Apr 21, 2013

A biblical take on depression... and my personal experience...

Depression... oh how I hate that word...

The dictionary defines this word as a condition of mental disturbance, typically with lack of energy and difficulty maintaining concentration or interest in life... or feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy... 

True clinical depression is a mood disorder in which feelings of sadness, loss, anger, or frustration interfere with everyday life for weeks or longer.

Sound familiar?

I found some disturbing facts about this disorder at www.depressionperception.com... 
  • 90% of suicide victims (in the US I believe) have a diagnosable mental disorder.
  • Over 18 million Americans age 18 & older, in a given year, have a depressive disorder.
  • Depression can affect anyone regardless of age, geographic location, or social position.
  • Depressive disorders are appearing earlier in life, with the average age of onset 50 years ago being 29... whereas recent statistics indicate it being as low as 14.5 years old...
  • Nearly twice as many women as men are affected by a depressive disorder each year.
  • Women between the ages of 25-44 are most often affected by depression - with their major cause of depression being the inability to express or handle anger.
  • Depressive disorders often co-occur with anxiety disorders & substance abuse.
  • Up to 2.5% of children in the United States suffer from depression.
  • Suicide is often the result of extended periods of depression.
These are some staggering numbers... and just further proof that we live in a fallen world. I truly believe spiritual warfare needs to be considered when looking at depression... Satan has power over the earth & his mission is to steal, kill, & destroy... so of course he loves it when children of God are hopeless & considering ending their own lives!

I am neither a doctor nor a psychologist, but I've ridden these waves personally... so I feel that I have a right to speak on the matter & attempt to offer a little hope to anyone suffering with this.

IMPORTANT: If you are struggling with depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts PLEASE call your doctor and take the pills they prescribe you and talk openly with a trusted christian therapist who has experience dealing with this ASAP! 

Don't try to be a hero and refuse medical counsel because you believe you shouldn't need it as a christian... I'll be the first to say that GOD HEALS, but until you've received leading from Him to let go of medical interventions... and it's perfectly obvious that it's no longer needed... appreciate the counsel you're given and consider that, at this point, that could be God's answer for easing your struggles... at least for now!

I'm only going to offer 3 tips here on how to acquire some peace for your soul (& improve your perspective). Believe it or not, none of them have anything to do with forcing happy thoughts or just sucking it up... I'm going to direct you exactly where we ALL need to be directed... to the love, grace, & healing of our Father God.

#1 {Give thanks}

This one has been obvious to me since reading the book "One Thousand Gifts" by: Ann Voskamp... as well the devotional, with room to list 1,000 'gifts' (things you're thankful for) at the end!

For some reason this exercise is easy to forget when we're stuck in a rut though... and sometimes bad things (or bad moods) just happen... 

I suppose, in those moments, the last thing anyone would want to do is make a list of things they should be thankful for - but I had to mention this after something incredible I read in the 1,000 gifts devotional 2 nights ago... read it slowly... more than once ; )

"That which I refuse to thank Christ for,

I refuse to believe He can redeem..."

Ouch! So... I ended up writing down a prayer of thanks to God for this season of depression/anger in my life... which was completely opposite of the bitterness I was feeling toward Him for allowing it in the first place, but those words changed my perspective and reminded me to trust Him who can cause all things for my good! 

I thanked Him for how He will strengthen me & teach me new things & enable me to encourage others through this hardship... and I was then able to remember all the things I have to be thankful for today... & everyday! 

Somebody else always has it worse off than you - we can all think of 'something' or 'someone' in our life to be thankful for. To thank God for... Make a list & put it where you'll see it often.

#2 {Start your day out right} 

Just yesterday I was getting ready to go out for family-night... after battling intense feelings of anger, anxiety, & hopelessness for more than a week... when out of nowhere God gave me a very timely tool... but I like to refer to it as a weapon... for warfare :)

I got thinking about the 'putting on the full armor of God' verses... and considered how it'd make way more sense to have that armor on BEFORE rushing into your day so that any arrows or wiles of the enemy could be deflected off your armor... opposed to putting it on late in the afternoon or in the evening and spending all that time mending & being confused about what went wrong all day & why you felt so unprepared! 

God has something to teach us & would love to meet with us first thing in the morning to prepare us for our day! Although we have no idea what we might have to face, he does! 

Satan will do his best to distract us from this precious time - he'll encourage us to stay up late so we're too sleepy for a morning quiet-time, distract us, & try to confuse us. We need to fight for this time! It's so worth it...

#3 {Worship the Lord}

After a fun time with my family swimming together & going out for supper & ice cream last night... we ended up randomly watching Hillsong singing 'Mighty to Save' on tv... and afterward realized they were replaying a teaching by Louie Giglio from Hillsong Conference 2012 in Australia entitled 'Symphony'. 

I was moved to tears on multiple occasions because it was such a beautiful & timely message! I had no doubt God was sharing truth with me through the words I was hearing. 

I was reminded that, in an old testament battle, they were completely outnumbered... and God had them send out their worshipers to the front-lines!!! 

The armies that were coming against them started to attack themselves and killed each other off... and the small army of God came out victorious because they obeyed God & worshiped Him!

There are many ways we can worship & bring honor to God (serving others, giving to the poor, sharing the good news), but I want to focus on us singing praises to Him for this tool. 

I believe a big part of why singing praise is so important is because we're declaring truth & His goodness verbally... through our song. 

There is SO much power in the spoken word (Prvbs 18:21) & singing praises is definitely a beautiful way to declare truth. 

Sing it out loud, listen to it, & soak it all in...

My favorite quote in the teaching was: "When you start singing praises to God... satan doesn't SING along... He MOVES along!!!"

{Listen to: New Song We Sing by: Meredith Andrews}
A song that was 'randomly' playing in the background as I wrote this section until I actually listened to the words of the chorus & realized that this was a gift from God for me & for you!

Each of these things are ways I have personally been able to get a breath of air while otherwise drowning in feelings of frustration & hopelessness. Seek & you will find... God will throw you a life-line when you feel that everyone else is against you... He will never leave you nor forsake you. He is your biggest fan & loves you more than you could ever fathom or comprehend. He is worthy of our trust & devotion. 

Depression seems to generally come when we focus on ourselves & all our hurts & issues, but I'm challenging you to put your focus on Christ & His goodness & allow Him to heal your heart. Don't give up, there's always hope. With Christ all things are possible. You are loved & being prayed for... Blessings.

"Lord thank-you for being for us & not against us. Remind us to seek Your face & lay all our cares at your feet. Lighten our load by reminding us that you already died for all this. Give us wisdom as we seek care & counsel. Bring encouragers & prayer-warriors into our lives to help hold us up & we go through this adventure called life. In Your precious name Lord, amen."

Apr 15, 2013

Defining friendship... How we should communicate & pray... How to hear God's voice... & God-goggles...

Did you know that we are considered 'Friends of God' ???

"No longer do I call you servants, 
for a servant does not know what his master is doing; 
but I have called you friends
for all things that I heard from My Father 
I have made known to you."
~John 15:15~

The Creator of the entire universe wants to be friends... with me???

He considers US... friends? 


Does this seem a bit off-base to anyone else? 

Then again, if the bible says so... God says so, but what does that mean for us? What do I know about friendship that could help me understand this relationship? This friendship? 

I'll need to ask myself some questions...

1.) What's a friend?

Through a concordance I found that the original translation of the Greek word 'friend' from John 15:15 is philos. It literally translates as a friend, associate, or companion. It also refers to the bridegroom's friend who, on his behalf, asked the hand of the bride & helped out with the celebration, etc. Makes me think of the story of Isaac & Rebekah in Genesis 24 (Abraham sends his top servant Elieza to bring Rebekah to his son Isaac).

The dictionary defines the word friend as: A person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection.

How do "I" personally define friendship? It can be complicated, but generally friends enjoy each other's company, trust each other, play together (who says you have to grow up?), talk, share, learn from each other, laugh together, support each other no matter what, pray together, love unconditionally, & hope to see each other often.

(Believe it or not, there was no alcohol involved in the making of this photo... this is just what happens when you try to make a bunny face while holding back laughter. Posing properly was out of the question at this point... 
I still laugh every time I see this!)

Remember: We should understand that God desires to listen to us, speak to us, teach us, support us, & love us unconditionally.

2.) How do friends communicate?

Have  you ever been in a situation where you were chatting with someone... and all they did was talk on and on without letting you get a word in edgewise? It's SO irritating!! I know this, because I've been the irritated one as well as the irritator... yeah I made that word up, but you know what I mean : ) 

Conversation wasn't meant to be one-sided... 
We should share our hearts, but also LISTEN to what the OTHER person has to say!

In the same way: Prayer was not meant to be a monologue (solo), but a dialogue (btwn 2 or more ppl)... Speaking AND listening... 

It's so easy to just throw out all our requests to God, say amen, & walk away... but have you ever considered... that perhaps He has something to say to you??? 

I know I know, it seems off-base that He would want to take time out of His day to acknowledge us, but we have to remember that He sent the Holy Spirit for just this reason... so He could be available to ALL people, ALL of the time! 

Learn more about the Holy Spirit by clicking: HERE!

He has something to say if only we would take the time to shut off our busy mind & mouth & listen... then wait... give Him time... & lean in to understand His whispers. He speaks to us through His Word, other believers, our memory, & a multitude of other ways... sometimes even in an audible voice (I haven't experienced this, but many have). 

Actually, being able to hear Him takes us to my last question...
3.) How often do close friends communicate?

This one really depends on you (& each of your individual friends)... I understand that a lot of factors play into this, especially as we get older and have jobs and families and just get caught up in the busyness of life... but generally, those that are very close... and want to STAY close... keep in touch on a regular basis (sometimes even daily)!

Another thing to consider is 'how' we come to recognize someone else's voice... you probably hear it often! 

If you went shopping & heard your friend's voice in the next aisle... would you recognize it & acknowledge them? 

When you're somewhere crowded, maybe at a family get-together, would your child recognize your voice & be able to find you? Why is that?
♥ Time = Relationship 

The more time you spend with someone, the easier it is to understand them & recognize them & maybe even start ACTING like them (this can be good or bad, depending on the friend... lol)!

In order to hear God's voice, we need to get to know Him better. We do this by regularly (at least daily) speaking & listening to Him.

Don't know what so say to God when you pray?
  1. You could say the Lord's prayer to keep it simple (Mt6:9-13)
  2. Praise Him (You are good, You are trustworthy...)
  3. Lift requests/needs up to Him (Heal that little girl...)
  4. Thank Him (For your family, home, job, etc...)
  5. Process life with Him (Why am I so crabby today!?)
Don't know where to start to start 'hearing' Him?
  1. Take time to pause during prayer, give Him a chance
  2. Read the bible, which is the Word of God
  3. Surround yourself with christian influences (friends)
  4. Listen to God-glorifying music
  5. Put your 'God-goggles' on & be watchful/aware of Him
With that last one, I say this because He can reach us in ANY way He sees fit... I have received revelation through movies (even non-christian ones), random conversations, bad weather, & even google! lol 
Just keep an open mind on this one, ok? How I hear Him best might be totally different from how you hear Him best, so be aware!

Oh, and those goggles aren't just a way to find out how He speaks to us! Putting on your metaphoric God-goggles reminds us to see people & situations through God's eyes... giving us Godly perspective : )

"Lord help us to understand our friendship with You. Remind us to fervently pursue our relationship & be aware of how You are trying to speak to us. Amen."

How about you? In what ways could you compare your friendship with people... to your relationship with God? Share below!

Apr 12, 2013

You cannot serve both God & money... be appreciative for what you have... a reminder to give...

The Midwest experienced a freak wind/ice/snow storm in mid-April this year... It has caused slippery roads, massive downed trees & limbs, snow, & major power outages!

My husband actually went in to work and was sent home the other day because power in the whole town had gone out (won't get far as a machinist without electricity!) so it has been nice to be stuck together, but it has also been too quiet and at times... downright boring! We debated how to entertain ourselves without access to the t.v. or the internet! lol - it's sad how pitiful we are!

We're still making memories though - with scrambling for flashlights in the dark and laughing with friends & family by the cozy fireplace before bed... we ended up finding plenty to do to keep busy (including picking up habits that should've already been in place... like experiencing an insatiable hunger for God's Word).

Along with the craziness, God started to reveal something very important to me... I could NOT shake these thoughts! 

I remembered that there were people... MULTITUDES of people who experience such things on a daily basis! No lights, no electronic toys, & certainly no heat or air conditioning when needed! Add to this the lack of clean drinking water, plumbing, or even money to purchase necessary food/clothing... there are TOO MANY that are FAR worse off than we are today.

The next huge realization I got toward the beginning of this storm, was the excess of unimportant & unnecessary things we have inside our home! 

A large branch had fallen onto a power line in our backyard several days ago, which was connected to our house... very near my daughter's bedroom... and the wire was stretched all the way to the ground! I don't know much about electrical fires, but figured it was possible that all I held dear would burst into flame at any moment!!! So I sat in fear with a flashlight and my cellphone waiting for the power company to arrive & fix the problem...

