Wednesday, May 7, 2014

There Are Reasons Not To Come Out

I can remember struggling as a teenager as I became increasingly aware that I was experiencing same sex attraction.  I struggled with shame and guilt over it.  I hated myself because of it.  I grew up in a small town just outside of Vancouver, BC.  It was a small fishing and farming community.  It was also your typical predominantly white middle to upper class suburbia with a church on every corner.  When describing this town to people I usually say diversity in this town is like trying to mix oil and water... it just doesn't work. Unfortunately, as a young person growing up struggling I didn't really find a safe community where I could honestly share openly about what it was that I was going through.  So I did what every young person in this town would do.  Keep it to yourself, don't talk to anyone, deny it, reject it, and be everything but... Call it being in the closet or in denial... call it whatever you want... it is what it was.  Thankfully I had the mentors in my life I did. My youth pastor and his wife.  Instead of a  "coming out" party I began a "coming into" journey. Coming into the grace and mercy of our God and coming to know who God created me to be as a woman created in His image.  I began to discover that I cannot be defined simply by my feelings and experiences. That's not to say that we should ignore our feelings and experiences because we shouldn't but how can we allow for something so subjective in our lives as our experiences and feelings to determine who or what we are?

A blog I've recently come across is called Letters to Christopher.  
In a blog post of his - Is it healthy to be who you're not? He writes the following in response:

But here's the thing. "Who I am" isn't determined by whatever (or whomever) I think I am.  I want to live my life in accordance with objective reality.  That's the path to true freedom.  My subjective inclinations or attractions don't tell me "who I am." ~ Letters to Christopher

In the same blog post he quotes Pope Benedict XVI who said this, "If something is wrong in our relationship with reality, then we must all reflect seriously on the whole situation and we are all prompted to question the very foundations of our culture. Allow me to dwell a little longer on this point.  The importance of ecology is no longer disputed.  We must listen to the language of nature and we must answer accordingly.  Yet I would like to underline a point that seems to me to be neglected, today as in the past: there is also an ecology of man.  Man too has a nature that he must respect and that he cannot manipulate at will.  Man is not merely self-creating freedom.  Man does not create himself.  He is intellect and will, but he is also nature, and his will is rightly ordered if he respects his nature, listens to it and accepts himself for who he is, as one who did not create himself.  In this way, and in no other, is true human freedom fulfilled."  It is for these reasons that I do not identify myself as gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, homosexual or heterosexual, or even ex-gay for that matter. These are only labels that place people in a box not allowing for people to be seen for who they really are and quite frankly, I believe such labels and definitions restrict God from what He can do and is willing to do in us and through us because in such labels we are in fact saying to the one who created us that we know ourselves better even though we are the created.  Why then, if we are the created, why would we not look to the one who created us to give us that sense of purpose in life and speak into our true identity in Christ? It is more accurate to be honest about our feelings and experiences without allowing these labels to define who we are so that despite experiences, struggles, and the temptations we face we are able to allow the one who created us to be the one to speak into who we are.  It is in this place we come to know our true identity as children of God.     

Monday, April 28, 2014

Strange Thing Happens When You Tell People You're Catholic

A strange thing happens when you tell people you are Catholic.  I must admit, before becoming Catholic myself I hadn't responded in a way that would produce any kind of dialogue... although, because my Grandmother was Catholic and I respected her and the way she lived out her faith my response to Catholics as a Protestant at the time was probably more refreshing than the encounters they would have had with other Protestants.  I was never anti-Catholic. I had lots of questions and in my ignorance couldn't quite believe some of the teachings in the Catholic Church but over the years and understanding of how much the Catholic Church influenced my faith even as a Charismatic Protestant believer it begged further investigation.  Faith along with reason has guided many of my decisions along the way in my faith journey.  I didn't wake up one morning and say ... "hmmm ... I think today I will become Catholic" no... the process was much more intense and was definitely not an over night decision I made.  I never thought in a million years I'd ever become Catholic!  

