Linds here.

Last week I started writing a blog that went something like this:

I don’t know quite what to say. But by God I’ll figure it out because some things need saying. There has been recent “scandalous” news in the Christian community. The Christian organization World Vision is one of the leading third-world-country child sponsorship organizations in the world. It provides opportunities for people to financially sponsor children in desperate need of basic accommodations, food, water, education, etc. For more information on the positive impact this organization has made see: http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/bolivia-dam-good-story.

On Monday, World Vision announced that the organization would begin allowing the employment of gay and lesbian Christians in legal same-sex marriages. True to form, some “Christians” freaked out. By freaked out, I mean thousands of “Christians” who previously committed to sponsoring children and their respective communities, pulled their funding and sponsorships from these children in protest. As a result of this, World Vision reversed their decision to employ gay and lesbian Christians. Their statement is as follows:

“The board acknowledged it made a mistake and chose to revert to our longstanding policy requiring sexual abstinence for all single employees and faithfulness within the Biblical covenant of marriage between one man and one woman. … We are brokenhearted over the pain and confusion we have caused many of our friends, who saw this decision as a reversal of our strong commitment to Biblical authority.”

At this point I should say, what I originally wrote in my blog was intense. I haven’t fully decided if it was inappropriate or not, but if ever I’m not sure, this time via conviction through my wife, I know I shouldn’t post it. I had only terrible things to say about these “Christians” that sounded something like *&%$, and *%#&, and #%$*. You get my point. After gaining some distance from this I wanted to try the blog again because I still think there are some important things to say. Here’s my best, many times edited, attempt.

These occurrences grieve me beyond belief.  I am honestly not grieved that World Vision disagrees with my theology on same sex marriage. That is not my issue. I don’t even mind if some “Christians” hate me and the gay community. I will still sleep soundly tonight, nestled close to my wife whom I will love unconditionally, sacrificially, and passionately until the day I die.  The reason that I taste bile in my mouth at this situation is twofold.

First, I honestly pray mercy over the “Christians” who withdrew their support to their sponsored child over this issue. There is so much justifiable anger coursing through my veins and so much hurt over all of the thousands of lives negatively impacted. These types of “protests” are empty displays of a false morality. These actions (though I am tempted to harshly judge the very heart of every “Christian involved) are not a representation of Christ or anything he stood for. There is no supporting Bible verse anyone can drudge up, no holy justification anyone can lean on, and no Christ-like example anyone can extract from the scriptures to make right what went down last week.  Please don’t, anyone, insult the deep, holy, intricate nature of our faith by throwing the “homosexuality” and “man lying with man” verses out there as if they could possibly be strong and indisputable enough to hold the severity of these actions, as if they could be central to the gospel enough to merit throwing love and support for precious vulnerable children out the window. It will never line up with Jesus. It will never line up with his greatest command to love God and to love others. Those scriptures as justification for hate, self-righteousness, and at the very least, irresponsibility, will crack, crumble, and perish, when exposed to the true light of unconditional love.

Some “Christians” can hate my relationship with my wife all day long and will yet never be justified for these detestable actions. They represent a broken promise to a child, a child to whom support was pledged, and all because theological feathers got ruffled. If we call a spade a spade, “Christians” withdrew support because they are uncomfortable with two women getting married. It is a disgrace to faith, to the faith community, and to Christianity.

A Christian is literally called such for his or her likeness to Christ, for being a “little Christ.” These actions are representative of different biblical characters, Pharisees, the ones Jesus consistently reprimanded for being hard hearted, unloving, and burdensome to their communities in the name of God. Christian history boasts a long list of characters whose actions, theological beliefs, and attitudes are very similar to those of “Christians” who withdrew their support from World Vision. These beliefs supported the crusades, the African slave trade, and racism. These systems of belief essentially make cultural issues central to the gospel. The comparison I have made here is not reflective of the scope and severity of each issue. I will not hold homosexual discrimination up against slavery. This is more about the reprehensible justifications put forth by generations of Christians to propagate hate. Every person has the right to hold any theological belief they choose. That’s fine. I will never try to pry that from anyone.  But let us not forget that anytime we make something central to the gospel other than Jesus, anytime we make something worth the act of casting love aside, it will never be anything but inexcusable, shameful, and even prideful. May any of us who have or ever will be tempted to prostitute love for theology, feel the utmost conviction for years to come to the point that this thorn in our flesh becomes unbearable.

Second, to World Vision: I would have understood if you reversed your decision because you desperately want the children in need around the world to have a sponsor and support. That would have been an admirable move to make. Your Christian board initially decided on an action which I know was deeply considered, thoroughly prayed over, and discussed at length by wise members of your organization not for moments, but for years. It was a way-paving decision that you no-doubt felt convicted to make. You were on the right track. However, and there is a big however, you succumbed to the Pharisaical mindset of a group of “Christians.” You let them question your dedication to “Biblical authority,” which, for the record, has always been a tactic of conservative “Christians” in attempting to have their way. Rather than standing by your decision and, instead, focusing your efforts on replacing the sponsors who withdrew their conditional support, you doubted the wisdom of your decision, which you must have felt strongly about to begin with to make such a move. This doubt caused you to cave to the prideful demands of “Christians” likely more from fear than from true conviction. You relinquished your ability to move independently in response to the spirit of God and his guiding for your organization. These “Christians” heaped heavy burdens on your backs, and you withdrew under the pressure. I hope that years from now when you look back on this pressure caving reaction, you will feel the sharp sting of regret, and learn to not repeat the mistakes of your past.

I am not usually surprised by hateful “Christians.” I, my wife, and countless other gay and lesbian people have been on the receiving end of “Christian” hate since the day we came out (and long before then). But, the severity of the aforementioned happenings shocks me anew. I’ve said my peace. May God have mercy on us all.

 

Disclaimer: I do not believe that all Christians are hateful bigots. I personally know several Christians who are loving, generous, compassionate people. You know who you are. I in no way believe that Christians who disagree with my theology are bad people, or hateful people. Again, you are on a journey in life figuring out how to love people and love God the same as I am. This was not for you. I count myself a follower of Christ, not just because I was raised in church, or because I’ve served in the church every time the doors were opened since I was a pre-teen, and not because I have been employed by the church for a portion of my adult professional life. I follow Christ because he stood for the perfect sacrificial love, because there were no conditions on his love. No qualifiers. No one left out. So, from me to you, may your voice carry farther than the hateful “Christians” who all too often represent faith in Christ as a closed-minded, hate filled, bigoted, ignorant faith. No, this is not the entirety of the Christian faith or the Christian community at all. And, I believe in you.

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Linds here.

Have you ever been so cold that you feel claustrophobic? As in, you feel that you can’t escape the cold? If you asked me this a few years ago I would have answered with a resounding “NO!” Since living in Colorado however (we actually usually have a fairly mild climate) I have experienced this phenomenon a handful of times, the most recent occurring over the past two months.

Several nights a week I have a quasi-long walk in the cold getting home from work. It’s nothing to write home about (though apparently worth writing a blog) but it can get pretty darned cold, like snot freezing cold. Last weekend however, the God of all good things allowed a slight reprieve from the cold. I looked at the forecast last Friday, saw the highs in the 60’s, and my heart rose to the heavens.

Since moving to Colorado I have adopted a policy. If the high for the day is projected to be above 60, I have permission to wear shorts. Therefore, last weekend, game on. I pulled out my favorite pair of khaki shorts, a great complimentary sweatshirt, and struck out to enjoy a day of warm-ish sunshine.

Man did I have a rude awakening. The high did not reach the 60’s, the wind knocked me around chapping my sun starved, white legs, and I froze for most of the day. As I closed the evening shutting myself indoors with thick socks and warm pants I raised my fist in indignation and shouted to the empty air, “I shaved my legs for this!!!”

