Aunt J (ie; God + Gram and Gramps) vs. Gays

You will need to refer back to a previous blog titled, “The Gayest Valentine’s Day Ever!! Literally” for better context.

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Dear Whitney,

I haven’t heard from you so I am getting concerned.

You continue to be in my prayers daily. You are such a pretty and talented girl, Whitney.

Because I love you, your life is important to me, as well as it is most important to God, Grandma and Grandpa.

I have been studying the book of Romans and wanted to share Romans 12:2 “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God”. I have memorized that scripture and with Jesus’ help apply it to my own life.

I love you,

Aunt J

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Hi Aunt J,

I have not responded, because I don’t even know where to start. Obviously, I never “came out” to you, because I knew that you would not approve, and honestly I was afraid of losing you, and of losing Dad, and unfortunately it would seem as though I have already lost you both. Just like that.

My sexuality would actually be enough to make you no longer consider me a part of your family, and I think that that is absolutely disgraceful, to tell you the truth. I am still the same person. I still have the same heart. My sexuality does not change one thing about the person that I am, nor the person that God created me to be.

Dad told me that you have already looked into disinheriting me, and I just want you to know that I couldn’t care LESS about your money. What I care about is to be loved. To be loved by the people who God entrusted to be my family. What I care about is being loved for who I am, regardless of (what you would consider) my faults. I love all of my family, regardless of their faults, because there is not one of us who is without fault.

There are so many things that I can say, but the only thing that I really want to say to you is this:

If you are going to say that you love me, then you need to love me for who I am. Your “love” should not be conditional on who you would prefer me to be. I love you, Aunt J. I love you even though we disagree on this issue. I love you even though we would be likely to disagree on every single issue that I can possibly think of. You are my family, and I will always love you because I am extremely loyal to my friends and family. I love you because I do believe that Grandma and Grandpa would want for us to love and to be loving to each other. If you are going to say that you love me, then you need to love me in the way that God instructed us to love one another:

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 – “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.”

I would love to have a close relationship with you, Aunt J, but the only way that that will ever be possible is if we can simply agree to disagree. I am not trying to change your mind on this issue, because I know that that is not possible, just as I know that it is not possible for you to change my mind either. I am in a loving, committed relationship with an extremely loving and compassionate woman, and I will be marrying her sometime in the near future.

Dad and I are working on rebuilding our relationship, and I would love it if you and I could do the same. But I am not interested in arguing about this topic, and if that is all that you continue to be interested in then it will be impossible for us to move forward.

The ball is in your court.

Love,

Whitney

P.S – The reason that I got fired up enough (and brave enough) to write to you tonight, is because of the recent scandal involving World Vision. The following is what I recently posted on my Facebook page regarding this issue:

There are some “Christians” who are actually proud of themselves for withdrawing their sponsorship to dying children, because they feel so strongly that gay Christians should not be allowed to work for World Vision. Really people? REALLY?? Do you REALLY think that this is what God would want you to do? Do you really think that a loving God would desire for innocent children punished for these petty theological disagreements? COME ON PEOPLE!! WAKE UP AND LOOK AT HOW SHAMEFUL AND DISGRACEFUL YOUR MORAL HIGH-GROUND LOOKS TO A STARVING CHILD! This makes me so sick to my stomach that I can hardly stand it.

I posted a link to the following article as well:

When Evangelicals Turn Against Children to Spite Me

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My Dear Whitney,

I can’t begin to tell you how saddened I am.

You have not lost either your Dad or me. You have unfortunately turned your back on us. I do not think you consider us to be a part of your family and, yes, that is disgraceful. God did not create you to be Gay. He created you to love Him and the truths in his word and with his help to live by them.

You have changed, Whitney. The Whitney I knew never would have done anything to hurt Grandma or Grandpa who loved you and did so much for you. If they were here today they would do everything they could to help you reject a lifestyle that God calls an abomination.

You need to re-read 1 Cor. 13:4-8. The Gay lifestyle is not kind and it does dishonor others and it is easily angered and it does not rejoice in the truth. It does fail!.

Because I love you Whitney and believe in Jesus as my Lord and Saviour I must always do as He teaches “Love that which is God, Abhor that which is evil.” The Gay lifestyle is evil.

Yes, it is important that we always love each other and keep in touch. I too do not want to argue. We need only to look to God’s word. Please read Romans 1:26-27 and I Cor. 6:9-11. Our thinking must always be based on what He thinks by the teachings in His word.

Right now your Dad, Uncle R and I are broken hearted but we will always continue to pray that you will turn away from a lifestyle that is not pleasing to God.

The ball is in your court.

Always look to Jesus.

I Love you,

Aunt J

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Aunt J,

Please do not contact me again until you can be loving. I do not deserve to be treated in this way, and I will not tolerate it.

I do not accept you speaking on behalf of Grandma and Grandpa. You speak for yourself and no one else. I had a close relationship between Grandma and Grandpa that you know nothing about. They loved me with their whole hearts and nothing would, or ever will change that.

And you also DO NOT speak for God. I have a relationship with God that you know nothing about.

So from now on, if and when you speak to me, remember that you are speaking for YOURSELF and NO ONE else.

– Whitney

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The Gayest Valentine’s Day Ever!! Literally.

It would be safe to say that my sister, Stacey, is my Hero...

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Dear Whitney,

 I wanted to send you an email to wish you Happy Birthday.
Your D told me that I needed to read your blog.  He had been crying over a month regarding your lifestyle.  I assured him that you were a Christian and that you would never do anything to hurt your Grandma and Grandpa.  I guess I was wrong!  Your Grandma and Grandpa would have been heart broken as well as Uncle R and I are.
We pray that you will turn away from a lifestyle that is not of God and we will do every thing we can to help you.  It is what Grandma and Grandpa would have wanted us to do.
We will always love you and pray for you.
Aunt J and Uncle R
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Dear R and J,

It pains me to write you this letter.  You have been so generous to both Whitney and my mom and I so appreciate it.  Your monetary help to Mom has been a godsend.  And R, I cannot thank you enough for the yard work and trips to the dump.  You were a lifesaver.

You both seem like such wonderful people and I don’t want to offend you in any way.  But I feel I must address your hateful and hurtful and ungodly comments to Whitney.  I know her heart is breaking.  You have made her feel ashamed and that is wrong!

I am very sorry that you feel Whitney has disappointed you both, as well as, M and E.  I would like to respond.

Although you feel that being gay is ungodly, many people, including many devout Christians, do not agree with you.  Many churches welcome gays into their ministries with open arms.  There are even gay ministers.  The bible is open to a lot of interpretation by humans and just because you believe one way, there is no proof that God or the Bible agree with your way.

Whitney is a Christian and lives a Christian life.  She attends church and prays and tries to be kind and helpful and forgiving.  Her Partner has gone through seminary, led a devout life, and is now a hospital Chaplain.  This is definitely a godly couple and they are leading a life devoted to god and each other.  Whitney leads a life of integrity.  She works hard.  She lives with God’s grace surrounding her in every thing she does.

I do not believe that being a homosexual and leading a homosexual life is a sin.  I imagine it is a trait we are born with.  Here is why I think this.  I was born a heterosexual.  I love my friends who are women, but no matter how much I love them, I do not want to have sex with them.  I am not attracted to them in that way.  No matter how much I tried, I couldn’t make myself be gay.  No matter how much Whitney tries, she cannot make herself attracted to men.  She is gay.  God made her that way.

And if we agree God is perfect and all powerful, then none of his children are imperfect.  He made Whitney the way she is and she is perfect.

And I know that although M and E might not have openly embraced gays, they loved Whitney with all their hearts and they would want her to be happy.  D wants her to be happy.  Being loving Parents and Grandparents forces us to accept and change and grow in order to be loving.  I know that M and E are looking down from heaven and saying, we wish Whitney all the best.  Our life here in heaven with God is so wonderful and perfect that we want Whitney to have all the love and respect she deserves.  M and E were open to change.  They welcomed me into their family when D and my Mom married.  They adapted to the times although I’m sure having step grandchildren was not their original dream.  So I know M and E would always want the best for Whitney.

Life can be hard and we need all the family we can get.  We need love and acceptance.  We need forgiveness.  I forgive you for not being able to see that Whitney is a wonderful Daughter, Niece, Aunt, Granddaughter, Friend, Partner, and Woman.  I hope that after a time, you may be able to accept Whitney for who she is.  I don’t expect you to embrace her lifestyle, but just accept it.

Life is about change.  And growing.  And learning.  Once people thought it was okay to have slaves and now we realize that no human should ever be enslaved…once interracial marriages were illegal and now they make up a growing population in our country…once we believed divorce was a sin that God could never forgive and now divorce is accepted, but not saluted…once we thought only men could do many things and now we have women proving that we can do almost anything men can do…I truly believe that gays are made by God and therefore should be embraced and shown all our love.  I believe that in a few short years, most people will come around to that way of thinking.

So, I just want you to think about this. If you truly want to do anything and everything to help Whitney, your only Niece, then you will love her.  You will love her for who she is.  And she is gay.  God made her that way and God is loving and good and kind and perfect.  And so is Whitney.  My heart is breaking because Whitney’s heart is breaking.

None of Whitney being gay is your fault.  No human caused this.  Whitney was born an innocent child of God and he loves her for who she is, exactly as she is.  I believe 100% in my heart that if Jesus was on earth today, he would be accepting of all God’s children.

Please take some time to pray and read the bible and talk to your pastor about this.  You should not be embarrassed about this.  Homosexuality is found in the best of families.  And in the best of churches.  And in the best of countries.  Whitney is still Whitney.  And I am so proud to call her my sister.  You should be just as proud to call her your wonderful Niece.

With loving thoughts,

Stacey

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Jesus and Shakespeare.

imagesI overheard the following conversation between a little boy (around 4 or 5 years old) and his grandpa at Old Navy today:

Little Boy:  “Hey Grandpa! Grandpa! Hey Grandpa! Guess what?!”

Grandpa:  “What?”

Little Boy:  “Did you know that Jesus was born before William Shakespeare?”

Grandpa:  “Oh really? I guess I hadn’t really thought of that…”

Little Boy appeared shocked:  “You mean, you really didn’t know that, Grandpa?! I thought you went to church!”

Tell Your Story.

timthumb.phpSo God straight up blew my mind the other night.  Here’s what happened…

I attended the Faith and Culture Writer’s Conference 2013 in Portland, OR.  You may be thinking, “sure Whitney went to a Writer’s Conference, so she’s a writer, so what?”  Well see, this wasn’t just any writer’s conference, this was a Christian-based writer’s conference.  Let me help you connect the dots here…

I am a lesbian and I intentionally put myself into a situation where I would be surrounded by folks who likely would not understand or agree with my lifestyle, and I have not been in a situation like that (on purpose) for more than a decade.

I am not exactly sure what drew me to this conference.  All I know is that I was staring blankly at my computer one afternoon, and one of Rea’s good Christian friends, a girl that I hadn’t even met in real life, posted a link saying that she was attending some kind of writing thing-a-ma-jig.  The next thing I knew, I sent this Facebook friend a message asking her if I could tag along.

There was a part of me that thought that I either wouldn’t hear back from her or she would write back and say, “Who are you and why are you stalking me?”  Lucky for me, Alyssa is a true Portlander and doesn’t own her own vehicle, so even though she barely knew me from Adam she responded enthusiastically, “YES!  I would LOVE that!!” which can be translated in Portland-ese as:  “Please tell me that you have a car because I could use a lift.

It wasn’t until after I invited myself that I actually looked at the website and familiarized myself with what I was signing up for.

Oh God.  Christians.  Kill me now.

But it was too late, so I tried to rationalize why this would be good for me.

1)  I will learn how to be a better writer.

2)  I’ve been saying that I need to get involved in writing groups, and go to seminars, etc.

3)  It’ll be good to see what those Wascally Wabbits, excuse me, I meant to say Conservative Christians, are up to nowadays.

When I picked Alyssa up on Friday night I told her that I needed her to be my safe place.  She looked at me like, “are you thinking that you’re going to get stoned for sporting a faux hawk?” and then she smiled graciously and told me that she had my back.  Alyssa is one of those cool, funky, nice Christians who believes that Jesus loves every kind of Sinner; even the Gays.  Had it not been for Alyssa needing a ride, I probably would have skipped the Friday night event altogether because after reading the itinerary it just looked like all it was going to be was a time of worship and a few speakers encouraging us to write about God and stuff.

I was right.

Those who have known me for any length of time, know that God and Christianity defined me for the first twenty-three years of my life.  I was involved in church and youth group and I eventually became a full-time missionary.  It was during my time as a missionary that I began to question my sexuality, and since Homosexuality and Christianity aren’t the best of buddies, my time in ministry did not end well.

Eventually I felt that I had to choose between loving God and loving another woman, and after an excruciatingly painful internal struggle that nearly became the death of me, I ultimately chose to pursue my first same-sex relationship.  I stopped reading the Bible.  I stopped praying.  I did not fit in at church, and I did not fit in with the totally “Out and Proud” gay scene either.  I was just me; spiritually lost and emotionally alone for more than a decade.

For the past year I have found myself reconnecting with my Spiritual roots.  I have been in a relationship with someone who has a very strong faith background, and she has inspired me greatly.  I have started to read the Bible.  I have started to pray.  I have started to seek God for direction in my life.  I have been going to church.  Rea and I have found a church, Lake Oswego United Church of Christ, that loves and appreciates us regardless of our backgrounds or sexual orientation.  Rev. Jennie Ott and her congregation have invited us in with open arms and allowed us an opportunity to rediscover our faith in a completely non-judmental and non-threatening environment and we love them for it.

All of this to say that Friday, April 5th 2013, was not the first time that I have had an encounter with God; it was merely a surprising and unexpected setting for me  to feel loved and accepted by God.

So there I was, bright red faux-hawk, men’s suit vest, combat boots and all, in a room full of the most wholesome looking Christians that I’ve ever seen; eyes closed and arms raised in worship to God.

Oh boy, here we go.

That scene brought back a lot of memories for me having been brought up in an Assemblies of God, Pentecostal church, but not all of those memories were bad.  I missed this.  As much as I wanted to remind myself that I was an outsider in that room, there was a huge part of me that wanted to be embraced and accepted by that crowd of passionate, Jesus-loving people.  I had experienced great loss when I left my former life as a missionary to venture out into the wilderness alone.

My mind became flooded with memories and questions and longing and ideas for saving the world and whatnot.  I had to resist the urge to grab the microphone from the worship leader and shout, “CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?!”  (I’m sure that Alyssa especially would appreciate that I decidedly did not attend the event in a drunken or chemically altered state, although that may have turned into a far more interesting story.)  Instead I felt the Holy Spirit telling me to “just relax and stop thinking so much”.

So that’s what I did.  I appreciated the time of worship, and the first two speakers.  I especially appreciated break-time that included coffee and cookies.  And then came the final speaker of the night:  William P. Young, author of “The Shack”.

Paul Young is a very humble and unassuming man; he is short, stocky, grey-haired, balding and simply regular in every way.  The first thing he admitted to is that he is an “accidental author”.  He originally wrote the book for his children in an effort to paint a picture for them of who he believes God to be.  So when his wife and children read the book and felt touched by it, he believed that the purpose of his writing had already been fulfilled.  He had never even intended to publish the book, but through a series of events that can only be explained as a miraculous work of God, “The Shack” has become one of the best-selling Christian fiction novels of all time.

Paul Young remarked that many people had asked him if he believed that God had “used him, like a tool” to write the book.  He confessed that he had been abused and molested from his early childhood into his teenage years, and therefore he was not a fan of “being used”.  He went on to explain that God does not seek to have a relationship with tools because tools are inanimate objects.  God seeks to have a relationship with His people, and then He entrusts them the tools that they need in order to better serve Him.  In that way Paul Young believed that God, in His love, had blessed him with the words and given him the freedom to express his spirituality in a way that many ordinary people, like himself, could understand it.

Paul Young said much more than just that, but I was unable to hear him for a majority of his speech because I was having a silent conversation with God.

God:  “I have given you a story to tell.”

Me:  “What story is that exactly?”

God:  “Your story.”

This revelation was shocking to me, considering that I fully expected that if God were going to speak to me in a Conservative Christian setting, the first thing that He would say is that I need to repent of my sinful lifestyle and follow Him.  But that is not what He said.  Instead I felt a complete sense of peace in that I am exactly where He wants me to be; I am, right here and now, on the absolute right path.  Writing is the tool that God has blessed me with, and now He has asked me to share my story.

Yeah, kinda HUGE.

I am still processing all that I feel that God was doing in my heart over the weekend, but for now I will conclude with this:

The Faith and Culture Writer’s Conference was flat-out amazing and I recommend it to all of my fellow writing comrades.  The workshops were very practical and informative and I left with a much greater understanding of what kinds of steps that I will need to take in order to pursue a career as a professional writer.

It was also refreshing to realize that (at least the group that I encountered over the weekend) Conservative Christians have become much more open-minded, loving and accepting than they were ten years ago, and that is a step in the right direction as far as I am concerned.

Of course there was a moment when I outright asked one of the speakers (privately) if he was a homosexual because I couldn’t possibly go through a two-day event without thoroughly embarrassing myself, but that is another story entirely…