There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate The Catholic Church, 
but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be. 
~ Fulton J. Sheen (American Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church. 1895 - 1979)

I once had an interesting dialogue with an aunt of mine who at the time was a faithful Catholic.  She said something to me which I thought was interesting but in a way it drew me closer to the Catholic Church.  She said, "the difference between you and Grandma is that you have an educated faith and Grandma does not," Today I would say it was the other way around.  I was truly the ignorant one.  You cannot be a faithful Cradle Catholic and be ignorant.  She probably couldn't quote scripture like me but she knew her faith, she understood her faith, she lived her faith, it oozed out of her.  Being a Christian isn't about how much scripture you know but it's about bringing application of the word of God into your daily life to the best of your abilities and falling towards the cross if you must. OK I used a very typical protestant slang most of my audience would probably understand what is meant by falling towards the cross.  It is basically to say, humble yourself and repent, confess your sins, receive the forgiveness of sin, and then after you finish balling your eyes out get back up receiving the grace you need to walk out the faith and love Jesus with all your heart mind and soul knowing that you are forgiven completely, hold up your head high to the Lord, and try not to live with all that shame and guilt for past sin in your life that is now washed and cleansed away and walk in light of the freedom we have in Christ.  As Catholic's we'd say - remember your baptism.  

I had an interesting encounter with a co-worker of mine who told me he was a Christian.  After he learned I am a Catholic the dialogue turned upside down on its head because this Christian was not just Christian but anti-Catholic.  Well, coming from the protestant tradition I thought I'd have a little more ammunition than other Catholics. After all, I had spent three years studying theology at a bible college.  If anyone could respond to people from the Protestant tradition it should be me.... one would think.  Perhaps I can engage in meaningful dialogue with people but I am ill-equipped when the person I am face to face with is anti-Catholic and really only has one thing in mind... to hurdle insults, to point out past failures of the Catholic Church, to present their understanding of the Church, and to present their pop-corn theology without ever intending to present their understanding of the bible with any substance at all.  Let me say this, pop corn theology does not communicate meaningfully with any Catholic I know, myself included.  It is also completely different defending the Catholic Church from afar as not one of "them" but when anti-Catholics come to know you are Catholic all their hatred is now directed at you and wait for it ... wait for the insults to come in because it will. When you bring up facts or even scripture verses that validate your position the only response they have left is bigotry and hatred.  But that's not anything knew to me. Not that I preach that all Christians Protestant and Catholic will be persecuted but with the way things are headed I'm well prepared that in some way or form I will be persecuted because my beliefs and the way I live my life is perhaps persecuted the most.  I'm Catholic and I am not embracing a lesbian lifestyle.  In fact, I didn't even "come out" if you will.  My attractions and desires or past failures and struggles is not what defines who it is I am. I never made my attractions and desires form my identity... not willingly anyhow.  Yes, I had struggled in my identity and struggled in ways to be authentic, real, and honest about my experience with same sex attraction but although facing temptation I have always come to believe I am much more than what I experience or what my emotions may try to lead me to believe.  I am a woman created in God's Image and I am a Catholic embracing the teachings of the church with regards to homosexuality.  This wasn't popular when I was attending an Evangelical Church so I didn't somehow think it would be any different now that I am a Catholic Christian.

I've just come into the Catholic Church this past Easter Vigil.  Going to confession for the first time was an experience I'll never forget.  I'm not going to go into every little detail about my sin via this blog... some things I say will only be in front of a Priest or a very close trusted friend or support group.  In fact, I'd caution people with who they tell what to.  My experience is not what you'd expect and it wasn't at all like I would expect either.  It was an experience I'm amazed is not practiced in the protestant tradition.  It was the most grace filled spirit lifting dialogue between myself, a Priest, and God.  It was truly empowering and something I will make a regular and frequent practice in my life and not because it's a requirement.  People will ask, why go to a Priest when you can go directly to God himself?  I ask, why not go to confession? Why not seek out spiritual direction?  Why not?  I don't go to confession because I have to.  I go because I want to and because I desire the sacramental spiritual life that is experienced in the Catholic Church.  You can make your faith a legalistic faith just as easily in the Protestant Church as you can in the Catholic Church.  It's easy to go through the motions without thinking, pondering, or meditating ... is repentance only about saying sorry or is it about truly learning to live a different way? The penance aspect of confession could be legalistic or it could be the engagement of the will, a conversation between you and God guided through a Priest.  I thought, OK... I'll confess to a Priest, he'll tell me to say 5 hail Mary's, and there I go.  For a penance the Priest told me to read and pray through Psalm 32.  Did I do that because the Priest told me to for my penance or did I read and pray through Psalm 32 to allow for God to speak to me through that Psalm? I tell you one thing.  I'll be meditating and praying through Psalm 32 until my next time of confession not out of legalism but because God's word is living and active, a 2 edged sword, and can change lives because this is God's living and active word.  If the Priest told me to go say 5 hail Mary's I would have because that is what the Priest told me to do but I think I found a Priest to confess to who's not in a rush to get onto the next person so he can fulfill his duties as a Priest for that day.  Prior to confession I thought I'd just stay behind the wall, I won't go face to face with the Priest but there is something profoundly powerful when you allow yourself to be seen and known.  It is an opportunity to take off that fig leaf so to speak and break the bonds of shame and guilt. I'm glad I made the decision to go before the Priest face to face as I don't think I would have received what I could have if I hadn't.  

One thing is for certain.  I love the sacramental spiritual life as a Catholic because I am learning to receive more of the grace and mercy that is found in Christ.  In my spiritual journey, a few years ago I came across Courage.  Courage is a support group for men and women who struggle with same sex attraction and desire to embrace the teachings of the Catholic Church.  As I took a closer look I found this blog called Letters to Christopher.  I wanted to highlight a recent post called The Third Way.  It's a great introduction to what the Catholic Church actually teaches.  What the Catholic Church teaches on the topic of homosexuality and how we should respond to gays and lesbians is truly beautiful.  As you know, on this blog post I reflect on my faith journey, my ponderings along the way, and now I will unpack what it is to live a sacramental life in the Catholic Church and how that unfolds in the life of one who experiences same sex attraction.  It truly is beautiful!  

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Cross From a Palm Branch

This past Sunday was Palm Sunday; the triumphant entrance of Jesus the week leading up to His death on the cross.  This week is perhaps the most significant week for Christians both Catholic and Protestant.  This is also the week I am being received into full communion of the Roman Catholic Church.  I am not alone in this.  There are many people from all over the world being received into the Roman Catholic Church on Sunday.  This is not a decision I have made lightly.  In fact, I had always been drawn to the Catholic faith for most of my life but it was largely due to my ignorance of the Catholic faith that prevented me from taking this step.  With that said, I do believe there are many genuine Christians in the Protestant tradition who love and serve Jesus passionately.  I have spent most of my life in the Protestant tradition, I went to a Pentecostal Bible College, and I also attended a Conservative Evangelical Church.  I would not have come to faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior if it were not for the Protestant tradition. However, the influence of my developing faith didn't start and end with the Protestant tradition but rather my Grandmother who was a devout Catholic all her life.  Her example, although not perfect, influenced my faith a great deal.  

So I am grateful to both the Protestant and Catholic traditions because both traditions have enriched my faith and both drew me closer to my relationship with Jesus and have guided me in how I choose to live my life and influences the choices I make today.  I sense I have greater peace and can find rest in the place of tension and difficulty, struggle and conflict, and have a greater appreciation for the mercy of our Lord God in Christ.  


Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall!
My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me.
But this I call to mind, and therefore have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning 
~ Lamentations 3:19-23a


As I think about Palm Sunday I think about what Jesus was about to endure and experience for all of us. I think about the crowd who greets Him with joy on the street crying out Hosanna Hosanna only to a few days later be crying out with anger and rage ... crucify him! I would say that this would have to be the most tumultuous times he would ever have to endure.  I can't help but to think, that in light of the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross, my own sacrifices, my own afflictions, and the pain I've endured, pales in comparison.  I am not yet being asked to die for my faith though I feel it is a kind of death but I have to believe that what I am called into is something far better than what could be the alternative.  I don't have the luxury to believe that my choices won't have eternal consequences.  However, in the midst of this, I also believe that God is full of mercy and grace and who will forgive us our sins.  Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose again and there rests redemption and the possibility of reconciliation to God our Father.

This last Sunday I arrived at Mass a bit early.  I sat in the pew during Mass and spent a few hours after Mass at home weaving crosses from the palm branches and during this time I began to ponder all of this including my life journey. Only God could orchestrate such a life.  Only God could reach out to somebody living in such a dark place and lift her up and out of that place... 

from mourning to dancing, 
from sadness to joy...   

I would like to say that it's all hunky dory... all rainbows and butterflies... and lolly pops... but it's not.  I have endured quite a bit of pain in my life and I tend to struggle more than most.  I don't preach a gospel that's without sacrifice.  I don't give people false hope to believe that all struggles and problems will come to an immediate end the minute you pray one simple prayer.  For some of us, we have a more profound understanding of what it means to pick up our cross to follow Jesus and what it means to suffer.  We also may have a deeper understanding of what it meant in scripture when it said of Jesus ... "For the joy set before Him He endured the cross"... as we endure the cross we're called to.  If I only looked at my current circumstances and my life as it is now that would drive me into despair but I look to Jesus the author and perfecter of my faith and I look towards what is to come but it's in times like Palm Sunday and Resurrection Sunday I am reminded that death comes before the resurrection.  If we want to live in Christ we must first die and that's the part of Christianity that many people want to somehow skip over.  But in all things we know that death is not the end ... 

There is hope in the Resurrection!

Over the years as I journeyed with Christ there has been seasons of grieving and mourning, seasons of celebration and dancing, and there has been times in between.  I'm old enough now to realize that these seasons come and go and healing is never linear but more cyclical in nature.  One thing I am certain of, is that God has never abandoned me and in the mist of difficulty, in temptation, and within the conflict I find myself in, God is present and His mercies are new every morning and His love endures forever.  There is something profoundly healing when weakness is acknowledged and when we allow God to be present in the midst of suffering or the conflict we may be going through because it is then we see the grey clouds part ways and the sun shining through and it is also there new life is breathed into us.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Getting Through The Holiday Cheer When You're Not Cheerful

At one time in my life Christmas used to be one of my favorite times of the year but lately it seems to be the most difficult.  I fear that if I let myself go I just might bring to life the character of scrooge.  You know scrooge right? The Ol' Ba-humbug! The scrooge that's angry and cynical; believing that people are motivated by self-interest; distrustful of human sincerity or integrity.

Life was good when I believed in this white bearded guy who dressed up in a red suit and who magically flew in the sky around the world with reindeer and although super fat somehow managed to shimmy down every chimney in every house from the North Pole right around to the South Pole and back up to North Pole again. And do this all within 24 hrs  but also somehow managed to find the time to come visit my family and extended family gathered for Christmas Eve dinner and hand me, all my sisters, my brother, and all my cousins (which are many!) a special gift personally from him!  I miss having that child-like waiting with expectancy for something grand, something big, something special to happen.  When I got a little older and discovered Santa Clause didn't exist my little heart sank ... I don't know if it's because my brother and I broke into our parents bedroom hunting for our presents early only to stumble upon letters we had written to Santa Clause was actually never mailed ... you know, that was a little traumatizing when you think about how you pour your little heart out writing a letter to Santa only to find it collecting dust in an old drawer haha how quickly we forgot our trauma when we discovered our Christmas gift was going to be Nintendo!  Super Mario and Luigi ... wohoo! oh and then the suffering of being grounded from our new Nintendo games when our parents discover we were snoopin in their bedroom.  I'm smiling as I write this because you know there's a bit of irony here.  I have childhood memories I love and would like to re-create if I could... and here lies the rub ... this could never be re-created... or at least I cannot hold onto some fantasy where that could be possible and face the reality that it just will never be the same... not for me anyways.  I mean, I love to see the joy of my nieces and nephews experience Christmas and the wrapping paper on the floor but long gone are the days I get Christmas gifts and unwrap a present I have been hoping and dreaming for.  I remind myself year after year that Christmas isn't about consumerism but time spent with family, time spent remembering the birth of my Saviour Jesus.  But gosh darn it I'd like to open up a special gift that's not socks, toothpaste, or soap.  Gosh darn it, I want the same excitement I had when I saw my first guitar wrapped up and leaning against the fire place, I want that same excitement of dancing around a room shouting "We got super nintendo we got super nintendo" I want that same excitement waiting for a special night and Christmas Eve is no longer a special night.  It's just like any other night because every day I remember Jesus, every day I remember His birth although I reflect more on his birth during the Christmas season of course.  I miss the days waking up in the morning to finding gifts under the Christmas tree and wait a super long time for breakfast the whole family would enjoy together Christmas morning after we'd all open our gifts.  I recognize that this blog post may be especially difficult to read for one reason or another.  Either you want this time to be happy and celebratory and blissful or you recognize the truth that not everyone experiences a joyful and wonderfully blissful Christmas.

