Me on a Monday.

The following is my advice to anyone who may be wondering how they could possibly be, as awesome as me, on a Monday:

For most accurate results, it is best to first stay awake all night long…

As many of you already know, I am currently the Care Manager for a sweet elderly lady in Seattle, named Ethel.  We have had an extremely difficult time filling a couple of the night shifts, so I have volunteered to work Sunday nights as a caregiver.  Ethel is very excited that I’m staying the night with her now, and unfortunately for both of us her excitement has translated into insomnia.

Ethel’s insomnia seems to stem from her constant need to have me to sit next to her bed and hold her hand, massage her legs, massage her arms, massage her feet, reposition her in the bed, adjust her pillows, remove her covers because she’s too hot, add more covers because she’s too cold, etc.  There were a few times last night when she felt a little guilty because she knew how tired I was, and to my relief she would say, “Oh Winnie, you really should go get some rest.  You must be so tired.  Please go get some rest Winnie…”

But as luck would have it, I would no sooner have made myself comfortable on the couch again before I would hear her call out from her bedroom, “I miss you, Winnie!  I miss you!  I miss you TOO MUCH!!”

I have experienced this many times over my 12+ years, working as a Caregiver, and I can attest that it is both a blessing and a curse to be loved so dearly and so exuberantly by an elderly person who suffers from dementia.  While on one hand they love you so much that they are concerned for your comfort and safety (“You really need your rest, Winnie…”), they soon forget (dementia) how much time has passed between them telling you to get some rest and you actually resting (approximately 30-45 seconds), and in that short span of time the anxiety that they may never see you again sets in (“I miss you too much”), and at that point nothing becomes more important than coming up with any excuse to see you once more (“legs ache, tummy aches, shoulder aches, too hot/cold”), and therefore your life becomes an exhausting/endearing sort of living hell.

Then at around 3am they look at you with so much love in their eyes that it almost makes you feel uncomfortable, and their sad eyes well up with tears, and they say, “You are so nice, Winnie.  You are the nicest person I have ever met.  You are the nicest person IN THE ENTIRE WORLD!” and then your heart melts a little, and you just smile and continue to hold their hand until they start to nod off, and then you attempt to tiptoe out of the room…

“Winnie, Winnie!  Winnie, WHERE ARE YOU?  Oh thank God!  Thank God, Winnie!  I had a dream that you left me and I never saw you again!  But you’re HERE!  God Bless You.  God Bless You, Winnie…”

After very little sleep and several cups of coffee, proceed to begin walking the first of 6 dogs…

I left Ethel’s apartment at noon so that I could begin the dog walking festivities for the day.  Since I was already on Dixie’s side of town (Dixie is a Golden-Doodle) I picked her up first, and as always she was over-the-moon-happy to see me walk through her front door.  She was briefly disappointed that her boyfriend Nash (my yellow lab) wasn’t with me today, but she still enjoyed herself immensely during our long walk around the neighborhood.  Had our walk ended without any diversions, this particular Monday may have been much like any other.  But since Dixie had been such a good girl on our walk, and since we had the north end of Madison Park to ourselves (other than the fellow mowing the lawn), and since she was missing her boyfriend Nash so much, I decided that Dixie deserved a little off-leash time at the park.

Dixie was ecstatic to be off of her leash, and she rejoiced by sprinting back and forth along the waterfront as fast as her long Golden-Doodle legs would carry her.  When she paused just long enough to hunch awkwardly over a tall patch of grass, I groaned to myself that “of course she has to poop at the very bottom of the hill ugh” and reluctantly got the poop bag ready to clean up her mess for the second time that day.

It works best if you don’t pay any attention to where you are going and just focus on the poop and the poop bag and the task at hand…

On about my second or third step, I felt the earth give way under my feet, and I realized much too late that the bright green grass covering the steep hill toward the lake was merely an optical illusion.  There was no way to know (other than the fact that it had rained all night) that beneath the springtime glow of the glistening blades of grass at Madison Park, there lived a thick basin of slick, slimy, yucky, quick-sand-like-mud.  Before I could even find time to spew out a curse word, my two feet shot out from under me and my rear end was quickly transformed into what can only be described as a butt-sled.  As I tobogganed halfway down the hill, Dixie came bounding toward me and I hollered out to her to “get out of the way!  Save yourself, Dixie!!”

When my joy ride finally came to a stop, Dixie tried to resuscitate me by slobbering all over my face.  “Great, just great” was all I managed to say before I began the process of picking my aching bones off of the ground.

When you think that things couldn’t possibly get any worse, think again…

Not to be deterred from the mission at hand, I found the poop bag that I’d thrown in the air during the whole hoopla, made a quick assessment as to the percentage of my body that was saturated in mud, (my butt, calves, arms, hands, shoes, and I could not help but notice that the mud had actually found its way DOWN my pants and made a home in certain crevices) before I began my descent down the hill once again.

I had no sooner taken a step forward with my right foot before, once again, I became a victim of the menacing, slippery-slope, and this time I completed my journey down the hill, entirely on the right side of my body.  I had mud in my armpit, on the side of my face, in my right ear, and all through the right side of my hair.  Dixie, being my noble companion and all, decided to come and lay down beside me (white dog laying in the mud, great, just great) and lick the mud off of the side of my face.

Between these two falls, I had actually managed to dislodge a significant portion of earth. 

Once I was able to look back at my tobogganing pathway, I was horrified to see that there was a stretch of about eight feet of exposed soil, with a large mound of grass and dandelions piled up at the end.  When I went to pull my pants back up (they had practically fallen off of me by then) I actually had to pull a bunch of grass and dandelion stems out of my crack, and that was when I said to Dixie, “Seriously?  I mean…SERIOUSLY?  F*#KINGSH*TBALLS!!!”

The lawn mowing guy (ie; Sole Witness) must have 0bserved my acrobatic skills from afar, because I noticed that I no longer heard the engine running.  I looked over at him and waved (with my clean arm) to reassure him that I was okay.  He hollered out, “Sure you’re OK, ma’am?” and I just waved him off again with my muddy arm.

By then I had practically landed on the poop-pile’s front door, and I thanked my lucky stars that I didn’t just slide right through it.  Of course, since Dixie was frightened by my elegant trip down the hill, she was unable to complete the process of pooping.  In other words the whole disastrous slip’n’sliding incident, all of which began because I was trying to be a good citizen and pick up after my dog; it all of it had happened in VAIN!  While continuing my cursing rampage under my breath, I picked up Dixie’s little tiny turd-nugget with the poop bag, tied it up, put Dixie back on her leash, and we set off for home.

Remember, I STILL HAD TO WALK FIVE MORE DOGS after this fiasco!  In PUBLIC no less…

Fortunately, since I had stayed the night with Ethel, I did have a pair of pajama bottoms that I could change into, so I quickly weighed out the pros and cons of which would be worse; to walk all around Seattle in a pair of pajama bottoms, or to walk all around Seattle looking like a swamp person who may have possibly crapped themselves?

I opted to go 90’s grunge-style and tie my raincoat around my waist for the rest of the day. 

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By the time I had finished walking all of the dogs that day, I thought that I might die from exhaustion.  I drove home as fast as I could, parked my car halfway in the yard, and plowed my way downstairs, to the coziest couch on the entire planet.  I kicked off my muddy shoes, but didn’t even bother to change clothes before I collapsed onto my favorite part of the sectional and shouted, “Hallelujah!”

My yellow lab, Nash, is not allowed to sit on the furniture, but when I looked over at him and saw his adorable brown eyes looking at me with more love than I could ever possibly deserve, I couldn’t resist him.  I said, “come on up, little buddy” and in less than a second Nash had positioned himself entirely on top of me so that he could close his eyes while he enthusiastically licked my neck and face.

My phone started ringing.  It was Ethel…

(Keep in mind that Ethel has a caregiver there with her 24/7, so she is never alone.)

Me:  “Hello?”

Ethel:  “Winnie?  Are you there, Winnie?”

Me:  “I’m here, Ethel, how are you?”

Ethel began to cry:  “Not too good.  I’m not too good at all, Winnie…”

Me:  “Uh oh, are you feeling kind of crummy again?”

Ethel:  (sobbing) “I feel so BAD, and I MISS YOU SO MUCH, WINNIE!”

Me:  “I’m sorry that you’re missing me so much.  I’m sure that you caregiver is taking excellent care of you though, right?”

Ethel:  “Well…I suppose.”

Me:  “Maybe she needs to give you some medicine to help you feel better?”

Ethel:  (sobbing again) “I don’t need medicine, I need YOU!  The only thing that will make me feel better is YOU, WINNIE!”

Me:  “Well I’m not able to come and visit you tonight Ethel, because I am really tired, but I can talk to you on the phone for a little while.  Do you think that might help?”

Ethel:  “I guess so…but it’s NOT THE SAME!”

Me:  “Hey, guess what, Ethel?  Guess who is sitting on my lap right now?”

Ethel:  (sobbing sounds)

Me:  “Nash was so happy to see me when I came home, that he just had to lay on top of me and lick my whole neck and face!”

Ethel:  “Oh…WINNIE!  (whimpering sounds) I WISH I COULD DO THAT!”

Oh boy…

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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.

———————-

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

—————

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

————————–

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

——————-

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

Cannon Beach.

IMG_0604IMG_0606Day 2 – Cannon Beach!

a)  At 7am I made Rea get up so that we could go hunt for sand dollars on the beach.

Me:  “Hey, I found a sand dollar!  Wait…there’s something wrong with this thing.  Does it look hairy to you?”

Rea picked up the sand dollar:  “Yeah, it does look hairy.  Weird!”

IMG_0583IMG_0618Me:  “Well I don’t want an ugly, hairy sand dollar.  Look there’s another one!  Never mind, it’s hairy looking too.  Jeez, there sure are a lot of hairy sand dollars around here.  Even the seagulls don’t want to peck their guts out.  It’s like they know that there’s something wrong with them.  Do you think it’s a sand dollar pandemic or something like, because of global warming?”

Rea:  “Maybe we should Google it.”

Oh the wonders of using Google on your iPhone at any given time.  Turns out that what looks like “hair” is actually the sand dollar’s millions of microscopic tentacles that work as their feet.  If these tentacles are still visible and if the sand dollar is purplish in color then that means that the sand dollar is still alive.

Me:  “Omg Rea…these sand dollars are ALIVE!  And we’ve been TOUCHING them!”

Rea:  “So?  It’s not like they’re going to attack us or anything.”

Me:  “Yeah, but still.  It’s gross.  Do you think we should try to save them or something?”

Rea:  “You can go ahead and give them mouth to mouth if you want to but I’m going to keep going on with my life as though they were all dead in the first place.”

b)  Apparently it was an unofficial “Bring Your Dog to Cannon Beach Day”.  We saw pretty much every breed of dog that you could think of, which gave Nash a fantastic variety of butt sniffs, and we got tons of compliments about what a sweet, polite and handsome dog Nashy is.  (Thankfully he didn’t pee on any humans, pets or sand castles while these compliments were being given.)  I’m not trying to brag or anything, but if Cannon Beach held a puppy Prom today, Nash would definitely have been crowned Prom Queen.  (Have I mentioned that Nash is gay?)

c)  Bacon Maple Saltwater Taffy, Seahorses and Leopard Print Birkenstocks.

d)  “That dumb car is actually taking the time to HONK at seagulls!  I mean, really?? Just speed up and the seagull problem will take care of itself!” – Rea

e)  “I’m not saying that you’re a bad driver.  I’m just saying that there is a reason that there are dead deer in people’s driveways.”

f)  Me:  “I don’t wanna go home!  Can’t we just live here?”  Rea:  “Once we become independently wealthy; yes.”  Me:  “Who can even afford to live here year long anyway?”  Rea:  “Apparently old ladies who work at Eddie Bauer who don’t know how to use a cash register, and teenagers who work at McDonald’s who don’t know that when customers order a #4 it means that yes, they DO want that in a combo meal.”

Seaside.

302786_10151581006620862_714680784_n255683_10151581343225862_1687393322_nSpontaneous trip to Seaside, OR for Rea’s (early) birthday!

Day 1: 

a) Nash, my dog, peed on some poor kid’s sand castle and sprinted into the ocean just so that he could put his weiner in the water.

b) We walked all around the sleepy beach town imagining what it would be like to grow up here. We decided that it would be like “Stand by Me” meets “The Goonies” – so apparently we’d be boys going through puberty while searching for dead bodies and treasures…?

c) Watching the sunset on the beach while sipping red wine from styrofoam cups.

d) Rea said I can’t admit to drinking from a styrofoam cup because we may get kicked out of Portland for single-handedly ruining the environment.

e)  “You think I’m gorgeous, you wanna kiss me, love me and marry me.” – Miss Congeniality.

f)  Me: “What time should I set the alarm for?”  Rea: “What time would you like to set the alarm for…?”  Me: “Well I’d really like to get up early enough to go look for sand dollars so…how about 6?”  Rea: “How bout you quit smokin’ crack before bed?”

 

Banana Split Blizzard.

Rea and I were driving back to Portland from Seattle yesterday, and we decided that we deserved a DQ Blizzard as a reward for being so good on our diets for the past couple of weeks – (insert irony here).

We stopped at the halfway point in Centralia, WA to fill the gas tank and use the bathroom, and then we went through the Dairy Queen drive-thru before getting back on the freeway.  I ordered a Banana Split Blizzard, and Rea got one of the chocolatey kinds.

The car went totally silent as we enjoyed our frozen treats.  About two bites in, I realized that there was something wrong, so of course I complained to Rea about it.

Me:  “There is no chocolate syrup in this.”

Rea:  “Is it supposed to have chocolate syrup?”

Me:  “Does a banana split have chocolate syrup?”

Rea:  “Yeah…”

Me:  “So yes.”

Rea:  “Pardon me!”

Me:  “Plus I just found a piece of coconut!  There’s not supposed to be coconut in here.  This must be the Hawaiian Blizzard!”

Rea:  “Oh no!  This is a disaster!  Do we need to turn around?”

Me:  “First of all, I don’t appreciate your sarcasm.  Don’t forget about the Zesty Sauce story…”

Rea raised her eyebrows and shook her head in fear:  “Not the Zesty Sauce!”

Me:  “And second of all, it’s still ice cream and it’s still delicious.  I was just making a point.”

Rea:  “Point taken.  Well I watched them put like three-quarters of a banana in the blender, so at least it has banana in it.”

Me:  “Yep, it has banana.  Oh and a nut!  I just found a nut in it too!”

Rea:  “Let me guess…there’s not supposed to be nuts in it either?”

Me:  “No, there’s not supposed to be nuts, but it was a pecan and it tasted pretty good.  I swear, they must not have had a clue what the hell goes into a Banana Split Blizzard, so they just put a scoop of everything in it or something…”

Me:  “Except the chocolate syrup.”

Rea:  “Yes.  The chocolate syrup is severely lacking.”

We went back to chowing down our Blizzards when I got something unidentifiable in my mouth.  I took it out to look at it.

Me:  “Rea?  What does this look like to you…?”

Rea:  “Umm…I’m not sure…?”

Me:  “Oh god, I think it’s a banana peel!”

Rea:  “Yup, that’s a piece of a banana peel all right.”

Me:  “What in the world is happening?!  Is this God trying to punish me for cheating on my diet or something?”

Rea:  “Well I don’t know.  Are you going to stop eating it now?”

I thought about it for a second:  “Nah.  It’d have to be at least a human finger before I stopped eating it.  Actually, even then I may just throw the finger out the window and then try to eat around it.”

Rea:  “Now that’s love right there.”

Me:  “You know it!”

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…

Rainbow Connection.

UnknownRea and I were trying to come up with clever Pro Gay Marriage slogans this afternoon:

Rea: “Rainbows are for Everyone.”

Me: “Rainbows – God’s promise that He no longer hates us.”

Rea: “You may get struck by lightning for that one…”

Me: “Yeah, I guess that one wouldn’t go over as well to the general public.”

Rea: “How about, ‘Rainbows – Aren’t they pretty and not threatening in any way’…?”

Me: “Rainbows – The Unicorn’s Equivalent to Peeing in a Public Swimming Pool”

Rea: “Wait…What?”

Me: “You know how parents threaten kids that the water will turn blue if they pee in the pool…”

Rea: “Yeah, it can’t be something that you have to think that hard about.”

I’m not expecting to be hired as a political slogan writer anytime soon.