his news early on. His brothers said they had known all along, and they both agreed that he is their brother and they will love him no matter what. Aaron, his oldest brother, said, “If anyone gives Addison a hard time about it they’ll only do it once!” It made me happy to know his brothers had his back. My sister offered her shoulder for me to cry on, and I used it often. That’s what sisters are for, and I’m thankful she was willing to listen. Scott agonized over telling his mom, but when he finally did, she said, “Well I could’ve told you that young man was gay years ago but it wasn’t for me to say!” My mother was supportive as well, although neither mom really understands what it means to be gay. They both think Addison could change his mind someday and they’re holding onto the hope that a pretty girl might turn his head.

As time went on, God continued to reconstruct our faith. One day Scott said to me, “I’ve changed and I don’t think the church can handle me anymore.” He had come to the place where he could no longer continue to pastor the church with integrity. It wasn’t even about our son anymore. My husband was not the same person he had been a year earlier, and there was no going back. He’s always been one to follow God’s call even when it doesn’t make sense, and even when there is no safety net. In May of 2015 he met with our personnel team leader to share his plans to resign, without another job waiting. Our prayer for the past year had been for God to show us if and when to close that door. Now we had to pray for Him to open a new one, quickly! God answered that prayer when a Chaplain from Hospice of West Alabama contacted Scott, asking him to submit a resume. God rewarded my husband’s faith by providing a fulfilling job where he could minister to families and make a real difference. Although this position created a substantial pay cut, we knew it was God’s answer to our specific prayer for provision. He announced his resignation to the church, and was able to leave under the best of circumstances; yet, it was by far the hardest thing we’ve ever done in ministry. We’ve left churches before, but this move was different from all the others. Not only were we leaving an 11-year pastorate, we were leaving our denomination behind. Thirty-two years of ministry as we had known it was now over.

We’ve considered visiting to find a new church home, but for me personally, the risk is just too great. I will never subject my family, particularly my gay son, to abuse by another church, ever. After the church family we loved and gave so much of ourselves to for eleven years chose not to support us, I can’t imagine how a new church, with no connection to us would fully accept our family. We no longer consider ourselves Southern Baptists. We’re just Jesus followers. And I must say, it feels good!

We’ve been accused of compromising our beliefs to accommodate our son, but nothing could be further from the truth. I believe God gifted us with a gay son and used him to bring about much needed change. Sometimes it takes something huge to get us to reconsider our lifelong interpretation of God’s Word. Our son’s life was important enough to search for the truth. And it was in our search that we discovered having a gay son was not the problem, but rather the means to finding the solution!

Our journey has been difficult to say the least. But God showed His grace to our family by offering protection, provision, and now healing.

What once seemed like a curse has turned into the biggest blessing of my life! I have changed and I would never want to go back to the way I was before. I am learning more and more every day what it means to REALLY love people like Jesus. To lay judgement aside, to show grace and understanding, and to walk a few steps in another’s shoes.

I’ve taught Addison all his life to love everyone, and to never put himself above another person. But in the last year, I’ve learned that more from him than I could have ever taught. I’m so proud of him. My son is brave, loving, smart, funny, creative, sensitive, caring, sooo handsome, …and oh yeah, he’s GAY! His two brothers are pretty amazing too!

One of my friends from GCN sent me these words that I have hung onto. “There is a difference between acting like a Christian and acting like Jesus. When you act like a Christian everyone at church will praise you and reward you. But Heaven help the Christian who starts acting like Jesus. When believers act like Jesus there is a price to pay. You won’t be understood and the church won’t be very happy. But the end result is a relationship with the living God that is real, and honest and loving. It is full of grace.”

These days my focus is pretty simple. I just want to act like Jesus.

Jackie1

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Jackie’s husband, Scott McQueen, a former Southern Baptist pastor of 31 years, has written Reasonable Doubt: A Case for LGBTQ Inclusion in the Institutions of Marriage and Church. The book is being published by CanyonWalker Press and will be available through Amazon and other outlets in paperback and e-book in January, 2018.

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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 2,000 members. For more info email lizdyer55@gmail.com

 

Go the second mile & bake the second cake

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weddingcake
I haven’t been able to find anything in scripture that indicates that Christians should not sell their goods or services to people who they think are sinning and that goes for those who are in the business of selling goods and services for weddings.

