Category Archives: Uncategorized

Activist Mommy

***Thanks to Sara Cunningham for allowing me to use this picture. Check out the notes at the bottom of this post to find out more about Sara and her book “How We Sleep At Night: A Mother̵…

Source: Activist Mommy

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A Reflection for Good Friday

jesus-carpenter123

Jesus was a carpenter, if a same sex couple asked him to make them a table he would have built it and it would have been as good as any table he had ever built, and then, when it was finished and sitting in their home, he would have sat with them and had dinner on it…..

but before they ate he would have probably washed their feet.

I believe this because of the way Jesus treated those the religious people excluded, because of the way he defended and befriended the ones the religious people called sinners, because of the way he chastised religious people for the way they misconstrued God’s way of thinking and because of the way he was always pointing out that the very people the religious people were railing against were a better example of God’s love than they were – more likely to enter the kingdom of heaven – more likely to have their prayers heard.

On this Good Friday I am remembering a Jesus that would have hung up a sign in front of his business that said “All are welcome here” – because he wouldn’t want anyone to have to walk in wondering how they would be treated.

That is what I’m reflecting on this Good Friday.

Finding the Courage to Break the Silence

To commemorate the launch of Sarah Griffith Lund’s new book — Blessed Are the Crazy: Breaking the Silence About Mental Illness, Family, and Church — and to participate in National Mental Illness Awareness Week (Oct. 5-11), the October Synchroblog theme is “Mental Illness Awareness” which invites bloggers to break the silence about mental illness in their life or community.

Cowardly

As a mother of a son who is gay, I am in community with a lot of LGBT people and their friends and families. Getting to know LGBT people and their friends and family members has made me highly aware of the struggles and challenges LGBT people must face. Although there have been great gains made in the acceptance of LGBT people there is still a lot of discrimination, stigma, marginalization and rejection that LGBT people have to face and LGBT youth are especially vulnerable.  Many young LGBT people face harassment, violence, stigma, rejection, and discrimination in their families, schools, workplaces, and social settings. Many times those struggles and challenges result in serious mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, substance abuse, phobias, ocd and self-injury disorders.

Research has demonstrated that LGBT youth are significantly more likely than heterosexuals to attempt to commit suicide—up to 40 percent more likely, according to some reports.  Most of the mental health issues related to these youth are directly related to the harassment, bullying, rejection and isolation they face in their daily lives from their families, peers and community (including churches).

LGBT people whose parents and/or legal guardians support them have better overall health, mental health, and self-esteem and are much less likely to be depressed, experience anxiety disorders, use illegal drugs, think about or attempt suicide.

In an effort to help other parents of LGBT kids learn how to develop and maintain healthy, loving, authentic relationships with their kids I created a private Facebook group for open minded Christian moms who have LGBT kids.

The group is a safe place for moms of LGBT kids to ask questions, share resources and support one another as they work to develop and maintain healthy relationships with their kids and try to make the world a safer place for their kids to live. The private group currently has more than 225 members and continues to grow.

Studies show LGBT kids who have a loving, supportive family and home, where they can find safety, acceptance and love, are more likely to be healthy in every way.

And I have found, when parents of LGBT kids realize they are not alone they become braver and bolder about working to change their schools, churches, workplaces and communities into safer, kinder, more loving places for LGBT people to live.

In a short time, I have seen many moms in my private Facebook group go from not wanting anyone to know their child is LGBT to starting support groups at their local church, attending Pride events as an ally, serving at their local PFLAG organization, celebrating their child’s engagement/wedding/family, starting a supportive blog or online site, sharing their story publicly, speaking out against conversion therapy and making an effort to connect with and educate other moms of LGBT kids.

I believe we see healing and growth take place at a quicker rate because in community we have the benefit of finding:

  • Collective wisdom from all different stages of the journey.
  • Borrowed motivation to help us keep trying even when things get tough.
  • People who believe in us and cheer for us.
  • Inspiration to change the status quo.
  • New ideas and perspectives we wouldn’t think of on our own.
  • Understanding and compassion from people who know our story.
  • A safe place to be a mess because we all are sometimes.
  • Courage to take some risks because we know we have people in our corner.

Being in a safe, hopeful, supportive community can give us the courage and inspiration we need to break the silence.

If anyone is interested in joining the private Facebook group, Serendipitydodah for Moms, please email Liz Dyer at lizdyer55@gmail.com for more information.

