Mama Bear Story Project #3 – Debby McCrary

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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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We never had a problem loving our fun, kind-hearted son, even though we were concerned for him as early as three years old.

My concerns and fears grew as he was the target of bullies, starting in third grade, and I felt that I couldn’t tell my family or Christian friends the hurt he was enduring because I didn’t want them to know that he was being called “gay”. I feared they would say that homosexuality was an abomination. I could never say that about my son. So, nothing was ever said as I waited for God to answer my prayer.

I tried to make a deal with God, that He could take me, just save my son. I knew that he was born this way and I told God over and over that it didn’t make sense that this precious kid would be judged so harshly. He was good and kind, and this was just how he was made. Would God really make someone, just to condemn them?

When our son was 25, he told us what we knew, and I hurt for him. I told him that this was not a deal breaker; he was our son and we were thankful for him. I can’t imagine how hard it was for our son to feel all alone. That is heartbreaking. He has taught me so much about love and grace.

After 23 years of fearfully praying and begging God to change my child, he did answer my prayer. As it so often goes, He changed me, not my son, and took away all of the fear and burden. This time my prayer was different in that I wasn’t begging Him, but simply asking for His guidance. The answer was loud and clear. I knew I needed God’s help to get through the totally new experience of meeting my son’s new friend (I couldn’t use the term, boyfriend). So, I asked God, “What are ‘we’ going to do?” The only thing that popped into my mind, was this sweet comment, “He is a child of Mine!” I had an instant peace and knew God didn’t need me to fix this. I also started thinking about how to treat a child of God, and the answer was to simply show love.

Now that my burden was lifted, I wondered if there are others that have hidden and continue to hide from their Christian community and family. As I looked around to see if there were others like me God led me to Just Because They Breathe, FreedHearts and Serendipitydodah – all secret Facebook groups for moms of LGBT kids. God has continued to give me assurances of His love through the moms in these groups who, just like me, love and support their children. We share the same burden of struggling to fit into our church community that won’t accept the one who Gods says, “is a child of mine”. A child that is a blessing to us all.

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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 1,500 members. For more info email lizdyer55@gmail.com

 

Mama Bear Story Project #2 – Tammy Kalberg

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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.

tammy-kalberg

I can remember the day my daughter told me she was dating a girl like it was yesterday. My immediate response to her was unconditional love, but it felt like someone had punched me in the gut, tears instantly came to my eyes. Those tears, though, were not because she was gay, but because I knew how our family would react, I knew she would be judged by others simply because of who she loved, I knew this ugly world would condemn and judge.

I was mad at God at first; mad that he would bring this child into a family like mine that I knew wouldn’t accept her. How could He do this, why would He do this? But then I realized, God gave her to me for a reason. He chose me to be her mom from the very beginning. He knew I would love unconditionally and fiercely, that I would never abandon her, and that I would always be there to accept and protect her. She did not choose this, she will tell you that. Being gay is not a choice. It is who you are. God did not create this child of mine to be condemned to hell or to never feel love or be loved by someone. He created her just as she is.

She has taught me so many things in the last couple of years. She has opened my eyes to seeing things differently. She has made me stop and think more. She has taught me to love more, love deeper, love purer. She has taught me to be less judgmental and more accepting of people or things that are different. She taught me simply, to just love.

I look at her now and I know that she is finally free. Free to be herself, no hiding, no holding back. She is who she is and she loves it. She feels joy and happiness. She knows love, she feels love and she gives love. She is her most authentic self ever. I am proud of her, so very proud to be her mom. She will most definitely change this world!

My heart goes out to kids whose parents abandon them or refuse to accept them when they come out. I am thankful that my daughter never had to feel that. It has been on my heart lately to get involved somehow, to see if I can help other kids when they come out. Just to let them know they are OK, that they are loved, that there are people who care. Just to give them a mom hug.

There was only one thing I really ever wanted in this life and it was to be a mom. God blessed me with two beautiful and amazing daughters. I was always a mama bear, but this certainly, has made me even more so now. I will die loving them, fighting for them, protecting them and always being there for them. I will forever be their #1 fan and cheerleader. There is simply, nothing better.

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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 1,500 members. For more info email lizdyer55@gmail.com

Mama Bear Story Project # 1 – Leslie Jones Webster

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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’m a 65-year-old mom of two sons and one daughter, and have been married since 1972. In January 2013, our son, at the age of 38, told us he was gay, had known since middle school and had tried to pray it away all of his life. It rocked my world as I tried to reconcile my former beliefs that gays were making sinful choices vs. the idea that God could have changed my son in answer to his plea for help.

Perhaps a year prior to my son coming out, as the gay marriage issue was coming more and more under public scrutiny, I told myself it was going to be tough. I predicted I was going to be seen as unloving to “the world,” my non-Christian friends and some of my family, because I would have to vote against gay marriage. I had convinced myself I loved everyone but could not condone gay marriage because I believed God intended marriage to be only between a man and a woman. There was and is nothing I wanted more than to glorify God in my life and stick up for Him, so I was willing and prepared to make this stand.

Several years prior to this, after reading many things in the Bible that confused me about what God expected of me, I felt peace in just simplifying my beliefs with Jesus’ first and great commandment to love Him with all of my heart and my neighbor as myself. Over the years, I’d had several conversations with different people including my best friend about gays, their rights, their sin, their choice. I always tried to listen to my friend when she would explain “they are born that way” and we shouldn’t judge them. I argued that if they were created this way, then it was still a choice not to act on it, just like an addict. We’d end our conversation agreeing to disagree, but in my heart I felt I was further along and deeper in my walk with God than she was. (Eeeeek!)

When I spent time with two gay classmates at my 40th high school reunion and saw what wonderful men they were, I was confused, but still held onto my closed-minded beliefs. When my friend told me her son was gay, I told her, of course, you should accept and love him, but I believed it was a sin nonetheless.

These situations were all part of preparing me for hearing the news about my own son being gay. In his determination to not be gay, he married a woman in 2000. After 10 years of what must’ve been a very difficult marriage, his wife asked for a divorce. As the months went by and he was not dating anyone as far as I knew, I began to have a sinking feeling he might “think” he was gay, blaming his “evil” ex-wife.

In January 2013, my son came to visit us for the weekend and after several glasses of wine, he told me the dreaded words “Mom, I’m gay.” As far as I can recall, my first words were, through tears, “All I want is for you to be happy and to be in heaven.” The moment he explained to me how he had prayed for years to not be gay, my heart was broken for him and my beliefs were shattered. I immediately knew God would have healed him if he truly did not want him to be gay and there must be something I had not understood regarding gays.

My best friend was the first person I called who got on the internet and ordered a copy of Justin Lee’s book, Torn. She was such a faithful and loving friend who listened to me cry, question, and try to understand how this made sense. Over the coming weeks, my husband and I met with one of our pastors and friends who had an adult gay son. It was so comforting to know we weren’t alone. A female, devout Christian friend was also very helpful to me telling me it was okay that my son was gay, assuring me God was not judging him, and later coming out to me herself as gay. I knew I was being called to do something. God gave me a gay son and it was not what I wanted, expected, or raised my son to be. I only wanted to teach, nurture, and raise up my children so “when they are old they will not depart from it.”

After much reading and praying and discussing, I have total peace that God made my son gay. My whole family attended his wedding, and we adore his little family and are thrilled to have another granddaughter which they adopted in 2015. If someone gives me an opening, I jump in with all fours and tell them my son is gay and I’m A-okay and why. I pray the church will open their minds and understand what true unconditional love means.

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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 1,500 members. The space was specifically created for open minded Christian moms who have LGBTQ kids and want to develop and maintain healthy, loving, authentic relationships with their LGBTQ kids.

For more info email lizdyer55@gmail.com

Moms of LGBTQ kids respond to Beth Moore

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Beth Moore stated the following when speaking to a large gathering of 18 to 25-year-olds in Atlanta during the 2017 Passion Conference last week:

“You will watch a generation of Christians — OF CHRISTIANS — set the Bible aside in an attempt to become more like Jesus. And stunningly it will sound completely plausible. This will be perhaps the cleverest of all the devil’s schemes in your generation. Sacrifice TRUTH for LOVE’s sake. And you will rise or fall based upon whether you will sacrifice one for the other. Will you have the courage to live in the tension of both TRUTH and LOVE?” -Beth Moore

The statement stung me because as the mother of a son who is gay I have often been accused of throwing out scripture in order to support and affirm my son. But, nothing could be further from the truth. As a devoted follower of Jesus and a loving mother I studied, prayed, sought, questioned, listened MORE because I was a Christian mom with a gay son and my experience is that is also true of others like me.

I have a secret Facebook group for moms of LGBT kids (Serendipitydodah for Moms) with more than 1,400 members and everyday I witness the moms in that group asking deep and meaningful questions, sharing profound insight and wisdom, talking about the original language and historical context of scripture. These moms are not people who throw something aside in order to come up with an easy answer for their kids. These moms are not throwing out scripture or setting the bible aside. They don’t want to mislead their kids. They want to know the truth as best they can. They want the best for their kids. They want to feel confident and at peace with the guidance and insight they offer their kids.

So, when someone like Beth Moore says that “a generation of Christians will set the Bible aside in an attempt to become more like Jesus” our ears perk up and we want to respond and share the insight and wisdom that we have gained on this journey of love and faith.

Here are some of the responses from moms who are members of Serendipitydodah:

We follow the Bible, no one is setting aside anything. We are embracing it through the lens of Jesus, not the Lens of religious leaders. We emphasize and embrace what we saw Jesus emphasize and embrace (the best we can). We want to see Jesus be glorified by our love, service to others and the grace we extend to others, not our adherence to rules. – A Mama Bear

Isn’t Jesus the Truth? – so, by becoming more like Jesus you are not actually letting go of the truth. – A Mama Bear

“I struggle to resolve what Beth Moore said, with what the Apostle Paul said, particularly Chapter 13 of First Corinthians on love as one of the only three things (other than faith and hope, which he elsewhere defines) that followers of Christ are to hold primary above mortal speech, human knowledge, and all human understanding. Also, I struggle with Beth Moore’s words when considering the words of Jesus in the definition of the call of Christianity in the Great Commandment, where loving God with all our thought, and emotion, and spirituality, and loving others with the same wholeheartedness, is a refection of how God loves us, and is the axis on which all prophecy and law hinge and find resolution, as in Mark 12 and repeated again in Matthew 22. Therefore, my question to Beth Moore would be, “What truth should we hold above love?”  – A Mama Bear

Bill Maher once said, “I don’t know anyone less Jesus-like than most Christians.” And you know what? The Christians he’s referring to read the Scriptures. I think we moms know from our own experience of supporting LGBT folks that the Bible bullies come out because of their faulty reading of the text. They erroneously employ Scripture to shame, condemn, and ‘other-ize’ people who aren’t like them and who don’t behave in ways they deem appropriate. So it’s not so much that we are dropping the Bible to follow Jesus – it’s that we are trying to drop a faulty, abusive hermeneutic to “GO and DO” what He commanded us in order that the Bill Mahers of the world can see a true expression of God in us. – Meredith Webster Indermaur

Sorry Beth Moore–The BIBLE tells me the Spirit will be my personal teacher. The BIBLE tells me to follow Jesus. The BIBLE tells me to love, even my enemy. The BIBLE tells me to be wary of false teachers (men and obviously women, too) who try to deceive the SPIRIT within me. So I think it’s you and your twisted interpretation of scripture the Devil is using because you are the one trying to separate the walk and life of Jesus from your reading of the BIBLE. – Margaret Boelman

My question to Beth Moore would be, do you have the courage to dig deeper and discover TRUTH? …not the truths twisted, added to, reworded & revised in translations, but the truth of God given by inspiration of the Holy Spirit to Hebrew and Greek speaking people. And would you filter those words through Jesus, THE absolute true WORD OF GOD, who was with God, in God, was God from the beginning? Because in light of that TRUTH there is no tension between truth and love. – Betsy Bruce Henning

I would say that Beth Moore does not have the desire, courage, or humility to see how she is harming God’s dearly loved LGBTQ children. Hers is one of the most dangerous and toxic statements a Christian authority can make, because it instills so much fear in followers and that fear causes a superficial reading of scripture and a reliance on so called Bible authorities. After all, who wants to come to the end of their life to have Jesus say “away from me I never knew you?” I grew up in and lived my whole life in an extended family who believed you were going to hell if you weren’t on the narrow path–the very narrow path that most won’t find and is tiny as the “eye of a needle” [which was interpreted literally by my family rather than in its Middle Eastern context]. Most of the church-going “Christians” I know won’t do that deep digging to uncover Biblical truths. It’s a lot of work, and they’re afraid and don’t trust themselves. Salvation is a lot to risk! They’d rather rely on their pastors and teachers like Moore to tell them what to think. After all, life is busy, and that’s what pastors and Bible teachers get paid for! (sarcasm) If you take the Bible “sola scriptura” as someone else mentioned and as I was taught, you have a lot of cognitive dissonance when you read and study scripture. True study is difficult when you try to understand context and compare the original languages to various translations. An individual almost necessarily needs an “authority” to guide them through those passages that create the cognitive dissonance, or at least someone who makes them feel they’ve arrived at the correct conclusion, because after all, salvation is at stake. – Laura Sparks Turner

Last I checked, love and truth should never be in conflict. If they are there is something wrong with your “truth.” And since when was living Christ-like *ever* secondary? – Debbie King

Be careful judging how the Holy Spirit guides those that don’t fit your label. It is not for you to say what their relationship with God should look like. Doing so, does not define truth. – Debby Laird McCrary

I love the Bible..But I don’t like it being used to discriminate against our LGBTQ children. – Lenora Lea Gill

I will live my life to be more like Jesus and less like the Bible because Jesus is the key to my salvation… not the Bible. – Sara O.

We shouldn’t have to sacrifice truth for love because Truth is Love. – Julie Ackerson-Armstrong

Not just me, but my child searched scriptures, opinions, books… many resources before deciding to just live for Jesus. She has contemplated and attempted suicide over her salvation, over wanting truth and love in her young life. She’s only 14… – Glenda Moore

I have searched and studied because I have a gay son. My heart is now at peace because my eyes have been opened to the true meaning of being a Christian. Many many people adapt the Bible to suit their way of doing things, just as I suppose this Beth Moore has. But one thing I do know for sure is my prayers to God were fervent and from the core of my soul and if God chose to ignore these prayers of mine then I can say He does not love me. But I know that His love for me is real so therefore He heard my cry. – A Mama Bear

I am tired of the box of Christianity they think is so neat and tidy. Life isn’t. God loves each and every one of us just as we are. If one believes that we are souls who inhabit many bodies in this earth school to learn lessons, then it would be obvious that we have been different genders. That can explain a lot. I choose not to be labeled anymore and think that we would all be better off not to slap labels and condemnations on anyone. Sadly, those who think they are right and are hell bent on proving it seem to have no trouble putting themselves in the driver’s seat of the Creator if the Universe. If that isn’t arrogant I don’t know what is. – A Mama Bear

I think we are setting aside the Bible, in some instances, because it simply doesn’t make sense. So many holes. So many translations. Once you free yourself from the Bible being the actual word of God, it is liberating to find your own relationship with Him. People like Beth who cling to the literal Bible as infallible take the easy way out because they don’t require any thinking with their faith. True believers can read the Bible, use their brains and come to a place of peace. That’s faith. Holding fast to something that makes no sense isn’t faith. It’s a crutch.  – A Mama Bear

I have become a stronger Christian, and a stronger person because of my gay son. I read the BIBLE a lot more, and I pray a lot more. – A Mama Bear

IF anyone lives in the tension between truth and love, it is those of us with LGBTQ kids. We have had to learn to love in the unconditional way Christ taught us, instead of the conditional way our culture (yes, our church culture) instructs us. Putting the Bible aside has never occurred to most of us. Indeed, it is what we continue to lean on as we struggle with how God is using us in the place we find ourselves. He watched is Son suffer and die. Many of us do the same, at the hands of people who call themselves Christians. We know the depths of misery and the heights of Christ’s love in our lives. I would also add that if anything has turned me personally away from the Bible, it is people like Beth Moore.- A Mama Bear

It is a far scarier, humbling way to live… to not have it all wrapped up in a neat little box…. It also takes more faith and a much bigger God. – A Mama Bear

This statement from BM brings visions of the type of judgmental, self-righteous church mentality that keeps me and my husband away. It’s so ignorant, flippant and cold-hearted that it’s the furthest thing from Christlike. BM and those like her can keep their American Jesus. – A Mama Bear

I don’t know what truth is anymore — I have read so much information that I am not even sure about the Bible – I am beginning to think it is just stories written by people that lived a long time ago and PEOPLE have translated it from language to language not even knowing if they are right … And picking and choosing what stories should be included, I am just fed up with the Christian right thinking that their interpretation is the one and only way to read the Bible… Whether it is Satan blocking the way or I am just seeing a way different picture. I believe there is a God, I have good sound morals and I try to see people in a different light…. And treating people Lovingly and equally! Right now I don’t anymore! I definitely don’t need to go be “educated” in a church anymore! So DONE with all this! I just want to LOVE! – A Mama Bear

Being a l o n g time fan, it made my heart sink to read those words from her and even more alarming that my more conservative friends and family have used her words to wedge the divide even deeper between the Church, the LGBTQ community and their allies. For me, that’s not how the Word of God works, not at all. The Truth has set me free from any law and I have never loved more deeply or experienced God or the Word more profoundly. – A Mama Bear

The church’s treatment of the LGBTQ community is reminiscent of days when the developmentally disabled and mentally ill were rejected and mistreated and accused of being possessed by satan. It is heartbreaking to see that kind of hate and rejection aimed at your child. The Bible has been in the control of white hetero men of power since its inception therefore, as with all things in human control, is fallible and corruptible. We would be incredibly naive to think that has not been changed to meet the agenda of these powerful men. I love the bible. I read scripture and glean wisdom when God speaks to me through it. I Worship God not a book. He has given me a heart of love for all mankind, including the LGBTQ community. Unfortunately my husband, our church and his extended family do not agree. I will stand with all those rejected and persecuted for simply being who God created them to be. – Elizabeth Frauenknecht

My God is SO BIG and has such a great imagination. Look at the diversity of ALL that God made! I will certainly NEVER be worthy of such unconditional love. Luckily, I don’t have to be, I just have to accept God and God accepts me JUST THE WAY I AM. God made me to be me. He made you to be you. All God wants is for me to be the most kind, loving person I can be and for you to be the most kind loving person you can be. If we all do that (and I fall short EVERY DAY), we won’t have enough time to judge our sisters and brothers. Can I get an AMEN? – Spring Davidson

I’m not a Beth Moore fan. God is much bigger than the biggest, most popular, most righteous, most justified self proclaimed evangelist. I don’t set aside scripture. I listen to what God is telling me which might just not add up to what my pastor, or my Sunday school teacher, or my small group leader or my dearest friend, or my dearest friend who is a pastor or my bible study teacher interprets. I read scripture, I teach Sunday school, I teach Bible studies, I lead support groups, lead small groups, and women and kids and I listen for the still quiet voice of the Lord to tell me what He has for me. My daughter coming out helped me to become authentic. Authentically Christian. Including a slightly different interpretation of scripture from many around me which does not make me wrong. Pray for God to separate the man made stuff from His stuff. He can’t not. It’s a great journey. He has my in the palm of His hand or I couldn’t do any of this. It’s not about me. Beth is too much about Beth. Sorry. Not a fan. – Deborah Noffert

I pray sincerely that one day Beth Moore will have her spirit humbled and broken by the same loving, gracious God that humbled and broke mine years ago! The church has been wrong in judging and persecuting our LGBTQ children of God. The church has taught partial truths and used verses out of context to justify a position of “judge and jury”, acting as “THE voice of God” on a subject that is in no way “perfectly clear” if studied in depth at all. In the gray space, I had to choose a place of trust in the guidance of the Holy Spirit in my life. It is a faith journey that IS NOT for the faint of heart. I reject the implication that I have set my Bible aside in any way. God has walked me into His beautiful presence and commanded that I accept my LGBTQ brothers and sisters as perfectly His. I am in no way to try to change them. I am simply commanded to love them as they are. I was also commanded to apologize profusely on behalf of “the church” that has judged them for the grave and serious harm they have caused in the lives of LGBTQ people that have sought God with their heart and were pushed away by Christians. – Tamara Darbin

I have been to several Beth Moore events and loved her. It hurt me deeply to see her say this. I have gotten so much closer to God since my daughter came out. I have learned so much actually studying my bible, and not listening to what past church leaders/pastors have said. God loves all people, man created the love the sinner hate the sin mentality! God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit loves all. Remember the greatest commandment is about love. – Renay Boyes

I was shocked at the pain I felt all over again when I watched that statement be tweeted and then retweeted by others I believed to be allies. I have struggled to be sure that the truth of scripture was never distorted in my relationship with my child and can honestly say that we have not sacrificed or abandoned any of the truth of the gospel in loving our son or helping him to become the Christian Man that he has become. – Laurie Harrison Lewis

We can idolize our understanding of the Bible and totally miss the God of the Bible. Mercy not sacrifice was both the God of the Old Testament and the God/Jesus of the New. My favorite recent quote comes from Richard B. Hays: “the quality of mercy is not set in opposition to the Torah; rather, Matthew’s Jesus discerns within Scripture itself the hermeneutical principle – expressed epigrammatically in Hosea 6 : 6 – that all the commandments are to be interpreted in such a way as to engender and promote the practice of mercy among God’s people.” – A Mama Bear

Beth must not have read Matthew 22:40! – A Mama Bear

As a parent of a child that was so depressed they would not leave their room for months or get out of bed, I prayed and agonized with God that He would reveal to me what was wrong. During those agonizing times He would whisper “Transgender” to me. It was a couple of weeks later that my then son broke down and told me he was a girl. Was I totally surprised? No, I was so relieved that God had answered my prayer. During our journey, I asked God to close any doors that we were not to go through while we maneuvered through her transition. I believed and had faith that God would close those doors, if we were not to go through them. I had peace from day one. John 14:27 But during this time, I would sit in my then home church Sunday after Sunday with a spirit that was so “troubled” because they did not embrace our daughter. I would see her friends and their parents sitting in the pews and they never asked about her. I would leave sobbing and so heart broken and grieving. As a sister in the body of Christ should I have suffered alone? Our daughter needed her christian friends beside her, but where were they? Who ended up setting the Bible aside? My guess would be the generation of Christians in the church.  – Gloria Melton.

I believe/pray that this will be the first generation that truly sees how horribly we have treated our LGBT brothers and sisters in Christ. I keep asking myself why don’t I know any gay Christians and the response seems to be because we’ve not welcomed them into our churches or society. What are we Christians so afraid of? It’s not a disease that you can catch. These people are just like us made in the image of God. Jesus loves them as much as He loves you and me. Could some of our Holy Scriptures that were translated from Greek and Hebrew be wrong? Yes! Has culture changed since ancient times? Yes! Do you have the courage to open your heart, mind and church to LGBT people? What if Satan is blinding you, as most of our Evangelical churches have sent our LGBT children out on their own in this world confused, depressed and thinking God and His people hate them! This generation hopefully will have the courage to stand up for the LGBT children in their churches and welcome them with open hearts and minds. – A Mama Bear

I read a Letter to Beth Moore in 2015 and through that post I got in touch and joined Serendipitydodah for Moms. In a way it feels like Beth Moore led me to join this group of moms who love and affirm their LGBT kids. I wonder how Beth would feel about that. – A Mama Bear

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

For more info email lizdyer55@gmail.com

Highlights Children Magazine Receives Letter of Support from Moms of LGBT Kids

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After accusations of homophobia late last year, Highlights children magazine will include an illustration of a same-sex couple in an issue for the first time.

The image will appear in the February issue of the magazine and will show two men loading a station wagon for a family trip.

After announcing their intention to include same-sex families in their magazine Highlights received criticism from conservative Christians, including the Christian advocacy group One Million Moms, but the children’s magazine also received a lot of support from advocates of LGBT people including a letter of support that was signed by more than 400 moms of LGBT kids.

The 400+ moms who signed the letter all belong to Serendipitydodah for Moms, a private Facebook group for open minded Christian moms of LGBT kids. The group is secret so that only members can find it or see what is posted in the group. The group was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 1,400 members. The space was specifically created for open minded Christian moms who have LGBT kids and want to develop and maintain healthy, loving, authentic relationships with their LGBT kids. For more info email lizdyer55@gmail.com

Here is the letter with signatures that was sent to Highlights:

Dear Highlights,

We are part of a large private Facebook group of more than 1,400 moms of LGBTQ kids.

Our group, Serendipitydodah for Moms, was created especially for open minded Christian moms of LGBTQ kids who want to develop and maintain healthy, loving, authentic relationships with their LGBTQ kids.

More than 400 of us are signing this letter to express our deep gratitude and support for your commitment to be inclusive of LGBTQ families in your publication.

We understand this can be a difficult issue to navigate and are so encouraged by the way your organization is responding. Your desire to have LGBTQ people respresented in your publication demonstrates that you value ALL children and are committed to helping ALL children become confident, caring, curious and creative individuals.

We believe you and your organization are serving as a catalyst to make the world a kinder and safer place for families with LGBTQ members to live.

Because of organizations like yours, moms like us, are able to remain hopeful about the future for our children.

With sincere admiration and gratitude,

Abby De Fiesta Cortez 

Adele Berardi

Alecia Moss

Aletheia Wall Zambesi

Alise D Chaffins

Alison Defrese

Allena Brown

Amanda Corry Thorderson

Amanda Curtis Dwyer

Amanda Dalton

Amy Goad

Amy Hansley Bennett

Amy Rueter

Andrea Larson Schultz

Angie Laws

Angie Silver

Angie Stratz Ashmore

Anita Jewell Carter Cockrum

Ann McGee Green

Ann Zweckbronner

Arlene Schulz

Barb Cressy

Becky Cantrall

Beth Barndt Ruthenburg

Beth Breems

Beth McGill-Rizer

Beth Wiggins Baswell

Bethany Kirwen

Betsy Bruce Henning 

Billie Jo Marrs

Bonnie Miranda

Brenda Holloway Bratcher

Bridget Murphy

Candace Winters

Carie Poynor Downes

Carla Iturregui Picasso-Brown

Carla Michaelsen

Carla Short Spivey

Carol Mason

Carole Bass

Caroline Williams Joyce

Carolyn Cage Johnston

Carolyn Walker

Carrie Garske Shank

Caryle A Cox

Cassy Taylor Campos

Cathleen Frantzen Schaber

Chasity Davis

Cheri Nill

Cheri Simpson

Cherie Walker

Cheryl Bakkila-Perkins 

Chris Behne

Christie Hoos

Christie Nader

Christina Lehmann Bergevin

Christina Rosbury

Christy Emigh

Cilla Thomas

Cindy Helzer Baldwin

Cindy Jo Conner

Cindy Morgan

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Colleen Hepler Brassington

Colleen Kane

Connie Dupuis

Crista Mason

Crystal Baker

Crystal Wagner

Cyndi Silva Raugh

Cynthia Corsetti

Cynthia Gaye Rahm-Clark

Dana Baker

Dana Huntington-Smith

Danette Mohring

Dawn Bellotti

Dawn Bennett

Dawn Pulley Ervin

Deb Gallagher

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Debbie Rogers Greenan

Debbie Wasielewski Tavarez

Debby McCrary

Debi Jackson

Debi Tucker Boland

Deborah Carlyle Enman

Debra Honeywell Myott

Dee-Ann Bodenheimer-Enslin 

Deena Corwin Pfahler

Deleise Carper Brewer 

Denise Ramirez-Tatum

Denise Trainer Webb

Diana Dermit McCarthy

Diana Walla

Diane Simms

Donna Holmes

Donna Thompson Spencer

Donna Turner Hudson

Dorene Rose

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Elaine Falk Parker

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Elizabeth Pierce

Eva Sullivan-Knoff

Felicia Dodd

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Gerry Phifer

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Glenda Crump

Glenda Purkis Boulton

Gloria Melton

Greta Medrano

Gretchen Doornek Mueller

Harriet Sutton

Heather Clevenger

Heather Gee-Thomas

Heather McCracken Bottoms

Ineka Estabrook

Irene Gilliland

Jacque Wright

Jacqueline Rutledge

Jacqueline Steverson Brown

Jade Cutter

Jamie Hovland

Jamie Tessing Bruesehoff

Jammie Risley Hahn

Jan Pezant 

Jan Roberts

Jan Wightman

Jane Clementi

Jane Moody

Janet Phillips

Janice Dunn White

Janie Romine

Janine Sarah Moore

Jaron Terry

Jeannette Cona-Larock

Jeannie Babb

Jenna Robertson

Jennie Young-Walczyk

Jennifer Donovan Jasgur

Jennifer Dunnam Stringfellow

Jennifer Hancock

Jennifer Robinson

Jennifer Schaffner Burkhardt

Jennifer Seeger

Jennifer Stake White

Jennifer Teeter

Jennifer Wilkins Pearson

Jenny Bishop Morgan

Jerri Surles Collins

Jessica Fahlgren

Jill Blythe

Jill Johnstone

Jill Pote Yarbrough

Jillian Jones

Joani Lea Jack

JoAnn Forsberg

Joann Thompson

Jody Miller Vanderzell

Joy Denton

Judie Brown Gordon

Judith K Volkar

Judy Witzel Harper

Julia Lunardo

Julie Ackerson-Armstrong

Julie Bean Bisgaard

Julie Elliott O’Neal

Julie Greene

Julie Kennedy Eaton

Julie Lenox Haines

Julie Manning Waters

Karen Adams

Karen Decker Kusserow 

Karen Sullivan

Karin Paulus

Karin Triola

Katherine Brown Leidy

Kathi Nicholson

Kathie Moehlig

Kathrine M Kraft

Kathryn Zentner

Kathy Ann

Kathy Ewing-Finley

Kathy Green

Kathy Reim

Kathy Renne Post

Kathy White

Katie Jenifer

Katie Willhite Brooks

Katrina Black

Kay Kelley

Kay Otting

Kay Whistler

Kelli Henry Alamond

Kelli Lewis Decker

Kellie Taylor-Lafevor

Kelly Beane

Kelly Cantwell

Kelly Dembiczak

Kelly M Hunsaker

Kelly McKinsey

Kelly Rae Holiday

Keri Lynn Riley

Kim Belcher Messick

Kim Freeman Weill

Kim Kendall

Kim Lue

Kim McMahon

Kim Sonntag

Kimberly Jones

Kimberly Shappley

Kimberlyn Graham

Kirsten Shaw

Kris Gromm

Krista Burdine

Kristen Capp

Kristi Chenoweth Dubois

Kristi Kodos

Kyle Jump

Lannette Sargent

Laura Beth Taylor 

Laura Sparks Turner

LeAnn Fenner

Leba Shallenberger

Lee Ann Howdershell

Lenora Lea Gill

Lesa Edwards-Schepers 

Lesley Davis

Leslie Jones Webster

Linda Baker

Linda Ling

Linda Rooney

Linda Slater Tow

Linda Wiebe Dickinson

Linda York O’Connell

Lisa Bray

Lisa Cousins

Lisa Giordano Bontemps

Lisa Golden Dugger

Lisa MacGregor

Lisa Maniscalco Hildebrand

Lisa McCrystal Holley

Lisa Schramm

Lisa Scott Wofford

Lisa Wetmore Shinn

Liz Dyer

Loretta Davila

Lori Black Manning

Lori Bradley-Lewis

Lori Chavers Blankenship

Lori Love-Wise

Lori McCoy Simmons

Lori Rogers

Lyndah Kolkmann

Lynette Joy

Lynn Kato

Madai Girard

Maleea Shaver Castillo

Mally Shell Hatch

Marcie Castiglione

Margi Wilmans 

Margie Candler

Maria Breeden

Marianne Minier Walker

Marilynn Bourne Fowler

Marjorie Rudolph

Marlene Hoefer Brummond

Marlene Lund

Marsha Ladd

Martha Maust

Marti Parsons Grahl

Mary Estelle Montgomery

Mary Jo Whitley

Mary Kay Weil

Meg Shull Bierwirth

Melea Broekers

Melissa Ballard

Melissa Brady Silva

Melissa Morritt Coble

Melissa Sosenko DeStefano

Meredith Webster Indermaur

Merryl Dietz

Micah Hoshi

Michele Engle

Michele Manuel Fuselier

Michele Wessel Tarnow

Michelle Bradshaw McComb

Michelle Zulch

Millie Donnell

Miriam Pendley

Monica Ausderau Larmon

Monica Maday

Monica-Niki Elenbaas

Morven Roberts Baker

Nancy Barron Booher

Nancy Johnson Campbell

Nancy MacDonald

Nancy Ruh

Nancy Thompson Flikkema

Nancy Villegas

Nancy Wance

Nicole Havlen Hair

Olivia Santos

Paige Gant

Paige Stover

Pam Ensinger Antos

Pam Swendig

Pam Walsh

Patricia Detzel

Patricia Sjöberg

Patti Atwood Grossman

Patti Mercer Churner

Patti Stone

Patti Stratton 

Paula Unrau

Pauline Carlson

Pauline Daly

Phyllis Barber

Rachel Drouillard

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Rachel Sargent

Rebecca Fako Uecker

Rebecca Hedges Lyon

Regina Pitts Woods

Renay Boyes

Renee Utley Bennink

Rev. Mally Baum

Rhonda Hartzell

Rhonda Morrison

Rita Daruvala

Rob Ullinger

Robin Gowan

Robin Protsman

Robinette Nacca-Cooke

Robyn S Haag

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Roseanne M. Shannon

Rosemarie Varrichio Campbell

Rossana Neglia McLaughlin

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Sandra Van Dyne

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Sarah Langley

Sarah Mills Holbrook

Sarah Thacker-Estell 

Shannon Eaton

Shawna Dicintio

Shay Bisbee Haude

Shelley McBride

Sheri Martin 

Sherrl McFerrin Townsend

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Terry Hall Sanchez

Theresa Moore Martinez

Theresa Tasker

Tina Tocheri Thomas

Tonda Campbell Hoyt 

Toni Ann Bradley

Tracie Sells

Tracy Jepson

Tricia Kaufman-Waddell 

Tricia Willard 

Valerie Amoling Cronin

Vanessa Horton-Hendershot

Vanessa Melchiori

Vicki Kemp Whorton

Vicki March Belsterling

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Vicky Barnes

Vlada Knowlton

Wendy Wiley Canedy

Whitney Straub

Zenia Robertson

What do you think will make the world great? – a reflection for advent

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I have a “secret”  Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids. Many of the moms in the group (Serendipitydodah for Moms) are concerned about what the future holds for their kids – especially in light of the recent Presidential election in the U.S.

Niki Elenbaas, one of the moms in the group, posted an Advent Reflection and has given me permission to share it here.

Niki specifically speaks to what is potentially in store for Muslims who live in the U.S. – but the concern can also be applied to many other groups of people … LGBTQ people, Hispanics, African Americans, Jewish people, people living in poverty – even women – are fearful and concerned about their future.

So much hate has been given a voice and a stage. So much has been said about making America great again but very little has been said about specific things that would make America great.

As Christians we are called to make the world great … not great in military power or affluence, but great with love and kindness and generosity and hospitality and inclusion.

This is an especially important time for Christians in America to ponder what they want for their country – what spirit do they want to permeate their land – what message do they want to send out to the rest of the world – will it be a spirit of seclusion and selfishness?  a message of fear and hate?  or will it be a spirit of kindness? a message of radical inclusion and generous hospitality?

This reflection by Niki captures the fear and trepidation that so many of us are feeling this holiday season and invites us to ponder what we believe will make the world great …

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In this last week of Advent I can’t help but think how Jeshua had a lot to say about “whatsoever you do to the least of these,” and nothing about building a great big fence.

And I can’t help but feel stricken to the core to realize how current news about potential government registration of all Muslims parallels the untimely journey that Joseph and Mary were forced to take at the order of a government which didn’t share their faith.

And then I cry to think that the visit of the Magi led to the slaughter of every male child under age two, because soldiers followed the horrifying decree of an evil, self-centered despot. I bet Herod said something about keeping Judea great.

#advent2016

Stories That Change The World #33 – I became affirming because of my faith, not in spite of it.

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

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I have a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ+ kids. We have more than 1,400 moms in the group and continue to grow. The group was especially created for open minded Christian moms of LGBTQ+ kids. One thing we often discuss among ourselves is how we reconcile our Christian faith with supporting and affirming our LGBTQ+ kids. My own journey of reconciliation was one of the main things that led me to create Serendipitydodah for Moms. Here is the short version of how I reconciled my faith with being affirming. This process took place between one and two years.

When my son came out at age 19 he told me he had come to the conclusion that the bible did not condemn loving, committed same sex relationships. I fully expected to be able to prove him wrong.

I was accustomed to “studying” scripture as I led women’s ministry in church for many years and also wrote and taught women’s bible studies during that time. I knew what it meant to dig into original language and consider the historical context of the verses I was studying. I was shocked to find that my son was right … there was no clear condemnation of the kind of same sex relationship that my son was talking about. None of the “clobber” verses were speaking about a loving, monogamous, healthy same sex relationship – my son had not forsaken God nor was he living some kind of lustful life. There was nothing in scripture that spoke of a same sex couple falling in love, marrying, building a life and a family together. Therefore, in light of insufficient evidence in scripture I had to ask myself…How should I respond to something if scripture doesn’t clearly condemn it?

The only thing I could think is that I needed to know if there was any evidence that same sex relationships were hurting people in real life. I took time to meet and get to know same sex couples and families and I couldn’t find evidence that they were any different than opposite sex couples – the evidence I discovered was that healthy same sex relationships had the same potential to be good and healthy and life giving that opposite sex relationships had.

When I was going through all of this study, research, thought and prayer Micah 6:8 became a focal point for me:

“He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good;
and what doth the Lord require of thee,
but to do justly, and to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with thy God?”

It was one of those verses that I kept being drawn back to and became one of those verses that ended up being “written on my heart”

The lack of evidence to condemn same sex relationships and Micah 6:8 led me to this:

If scripture doesn’t clearly condemn it and there is no evidence that it is harmful to anyone it would be unjust for me to condemn it and I know how God feels about injustice.

Shortly after I realized it was unjust to condemn same sex relationships due to insufficient evidence I also began to understand that good theology should produce good fruit.

I knew that scripture says that we (followers of Christ) will be known by our good fruit or good psychology.

I knew the good news should produce life giving fruit and if my theology was producing depression, hopelessness, self-loathing and suicide I had to come to grips with the reality that my theology must be wrong.

As I pondered the “good theology = good fruit/good psychology” principle and began to connect with a lot of Christian LGBT people I began to see a pattern … when LGBT people were connected to non-affirming faith communities they were typically very broken, desperate, hopeless, unhappy people and many times they were living out their brokenness in self destructive ways – but when they were connected to affirming faith communities they typically were a lot healthier and living much healthier lives. The evidence was clear and convicting.

I had to let go of the theology that was producing death (emotional death, spiritual death, relational death, physical death) and embrace theology that was producing healthy ideas, healthy choices, healthy living .. theology that was producing health, wholeness and life.

At some point I realized that I could no longer reconcile my Christian faith with the idea that same sex relationships were sinful – the two just didn’t go together.

I became affirming because of my faith, not in spite of it.

I support equal rights and protection of LGBT people not “even though” I’m a Christian or “in spite of” of being a Christian, but BECAUSE I’m a Christian.

I haven’t had to compromise or choose – I have fully embraced my faith throughout this journey.

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

For more info email lizdyer55@gmail.com

Stories That Change The World #32 – Shining Our Light by Summer Osborne

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

I’m thankful to Summer Osborne for allowing me to share a bit of her story here on my blog. She is a bright light with an amazing gift. I feel blessed to have the good fortune of connecting with her.

“I come from a small farming community in rural southern Illinois.

Culture is a throat swab at the small-town clinic.

The head dragon of the KKK lived out on highway 185 by my grandparent’s house – and every year, there would be a rally complete with hoods and a burning cross.

My Southern Baptist church, where I had been born and raised, asked me to leave and not come back until I wasn’t gay.

I was fearful and disgusted. I felt… misplaced.

When I graduated from high school 26 years ago, I moved away and vowed to never come back.

I wanted to change the world, and I thought I had to be in a big city to do that.

So I moved to St. Louis where I knew I would be met with an LGBT community.

I met my wife in 2007, and in 2010 we traveled to Iowa to get legally married, as it was one of only 5 states that allowed same sex marriage. Shortly thereafter, my grandfather passed away and his house became available. So… we moved back to Vandalia, IL.

I have no regrets. Because although there are a ridiculous number of Trump signs in yards all over this town, I have learned that in changing the world, that’s where you must go to CHANGE it. Sometimes you have to go into the dark places and shine.

That is what we strive to do.

Surprisingly, my hometown community has become completely accepting.

Even to the point where, when someone made an ignorant anti-gay comment on my wall, much of the individuals (and there were A LOT) that came to my aide, were from my hometown.

The head dragon of the KKK is gone… now, out on highway 185, my wife and I host a positive music festival on our farm every year to facilitate healing and growth.

Shining our light where there was darkness… because darkness has no place where light is.

Love & Light to ALL of us!”

– Summer Osborne –

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Here is a link for more info about the Venus Music Festival 

To follow Summer’s music go here and here.

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I have a large private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ+ kids. We have more than 1,400 moms in the group and we continue to grow. The group, Serendipitydodah for Moms, is a place where the members share a lot of support and information. For more info you can email me at lizdyer55@gmail.com

 

Learning & Growing Together #3 – Self Care

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

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This is a very stressful time for many of us. I’m hearing from many who are saying they are sad, anxious, worried and stressed. It’s always important that we take care of ourselves but especially at times like this. Stress, anxiety and depression can lead to some serious health issues if we are not intentional about taking care of ourselves.

Here are some “Self Care” ideas that I have found helpful. I hope you will share your own “Self Care” ideas in the comments:

*Drink water! Your body needs it. The link between water and stress reduction is well documented. All of our organs, including our heart and our brain, require water to function properly. Without enough water, we fall prey to dehydration which can cause stress.

*If you are an animal lover spend some time with animals. If you have a pet take time to cuddle and play with your pet – or visit your local animal shelter or sanctuary – the animals there will thank you and you will feel better afterwards.

*Take a walk! First, make sure that you can go for a walk and be safe. Maybe you need to walk before it gets dark or maybe you should walk with someone else. I think outside is best but if that isn’t possible maybe you can go to an indoor mall or gym and walk there. My gym has an indoor track that I often walk on. The point is to walk if you can. Like any other cardiovascular exercise, brisk walking boosts endorphins, which can reduce stress hormones and alleviate mild depression.

*Get some fresh air. If you can’t get outside to go for a walk try opening up some windows in your home or sitting on a patio or porch for an extended time. I find that fresh air is very calming.

*Listen to music. I have to be sure and not let myself listen to a lot of sad music at times like this but other than that music is a real stress buster for me. And when I combine it with walking, dancing or some other form of physical activity it helps even more.

*For those who like to read take time to indulge in a good story. It’s easy to spend all of our reading time on news articles and non fiction. Reading for fun and enjoyment is good for us. It’s one of the best ways to relax and even six minutes can be enough to reduce our stress levels by more than two thirds, according to new research. Research says it works better and faster than other methods to calm frazzled nerves such as listening to music, going for a walk or settling down with a cup of tea.

*Laugh. Whether you’re guffawing at a sitcom on TV or quietly giggling at a newspaper cartoon, laughing does you good. Laughter is a great form of stress relief, and that’s no joke. When I need a good laugh I often pull out my Ellen DeGeneres video “Here and Now” – it’s one of the best! I always feel better after an hour with Ellen doing stand-up!

What about you? How do you deal with stress?

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Serendipitydodah for Moms is a private Facebook group created as an extension of the Serendipitydodah blog. The group is secret so that only members can find it or see what is posted in the group. The group was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 1,400 members. The space was specifically created for open minded Christian moms who have LGBTQ kids and want to develop and maintain healthy, loving, authentic relationships with their LGBTQ kids. In addition to providing a space for members to share info and support one another, a special guest is added each month for a few days. The guests include authors, pastors, LGBTQ people, bloggers and public speakers.

For more info email lizdyer55@gmail.com

 

How LGBTQ Families Can Turn Holiday Jitters into Holiday Joy

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I have a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids. The group, Serendipitydodah for Moms, has more than 1,400 moms and continues to grow. It is a place where we share a lot of support and information.

A common concern this time of year among the moms in the group are holiday gatherings with friends and family.  

Jaron Terry, one of the moms in Serendipitydodah for Moms , shares some tips on how to turn our holiday jitters into holiday joy.

Jaron is a public relations professional, Mama Bear and VP of the board of PFLAG Columbus.


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If you’re cringing at the thought of listening to Uncle Joe praise the election outcome while he carves the Thanksgiving turkey, or you’re already shaking with anger knowing in advance just what kind of homophobic jokes, racist slurs, and woman-bashing BS will mingle with the aroma of pine needles and cinnamon, then you might want to arm yourself with an iron-clad plan for surviving the upcoming holidays – especially if that carving knife is sharp.

Here are 8 tips to help ensure your gatherings with family and friends are infused with the musical strains of “Noel” instead of heated shouts of “Hell No!”

1. Just stay home. Determine whether or not to go: Do you really need to attend that family dinner, head to your hometown or show up at that church event? This might just be the year to gracefully bow out. If you, like me and some of my Mama Bear friends – mothers who love and affirm their LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning) children – woke up November 9 worried that your child’s civil rights, as well as their physical safety, mental wellness, and spiritual health, are in danger, perhaps you don’t need to be with people who are telling you you’re just overreacting or being melodramatic.

2. Go it alone. If you do decide to risk what you think might turn ugly, consider your child. If your LGBTQ offspring is an adult, allow them to make their own decision. Don’t “guilt” them into coming with you or show disappointment if they stay home. A holiday is just that: one day. Your queer teen should also be given the opportunity to choose. If their friend with an affirming family has invited them, think how much they will enjoy a warm, loving, accepting atmosphere. However, if your child is young, why would you risk their overhearing negative comments about Marriage Equality or dreadful discussions about where transgender people can pee? I encourage you to take another look at Tip #1.

3. Choose your method. Before you put together your famous cranberry mold (that nobody eats, anyway) or stick a single bow on a package, start thinking now about what you will or won’t say and do in response to an ugly situation. You know your family members better than anyone and should consider in advance whether there is an opportunity to educate, if it’s better to just change the subject, or if you should simply walk away.

4. Educate. Perhaps you’ve been blessed with an unusually calm demeanor and a polite family. Perhaps you family is open to hearing how your understanding of long-held, church-taught beliefs has changed through your direct personal experience and the opportunities you’ve had to be with people some consider “other.” That’s wonderful! Do some homework: read up on blogs like Serendipitydodah  or Stuff That Needs to be Said. Attend your local PFLAG meeting or visit PFLAG.org. Keep current on the news, and be sure you’re quoting actual news outlets and not bogus sites. If your family loves the Bible, invite them to read Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate by Justin Lee; God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines; or Changing Our Minds by David Gushee. I’ve found that people who are willing to open their minds generally open their hearts, too.

5. Speak up. Just as every family has its own traditions, they generally have their own sense of what they call humor. Anticipate in advance what kind of comments you can expect to hear. Yes, it’s hard to make space in your head for ugly remarks like the ones we heard during and after the campaign. And, it’s even harder to consider the horrifying actions recently reported, demonstrating the level of vitriol some in our country feel toward persons of color, immigrants, women and LGBTQ people. However, doing so will not only toughen you against the sting, but more importantly, give you time to formulate your response. It may be as simple as, “I respectfully ask that we not discuss the election results, because we all know we don’t agree.” Or, when inappropriate things are said, “I prefer not to hear such comments, Uncle Joe, and ask that you not make them when I’m here.”

6. Fight Fire with Fire. Or, maybe you’re the kind that relishes the opportunity to “go there” and shout them down – slashing and burning with words that cut as sharp as the ones they throw at your child. Again, from my own experience of going that route with now former friends, you might first ask yourself how important keeping family relationships intact is to you. If the answer is “very,” then I refer you back to Tip #1 – perhaps it’s better to sit this year out. Send your excuses in a letter that is explicit about why you’re not coming (assuming you’ve already unfriended them on Facebook). If you or your child does not think its safe to be open with them, don’t hesitate to make up an excuse (the dog ate the tree!).

7. Have an Exit Plan. If you’ve decided to attend the festivities, make an exit plan before you head to the airport or pack the trunk of your car. One thing I don’t want you to do is to sit silent and “take it” as hateful words and messages swirl around you and your child. That’s not healthy for you and certainly not for your child – especially if they are not yet out. The level of self-harm, including suicide, is unacceptably high among children and teens who do not feel supported by their families. Your child needs to know that they are your first priority and that you can be counted on in any situation. Predetermine a “safe word” with your spouse or travelling companion. Be sure you both agree that the moment either of you – or your child – utters the word, an exit is made. It can be as simple as “gingerbread!” or a phrase such as “Did you turn the oven off?” Be prepared to just walk away.

8. Enjoy! If you’re among the increasing number of people whose extended family members completely accept – and affirm – your child’s sexual orientation and gender identity, that wonderful. In that case, I invite you to find every opportunity to make your views known, through speaking, writing and taking action by standing up against homophobia, transphobia, racism, xenophobia, misogyny and anything that seeks to “other” those who should be treated as a neighbor. Hug your child, hug yourself, and enjoy the holidays!

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

For more info email lizdyer55@gmail.com