After reading scripture and considering what Jesus taught it seems to me that refusing to bake/sell/serve a cake at a same sex wedding because you don’t approve of same sex marriages is not something that honors the basic tenets of Christianity.

Jesus’ teachings seem to indicate that a Christian baker in the United States, where same sex marriage is legal, should be extra accommodating, helpful and generous towards a same sex couple planning a wedding.

In fact, if Jesus were here today he might be saying “go the second mile AND bake the second cake”.

 

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In Matthew 5:41 Jesus said, “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.”

As usual Jesus was saying something that might have sounded shocking to his audience.

You see, there was a Roman law that could require men to drop what they were doing and carry a Roman soldier’s equipment for him for up to one mile.

The Israelites who lived in Rome were disgusted about having to pay taxes to Caesar and obey Roman laws such as this because they saw Romans as evil and ungodly.

So, when Jesus said “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.” you would have heard a lot of gasps and grumbling among those in the crowd.  In fact, it was probably one of those times when many just got up, left and stopped following Jesus. This was not a message they wanted to hear.

But that didn’t stop Jesus. He went right on challenging them to be extra generous and accommodating to those they saw as evil and ungodly. He went right on challenging them to put their reputation on the line for love and kindness.

Jesus wasn’t worried about people talking bad about someone for associating with the wrong people or for helping a Roman soldier more than was required.

Jesus was willing to risk his own reputation when it came to radical love and inclusion and he was telling his followers they should be doing the same kind of crazy, shocking, upside down sort of things.

I love what Jessica Kantrowitz had to say to Christians about this when she blogged about it back in 2015:

”If someone forces you to bake a cake for a gay wedding, bake for them two.

Christians, our Jesus said to not only follow the law, but to rise to a higher standard of love. Christians should be the FIRST people baking cakes — for everyone who asks us. We should be known for our cake baking. People should be saying, “There go those crazy Christians again, baking cakes for everyone. They just won’t quit!” Then, when we share the reason for our wild, all-inclusive love, people will want to hear it. “Let your light shine before others,” said Jesus, “that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven”


If you believe gay marriage is immoral (I don’t, myself) and a gay couple comes into your shop and asks you to bake a cake for their wedding, what should you do? If God causes the sun to rise and the rain to fall on the wedding days of straight and gay couples, then what is our responsibility? If it is against the law to discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation, but you believe strongly that their lifestyle is immoral, what should you do?

Jesus said, “Go with them two.” – Jessica Kantrowitz

 

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My oldest son, who is gay, got married earlier this month. I was so thankful for the love and support we received from so many of our friends and family members. Much of the support and love we received came from affirming Christians that we know and love, but there was a deafening silence coming from some non-affirming family members who refused to express any happiness or joy for my son. That silence hurt us deeply.

There was only one person among all the non-affirming Christians we know personally who broke their silence and offered a sincere, positive wish of happiness for my son in regards to his marriage. It was just a short message they posted online expressing their good wishes and happiness for my son. It was a comment posted on a picture from the wedding I shared on social media but that simple comment meant so much to us. It was shocking to me – in a good way. I was immediately impressed that this person wasn’t worried about what anyone thought about them as they sent best wishes to my newly married son. It reminded me of the way that Jesus loved others and how he was willing to risk his own reputation when it came to loving people. It reminded me that Jesus calls his followers to do the same thing.

It may be rare, but there are Christians who are really invested in and committed to loving like Jesus loved. I’m so thankful for them!

May more of us who claim to be followers of Jesus be willing to shock the world with the same kind of radical love and generosity Jesus demonstrated and taught.

May more of us who profess to be imitating Jesus be willing to risk our reputation the way Jesus did when he hung out with and loved those that the religious people thought were ungodly.

May more of us who call ourselves Christians be willing to go the second mile and bake the second cake.

 

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Liz Dyer is the founder and owner of Serendpitydodah for Moms, a private Facebook group for open minded Christian moms of LGBTQ+ kids. 

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 2,000 members. 

For more info about the private Facebook group email lizdyer55@gmail.com

 


Stories That Change The World #37 – Superheroes Are REAL

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Robert Clancy said, “We all have the capacity to be a superhero… The cape and mask are optional accessories, but a kind heart is essential.”

There are a lot of superheroes in Serendipitydodah for Moms – the private facebook group for moms of lgbtq kids. They may not don a cape and mask but they do have some of the biggest, kindest hearts I’ve ever witnessed.

Not only do these moms love and support their own lgbtq kids but they often dream up ways of sharing their love with others.

Here are a few examples …

One mom in the group wanted to find a way to offer support to young lgbtqi people who have been rejected by their family – so, she started a project called the Banner Blanket Project. She delivers handmade blankets to teens and young adults who have experienced the loss of their support system based on their lgbtqi status. Her project was inspired by the scripture in Song of Solomon that says “his banner over me is love” Her goal is to show God’s love in a practical way. #BannerBlanketProject

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A mom shared with the group how her child was being bullied at school and was receiving a lot of horrible text messages from other kids at their school. One Mama Bear in Serendipitydodah stepped up and is organizing a project that will result in the child who was being bullied receiving a bunch of cards with encouraging messages from a large number of moms in the group. She is organizing the project so 2 or 3 cards a day will be delivered over a period of several weeks! #MamaBearLove

Serendipitydodah Equality March relaxed T Shirt Zazzle

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Another mom in the group started “the “Free Mom Hugs Tour” this year. The idea of moms in the group giving out free mom hugs started a while ago. Moms in the group often go to pride parades, gay bars, gay christian conferences and other places looking for the opportunity to give free mom hugs to lgbtq people. One mom took the idea to a whole other level. She toured across the country during the week before mother’s day this year and stopped in several cities along the way to meet with community leaders and parents of lgbtq kids in order to help them learn about how important it is for lgbtq people to have support from their families and the communities they live in. On the last day of the tour she arrived at The Stonewall Inn in New York City on Mother’s Day. She plans on doing it again in 2018. #FreeMomHugs

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There are SO many more stories I could share with you. These are just three examples of superheroes that are a part of the Serendipitydodah for Moms Facebook group.

I’m constantly amazed and blown away by the passion and compassion of the wonderful moms who belong to the group. Not only do they love their own kids well but they are changing the world with their loving kindness.

***For more info about Serendipitydodah for Moms email lizdyer55@gmail.com

 

Made With Mama Bear Love

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Handmade blankets are being crafted and delivered to teens & young adults who have experienced the loss of their support system due to their lgbtqi status.

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Serendipitydodah for Moms is proud to partner with the Banner Blanket Project and deliver blankets to those in the lgbtqi community so they will know they are loved.

The Banner Blanket Project was started by Anita Cockrum for lgbtqi teens and young adults who find themselves not supported by their family. Anita’s hope is that the blankets delivered to them will serve as a reminder that there is someone who loves and cares about them.

Members of the private Facebook group, Serendipitydodah for Moms, are invited to make no-sew fleece blankets and mail them to assigned recipients.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PARTICIPATE in the project OR RECOMMEND A RECIPIENT please email lizdyer55@gmail.com or bannerblanketproject@gmail.com

Recommended recipients should be teens and young adults in the lgbtqi community who don’t have support from their family. At this time we are only accepting recommendations for recipients who reside in the U.S.

You must register in order to participate in this project.

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***For more info about Serendipitydodah for Moms email lizdyer55@gmail.com

 

Mama Bear Story Project #23 – Renee Cuffe

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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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“Get over yourself, mom,” he snapped at me, toward the end of his junior year of college. “Don’t be so judgmental about something you know nothing about.” And he was right, and it stung, because we don’t talk to each other like this. We’ve always been friends. Always.

Oh, Lord, I thought, as we ended the phone conversation abruptly. My son was 2,065 miles away in a distinctly gay-unfriendly small town in Wisconsin. Why can’t he just be “normal” gay? Now this? I had been terrified for him for most of that year. I watch the news and read the newspaper. I know the things that can happen.

“This” was his upcoming Annual College Drag Show. They had asked him to emcee, and perform. And he was excited to talk to me about it. Until he wasn’t. Until I made it “unsafe.”

So I called him back, and asked him to help me understand.

I started by watching Paris is Burning, a dated but informative documentary. Roger Ebert writes a great movie review describing it in detail. Look it up. I cried during a portion of it. I saw things I didn’t want to see. And now I couldn’t un-see them. I read books about young gay men. And I cried then, too. “Mom, you’re not happy unless you’re feeling guilty about something,” he once told me. Guilty as charged, your Honor.