For many, Christmas is a time that triggers deep emotions of grief and pain.

I stumbled upon a blog post titled: 15 Things I Wish I'd Known About Grief, and it got me thinking...

I start to think because often times our view on grief has only to do with loss of a loved one you remember not necessarily the loss of a loved one you don't remember but a significant relationship... the loss of a twin prior to birth or shortly after, the loss of a mother or father you have no memory of, the loss of dreams and the ideal life you thought you'd be living by now, the loss a parent and especially the mother when there is a miscarriage... as a friend pointed out... there's a word for a wife who loses their husband - Widow.  There's a word for a husband who loses their wife - Widower.  There's a word for a child who loses one or both parents - Orphan... but there is no word for a mother or father who loses their child.  There are other life circumstances that lead one to grieve, perhaps you have dreamed to one day get married and have children but life's circumstances has you currently single or living a a celibate life when you'd rather be married with children.  It's one thing to be celibate because you feel it is a life vocation that God has lead you into than to be celibate because you are single yet desiring to one day get married or celibate because you believe that you are not yet ready to be in a relationship let alone be married - and perhaps for good reason ... who knows the situation as to why you're single and yet desire to get married ... but if you're in your late 30s or 40s and not yet married with children there is less likely a chance of getting married and having children and for some this is part of their journey through grief.  All of this is the reality many of face and during the Christmas season this can trigger some very raw emotions.  And well, you could be like me and just hope and pray to God that you could just get through the Christmas cheer when you're not cheerful, enjoy this season despite the pain that may surface, enjoy your family even if you're family is crazy, weird, a little dorky, a little dysfunctional with at least one odd aunt... could that describe most families or is this just a description of my family?

So how can we get through the holiday cheer when we're not cheerful?

1. Being cheerful when you're not cheerful ... well, nobody likes a fake so don't be fake

At Christmas time we might not be cheerful but I am certain that if we take a few moments to remember what we do have... like a family that loves each other and accepts each other regardless of flaws, weaknesses, or differences.  A roof over our head, food, the cloths we wear. The free coffee you receive because some unknown person a little earlier in the morning decided to pay it forward.  The laughter of your nieces and nephews gathered together with the whole family as fun and awkward that may be along with all your feelings of ambivalence but you know you are loved and you love your family.

2. You're not always happy and not always sad.  Joy can be present in both.

Finding joy isn't in the state of our emotions.  Finding joy is when you take a moment, especially in this season, to not focus on what we have lost or what we want or don't have but rather focusing and being thankful of what we do have.  We might not have much and if we don't have much even that free coffee brings about that "I'm special" and "somebody thought of me today" the simple things in life will bring joy. Sure we could be reminded of the absence of that loved one -- their absence we will feel... we would long for that prodigal son or daughter to return home, we will long to have known our mother or our father, we will remember our loved ones not with us anymore but we have loved ones still with us, we have family still with us, and even if you feel as if you're unseen and go unnoticed by people there comes a moment when somebody says to you, "you're not spending this Christmas alone" or you receive a random blessing from some kind generous soul who decided to pay it forward.  Don't let the enemy of your soul rob you from blessings and joy... be sad if you're sad and be happy if you're happy but never lose that joy in your life and if you don't feel joy simply try to see at least one blessing or one highlight of your day.  If you're like me you find 20 low points in a day but can feel pretty lucky to find 1 highlight or blessing in a day... I think we are more blessed then what we realize if we begin to train our brain to look for each blessing we receive each and every day in our life.        

   

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Reconciliation Week - A Day I'll Never Forget


In the sea of umbrella's and liquid rain thousands of people gathered on September 22, 2013... about 70,000 people from across Canada and the United States to be exact. We all joined together in the most surreal way you could imagine while hearing the daughter of Martin Luther King Jr speak one of the most poignant messages of our day echoing the words and heart of her father 50 years after his iconic I Have A Dream speech.