Was I silly to get my hopes up about a warm February day? Probably. Is the weather in Colorado as inconsistent as Olympic skaters landing triple axels? Admittedly, yes. Was my attempt to wear shorts really just this Georgia girl’s way of yearning for a little warmth and sunshine? With all of my soul, absolutely.

I do not curse the winter; it is just doing its job like the rest of us; and, I thank it for its services.  I do hope however that, unlike my reaction to the USA’s Olympic hockey losses, winter will graciously accept defeat and give way to the leg-shaving sunshine of spring. Until then, my shorts will bide their time.

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Steph here.

I use Pandora a lot. It’s so convenient to be able to select artists I like and hear new songs and old songs and similar sounds as I go through my work day or take a long bath or clean the house. I am the kind of person who is incredibly emotionally connected to every bit of music that I listen to. I connect memories, feelings, thoughts, life experiences, relationships, sounds, smells, sensations, seasons, visual images, etc etc etc with every bit of music that I listen to or happen to hear. Sometimes that makes listening to music a very delicate and intentional activity for me. I can’t just put music on and let it play. With each musical choice I make I bring up emotions. If I’m in a quiet mood and don’t want to experience a range of thoughts and emotions, then I play my classical Pandora station and just bask in the beauty of instrumental music, but that’s about as “nuetral” as it gets for me. Some days I have to rush to turn off certain songs before my good mood turns into sad thoughts; sometimes I can hit “play” and my entire existence seems to expand with every song. I know there are many people who experience music this way. Music isn’t just music; it’s the soundtrack to our lives in so many ways.

The other day a song came on my Pandora station that I hadn’t heard in a long long time. Pink’s “Don’t Let Me Get Me,” started rocking out of my speakers, and I was brought back to a different day and a different time. In the song, Pink says:

I’m a hazard to myself
Don’t let me get me
It’s bad when you annoy yourself
So irritating
Don’t want to be my friend no more
I wanna be somebody else…
Doctor, Doctor, won’t you please prescribe me something?
A day in the life of someone else
Don’t let me get me…

This song was released when I was a senior in High School. When I heard it playing a couple days ago, I was hit by memories of the person I was then. I used to play this song super loud and belt it out with all my heart. I remember driving alone listening to this song, thinking so seriously about how much I wished I could be somebody else and how much I hated myself.

It is an incredible thing to hear this song twelve years later and to think so seriously about what a hard road I’ve traveled since those days and how very much, in contrast, I am so thankful for my life and so grateful to God for creating me and making me uniquely me.

It was a good moment, a grateful moment, when I was able to feel the memories of the past like a shadow, but to know in every part of me that I can’t relate with Pink’s “Don’t Let Me Get Me” anymore. It made me consider how hard it is to overcome difficulty, pain, rejection, trauma, dysfunction, and legalism…not just for me, but for anyone. It reminded me of the girl walking around out there right now just like me (and probably not like me at all) who is experiencing a deep self-hatred, a fear that she isn’t good enough, that she’d be better off if she was someone else, that no one truly knows her or sees her or loves her for who she really is. It reminded me of how much I care about that girl. How much I want her to find her way; how much I’m rooting for her to be ok and for her to keep seeking out truth (and the Truth); how much I believe in her worth. It reminded me how much I’m hoping that she will discover that worth and that she will begin to believe that she doesn’t need to live as someone else because her very own life has purpose and is incredibly worth being present for.

I know that I am beyond thankful for how far I’ve come in the last 12 years, and I’m incredibly blessed to be able to look inside and know peace and love for myself. I’m hoping and praying that God will use me every day to point to the precious worth of each person I interact with. Maybe I’ll meet many versions of that scared, hurting, self-loathing girl along the way, and by God’s grace we can grasp the truth of our worth together.

Will you grasp the truth of our worth with me today?

 

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Linds here.

Today, I’ve heard an inordinate amount of comments that sound something like this:

I’m so over Valentine’s Day

My girlfriend/boyfriend doesn’t get in to stuff like flowers and Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is so commercialized

My girlfriend/boyfriend and I agree that Valentine’s Day and flowers and gifts are so cliché

I understand that this day, for some, brings emotions of bitterness, loneliness, painful memories of love long past. And for others it’s just another day. What’s the big deal right? Who cares about one sappy day devoted to loove ?

The truth is, everybody cares. Everybody wants to be loved. That’s why I love this holiday so much. I’ve always loved it. Before I was married, before I was partnered, and before I even knew I was gay and spent every Valentine’s Day of my life single.

Here are a few of the thoughts I have about how to take charge of maximizing Valentine’s Day no matter your partner status or opinions on holiday commercialization:

Are you single? Do you have friends? Family? Great! You can celebrate Valentine’s Day. You can use this as a chance to show people you love them. It feels amazing to give love!

One of my mentors growing up always baked her friends Valentine’s cookies on February 14th because she loved giving expressions of love. Several of my co-workers today gave out Valentines.  They went to the store, bought The Little Mermaid or Sponge Bob Valentines, signed them, and handed them out. It was awesome. There’s never an excuse to not show love if you have breath in your lungs.

Are you partnered? Married? Great! You can absolutely shine on this day. This is how you maximize Valentine’s Day: Show your partner intentional expressions of love all year long! That’s right. Don’t wait for Valentine’s Day to give her flowers. Don’t wait til a holiday to surprise him with an expression of love in his love language.

When you take intentional time to show specific, intentional expressions of love all year long, Valentine’s Day is just a great day to outdo yourself. Cook her dinner, take him to that concert he’s wanted to see, surprise her with flowers (for the 5th time since last Valentine’s Day, not the first), light some candles over dinner and talk deeply about what’s going on in your worlds.

Are you the girl who says, “My girlfriend/boyfriend and I agree that Valentine’s Day and flowers and gifts are so cliché?” I call BS. Your girlfriend/boyfriend may just be trying to avoid the awkward truth that you don’t go out of your way to show love other days of the year so why start on Valentine’s Day. At that point it does seem meaningless.

The guy who says, “My girlfriend/boyfriend doesn’t get in to stuff like flowers and Valentine’s Day” is lying to himself. She doesn’t have to specifically like flowers, but I’ll bet she’s into feeling loved and treasured and would love for you to be creative on this day and shower her with special-ness.

Don’t be a victim of Valentine’s Day bitterness or apathy. Maximize Valentine’s Day by taking charge of showing other people love! Take charge of showing love all throughout the year! Really! Go, do it!

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Your Inherent Enoughness

Linds here. Steph and I love talking about the future. Dreaming together. Planning together. Imagining all of the many adventures we’ll have together. One of the things I honestly struggle with sometimes is thinking this very thought, “Will I be …

 

We’re back!

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Steph here. Hi guys!! Wow, it’s been a long time! Linds and I took an impromptu break from writing over the holidays. With sickness and traveling and work and holidays and school and more sickness, we just had to stick …

 

Celebrate

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Linds here. This past weekend was so fabulous. It was fabulous because Steph and I enjoyed one of our favorite holiday traditions, Stocking Eve and Stocking Day. We came up with this pre-holiday, holiday celebration because we usually visit family for …

 

A Conversation between Santa Clause and Darth Vader

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Linds here. Tis the Season to be jolly! So, imagine with me that Santa Clause and Darth Vader are attending the same Christmas party… Why would a quintessential symbol of purity and selflessness, Santa Clause, hang out with the essence …

 

Registering Christmas

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Steph here. Well, it’s December, friends. Can you believe it? November just flew by, and December promises to do the same. Tonight I’m trying to soak up the moments by our Christmas trees and the cold weather and the winter storms …

 

Weekend in Pictures: Thanksgiving Edition 12/2/13

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Linds here. Welcome to our extended Weekend in Pictures: Thanksgiving Edition! With Steph’s brother in town and 5 days off of work, we all had a blast! We started some of the holiday festivities on Wednesday by getting our two …