I suppose my biggest fear was that he was a woman in a man’s body. Or some sort of weird sexual fetish with women’s clothing that I didn’t understand. Kill me now and let me go down as a martyr. I can’t do this. My carefully crafted family portrait might be showing signs of crumble. And I couldn’t talk to anyone. And then I did. But that’s another story for another time.

This would complicate anybody’s life, I suppose. And I was probably not thinking about him. I was thinking about me. Shame on me.

We watched season after season of Ru Paul’s Drag Race together off and on for two years, and I began to understand the world of drag. It is performance art. Music, makeup as artistic pallet, and fashion as a personal expression. And comedy and pathos and drama. All things that have been a part of his internal makeup from the beginning. I was even seeing a tiny bit of gender fluidity by this point that didn’t seem quite so scary. Even a bit progressive. I was changing, too.

Not a woman. Always a man. Just gay. I took a deep breath and jumped in. It’s just Marshall.

In January of 2015 I told him, “Maybe you should come home.” And on July 4, 2015, he did. He found a job teaching piano at a music academy in Portland, rented an apartment, and set about pursing his passion. Within a month he was performing at CC Slaughter’s, and I entered a gay bar for the first time. I’m not sure what I was expecting. Sex in the bathroom, I suppose. Den of iniquity.

Instead what I found…was just a bar.

As I watched the show, the lineup of various drag queens’ rotating numbers, I could feel Marshall cringing for his mother in the audience. And I think I did cringe a bit. This was certainly out of the comfort zone for this mild mannered church lady, former Chevy Suburban driving soccer-type mom, librarian-like court reporter, who writes a column about books.

I have been back to CC’s so many times that I’ve lost count. Particularly meaningful was the performance last year during Pride weekend, after the shootings in Orlando. “It could have been us,” they said. I had been coming monthly to CC’s for a year. And “us”…was me.

Marshall started his own solo show at Sante Bar, and is now the only live music performing drag queen in Portland. This former classical pianist now plays his electronic piano and sings. He is an entertainer, and has a loyal following. CC’s, Sante Bar. And now he has added Shotskis Woodfired Eats in Salem to his list of venues. He has performed there twice, and recently he announced they had given him his own show, billed to be a “family friendly” event.

And I am proud of my son.

My Facebook image has changed. I have morphed from church high school youth group leader, and the clean tidy image that goes along with that responsibility, to outspoken gay rights supporter. And I’m not apologetic. My life has changed, and for the better. More real. More honest. And in truth, I’ve seen my own Christian faith grow deeper as I’ve been forced to delve into issues that previously were irrelevant.

I used to say, “God says no,” and that was good enough for me. And I’m incredibly embarrassed. Until I started watching. And reading. And listening. In fact, when Marshall first came out to me, I asked him, “What if you’re wrong? What if you are going to burn in hell and I didn’t do everything I could to stop it?” (I was mildly melodramatic, fresh from reading the Left Behind book series and literally pictured Marshall “Left Behind.”) And it was lucky that we had the relationship that we did. Because he laughed. “Oh, mom. Always mom.” A woman once told me, in that knowing sort of way that one Christian says to another, “I think the bible’s pretty clear.” And I feared she was right.

She was wrong. The bible isn’t “pretty clear.” But that’s a can of worms not to be opened here, but for each of us to wrestle with on our own, about any number of things.

Marshall was kind of a rock star in his Salem days. He played piano competitively and consistently took home the First Place trophy. As a church organist from the age of 12, he has subbed in a good many of our churches. He excelled academically and was well liked by his teachers and fellow squeaky clean Christian youth of the day. Elected prom king, and I’m sure his date was pleased. He had the girls. The “right” kind of successes. And in truth his mother had the envy of other mothers. I hope I wasn’t awful. One of “those” moms. My family looked good from the outside. And I was pleased. But I had secrets, too.

Marshall had a secret, and it was tearing him up inside. And my heart aches for that boy who clandestinely cut that same skin I had so lovingly rubbed baby oil on. It happens. And I ache for all the boys. And girls, too. The ones with “the secret.”

“How’s Marshall doing?” I’m asked almost daily as I float through my life of Winco, Walgreens, and downtown Salem, Oregon. I have three sons, all rock stars in their own right, but because Marshall was “out front,” I suppose that’s the one that is most often remembered. Everybody loves a winner.

