Be Bold

I bought these fun rainbow frames from Zenni’s website a few months ago, after I got my new glasses prescription.  I wanted some fun prescription sunglasses to wear when I’m out and about, and these just looked like something that was made for me!

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If you don’t know me very well, I’ll let you in on a fun fact about me.

I love rainbows. And color (mostly purple but I love bright, fun colors). And glitter. And unicorns.

So, these rainbow frames were a no-brainer for me.

I had the ability to customize them, too, so on the side, I had the phrase “Be Bold” written in purple.

So, it’s time to live up to my own advice.

I’ve slowly been telling friends and family these last few months, but a fellow Facebooker inspired me to make it public, so here it goes.

I’m pansexual.

pansexual flag

What this means is that when it comes to my attraction to people, it’s just that. I’m attracted to people. Gender doesn’t play a role in my romantic or sexual attraction to another person.

Now, before you make a bunch of assumptions, you should know a few things.

  1. I’m married to an amazing man, and that isn’t going to change.  I came out now because I felt it was time to be fully honest about this, and I have an awesome support system for doing so. If I had been more honest with myself about my orientation back when I met him, I’d STILL marry him over and over again.  He’s my best friend and the love of my  life.  I’m committed to him, to our marriage, and to our family.  Period.
  2. No, this doesn’t mean that I’m attracted to EVERYONE I see.  There are certain qualities that attract me more than others- such as personality, sense of humor, talents, looks, etc.
  3.  If I don’t feel like explaining what pansexual is to people, then I’m usually fine with simply saying I’m bisexual, but pansexual feels more like the description that fits me better.  Please note- this does NOT mean that I consider the pansexual description better/worse.  It’s just how I relate.

    When I was younger, I had a whole bunch of random posters hanging on my wall in my room.  (I was a BOP freak.  I LOVED that magazine!)  I would put people on my wall regardless of gender- I gave a space on my wall for both male and female stars that I admired.  When I would hang out in my room for solace, I had the gorgeous faces of Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Rob Thomas, Tiffani Amber Thiessen, Christina Aguilera, Mandy Moore, and others I can’t remember staring at me.  I didn’t know the term “pansexual” existed back then.  I didn’t have many relationships back then, either.  I had one “boyfriend” in high school, but that didn’t last long.  I was so shy when it came to boys, so I rarely acted on any feelings I would have had. I also grew up in a small town, so even if I HAD had a crush on a girl, I never could have been open about it.   I dated more in college, but again, it was men.  I found some women attractive but dating a woman wasn’t something that had crossed my mind at that point.  Mostly because I didn’t think I COULD be attracted to both men and women.  I also, unfortunately, had encountered the ridiculous and damaging “purity culture” bullshit in high school, so I had some pretty strict expectations for myself.

    That eventually changed because, well, it was college.  😉

    At this point in my life, I’m very happy and comfortable with who I am.  I did a Gender/Sexuality Alliance training a couple years ago and came across the term “pansexual.”  When I read the term, I immediately said YES!  THIS!!  THIS IS IT!!! THIS IS EXACTLY HOW I RELATE!  I told Mike on the way home and he said “okay.  Cool.  What does this mean for us?” and I said “Nothing changes.  I still love you, I still want to be with you, and I wouldn’t change a thing.”  He’s been supportive and amazing, as he always is.   Even when I told him I wanted to write and share this post, I asked him if he was okay with it and he said “it’s not up to me, you do what you want and need to do.”  ❤  So, yeah.  I consider myself lucky to have found such an awesome partner in life!

So, that’s that.  I felt it was time to make this post.

It was time to “Be Bold.”  😉

 

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Speechless

You know how there are songs that you come across that just punch you in the gut and make you feel like they were written for you?

That’s what “Speechless” from the new Aladdin movie is for me.  (View video below to give it a listen).

As soon as I heard this song, I got chills.

If there’s any song ever made that summed up my feelings about life in general, it’s this one.

I’ve listened to this song on a loop over and over again since seeing the movie a few weeks ago.

Over the course of the last year, I’ve done a lot of self-reflection on where I’ve been and where I am now.

I’ve felt all the feels- gratitude, anger, frustration, rage, excitement, persistence- and so many other things.

It’s been an interesting year.

We became parents. I took a much needed break from ministry.  I’m still discerning where I’m being called in this world.

I know that wherever I’m called, it will need to allow me the freedom to be an activist.

I REFUSE to be speechless.

As a white, pansexual woman married to a cis-het man, I have certain privileges afforded to me.  I’m going to continue to use those privileges to fight for the rights of those who are marginalized, discriminated against, oppressed, and bullied.

This week I’m traveling to Washington DC for Moral Witness Wednesday.

This is a gathering of faith leaders of different religious backgrounds, coming together to say enough is enough.

We’re meeting at a Presbyterian Church and then walking to the White House.

I told someone I was going to this the other day, and while they weren’t by any means a supporter of the current occupant of the Oval Office, they still said “That knucklehead probably won’t listen.”

I responded “Probably not.  But we can’t be be silent! We’ve gotta speak up!”

Being a part of this event is important to me. It’s actually my pre-birthday celebration.  (My birthday is June 18th- I now share that date with my daughter, who, someday, I’ll bring to these types of things. For this week, however, she’ll stay home with Daddy and we’ll party next week 🙂 )

Under this current administration, democracy is in danger. I will NOT be silent.

As a child of God and a citizen of this country, I am called to do justice.

Sometimes that will look like flying out to Washington DC to join other faith leaders from around the country to join a walk from a church to the White House to call the leaders of this country to morality.

Sometimes that will look like calling my senators and representatives to urge them to sign on to or reject policy.

Other times it will be showing up at local rallies when I can’t make it to bigger ones, to show solidarity for the issue at hand that day.

It will ALWAYS mean that I show up to vote.

I’ve got a voice, and I’m damn well gonna use it.

I won’t be silenced
You can’t keep me quiet
Won’t tremble when you try it
All I know is I won’t go speechless
‘Cause I’ll breathe
When they try to suffocate me
Don’t you underestimate me
‘Cause I know that I won’t go speechless

The Road To Parenthood

“Hmm, I hope that’s a sign!”  I jokingly thought to myself as I changed our Thomas Kinkade Disney calendar from June to July.

I had gone into the kitchen, where the calendar was hanging by the fridge, and noticed that it was July 5th, but our calendar was still showing June.  As I flipped the page up, I saw that the image for July revealed an adorable painting of Winnie the Pooh.  I have always loved Winnie the Pooh, and since we had started the adoption process in April of 2017, we had decided that the nursery would be decorated in Winnie the Pooh

Just two days prior, we had submitted our adoption profile and all the pertinent info that went with it to an adoption agency in Florida after learning about a situation from our adoption consultant.   This was the 15th birth momma situation we would present to.  I was impatient, nervous, excited, and hopeful that this would finally be the one.  But I promised myself I wouldn’t get my hopes up yet again.  Hearing 14 “sorry, not this time” responses was heartbreaking, gut-wrenching, and I was a hot damn mess.

After I changed the calendar, I got myself a little lunch, headed back into the living room and started to prepare for a Skype interview we had with another adoption agency.  Our contract with our consultant would be up in just a few months and we wanted to get a head start on finding another agency to work with- because the whole  process is exhausting and, as I said before- I was running very low on patience.

We had been struggling with infertility for about 6 years.  We tried several different avenues of conceiving, some “natural” and some with medical intervention.  I sank into a deep depression after one of our fertility treatments failed. I looked at my husband with tears in my eyes, anger reddening my cheeks and said  “enough. I was done.  The fertility treatment had cost more than we had initially been told and we didn’t have infertility coverage with our insurance plan.  We knew the next step would be long and complicated and we decided at that point to take a break from it all.

At that point, we had quite a bit to keep us busy.  We were moving, I was starting a new job, my spouse was working on finding a new job closer to our new home, and things  were chaotic.  We were unpacking in a new house, getting to know a new community, and transitioning into new jobs.  A baby wouldn’t have been a good fit in our lives at that point, anyway.

Conversations soon began about what our lives would look like if we didn’t have children.  Maybe we could be host parents for an exchange student! Maybe we could become foster parents!  Maybe we could get another dog and expand our love to our furbabies!  Nothing was for certain yet, but it was fun to dream.

In the summer/fall of 2016, I was reading the local newspaper and saw that the Rotary group was looking for host parents for the next school year’s exchange student.  He was a 16 year old boy from Spain.  I told my spouse “hey- the Rotary club is looking for host parents for an exchange student!  You wanna sign up?”  “Sure, why not?” he said.  So we filled out the paperwork and were 1 of 2 families selected. We decided that we’d host for the 2nd half of the school year, since the other family already had kids and they could help him get started with the school year.

It was during Carlos’ stay with us that we realized that we were being called to the adoption process. In hosting Carlos, we had welcomed a stranger into our home and he became part of our family.  We watched ourselves become parents, pretty much overnight.  We were ready.

Well, as “ready” as you think you can be when it comes to parenting, anyway.

On July 5th, 2018, As I sat there, eating, I don’t know, probably a sandwich or something, I began daydreaming about the situation we had just seen a couple days before.  

On July 3rd, I saw the email forward from our consultant with the subject line reading “BABY GIRL BORN 6/18/18.” I stared at it for a couple seconds, thinking I had to be reading it wrong.

My birthday is June 18th.  I thought, “a baby girl born on MY birthday? Oh boy….we HAVE to present to this one!”  The other thing that caught my attention was that they were going to present the profiles to the birthparents on July 6th- my mom’s birthday.  The name we had picked out for a baby girl was Kayleigh- since my mom’s middle name is Kay and mine is Leigh.

I texted my spouse and asked him if he had seen the email from our consultant with the latest situation.  He said he hadn’t, and I told him “there’s one about a baby girl who was born on my birthday- we have to give them our info to present to this one!”  He said “Oh wow, really?  That’d be awesome!”  So, l began getting our stuff together in an email to send to the agency, and another wait began.

Back to July 5th.

It was time for our Skype interview with another adoption agency. I sat down on the couch with my computer on my lap and email open to access the documents they had sent to us prior to our interview.

Mike was still at work and was joining the conversation remotely.

We did our introductions and one of the men on the screen began telling us about their agency when I heard my computer ping.  It was an email.

I was going to ignore it so I could focus on our phone call.  But just after that ping, I heard another one, this time from Facebook messenger.  It was Mike.

“DID YOU SEE THE EMAIL???”

I clicked on the tab that had our email open and saw a new message waiting for us.

It was from the agency in Florida that we had just presented our profile to.

The subject line said “Baby girl (birth mother ______) **Good News**”

I was intrigued about what the good news could possibly be, as I knew they weren’t going to be showing profiles until the next day.

Much to my surprise, when I opened the email, the first line read, “Good News!  You are picked!  ____ and _____ have been anxious about couples, so we moved forward prior to my original Friday cut off for profiles.  You were the first to present and the shared birthday is special!”

I couldn’t believe what I was reading.  We’re picked.  They picked US.  We were going to be parents.

I responded to Mike, “O.M.G!!!!!”

Just then, my phone buzzed.  It was our consultant.  She had texted saying ‘DID YOU SEE YOUR EMAIL??”

I responded, saying “YES!!!!! OOOMMMGGGGGG!!!!!”

She said, “OH MY WORD! I am SO thrilled for you!!!!!  If I’m jumping up and down, I can’t imagine what you are doing right now!”

I responded “Thank you!  I’m shaking!!!”

Honestly, the rest of what happened next is kind of a blur.  I know Mike apologized to the agency we had been on Skype with- we hadn’t even made it 5 minutes into the conversation with them before we got that life-changing email.  After the email came, I had totally zoned out.  Luckily, they understood what a big deal this was.  They congratulated us and we ended our conversation.  I called Mike and said ‘OH MY GOD.  GET YOUR ASS HOME!  WE NEED TO PACK FOR FLORIDA!!”

He laughed, and, luckily, his practicality kicked in, which always counteracts my impulsiveness and excitability.

He noted that we should probably talk to the agency and figure out when we can be there.  Due to other appointments over the weekend, the earliest we would be able to meet to sign the paperwork would be Monday, July 9th- a whole 4 days from that Thursday.  It was a slight disappointment, but that quickly dissipated, as we realized how much stuff we had to do to get ready to bring our baby home.  We had some stuff already, due to generous friends and family members.  But we still needed some more clothes, diapers, bottles, pacifiers, etc.

So, we hopped in the car and went to Target, where I finally got to go visit a section of the store that I had been avoiding for the better part of 6 years.

It was all so small! So adorable!

We picked out what we needed, drove back home, and figured out what we were going to do with our dog while we were gone.

That Sunday, (I was still a pastor at a church at that time) I told the congregation our good news, and we flew down to Florida!

My best friend from high school came down with us for a couple of nights, as we wanted her to be there to take pictures/video of us meeting Kayleigh for the first time.  We also wanted someone with us for our first night with a baby that little- she was 3 weeks old when she was placed with us, and I, for one, was a nervous wreck!

 

Monday, July 9th we got up at our extended stay hotel and got ready to go meet our daughter!  We were both so excited and nervous!

When the woman who was taking care of her walked into the room holding our sweet little girl, I couldn’t believe it was really happening.

Right then, in that room, we were officially Mom and Dad.

Kayleigh turns 1 next month, and I can hardly believe that, either.  She’s getting such a big personality.  She’s an extremely happy baby.  She’s got about 6 teeth that have come in, she’s pulling herself up and starting to get very good at balancing herself.  She’ll be waking in no time!

The road to parenthood was not an easy one- but I’m so grateful for where the path has taken us.  I pray for all those still on this journey, for Kayleigh’s birthparents, and for those who have, by choice or circumstance, taken other paths in life.

Grace and Peace,
Jenna

 

Whole and Holy

This past week has been a difficult and heartbreaking week for many of my siblings who are a part of the United Methodist Church as they met in assembly to vote on policies that greatly affect clergy and laity who identify as LGBTQIA.
My heart is breaking as the Church has made a decision that sends an unloving and unwelcoming message.
I’d like to recommend the documentary “Fish Out of Water” if you are looking for a discussion of the “clobber verses” from Scripture that have been interpreted in ways that suggest homosexuality is a sin and/or wrong.
Hint- it’s not. Not even close.  I get that various interpretations over the year have muddied these verses and caused great harm to people.  I hope you’ll look into this documentary and listen to the scholars who give their input.
CONTENT WARNING-  (**also, please note that there are two vehemently anti-gay people interviewed in this documentary- one of whom is Fred Phelps, founder of Westboro Baptist Church.  He says some very hateful things, and if you can’t hear more of that, I understand.  I wanted to give a heads up so there are no surprises.  Those parts can be fast-forwarded if you choose to watch it, as they add nothing to the documentary other than affirming that there are hate-filled people out there, which we already know.**) 
This is not up for debate. Please watch the documentary somewhere. Comments that suggest there are “two sides” to this will be deleted. People who identify as LGBTQIA are not an “issue” that should be up for debate. They are PEOPLE- whole and holy and created in the image of God. I will NOT debate this.
As an ordained pastor, I’m in the business of telling people about the radical LOVE of Christ. I try my best to live that out in my words and actions, knowing that I mess this up, too.
People think that as a pastor, I ought to be “neutral” on controversial issues, realizing that I serve people with a variety of viewpoints.
I have a calling to fight for justice and equality.  I have a voice, I have beliefs, and I have a certain amount of privilege as a white female, and I intend to use it to lift up those who are oppressed by archaic systems that demean people.  In many cases, that means taking a stance. As Elie Wisel once said, “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
Here’s my take.  This shouldn’t even be an “issue.” And it’s not controversial.
We- as a Church, and as human beings– should really get out of the business of policing the specifics of people’s private and intimate lives.  Sure, there should be boundaries, because  we need boundaries to keep people safe. But honestly, I struggle with where those boundaries should be.  At what point do limits and policies become oppression and discrimination?  At what point do those policies infringe on the emotional, spiritual, and mental health of the people they seek to address?
Personally, my qualifiers for any healthy relationship are mutuality, consent, safety, and LOVE.  I by no means am a relationship expert of any kind, but those qualifiers seem pretty reasonable.  Beyond that, unless there’s evidence of abuse or breaking of existing laws regarding minors or rape, I’m not going to concern myself with what happens within the homes of others because it’s none of my damn business.
LGBTQIA siblings- I see you, I love you, and I will fight like hell to make sure the world sees you as a whole and holy person who has rights to love, live, and be happy.
Grace and Peace,
~Jenna~

“Me, too.”

“Me, too.”

These simple words of agreement have taken on an entirely new meaning for me the last few days.

I saw the following posted on Facebook and decided to participate:

“Me, too.
If all the women I know who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote “me too” as a status… and all the women they know… we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.
Stop the silence. Stop the violence.
Feel free to copy and paste”

My newsfeed became flooded with this same message from others.  People copied and pasted it on their statuses, people commented on mine and shared their experiences.

It has been overwhelming to see just how prevalent sexual assault and harassment are in our world today.  Rape culture is flourishing.

I thought about sharing my stories on my own Facebook page, but decided I’d rather write a blog post and then share it with a warning on my Facebook page, as I know that this topic can be triggering to those who have experienced this kind of trauma in the past.

Though I owe nobody an explanation, I feel it empowering to share my experiences.  It’s not something I like to talk about.  I’ve told people about this before, and some have been supportive, while others have been dismissive and tried telling me my experiences weren’t actually what I thought they were.

Regardless, the following are my truths.

I commented “me too” because:

  • despite saying “no” several times, a college guy I was dating decided he wanted to have sex with me anyway. (FYI- that’s rape, in case you weren’t aware. )
  • An older male colleague repeatedly asked me out for coffee, even after declining the invitation SEVERAL times.  Then, after making me feel bad for declining, I was scolded for not responding.
  • After I announced I was leaving my first call, a member of the congregation I was leaving made it a point to say “goodbye” by telling me he was a critic of mine (which was painfully obvious in my short time there).  He criticized my preaching,  my “lack of experience” (code- “too young”) and ministry, but then seemed to think that saying “but you’re absolutely BEAUTIFUL to look at from the neck up” would cheer me up.
  • Presidential Candidate Donald Trump was caught on audio admitting that he kisses women without consent and thinks because he is rich and famous that he can “grab women by the pussy.”  Then, despite this and SEVERAL other blatant red flags that he is not a suitable or safe candidate, he is elected president of the United States.  In his reign of terror, he continues his bullying, sexist and immature antics on camera, on Twitter, and everywhere because he is unfit to serve, but people STILL continue to defend him and urge others to “give him a chance.”
  • Hillary Clinton loses the presidential election because people –who, mind you, never hesitate to blame and fault HER for her husband’s sexual misconduct as POTUS– can’t look past their own hypocrisy in their defense of a candidate’s admission of sexual harassment and assault while continually pointing out a 20 year old POTUS sex scandal as “inexcusable.”

The sheer volume of “me, too” posts and comments from people who have experienced sexual assault or harassment lets me know I’m not alone, but also shows how much freaking WORK we have to do.

I pray for the day when we can see ALL human beings as people and not an object to grope, rape, harass, violate, or disrespect.

That being said–

Let us pray.
God of justice-
Hear your peoples’ cries of “me, too.” You created us in your image, and saw that our bodies are holy and good. Grant sanctuary to all who have experienced sexual assault, sexual harassment, violence, groping, stalking, staring, or any unwanted behavior. Work through us to be activists of respect and peace with one another. Give us accountability to honor one another’s personal boundaries. Empower survivors. Comfort victims. Inspire advocates to work for justice and listen with empathy. Provide us with the resources to put an end to rape culture and the ability to look upon one another with the dignity and respect you envisioned for us in creation.
Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Sermon for Sunday, August 13th, 2017

Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said “May we listen with the ears of God, so that we may speak the Word of God.”

This is among one of my favorite quotes from Bonhoeffer- because it speaks so well to our calling as followers of Christ- to hear the Word of God proclaimed, and then, in turn, to proclaim it in and to the world.

But in our world today- OH what a task we have before us. Right?

The lessons for today proclaim a God that not only speaks to God’s people- but who comes to them in the midst of life’s storms- whether on the sea or outside of a cave- and says “ Take heart, for it is I- do not be afraid” – and in Romans, Paul assures us that “The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim).

But what are we to do with what God has spoken to us?

The Psalm begins with a plea for us to hear what God the Lord will speak, followed by the assurance that God will speak peace to his people, to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts.

Oh, let that be so, dear Lord.

We beg for peace in a violent, divided world.

I stand before you today, with my head barely above water- sinking in fear, anger, frustration. I’m so weary from all the noise in this world that distracts me from God’s Word. My plea, too, is for God to speak peace to God’s people.

As many of you may know by now, white supremacy, domestic terrorism, and racism have taken over in Charlottesville, Virginia.  White supremacists carrying torches gathered last night. Many people of color were trapped inside of a church Friday night as KKK members, self proclaimed Nazi’s and others shouted threats against them.  Yesterday, somebody drove their car into a crowd of people, killing 1 person and injuring 19 others.

In 2017, it is hard to believe that this kind of thing that I, a millennial, read about not all that long ago in history books, is now happening AGAIN.  And I’m weary because I know that I am complicit in this, too.

And look- I know it’s uncomfortable to hear- but it’s deadly for our siblings of color.  This is not solely their problem.  We play a role in this- and this kind of EVIL MUST. BE. CONDEMNED by the Church and by followers of Christ. Anything less is complicity, and that is NOT who or what we were created to be.

Especially by me, a white pastor, and by us, a primarily white congregation.  Pastor John Pavlovitz, a Christian blogger, said the following
White people especially need to name racism in this hour, because somewhere in that crowd…are our brothers and cousins and husbands and fathers and children; those we go to church with and see at Little League and in our neighborhoods. They need to be made accountable by those they deem their “own kind.” They need to know that this is not who we are, that we don’t bless or support or respect this. They need white faces speaking directly into their white faces, loudly on behalf of love.

Though all of us can eventually trace our lineage back to oneness, all carrying a varied blood in our veins—the surface level differences matter to these torch-bearers. They value white lives and white voices above anything else, and so we whose pigmentation matches theirs need to speak with unflinching clarity about this or we simply amen it.

So I’m saying it.

We are not with the, torch-bearers, in Charlottesville or anywhere.
We do not consent to this.
In fact we stand against this, alongside the very beautiful diversity that is so greatly feared.
We stand with people of every color and of all faiths, people of every orientation, nationality, and native tongue.

We are not going to have this. This is not the country we’ve built together and it will not become what racism and white supremacy intends it to become.

Racism and terrorism will not win the day.”

 With that, I’d like for you to join me in a litany against white supremacy, written by the Pastors Jennie Chrien and Elizabeth Rawlings.

Please join me-

Litany against white supremacy
Written by Pastor Jennie Chrien and Pastor Elizabeth Rawlings

Gracious and loving God,
In the beginning, you created humanity and declared us very good. We were made in Africa, came out of Egypt. Our beginnings, all of our beginnings, came out of darkness. We are all siblings. We are all related. We are all your children.
We are all siblings, we are all related, we are all your children.

 Violence entered creation through Cain and Abel. Born of jealousy, rooted in fear of scarcity, Brother turned against brother. The soil soaked with blood, Cain asked, “Am I my brother’s keeper?
We are all siblings, we are all related, we are our siblings’ keeper.

When your people cried out in slavery, You heard them. You did not ignore their suffering. You raised up leaders who would speak truth to power. And you led your people into freedom. Let us hear your voice; grant us the courage to answer your call. Guide us towards justice and freedom for all people.
We are all siblings, we are all related, we all deserve to be free.

 Through the prophets you told us the worship you want is for us to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke; Yet we continue to serve our own interest, To oppress our workers, to crush our siblings by the neck because we are afraid. Because they don’t look like us, act like us, talk like us. Yet, they are us. And we are them.
We are all siblings, we are all related, we are not free unless all are free

 In great love you sent to us Jesus, your Son, Born in poverty, living under the rule of a foreign empire, Brown-skinned, dark-haired, middle-Eastern. They called him Yeshua, your Son, Who welcomed the unwelcome, accepted the unacceptable—The foreigners, the radicals, the illiterate, the poor, The agents of empire and the ones who sought to overthrow it, The men and women who were deemed unclean because of their maladies.
We are all siblings, we are all related, we are all disciples.

 The faith of Christ spread from region to region, culture to culture. You delight in the many voices, many languages, raised to you. You teach us that in Christ, “There is no Jew or Greek, there is no slave or free, there is no male and female.” In Christ, we are all one. Not in spite of our differences, but in them. Black, brown, and white; female, non-binary, and male; citizen and immigrant, In Christ we are all one.
We are all siblings, we are all related, we are all one in Christ.

Each week, we confess our sin to you and to one another. We know that we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves. We are captive to the sin of white supremacy, Which values some lives more than others, Which believes some skin tones are more perfect than others, Which commits violence against those who are different.
We confess our complicity in this sin.
We humbly repent.
We ask for the strength to face our sin, to dismantle it, and to be made anew
We trust in your compassion and rely on your mercy
Praying that you will give us your wisdom and guide us in your way of peace,That you will renew us as you renew all of creation In accordance with your will.
We ask this, we pray this, as your children, all siblings, all related, all beloved children of God. Amen.

This evil that is in our world today- it cannot be met with the sound of sheer silence that Elijah experienced after the earthquake, the wind, and the fire.

Friends- God IS SPEAKING TO US.

God is in the cries of those who have historically and presently been deemed unworthy through the sin of racism and discrimination; a sin which has violently affected our siblings of color, our LGBT siblings, and our Jewish and Muslim siblings.   

And along with those cries, God is calling us to do justice, to love kindness, to walk humbly alongside our siblings who need not another savior- because Christ has done that through the Cross and the resurrection- but, rather, we are called as companions to stand up to the evil that has rears its ugly head through violence and hate, racism and white supremacy. 

As followers of Jesus- who opened his arms to die on the Cross for ALL- we are called to not only listen with the ears of God, to speak the Word of God, but to do God’s work– of justice and radical love of neighbor –with our hands.

The sound of sheer silence is NOT. AN. OPTION.  Not a life giving option, anyway.

When God created humankind in God’s image, God did so for us to be companions with each other. And God called that good.

God did not create humankind so that they could run around with torches bellowing threats of death and boasting in a Divinely unintended yet human-claimed superiority complex based on white supremacy, throwing soda cans filled with cement at their fellow human kind and running them down with cars because they dared to remind black and brown people that THEIR GOD-GIVEN, IMAGE-BEARING BODIES- THEY MATTER.
This last week in Atlanta, The Rev. Dr. James Alexander Forbes, Junior was one of our keynote speaker. His speech was incredible, and he reminded us that if there is anything we have within our whiteness and privilege that can help the beloved community- then we should use it.

Speaking out against the evil of white supremacy, racism, and all the “isms” that threaten this precious life that God created… THAT. IS. ON. US.

And I get it…it’s daunting to be out in this world where this kind of stuff happens.  It’s UNACCEPTABLE that people are treated as anything less than a beloved child of God due to the color of their skin, or for any other reason that seeks to set certain people over and above others in this world.  We may feel like we are drowning in the weight of human suffering around us, but rest assured, people of God: Christ is there, grabbing our hands, reminding us that HE. HAS. US. He’s not letting go. He’s in the boat with us–ALL of us– as we brave the storms life throws our way.  Jesus offers the way of peace. Jesus calls for the storms to calm, for us to take courage, because God knows this is hard stuff.

And God takes our hand, climbs in the boat with us, and rows along as we navigate a stormy sea.  We, YOU, are never alone.

May God speak peace into our ears and hearts, so that we may speak peace into a broken and hurting world, in Christ’s name. Amen.

 

 

 

Adoption!

After 5 long years of infertility and a failed fertility treatment, Mike and I decided that our dream of parenthood can be achieved through adoption.  We are SO excited.

We had our first home visit in July and we are set up for our second one in August!

We’re also having our adoption profile put together professionally.  We hope that after our 3rd home visit that our profile will be ready to begin applying to different agencies!

We’ve set up an adoption fundraiser through You Caring- below is the link if you’re so inclined to donate!

https://www.youcaring.com/fundraiser-widget.aspx?frid=892198