The Day I Met Grace

Many of you may not know this, but my family and I moved to North Carolina in late May.  While the move has been a positive one, it took place when – for lack of better words – this country has been in a mess of turmoil.  Racism, political polarization, social media bullying, and religious noise seemed to be the norm……and for me, it meant my personal life and attitude was being hugely impacted negatively.  Day in and day out it was becoming harder to find something positive to focus on, and for me that meant despondency was my first and strongest thought on most days.

  1. a state of low spirits caused by loss of hope or courage.

I pretty much had lost hope and did not demonstrate much courage in my life.  Day in and day out.  It sucked.

While this was happening, something else was occurring as well.  For, on each drive from my new home to work, on the corner of Midway School Road and Thomas School Road, a black woman stood each morning waving to passing cars.  As she waved, her face was alive with the brightest and most sincere smile I had seen in quite some time.  At first, my reaction was to think, “gah, that woman is crazy.  Doesn’t she know how screwed up we humans are?  Her mornings would be better spent somewhere else.”  But as each day passed, and no matter if I passed at 7am or 8:45am, she’d be out there waving and smiling brightly to each and every vehicle that passed.  Her arm would be raised high and with confidence, as if attempting to throw out the joy that was so evident on her face.

This daily event was “no big deal” to me, at least I convinced myself of that fact at first.  She was just doing something that made no sense, and while my attitude moved from the idea of her being crazy to more like apathy towards her actions, I could not shake her beaming, smiling face.  The only time I would not see it would be on rainy days, and when that would happen I realized I would actually feel disappointment.  Maybe even concern……I wondered if she was okay……until I realized she never came out if it rained.  And slowly, with each passing day, I realized I was trying to smile at others more as the residue of her smile seemed often to be reverberating in my own mind.  “Gosh, that smile is contagious…….maybe I should wear one once in a while, too……”

The truth is, my friends, after weeks and weeks of passing this person, I had to acknowledge something – she was changing my life.  Day after day, she was sending love to me in a world where hate seemed to reign.  No matter her religion, her social standing, her race, her gender, her sexuality, or her political affiliation, she waved and smiled and connected with strangers all morning long.  She connected with ME.  Sincerely.  Physically.  Consistently.  She seemed to care SO MUCH about this, she invested hours each non-rain morning spreading this message with no expectation of return.  And it was working out a miracle in my heart and thoughts.

When I finally formed these realizations in my own mind, I was shocked.  And, in that shock, a flicker of hope sparked in the depths of my soul……and it felt good.  Courage began to spread deep in my gut and I could not contain it.  I felt energized for the first time in months in a way that reminded me of the Gina that used to exist; one that knew it was okay to believe in a future that was not all bad.

So, the next day I decided I had to meet this person “for real”.  When I got to that corner, I pulled over, shut my car off, and began to walk toward the woman that initiated this change in me.  As I got closer, almost feeling the power of her smile as cars passed by, I was surprised to see she was much older than I had expected.  Her raised arm was so feeble and aged, I was surprised it could sustain the hours of waving it accomplished everyday.  She was also tiny, MUCH smaller than she appeared as I flew by her day after day.  I started to feel a bit nervous as I took each step, something my extroverted personality rarely feels, and also careful not to scare her.  I quickly introduced myself and as she turned her gaze to me, she shook my hand and said, “Hello, I am Grace.”

          simple elegance or refinement of movement.
         (in Christian belief) the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.


To be continued……….


I want to admit something to you.  Maybe this won’t shock many of my friends, but in the last year I’ve had trouble reconciling my Christian faith with the love of Christ.  Well, that isn’t exactly right.  I’ve been having trouble reconciling my Christian faith with many (but not all)  CHRISTIANS, and because of that, I’ve distanced myself from Christians in many ways.  I usually refer to myself as “a follower of Christ” instead of a Christian……maybe that’s not fair.  Maybe it is not kind that I don’t want to be pulled in with what I perceive as a group of (usually American) people who spend most of their time condemning others, closing church doors to people, and otherwise seem to focus on rules and regulations instead of “loving others….including your enemies”.  I’ve written on this blog about many of the ways the American Christian Church has acted toward me as a lesbian, or towards “other” including people of color, non-Evangelicals, progressive Christians, or anyone that doesn’t fit into the little box of Evangelical Christians as defined by many in this country.