This double degree classically trained music conservatory graduate with a piano performance major recently performed Madonna’s “Vogue,” that he had arranged…himself. The crowd responded. They got up and danced. Tipped wildly. He showed off a coat that he sewed himself, and I was glad. I hated home ec. But my son is sewing his own clothes.

The same kid who soloed with the Oregon Symphony is having his own show at Shotski’s. In Salem. His hometown. Why are we surprised?

To the next person who hasn’t kept up with the times, and asks the question, “How’s Marshall doing?” See for yourself. He’s coming to Salem. It may look like a different package but the interior is the same.

It’s just Marshall.

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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 2,000 members. For more info email lizdyer55@gmail.com

Mama Bear Story Project #22 – Kimberly Shappley

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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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Today I’m excited to be sharing two powerful stories with you that have a special connection.

This one from Kimberly Shappley. As early as 18 months old, Kimberly’s son started showing signs that he identified as female. In this essay Kimberly shares her story of being a conservative Christian mom of a trans child, and how and why she learned to embrace Kai’s transition. (This essay was first published by Good Housekeeping in April 2017)

The second story, Affirming Kai, is part of the “Stories That Change The World” series and is written by Kimberly’s friend, Niki Breeser Tschirgi. One of the toughest things that moms of lgbtq kids deal with is the loss of supportive friends and family members … but, thank goodness, there are those friends, like Niki, who don’t abandon us!

If you enjoy these two stories please consider sharing them with your friends.

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I remember one night when Kai was very young, and I was tucking her into bed. Her legs felt so cold that I became concerned, lifted the sheets and discovered she had taken a pair of panties off a baby doll and put them on herself. It was constricting her blood circulation and if she’d slept that way overnight, it could have become very dangerous. After that experience, I realized I could no longer ignore something very real about my child:

My son, born Joseph Paul Shappley, is a girl.

I was raised as a devout, conservative Christian with strong Republican values in the South. It’s a place where being different can not only be unforgiving, but unsafe. I had been a leader of a small ministry teaching Bible study at my local church, and I didn’t support or condone those living the “LGBTQ lifestyle.” That was just part what I’d been brought up to believe as a Christian and I knew I’d instill those same principles in my children.

But all of my beliefs and convictions were brought into question when, at 18 months old, Kai began exhibiting very strong female characteristics. From the moment my child was born, everything about Kai was geared toward femininity. She would pull T-shirts down around her waist to make them into skirts. She would tie long-sleeved shirts around her head and pretend it was long hair. I tried to force her to wear clothes with camouflage and superhero patterns, and even gave her severe, flat-top haircuts. Kai has five other siblings who are boys, so it was also a very testosterone-filled family environment, which I thought might help. Everything was fishing and spitting and boy stuff. But Kai just continued to be Kai.

As a Christian mother raising a Christian family, it was a very difficult time for me. I wasn’t ready to give in and allow Kai to transition socially — especially at such a young age. My internal struggle beat me up daily. I felt like I couldn’t go against everything I’d been taught to believe, and yet I also couldn’t let Kai live in such obvious agony. I wasn’t ready to face the fact that my one-and-a-half-year-old child was a girl and that battle lasted for a couple years.

Shortly after Kai turned 2, friends and family were starting to notice her behavior. Living in Pearland, Texas, that meant we were getting a lot of sidelong glances and questions. Kai would only play with other girls and girls’ toys. She said boys were “gross.” Family members were flat-out asking me if she was gay. It made me nervous, and I was constantly worried about what people would think of me, of her, of our family and of my parenting.

While family was questioning whether Kai was gay, a Christian friend of mine, who is also a child psychologist, asked me: “Have you noticed Kai’s feminine behavior?” It was such a gentle question, as opposed to the harsh accusations of others. I said, “I’ve noticed, but I figure she’ll just grow out of it.” I can laugh at that now. It’s so clear, in retrospect, that this was not a passing phase. But when my friend asked me that, I still wasn’t ready to accept it. As I continued to watch my child developing, my friend started pointing out red flags that there was something very real going on. She told me I needed to consider that Kai might be transgender.

By the time Kai was 3 1/2 years old, I couldn’t ignore it anymore. She was verbalizing that she was a girl at least six times a day. Everything was: “I’m a princess” and “I’m a girl.” Every time she’d say something like that, I’d get down on her level and firmly say, “No, you’re a boy.” It never worked. She would correct me by waiting until I was in the middle of something and unable to chase her around, then run into the room and yell, “I’m a girl!” and run out again. I did everything I could think of to cut off that kind of talk. There were time-outs, so many time-outs. There were spankings and yelling matches and endless prayers. I even contacted the daycare Kai attended and asked them to put away every single “girl” toy. They complied with it, but Kai never changed her tune. The tenaciousness and bravery of this child is something from which I’ve learned so much.