Because I allowed myself to entertain the idea of a possible fire... I considered what I would grab before exiting my home (if possible) before everything went up in flames (theoretically) and I lost everything! 

After my husband, daughter, & self were out - here's what I'd hope to rescue...
  1. Our 3 pets
  2. The journal we've been writing letters to Sarah in since she was born
  3. Each of our baby albums
  4. My laptop & hardrive from our desktop computer which holds thousands of pics & vids of our family
  5. My NKJV Spiritual Warfare bible that has re-awakened my desire to know God fully
... and that's pretty much it! 

Everything else, for the most part, is expendable... replaceable! 

There are very few things in my house that I 'need'... & ultimately only my husband & child (& maybe my pets) are ones I would risk my life for... everything else is just 'stuff' ...just material possessions I can't even take with me to heaven... 

Like my friend Judy just told me, "You won't have a u-haul behind your hearse!"

So why do we still think that 'stuff' is so important? Why do we accumulate so much that we constantly seem to be organizing & searching for places to put it & throwing garage sales & dropping things off in the good-will bin or selling things we no longer want??? 

1 John 2:16 (ESV)
"For all that is in the world - the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions - is not from the Father, but is from the world." 

(meaning we have a worldly, not godly, perspective)
John 14:30 (NIV)
"...for the prince of this world (satan) is coming. He has no hold over Me (Jesus)..."
So let me get this straight... according to these verses... my love of possessions & material things does not come from the Father (God), but from the prince of this world (SATAN)??? 

Houston... we have a problem!!!

I found an interesting video on youtube.com entitled "Satan is ruler of the world" by: John Piper. Right toward the beginning there's a very convicting quote:

"To the degree that your heart is disobedient to God... to that degree are you under the control of satan."   -John Piper-

Well... how is having money or lots of things being disobedient to God? 

Please know that my goal is not to come off as condemning (we own a home, 2 vehicles, & plenty of extras), but I can only convey what I noticed while reading through the book of Luke recently... how Jesus seemed to continually ask His followers to sell all they had, give to the poor, & follow Him! (Luke 18:18-22)

Then there's that verse that pretty much spells out how impossible it is for a rich person (presumably with a love for money) to get into heaven... It'd be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle huh? Interesting... (Luke 18:25) 

Perhaps if you consider (as I did after coming home from our mission trip to Tanzania last year) that everything you have sitting around your house is waiting to bless someone that actually needs it... or that the funds it would bring in are being kept from someone in desperate need...
This is so hard for us to grasp... especially in America where all we could want & yet don't really need is just a wal-mart visit away! We are so spoiled... we really are. You don't have to make as much as a doctor or a lawyer to be considered rich... think of an orphan from a village in Africa walking into your home... would they be shocked with all that you have? Then yeah... you're considered rich...

"No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." Luke 16:13

What I'm going to take from all of this, for now, is that I need to be more aware of how GOD would want me to spend our earnings... there are bills that need to be paid and food that we need to eat and sometimes we actually need new clothes (toddler grows out of hers, holey pants & socks, etc.), but we need to be very aware of how we use our funds! Of how we bless others like the Giver of our 'gifts' would want us to... (Job 1:21)

Also, that we shouldn't just give the "bare minimum" to those in need (a mere 10%)

God calls us to give sacrificially! Give til it hurts! Give all you have! 

Jesus said that a poor woman, who put just a tiny amount into the offering plate (all she had to her name) gave a FAR GREATER gift than the large amount (only a fraction of what they owned) given by the rich because, out of her poverty, she gave all she had! She gave sacrificially. (Luke 21:1-4)

A dear woman who passed away not long ago, Kay, used to have a sign by her kitchen sink that said, "Want what you have" ...I think it's funny how we try to fill that God-shaped hole in our hearts with the things of this world... thinking that if we buy this or that we'll be happy or fulfilled, but I think that the greatest happiness is knowing God's love toward me & blessing others more & more as our relationship deepens & causes me to become more like Him - loving, giving, serving...

Since I'm then content with who I am in Christ, I don't need anything more to be fulfilled... 

so I'm free to give & be a blessing to others.

"Lord help us to understand all we truly need in life... which is You. Amen."

How about you? How has God revealed to you the need/desire to serve & bless others or to purge yourself of the multitude of things around the house? A power outage & risk of fire got me thinking. The opportunity to donate items to sell at a garage sale, to support a missionary family, gave me an easy way to cause all my 'stuff' to bless someone else. Bless you!

Acts 3:19 study... Repent & Convert for times of Refreshing...

"Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord..." -Acts 3:19-

♥ Going deeper via concordance & dictionary... ♥

Repent = Change mind for the better, sincerely to improve, with disgust over one's past sins (immoral acts according to the Word of God).

Converted = Turn, or return to, the love & obedience of God

Sin = To miss the mark or wander from the path of uprightness and honour of the law of God

Blotted Out = Wash/annoint every part, to obliterate, erase, wipe out, reduced to nothingness (He will remember our sins no more. Hebrews 8:12)

Refreshing = Reinvigorated because of something new or different

Presence = Existing or present, but not seen

The Lord = God, the Messiah, title of honour expressive of respect and reverence with which servants greet their master

"Lord give us a hunger for You Word. Bring wisdom & revelation that will help us change the way we live our lives for the better... for You! Amen."

Apr 8, 2013

Love vs. Hate... (LGBT)

(LGBT continued...) 4/8/13:

Truth: God considers hate to be the same as murder...

1 John 3:15 - "Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him."

"Homophobia is the hatred or fear of homosexuals - that is, lesbians and gay men - sometimes leading to acts of violence and expressions of hostility."

Knowing this, I have to believe that ridicule/violence/murder (hate) is far worse than a committed couple of any gender sharing their life together (love)... 

Is Jesus pro-hate or pro-love? hmm... I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have been 1st in line to call out 'kill the faggots' or light a homosexual person on fire & watch them burn to death (yeah that actually happened). Fear & ignorance are a powerful thing, but I believe love is far greater. ♥

I'm learning a lot about this topic & coming up with some surprising conclusions... shall continue my hunt for God's take on this. (Feel free to broadcast your love or private msg me ur hate...) 

There's a great film on Netflix called 'For the bible tells me so'... I didn't agree with every word, but I got a lot out of it!

How Should Christians Treat Gays (LGBT)...

(written 4/5/13)

The point of this blog is to share how I'm growing... becoming a better wife, mother, friend, & follower of Christ and well, there's a pretty hot debate on the loose right now regarding 'marriage equality.' 

Basically what this means is you can legally get married, regardless of orientation... and you'll actually have 'rights' in that relationship. 

I won't begin to pretend I understand all these 'rights' because I, as a straight gal, have access to all of them and am therefore ignorant of them (truth hurts), but you can look into a few main ones here: 

Pretty much the only reason this is a hot 'debate'??? The bible 'says' no to homosexuality. (For the sake of conversation, the bible says no to a lot of things christians completely ignore)

Now I'm generally not real outspoken about this topic because... I'm honestly still trying to figure out what I think about it all, but again the purpose of this blog is to share how I'm growing amid issues that affect me personally... and after the night I just had I think it's fair to get a few of my thoughts out there (for the record) so that I can continue to evolve & expand on them later...

For some background:

I am a christian, I believe what the bible says (including reading verses in context and studying literal meaning behind words via concordance), & I am married (to a man). 

I have a close family member that is gay... actually I have multiple family members who are gay/lesbian/bi... but the one who really got me thinking about any of this is that close one ; )

* He came out to the family when I was very young. From what I remember I just listened quietly to all he had to say and walked around with him as he cried and just poured out his heart afterward. I distinctly remember just being so sad that HE seemed so sad and broken admitting all of this to his family... like he had just shot someone or something.

*Years later in May of 08' (I was almost 21 and about to get married) he invited my older sister and I to a LGBT support group he attended. We met some of his friends and went out to eat together afterward. His friends were just how he described them, 'a little crazy, but harmless' - and it was really a fun & eye-opening experience!

*Later in December of 2011 I did something that I was absolutely terrified to do... I confronted him about his 'lifestyle'. I tried to say what I felt needed to be said in the most loving way I could think up and still (for obvious reasons)... 

it was not. received. well... 

