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

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Serendipitydodah for Moms was created as an extension of the Serendipitydodah blog. The group is secret so that only members can find it or see what is posted in the group. The group was started in June 2014 and as of June 2016 has more than 2,000 members. The space was specifically created for open minded Christian moms who have LGBT kids and want to develop and maintain healthy, loving, authentic relationships with their LGBT kids. In addition to providing a space for members to share info and support one another, a special guest is added each month for a few days. The guests include authors, pastors, LGBT people, bloggers and public speakers.

 

For more info email lizdyer55@gmail.com

When Your Kid Comes Out

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Here’s a short video I made that has some basic but important advice for moms when their kid comes out.

Feel free to share it.

The video covers the two most important things that we need to do when our kids come out.

What I share here is common sense but in the midst of the moment everything can seem chaotic and confusing.

So … in this video I just go over the basics with the hope of helping moms be able to pause, take a breath and do these two simple things which can help them as they start this new journey.

The basics I include in the video are:

1. TAKE CARE OF YOUR KID

a. Let them know you love them unconditionally

b. Show support by asking about their journey and assuring them you are going to support them going forward.

2. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF

a. Find supportive community in order to help you deal with your own feelings, have access to support and encouragement for yourself and be in community with people you can open up to and ask questions.

b. Get educated and informed. Part of taking care of yourself includes getting educated and informed as it will relieve a lot of negative feelings for both you and your kid.

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Serendipitydodah for Moms is a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids. The group was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 1,900 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.
Email lizdyer55@gmail.com for more info about the group.

Mama Bear Story Project #18 – Tammie Jarnagan

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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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It’s been almost 23 years since I had my last child. He came two weeks early, ready to make his mark on the world, and on me. When the Doctor handed him to me, I had this crazy, fleeting thought come out of nowhere; he’s gay. I had given birth to three other children before him, and that thought had never entered my mind. I had no idea where it came from or why, so I buried it just as quickly as I’d had it. I remember our first Sunday back to Church, after he was born our Preacher took him from my arms, stood in front of our small congregation, and dedicated him to God. I was a proud Mother. I still am.

I was born and raised in Church, and had studied the Bible quite a bit. In fact, I had become a little stubborn and arrogant about it. I sadly remember one time when my children were very small, I pulled into my local bank and they had a big banner hanging out front that read, “We support the United Way.” I had just recently read an article in Time magizine about the United Way pulling their support from The Boy Scouts because the Boy Scouts would not allow gays. So I, in my self righteous Christian arrogance, let the poor little Teller know just how wrong it was that they would support Untied Way. I am now mortified when I think back about that. Nonetheless, by the time Matt was four, there was not a doubt in my mind that my sweet boy was gay. He wasn’t feminine, didn’t play with dolls, or do any of the things one might associate with being gay, but somehow I knew and I was scared to death. It wasn’t something I could say out loud, or talk to anyone about, so I did everything I could think of to “ungay” him to make him normal. I prayed day and night begging God to not let any of my children grow up to be gay. I couldn’t specifically say Matt’s name in my prayers, because that would be like admitting it. Even though I knew I still couldn’t say it out loud, not even in prayer. We went to church on Sundays, and like my other children, he was baptized. I did everything and anything I could think of to make him straight, and I certainly never missed a chance to tell him that being gay was a choice, a very bad, sinful, choice.

When Matt was 15 I found some notes in his room written between he and his friends that confirmed my worst fear, he’s gay. I lost my mind. When he came home from school that day I showed him what I’d found, it’s a blur, but I remember crying and screaming at him. The worst part was telling him he was going to hell. At one point I asked him if he had ever been sexually molested. I was grasping at straws, I figured there had to be a reason he wanted to be gay and if he had been molested, a good therapist could fix that, fix what I couldn’t. He was never molested, so there went that theory. My heart was shattered in a million pieces. I thought I was having a nervous breakdown. I had to stay off Facebook during all of this, because it was the same time that the Chick Fil A fiasco was going on. Then shortly after that, It was the Duck Dynasty posts. I couldn’t handle it. All I saw when people were posting these things on Facebook were signs that said, Hey Tammie, I hate your son, he’s a faggot. So I would start crying and just go to bed. There were days I couldn’t get out of bed. I couldn’t function. With my religious background, this was a one-way ticket to hell. How does a Mother live with that? So I would just lay in bed and sob. I was so angry at God. My life had never been a picnic, but this?! This was a deal breaker. This was God hitting below the belt, if there even was a God. I wasn’t sure anymore. This was faith shattering. One day while lying in bed sobbing, I jumped up like a crazy woman and started screaming at Satan to leave my babies the hell alone, to pick on me. I could handle it, they couldn’t!

Then I started screaming at God. All of these years I’ve been doing everything in my power to make him straight, where have you been?! Why haven’t you helped me?! How did those thousands of prayers escape you?! Where have you been all these years when we needed you most?! Then I asked, why did you even give me this information when Matt was a baby if you weren’t going to help me change him? God spoke to me in that moment saying, I didn’t give you that information to change Matt, I gave you that information to change you!  I dropped to my knees. I didn’t know where to go from there. I walked around like a zombie for a few weeks, and then I picked my Bible back up. I of course knew the story of Sodom and Gomorrah and had read the few other scriptures about homosexuality, but that was it. So I took it a bit further, I studied the original Greek/Hebrew texts of the Bible, and WOW. I learned not only what those scriptures actually meant, what the stories were actually about, but also that so many of the words used actually have a different meaning then how we know them to mean today. God opened my eyes and my very narrow-minded heart.

I look back now, and wish so much I would have started studying about this when Matt was little, when God first gave me those first few glimpses. There’s so many things I would do differently, but everything happens for a reason, and this has turned out to be a wonderful, albeit very difficult part of my journey. Being gay isn’t the one-way ticket to hell as I had been taught and as I had believed. My children, ALL of my children are exactly who God lovingly made them to be, and I couldn’t be prouder.  In the words of my friend Susan Cottrell (and I paraphrase), I do not not support my gay child and his rights in spite of my faith, I support my gay child and his rights BECAUSE of my faith.

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Serendipitydodah for Moms is a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids. Our official motto is “We Are Better Together” and our nickname is “Mama Bears” The group is secret so that only members can find it or see what is posted in the group. It was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 1,900 members. For more info email lizdyer55@gmail.com

Mama Bear Story Project #17 – Gerry Phifer

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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.

Gerry Phifer

Maybe once, before he came out, we wondered why he had never had a girlfriend but that was his senior year in high school and he was acting in two plays, working on his Eagle Scout, and he was Valedictorian. Four years at Austin College, in Sherman and still no girlfriend. (He had a bazillion friend girls but no girlfriends.) He and his best friend, Katie, applied for internships at Theater Three in Dallas, Texas and moved in together…..not “together” but together.

After about 9 months in Dallas, he came home one weekend and he, Dwight and I were watching something on T.V. and he just muted the T.V. and said, “I have something to tell you. Please don’t interrupt and it won’t take long. I am gay. At a very early age I knew I was different but not until the 7th grade did I have a name for my difference, I am happy and this is something I needed to do to finish my coming out.”

Dwight and I just sat there in stunned silence. I couldn’t move or think or breathe or talk.

Dwight made the first move and got up – I followed suit – and we hugged him and then my wonderful husband said to Andrew, “I cannot imagine the courage it must have taken for you to come home to tell us this. You are the bravest man I know. What was your Plan B, if this had not gone well?”

Andrew said, “Daddy, I didn’t have a Plan B. I just know the people who reared me would love me, warts and all.”

Andrew says the first thing I said was, “You must practice safe sex!” 🙂

He left to go back to Dallas and I completely fell apart. We knew we wanted to be a part of his life, no matter what, so I found a PFLAG chapter in a town near us and found out when they met. Dwight got on the computer and bought several books because he said, “we need to be educated!!!!”

And life goes on …

We didn’t tell many folks, at first. My Dad was diagnosed with ALS a month later and that was a sad distraction. He passed to his peacefulness, at home, with just Mama and the three kids, three months later.

Andrew went back to Graduate School at The University of Texas, after Tyler Clementi committed suicide and because he said, “if I could have just talked with him, I know he would still be here. “

My husband, the only Democratic judge left in Cherokee County, Texas, retired from the bench, after 16 years, on December 31, 2016. He married 3 gay couples and granted 1 same sex adoption.

Carl “Andrew” Loys Phifer moved to Washington, D.C. and is now the Public Affairs Specialist for the Attorney General’s office in D.C. He is happy, has a great group of friends, and a Dart specialist/champion at Cobalt’s and Nellie’s night club where his team won the championship recently and raised $3000 for Planned Parenthood.

And these days the little girls who walk with their Mother in our neighborhood, call me Mrs. Rainbow because I live in the Rainbow House – the only house in town with a rainbow flag flying proudly!

Along the way I have learned:

this was not a choice!

it takes guts to come out! (for your child and you)

Andrew’s sexual orientation is only a piece of who he is!

people, who love you, will accept this!

if you don’t stand up for your child, who will?

as a rule, your church will let you down!

until/unless you have skin in the game, shut up!

do not judge ANYONE!

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WE LOVE CARL “ANDREW” LOYS PHIFER!!!! HE IS OUR PRIDE & JOY!!!!

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During the month of June the private Facebook group, Serendipitydodah for Moms, celebrates Pride Month by inviting members of the group to share pictures of their kids and tell us a little about their kids and the journey they have been on. We call it Pride & Joy! This essay was what Gerry Phifer wrote to go along with the picture she shared of her son, Andrew.

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Serendipitydodah for Moms is a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids. Our official motto is “We Are Better Together” and our nickname is “Mama Bears” The group is secret so that only members can find it or see what is posted in the group. It was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 1,900 members. For more info email lizdyer55@gmail.com

Rainbows, Ribbons, Candles & Kindness

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Orlando

Serendipitydodah for Moms – a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids) presents “Rainbows, Ribbons, Candles & Kindness” to recognize the one year anniversary of the Pulse Shooting.

As we honor, remember and reflect you are invited to join us and wear rainbow ribbons to demonstrate your support, light a candle and say a prayer for friends and families who lost loved ones, and spread love and kindness in order to give hope and encouragement to all.

On June 12, 2016, Omar Mateen murdered 49 people at the popular Orlando LGBT venue, Pulse Nightclub.

As we approach the one year anniversary we take a deep breath and reflect on the tragedy that took 49 lives and forever altered the LGBTQ community and those like us who love, support and advocate for them.

There are still many waves of pain and many times of sadness connected to June 12, and those feelings will most likely continue for a very long time for many of us. Healing takes time and it isn’t linear.