I started reaching out to more professionals, including a child psychiatrist who asked me, “If you and Kai were on a deserted island, would you let her wear girls’ clothes?'” I said, “Probably.” The psychiatrist told me it wasn’t God I had a problem with, but what other people would think of my child and me. That really got my gears spinning. I thought, Okay, I could start with girls’ panties. It’s something no one else will see. It took me three or four trips to Walmart until I could finally bring myself to do it. I’d go pick them up and then leave them in the store, crying as I walked out of the automatic doors. I would be so upset, and then I’d feel bad about not getting them. It was something so seemingly small, but it was a huge hurdle to overcome.

Guilt and confusion were eating away at me in a constant battle to find a solution. Kai was still 3 1/2 when I came across Leelah Alcorn’s story online. Leelah, born Josh Alcorn, had voiced a desire to live as a girl. Her parents said that, religiously, they wouldn’t stand for it. Leelah later wrote a note to her parents and a specific passage stuck with me: “Even if you are Christian or against transgender people don’t ever say that to your kid. That won’t do anything but make them hate themselves. That’s exactly what it did to me.” Alcorn’s story ended tragically — she committed suicide because her parents wouldn’t let her be who God designed her to be. That hit too close to home. I’d heard Kai praying to please let Joseph go home and live with Jesus. I mean, this kid was asking the Lord to let her die.

After that, I started studying the Bible more intensely. I was compelled to know as much as I could about Jesus, His nature and character. I would read and reread His interactions with the religious people of the Bible who were always using scripture to justify their hateful actions. I noticed that over and over again Jesus would confront them and challenge them to view the scripture through the lens of love.

Online, I found a secret Facebook community of Christian moms of LGBTQ kids. It’s a beautiful group with a combined total of more than 2,000 moms now. There I found women who would pray with me and for me. They were the least judgmental and loving Christians I have ever met. They let me know I wasn’t alone. Their support and encouragement made me brave enough to rethink what I believed and consider that I might be wrong about some things.

Eventually, when Kai was 4, I was able to allow her to transition. There was still fear and confusion. I was defying the societal and cultural expectations of our community, family and friends. But I knew I had to choose to accept my daughter exactly the way God created her — and there was also a beautiful freedom in that. A few weeks after I stopped punishing Kai for “acting girly,” she put on a wizard robe she’d received as a birthday gift, making it her “first dress.” She stole my headband to make a belt and pulled her hair forward as much as possible.

When I look back at photos of that day, I have mixed emotions: Regret that I made her suffer so long. Pride for what a tough cookie she is. Respect for such a young child who has taught me so much about unconditional love. And then I just laugh … because, how could I ever doubt that this kid is a girl?

While my biggest personal struggle was the choice to let Kai, now 6, transition, my greatest trial as a woman of faith has been the persecution I’ve received from other Christians. Family members, friends and church members have judged our family and ostracized us to the point that we’ve considered moving. I’m so disappointed in the hatred they call “love the sinner, hate the sin.” You cannot have fresh water and salt water from the same spring. But despite the ignorance and hurtful words of others, I choose to arm myself with knowledge. I have to face the fact that my child is at the highest risk of suicide and/or being murdered in a hate crime and I have to do everything I can to compensate for the obstacles that Kai will face. I have to do everything I can to give Kai every opportunity to grow into a whole and healthy adult. That’s my job as her mother.

I have surrounded my family with transgender men and women who are leaders in the community. They encourage Kai to be proud of who she is and where she comes from. We’re building a stronger community together. When Kai was finally allowed to be her true self, she blossomed. I put princess panties in her drawer and she fell to the ground, hugging those panties and sobbing, saying, “Thank you, Mommy, thank you.” Within a few short weeks of letting her transition, she was no longer lying, no bed-wetting, no more nightmares. I now have a happy, healthy, outgoing, loving, beautiful, sweet little girl who loves Jesus and loves her brothers.

Yes, the emotional challenge has been great, but I’d rather face that challenge myself than have my child face it alone like so many transgender children have because their parents won’t let them transition.

There’s never been a moment of doubt or regret after making the choice to let Kai transition. I’ve learned too much about identity and faith in loving my beautiful daughter exactly the way she is.

She’s a loud, happy and joyful girl who expects that everybody’s going to be kind and good. It’s her persistent spirit that has enabled her to transition so young. She knows who she is and has no problem making sure that everyone else knows too.

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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 2,000 members. For more info email lizdyer55@gmail.com

 

Stories That Change The World #36 – Affirming Kai

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

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Today I’m excited to be sharing two powerful stories with you that have a special connection. 

One story is part of the Mama Bear Story Project. It’s an essay by Kimberly Shappley. As early as 18 months old, Kimberly’s son started showing signs that he identified as female. In her Mama Bear Story Project essay Kimberly shares how and why she learned to embrace Kai’s transition.

And this one by a Kimberly‘s friend, Niki Breeser Tschirgi. One of the toughest things that moms of lgbtq kids deal with is the loss of supportive friends and family members … but, thank goodness, there are those friends, like Niki, who don’t abandon us!

If you enjoy these two stories please consider sharing them with your friends.


Every child deserves to be loved and deserves to be safe. As a former foster parent and an adoptive mom of six, I believe this deep down to the very depths of my soul. I will always affirm a mother loving her child. Always. I affirm friendship. I affirm love. So, when a friend I love came to me with her incredible burden to help children and a raging personal storm in her life regarding her family, I did what I knew I needed to do. What I wanted to do. I affirmed her, and I affirmed her child.

One definition of affirm means to offer emotional support or encouragement. To support means to bear all or part of the weight. To hold up. To carry, prop up, brace, shore up, to back, champion, help, assist, stand behind, or defend. Support also means approval, encouragement, to comfort, friendship, strength, consolation, solace, and relief…and here we are just defining the word support.

What about the word encouragement? To encourage means to give support, confidence or hope to someone. To hearten, cheer, buoy up, uplift, inspire, spur on, fire up, revitalize, embolden.  Some synonyms of encourage are promising, hopeful, reassuring, cheering, comforting, supportive, understanding, helpful, and positive. Are those enough  definitions to give you an idea about affirming one another? About affirming one another in love?

Affirmation requires action.

I have known Kimberly for over a decade. Our friendship began in an apartment building one August afternoon in hot and incredibly humid Texas. My husband and I had moved down to the Houston area for his training in graduate school ., and  Kimberly was one of the first smiling faces I met as a young, bewildered mother of two who was trying to plant her roots down deep in Texas soil. Not an easy feat for a girl who grew up in Alaska and had just moved down from Washington State. Kimberly introduced me to cabbage and sausage fried in butter and Blue Bell ice cream. She introduced me to southern hospitality and southern friendship. Here was a single mother of five working her tail off to make ends meet. I had made my first new friend in my new city and my lonely heart lifted a notch out of my gut.

Fast forward a decade and now thousands of miles apart. Kimberly and I have remained friends. While visiting Las Vegas I spent time with her adult daughter and met her granddaughter.  As Kimberly pushed, sweated, and groaned her way through nursing school, I prayed and supported from afar. I was delighted to stay updated on her progress in school. She never ceased to amaze me with what she could accomplish, even with all her children under her care.

Then I received a Facebook message from her.  I wish I still had the message to put in this post, but I don’t. Kimberly was letting me know that her son, born Joseph Paul, was now her daughter going by the name of “Kai”… and was transgender.She wanted me to know that she understood if I didn’t want to be friends anymore because she had already lost most of her family and friends but was inviting me to like her new Facebook account if I wanted to continue in our friendship. Shocked that my friend was abandoned by those she counted closest, I stared gazing at my screen, formulating what to say to her and immediately wrote her back.

I told her I loved her and that in no uncertain way that I wanted to remain friends with her. I might not understand everything, but I wasn’t going anywhere and I would pray for wisdom and love to reign.

Later, while the media storm was erupting around her, her daughter, bathroom rights, and her passionate stance to protect her daughter, Kimberly told me her story. I could feel her remorse through the telephone of how she had done things wrong, but also her hope for the future of doing things right. From Kimberly’s earliest memories of Kai, she noticed that this child’s temperament was more like her oldest daughters than her other sons. Then, around the age of two, a family member asked if her child was gay because of this child’s flamboyant nature and love for all things girly. At the tender age of two-and-a-half, Kai announced she was a girl. Not long after that, a friend who is a Christian Psychologist asked her if she, Kimberly, noticed anything different about her child and discussed with her the science behind gender dysphoria. Then, at the age of four, Kai became adamant that she wouldn’t pretend “to be a boy” anymore.

