Tag Archives: love

“May our hearts and minds be open”

My blog post from yesterday included some of the lyrics to David Lohman’s anthem “For All the Children.” Today, I’ll share more. I’m immensely excited to be singing it tonight, at the church I grew up in, with my son singing too, surrounded my other members of the LBGT community and their allies. My son’s allies. My hope for the future is that our church in Bend becomes Reconciled in Christ and we will have a sticker on the door for all to see that we are safe for LGBT people, their families and we love them. I know that we already have that reputation locally, thanks to Pastor Chris and his connections and our presence in a booth at the Pride event in Bend last summer. I have a copy of the bulletin music for “For All The Children”, so that I can learn it easier. It moves me and I find it hard to sing if I focus on the lyrics. The refrain is such a great message.

“O, may our hearts and minds be open, fling the church doors open wide. May their be room enough for everyone inside. For in God there is a welcome, in God we all belong. May that welcome be our song.”

This chokes me up every time. It is a hugely powerful message in such simple lyrics. This song serves as a reminder that God welcomes EVERYONE. I have to admit that I have avoided the soapbox that I feel like I should be standing on. To remind and/or teach people, about God having made everyone in His image. That means ALL people. Regardless of color, sexual orientation, gender identity or any other category that gets persecuted. Close-minded people pick apart their Bible to use it as ammunition that being bisexual, homosexual or transgendered is wrong. Nope. We were made in His image. Remember, love thy neighbor as yourself? These simple, basic teachings tell us how to love and accept others. Instead people hide behind their prejudices and bigotry and spout lies about God’s love. While I’m really looking forward to this evening’s service, I look more forward to the day when every church every where is proclaiming the above refrain. I believe that this time will come. In the meantime, I’ll keep sharing my heart and showing my son that God loves him.

Please, if you have been unable to accept the LGBT community, I pray that you can embrace the concept of loving your neighbor as yourself. It is not our place to judge what/who God has made. The time is now to love everyone. You may have a loved one who is living their life in secret, unable to be their authentic self, because of fear of your rejection. Put the burden down of holding people accountable for something that is not your place to judge.

I could go on and on but need to wind it up and get ready to leave. I leave you with a few more lyrics from “For All The Children.”

“We sing for all the children, that one day they be free; and we sing for generations yet to be, they they never have a reason to doubt that they are blest. May they, in Your love, find rest.”

Dear Lord, I am grateful for you and your all encompassing love. Amen.

With love and more love, Rebecca

Love your children, no matter who they are.

I try to stay away from commenting on stories that have already gotten lots of attention in the press. It’s my goal to come up with new things to say that are coming from my place of wisdom, from my experiences. Daily, I work to avoid judging others. This post that has been bouncing around in my head for a few days has taken me on an introspective roller coaster ride. Sometimes I imagine that the people around me can tell when I am wrestling with being consumed by the desire to write. To me, it’s obvious in my ability to concentrate, or not. The main thought/opinion that I want to convey in this post is an idea I’ve already posted on Face Book and shared with friends.

When I say my children can be anything they want to be when they grow up, I mean that. For those of you are parents, let’s sit here and think for a minute what that should really mean. It’s an age old wish for parents that their child follow their dreams to the career/vocation of their choice. Those careers have changed over the years. Looking back, for women that meant teaching or nurses. For men, they were encouraged to be everything else, except those things. My parents were great about never telling me there were any limits on what I could become someday. In my formative years, that phrase about being anything we wanted to be, seemed to be strictly about occupation. Well, folks, those days are over.

My older son, for years and years, had talked about wanting to fly planes for the Navy. His path in life seemed pointed in that direction. Early on in his initial hospitalization, we realized that his previous career choice was unlikely. It was disappointing and he may still fly plans commercially. During this time of opening up and sharing himself with us, Preston disclosed that he was bisexual. To be honest, I think I know when and where but I have no idea what he said. It wasn’t a momentous occasion or some fancy speech worth memorizing. Now, over a little year later, I do remember thinking “So what?”. The only reason it had much significance at the time was that I felt it was a factor in his suicidal ideation and self harm. We laughed in the car this morning, when I told him that I wanted to write this post, that it was so not a thing! He hasn’t shared with me what he expected that I might say or if he thought I would reject him. I didn’t and that’s what mattered. It was easy for me to tell him I loved him no matter what, because it is true. I would die before making my children believe that they can’t be anything they want to be. (I’m not saying sexual orientation is a choice.) This is true for sexuality, gender, religious beliefs or practices or political preferences. I believe in God and Jesus and their love. This love, shining through me, means I can love anyone and everyone.

Here is the part where I deviate from my typical format and comment on current events. I do not know Leelah Alcorn’s parents but I have heard that they were unable or unwilling to accept their child who was born male, for who she was. I’ve also heard that they believe in God. I have a very hard time relating to them or understanding why they made their child’s life about them and were so selfish as to deny their child a life lived on her own terms. We are made in His imgaae so I rest assured that God loves and accepts all genders (forget the damn binary), sexual orientations, skin colors, cultures and creeds. It is time that we set tradition and old-school patterns aside. We owe this generation unconditional love.

Despite the fact that I was not upset or disappointed about Preston being bisexual, I didn’t have a guidebook for what to say or do, so I winged it. I made sure that he knew that I loved him, and his people, with no judgement. We joked about guys (Lenny Kravitz) that we both find attractive. I spent time with him. Rather than make him come out to the extended family, I spread the news with the example that “This is not a thing. Don’t make it a thing. We love Preston and we expect you to do the same. Whatever your personal feelings on bisexuality, keep it to yourself or you don’t get access to Preston.” We found the local PFLAG group which just so happens to meet in our church building. 🙂 Since I had no exposure what so ever to the bisexual community, I read online as much as I could. We learned about the myths and the actual statistics that refute them. Our church had a booth at last summer’s Bend Pride Event and Preston and I were there all day to meet and greet people. PEOPLE. Not gays, lesbians, queers, bisexuals but PEOPLE!!! It was a great afternoon and I could tell that Preston was happy to be surrounded by a large number of people that accept him. He proudly purchased an HRC shirt that says “Love Conquers Hate”, a pin with the bisexual flag pin and a few rainbow bracelets. I show up for him and will stand by him anywhere he wants to go. It was very moving to be included and bond that day. As the newness wore off and we settled in to our new, improved, mentally healthier life, Preston began to really be himself and wear his own skin proudly. He went with a group of friends to homecoming but his “date” was a nice young man he goes to school with. (Bless his heart, his parents don’t know he is gay and he has been recently rejected by the only family member that does know.) He has participated in the GSA at his school but his attendance is less consistent now that he hangs out with his girlfriend. I look back on the time we’ve spent together where Preston could be his authentic self and I shudder to think that a close-minded parent could have missed out on all those treasured memories. I don’t know how much of his concern about coming out to us had to do with his suicidal ideation but I know part of it did. How would he have ever improved emotionally if I would have put him down that day or walked away from him while he sat in a hospital room? This happens to children every day. The people they rely on for love and safety, say hateful words that burn a scar onto their child’s soul. The rejection and pain they cause may not be overcome and lead to the tragedy, such as with Leelah Alcorn, that they cannot see continuing to life and end their own life, long before they had the chance to live it.

My plea is that all parents everywhere would love their children unconditionally. Listen with open minds and speak with kind words of acceptance. If you hate homosexuality and think it’s an abomination, tough shit! Suck it up and hide that hatred from your child. We cannot control anyone’s actions in this world but our own. We can choose to show love and acceptance and provide a safe haven in the darkness.

My prayers are for all the families out there who are struggling, be it the children and/or the parents. May God show people what is truly important and unburden hearts.

If you are alone and need someone to love and accept you for who you are, I will. Love and hugs, Rebecca

Looking forward to what comes next…

Family, reunited and reinvented.

“Rebecca, Caroline, Preston and Logan enjoying the sun next to the Deschutes River in Bend.”

This is such a surreal experience. It’s the end of summer, Labor Day, September 1st 2014, and behind me on the hammack are my older son, Preston and my first mom, Caroline. Logan, my younger son is across the driveway from me, playing on the tire swing hanging from one the of the tall Ponderosa pine trees in our front yard. It is the first time that she has been to stay in my home and only her second visit to Oregon, in the 17 years since we have met. When she came that first time, for our first reunion, she stayed in a hotel and I, at 18 years old, was still living at home with my parents. Today, the sun is shining and it’s 78 degrees. Comfortable in the shade. A stark constrast to what she experiences in Southern Lousiana, where she lives. Despite the fact that it’s been 4 years since she has seen my husband, AJ and my children and 3 years since we’ve been together, the visit has been comfortable and has felt very natural. We’ve picked right up where we left off. In the years since our initial reunion, the best way to preserve and improve our long distance relationship, is to make every moment count and set aside the thoughts of what has been missed and what we don’t have. The things we’ve missed have been many. Birthdays, a wedding, births, baptisms, illnesses, death, heartbreak and happiness all make the list. However, together we have experienced a wedding, illness, heartbreak, happiness, spiritual growth, emotional growth, back-to-school shopping, meals, a football game, the Oregon coast, cooking out, church services, singing praise music, preparing meals together, body surfing in the Gulf, playing tourist in New Orleans, karaoke, bubbles on the driveway, bathtime, Twister, card games, laundry, photography, hiking to waterfalls, browsing for books, Open House at school, laughter, tears, despair, hope and most of all, love. Although I am sad that my mom will be leaving tomorrow, leaving my two boys with bruised hearts, I pray that they, like me, will learn the lesson and value of living for every moment, embracing the memories and looking forward to what comes next. 🙂

Precious moments

Preston pushing Nanny Caroline on the tire swing

The daughter I’ve barely known.

Before my husband and I were married, he was married before. From that union he had a daughter, S. When we were first together we had regular visitations with her in our home. Things quickly deteriorated due to the tension between the adults. My husband’s daughter had been encouraged to call another man, Daddy, from an early age. It was confusing for her that we wanted her to call my husband, Daddy. After much turmoil and heartache and tears and counseling and prayers and more tears, we decided that forcing her to come visit our house, that she did not feel was her home, was too damaging. My lack of relationship with her and inability to make our family feel like her family, is my biggest failure as a mother. Yes, her mother left no room for us, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have guilt 10 years later. In our family, we do not distinguish between step-children or half-siblings. We love our children unconditionally, as our children. Similar to the story in the bible of the women fighting over one child, and the child’s real mother gave him up, we decided to let her go and have a chance at a conflict-free life without battles between houses. No visits that left her crying, begging to go home. Fights between her brother, my son, and her. Criticism from her grandparents who got mad at her for calling her Dad by his legal name.

There were no good options. It was a matter of choosing the least bad option. Of course, when you are making a life changing decision you can consider the pros and cons but you never know what the outcome will be. My husband let her step-father adopt her. Promises were made by her mother and my husband as to how the years between age 5 and 18 would be. We knew we had no control over what her mother would say about us. If we’d ever have contact with her. It was worth the risk. The risk that we may not have her in our lives but for her to have the chance to be free from the tug of war. An atheist household vs Christian home. A woman who cheated vs the man she betrayed. I could go on and on. We knew that her mother could tell her horrible, untrue things about why he was willing to relinquish his rights. False things about him not loving her or that it was about money or her evil stepmother hated her.

After 10 years, my husband heard from his daughter this week. She was looking for answers that her mother refused to provide her. Thankfully, her mother said very little about her father. Essentially that he was a man that just got her pregnant. It was a lie, but an easy one to undo. There are wedding pictures and other “proof” that it was much more complicated and they were much more intertwined than that. I remember how poorly my own “reunion” with my biological father went. It was horrible. He vilified my mother and was very dramatic about how he thought it would have been better if his mother had raised me and we’d be together as siblings. Thank you, Jesus that never happened. Despite his vehemence and criticism of my first mom, he made no effort to get to know the adult me. To have a relationship at all. I would have wanted to hear that he loved me and he considered me his daughter. I encouraged my husband in his email reply, to be certain to say those things. That he as always loved her and has never considered her himself an ex anything. He used his own words, of course. The emails that they’ve written to each other are so sweet and beautiful.

His daughter, our daughter, is interested in getting to know us. In meeting her brothers. In being his daughter again, although in our hearts and minds, she never wasn’t. Building a relationship will not be easy with her mother in the way. Once she is aware she went behind her back (my husband made his suggestion clear that she tell her asap), we may not have anymore contact until she is of legal age. We can wait. We waited this long. Loving a child is timeless. We accept her, her beliefs and who she wants to grow up to be.

My sister posted on Face Book, beneath our daughter’s picture, a reminder this is God’s timing. So many times I feel impatient and unimportant while I wait on God. This time, I am humbled by this gift he has given our family. I am aware that this is the honeymoon period of reunion. Many hard things are hard in reunion. Many wonderful things are part of reunion as well. It gets hard when you can see the life you missed by the decisions made by the adults. I hope that my own reunion experience will be valuable for all of us involved. I do not know how she feels but I do know she will have a wide variety of feelings that will likely resemble a roller coaster. As do her two brothers.

Ever since I got pregnant at 19, I made a commitment to be the best mother I could be. Sometimes I’m just a barely good enough mom and fall short of the goal. However, the children that live with me know I love them and would do anything for them. I look forward to the opportunity to support my husband in this journey and one day show S that I love her as much as the boys and would do anything for her as well.

My nugget of wisdom today is “Tell and Show your people you love them!”