This is a time when we should take time to be a little more gentle and a little more patient with ourselves and others. We never know who may be struggling due to this upcoming anniversary. It’s not only friends and family of the wounded and the dead but also LGBTQ people in general, parents with LGBTQ kids, siblings of LGBTQ people, police, first responders, medical personnel, emt, coroners, social workers, news people, and many more who have all had to experience, see things and think about things that were unimaginable before June 12, 2016.

It was a shock like no other to wake up on the morning of June 12, 2016 and hear about the tragedy. In the hours and days that followed the members of Serendipitydodah gathered in our online community to share our fears and feelings – to encourage and comfort one another – to process and heal together.

With hope, love, courage, kindness and unity we began a journey that day that has required patience, hope and faith that healing comes to all in its own way, in its own time.

We are determined to not let hate win and want to use this time of remembering and reflecting as motivation to continue to do the work that will make the world a kinder, safer, more loving place for everyone to live.

We invite you to join us. Wear a rainbow ribbon, light a candle, say a prayer, spread love and kindness.

Hug someone and let them know they are loved.

Be the reason someone smiles.

Be somebody’s rainbow.

#OrlandoStrong #Pulse #LoveIsTheMovement #LoveIsLove #Pride#LoveWins #LoveKindnessHopeCourageUnity #Serendipitydodah#MamaBears

(This project was inspired by the Rainbow Ribbon Project and the Orlando United Day of Love & Kindness)

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Serendipitydodah for Moms is a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids. Our official motto is “We Are Better Together” and our nickname is “Mama Bears” The group is secret so that only members can find it or see what is posted in the group. It was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 1,800 members. For more info email lizdyer55@gmail.com

Mama Bear Story Project #16 – Whitney Treloar

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.

Whitney

I spent the entire day shampooing carpets. Area rugs, really, which my elderly chihuahua confuses with piddle patches, so I shampooed one side, then flipped them over and shampooed them from behind, then dragged them outside to dry in the sun. I had also done laundry and mopped the tile under the area rugs. I was exhausted and sore and irritable, and when I finally showered and fell into bed that evening, I looked forward to a mindless Valentines movie to veg out with.

Enter Ally, my sweet and challenging 12 year old. She’d been clingy for a few weeks, but I enjoyed the snuggles. Poor kid had been so awkward for so long, I figured puberty hit her harder than most. My third and last of 3 girls, growing up despite my effort to keep her little, she marched to her own beat and I had tried for years to understand her. I had spent hours and hours in meetings with her schools over the years, who had tested and evaluated her, and still scratched their heads. I had homeschooled her, adjusted her education philosophy, and had moved her to her fourth school the previous fall, all in an effort to find someone who could crack her special code. Her IQ said genius, her grades said slacker, her room said mad scientist, her journal said creative master, her body language said lost.

So I tried not to be annoyed when she needed my attention yet again that night, and we cuddled under the ceiling fan and watched some silly chick flick in silence. I smelled her still-damp hair and started to zone out while she rubbed her kitty’s ears.

“Mom? I’m trans.”

<pause>

<squint>

“What’s that, honey? Trans-what? Trans….??”

“Gender. I’m transgender. I’m a boy.”

<stunned silence>

*record scratch*

<Inappropriate, nervous giggle>

She studied me intently, sheepishly, boldly.

I sat up and blinked.

“Uuuhhhhh….”

Think, Whitney. This is important. Don’t laugh. Don’t cry. Don’t change the subject. You can do this. This is a crucial moment. Pivotal. Don’t choke. You got this.

“Okay. Wait. Hold on. We’re okay. You’re okay.”

“I’ve known for a long time. Three years since I realized what was wrong with me. I wasn’t going to say anything. I was going to keep it to myself but I just can’t any more. I’m Gabriel. I’m a boy.”

“Okay, wait. Back up. Slow down. I’m…. I can’t…. Just hold on. When I was a kid, we had a term called tomboy. Girls who climb trees and hate dresses and do boy stuff are tomboys. Maybe you’re actually a tomboy?”

“I know what a tomboy is. A tomboy is still a girl. I’m a boy. I’m not a tomboy. I’m transgender.”

<deep, ragged sigh>

<Big, deep, hard hug>

“You’re pretty sure about this, huh? You seem pretty serious. I’m going to have to wrap my poor old brain around this because I don’t understand. Listen, I love you. I’m crazy about you. We will figure this out. We get someone to help us with this.”

What’s church going to do to help us here? Who can help me grasp this? Not my mother. Not my husband. I know precisely one transgender person, whom I’ve never met in real life, who lives far away….

“Oh, I’ve figured it out. I understand……” And then she goes off into detailed explanation of hormones and chromosomes and gender presentation…

What’s happening right now? Am I being punked?

….sexuality vs gender vs genitalia, pronouns, deadnames….

My mind swirled and swirled. I saw spots.

I need a drink.

She opened my laptop and brought up websites with videos; she showed me bible verses and explained the original text in relation to the cultural context; she mentioned a doctor on the other coast who performs “top surgery;” and she explained hormone blockers vs testosterone.

I was nauseated. My face flushed. My chin quivered.

Is this really happening? Where’s Ashton Kutcher right now?

She told me she needed a WPATH certified therapist, because she needed to prove that she’d been in counseling for at least six months before ….something about injections…..binders….non-binary…..

……and mastectomy….