Kimberly shared with me, that in her ignorance, she began to google conversion therapy and how to implement it. She asked the daycare to put away all girly toys and when her child insisted, “I am a girl”, she and others would get down on the child’s level and look Kai in the eyes and firmly tell her, “No. You are a boy.” Her child went into deep depression. Haircuts became a nightmare of screaming, “Stop. Stop. Please don’t mommy. Please don’t let them cut my hair.” But Kimberly was adamant her child had a boy haircut, boy- themed birthday parties, and boy- themed toys. She edited nearly every picture of Kai before sharing with family. Pictures taken around her home of Kai always had her in a t-shirt dress. Since before two years old she would make dresses and skirts from her shirts. She would use anything to make headbands. She cropped and manipulated photos so her family didn’t know that her son wanted to be a girl.

One day, after daycare, Kai got into the car sobbing. Kai’s best friend had a birthday party and Kai wasn’t invited because according to her best friend’s dad, “It was a girl party and Kai was a freak.” That night, Kimberly walked in on her sweet child praying for Joseph to go to heaven and live with Jesus. Kai was begging the Lord to let her die. At the age of four, Kai was praying for death. This was the moment that helped Kimberly realize transition for her child was necessary. She didn’t know how to do it, but she needed to help her child. The suicide rate for transgender youth is 41%. The American Academy of Pediatrics, Center for Disease Control, and the Trans Youth Project from the University of Washington all agree that transgender youth who are supported by family, peers, and community fare far better, than those who aren’t supported. Some research seems to reflect transgender youth who are accepted, supported, and validated have no higher risk of depression nor suicide attempts than their peers. Kai was not going to be a statistic on Kimberly’s watch if she could help it.

Armed with a scorching desire to help her child, Kimberly began her research regarding gender dysphoria in children and read studies from the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychological Association, and the University of Washington. She reached out to other moms of transgender children and was loved and supported by secret groups of loving, hurting, prayerful Christian moms of LGBTQ children. Here, Kimberly found that she was not alone and that others too had been abandoned by family and friends. She found an entire community hurting and desperately seeking to connect with others who would stand with them, not against them –  those who would love them, not hate them.

Over the past year Kimberly has steadfastly fought for the rights of her daughter and the rights of other LGBTQ children. Some of her endeavors have included testifying before the Texas senate, speaking at press conferences, meeting with elected officials both in Texas and Washington D.C., filming PSA’s, and sharing her story with The Today Show, Vice HBO and Good Housekeeping.

Over twenty years ago, in my second year of college, I prayed a prayer. The prayer was, “Lord, what have you called me to do?” Quietly and gently He whispered to my heart, “Niki, I have called you to love people.” That moment with God has never left me. Ever. Over the past twenty years I haven’t done this calling perfectly, but I have tried to give it my best.

I may not have all the answers to the questions surrounding the plight of our LGBTQ community, but I do know the answer is not hate. Plainly, and clearly, it is love.

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About the Author: Niki Breeser Tschirgi


Niki Breeser Tschirgi is a stay-at-home mom who resides in Spokane, Washington, with her husband, Matt; six adopted children (four boys still at home, ages eleven through sixteen); and Moose, her standard poodle. She discovered her love for writing in the seventh grade and studied creative writing at the University of Idaho. Niki wrote for Blindigo online magazine while living in Houston, Texas, and over the years has published several blogs, including “The Stars Are Bright—How a Northern Girl Became a Southern Woman and Everything In-Between” and “Rock a Child’s World,” a blog that raised awareness for adoption in Texas. Niki’s first book, Growing up Alaska is a memoir about her crazy, freezing childhood in the interior of Alaska. Niki’s second book, Stretch-mark My Heart, shares her family’s adoption journey through the US foster care system.  When she isn’t writing, doing laundry, loading dishes, or sweeping the floor, Niki can be found reading, practicing yoga, or paddle boarding with her kids. To connect with Niki, follow her on Facebook, Twitter or check out her website, Growing up in Alaska

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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 2,000 members. For more info email lizdyer55@gmail.com

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.