But, I have to admit as well, that I have missed the ever-present discussions of how amazing Christ really is.  I have missed ongoing discussions of the Power that Christ represents to me, and even the worship that feeds my soul more than I can express in words.  I have missed that fellowship.  Not that I have left anything – believe me, I fellowship with Christ often and am blessed EVERY DAY by His love.  No, I am not referring to Jesus……I am referring to the human fellowship of the Church, the ones who too often seem to rather say to me that I am going to hell or am somehow deficient in too many ways to TRULY be a follower of Christ.

Yes, I hear often that I CAN’T be a Christian, because of many reasons.

And yet, He has not forsaken me.  He has not stopped loving me, at all.  He is present in so many ways that even if I TRIED to put distance between us, I would fail.  I have been grafted into His life, and no one can change that.

So, as I sit as a lesbian on my new porch, smoking a cigar and listening to the evening songs the birds are singing to me…….drinking water and considering the rich blessings that He has provided for me…….I came across this on Facebook:

What DID Jesus do?
1. He openly questioned the religion of his upbringing.
2. He quoted scripture from his ” Bible” said it was wrong and did otherwise.
3. He encouraged others to move beyond the commandments in scripture to follow their heart.
4. He openly embraced people his ” Bible” forbade him to associate with and he was NOT trying to convert them to his religion.
5. He never asked to be worshiped and did not start a new religion.
6. He did not believe scriptures were the “Word of God.” (He clearly called them “The word of Moses.”)
7. He was shut out, shunned and eventually killed by religious leaders.
8. He never asked anyone to pray a “sinner’s prayer” or to ask him into their heart.
9. He rarely attended religious gatherings and, when he did, it was often to denounce their practices.
10. He put “meeting human need” over any kind of religious activities or exercises.
Maybe you SHOULD follow Jesus after all!
Robert Rutherford

This might sound weird to you, Christian who has not been struggling with religion being used as a club against other humans, but the above restored some hope in me.  It reminded me of the beauty that first pierced my heart when I was 16 years old and KNEW that the Love and Grace of Christ wanted my held safely in His arms.  It restored my hope of being loved, period.  It challenged me to walk in the Truth that I am a King’s Kid, saved beyond any indictment or conviction.  That I did nothing to receive this amazing gift, but also that no human could tell me I am not protected.  I have once again been challenged to look at every human – yes, even those who spew hate at me and mine – as also King’s Kid, even if they’ve not professed their acceptance of the King.  I recall that I am to love even the most vile person, as Christ did, though am so tempted to call out the self-proclaimed “religious elite” as a den of wipers as Jesus did.  I have been challenged to truly try to emulate Christ and look at each person as someone of value, even if we have very different world views or even religious beliefs.

Because, that is what Jesus would do.


Voices of Americans

You know, those who know me personally, know I love America.  Even on its worse day, the country of my birth is pretty darn amazing.  The freedoms we have here we often take for granted, and as someone who has been blessed by being able to travel internationally, I have seen the differences that exist around the world.  One freedom I hold very dear is free speech; sure, I often am saddened or infuriated by some who utilize this right (can you say “God Hates Fags”?), but I would still stand up for their right to say it.

And that brings you to today’s “shake your head” moment – every American, whether you agree with them or not – has a right to share their views.  Political views.  Religious views.  Those who have a larger platform than I do have a right to share it and to call us to stand up for whatever, and those who are “nobodies” have a right to climb onto a box and share theirs as well.  We, as Americans, usually can decide whether we want to follow, agree with the statement, etc.  But to say ANY American should not have a voice is blatantly disregarding the very core of our constitution.

Recently, I read the following post a friend shared on Facebook:

Dear Hollywood celebrities,

You only have a place in my world to entertain me. That’s it.

You make your living pretending to be someone else. You play dress up like a 6 year old. You live in a make believe world, in front of a camera, buffered from the everyday struggles of hard working Americans. Your entire existence depends on my patronage.

I’ll crank the organ, you dance.

I don’t really care where you stand on issues. You see, you aren’t real. I turn off my TV or shut down my computer and you cease to exist in my world. Once I am done with you, I can put you back in your little box until I want you to entertain me again. I hope you realize that the only words of yours that matter are scripted. In my world, you exist solely for my entertainment. 

So, shut your pie hole and dance!

Many liked this post, and shared comments either laughing, saying “amen!”, or decrying actors and actresses for the incredulous act of voicing their beliefs publicly.  In many scenarios, I have heard it said that “they are just actors, they should shut the hell up.”

However, I would like to offer up a few alternatives, because if you agree with the above and want to shut the voices of Americans who happen to be Hollywood celebrities, you open up the door to do the same in other venues.  For example:

Dear Janitors,

You only have a place in my world to serve me, to clean up my mess. That’s it.

You make your living scrubbing my toilets or throwing away my trash. You probably dropped out of school and maybe even get government help on my dime.  I have no idea if you are able to read, take drugs, or have had an intelligent conversation in your life.  You obviously have no ambition in life, let alone have the capacity to have an opinion in areas such as politics.  Your entire existence depends on my crap.  Literally.

I’ll make a mess, you clean it up.

I don’t really care where you stand on issues. You see,  I walk away from that toilet or trash can and you cease to exist in my world. Once I am done with my mess, I can put you out of my mind until I need you to clean for me again. I hope you realize that the only words of yours that matter are “let me get that for you”. 

So, shut your pie hole and clean!

Many would say the above is offensive, but perhaps not the first “letter”.  And to me, that is hypocrisy.  Why would one job/social standing/income be excluded from constitutional rights while others are allowed to have a voice?  Why does an American that has a job that makes more money be relegated to “dance”?  Aren’t they just as American as you and me, even if we struggle more financially?  And to THAT point, where are the letters to professional athletes, Wall Street Executives, or millionaire businessmen who made their money initially from family loans?  Does the first letter suggest that OTHER people who are “buffered from everyday struggles” do not need to shut their pie hole?



Maybe the truth of the matter is this…….people who don’t agree with your political views need to shut their pie holes and dance.  And that, my friends, is taking the constitution and spitting on it.  And that, sadly, is where I believe we really exist today.  But I will not stop loving America.


It has been ten months since my mom passed away.  Of course, dealing with that has been a journey; sometimes something reminds me of my mom and I laugh, or sometimes I get tears in my eyes, and I often miss her.  That is all normal… be expected.  Sometimes I look at myself in the mirror – especially when my hair is wet and slicked back away from my face – and I get a little freaked out because I look so much like her.  Sometimes I just ruminate about my life with her, the moments we’ve shared, etc.

I have been traveling to Kentucky for work lately, and I never expected it to create such a stir with memories about my mom…….I never thought it would create a serious of questions that I have no way to answer.  My mom moved to Los Angeles when she was two years old and lived in California the bulk of her life.  When she and my dad divorced in the early 90’s, she was working for her brothers.  However, some were retiring and eventually the company was sold.  I BELIEVE my mom lost her job at that point.  Not sure what she was going to do to support herself, she and a friend she met at work moved to Kentucky, where her friend grew up.  I was a young mother at that time, focused on taking care of baby Kirstie and making my own marriage and life work, so I wasn’t as involved in my mom’s life as I usually would be.  I remember we exchanged letters during this time, and honestly she was pretty bitter about her divorce and I emotionally pulled away since I felt I was put in the middle of it.  But, the bottom line is she moved away from everyone she knew, went to a place where she basically knew no one, and was on her own.

Being here, I wonder where she lived.  I wonder what she thought about the green hills, the pictures of horses everywhere, did she like the Bourbon BBQ that is so prevalent here?  She ended up getting a job at a Taco Bell out here, she really couldn’t find work (the economy was struggling at the time) and I wonder how the heck that felt.  I wonder if she was scared, if she felt isolated.  In one of her letters she mentioned that there was only one phone in the neighborhood she lived in and the owner would take messages for the neighbors and it was difficult to connect.  She said she got a message that someone called her but they didn’t think to get a name, so she wondered if it was me.  Reading that letter in my mind now and being in this state triggered so many things to wonder about.

And that led me to so many other questions.  My mom was born in 1935 – she was alive during all years of WWII and was 10 years old when it ended.  How did that impact her life?  Did she and her family have rations during this time?  Did she fear Germans at this time, when Germany was easily the targeted “enemy”?  Was she ever scared that the war would come to California?  Does she remember the Japanese Internment Camps and what did she think about them?  And why the hell did I never think to ask her about this?  I know SO MUCH about my paternal Grandma during the depression, even about her early marriage during this timeframe, but not my own mother?  I have no idea why.  And now I can’t even ask my mom.

So, here I am early in the morning blogging about it.  I feel a connection to my mom here in Kentucky and that also seems strange.  But I guess while I write this as a form of personal therapy, I also yearn to remind you something you probably will nod at but maybe not think about again – treasure the time you have with family.  Don’t take it for granted.  Inquire about life details that may not seem important really now and maybe even feels mundane, but are actually pieces of gold that will be lost forever if you miss the opportunity to ask.

And mom, I miss you.


Life is filled with “firsts”.  First laughs, first steps, first time driving, first kisses.  So many momentous occasions that we often look back on with smiles and warm feelings.  I remember clearly the day Kirstie was born 26 years ago – my first day as a mom – as the feelings were so fantastic and amazing.  I am sure you have a list of “firsts” as well and understand what I am describing.

But there are other kinds of firsts, too.  Your first speeding ticket.  Your first broken bone.  The first death in the family.  Your first heartbreak.  These events aren’t as sought after and do not bring the cozy feelings we often like to sit through as if a great movie has shown up on the TV.  No, these sort of memories are the ones that definitely impact our lives, but we don’t embrace them when they come to mind.

2016 presented itself with a few firsts I’d rather have avoided – I was attacked for being gay for the first time this year.  That truly sucked and changed a lot about me, though I am working through that.  What really hit me harder than I expected, though, was going through my birthday, Christmas, and the New Year for the first time with my mom not being on this earth.  I have not lived in the same state as my mom since December 2009, so it’s not like I had recently SPENT those events with her.  Even so, not being able to call her or hear her voice……to hear her say, “when am I going to see you again?” (as she always asked that), and to tell her I love her hit me pretty hard.  And, for some reason the pain and the loss I felt surprised me.  And that was a first of sorts as well.  Perhaps it was exacerbated by the fact my older kids were not with me for Christmas this year for the first time as well, which magnified my sense of loss.  But it was hard, across the board.

I am not sharing this to complain or fish for “poor Gina” comments.  I guess I wanted to share that sometimes life is hard……even when we think we have things under control.  And, well, it’s okay that it gets hard.  It’s okay that we sometimes feel punched in the gut and we had no idea to even prepare for it, and it is no measurement of our strength (or lack thereof) when this happens.  There is no deficiency in our faith or belief in heaven when we miss those that are no longer near us.  And finally, that sense of loss and pain is not permanent, even in the case of my mom.  I was able to see my older kids the week after Christmas, and I am surrounded by my mom’s paintings and tons of memories.  I was also in California recently and spent some time with my brother David, and he gave me one of my mom’s favorite rings that he found as well as the Bible that Edgar and I had given her on her 52nd birthday.  THAT surprised me, given that I am almost that age myself!  Ha.  So, really, this post is to acknowledge that we have highs and lows…….to acknowledge and feel both…….but to step up and move to the next segment.  I didn’t say that well, but hope you get the drift.

Happy New Year, and may 2017 be filled with more highs than lows, but know you are loved through them all!

A Voice

Differences exist, everywhere.  I personally have this weird aversion to tomatoes; it’s not that I dislike them, it’s more that I don’t like them mixed with certain things…..and those things are usually where tomatoes are usually found.  Burgers, salads, sandwiches.  So, I will often say “no tomatoes”, though many in my family and throughout the world may look at me and think, “Gina, you’re crazy.”  Conversely, I LOVE garlic.  I could add garlic to almost anything; eggs, meat, pasta, burgers……literally, almost everything.  So many would prefer that I not eat it, and even if they like garlic, would not use it as often as I would like to do.

Who is right?

And that’s the thing……differences have existed since the dawn of mankind.  They manifest themselves in so many ways; preferences, religion, clothing, politics, entertainment, sexual attractions (and no, I am not just referring to homo or heterosexual realms – but to what we are attracted to).  Some like to live in busy, loud cities where “the action is”, while others would instead find joy in the quiet and slower paced “country”.  Some would rather spend their money helping others while others would invest in corporations that are developing new technologies.  Some listen to gangster rap and enjoy it while others think real music is found in the nuances of classical music.

Who is right?

You may be thinking at this very moment, “why does someone need to be right?  That’s just silly!”  And that’s my initial point – we too often work from a place of correctness.  We seem to, more often than usual nowadays, want to or feel like OUR way is the “right” way. Oh, that’s not new – especially in the realm of religion and politics – by any means.  But it sure seems like social media or rhetoric or just our very hearts have taken this phenomenon and made it SO……MUCH……BIGGER!

So, having said that, now my voice comes in.  In my estimation, beliefs and preferences and backgrounds don’t define our value or establish “what is right”.  Voting for Hillary or Trump doesn’t make someone right or wrong.  Being a Christian or a Muslim doesn’t make someone right or wrong.  Burning a flag, not burning a flag, peacefully protesting on the streets or kneeling during the National Anthem doesn’t make someone right just as  always standing and never protesting doesn’t.  Owning a gun legally or despising firearms doesn’t make someone right or wrong.  Only marrying someone in your religion/race or marrying outside of them does not make someone right or wrong.  All of these make us HUMANS with our morals and backgrounds and world views and preferences, and none of them break any laws.  Yet, especially today, it seems many of the loudest voices use these areas as the foundation for their measurement of “being right”, and all I see coming out of that is division, animosity, and arguments.  All when “right” remains nebulous at best.

I could elaborate on recent personal situations in my life where family, friends, and coworkers, in any of the above topics, have used their voice to imply my position or views were wrong.  I could even elaborate where I took the stance that my view was actually right, exposing THEIR error.  And there have been several instances where I chose not to react at all and let the interactions wash past me, only to realize that the resentment and hurt has stayed behind and festered deep within me.  Some of these exchanges were very deliberate – kind of “in your face”, as it were – and some started from a place of innocence that I truly believe were not meant to be offensive or abrasive.  In every case, it was clear that it was “me against them” or the focus was exclusively on establishing who was right.  Too often the root or measuring point was on the “winner”, and too often the interchanges left no room for listening, empathy, finding a shared middle ground – but instead worked towards finding the next zinger that incapacitated the other with their next arguments.

So, who really wins?

I assert, no one.  I am NOT talking about standing up for someone being harassed or attacked.  I am NOT talking about voicing concerns for injustices.  I am NOT talking about standing up for human or constitutional rights that may be in danger.  I am referring to interactions surrounding views/beliefs/”what is right”.

So, with that I challenge my 2.78 readers to step back and consider – what do you hope to accomplish in this realm?  Will your actions build relations?  Have you listened more than you have spoken?  Have you looked at the person you’re interacting with and seen their humanity more than your perceived opinion of them based on their views?  Perhaps we all could try more in this area…….

Further, I admit my background is Christian.  And due to that, I am reminded what Christ taught as recorded in the Bible.  It is not to win by any means.  It is not to annihilate my opponent and then scream out in victory afterward, “we tore that/them down!”.  No, instead He and His Apostles taught these concepts in the Bible:

To love our enemies and not feel justified to annihilate ANYONE based on their stances.  ENEMIES.  Matt 5:44-48

That perceptions or opinions, especially in the realm of social areas or in religious context and beliefs, are wrong to use to define who or how we interact with others.  Matt 9:9-13, Luke 15:1-7, 1 For 9:19-23

No race or religion has more worth or rights than others, but should receive the best from each of us as Christ gave His best.  John 4:5-54

And with that, I will say Au Revoir.  Peace.






It’s All in the Name

I am excited to announce that my blog, which I’ve been rambling in since 2005, has a new URL!  I feel like this little blog has finally grown up! is the official link and that got me to thinking…….how important is a URL or even a name?

I go by many names, actually.  Gina is one of them, of course.  G, Sis, Mom, Maddy, Babe…..Spouse, Wife, Daughter, American, and a few more.  My mom used to call me Sam when I was little.  All of these evoke positive feelings and memories for me, and reinforce my position on this earth and my right to fill this space.  They affirm my existence and make me want to walk in the strength of who I am and to encourage those around me as I do so.

I’ve been called a few colorful names in my lifetime as well.  Jerk, Homo, Libtard, Abomination, Satan, Idiot, and others I won’t post here as I am trying to keep it PG-13 rated.  These names are not as fun, and usually don’t give me warm and fuzzy feelings as I recall the people or circumstances that voiced them.  These names make me sad, or mad, or ashamed.  I wonder sometimes if I focus on these names more deeply and more often than the positive ones, which makes me feel pretty gross.

Then, I think about the “Gina” I presented for so many years, the woman I thought my family, my church, and society wanted me to be.  That was a hard gig and, while I suppose many people were “happy”, I was lying to everyone including myself and carrying the burden of my lie and my very life like an anvil around my neck.

I am writing on the fly and just asked myself – so where are you going with this Gina?  This is getting pretty depressing.  Then I replied to myself, “this blog is called Just Rambling – go with it!”.  Which really is a strong indication that the 18 hours of PMP studying I’ve done today has taken its toll on my brain…….but I digress.

My point is this – we name ourselves or others name us things that can be positive or negative, but it doesn’t necessarily define us.  For example, my acknowledgement to myself and my family that I am a homosexual was a hugely honest and freeing moment for me (aka a positive), while someone screaming it at me as a slur is definitely a negative.  But the negative SITUATION doesn’t define me or turn the freeing truth into something bad.  And further, PERCEPTION of something doesn’t define our worth or call to fulfilling something bigger than ourselves.  We, as humans, seem to put a lot of stock in our names; we look for Job Titles and often think that gives us power, or add letters after our names to indicate our worth (like I will hopefully be adding “PMP” to my email signature soon!), or we lash out at our perceived enemies by calling them names to bring them down a notch or two.  And that’s just silly.

I believe God, for those who put faith in Him, knows our fixation on names and directs us differently.  While the names He is called in itself is lengthy and still does not quite capture His omnipotence and power, today I want to direct it to others in the Bible.

Abram, who was old and childless (a huge issue in his society), was renamed Abraham – “father of multitudes” – and the Bible says his line are as vast as the sand on the beach.  Sarai was also renamed Sarah – “mother of many nations”.  God saw and knew this even as Abram and Sarai decried their lack of children.

Jacob was renamed Israel – you know, the name that is now a country and home physically and spiritually for the Chosen People – and God proclaimed that he wrestled with God and men and prevailed.  How can you be overwhelmed with shame and lack of worth when you think about that?

No matter what anyone calls me, the truth is I am the King’s Kid.  Nothing can separate me from His love.  And that, my friends, is really all that matters.