“Okay. Whoa, whoa, whoa! Please. I can’t. I can’t right now.”

I held my head and ran my hands through my hair and rubbed my eyes hard.

“Come here and hug me and stop talking for tonight. I can’t take one more idea in.” Please, make it stop.Stop it. Stop it. This can’t be happening. This isn’t real. This can’t be real. No. No. No. No.

“I’m sorry. It’s just…. I don’t want to hurt myself.”

*record scratch*

I pull her back and look her in the face. “What?!? What does that mean?” My eyes filled with tears. So did hers.

“I wanted to wait. The plan was to leave home and go to college, come out, and figure it out from there. But I realized that I couldn’t do that. My choice was either to tell you or die, and then I figured if telling you didn’t go well, I could re-evaluate. And I’m just so relieved…,” and then she sobbed.

And I went directly into what I can only describe as a fog.

“Ally…”

“It’s Gabe,” she said softly.

Shit. My breath caught in my lungs.

“Okay, well, I have known for 30 seconds and you have known for years, so you’ll have to give me some time. And now I need to be alone. You go to bed and sleep. Tomorrow, I’ll make some calls and I’ll find you a counselor, and I’ll start researching, and we’ll figure this out. Please just chill with the surgery talk right now. This will take time. I’ll think about how we’ll tell Daddy…”

“You can’t tell Daddy. What if he kicks me out?”

“He’s not going to kick you out. He loves you. But he will struggle with this and he has that important exam this week, so let’s just sit on this for a bit. I cannot make another decision right now. I can’t think.”

“I love you, Mom. Thank you.”

“I love you fiercely. We will figure this out, I promise.”

And she went to bed.

HE went to bed. Shit.

And, just like that, my little Ally was gone.

I dissolved into hopeless tears as I listened to my husband cough relentlessly, fighting a virus while studying for a professional exam. It was the loneliest and the most helpless I have ever felt in my life.

What the ____ just happened?

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Serendipitydodah for Moms is a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids. Our official motto is “We Are Better Together” and our nickname is “Mama Bears” The group is secret so that only members can find it or see what is posted in the group. It was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 1,800 members. For more info email lizdyer55@gmail.com

 

Not Enough

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Blogging for LGBTQ Families Day, June 1st 2017

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Saying “we are all sinners” when talking about someone’s loving relationship, marriage or family is not loving or kind – it is unkind, unloving and disrespectful. It strips away a person’s human dignity when you compare the most important and cherished things in their life to sin. All any straight person has to do is imagine how they would feel if someone called their engagement, marriage, family sinful – which is why these words from Stan Mitchell are so important.

“We Are All Sinners” – A Step In The Right Direction But Still Not Enough by Stan Mitchell

A wonderful same-sex couple I know well have been monogamously, faithfully together for 30+ years. In that time, they have raised three beautiful, productive children (who all happen to be heterosexual, btw) and now have several grandchildren. While they will absolutely agree with you that they are imperfect creatures who have sinned and still do, what is terribly hurtful and painfully offensive to them is when this most beautiful part of their life – their family – is called their sin. When this perhaps sincere yet patronizing religious overture is offered them, they look at their love, their children and their grandchildren and say, “No doubt we have sin in our life but this love and these children are not it.”

What am I saying here and why am I saying it?

There are many Christians who, though they believe same-sex love is wrong, also sense that excluding their LGBT sisters & brothers from the fellowship of Christianity is at least as wrong. Caught in this painful catch-22, one way many attempt to reconcile this untenable tension is to offer that while same-sex love is indeed sin, it is no worse than other sins, including their own. Essentially, they are saying, “We are all sinners saved by grace so if you are out because of your sin then I am out because of mine and if I get to be in in spite of my sin then so do you.”

While this effort is appreciable and a step in the right direction for sure, it still falls short and is hauntingly comparable to the Jim Crow south as a progression from slavery – better but not remotely enough. Just as an entire generation of people finally looked at a separate water fountain and said it can not quench my thirst, there are millions of people who can not, out of self-respect and the sheer dignity of their own soul, accept the acceptance that is no acceptance – calling their love, “sin” and their family, “sinful.”

(The photo I have included is of my son and his fiance who will be married in October of this year. I look forward to celebrating them, their love and the life they are building together!)

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Serendipitydodah for Moms is a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids. Our official motto is “We Are Better Together” and our nickname is “Mama Bears” The group is secret so that only members can find it or see what is posted in the group. It was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 1,800 members. For more info email lizdyer55@gmail.com

Mama Bear Story Project #15 – Meredith Webster Indermaur

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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.

 

This Mama Bear Story Project is also being submitted as part of :
Blogging for LGBTQ Families Day, June 1st 2017

Meredith

In the South, coming out is the language of debutantes, those rosy-cheeked young women in long white dresses and matching white gloves up to the elbow, floating like feathers down marble staircases the size of Texas. Their introduction to society is a celebratory time of champagne and parties, of photo opportunities in green backyard gardens, of laughter and back-slapping, of proud fathers and stressed-out mothers – a kind of nuptials trial run.

That fanfare is a far cry from the coming out of the boy I birthed on a chilly midwestern morning just seventeen summers prior – the boy who has my heart, the one who measures his words to me as carefully as a carpenter measures the wood before he feeds it to the blade. It is in that space between his voice gathering its steam and my mental chatter slowing to a crawl that I intuit the words before he even says them.