~There's no single solution. It's going to be multifaceted, because we are talking about healing on many different levels and empowerment in many different ways. But one thing I can say, this is no day to pay lip service to the process. It's incumbent on everyone to pay life service. Canada cannot afford the luxury of slowing down or cooling off. 

  ~ Dr. Bernice King 
 (daughter of Martin Luther King Jr) 

I am a descendant of Musqueam First Nations. My Great Grandparents, Michael Wilson and Emma Sparrow attended residential school. Eventually they were faced with difficult decisions to protect my Grandmother and all her siblings from the residential school which not only marginalized us from the non-native community that surrounded us but also disenfranchised us from our larger extended family and community.  Since gaining Status I've been slowly re-connecting with family and meeting cousins for the first time.  I've sat with Elders and listened to stories.  I heard both ancient stories but I've also heard the more painful and more recent stories of what happened in the residential schools.  I've learned ancient songs and ancient Indian Gambling games... and trust me, these ancient gambling games are so much more fun then the Bingo! :)

To say the least, this last year especially has been somewhat of an emotionally tumultuous time as we bridge together relationships that the residential school system tore apart.  And this last week I experienced both joy and the pain of grief and great sadness and sorrow.  The walk for reconciliation like healing balm... a cleansing rain to wash away the crud and the ashes of the past.
          

When I walked on the walk for reconciliation I walked in honor of my Great Grandparents having survived the residential school.   
I walked in honor of all First Nations, Inuit, and Metis People across Canada who survived the residential schools including all their descendants of whom I am among. 

I walked in honor of all non-natives who came out to support a movement towards reconciliation.   
I walked in honor of great men and women of God like Martin Luther King Jr who gave his life paving the way for us and leading the civil rights movement. 
I walked in honor of all those who work towards ending social injustice, who desire social reforms, and make the choice to not stop until justice is truly seen. 
I walk in the hope for our next generation who will be inspired by this historical event that drew people from all across Canada and the United States.   
   


You can watch part two here.


I had the brief opportunity to meet Dr Bernice King in a very unexpected way. It was a true honor to step into the role I did... would not trade it for the world! Over the years I've come across many celebrity figures in my line of work but none like the daughter of one of the greatest civil rights leaders in America.

My day started out the usual way.  I woke up to the cold rain that's so typical for Vancouver and thought surely not many would show.  It was a very surreal experience to see the vast number of people who came out for the walk for reconciliation.  You know how passionate somebody is when they're willing to stand in the cold and get soaking wet from the down pour of rain.  Within minutes of walking towards the stage to where Dr Bernice King stood getting ready to go on stage I became soaking wet. When I got there I was trying to find a few members from my church who were gathered for the walk.  I literally got grid locked in the sea of people and while attempting to get around I somehow managed to get back stage.  I thought, surely knowing a few people I might be able to take a short cut around the mass of people back stage :)

While back stage I realized that the fences gave no access point on the other side.  Usually at these events there would be access and it would be guarded by security, a security team I work with.  Next thing you know, I'm back stage and there I see her with the security detail around her. I eventually managed to get myself back into the sea of people and cross the street to find somewhat of a good view to watch Dr Bernice King speak.  And then shortly after she finished I decided to try one more time to find my church community. Amazingly enough as is, I actually did find them!

OK, so this was truly a day to remember!  As I walked towards the finish line I was pulled off to the side by an acting supervisor of mine in the security team working this event who then said he desperately needed my assistance.

He said: I'm short two guards, it's just me here because my other two guards are lost in the crowd and the contract we have is for three guards and Dr Bernice King is currently participating in the walk for reconciliation and she's going to be here at any minute and we need to escort her from the finish line of this walk to her booth that was set up for her to meet people and sign books.

I said: OK, so probably what's best is you walk on one side of her and I'll walk on the other side. (of course she has her own personal body guard)


He said: Ya, sounds good, just crowd management, keep people away from her etc 

And let the fun begin with the host of media!  I start walking beside Dr Bernice King while briefly being introduced to her personal body guard, a representative from Reconciliation Canada assisting in the security detail, and a few others who traveled with her.  There I am soaking wet, I have on me my dirty heavy back pack and so not looking like security but thought it was a huge honor to walk beside the daughter of the greatest civil rights leaders of all time and while helping out my employer and co-workers. I was placed completely and totally on the spot and pulled from the crowd but I really didn't care.  I was absolutely thrilled! I really couldn't care less if work paid me for the two hours I helped out. We escorted her to her booth where we were for the next hour and a half.  Just before the crowd dispersed I was relieved from duty.  I went to get ready to go and found it difficult to get to my back pack which I had placed in behind the banner at her booth.  It was such a small booth with next to no room behind.  Had I known it would be as difficult as it was I would have waited.  After Dr Bernice King finished getting her picture taken she reached in behind the banner and grabbed my dirty heavy back pack and handed it over to me.

All I could think was ::: oh my gosh! she's picking up my dirty heavy back pack... no!!! ::: 

There we stood, face to face, eye to eye and as she handed me my dirty and soaking wet 40 pound back pack all I could say was "Thank you"... after which I told myself, "you idiot! Is all you can say is thank you!? Why couldn't you say something more like, the work you and your father have done has been truly inspirational and a work I've admired... but no, all you could say is thank you.  And why couldn't you have reached out to give a meaningful hand shake and tell her she didn't have to pick up my bag but thank you.." After all was said and done I kinda had to laugh as I thought back to the expression on her face as if she were saying "what the heck am I doing and what the heck do you have in this bag!"

There is this incredible humble spirit about her and in some way to have her pick up my dirty soaking wet 40 pound back pack was like Jesus washing the feet of his disciple. I will never forget this day. I will never forget the kind, gentle, humble, and wonderfully gifted woman and speaker Dr Bernice King is.  I'll never forget what a surreal experience it was to watch her from afar hearing her echo the words and heart of her father 50 years after he gave his iconic I Have A Dream speech.  I'll never forget standing among the great multitude of people in the sea of umbrellas, among a people who didn't care it was cold and rainy but who stood in solidarity with our First Nations People acknowledging the horrific history and legacy of the residential schools.

====================================

Late January I had written a blog post that used Martin Luther King Jr's I Have A Dream speech re-writing it from the perspective of First Nations People across Canada.

Here's a link if you wish to read --> I Have A Dream Kanata! 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Out of Egypt and Into the Promise Land - Part One

It was twenty one years ago I embarked on a journey in my relationship with Jesus Christ.  Since then my life has taken on many interesting twists and turns.
I've gone through mountain top experiences and have journeyed through the tumultuous and seemingly dark valley below.  

I was thinking a lot lately about the story of Israel. I was thinking about their captivity in Egypt, their exodus from Egypt, and then their journey into the promised land.  Our own personal journey is not much different. God calls us to leave what we know and embrace what we don't know; a way of living that may seem completely foreign to us. He calls us to leave behind sin and embrace holiness.  He calls us to change the direction in our lives that lead to the captivity of sin and death towards life and redemption. From death and curse to life and blessing.  He calls us out of the bondage of sin and into a freedom that only a relationship with Jesus can bring.        

"...for I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." 
~ Jeremiah 29:11-13


When I was 14 I came to believe that I didn't have to be gay, that being gay didn't have to be my reality and that there was an alternative and my relationship with Jesus was part of this alternative being presented to me.  And so instead of "coming out" as gay I began to focus more on my relationship with Jesus Christ and being His disciple, learning how to live the Christian life and be faithful in all areas of my life which included surrendering aspects of my sexuality to Christ.  I didn't know of any ex-gay ministries and didn't know of anybody who despite their feelings made the choice to leave homosexuality or lesbianism but God began drawing me towards Him and towards a love I was completely foreign to.

What a testimony if I could say I'm no longer same sex attracted and never tempted towards sin and married with children!  But that's not my story.  I'm not going to discredit those who might actually have this story as the reality in their journey out of homosexuality or lesbianism but that's not the story of everyone.  Many leave homosexuality and experience a reduction in same sex attraction but the majority of people who journey out of homosexuality don't experience a complete eradication of same sex attraction but in their relationship with Jesus Christ are pursuing holiness, experiencing healing in their lives from past wounds, and coming to the place of greater wholeness as a result of their relationship with Jesus Christ, and yes even experiencing freedom from homosexuality... some more than others.  Just because you experience homosexual temptations that doesn't negate healing and transformation in your life and that doesn't negate the testimony of hundreds of thousands of people around the world who can testify to freedom in Christ from homosexuality.  I find it easy to believe that my experience should be the experience of others and when somebody shares a testimony that is different from mine it's easy to disregard or dismiss their testimony altogether.  It's also easy to get stuck in bitterness and become jaded because I don't have the testimony of same sex attractions being completely eradicated from my life and maybe also because at times I would hold up marriage as the only expression of God's healing in a persons life.  Marriage is not what healing and change looks like.  Marriage should not be our goal and our primary focus shouldn't be to get married or to primarily focus on the eradication of same sex attraction from our life.  

I have to be careful not to idolize marriage but to see singleness as a gift no less valued than marriage. Well, I guess you could view singleness as a curse but I know people who would say there is less freedom in marriage and that may actually be true. The scripture actually lifts up singleness maybe more so then marriage.  I've heard it said the opposite to homosexuality is not heterosexuality.  The opposite to homosexuality is holiness. I've heard it said that marriage is not there to make you happy but to make you holy.  I've also heard it said that God didn't create us heterosexual and homosexual. He created us male and female.  

Our attractions and our experiences are not what defines us. My pursuit in life is not heterosexuality or marriage. Healing and transformation is the inevitable byproduct of cultivating a relationship with Jesus Christ and embracing the life that God has always intended for us. Homosexuality is not what God intended. It is only a counterfeit to what God desires for us.    

What God desires for us and our reality may actually be two different things.  God may actually want to change our reality.  

The question is, will we let Him? Will we let God change our reality or will we turn our hearts back to Egypt, back to what is familiar? Will we leave behind the captivity of Egypt only to return or will we set our sight on what God is calling us into?  Will we trade in the real deal for a counterfeit?  Will we allow our present day hardship towards a better future make us forget the bitter-sweet taste of the fruit in Egypt... the fruit of bondage and slavery to sin?                 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Starting a New Blog: Finding Success in Everyday Living

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The change you might be looking for

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I've seen a lot of business opportunities like this one but usually it involved having to invest a certain amount of money just to sign up and usually involved some sort of pyramid scam that is actually illegal.  There's nothing wrong with multi-level marketing businesses if done the right way.  And usually these pyramid scams necessitated you to sign up your family and friends and without signing up family and friends that usually meant you'd find little to no success in whatever multi-level marketing business you'd be getting involved with.  I'll share with you a number of different reasons I've decided to check out SFI and the reason I believe you should too!  

1. There was absolutely no obligation to sign up so to sign up without any initial financial investment means zero risk for anyone who might be interested in finding out more information on SFI and how you can earn a secondary income through Internet Marketing.  

2. When you sign up you start an online course on Internet Marketing for free!

3. This business does not necessitate anyone having to bombard family and friends and try to get them to sign up as if your life depends upon it.  I can let my experience with SFI speak for itself.

So far my experience has been relatively positive.  I was amazed to not hear messages on how to get rich quick.  I have heard advice on how to fast track your way through to creating a foundation that will prove your business to be successful but the truth is I didn't hear anyone promise me that if I follow certain steps in x amount of time I'll be making thousands of dollars per month but instead I heard of the possibilities and potential of what SFI has to offer along with the sobering message that you get what you put into it.  There is no business today that doesn't involve some kind of personal time and energy being invested.  You can't get something out of doing nothing.  You really have to the put the work into learning the business, learning how to utilize the Internet to your advantage through Internet Marketing ... and the best part of it, you get world class training for free and a wealth of resources from all over the world to jump start your business towards success.  This isn't a "get rich quick" scam but you really have to work hard in your first couple of years before you see any financial rewards which really depend upon your willingness to put to practice what you learn through the online course and how well you take the advice of others who have gone before you and who are there to support you.  Think of SFI as a franchise you might want to financially invest in.  Think of SFI giving you literally thousands of people at your fingertips to network with around the world and to work together towards building your business!  I am relatively surprised at how everyone at SFI works as a team.  Everyone wants to succeed in their business and everyone wants to see others succeed in their own business.    It truly is a win win type work environment.  There really are no losers at SFI you just have people who never quit and people who do quit but everyone who refuses to quit will eventually see the financial fruit of their labour and with current Internet trends this is perhaps the best time to sign up!

If you would like to know more check out my new blog: