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.

de·spond·en·cy
dəˈspändənsē/
noun
  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.”

grace
ɡrās/
noun
          1.
          simple elegance or refinement of movement.
         2.
         (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……….

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?

Hmmmm.

 

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’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!  JustRambling.blog 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.

 

lgbT

The latest hot topic regarding transgenders and bathrooms has created a lot of political and media fodder.  It is NOT my intention to discuss this topic nor debate it, but the fact remains – because of this new focus by many, new questions have been raised with me and Deana.  These have NOT been mean natured, judgmental, or within the “bathroom” realm of questioning.  Instead, people who have never really considered the “T” in LGBT have begun to seek to understand.  This is always a good thing and we welcome and applaud the idea.  However, it also opens up the need to clarify a few things – and that is the basis of this post.

First, let me get the harder part out of the way, and this is not so much because people have asked us this, but because it seems to be a prevalent correlation when the topic of LGBT comes up in general; just because someone is LGBT, does NOT mean they are a pedophile.  While I am sure there HAVE been occasions where a pedophile is gay, I believe statistically there are more straight pedophiles abusing children, based on the fact there are more heterosexuals in our population.  So pedophilia is NOT a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered issue – it is a societal issue.  (See this medical research for info on that, so you know I am not just spouting my views).

Now, for more interesting questions.  We have been pleased that many of our friends have been researching transgender information and trying to understand people who identify as transgender.  I will be the first to tell you, I have walked down the same path of inquisition.  We have a few very close friends who are transgender, some we only knew as the gender they identify with, and some as they transferred to their identified gender.  In both cases, I can’t tell you honestly that I wasn’t just as confused as you may be.  I mean, just because I am a lesbian doesn’t mean I totally understand what these children of God are going through.  And that is the first question I’d like to address in detail – Deana and I are NOT Transgender; we both identify as women and we both feel attraction towards women.  Of the two of us, I am definitely more androgynous and am more drawn to things that society has deemed more “male” in nature.  I like baseball caps, sports, cargo shorts, etc.  Sometimes, the clothes I wear were made for men, but not because I want to be a MAN, but because the style fits me better.  However, the majority of my clothes were made for women.  When my kids were younger and Mother’s Day was approaching, I’d get so irritated that the mothers were given a “tea” at school while the dads got to play in a tennis match.  I am not much of a “tea” person EXCEPT when I am in England and then look out, I am totally down for finger sandwiches, crumpets, and the like.  I really don’t like to shop nor do I prefer to wear frilly clothes that flow and swish.  But really, there are MANY women, even straight women, who are similar to me.  Deana, well she fits the more feminine mold for sure, likes to wear platform shoes and long necklaces, but can play basketball with the best of them and can intimidate others with her hispanic attitude…..and that’s okay too.  But neither of us wants to be male.  I enjoy many things that society has labeled as “female”, and pretty much I have always felt female.  Neither of us have any desire to change that.  That’s NOT to say we’ve not had those theoretical conversations where we’d say “it would have been SO MUCH easier if one of us was a man”.  But that’s a different topic.

So, that leads to the “B” in LGBT, signifying bisexual.  While it is not my intent to get too graphic on this site, nor do I want to expose details that should remain private, I often get asked if I am bisexual given I was married for 16 years to a man.  I feel it would be unfair to ignore this question.  I loved my husband and never felt an aversion to being a wife to him.  My goal, when we were married, was to be straight and to be healed of my attraction to women – it was never my intention to allow my attraction to women to develop further than the secret pull that was within me.  Other posts have shared some of the struggle I went through during this period of my life, so I won’t go too deep here.  But, I want to be clear – my heterosexual marriage was not torture for me.  HOWEVER,  I was conforming to what I felt society, my church, my family, my everything was demanding I be – a heterosexual woman.  After spending my entire post-puberty life (and 16 years with my husband), I knew I was lying.  That began my present journey that ultimately lead to meeting and marrying Deana, whom I’ve been with for 13 years.  So, despite my marriage to my ex-husband, I do not identify as bisexual.  I identify as a lesbian; I am attracted to women and feel completely fulfilled within my marriage with Deana.

Now to “G”, signifying gay.  In general terms, gay is associated with homosexual males, whereas “L” is associated with homosexual females (or lesbians).  You will see I sometimes use “gay” to describe myself.  I have shared the technical definitions, though in my own life, lesbian and gay are used interchangeably.

Now to “T”, transgender.  This is someone who identifies with a gender that does not correspond to their biological gender.  And, let me start by saying……..that’s hard for me to understand.  As someone who has always felt and liked being a female, it is hard for me to truly absorb feeling differently.  (Wait…..disclaimer…..I resented that I could not go topless on a hot day when I was about 8.  My brothers were allowed to “because they were boys” and that did tick me off.  Ha.)  It seems “weird” for me to consider feeling like a man when I was born a woman.  But, in a small way, I can see aspects of it in my life.  I mean, when I was little I resonated more with my male friends, wanting to play with hot wheels and throw a football.  I NEVER wanted to play dress up, put on makeup, etc.  And I knew, without anyone telling me anything, that I was “weird” and shouldn’t probably act that way.  How much more would the pressure be if my very MIND told me day in and day out that my body was totally wrong?  What if, as I began going through puberty, the breasts that began to develop was a significant affront to the fact I felt like a man?  (Which, side note, had I been born transgender this would not have been an issue since I was Olive Oil until after I had Kirstie!  🙂 )  In any regard, I don’t understand why people are transgender, really I don’t.  I have just as many questions as you probably do.  But I do know this – those I know and love are honorable people.  They struggle and pray and cry out to God, and they are humans and have feelings.  Not one of the transgender people I know have changed their mind, thinking “Oh shoot, I am really female (or male) after all!”.  Every one of them truly wishes they were born with the correct biological bodies so they didn’t have to struggle to align what they feel inside with what shows outside.  And every one of them feel whole now that they have started or completed their transition.  And, every single one of them are Christian.  That’s not to say ALL are Christian in the transgender community, but neither are those in the heterosexual community.  And I feel compelled to share – for those of you who are Christian, Christ calls you to love EVERYONE, even your enemies……even transgender people.  And many times, you may not even realize the person you are interacting with IS transgendered!  And that is the truth.

So, all that to say, Deana and I are not experts on transgenders.  We probably have more acceptance for them than many do.  We still shop at Target, and again……I don’t really like to shop so I guess I am stepping outside of my comfort zone to “take a stand” for those who were thrown into the limelight and I am not even sure WHY they are there.  I encourage you ALL to “seek to understand”, as Mr. Covey tried to teach us with his “7 Habits of Highly Successful People”.  Sometimes, seeking is the most important part of this thing called life.

 

Straight Pride Parade

I am not sure about you, but I often hear comments about minorities when celebrations are held, asking why that group gets to celebrate when “others” don’t.  “Why is there a Black History Month, but no White History Month?”.  On occasion, I am asked, “Why are there Gay Pride Parades?  Why not Straight Pride Parades?”

First of all, I have to say I laugh when I am asked about Pride Parades.  I mean, sure I am a lesbian, but it tickles me that the assumption is I attend every Gay Pride Parade near me.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike them per se, and I have been to a couple in Dallas as I’ve ministered to attendees, assuring them that God DOES indeed love them.  But, if I am completely candid with you, I would admit I am kind of too boring for most pride events.  My idea of a perfect weekend would be to spend the day in my backyard with my wife and kids, have one of Deana’s great home cooked meals, and do laundry.  In a word, I am old.  More like the stereotypical white, straight married person nearing their 50’s.  Further, I have often avoided becoming a political advocate for LGBT people, as I didn’t want to turn my very life into an agenda.  I accepted many years ago that my life and my love was not a point for me to convince anyone – politically or religiously – that I am “okay” to be gay.  I have resolved that in my heart and with my Lord, and that has been enough for me.  Sure, I have moments when I feel attacked that I react, but I don’t live my life with the viewpoint of making a statement or taking a stand to insist anyone accept me.  Others feel lead to do that and I appreciate it, but that is not my M.O.

And yet, here I am.  Because the whole Gay Pride Parade question got me thinking.  Coupled with the fact that I am in the UK and my sleep patterns are all jacked up, and here I am at 4:45am local time writing this blog.

I may not be super unique in the world, but I lived as a straight woman for 35 years of my life.  I didn’t say I was straight, but I lived as one.  I knew I was different when I was around 12, though I didn’t realize what that really meant until I hit puberty (which, to my chagrin, was later than my daughters DOH!).  By around 13 1/2, I realized that I liked girls and that was absolutely not accepted and pretty much I understood I was on my way to hell.  I did everything in my power to eradicate the fact I was attracted to girls; lying to myself, being very involved with the boy dating scene (which, surprisingly, I had many who were interested in me despite my super skinny body), accepting the Lord at 16, wailing and praying for hours/days/years for Him to change me, and marrying a month after my 20th birthday.  And my husband was a good man, this is not about him.  And my children were and are amazing blessings, this is not about them.  But no matter how hard I tried, or prayed, or begged, or hated myself………I was still gay.

I don’t expect anyone who is straight to really understand this, especially if you view is that I made a choice in this realm of my life.  But for over 20 years I truly hated myself.  I hated that I was gay.  I hated that my husband loved me and I loved him, but I was not really the person he thought he married.  I hated that I was this horrible creature that must not truly love God, because if I did, He would have healed me.  I hated that every-single-moment of my life I wore a mask to be accepted, or loved, or whatever.  And as I looked in the mirror I knew it was all a damn lie.  I was not proud.  I was not happy.  No, I was devastated.  I was alone.  I was this broken person who God didn’t even love enough to fix.  And, to damn with hiding this anymore, I often just wanted to die.  I truly believed that the world would be a better place if I no longer walked on its surface.  Because I was nothing, or even worse, I was an abomination pretending to be straight.

Yet, in my charade I was celebrated every single day of my life.  I was white.  I was young.  I was married.  My marriage was held to the highest of acceptance by society, my church, my co-workers, my parents, my siblings, my pastor.  I never, ever, not once in my life worried about what people would think or do as I walked in public holding my husband’s hand.  If I mentioned we were going on a vacation or that he bought me a gift, it wasn’t scandalous.  Sometimes, even at church functions, bawdy jokes would be shared and our sexuality within our marriage was never condemned, but rather celebrated.  Even on our darkest days as a couple, when we were cranky or financially stressed or even mean to each other for no good reason, we were “living the American Dream” and no one, not even the most conservative of churches or right wing politicians could say one damning thing about our relationship.  Every singe day was like a Straight Pride Parade, and we were the center of the celebration.

That might feel like a bold statement right there.  Really?  A celebration?  Every, single, day?  Come on Gina, really?

Yes.

Because I’ve also been on the other side.  When I could not take the lies anymore, to the people I love the most (including my face in the mirror), I didn’t come out for 5 years.  I was honest with myself and of course Deana after we got together (ha, that sounds funny), but we both hid the fact that we were together, even after I divorced my husband.  And we still felt the shame and uncertainty of our sexuality.  We could not share our lives, we could not admit our love, and we were afraid not only of rejection from our friends and family, but from our God.  We could not hold hands in public, we could not profess our love in front of others, we absolutely could not celebrate our relationship, and if bawdy jokes were to arise about same-sex relationships they were derogatory in nature, we had to laugh along and pretend to agree even though we were dying inside.  Often we were around people who were very direct in their persecution of LGBT, even in our employment, so we even feared losing out jobs if anyone found out.  So I know, in completely real terms, the difference between my “daily celebrated” straight marriage versus my marriage to Deana.

But the story doesn’t end there.  Deana and I eventually DID come out, which was about 8 years ago.  It was a hard transition, and we did absolutely lose friends, family, and jobs.  But the process was necessary and we have reconciled our faith, and though that is an entirely different and much longer blog entry, today I am closer to Jesus than in all my years of knowing Him.  We married legally in New York four years ago (having previously become domestic partners in CA), and are still amazed that our marriage is now legal throughout the entire country.  But we still have to be careful holding hands, of being “too out” in some scenarios, as people can and do become belligerence and at times aggressive and/or dangerous (sad to say, but true).  But during this process of coming out, we realized we weren’t these ogres that needed to hide in the shadows and be ashamed of loving each other with our whole hearts.  We are God’s children, made in His image, and love each other with all that we are.  We are proud that we argue and reconcile and irritate each other by leaving dishes in the sink while also surprising each other with love post-it notes or dark chocolate dove bars.  And, while we understand and accept that there are still many people who disagree with our love for each other for whatever reasons, we are proud.  Proud we survived.  Proud that we have remained married even through the tough times.  Proud that our children are thriving, and don’t take to being bullied either!  We are proud that the Holy Spirit directs us and at times chastises us, as we are His children.  We are proud of each other, for we are better together than apart.  We are proud that more people view us as just a couple that are doing life just like the other couples in the neighborhood, and not “those lesbians”.  We are proud that more churches open their doors to us, even if they aren’t sure what their doctrinal statement addresses but instead want to hold church to whomsoever. And we are proud that, on many days, we can walk down the street holding hands.

And THAT is why, in my opinion, there are Gay Pride Parades instead of Straight ones.

Now, I am going to try to nap before my alarm goes off…..in 15 minutes.  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

2015 In Review

I suppose it’s not that original to create a blog entry to recap a year.  However, I do think it is a great exercise to focus on the blessings that have occurred, especially when so much online and in the news seems to focus on what is wrong in society.  Perhaps I’ve buried my head in the sand, but there WERE many great blessings for me 2015.

  • After Deana received her new awesome job at the end of 2014, we put our house on the market in Texas.  Selling during the winter/holiday season can be stressful, and I often worried that we’d be waiting for months for any real offers.  However, a little over a month on the market and we got a WONDERFUL offer that was honestly perfect.  Even with me being in Australia, we were able to push it through.
  • Concurrently, we also had found a wonderful home in Georgia, thanks to Tiffany who gave us a heads up about it!  The selling of our Texas home was the missing piece, and since that went through we were able to move forward with our relocation.  Moving with two families that are changing states can be a logistical nightmare, but in our case it was VERY smooth!  The dates worked out perfectly!  I thank your buyers as well as the sellers as they were very accommodating across the board.
  • Moving is never fun, and there were quite a few hiccups throughout the process, but looking back from the advantage point of “today” made me realize – in the scheme of things – everything went really okay.  We are settled in our beautiful home, we have more than what we need, and we have friends and family to love.  What more do we need?  AND, I so love living in “the country”!
  • January 2015 another work milestone was accomplished – our Australia locations went live on our ERP system.  This was a pretty big endeavor, and with the distance it made it quite interesting.  SO MANY were on the team for sure, and we had our hands full for a few months after they started, but as I look back I am very proud not only of the Aussie Staff, but for the IT Project Team that made it happen.  Blake, Cary, Tiffany, and Scott THANK YOU.
  • June 2015 kicked of the UK portion on the ERP system rollout.  Many faces continued on this leg and I have to admit this is probably the biggest and best rollout to date!  Internal staff absorbed many of the tasks and it has totally rocked.  We go live there in a few days and I am very hopeful.
  • On that note, I was very glad to add Matt to the mix, which is totally awesome.  He came from our vendor and rocks, except for his love for the Green Bay Packers.
  • Speaking of football, 2015 has proven to be a great year for the Vikings!  We made the playoffs and are tied with the Packers going into the post season.  While I am still being encouraged to consider switching alliances by becoming a Cheese Head, for now I am waiting for next Sunday to see who wins the GB-MN match up.  Purple, after all, is still my favorite color!  (Marisa and Sarah……green is not bad, I just apparently need more time to consider this and maybe walk more win prep for running from Deana!).
  • This year also proved to continue with the kids growing and maturing, despite my demands that they stop.  I cannot believe the old pics of the kids in comparison to their pictures today!  I am ALWAYS blessed when I look at them and am grateful that the Lord has placed them in my life.  ❤
  • Of course, there’s my hot wife.  We have continued to work our marriage (and, HA!, marriage can sometimes be WORK!), and I am forever thankful that the Lord has blessed our marriage and has reminded both of us to look through love, especially when “life” can be the biggest distraction.
  • I was able to have ALL my kids in my house during the holidays, which blesses me beyond words!!!!!

Our prayer for you today, the last day of 2015, is that you feel peace and love!  And we also pray that you feel and receive tons of blessings in 2016.  Happy New Year!

 

 

Processing the Hurt

Deana and I laugh sometimes – we have, I don’t know, four thousand anniversaries.  No joke.  The day we “got together” (aka, professed our love), the day I asked her to marry me, the day we became domestic partners, the day we reunited after a small break, the day she asked me to marry her, the day we held a Commitment Ceremony, and the day we legally married.  Well, I wrote that but I am sure I am missing at least 10 more…..but you get the drift.  Some of these dates we absolutely celebrate, others we mention and maybe stop to hug one another, and some we sometimes miss entirely and laugh when we realize it.

Ah, but I digress…….

In November 2009, after years of being “in the closet” as a couple, we stood in front of family and friends and committed our lives to each other.  Our children were in the ceremony, Deana’s Mother and most of her siblings attended, as well as tons more family and friends.  It was an amazing day and an amazing night, it was foundational to so many aspects of our relationship just as a wedding would have been, and it warms my heart just thinking about it.  As a side note, we legally married in a courthouse in New York in December 2011 as well.  Boom!

But here is the thing – in the past, when I’d think of our Commitment Ceremony, there was always a residue because of those who were not there.  Not people who couldn’t make it due to distance, health, or other issues, no……the residue was related to those who chose not to be there.  Those who said they loved us, but didn’t believe in our lifestyle choice.  Those who said – in love and in whatever other adjective you can insert – that they believed we were walking in sin or at least outside of the will of God.  And, in all transparency, THIS residue covered everything for me.  I could look at videos or pictures, reminisce about some great times……but always this piece would touch every inch of happiness like an oil slick on the ocean.  It hurt me, and even with the super jolt of joy I would feel and when I’d consider how grand my life has been because of my wife……I would be this hurt person that always – always – ended up hurt.

Some people like being a victim, actually get energized by processing negative emotions.  I suppose I can be a drama queen, I am Italian after all, but I can’t say I am energized by it.  In fact, I prefer to find resolution, to implement peace and solutions and change and love and……..hurt messes that up.  Yet, I was the one who seemed to live there in key areas of my life, especially my very important relationship with Deana.

So, today I was reading an open letter a gay man posted online to his parents.  His parents had refused to attend his wedding three years ago.  I only read the beginning, because it was so filled with hurt and feelings of rejection that I reacted strongly to it.  I know you must imagine I resonated with it, and if you do I don’t blame you.  Actually, I stopped reading and immediately prayed that this man’s hurt be covered, washed away, so that he can feel the peace that Deana and I felt.  As I was doing that, I seriously stopped dead in my tracks (picture a cartoon character shaking their head violently as if to say “what the heck?!?!!?!”), and said out loud “What are you talking about?  PEACE???”

But it’s true, I have felt peace towards those close friends and family who overtly or nicely rejected our relationship.  And I hadn’t even realized it until today.  That’s not to say there is reconciliation; oh no, there are still some who refuse to see Deana or who will not add us to FB or send veiled “we are praying for you” notes that we are sure imply they are praying we each somehow find a good man to love and marry.  But I do mean that, more often than not, when I think of these people my heart melts with love for them.  I find reasons to extend empathy to them…..maybe they are too old to understand the whole LGBT thing, or maybe they don’t mean to reject us per se but they sincerely believe we are doing wrong, or whatever.  And, truly the shock of all shocks, I enjoy seeing them when I can and love interacting with them EVEN THOUGH they are missing out being around some pretty amazing people in my life.  As a byproduct, those who HAVE decided to be part of our life and all the many related memories of our interactions BLESS ME and no longer have the residual hurt that once was everywhere.  The old memories and new memories are free and clear and bring amazing joy to our hearts.  Today, realizing all of this, I was just amazed and needed to share with you, my 2.78 readers.

You see, Deana and I are not activists, though we realize some assume we are just because we are lesbians.  But we truly don’t live to convince anyone to believe what we believe.  Everyone wants to be accepted I suppose, or at least not rejected by the ones they love, but Deana and I don’t really have axes to grind.  However, today’s revelation made me see with my heart that all things DO work together for good for those who love God (my bad paraphrase of Romans 8:28).  And, I’m reminded that – had I or Deana gotten in the faces of those who we saw as rejecting us – I am pretty sure we would not have any relationship with them at all.  And these are people that we love and want a relationship with, not random people who leave anonymous packages of condemnation in our mailboxes.  But, most importantly, I thank the Good Lord that he has removed the hurt that I held so long towards those I love and pray that others can find this peace in their own lives.

For those in the LGBT Community who have been rejected by family and friends, please don’t lose heart.  I GET IT.  I KNOW how it feels!  “It gets better” is not just a catch phrase.  Feel free to reach out to me if you need to vent, have questions, or need to know more about how God truly loves you.  There IS a way to process the hurt, I promise.

Oh and Deana, Happy Anniversary Babe!  🙂