Mom, I’m gay.  I’ve known it for as long as I can remember.

Wood to the blade.

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When the yellow-haired boy’s words dropped into my ears, they would not land there – instead, they hovered like a hummingbird working its needle-thin beak into and out of the flower.  I recognized the steady buzzing of the whoosh-whoosh-whoosh of my pulse as it loomed large, affecting my ability to hear.  Instinctively I knew that something had been spoken which would alter the world as I saw it – something that would split time in two pieces like halves of a log on a chopping block, axe to wedge and crack!  Had I looked down at the floor at that moment, I’m nearly certain Before and After would have been lying there.

With the whoosh still looming large, I believe I might have uttered something ridiculous, like:

Areyousurereallysure and pleasedon’ttellanyone because I was talking fast and foolish and fearful.

His brown eyes, registering deep pain by the way they seemed to snap backwards into his head, did the answering for him.  I babbled on senselessly, speaking without punctuation – without pause for intake of breath (where was my breath, anyway?) for far too long, but who was watching the clock any longer in a world where time had been split in half?  What was the point?

I had a problem. I had a very big problem.

Before and After
 were, after all, lying at my feet.

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Courage:  from the Latin cor for heart

Integrity:  from the Latin integritatem for wholeness

I was going to need a lot of this – a lot of heart; that much I could see.  What I could not see, though, not yet, was that the blonde boy standing on the other side of the room, huddled up between the dresser and the bedroom door (in position to flee?), already possessed more heart than I on my best day.

This was far from my best day.  My best day was on sabbatical somewhere out west where it could breathe.  My best day had deserted me and was sunning itself by some pool in Arizona, sipping filtered water infused with lemons and limes.

My brain, scrambling like it had just come front and center with a word problem, refused – refused! – to assimilate the information placed in front of me.  Instead, it pulled me off to the side and whispered a million different reasons why this could. not. be. true.  I wanted to resist; surely some part of me wanted to resist – wanted to review the evidence I’d seen on the horizon, building strength like a Nebraska storm cloud in August, wanted to acknowledge that those inklings had been spot-on – but I dared not trust myself.  If I remembered nothing else from those years and years of collective pastors’ voices ringing in my ears, I remembered what was etched in my mind like a tattoo: Our hearts are deceitful and wicked beyond measure.  They are never to be trusted.

Which of us was deceived?  Which of us – the boy huddled by the door, ready to flee, or the mother clasping the wooden bed post to keep from falling – which one of us was party to a lie?

It is said somewhere that courage is the foundation of integrity.

That must mean that the one who knows who he is at the heart is the one who is whole.

Oh. God.

Then where did that leave me?

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With Jesus, we find the power to hold the pain of life until it transforms us.

– Fr. Richard Rohr
I needed a plan.  I needed a way to get control of this thing – to get on top of it, to make it submit, to make it cry uncle and relent,  Okay!  Okay!  You win!  Because the only thing worse than not having control is the realization that you never had it.

The words had been spoken.

I couldn’t put the genie back in the bottle,
the toothpaste back in the tube,
the bullet back in the gun.

The words had been spoken.

Fear came fast to the surface, blowing bubbles like a swimmer as she empties her lungs of the last bit of air that has served her well below but will fail her now.

The words had been spoken. 

No longer was this simply a question that raced like Flo Jo around and around the edges of my brain until it grew tired and retreated into the locker room for a time.  No longer was Denial my partner in crime, because it had been detained and arrested and carried off in handcuffs in the back of a squad car.  Fat lot of good you did me, Denial.  Fat lot of good.  You simply delayed the inevitable.

Yes, the words had been spoken – had pierced the lie and lanced the festering sore in hopes of a remedy, yet I was still blind to their efficacy.

It would be a while, still.

**********

When I was four years old at play in the sandbox, a neighbor’s rooster the size of a small goat flogged me, knocking me flat on my back to the ground.  I remember very little of this other than a wild flurry of feathers and claws and beak atop my face – and someone screaming.  Maybe the scream was mine, although I think I was too paralyzed to make much of any kind of sound – too paralyzed to make any kind of movement.  So I lay there and waited for a rescue, unaware that my bottom lip and chin were victims of those massive claws digging in with the tenacity of fish hooks.  A short while later a loud pop was followed by an explosion of feathers, releasing me to put my chubby fingers up to my face to probe the now throbbing gashes that would go on to be stitched and, later, leave permanent trails.  It was years before I understood the danger in that split-second decision my father was forced to make as he stood way up at the house – years before I had children of my own to remind me that sometimes – many times – we parents are simply flying blind (or, if you prefer, relying on faith).  Most days, to be honest, there’s not much difference.

My tow-headed boy’s words were out.  He was out.  The rooster was back, but this time, I was the parent flying blind.  This time,  I had a decision to make that was nothing short of putting a bullet in a monster.  If my aim were off by just a hair, then the consequences could be disastrous.  He might be left bleeding, blind, scarred for life – or worse.  It dawned on me then that I needed to move in close and fast, to cross the room that had at once become no less than the Grand Canyon of chasms, to make that leap and not look down.

This was not a fine time for paralysis.  Feathers were going to fly.

Moving toward my son, smoking gun in hand, I crossed the room – not tentatively but decisively, not gingerly but with a boldness that came from some unknown (to me) place. I’d put a bullet in a monster – before it could jump him, before it could slice away the tender flesh and leave a gaping wound.  It was a split-second, flying blind decision.  It was all I knew to do, and it had to be enough.

Wrapping him in my arms, I welcomed his weeping against me.  Wrapping him in my arms, I shushed him, clucking like a mother hen as she gathers her chicks close to her body.  Wrapping him in my arms, I tried to swallow down the lump that had formed in my throat – a lump that I was certain was born of the dust fragments of my shattered heart.

Once that dust settled, once that clearing began, once I was able to get the lay of the land – and with that rooster dead and gone – I would see that his coming out broke my heart wide open so that more of God could get in.

But this day, it was enough to cling to one another in that haze, to fly blind without knowing where to land … and to wait.

**********

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in …
Every heart, every heart
to love will come
but like a refugee.

From Leonard Cohen’s Anthem


The wallpaper on my Mac is a rotating series of photos I’ve uploaded over the past few years, so I frequently stop what I’m doing to stare at the images scrolling through.  Most faces are smiling – open, even, like sunlight – with eyes squinted and teeth bared in unadulterated joy; others are pensive, thoughtful, filled with contented Mona Lisa mystery.  These are the shots that elicit my own feelings of gratitude, the ones that assure me of future promise, of hope – the ones most likely to tease my insecurities out into the open, to pat them on the back and whisper that maybe, just maybe, I did okay as their mom. A few, though – the ones of the yellow-haired boy at twelve, fourteen, or sixteen, even – cannot be so easily celebrated.  His eyes, flat and dull like a 1920s penny, stare out of his haunted face – a look not altogether dissimilar to photos snapped of Holocaust survivors or of Russian orphans, or war refugees. It’s impossible to read into those faces anything but the despair of a thousand betrayals, and yet this is the entirety of his face. My son’s face. Eyes, mouth, cheeks, nose – all are caught up into that one word: Despair.  The war that rages in his soul plays itself out on the landscape of his lifeless eyes, and, sadly,  that is the thing.  How had I let that colorless portrait escape me?

As Richard Rohr says, we cannot see what we are not ready to see, especially those things which are hidden in plain sight.

And yet, Jesus asks the blind beggar, who is both blind and beggar, What do you want me to do for you?  And this man says, simply, I want my sight restored.  Because, at one time, he could see.

But once he sees again, it will all look different.

**********

When I took the dog for a walk through the neighborhood yesterday,  I happened to notice a festive fall wreath on the front door of one particularly unfriendly couple’s home.  Upon closer examination (which meant my peering at the door from practically across the street, since a canine’s errant treading of  paws upon their perfectly manicured lawn elicits anger and threats to both owner and pet), I was able to make out the word Welcome on a little sign affixed to the wreath.  Welcome. Really?  That’s ironic, I thought to myself, as I gave wide berth to their property and made my way on down the street.

But before my feet had hit my driveway, it dawned on me that, on any given day, I’m also guilty of saying one thing while conveying something shockingly different by my actions.

I have loved etymology ever since I took an intro to Linguistics in college. Last year I learned that the term holy originates from the same root word as whole.  That discovery offered me a new-and-improved way to think about God in His wholeness – as the One Who is fully integrated within Himself. God, the perfect integer.  Jesus, the Son, who lived out a life of perfect wholeness in his humanity as communicated via the Gospels. Jesus, who lived as he spoke and who spoke as he lived.

Whole.
Integrated.
Holy.

Yet, for a couple of years, my tow-headed boy would go on to bear the brunt of my un-holiness, my fractured thinking, my stumbling and bumbling inability to align my words and my actions surrounding his truth telling.

His ears would go on to register the I love you coming from my mouth, yet his heart would grapple with the unspoken but well communicated but spawned by my actions.

I love you BUT let’s look into reparative therapy (I don’t love this part of you) +

I love you BUT let’s keep this a secret (I don’t love this part of you) +

I love you BUT let’s beg God to fix this (I don’t love this part of you) =

I don’t love you.


Love the sinner but hate his sin is a lie.  But I couldn’t see that, then.  I had mud in my eyes. Like the blind man whose sight Jesus was in the process of restoring, I saw people “like trees walking around,” which is not seeing people at all.

I saw through a glass darkly.

It would be a while, still.

There are times when taking a break from writing is all I want to do, like when memories are forced to conjure up disquieting images the way King Saul pled with the Witch of Endor to summon the spirit of Samuel, dusty and irritated, from the grave.

King Saul would go on to pay a price for this.

Images give birth to thoughts and then thoughts to the words which, once expressed, we claim a sort of parental responsibility for, whether we are prepared for this or not.

Denial became something akin to a ground-fault circuit interruptor when my thoughts threatened to shock my system. Fearing for the tow-headed boy’s life,  fearing for his reputation (it was also fear for my own, if truth be told), I spoke over him words – marching orders, really – that coaxed darkness up from the ground that threatened to swallow him whole – that threatened to send him to his death.

You need to keep this to yourself.  

Don’t tell anyone else you’re gay.


We can’t let your grandfather find out – it’ll kill him.



Fear had had its say, and in those dusty, irritated, grave-words, shame was born.

This son of mine – this one who was always so eager to please, so agreeable and cooperative – looked down at the floor, unblinking, and kept his eyes there for a long time.  What he saw, I couldn’t know.

What I did know, though, was that I couldn’t see a damned thing.

**********

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?
Yet not one of them is forgotten 
by God. – Luke 12:6

The baby bird needed help.

I spotted it from a good distance, back when my eyes boasted 20/20 vision,  as I was on my way back from an afternoon spent at the pool with my friends.

Rolling up to the fluffy gray ball on my banana seat bike,  I quickly surveyed the situation.  He was sitting in the middle of one of the neighborhood streets, no mama bird to be found.  His dull yellow beak was open in a little V, and he was breathing rapidly, his downy little feathers moving up and down so fast that they seemed to be in constant motion.

I didn’t sit for long but gingerly pushed down the kickstand so as not to startle the quivering creature who was now just a few feet in front of me, and then I deftly – and silently – climbed over the seat and off the bike.  My heart was racing at this point as I was contemplating my next move.  I had a difficult decision to make, and yet my 11-year old brain knew of only one thing to do.

Scooping him up and setting him in my pool bag in one swift movement, I knew only one thing: I had to quickly get this bird home before he died.  It was then I heard the chirping from somewhere above me, although when I looked up, I saw nothing.  Instead of riding on the street, I made a quick left and departed the road for the well worn dirt path made by all the other bikes heading to and from the pool.  Coasting down the hill while clutching the pool bag with one hand, I heard the chirps becoming louder and more frantic.  It never dawned on me that the ruckus had anything to do with my precious cargo.  I was in the zone.  I was going to save this bird.  Rounding the curve once the hill flattened out, I pedaled like a girl with her hair on fire.

My mother met me at the porch door after she heard me calling out for her from two houses over.  With a furrowed brow, she peered into the bag I held up to her through the screen.  “Can we save it? I found it in front of the Thomas’s house, on the road.”  My mother, who has always had a soft spot for animals, ushered me inside with a warning that baby birds are rarely abandoned by their mothers, even when it looked like they were.  “Usually the mother is somewhere close by, watching, making sure her baby is safe.”  Pulling a cardboard box out of the storage closet, she instructed me to line it with a towel and set the bird in it.  After adding a small dish of water to the box, I sat on the porch floor to watch the traumatized baby, holding vigil and saying prayers until nightfall.

The next morning found me racing to the box in the hopes that a miracle had occurred – that the tiny thing had drunk some water, at least.  My mother found me a few minutes later as I knelt, crying, by the cardboard coffin.  She listened as I recounted how I’d tried to save this orphan from certain death, then she showed me where to bury it in the yard.

The next day she told me about the way of birds when they are learning to fly.

Years later I would find myself needing to choose between putting my son in a box or helping him learn to fly.

**********

Note from Meredith on May 31, 2017:

It took so much out of me to write this a few years back that I had to stop.  Reading back through it now, I can see tremendous growth, thank God.  Even then, I knew that God would be faithful to continue pulling me forward in truth.  I needed to experience all those feelings and fears in order to join this current pilgrimage and be there to help my son learn to spread his wings and fly.

 

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Serendipitydodah for Moms is a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids. Our official motto is “We Are Better Together” and our nickname is “Mama Bears” The group is secret so that only members can find it or see what is posted in the group. It was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 1,800 members. For more info email lizdyer55@gmail.com

 

Mama Bear Story Project #14 – Marlene Lund

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

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I grew up as a missionary kid in Brazil, and my family was very conservative, both spiritually and politically. I began to question many of the positions my family took as I matured, never wavering in my faith, but definitely feeling that God’s mercy and love were wider than I had been raised to believe. I began to question the church’s position on homosexuality many years ago, as I met more and more LGBTQ people who were wonderful, caring, loving people, and who didn’t fit the stereotype usually presented in Christian circles. You know, deviants, promiscuous, out to “recruit” our children. I began to learn more about the science of sexual orientation, which completely put to rest any doubts in my mind that someone could be “turned gay” by mere persuasion or influence. After knowing LGBTQ people, I had long since seen the ridiculousness of the argument that sexual orientation was a choice.

My daughter’s coming out eight years ago led me on a spiritual journey to really understand what the Bible truly says about homosexuality. I started with my love for my daughter, and worked with my love for God to find a place of peace and understanding. I spent two years reading, talking to Christian friends and pastors, spending time with LGBTQ people, praying, and trying to understand what the Bible really said about loving, monogamous same-sex relationships. I now have an equals (=) sign as a bumper sticker, and a closet filled with rainbow t-shirts and buttons, so I guess you could say I have resolved my questions and come out as the proud parent of a gay child.

Since that time, I have felt a strong sense of calling to work with other parents on a similar journey to mine. I helped to start a support group at my former church for parents of LGBTQ children, served as the co-chair of the Oakland/East Bay PFLAG chapter for two years, and am currently serving as a co-facilitator for a brand new satellite meeting for the Seattle PFLAG chapter. I also am involved in several private Facebook groups of Christian moms of LGBTQ children and serve as an admin for two of them, and I have served as a resource parent for the Marin Foundation. I am also advocating for full inclusion of LGBTQ Christians in my current church.

God has taken me out of my comfort zone and given me an exciting new adventure; all because I was given the gift of a gay daughter!

**************************************************************

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

It Was Almost Enough To Make Me Stop Believing

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I wrote this spoken word back in April 2009 to express how disenchanted I was with conservative Christianity. It is as current today as it was 8 years ago.

Daily I am dumbfounded by the things I hear people saying and the things I see them doing under the banner of Christianity.

Thank God not all Christians have forgotten that we are supposed to make the world a better place full of love and hope and grace.

(I recorded myself speaking the poem because spoken word is written to be heard instead of just read.)

It was almost enough to make me stop believing

Defacto segregations

Emotional manipulations

Personal salvations

ALL the proclamations

I had taken the bait

Walked through the narrow gate

Learned what to hate

Was certain of my eternal fate

I could spew the roman road, so proud so bold, part of the fold, believed what I was told

I’m in – you’re out – no doubt what I’m talking about

I know – I’m right – I’m the one walking in the light

You lose – I win – come on I’ll point out your sin

Prostituting every opportunity

Wanting to be the supermajority

Working to oppress homosexuality

Don’t forget about being offended by profanity

Let’s hang out in our Christian bubble

Let’s try to stay out of trouble

Don’t wander away from the holy huddle

Forget about conversation – debate for domination – practice your presentation – and talk about eternal damnation

Pick a verse to justify being chauvinistic,

Deny it when they say you are legalistic,

Preach a gospel that is individualistic,

Forget that it seems a little imperialistic.

Don’t question the authority, know what’s a priority, don’t worry about the minority, that’s our expository

The Christianization – the dehumanization.

The demonstration – the incorporation.

Made me start to question

What about the brotherly love – the justice that was spoken of –

the one we were in awe of – the mercy they talked of

Didn’t they get the memoranda that we were supposed to love with no agenda

Didn’t they notice the lack of transformation – the absence of civil conversation

Weren’t we supposed to be known by our fruits instead of our refutes

Weren’t we supposed to make the world a better place full of love and hope and grace

Where was the creativity – the spirit of generosity – the chance for serendipity

Thank God I broke free

Cause it was almost enough to make me stop believing.

Mama Bear Story Project #13 – Renae Shaffer-Stone

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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.

Renae Stone

I was 17 when I found out I was expecting my first child. I experienced the typical emotions of being a bit scared, worried, and of course I was happy. I knew that most people would disapprove given my age and background, but that didn’t matter to me. I was going to be a Mom and make sure that this baby knew they were loved. I knew the road would be long and hard, but I also knew it would be okay over all. I gave my boyfriend at the time the chance to leave, but told him if he left that there would be no in and out of this baby’s life. Either he would be a part of the life we created or not, but definitely no half assed in and out. He chose to stay and we will be celebrating 17 years of marriage this June.

When I was 18 I gave birth to the most beautiful baby girl. We named her Emily Paige. She had a rough start, she was born with some heart defects but by the age of 3 grew out of them. Her Dad and I married when she was 4 months old, babies ourselves, her Dad had graduated high school just 3 days before the wedding. As she grew we noticed she wasn’t your typical little girly girl, but I didn’t expect her to be given that I grew up as a tomboy myself.

Days after her 1st birthday we found out we were pregnant again. 9 months later I gave birth to another baby girl we named Caitlyn. We always knew Cait was “different” we just weren’t sure how.And by Emily’s 4th birthday she was a big sister again and had another little sister named Lindsey.

When the kids were young, I faithfully went to church, prayed, tithed, did all the Christianly duties one was supposed to. I was attending a church that preached hate towards gay people and preached how they could be cured by prayer and what not. When the Emily was 4 I remember thinking that if I loved my kids as much as I do and did, and God supposedly loved us more than that, how could he hate a group of people for loving someone of the same sex. I spoke with my husband about I quite a bit and we decided to leave the church.

Once Emily hit puberty she became really depressed. We tried helping the best we could but she never seemed to come out of it. At the age of 14 she came to us and told us she needed to talk to us. We sat down and told us she was transgender. We immediately hugged our son, Zachary, and welcomed him with open arms. A few days later after discussing with him how he wanted to let friends and family know, we made an announcement and told everyone in our lives that Zach was our son and they could either love and support us or they knew where the door was. Some left, and it did hurt, but I reminded Zach that they were unable to truly accept him for who he is so we didn’t need people like that in our lives.

Zach started going to a group here for LGBTQ Youth. He would come back with stories about how parents disowned their kids for being the way they are. It broke my heart and my husband and I decided to open our home to kids that need a safe place to stay.

The next year, Caitlyn had just turned 13 and was battling depression as well. She came to me one night and told me she was a lesbian. Unlike her brother, she didn’t want an announcement made, but preferred to tell people on her own or to just kind of surprise them in conversation. She started attending the group her brother did and is doing great now.

Zach is 17 now, and has been in a relationship with his transgender girlfriend for 4 years now. They have been together since before either of them came out as transgender. Olivia moved in with us last Oct. her family isn’t exactly accepting of her so we are glad to give her that love and support she was missing at her house.

Caitlyn is 15 and is thriving as well. She has a girlfriend and they have been dating for a couple of years. We recently went rounds with her school because they denied the GSA club she was trying to start. We will hopefully be getting it started soon, she needs to go before her principal again before it is approved. We had to get GLSEN involved and threaten legal action, but the superintendent has advised the principal that the club needs to be allowed.

My baby, Lindsey, is 12 and isn’t interested in anyone right now, and that is fine, I prefer to keep it that way for a while!

As a Mom to these wonderful 4 kids, I’m happy to see them happy. All I want for them is to be able to be themselves and to be happy with who they are. I know it takes a lot of courage to come out as young as they did, and the road hasn’t always been easy, but they know that this mama bear will always be here for them and have their backs.

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