Breaking News

•September 29, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Hello friends

I will be changing my postings to mid week Tuesday or Wednesdays starting next week.

Look forward to sharing more of my journey with you.   

Why I still honor the Jewish High Holidays

•September 21, 2012 • 2 Comments

The Jewish High Holidays are upon us.  This is the most sacred season within the Jewish community.  They begin with Rosh Hashanah and end with Yom Kippur.  During this ten-day span the focus is upon repentance and making one’s life in right standing with G_d.

As many of you know I was in a long-term relationship with a Jewish woman.  Over time I grew to love and embrace Judaism.  I found a great deal of solace during the high holidays.  During the 2008 High Holidays my life was in shambles.  I had serious and life altering injuries from a car accident.  I could verily function physically.  I couldn’t work thus I had no purpose as much of my identity was tied to what I did.  My relationship was unraveling before my very eyes.  I felt as if my soul had been murdered and feelings of powerless and loneliness were my constant companions.

Yom Kippur 2008 proved to be a turning point in my life.   During a time of personal reflection and prayer these words formed in my mind G_d if you are real I need you.  I believe that pray, changed the course of my life.  Four years later I sit in awe knowing what has transpired.  I was not actively seeking to enter in to a relationship with Jesus Christ whom I now embrace as the Messiah.  I have concluded that true repentance is more about entering into agreement with G_d and aligning my life with His values, principles and standards.  Not because I feel I must but because I desire to honor Him with my life.

In fact I never intended on surrendering my life to Jesus.  I was not compelled to escape hell for the assurance of heaven.  He drew me by offering me the one thing my life was void of peace.  Listen to his words from John 14:27- “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”  Isaiah 26:3-4 – You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.  Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord G_d is an everlasting rock.

My friends, peace only exists as we yield our lives to the Elohim the one who creates and created us.  This peace is gained in a life of agreement and harmony with a G_d who has only the best intentions for our lives.   This path has required surrender of my own beliefs for what is true.  I have yielded my sexuality to Him not because He hates me, but because his original intent was not for me to find my deepest needs filled in another person (they never were) but in Him alone.  I choose to trust His design for human sexuality as the optimal best.

As I close this year my heart is heavy for those of you who I know who have yet to engage in relationship with the Messiah and discover peace in your life.  On Wednesday and Thursday next week I will observe Yom Kippur you will be in my prayers.  May you know G_d, and may you discover Shalom. Shalom can be defined as a status of tranquility, completeness, wholeness, soundness, rest and harmony.

I would love to engage in a meaningful conversation with you about this process.  Please feel free to contact me here.  As always your comments and thoughts are welcome.

Shalom, my friends!

Why community matters

•September 14, 2012 • 2 Comments

In her new book “Everything” author Mary DeMuth says “if you have been hurt by community, God uses community to heal you.”    I have found that to be true for myself in the last three and half years.   It has not been an easy or love at first sight relationship for me to engage in a local church or build relationships with Christians.

In my new faith I had little desire connect with the Christian community.  My young adult experiences with the Christians and the church had jaded my perception. My experience taught me that Christians in general shunned gays and lesbians because they were afraid of them or they believed them to be demon possessed.  Once I made the decision to follow Jesus my faith placed a wedge between me and my GLBT friends and I felt grave angst about churches and organized religion.

The first several months of my Christian experience were rather lonely basically it was me and Jesus and the Bible.  I had relocated to East Texas was living with my friend who had lead me to Jesus and her husband on a small farm in the middle of nowhere.   My only social outlet was attending faith based recovery groups who meant in local churches.  I found these groups to be welcoming and accepting and related to the pain and struggle of many of those who attended.

One Sunday morning I turned on the TV and the Pastor of one of those churches came on.  I sat there mesmerized by his message it as if the man had a bird’s eye view of my life.   Something within me was drawn to go to that church that morning.  I had no clue of the service times, but I knew I needed to go.  When I arrived I was shocked to find friendly people who seemed to want me there.   Once I was past the front doors one of the group leaders came up to me and insisted I come sit with her near the front of the church.  “No, I am good”, but she wasn’t taking no for an answer.  So there I was in a church on a Sunday morning sitting on the second row.  I was completely out of my element.

That morning was a turning point in my life; soon I was helping at their food pantry, doing little projects, or filling in when the receptionist was out on vacation.   I was drawn to these folks, they seemed to see past my orientation to the deeply wounded person I was.  They cared more about the condition of my soul than my sexual identity.

Shortly after I began volunteering at the church I found myself in the most unusual position; their regular secretary was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  The lead pastor approached me and asked me to fill in until she recovered.  In that moment I thought the man had lost his mind.  Why would a Christian church want an openly gay woman to come work for them?  I am sure my church was the only one with an openly gay receptionist in East Texas, who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor.  Talk about risk and irony.

That was almost three years ago, since God tenderly budged to engage in a Christian community.    As a result I have ventured on this journey to resolve my faith and sexuality; it has not been an easy path.  Most often it’s been awkward and uncomfortable.   Yet I have cultivated healthy meaningful relationships with both men and women; discovered Christians who are kind and caring people.  The local church has been a vital element to my healing and spiritual growth.  Relationship and growth are why community matters!

Look forward to your thoughts and comments,

Hope

No gift is to small

•September 13, 2012 • 2 Comments

 I have  a special request Living Hope Ministries in Arlington Texas  the worlds largest online ministry and a ministry I personally have benefited from is part a one day donation drive where they match a percentage of gifts given on that day over $25. So we are asking our supporters to give on their site from 7a-midnight Central Standard Time on Sept. 

 

Just log onto  Donorbridge  and then put Living Hope Ministries as your charity. They are located in Arlington, TX 

They are currently about 75 individual gifts behind the current leader for the $10,000 prize. This part of the contest does NOT have a minimum dollar amount attached to it!  so every $5, $10 or $20 gift counts.  Would you be willing to make a small contribution to a high impact ministry right now.

Thank for your support in advance,

Hope

What I learned in Zumba Class

•August 31, 2012 • 4 Comments

That’s right you read it correctly!   As I shared in my last post I have been working out and getting my body back into shape.  Well one night I was on the elliptical doing my thing and saw this group of women began their Zumba class.  I of course dismissed it immediately, while I love Latino music I was pretty certain I could never make my body move like those ladies were.  Yet over the next couple of weeks I found myself drawn to watch them moving in sync to tunes and having a good time.

Within three weeks I mustarded enough courage and walked into the class; I found my way to what I thought was back of the class.  If you have ever been part of a Zumba class the group moves around the class a lot; so my little corner of security was quickly removed.  Man did I feel like a bull in a china cabinet and am pretty certain I looked like one too.  However, I got the best cardio I had gotten in ages and I liked the music.

After class one night a woman close to my age and in great shape came up to me and asked if she could share her story.  She pulled out a picture of this obese woman who looked nothing like her and said that was her two years ago.  She shared how she lost 180 pounds by doing Zumba and changing how she ate.  She told me just like me she couldn’t always keep up with the group but she learned to just keep moving even if she couldn’t do what everyone else did.  She also shared that for a solid six weeks every part of her body ached and hurt, but she kept coming back and trying.

Lesson one, it is important to share your story with others who are struggling but desiring to enter into health.

Lesson two, commit to the process no matter how hard it seems.

I have often relied on those words of encouragement, to keep pushing forward in my quest for health and fitness.  I had some remaining results of the car accident and subsequent head injury that made the class challenging.  I couldn’t turn around in circles as is often part of the routine, but I would hear those “words just keep moving”. So I learnt to adapt to routine and keep moving in some similar form.  Secondly, and much more embarrassing was the dyslexic messages my brain sent to go to the left when others were going right.   In spite of my challenges these women soon embraced me as one of their own. Although, I felt very other than the rest of the women.  They moved well like girls and they laughed and chit chatted like women often do.  Yet I was strangely drawn to this group of women who knew nothing about my sexual identity and surrounding issues.

Lesson three, it’s OK to not be able to do what everyone else is doing find a way that works for you.

Lesson four, acceptance and encouragement are ways to express value to others.

The biggest lesson was yet to come.  As I started to move in sync with this group my confidence grew and so did my ability.  The initial pain subsided and I was able to move more freely.  I found myself looking at the graceful way these  women flowed and much to my surprise I found myself watching them move and longing to move like they did.

That’s a big deal I have never been one of the girls and well girls seem to learn from and encourage each other on all things girly.  I instead was off playing with the boys and trying to competing to conquer the world. I also carried myself in masculine manner and thought nothing of it.  So, with every Zumba class I was secretly noting how to be more like one of the girls.  Yes that’s right at 51 I started embracing my physical womanhood and having fun with the girls in a safe and healthy way.

This became very evident to me one day as one of my friends joined me for the class and in the middle of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” busts out with Barney the dinosaur moves that made me laugh and totally lose where we were in class.  I cherish that moment, because, there I was just one of the girls and having a blast.  Thanks, Teresa AKA Lightening, and Momma Swag, you  have taught me that girls can have fun and what a true friend is.  There have been more challenging moments like; the instructor breaking out belly dancing scarves for us to tie around our waists; ugh in room of eight women I was forced to give into peer pressure. It was a funny moment when it was all over, although I still cringe thinking about it.

Yeah you guessed it I felt like a fool and oh and not to worry I don’t sport around in pink chiffon and lace dresses or skirts.  Paint my nails or try to walk in heels and fall flat on my face.  I am however much more accepting of my feminine side.   At the same time all this was taking place, God was working on my rejection self-loathing of being born a girl.  The day of my 52 birthday God breathed into my spirit that He had created me to be a woman intentionally and on purpose. I wept that day it was the first time I felt accepted and valued as a woman.

The final outcome, Zumba has been a tool that God has used to develop my femininity and come to a place of comfort among other women.  I am still working on my interactions with women and discovering my own personal expression as a woman but I am on my way.

Look forward to your comments as my journey continues,

Hope

Brokenness Through, Sweat, and Tears

•August 25, 2012 • 13 Comments

Since last September I experienced a great deal of personal growth.  I realized my weight was completely out of control I was beginning to resemble a beached whale and something needed to change.  So I started working out 3-5 times a week.   To date I have lost 90 pounds and workout five to six times a week.  My overall goal is 150 pounds.  The net result of all this has been I feel great I have more energy and my general health has improved and I am starting to resemble a human being again.  However my inner being was far more unhealthy and looked like a toxic waste dump.

Taking the necessary steps towards healing has required facing the pain and fears of my childhood.  While it has always been present I have rarely acknowledged its presence much less its impact on me.  Allowing the pain and fears to surface has been a daunting task most often I have wanted to turn tail and run back to my coping mechanisms.  My emotions have been safely locked and guarded in the inner sanctum of my soul.  Well, let me restate that many of my emotions have been held at bay; however the one that has been ever present is anger.  My anger was an effective motivator in the arena social justice gay rights venues.  Facing my fears and subsequent pain has been  necessary; as well as allowing my emotions in their rawest form to emerge.  Mainly in the form of tears; from childhood on I lived by an unspoken code to never express emotion or weakness.   This code served me well as a lesbian and I shared this commonality with other butch women.  I am sure there is book out there about the subject; the title probably is “Butch/Boi Girls Don’t Cry

I have never wanted to admit that I might be a damaged or broken person.  Oh boy has that been an uphill battle to come to a place of acceptance with .  Mary DeMuth (Click here to discover more about Mary) in her upcoming book title “Everything” says “Brokenness is the avenue for God to work.” (Everything page 110)    Mary also shares that “I must be broken to be reshaped.  I must be cracked before the repair.  And the repair, painful as it is, makes God stronger in me.” (Everything page 111)  The one thing I have learned is that by embracing my brokenness I have gained a more accurate view of who I really am and my need for someone bigger than myself to heal and direct my life.  That someone is Jesus.

It has been even harder to allow Jesus to take my pain and allow the tears to flow.  In the last few days I have recognized a powerful correlation between sweat and tears they release harmful toxins from my body.   My good friend Sue Bohlin (click here to discover more about Sue) says “that tears are attached to soul pain.  As tears leave our bodies so does the pain and grief.”

One of the most touching verses in the Bible to me is Psalms 56:8 NLT

You keep track of all my sorrows.
You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded each one in your book.

So my sweat is allowing me to release the fat and toxins trapped in my body and my tears are cleansing me of the toxic pain stored within me over the course of a lifetime.  I am so glad I have come to a place of brokenness.

I welcome and look forward to your comments,

The journey continues,

Hope

Identity is “Everything”

•August 17, 2012 • 18 Comments

In a recent conversation with someone I shared that I once found my primary identity as lesbian; their immediate response was “shut-up” quickly followed by well how is it possible for you to change that.  My response was it’s not that black and white going from gay to straight.  I think it is erroneous to emphasis sexuality as the key component of our identity.  Although I once thought it was the most important aspect of who I was.

Identity is so crucial to our personhood; if we don’t know who we are then our security, purpose, and meaning are profoundly affected.  I have found this to be true in my own life experience. My parents had rejected me because I was born a girl; I felt grave in-securities about my body, gender and personhood. In addition I was not connected to either of my parents our interactions were dominated by sexual abuse and neglect.  Subconsciously, I equated sex and love/affection as one in the same.  For me sex was the currency I gave in exchange for love, acceptance and affection.  That has been a big revelation for me.  Consciously, I closed myself off from trusting them or others.

The walls surrounding my true self and soul could easily be likened to impenetrability of Fort Knox!

Fort Knox the United States Bullion Depository has a solid granite wall perimeter guarded by squadrons of machine gun wielding guards; its blast doors weigh in at a hefty 22 tons and is held shut by a lock so intricate that it requires a 10 person team to unlock.

Let’s just say trust doesn’t come easy to me.  It has been a radical positional change to learn to entrust every aspect of my life to Jesus and God the father.  Then to learn to engage with the community of believers he has placed in my life.  At this point you are probably asking alright Hope, what do those two things have to do with identity?

The answer is both simple and complex “EVERYTHING”.  At the point we surrender the eternity of our lives to Jesus we are adopted into Gods family.  However for many of us we are use to not having healthy or no parental figures in our lives and feel alone and not a part of or belonging to anyone. It takes time to call and trust him as a father and to feel that we are his children.

In order to heal from my painful past, I have discovered that building relationships and being connected to others is as essential to me as air and water are to my body. I have only known unhealthy ways of relating to others especially women.  It takes time learn new ways of relating and building healthy relationships.  At the core of every intimate unhealthy relationship was a desire to be connected and to be loved and affirmed by my partners.  Where the unhealthy took over was looking to them to be my sole source of life and a willingness to surrender my personhood to them.

The reality is only Jesus can meet our deepest needs and unless we discover how to allow him to satisfy our desires and core needs we will never be whole or completed by another person.  I am learning He must be my primary relationship and then I am then able to relate to others in a healthy manner.

Can my identity be transformed, I think so if I am willing to surrender how I meet my needs and embrace my God intended identity as his child.  I love what author Mary DeMuth says in her new book “Everything”… “God taking parts of ourselves and remaking them into something different.  We die to our wounds so that He can resurrect newness of life, joy and connectedness with others.”(page 105)  I believe the most essential part of my identity is found in my relationship with God the father and His son Jesus; without them I can never be truly complete, fulfilled or whole.  We are made for relationship!

Thank you for joining my journey, I look forward to your comments,

Hope

 
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