Where we're at today:

It has taken over a year for us to actually talk in person about any of this and a formal talk was only organized because my younger sister was commissioned to immerse herself in a sort of 'minority' situation. She decided to research the LGBT community a bit more & had intended to visit a gay bar or church group. She was just supposed to report back how she felt in that situation (majors in social work), but after I offered the idea up that she should just have a chat with our gay relative... we instead ended up spending hours talking about multiple topics and laughing hysterically as he got up and explained "This is how a homosexual washes his hands!" ..... and then "Sometimes, we even use a towel to dry them!" Oh how I've missed his snarky sense of humor - I just loved seeing him being... who he is! An intelligent, hilarious, wonderful guy <3

I think we were all a little nervous and weren't sure what was going to come up, but we all thought it went well and I think I almost made him faint when I said toward the end that I really just hoped he would find his man soon and bring him over to meet the family so we could all stop pretending this isn't who he is. It'd be a lot easier to talk about if it was a little more out in the open. 

He's very vocal on facebook about his beliefs, but this isn't exactly something we chat about at family get-togethers. Honestly... I think we need to get over it! 

I've known for years that this great guy, whom I grew up adoring and really considered more like a big brother, was pulling away from his family because of how he felt we all viewed him. With judgment & condemnation & blame & just... fear of the unknown honestly!!! It has to stop. I love him. I know everyone in his family loves him. I know we live in a culture that likes to sweep tough issues under the rug and pretend everything's all shiny and perfect, but that's just not real life. Life is messy, life is tricky, and we make it WAY more complicated than it has to be...

How Should Christians Treat Gays (LGBT):

First of all, I have no doubt that my opinion will continue to evolve as I allow myself to ask God some tough questions and figure out what LANA (not everyone else) believes... and know exactly WHY I believe it. It's so easy to just eat what you're fed (make other's beliefs your own without any prayer or research), but I'm totally over that. 

I've done plenty of things wrong in how I approached all of this with family, including but not limited to: 

1.) Having all our conversations via FB (too easy to misinterpret tone & intent).

2.) Challenging him to live by christian standards... when he's a wiccan in the first place!

3.) Shooting myself in the foot by not measuring my words & timing better, which caused him to feel judged & unloved by me... which was certainly NOT what I was going for...

I believe there are 2 basic principles we should consider when communicating... not just with someone from the LGBT community, but with any human on this earth...

#1 = LOVE:

I believe that God calls us to love others... and not just those that agree with everything we believe, but even those that hate us, mock us, or even just make us uncomfortable. (Matthew 5:44)

The bible explains that God IS love... so shouldn't His followers exemplify love to all they come in contact with?? 

Not sure what love is? 

Well, first of all, it's NOT just a feeling. Love is a choice.... Love is an action. You don't just say 'I love you' to your spouse and call it good... no, you SHOW your spouse you love them by treating them lovingly!

Love is not based on what you DO or DON'T do... love is unconditional. Unconditional means without conditions (fyi). So... if my daughter were to grow up and do something the world considered 'terrible' ...do you think I'd stop loving her?? HECK NO!!! (some parents do actuallly completely disown their child after they come out, but that's a different issue...)

Even if my baby did the worst thing imaginable... even if it were directed toward ME... I would still love her with all my momma-heart! 

(Kind of like how God's love for us is not based on what we do or don't do, but by our receiving the free gift of His grace & salvation!) Ephesians 2:8

There are different kinds of 'love' referred to in the bible based on 'friendship' or 'romantic' or whatever, but I'm going with the basic commission to love others, even our enemies, and to take the very difficult translation of love (spelled out in the bible) as my guide....

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails..." 1 Corinthians 13:4-8


After having a nice evening with family talking about the 'pink-elephant-that-has-been-in-the-room-for-years-but-nobody-has-publicly-discussed-in-our-family-until-now... I had a 30 minute drive home to have a long talk with God... and being true to how He seems to just enjoy speaking things to me personally, he gave me a song which is also a clip from one of my favorite movies... to chew on... 

It's from Disney's Beauty & the Beast after Gaston riles up the small town, making them think that the Beast is somehow a threat to them. The men are gathering their torches & weapons ready for a fight with this creature they've never met or attempted to understand and they're singing these words: 

"We don't like what we don't understand in fact it scares us and this monster is mysterious at least. Bring your guns. Bring your knives. Save your children & your wives. We'll save our village & our lives... We'll kill the beast."

(I'll let you figure out for yourself what I got out of that)
... ouch... thanks God!

I'm sure you already know this, but there are a LOT of verses in the bible calling us to love others & that warn us to not judge or condemn anyone... I'm not going to post them ALL here, but here are just a few to get the point across:

Luke 6:37 "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven."

Luke 6:41 "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?"

Romans 14:13 "Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle (referencing said judgment?) in the way of a brother or sister."

If you'll consider the last verse up there... about not causing anyone to stumble (presumably by how the verse is put together, they're referring to our judgment of others) I have to wonder how many christians were the cause of my family member feeling so alone & condemned as to consider ending his own life... on multiple occasions?  How did he get to that place where he felt that his only other option was to leave christianity altogether because no one would receive him for who he was? That he could actually feel 'hopeless' as a christian??? 

A horrifying reality on multiple accounts... it shouldn't have come to that!

I would encourage you to continue digging through the Word & asking God how you should treat ALL issues before you. Love others & don't judge or condemn... you are not their Judge - God is... 

Have you ever done anything wrong? 

I'm guessing so, since the bible says that ALL have sinned & fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). 

Have you ever judged someone? 

Considering that the literal translation of that word in this verse is: to pronounce an 'opinion' concerning right and wrong... I'd assume we've all done our fair share!

Am I claiming to have all the answers on this? Absolutely not!!! NOOO WAY! 

Will I be in the next protest for marriage equality? I'm honestly not there yet...

Regardless of my personal beliefs, do I have the right to tell someone what they can or can not do with their own life? With their own God-given free-will? No. 

Do we have the right to deny someone to marry who they love & make it a law when there are no laws against things like premarital sex (guilty) or divorce (we all know someone)? 

You tell me...                         

Do I suggest you consider very carefully before going in, guns blazing, admonishing someone of their 'sin'? ......uhhh, yeah. 

One more piece of homework for you, especially if you don't believe it's possible to be 'born gay'. Watch the film 'Prayers for Bobby' w/ Sigourney Weaver in it. You can actually watch the whole movie for free on youtube.com with the link below. 

The most important thing I got out of it (as a christian) was that it IS very possible for a person to be born gay... & that the mother handled the news terribly! This has caused me to do MUCH searching & seeking & praying in order to discover more about what God really thinks about this topic. There is a pastor in the movie that gives his view on what the bible says about homosexuality, which I can't say I tracked with at the time, but it definitely got the conversation started! 

(The documentary 'For the bible tells me so' resonated much better with my heart, which I also highly recommend you watch... and perhaps mostly, 'Fish Out of Water')

Why am I making an effort to understand???

I'm not just going to sit on my hands and do nothing while kids continue to bully other kids into committing suicide... (watch the film entitled 'Bully' and join the effort to end this horrible act by visiting: http://www.thebullyproject.com/ )

I can't do nothing after I learn that committed adults who have loved each other and stayed together for many years, always find that they have ZERO rights when their loved one dies or is in need of emergency care! How can they adopt, but not get married? They can HAVE a family, but they can't BE a family???

It's not right... it doesn't make sense... and it's certainly not fair, but spreading slander or stereotypes or condemnation (as if you've never done anything wrong) is getting us NOWHERE people!!! We need to wake up (all of us)... lets work together & quit with the H8!

Dear Granny Moe:

I am so sorry...

I'm sorry for the crap you had to put up with growing up... that was NOT fair.

I'm sorry for every time you felt alone, depressed, or rejected.

I'm sorry for anyone that has worn the label of 'christian' & treated you like anything but...

I'm sorry if you've ever felt like something was wrong with you or that you were a mistake.

I'm sorry you have felt judged by family members... and especially by me.

I'm sorry that I seem to go back & forth with my take on everything (I still have a few more things I'm trying to sort out in my head (like my faith vs. my vote)... but there's NO debating your awesomeness!).

I'm really sorry it has taken me this long to get THIS far with where I'm at (especially if you're still thinking I'm a lost cause).

I'm sorry you're unsure of whether you can trust that I really do love you (regardless of what you do or don't do) because I really do love & care about you... I'll try to make it a little more obvious in the future...

My hope for you is that you would live life to the fullest, experience abundant life with fullness of joy, find & live an incredible love story, and know without a doubt that you were fearfully & wonderfully made by the Creator of the world.

Until then, just know you're an incredible guy... and I've missed you.

"Lord help us to see others through Your eyes, through eyes of love. Amen."

**Happy to report this 'progress' of mine was received very well by my close family member before I posted it. He was the one who got me thinking about any of this in the first place... and if not for him I'm sad to say I never would've given this a second thought, but I'm forming my own opinions... not just taking what someone else says as absolute truth - I'm taking it up with God. Bless you...)