Here is a list of the other synchroblog posts:

 

Loving Our Neighbor Means Caring For God’s Creation

This post is part of the September Synchroblog, “Loving Nature: Is God Green?” which asks the question: Does God really love creation? If so, what does that mean?

creation-care

I get a little confused when it comes to Christians and taking care of the earth.  Why do some Christians seem to be against environmentalism?

Perhaps they haven’t thought about how the love of God and the love of our neighbor and caring for God’s creation are linked together.

Maybe they haven’t considered that our relationship to the rest of creation should be based on God’s relationship to it, or that God calls Christians to care for all of his creation, or the fact that pollution hurts the poor the most and Christians are called to look out for and care for the poor and the powerless.

Environmental toxins and climate change have repercussions for many of today’s pressing issues from the health of our children, to global and domestic poverty, to jobs and economic growth. One in six of our children are being born with harmful levels of mercury in their bloodstream. The changing climate is causing floods, droughts, and famine that severely harm the least of these at home and across the globe. And our addiction to old fossil-based, non-renewable energy is crippling our economy and costing us jobs. These things makes how we care for God’s creation one of the greatest moral challenges of our time.

If you are like me, you might feel overwhelmed and incapable of making a difference.  But, there are some things that we can do as individuals that will make a difference collectively.

One thing we can do is to help other Christians learn more about how loving their neighbor is linked to them caring for God’s creation. I have found the video All Things to be very helpful in starting a conversation with others about how loving their neighbor cannot be separated from caring for the environment.

In addition to the video the book Gardening Eden: How Creation Care Will Change Your Faith, Your Life, and Our World by Michael Abbate is an excellent resource.

And partnering with others is often the best way to make a difference and that is why organizations such as Evangelical Environmental Network and Care of Creation are so valuable.

As followers of Jesus all of our actions should be determined through the frame of loving our neighbor and loving God. Can we love the Creator without celebrating and caring for the creation? Can we love our neighbor without protecting the environment on which that neighbor’s life and health depend?

Here are the links to the other synchroblog posts:

Jen Bradbury – Is God Green?
Carol Kuniholm – For God So Loved the Earth
David Derbyshire – Walking Through God’s Creation
Glenn Hager – The Oblivious and the Extremist
Oliver – Dieu il Recyclable
Tim Nichols – Never a Last Leaf
Leah Sophia – September Synchroblog Creation
Jeremy Myers – Can Christians be Tree Huggers?
Liz dyer – Loving Our Neighbor Means Caring For God’s Creation

I Wonder What Would Happen

(The above video features the song Brave by Sara Bareilles)

This post is a contribution to the June Synchroblog: Ordinary Courage in which bloggers are invited to share their thoughts and stories about ordinary courage.

“Heroics are often about putting our life on the line. Ordinary courage is about putting our vulnerability on the line.” –  Brené Brown

For the record, I am a huge fan of Brené Brown.  I could spend my whole post telling you about her, her great Ted talks, her great books, her great ideas but instead I will just confess that everything in this post is inspired by her.  AND I encourage you to check her out if you haven’t already done so by clicking on some links in this paragraph.

In her new book, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, Brené harkened back to a speech that Teddy Roosevelt gave in 1910. In it, Roosevelt said:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again,because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”

I absolutely love that quote and I find it very inspirational but to be honest, I  have a hard time thinking of myself as brave or courageous.  The truth is I have a lot of fears.  Sickness, unemployment, accidents, violence, financial woes, rejection, failure, aging, not fitting in, being misunderstood and more that I am sure I will think of later.  Not only do I have these fears, I am even afraid to talk about the fears that I have.  But I’m finding out that being afraid does not disqualify one from being brave or courageous.  The crazy and wonderful thing is I might have fears but I can still be brave.  I can still walk into the arena, I can still take the chance of getting marred, of falling down or coming up short.  I might be afraid, I might even fail, but I can be brave, I can dare greatly.  What a revelation!  I don’t have to wait until I am no longer afraid before I get in the arena.

One thing that helps me go ahead even when I am afraid is playing the “I Wonder What Would Happen” scenario out in my head.

I wonder what would happen if I stay silent, I wonder what would happen if I speak up, I wonder what would happen if I make the first move, I wonder what would happen if I wait on someone else to make the first move, I wonder what would happen if I actually think about my fears, I wonder what would happen if I try to ignore and suppress my fears, I wonder what would happen if I try now, I wonder what would happen if I wait until I’m “better” “smarter” “have more experience” “older” “less busy” before I try.

You get the idea.  I try to imagine the worst, the best, the possible, the probable.  But I don’t just imagine it.  I find someone to talk it out with.  Not just anyone, but someone who I can trust to be honest but gentle with me, someone who really cares about me and knows me as a whole person, someone who I believe wants and celebrates good things for me.  It really does help me live beyond my fears.

courage_by_aki_mikadzuki-d4ee50t

Sometimes that means being kinder and gentler with myself, sometimes it means pushing myself to do something that makes my heart beat too fast, sometimes it means coming along side someone else who is struggling or experiencing failure and reminding them how brave they were for even trying.  Sometimes it means doing something that I might fail at or asking for what I need when I don’t like to be the one who is needing.  

There are days when I think, “to heck with it! What’s so important about being brave and courageous?”

And then I remember that I want to be brave and courageous because I like being and feeling alive.  I want to get into the arena because if I try to avoid all possible pain I will also most likely be avoiding the possibility of joy and happiness.  I want to show up and try because I want to make a difference in my little part of the world, in my community, in my workplace, in my family.  I want to take a chance because I only have one life to spend and I want to spend it.

Sometimes my acts of bravery are nothing more than me getting the courage to do something new like snorkel in the ocean for the first time.  Boy, am I glad I showed up for that one. Talking about feeling alive and experiencing joy and happiness.

Sometimes my acts of bravery are trying something like blogging without worrying what others will think about me and my posts and ideas; and simply doing it because of the pleasure and healing and insight it brings to my own life.

Sometimes my acts of bravery are more about others such as when I stopped being silent about my support for lgbtq people, same sex marriage and complete equality, and sharing my new and revised understanding of what scripture has to say on the subject.

Sometimes my acts of bravery are healing like when I share my own failures and fears out loud.  They are healing to me because in sharing them they shrink in size and power and at the same time they are healing to others because as they encourage me they encourage their own self to know: they aren’t alone, their story hasn’t ended yet, they too can get back up again.

I think we all have something that keeps us from being brave and the most logical one to think of is fear but I’ve been discovering another obstacle to me being brave that may even be bigger than my fears and that is perfectionism.

Yes, I am a perfectionist.  I’d like to say a recovering perfectionist but most of the time that wouldn’t be true.  At the same time I am trying to keep the perfectionism subdued these days and sometimes I am winning the struggle.

I no longer take days to write a short post for my blog.  I don’t wait for others to make the first move.  I’m letting go of the idea of “the perfect holiday” “the perfect mother” “the perfect wife” “the perfect marriage” “the perfect anything”.  I’m finding some humor and even goodness in my imperfections.  I’m finally beginning to enjoy my humanity.  I’m starting to like “me”.

But mostly, I am finding that the best antidote to perfectionism is finally believing that I (me! – not me the mother, or me the wife, or me the good writer or idea person or wise thinker, or me the best friend, or me the employee who is always on time or a great team player or the one with the best attitude – just me) am worthy of love and acceptance!!!  My worthiness is not attached to how good I am at doing something, or to how good I look, or how much I succeed.  My worthiness just “is”.

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Sure I have trouble believing it some days but some days I do believe it and some days I don’t even have to try and believe it … I just do.

When I am not so caught up in being perfect I can more easily show up and be me and I am discovering that I am better at being me than most other things!

I wonder what would happen if we all tried really hard to just be ourself?

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——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-Here is the list of all the contributions to this month’s synchroblog.  I hope you will take the time to read these great thoughts and stories on Ordinary Courage:

This Is Courage by Jen Bradbury

Being Vulnerable by Phil Lancaster

Everyday Bravery: Overcoming the Fear of Being Wrong by Jessica

Moving Forward Takes Courage by Paul W. Meier

How to Become a Flasher by Glenn Hager

Ordinary Courage by Elaine Hansen

Courage, Hope, Generosity by Carol Kuniholm

The Courage to Fail by Wendy McCaig

The Greatest Act of Courage by Jeremy Myers

Sharing One’s Heart by K. W. Leslie

All I See Is Rocks by Tim Nichols

I Wonder What Would Happen by Liz Dyer

What is Ordinary Courage? by Jennifer Stahl

Loving Courageously by Doreen A. Mannion

Heart Cry: The Courage to Confess by Elizabeth Chapin

The Act to the Miraculous by VisionHub

the spiritual practice of showing up & telling the truth by Kathy Escobar

It’s What We Teach by Margaret Boelman

PS I chose the video above because it featured Sara Bareilles’ song Brave and I thought it fit this theme so well.  Be sure and check it out.   Here are the lyrics:

You can be amazing
You can turn a phrase into a weapon or a drug
You can be the outcast
Or be the backlash of somebody’s lack of love
Or you can start speaking up
Nothing’s gonna hurt you the way that words do
And they settle ‘neath your skin
Kept on the inside and no sunlight
Sometimes a shadow wins
But I wonder what would happen if you

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I wanna see you be brave

I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I wanna see you be brave

Everybody’s been there, everybody’s been stared down
By the enemy
Fallen for the fear and done some disappearing
Bow down to the mighty
Don’t run, stop holding your tongue
Maybe there’s a way out of the cage where you live
Maybe one of these days you can let the light in
Show me how big your brave is

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

Innocence, your history of silence
Won’t do you any good
Did you think it would?
Let your words be anything but empty
Why don’t you tell them the truth?

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I wanna see you be brave

I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I wanna see you be brave

I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I wanna see you be brave

I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you

Ultra-Ultimate Truth – a truth beyond facts and words

myth

This post is my contribution to this month’s synchroblog that invites bloggers to weigh in on a monthly topic for discussion. This month’s topic asks the question: WHAT IF some or all of the Bible narrative is not necessarily true history, but is myth of one sort or another. What sort of effect would that knowledge have on your faith? What effect might it have on the larger church? How would it change you? Would it change you and how you view the world? 

There was a time when I would have argued against the idea of the Bible being anything less than completely factual but those days are in the past.  Today, I not only believe that much of the Bible is myth but I think this realization has made scripture richer with meaning and fuller of truth.  Rather than take away from the sacredness or the importance of scripture it has enhanced the value of scripture in my life.

Since I began to read scripture as myth I no longer get sidetracked by the fact that much of scripture is simply unbelievable and scientifically impossible.  I don’t have to wonder if a miracle story was really a miracle or if there is some modern day explanation for what happened. I don’t get hung up knowing that many of the stories in the bible appear to be borrowed or copied from other traditions and I don’t waste my time trying to reconcile the inconsistencies.

One of the most interesting things I discovered regarding reading scripture as myth is that it isn’t a new idea.  Throughout history there have been respected theologians that have read parts of scripture as myth. Many early church Fathers, such as Origen (185-254 AD) and Augustine (354-430 AD), interpreted Genesis as metaphor and rejected literal interpretations.  In fact, viewing scripture as inerrant, in which every word is considered to be true, didn’t come into existence until the 19th century.

I’ve noticed that many people have a problem reading scripture as myth because they believe it devalues the sacred text.  What so many don’t realize is that myths have always served a very valuable place throughout history to unite communities and enlighten individuals.

“In an important sense, myths are the collective symbolic history of cultures, the repositories of their deepest ideals and aspirations.” Bill Moyers   

Myths aren’t just any old kind of story.

“… there’s lots of kinds of stories. There’s jokes and there’s animal fables and things. And there’s what happened to Bill when his tractor went into the pond. Myths are more important to a culture. They are stories around which a culture revolves and on which it builds all sorts of beliefs and activities.” Margaret Atwood  

Some people have asked me how do I determine what is myth and what is true and I explain to them that I don’t think of it that way.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t look for truth when I read scripture.  It means that facts are not the only way that truth is revealed.  I believe that myths not only reveal truth but that they have an uncanny ability to enlighten and transform.

“There is a mythic truth, which is an imaginative truth, an emotional truth, a way of understanding the world which is not about the facts and the figures, but which is nevertheless valid.”  Jeanette Winterson 

Actually, I would go so far as to say that myth is absolutely necessary when it comes to telling stories about God.  God is too big, too unknown, too mysterious, too ultimate to be captured in facts and so we depend on myths, which are said to be the ultra ultimate truth, to tell us about that which cannot be put into words.

“Mythology is not a lie. Mythology is poetry, it is metaphorical. It has been well said that mythology is the penultimate truth – penultimate because the ultimate cannot be put into words. It is beyond words, beyond images. Mythology pitches the mind beyond that rim, to what can be known but not told.”  Joseph Campbell

***The title of this post has been changed from “Penultimate Truth” to “Ultra-Ultimate Truth” because I gained the knowledge that although the word “penultimate” is often used to denote something to be “beyond” the ultimate it actually means “next to last”. Once I had the knowledge I could not let the title stand and needed to also point out that it is incorrectly used in the quote by Joseph Campbell. The idea is the same but the word is wrong. Mythology is the “ultra-ultimate truth” because it conveys a truth that is beyond facts and words.

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I hope you will take the time to read the other great contributions to this month’s synchroblog: