Baby Button Needs You To Stop Praying For Him Now

8 weeks ago, I wrote a story about the journey our baby was taking us on, and how we were praying that my body would survive being pregnant just 7 more weeks to give him the best chance. So many of you responded in love and prayers and genuine care.

I truly believe it worked because my body proceeded to need a total of 3 amniotic fluid drains, plus a dramatic 3 night stay in the hospital because I was having very real contractions every 5 minutes…and then suddenly everything stopped. I went home. Life has resumed at an almost-usual routine for the last 4 weeks. Baby Button has grown big and strong, we have a safety-approved place for him to sleep and travel, and my mom made it here without complication.

So now? I need y’all to stop praying. I turned the corner on 38 weeks yesterday, and I am done.

I know every third-trimester mother says that, but I don’t think you understand.

I am “answering questionnaires for concerned psychiatrists/sense of humor completely gone/collapsing into tears for no reason at least once a day” done.

I have survived the Apocalypse. I have lived in fear of the government and deportation. I have moved houses at least as many times as I’ve had birthdays. I’ve seen a childhood friend die right in front of me. I have endured losing a relationship with my father 2 months after it began. I have gotten lost in Europe, lost a baby, lost jobs, and been one paycheck ahead of financial disaster for years.

But 9 months of pregnancy, one of life’s greatest mysteries that I was looking forward to the most, is the straw that broke this camel’s back.

I feel sad. I feel angry. I feel needy. I feel weak.

And so I feel lost. My identity is shifting. I’m the girl who writes about all the crazy shit that happens to her, and still manages to make people smile. I’m the Chandler Bing, I’m the Spartan who keeps on trucking, I’m the one who has heard time and again, “Wow. Looking at you, listening to you, I would never have guessed that you survived all THAT. You’re amazing, and you should probably write a book.”

My shit has always been a little messy, but it was my mess, and it made me stronger.

Now? After being pregnant and sick and worried and unprepared for 267 days in a row (including being displaced from home for 60+ days in a cramped house with 4 animals and 4 in-laws out of that)?

All I want is to go to sleep, and wake up in my own bed with a fresh mani/pedi, a killer haircut, a multi-ethnic buffet, and an impossibly adorable baby who never cries longer than 5 minutes or makes me question whether I am mentally and emotionally capable of becoming a mother in the first place.

I feel gross for even admitting it. Because I can see all you ladies who have been moms for years, who are laughing at my innocence and thinking, “Just you wait, honey, it gets worse.” I can see all you ladies who have been thinking they’d like to get pregnant, and now I’ve just ruined it for you. I can see all you ladies who had magical unicorn pregnancies with babies made from Jesus’ eyelashes, and are secretly judging me for being so dramatic and non-sacrificial.

And honestly, I’m going to play the Pregnant Bitch card and say up front: I don’t need to hear from you right now.

The only thing that keeps me typing so vulnerably is the off-chance that maybe some lady will read this and think, Thank GOD I’m not alone. Maybe I’ll wait one more day before checking myself in to the closest institution. Hi, Carly. I’m your new messy mama friend. Let’s keep talking.

13 days or less…

 

A Canadian’s Guide To Understanding How Donald Trump Made It This Far

I know, I know. *already shaking my damn head*

After much deliberation, I’m adding my opinion of the 2016 US election to the growing pile. At this point, you’re probably even more sick of it than I am, and won’t want to keep reading.

I don’t blame you. But hang on for a moment longer.

I’m not here to make a list of everything wrong with Donald Trump – you’ve already been there, done that, and bought the T-shirt.

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No, not this one

I’m here to set a few records straight, because as a former American living in Canada, I’ve been getting some inquiries:

“How is anything Trump even says sounding good to Americans??”

“Are evangelicals *really* the majority of his voters??”

“Just…why?????

They deserve some answers, and even though I’m just one woman with little to no understanding of how politics works, I’m here to share what I see.

1. Many American people suffer from a major spirit of poverty.

I’m not just talking about poor and homeless people, which it sadly has plenty of – I’m talking about people who have enough, but don’t know it. With some of the largest records in credit card debt, workaholic standards, food waste, welfare, obesity, environmental hazards and privilege in the world, Americans are drowning in the pool of Too Much & Not Enough. And the fear that one day everything they hold dear will be taken away from them is firmly in the driver’s seat.

2. Many American people have been blaming immigrants and citizens of different skin colours alike for the state the country is in, for years.

Most of us can admit, looking back, that the whole enslavement of black people leading up to the Civil War was pretty wrong. (In fact, the enslavement of any people group in any point of history is pretty wrong.) We’re thankful for people like Abraham Lincoln who helped abolish that law; we remember his assassination still.

So why are the KKK still in action? Why is the Confederate flag such a sacred cow that no one had better speak against? Why are people being shot down in the streets daily because of how they look?

Because you can abolish a law, but it doesn’t change a person’s heart. Your mom can *make* you apologize for punching your brother, and you can say it well enough to appease all parties involved, but maybe your fingers were crossed and you can’t wait to punch him again when no one’s looking – because only you know how much the little punk is really asking for it.

There’s a movie from the late 90’s called American History X. It’s focused in L.A., on the gang wars between multiple races and a white supremacist neo-Nazi group, and two brothers caught in between.

It’s disturbing, eye-opening, horrifying, violent – and I believe it should be required viewing for every university-age person on the planet.

It has challenged me multiple times, seeing how subtly deep the levels of racism go, mixed with a prominent attitude of “I’m a good, hardworking white American, so if anything bad happens to me, it’s definitely the fault of that guy over there! America was so much better before people like him came here.”

Sound familiar?

3. Many Americans identify as Evangelical or Christian in census and survey, without even realizing what those words imply.

I mean, you’re not an atheist or a pagan or *shudder* a Muslim, right? Your hardworking, white American ancestors that *ahem* emigrated over on the Mayflower raised you better than that. And you definitely were in church at least twice this year, so put a little ✔ next to that Evangelical box and you’re good til next time.

4. And sometimes, in a perfect clusterf*ck, all of these attitudes collide in the same people.

They are the ones voting for Donald Trump.

And why not? Finally, after EIGHT YEARS of having to deal with a president who’s black and probably secretly a Muslim, here comes a successful white guy who is promising you more money and less immigrants – all under the banner of your Evangelical flag. He gets you. He knows what you need, and he isn’t afraid to speak it out boldly, like a kid in a candy store who’s never heard the word “no.”

Except, PSYCH! He owns the candy store, and now you can never leave because he’s going to feed you sugar until you die.

Whether he completely believes everything he says or not, he knows you’re ripe for the picking.

All of it bums me out, but highest on the list is how the label of Evangelical has been dragged into it.

JESUS WOULDN’T VOTE FOR DONALD, MMKAY?!

Somewhere deep down, I’m sure Jesus loves Donald as much as he does the rest of us, but even he has to admit the man is batshit crazy.

Jesus wants a government of justice and peace for ALL, not just the hardworking, white American. His heart breaks every time one of his children is gunned down in the street again, no matter what color their skin is. He designed that skin. He knows every scar inside and out, and he says you are enough.

That’s what I believe with my whole heart; that’s the Jesus I know.

But if you don’t know that, then it makes sense that you would see the label Evangelical Christian and automatically brace yourselves to meet another asshole like Trump.

And sometimes, honestly, we are. But some of us are trying our hardest to show the difference.

I hope you see it, I hope it gives YOU hope, and I hope that the next 8 months will go by quickly and painlessly.

Goodness, can I have some fries and gravy with that cheese? Canadian OWT.

Take Me To Church

I am what you might call a “church-goer”. I look back on my life and cannot remember a time that I was not connected to a church somewhere. I’ve attended chapel at school, chapel at camp, Presbyterian church, Alliance church, Foursquare church, home church, Pentecostal church, Evangelical Free church, Salvation Army church, Baptist church, and back to Pentecostal church. Morning worship, communion, Vacation Bible School, Sunday school, children’s church, youth group – sometimes attending, sometimes leading. I’ve done it all.

What can I say, sometimes they have snacks. And always really good juice. I know it wasn’t koolaid because I’m still alive. (Really, Carly? Too soon.)

It’s not hard to picture going to church like going to a family reunion. There are people you know, some you love, some that you’re just like “ehh.” And if you go to church alone like I have for most of my life, then sometimes you actually *do* get adopted by some parents or grandparents that take you home for lunch after the service since you are probably wasting away.

A church has always been my place of refuge, confession, re-confirmation of faith. Where I could find God the easiest.

And now, I find myself being called away. Maybe not from church completely, but from what I think I know and believe about church.

Like any family, church assemblies occasionally go through rough patches. Fighting, gossip, disagreement over how things should be done, taking sides, misunderstandings, financial stress; sometimes, people walk out and don’t come back. Bridges are burned, hearts smoldering in the ashes.

Unfortunately, in these situations, the rest of the world looks at people like us and points vigorously, “See! I knew they were hypocrites! That’s why *I* don’t go to church.”

And unfortunately, some of us are not humble enough to admit that it might be true. So, once again, the reputation of God gets dragged through the mud.

I have recently discovered that I am very passionate about the integrity of God’s reputation. And that because of this, I need to be equally as passionate about the possibility that I may not be right about everything.

“Anyone who gets to the end of their life with the exact same beliefs and opinions as they had in the beginning is doing it wrong.” – Sarah Bessey

Some people might call this instability; a flaky standpoint. I call it maturity.

When I first started out, no matter which of those many churches I attended, my core beliefs were always the same.

God is watching my every move angrily so I better toe the line. God hates gay people. God hates women who have had abortions. Poverty and homelessness is God’s way of saying they should have worked harder. People that aren’t white or Christian are kind of scary; I should avoid them. Women should be seen and not heard in church. Men are always right, especially pastors because God speaks directly to them always. I am a bastard child, but God might still have room for me somewhere, if I try hard enough.

I don’t remember actually hearing any of those words being spoken to me personally or from the pulpit. (Especially considering my 2 year experience at the Salvation Army church, where they are all about women serving equally in whatever capacity!)
They were just…there. Maybe they were the lies I was born with, and no one bothered to set me straight. These lies would tangle around my heart like poison ivy.

But as the years have passed, a garden scissor has slowly been cutting through – a painful act of being set free.
They aren’t done yet. For the truth to continue, for the pruning to yield more fruit, I need to step out of the comfort of the church building for awhile. It’s far too easy to arrive at a church every week, dressed in your Sunday best, to stand and sing a few songs, sit and listen to a few words, learn a few lessons, greet a few well-known strangers, and then run out the door to beat the brunch crowd.

I’m not saying that everyone does this. I’m just saying that unless I’m living in a country that forces me to sneak-read my Bible, or whisper Jesus’ name for threat of death, I am the laziest Christian ever.

Turns out I’m not alone. I have friends who suspect there is more to this Jesus person and his way of life, and they want in.

“So you moved me, out of myself and into the fire… I can’t go with you and stay where I am, so you moved me…” – Susan Ashton, You Move Me

And so we’re going on a journey together. We don’t know where it will go, or what it will look like yet. But we do know that there will be no politics. Separation of church and state is still a thing.
We do know that it won’t always be on a Sunday.
We do know that we won’t be meeting in a building, and that there won’t be any programs designed to draw people in to the latest spiritual attraction.
We do know that it will be hard as hell, like someone’s pulled the plug on our Matrix-induced slumber and now we can see things as they really are.

Because that’s what we’re asking for: the real, warm, hard truth. To meet anyone and everyone in that truth, in
their story, and walk it out together.

For example, next week, the town is offering a bike course to teach kids how to ride bikes if they don’t know how. The course needs volunteers. So, next week, we’re going to show up, and help out. Because we know that if we can teach even one child how to ride a bike, we’ve changed their world. We don’t have a building with a kids program to invite them to, but we have our hands and hearts, ready to meet a need in the here and now. We didn’t have a board meeting, we didn’t take a vote, we’re just going.

Last week, we hosted a party where an entire pig was roasted on a spit, and many people I’d never met before showed up. And I talked to some of them. And I tried goat meat for the first time. And I helped a friend through 5 contractions in her long labour. It was all terrifying and exhilarating.

Maybe sometime, we’ll collect some of our own money to help a single mom without any strings attached. Meals For Moms is still going strong, and I’m thankful for that open door.

Maybe the week after that, one of our D.J. friends will book a wedding reception, and he’ll take a few of us over to start a celebration without asking anyone what their religious affiliation is.

Because love and building relationship and challenging any hidden prejudices is the name of our non-game.

Who knows what could happen?

And when we do get together to study the word of God, we’re going to ask the scary questions. We’re going to wrestle the angels until we find a crown worth keeping.

Maybe a woman will preach without feeling like she has to ask permission. Maybe a child will hear God speak and share it for our knowledge and benefit. Maybe we’ll see a body or soul be healed in front of our eyes.
Maybe we’ll fall on our faces, failing miserably.
Maybe we’ll get back up again.
Maybe we’ll wash out the bitter taste of God’s name in others’ mouths with pure water, free of hypocrisy and hidden agendas.
Maybe I’ll finally learn who I’m meant to be, and cut the last tangle of poison ivy from the soil of my soul.

That’s what I’m asking for.

[To be continued…hopefully]

I Don’t Follow Jesus

He’s not a Facebook page or a 140-character hashtag or a “like this photo to give this child a cup of clean water.”

I don’t follow Him – not like that.

We’re not far removed from the people of his day – but instead of wanting dominance over the Romans, maybe we want the biggest church building and those uncomfortable sinners “fixed.”

Instead of a flashy miracle show, maybe we want the best parking spot and a short line-up at the coffee shop.

(Okay, admit it, maybe we slightly want flash and dominance as well.)

They were wrong then, and we are wrong now.

But across these generations, we’ve claimed that, yes, we are Jesus Followers.

What do I do when I’m following someone?

I look where they’re going.

I turn left when they go left, I turn right when they go right, I go in a damn figure 8 just for giggles sometimes, if they want me to.

He’s always said, “Follow me.”

Not “Say the Sinner’s Prayer.”

Follow me.

Where is he going?

I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s not about directions in a military style, but a way of life.

He is not a cause, a banner to be waved across battle fields, a dictator’s propaganda conquering the empire of Right (Wing) and Wrong (Wing) on the backs of his people from the comfort of his throne. He is a warrior, yes – not safe, but good. Like that Narnian lion.

He’s not a slick hair/suit/man, asking for your money. He doesn’t need money, or suits for the matter; he’s got the moon and stars.

He is Shackle-Breaker – for that alcoholic heart AND that sex slave sold over the Internet.

He is Daily Bread for the poor in the streets AND in the mansions, Justice for the mud-trodden foreigners.

He is Forgiveness and Grace extended for the 491st time and beyond.

He’s in the bars and brothels and bus stops – in East Hastings and West Africa.

A warm bed enveloping you after a long, hard day.

The orphanages full of those who believe they are unwanted.

A song you heard on the radio.

A sun-rayed backyard full of sprinklers and laughing children.

The tears in your eyes when a loved one receives bad news and all you can do is hold them wordlessly.

A peaceful protest that holds a watching world accountable for its actions.

He is King, He is Servant, He is Creator, He is Spirit, He is All, He is Friend Who Never Leaves.

Even when you’ve been a liar, afraid, depressed, filled with loss and anger, apathetic, insensitive, short-tempered, joyless, and hardened – he’ll take off your shoes and wash your feet.

THAT’S where He is going.

And thank GOD, that is where I want to go too.

One day, everything will be made right and true and good again. Maybe, if we follow Him to all of those places and start washing those impressively dirty feet, that day can get a head start.

That’s where I’m going.

You can come too, if you want.

I Cried In Church Today

I cried in church today.

Not that I’ve never done that before. Anything can make me do that – a song, a prayer, a hug from an old friend.

Today I cried because I saw something I rarely see: community.

We gathered in a building behind the Tim Hortons – not just me and my people, but them and their people.

Multiple churches, multiple dialects of faith, all in one spot because it’s the end of the summer and this is what we do at least once. We pile in, we sing songs that we all know collectively, and someone chosen from the community speaks a message. We drink coffee together and we leave, feeling like real connection was made in that hour. Pastors, deacons, elders, middlers, young adults, teenagers, children, men and women – anyone who has a habit of going to the Church on a Sunday morning is there in equal measure.

Today, however, felt different.

The bodies were so close, the voices were so loud. I felt surrounded by a choir. My voice joined in, weakened by tears, strengthened by the words.

One pastor stands up, introduces the mayor and two female police officers. One of them is decked in the Mountie Red, another is on duty in black. They’re all asked to share why they are here today.

The mayor takes the microphone and smiles nervously: “I am here because I believe in the power of community. I am not a man of religion, by any means, but listening to you all sing just now – I felt the Spirit of God here. It’s undeniable. Smithers will benefit because of you.”

The woman in red takes the microphone. She’s young, new to town and new to the force. She’s a police officer, speaking publicly in a church building; she is practically a modern miracle. And why shouldn’t she be?

“I came here as a police officer because I want to help people. I know everyone says that, but it’s really true for me.”

The woman in black takes the mike from her. She starts to say something, but then she pauses, putting her finger to her ear. We sit in silence, wondering. After a moment, she says, “10-4, on my way” or something similar. Then she tells us, “I’m going to make this really quick.”

A laugh ripples across the crowd.

“I am here representing Cops for Cancer. We bike across the province every year to raise money for pediatric research. And if you don’t think pediatric research is relevant here – we all know of a little boy who is in Vancouver fighting for his life right now.”

We nod, and tears fill my eyes again. One of our own, a 10 year old boy who hadn’t been feeling well lately, had discovered his body was made more of cancer than blood and flesh and bone. Just a few days ago.

She tells us what we can do to help, and then she runs down the aisle of the sanctuary and disappears, because that’s her job. Any time, all the time.

We take up an offering. I pray that it goes directly where it is needed.

And then a man from the Salvation Army comes and speaks to us. He shows us a picture of this sculpture that is sitting in Toronto at this very moment.

 

 

It’s called “Jesus the Homeless.” He is lying on a bench in a shroud, and the only way to know that it’s him, is to see his nail-pierced feet peeking out. He speaks volumes.

We are led all over the Scripture, reading portions of passages where Jesus did nothing but reach out and spend his time with the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the unclean, the addicted, the outcast and the sinner – and the religious leaders did nothing but condemn him for it.

These passages are called The Gospel, or “Good News.”

Except it’s not news.

It’s not news that Jesus was a bit of a rebel, that he broke a lot of rules, made a lot of people angry with his all-surrounding compassion for just anyone.

It’s not news that Jesus would rather have dinner with a prostitute or a tax collector than a religious hypocrite.

It’s not news that Jesus never avoided anyone for the sake of his reputation.

It’s not news that he didn’t notice skin colour or background or age or gender.

So why do we act like it is?

I wept when I saw that homeless Jesus. I’ve seen him before.

I’ve also seen the poor Jesus, the aboriginal Jesus, the sick Jesus, the hungry Jesus, the black Jesus, the addicted Jesus, the gay Jesus, the mentally ill Jesus, the prostitute Jesus, the angry Jesus, the bitter Jesus, the strung-out Jesus, the imprisoned Jesus, the orphaned, abandoned, helpless, overlooked Jesus.

And I have not loved him.

I cried in church today, because we were all there. We all heard it, we all saw it. Even the mayor knows it now.

He’s right there, shrouded in the form of our community, just waiting to be picked up, dusted off, and taken in. It’s not too late.

Because once we’ve seen, we cannot unsee.
Because maybe, if we’re more like Jesus, then more people will want to become like us.
Because we all have a story, and we are all more than our labels, our backgrounds, our denominations or our mistakes. This is not news.

I cried in church today, and I think maybe God did too.

 

How Frozen Changed My Life (And Made Me Jealous)

The other night, I got an email from one of my former roommates/regular partners in crime, asking if she could make a !!!GUEST BLOG POST!!! because she had something she really wanted to say.

Her name is Natalie. She’s awesome. Nay, stellar. In fact, she’s the coolest Natalie I know, second only to Natalie Portman. (Who I don’t actually know…so…thanks for bringing that up! Ugh.)
I’ve always known Natalie to be a fairly “inside voice” operator. You’ll think that you know what she’s thinking, but really, she’s just letting you think that. And then, when you’re least expecting it, BAM! She lays all her cards on the table and squeezes your heart into a little ball with all the emotions. She might sing you a little song she wrote or introduce you to The Hunger Games novels and Tangled and Once Upon a Time, or give you a Christmas card poem that she wrote herself or make you a huge bowl of Kraft Dinner and “walk” it for you to the bus stop when you fail to organize your time efficiently enough to eat something before you rush to work.

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And today, I’m excited to share her thoughts and revelations that were collected towards God and her sister after she watched Frozen.

BRB, crying. Again.

A Jealous Love by Natalie W.

So I know I’m probably a little bit behind the times when it comes to the revelation that is the movie Frozen. I just saw it a week and half ago, and since then, have had some time to think about it and process it.

There is no doubt in my mind that Frozen is an amazing movie, with charming characters, and songs that make you smile while feeling a huge range of emotions all at the same time. I enjoyed it immensely, and as an older sister, I felt like I could relate to both Anna and Elsa because of their struggles with their feelings towards themselves and each other.

I could completely comprehend Elsa’s desire to protect Anna, even if it meant pushing her away, especially after their shared childhood incident.
Yet, at the same time, I identified with Anna and her need to know her sister, to simply “be” with her – all the while, wondering if Elsa still felt the same way.

These are all the things I have felt with my own sister, and I understand how, at times, sisterly love can be both confusing and amazing. It is a lot to contemplate, and that is exactly what I was doing recently after listening to the soundtrack again. These thoughts about relationships and sisterhood aren’t exactly new or significant for me, but little did I know that somewhere underneath all of this contemplation, something was stirring.

It’s funny, sometimes, when and where things choose to happen that just completely break you down. In this case, I was making toast.

I stood in my dimly lit kitchen, listening to TV chatter, while thinking about Anna and Elsa’s relationship and comparing it to my own life. I’ve always had a protective (and often jealous) nature over the people in my life that I really care about, the most significant person being my younger sister. We are not that far apart in age (almost exactly a year and a half), and because she has been in my life for almost its entirety, I have always considered her to be one of the closest to me – and yet somehow, also the farthest at times.

If you know anything about sisters, you’ll probably agree with me when I say that sisterly love is, in all truth, a fairly irrational love. We see each other at our worst, our best, and everything in between – and yet, over all of that time, still choose to love each other.

ImageI don’t know if it’s because of that nature, or blood-ties, or my simple desire to be close to someone, but the truth is that I love my sister fiercely, and I know that I would do anything in my power to protect her. And while I realize that this kind of love might seem a bit over-the-top to some and maybe even downright incomprehensible to others – if there’s one thing you can trust me on, it’s that it is there and it is real.

So there I was, in my kitchen, wondering about this crazy love that means being a sister, and I had a thought:

There is no comparable love that I can think of, to the love that I have for her.

And right after that thought, I had a moment. One of those realizations that hits you like a tidal wave, that you know can only come from God. It went a little something like this:

“Do you see and feel that amazing love for your sister? Well, that is NOTHING compared to the love that I have for YOU.”

It was a revelation. I experienced a part of God that I had not thought about or believed in for a long time. And in the REALNESS of that moment, in knowing the raw honesty of the love I have for my sister, I was brought to tears by the love I know God has for me.

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The jealous, protective, unconditional love that is only possible through amazing grace.

And the fact is, to deny Jesus’ love would be like denying the love that I have for my sister, my family, and my friends. I can’t imagine mine ever changing, so how could His ever change? This jealous love is everlasting.

 

Carly’s Thoughts:

I love Frozen for all of these reasons mentioned above, and more. I love God for using our own family bonds to help us relate to how he cares about us – or, if we have no family bonds, to give us new, unbreakable ones! And I love Natalie, who was brave enough to open her heart and share this with me.

And maybe you’re confused at what appears to be a contradictory idea: God is Love, and Love is not Jealous, so how can God be Jealous? But if you look back through AAAAALLLLL THE TRANSLATIONS into the original Hebrew (which, perhaps, we all should do anyway?), we find that there are two kinds of jealousy: the kind that leads to anger and violence and broken relationships, which we tend to associate with any mention of the word “jealousy” in our culture – and the kind that is expressed when something/someone you are devoted to is hurt or compromised or unprotected in any way. This someone/something belongs to you, and you’ll be damned if anything happens to them on your watch. Think of anything you’ve ever created, from a Lego house to cupcakes to a novel to a baby. And now…

“Multiply it by infinity, take it to the depth of forever, and you will still have barely a glimpse of what I’m talking about.” (Meet Joe Black)

That’s God, and that’s you, baby. Take it in. And then use it. To love and protect the oppressed, the bullied, the outsiders, the poor, the widow, the orphan, and your family, whether they feel the same way about you or not. Cause Love isn’t Love until you give it away, right? For free, with no guarantee of its return. And for Pete’s sake, throw that dirty Prince Hans on a boat and sail him away! Your kingdom don’t have time for that.

 

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All the warm hugs,

Carly & Natalie

 

 

 

How I Became a Jesus Feminist Without Really Trying

ImageSome of you may have seen this photo on my Facebook and Instagram feed yesterday, and I can almost hear the collective nods across the interwebs that affirm, “Yes, I know exactly what and who you’re talking about!” but I’m betting there are still more going, “Huh?”

I’ll start from the beginning.

Last June, my best and longest friend Laurie was here for a visit. When we’re apart, we’re constantly sharing things on each other’s walls, things that we just know the other person will love because we love it and it’s awesome. (Our adventures on Bitstrips are our newest obsession.) And when we’re together, like we were for a week this summer, we spend mornings drinking our warm cuppa’s while browsing the sites that we love so much, sharing them together.

One morning, she started mentioning a name. Sarah Bessey.

“Who’s that?” I said.

“You don’t know who Sarah Bessey is?! She lives practically down the street from you! OMG I have so many blogs to show you!”

Thus began my journey that would lead me here, to this newly found Jesus Feminism. Since that fateful June day, I have been reading all of Sarah’s updates faithfully and laughing or crying or pumping my fist with each one of them. She’s like a literary soul mate. The fact that we do live literally only an hour away from each other is both amazing and heartbreaking. So close and yet still so far!

Anyhow, through my reading of her, I’ve learned that for the past while, she’s been writing a book called Jesus Feminist. And it just released yesterday. As you might imagine, in certain circles, the title would be a little hair-raising. But to a mischievous person such as myself, it intrigues me.

Now before I can fully relate why I KNOW I’m a Jesus Feminist, I must share a sad little story.

In the excitement of this book release, I made that above photo, knowing and believing that TODAY I was going to possibly meet Sarah Bessey. Her first stop in her book release tour is at Relate Church in Surrey, a mere 20 minutes from my house. I looked it up and dropped a pin on it. The only thing I couldn’t find was what time it started. I looked all over Sarah’s page, the Relate Church website, and found nothing. As soon as I could, which was only this morning because I HAVE BEEN SO CONSUMED WITH LUSH TRAINING LATELY AND NOTHING ELSE, I phoned the church office to see if they knew anything.

They did. And when I called, it was just starting, ending at 11:30am, which at the time I wrote this, was one minute ago.

I don’t know why I assumed it would be an evening event, but I did. So I didn’t insure my car or try to find a bus route or call a friend. I was totally unprepared and now my dream is derailed. Sometimes, being an adult is hard.

So, to ease the pain and self-pity, I’ve put Ed Sheeran’s “+” album on in the background, and now I’m excited to share my heart on this touchy issue.

Why am I a Jesus Feminist?

Because I believe that Jesus loves women. And girls and ladies and LGs and chicks and broads and crones and dames and housewives and powersuits and singles and everything in between.

Because I don’t believe that I have to choose between being a Christian or being a feminist.

Because I am a woman and I love Jesus and I think women are one of the most beautiful creations I’ve ever laid my eyes on and God created them and how can that not be connected?

It’s really that simple.

However, I also believe that the words feminism and feminist have been slightly corrupted.

When I call myself a feminist, I am not calling men inferior. I am not hating men.

I am merely saying that, in my way of thinking, men and women are equal, in beauty and strength and skills and wonder and words and power. And I think Jesus and Sarah Bessey would say the same thing.

How dare do I presume to speak for Jesus, right?

Allow me to introduce 3 women to you that I just adore, possibly because they so mirror image my own life and I’m biased that way — and I think you’ll find that my presumption is actually proof.

1. Jael, housewife, Old Testament.

If you read the Bible enough times, you’ll start to discover a pattern – at least, in the Old Testament. It goes like this: people are enslaved or warred upon, they cry out, God saves them, they serve him for awhile, they forget what he did, they start breaking his laws and serving other gods, slavery and war and crying out and saving starts all over again.
So Israel’s got a lot of armies and strong men going off to fight these wars on a pretty regular basis. But two particular villains named King Jabin and his Captain Sisera had everyone shaking in their boots, including the Israelite’s army leader guy named Barak. (Judges 4)

A woman named Deborah (who is also pretty awesome in my opinion) was a prophetess in the land. She was revered and listened to the world over. When I picture her in my head, I kinda think Galadriel from Lord of the Rings. Beautiful, majestic, all-knowing, and you don’t really wanna mess with her.

Deborah goes to Barak and says, “Hey, I know King Jabin and Captain Sisera are a royal pain in the ass, but God has told me that if you go into battle against them, you will win. It’s a guarantee, so don’t be afraid. See ya.”
But Barak was like, “No way dude. I’ll go into battle but not without you by my side, kay? Thanks.”
Deborah, gracious and mighty woman that she is, says, “Okay. I’ll go with you. But because you refused to take God’s promise, your victory will be given to the hands of a woman.”

Oh snap.

So the battle happens, and somehow Captain Sisera escapes the battlefield! He goes into hiding, choosing a certain tent for refuge. It was the tent of Jael, whose husband was away fighting the war WITH King Jabin and Captain Sisera. Sisera thought he would be welcomed there, right?

Big mish-take.

Jael, secretly sympathetic to the oppression of Israel, is going about her daily housework, but turns on the charm and welcomes the Captain into her tent. He asks for water to refresh himself. She gives him milk. Why? Because he’s an honoured guest! He deserves milk! And also…

It will make him sleepy.

Sure enough, when he’s crashed out on the ground, Jael very calmly picks up a tent peg and a mallet and pounds it into his fricken head, killing him instantly. Can you imagine? Talk about a not-clean death. In this day, something like that would make the news and would portray Jael as a psychopath of Dexter-like proportions. Lock that woman away so we can all sleep better, please. But Barak and Deborah and all of Israel wrote songs about her.

I think Jael was just tired. She’d been seeing an innocent Israel be oppressed and enslaved for 20 odd years by her own evil people, and I believe God moved her heart and she decided to get shit done. That battle went down in history with not Barak or even Deborah as the victor, but Jael.

When I think of my picture that says I am an immigrant; I am a survivor, I think of Jael. In my very own special way, I got tired. Tired of living in fear, being oppressed, having no future. And one day, I decided to take a stand and make my case against the powers-that-be and I won. I am an immigrant, I am a survivor and I am a Jesus Feminist.

2. Mary, the mother of Jesus, New Testament.

This one’s kind of obvious. Mary has had a pretty prominent pedestal for the past 2000 years, but sometimes I think we forget that realistically, she was probably only about 13 or 14 years old. Having a baby. In a cold, shitty barn with a man she’d barely met — get this, with a man that she was expected to spend the rest of her life with, who had not impregnated her. She skipped all of that! Considered a woman, yet still very much a girl. (Luke 2)

I know plenty of 14 year old girls, and the thought of them experiencing what Mary did gives me shivers. The doula-heart in me breaks for the agony and ecstasy of birth that she lived through with Joseph the stranger, who was probably very helpful in his own way, I imagine. But this life was not inflicted upon her. She chose it. She said yes when God asked her permission, and her life was never the same.

A number of years ago, I wrote a song called Hail Mary, relating how her life and my life are so different and yet they are the same in so many ways. Here are some of the words.

In this world, it’s so hard to be faithful. In this world, it’s so hard to be strong. In this world, I can’t compete with what’s required of me, how much simpler would it be…In your world, the future was so fragile. In your world, deliverance seemed so far. In your world, all you had was strength and faith unseen in a lost society. Did you pray for the Saviour to come to a world that was undone? Did you know you were the one? And did you cry when you realized the truth that the Lord had chosen you to bear the one we all needed? I tell you, girl, if that was me, I would have run away. I guess he knew what you were made of when he came to you that day…So here I sit in my content little world, and I have my doubts and my complaints. I don’t really know what my future holds and I struggle with that every day. And there you were at such a tender age with your entire life before you, and when it fell apart, you said, “Let it be. Let it be. Let it be.”

So when I say I am a doula, I think of Mary. I think of the power and nourishment that women possess to not only grow a child within themselves, but also to get it out. And my heart breaks and prays for those who have struggled their whole lives to know what any of that miracle feels like. I hope you know that whether you are a mother of earthside babies or heavenside babies or no babies at all, that God holds you close to his heart. Your worth to him is not held in what you can or can’t create, but in what you already are.  I am a doula, one day I hope to be a mother, and I am a Jesus Feminist.

Now for my favourite woman of all.

3. Unknown, “unclean sinner”, New Testament.

I’m not a scholar in all of the Jewish culture, but from what I understand, every family that could afford it gave their daughters a box made of alabaster stone, filled with precious oils and perfumes. It was to be kept unopened until the girl was married, and then she would give it to her new husband, as a dowry of sorts.

So one night, Jesus and his followers were eating a meal together at someone’s house, as they often did. Now these followers were all outcasts of society to some degree or other. Jesus was famous for spending time with people who didn’t fit the status quo of the perfectly-righteous-on-the-outside. In this setting, I’m pretty sure it was Jesus who first said, “Haters gonna hate.”

So they’re hanging out eating, and suddenly this woman comes in, approaching Jesus and everyone else starts freaking out. “What is she doing? She’s touching Jesus? JESUS IS LETTING HER TOUCH HIM. She’s crying and pouring perfume all over his head, wasting such a costly thing, she’s so unclean and is trying to drag him down with her, we’ve got to stop this.”

But they barely get a word out against her before Jesus rebukes them, telling them to leave her alone, and that she’s committing a beautiful act of sacrifice and worship.

We have a few blanks to fill in about who this woman was and why she did what she did. I would imagine that judging by the crowd’s reaction that she had probably been a prostitute in the past. Perhaps she knew that she would never find anyone to marry her, so she took that precious alabaster box and gave it to Jesus instead as thanks and worship to him for forgiving her past and making her new again. Never mind the bravery it took to even enter that room to begin with. To hear the scolding of all these other men and maybe women, casting judgment on her even though they weren’t exactly saints themselves. (Luke 7:36-50)

So when I say I am a wife, I think of this unknown woman. She had no hope of becoming a wife, but she gave all that she valued to Jesus anyway. And Jesus did not turn her away or look down on her or see her as a woman and therefore inferior – he blessed her, he forgave her, he thanked her, he loved her.
And even though he has given me a husband who loves me and forgives me and blesses me and thanks me every day, I still need to give my heart, my valuables, my precious possessions to him, even if it’s painful or embarrassing or hard. He created me to be in a relationship with me, and I will do everything I can to say yes every day.

It’s funny…all of these accounts I shared have varying degrees of sexism in them, did you notice?
Jael, Mary and Little Miss Unknown and others like Esther, Ruth, Rahab, Miriam and even more were bound by a culture that considered them to be not much more than property. I think that’s where some people misread God’s heart towards women. What they don’t realize is that God didn’t create that culture, other people and laws from generation upon generation did. And he used each one of those women to go ABOVE and BEYOND the culture they were in, to be scandalously noticed, to be holy troublemakers, to be brave and soft and able to do hard things with his heart inside of them. I see myself in each one of them, and I want to see myself in each one of them.

So for all of my 26 years, I have believed this about women and the Bible and Jesus. But yesterday, I became something a little more. I joined a community of women AND men who are brave enough to say “I am a Jesus Feminist, ask me why!” And so I thank Sarah Bessey for giving us a voice, a place, a cause and a name. The nations will rise up and call you blessed.

Warrior-ing on,

Carly xo

Aging with Grace

When I was a little girl, I used to fantasize a lot. It involved my dad sweeping in out of nowhere one day to proclaim his love and take us to his castle. He would explain that the only reason he had been absent was because the kingdom had been unsafe and he needed to slay all the dragons before bringing his beloveds to reside with him.

For my birthday, he would give me a paint horse that would race me breathlessly across finish lines to victory.
We would have picnics by a brook every day. We would bake cookies when we were supposed to be sleeping.
The 3 of us would live happily ever after. Preferably at the Fairmont Resort in Banff, Alberta, which is paramount to a castle in my mind.

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I don’t know where this came from. I was not exposed to a lot of Disney movies. I didn’t have a speck of pink or glitter in my bedroom. I wasn’t allowed to have barbies, save one – and she was an awesome African-American veterinarian.

Yet there it was.

I think I unconsciously must have taken on the philosophy of Sara Crewe from The Little Princess, about every girl being deserving of royalty. I think it lasted until I was about 9 or 10. After that, poverty became the road to saint-hood.

Don’t read me wrong – I didn’t ever go hungry or without clothes. Mom took good care of me, despite being an unemployed singer-songwriter retired-therapist living off of a family inheritance. We had enough, more than a lot of people. But somewhere along the way, I heard her say these phrases more than once, and it stuck with me.

Don’t impose on anyone.
Don’t be a burden.
How much snack did she eat while playing with your daughter today? Can I pay you back for that?

Underneath that, I internalized this:

Stop needing people, it just makes their life harder. You don’t deserve to be just GIVEN something, you must earn it.

So I grew tall and strong, on my own, cringing on the inside if I ever needed help or money or a ride somewhere or something to eat, from someone else. I survived on $5 an hour babysitting, wearing holey clothing that I’d had for so long, I didn’t even remember getting it.  I vowed that I would pay them all back, someday, when I could afford it. In the meantime, my poverty of possession and of spirit would please God and make him happy with me.

No one would ever be able to say, “Gosh, that Carly sure is a mooch, isn’t she? Thinks she owns the world, taking advantage of everyone. Horrible.”  No one.

As you can imagine, this made the concept of grace pretty hard to grasp. Even though I was being raised in a home that was teaching me about Jesus and his love, I always felt detached. Yes, yes, he died and rose again and forgave everyone freely, but not me. I must work. I must earn. I must deserve. And nope, I’m not Catholic. Might’ve made a good one though.

Throughout my journey, I have learned to lean on Him and on others, to accept help when I need it, to be tearfully grateful because that was my only currency of reciprocating. I have learned the beauty of paying it forward instead of paying it backward. Through more reading of Scripture, it’s starting to sink in that actually? Grace is all I have. Grace is all I get, and without it, I’m pretty screwed.

Fast forward to today.

Our 1st wedding anniversary is on Sunday, as I’ve said before. We have been planning a Honeymoon 2.0 to recover and redeem our first honeymoon that was nothing but camping with a side of food poisoning and a heaping spoonful of kidney infections. In fact, to be honest, this whole first year of marriage has been really hard and tiring…having this 2nd chance has been a big deal to me. I prayed it would be perfect, but I wasn’t letting my hopes get the best of me. I didn’t yet believe that I deserved a time of rest and relaxation and love and laughter with my ever-amazing husband.

Earlier this summer, we were planning a little road trip to Alberta that got abruptly postponed when all of the heavens decided to rain down on our proposed routes. But now is the time, we decided. We wanted to spend a couple of nights around Lake Louise area, to enjoy the beauty and spend a little extra on a nice place to stay, finishing by staying in Calgary with friends for a days.

Being the wing-it planners that we are, we didn’t seriously start contemplating where we were going to stay on the way. Some friends made us aware of groupons and special deals at various beautiful resorts, but we sat on the info. I don’t really know why? Anyway, today, the day before we leave, snuck up on us and said, “Hey. You better make some phone calls.”

Booked. Everything. Either that, or you had to sell your first born to be able to afford the available rooms.

I scanned back through my messages from friends and found a possibility: the sister of a friend is a manager at the Fairmont and would be able to get us a special deal. Was it still available?

It was. One night only, OUR ANNIVERSARY DAY.

And did you notice anything else? Scroll back to the top of my story.

Yep. I am staying, for 24 beautiful hours, at the castle of my childhood dreams.

I should have been excited beyond belief, right? Well, instead of that, I nearly had a panic attack. Sure, it was a special deal but that was still a lot of money, right? Plus gas and food and who knows what else…disregard the fact that Steve and I – mostly Steve – had been blessedly able to work many days all summer. While he was relieved to have our plans finally in place, I was not okay. When we went halfsies on a beautiful new camera tonight — another amazing deal that we’ll never find again — I was not okay. I was 10 again, believing that this past 12 months of struggle had been what I deserved, had been what I needed to be seen as worthy. Taking this time to be together was excess. Opulence and waste. Wasn’t it?

And then quietly, words came to my heart

The threshing floors will be full of grain, and the vats will overflow with the new wine and oil. Then I will make up to you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten…You will have plenty to eat and be satisfied and praise the name of the LORD your God, who has dealt wondrously with you; Then My people will never be put to shame.…

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven…

Suddenly, all of the panic left me. The anxiety, yes, the shame of needing something good fled my thoughts.

I’ve long stopped believing that my dad will show up and place a crown on my head. But I have something better than that. I have a Father who has had a crown with my name on it since the beginning of time, and he gave me a prince to share this life.

Just because we had a hard start doesn’t mean that we don’t belong together.
Just because we have enough doesn’t make us elitist ingrates; God is not displeased with our lack of poverty.

Some people have taken this too far, believing that God is obligated to give us mansions and expensive cars and everything we want because we deserve to have it all. I don’t think God said that, ever. He is good, He is giving, He does bless abundantly, but it’s not for us. It’s so that we pour out and give it back out to everyone else. It means we don’t forget where we came from when we see someone in need. It means we can still love him whether we are rich or poor, we can still praise him even if we have nothing left. It means we learn how to accept a gift with grace, knowing that it’s not because we’re more special than anyone else.

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Starting tomorrow, I want to learn what that really means.  With this cutie by my side.

“When grace is joined with old age, it is adorable. There is an unspeakable dawn in happy old age.” — Victor Hugo

It’s true. I love gay people. God made me do it.

Okay. I can’t believe I’m actually going to do this.

*deep breath*

Okay. Yes. I’m gonna do it.

I’m gonna talk about the big G word.

Remember when it used to mean “happy”? Or was attached to the name of a flower, such as the nosegay?

My, the times have changed. It’s all been causing me to think. And honestly, it’s driving me crazy, so I need to talk about it. Just for a minute. If that’s cool with you.

I was raised to believe that homosexuals were a special kind of dirty evil. That they carried diseases. (More than heterosexuals that have crazy monkey sex [gasp!] do? Yes, of course.) To be avoided but prayed for with utmost reverence, and thank God you weren’t like “them.” You were “safe.”

I’m here to tell you that I have rarely ever felt truly safe in my life. And I’m a woman who married a man. AND we don’t steal or cheat or murder or lie or park in the spots specifically for people with babies when we have no babies.

Avoiding people who are not like me has never brought me safety. Only a sense of entitlement and confusion that I don’t deserve.

So now, I am Facebook friends with at least 6 not-straight folk. I even speak to them occasionally. And I’m okay with that. I am a strong Christian not afraid to live in the world, to take risks, to be like Jesus, look at me go! I am soooo proud of myself.

Isn’t there…more? Shouldn’t there be more?

For the United States, they recently got “more.” Equal rights have been given to every couple who wants to get married, no matter what gender.
Now, as a Christian, I should be the furthest thing from okay with that, right? Adam & Eve, not Adam & Steve. (Cause Steve’s MINE, bitches!) Old Testament Law. New Testament passages. The Word of God, which I claim as my blue print for life, condemns homosexuality at least 4 times, if not more. ( Leviticus 18:22 & 20:13, Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Revelations 22:15 for example.)

That is valid and important to me; I can’t ignore it.

What I also can’t ignore is the fact that many people are taking these verses out of context. For example, this article. Buzzfeed, you know I love you, but don’t do me like this! Allow me just this once to reference a large passage of Scripture that explains what I’m trying to say.

“Well then, why was the law given? It was to show people how guilty they are. But this system of law was to last only until the coming of the child to whom God’s promise was made.…is there conflict between God’s law and God’s promises? Absolutely not! If the law could have given us new life, we could have been made right with God by obeying it. Until faith in Christ was shown to us as the way of becoming right with God, we were guarded by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, until we could put our faith in the coming saviour...Let me put it another way. The law was our guardian and teacher to lead us until Christ came. So now, through faith in Christ, we are made right with God. But now that faith in Christ has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian…you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus…there is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female…you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:19, 21, 23,24,25,26 & 28.)

And.

“Well then, what shall we say about these things? Just this: the Gentiles have been made right with God by faith, even though they were not seeking him. But the Jews who tried so hard to get right with God by keeping the law never succeeded. Why not? Because they were trying to get right with God by keeping the law and being good instead of depending on faith. They stumbled over the great rock in their path. God warned them of this in the scriptures when he said, ‘I am placing a stone in Jerusalem that causes people to stumble, and a rock that makes them fall. But anyone who believes in him will not be disappointed.’ …For Christ has accomplished the whole purpose of the law. All who believe in him are made right with God.” (Romans 9:30-33, 10:4)

AND.

“One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question: ‘Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?’ Jesus replied, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbour as yourself.'” (Matthew 22:35-39)  **emphases are all mine**

Now….I am by no means a scholar in the Hebrew and Greek translations of ancient texts, but what I THINK I just read is that the Old Testament law was put in place to show us that it is IMPOSSIBLE for us to not eat bacon and not get tattoos and not cut our hair and not wear jeans with holes in them. Those things are not evil. They were just used as an example to say that even if they WERE evil, we couldn’t stay away from them. And if we can’t even follow laws of just mere outward actions, how can we control what goes on in our hearts? We can’t. Any attempts to be “good” or at least a half-decent human being can only be accomplished through giving ourselves over to THE MOST important commandment: Love. Of God, of others and yes, ourselves. (Not in a selfish way, mind you. Just in a “I don’t hate myself” kind of way.) All of the other commandments can be summed up into LOVE. If you love your neighbour, you’re not going to steal from them. You’re not going to sleep with his wife or her husband. You’re not going to lie to them or murder them. If you love God with all your heart, soul and mind, you will want to live your life in a way that brings him honour and respect and a good reputation. If you claim his name over your actions, you better make sure that they are done in a way that doesn’t conflict with the second commandment of loving others.

In other words, the Crusades were an #epicfail.

Westboro Baptist Church = #epicfail.

Pat Robertson, pastor and founder of The 700 Club = #epicfail.

These parents = #epicfail

And the conclusion of my life so far? Epic fail.

You see, I have this problem where I like people to be happy with me and I would like not to get struck with lightning by God. My love for my Father and my people has been entirely fear-based. Now, being almost 26…I’m tired of this shit. And being tired has led me on the journey to where I am now. The political and social events of the United States and Russia and more have really challenged me to shift my paradigm. And now, after months of struggle and research and guilt and confusion, I am finally ready to confess.

I want to love people of all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, religions, skin colours, orientations and lifestyles. I think the abuse that the homosexual community has had to live with is heartbreaking and I want to hug all of them and whisper, “We’re not all like this.” I think that God sees all of the hatred and weeps. He still loves us a ridiculous amount regardless, but man, if I had to choose between facing him and discovering I was wrong to love homosexuals or facing him and discovering I was wrong to hate homosexuals, I would choose the former, hands down. Whether or not homosexuality is truly a sin is NOT our call to make, and I’m so glad that those decisions are not left up to me.

As for marriage equality, I support it. Just like I would support the African slaves being emancipated from their owners in the 1800s, or all women being emancipated from abusive husbands and arranged marriages and head coverings…well…someday. From a purely political standpoint, if your constitution says that all men are created equal, then that should mean EVERYONE. At the very least, all couples in a committed relationship should be allowed the same benefits as a married heterosexual does. If someone I was in a committed relationship with was in the hospital and I wasn’t allowed to see them just because there wasn’t a legal document saying that I was married and/or family to them, I would lose my shit. Plain and simple.  It’s not fair. It’s not equal. And I’m so glad steps have been taken to remedy that.

Taking this stand is tough and terrifying. But with each word that I’m writing out, each thought that I have, I have this feeling swelling up in my chest, like…excitement. Conviction. Apology. Love.  Anticipation. What also thrills me? I have said most of this to the one person I never thought I could: my mom. After all, she helped contribute to my “us versus them” thoughts about gay people. But she surprised me by agreeing with mostly everything I said. Why? Because for the last two years, she has essentially lived in a wilderness with no one around her except for draft dodgers, ex-cons, hippies, lesbians and confirmed been-out-in-the-woods-too-long weirdos. Because she’s been made to look at them like they are people. Because she’s an adulterous single-mom who made a lot of mistakes and got deported, but they treat her like a person as well. It’s brutal and beautiful…brutiful.

Before I post this and let the chips fall where they may, I have two people I want to talk about – C & B. I don’t know them too well, but I have had the privilege of seeing a glimpse of what they are about.

I met C at a kid’s camp quite a few summers ago. He was a youth pastor/worship leader. All of the kids flocked to him because he was so fun and caring, and for me, whenever he played his piano and sang, the world stopped. I have rarely heard anything so beautiful in my life, and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that this man loved God with all his heart and was genuinely worshiping him, and using his gift to lead others into worship as well. He also shared with me personally that he felt I needed to put God first in my life, and everything else would fall into place – at a time when all of my struggles were seriously overtaking me. He had no idea that this was what I needed to hear.

I met B on a college campus in 2009. Our youth group went there for a weekend to see what it would be like to go there when we graduated. On Sunday morning, I was sitting at a breakfast table by myself, and B, a total stranger, came up to me and sat down. We started talking, and I felt totally at ease with her. We shared life stories; I was going through my immigration struggles and trying to maintain a relationship with my mom, and B’s mom had passed away from cancer recently. How did our conversation end? With B offering to pray. For ME. Another time when what I needed was given to me at the most unexpected moment.

Are they believers in Jesus? Yes.

Are they straight? Not in the least.

Does that change the way I feel towards them or mar my experience with them? See my last answer.

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