Welcome to the World, Dominick. Take Notes.

On May 25th, 2014, one of my best friends, Kristen, gave birth to her first child! She is not the first of my friends to have a baby, but she is the first of my best friends to have a baby and be living in the same city as me, so this is a big deal. Kristen, her husband Trai, and both their parents labored for an entire weekend before Baby D burst into this world with plans to do some fiercely amazing things.

Kristen and Trai

Kristen is an only child, so she views her close girlfriends as sisters. This means I’m an aunt! I plan on being a major part of Dominick’s life and I can’t wait to experience life with him.

In honor of Dom being born on May 25th, I have written a list of 25 things I hope to teach him in his life.

    1. I swear to the Good Lord, your mom was super cool once. Don’t ask me to prove it. She’d kill me if I told you half of the things that make her so cool. OR at least wait until I’m 3 vodka sodas in to ask me.
    2. The great game of flip cup. Your mom and I were and still are champion players. It’s like riding a bike.
    3. Be nice to your teachers and do as they say, even if it doesn’t make sense to you. Confession: I grade the “good” kids way easier than the pain in my ass kids. And trust me, your mother will kill you if you don’t get good grades.
    4. Reading is sexy. I mean, sure…video games are cool, but a girl is going to be way more likely to talk to you if you’re a reader.
    5. Gay? Fine by me! Seriously. I’d actually prefer it if you’re gay. By the time you’re able to read and comprehend this, I pray that who people decide to love and marry isn’t even worth a discussion anymore. Plus, I’ll probably be married to a slew of gay men, so I’m sure you’re already in tune with the gay community.
    6. It’s okay to make giant mistakes. Believe me…your mom and I have made some DOOZIES in our day! But when you need help, go to your parents. There isn’t anything you can do to make them love you less. They might be frustrated with you, but I can guarantee that they will do anything in their power to help you out.
    7. Exercise is AWESOME! Getting your heart rate up for just 30 minutes each day boosts your endorphins by like a gadzillion percent. And endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t. Ugh. In this moment, I’m really hoping you’re gay so that you can appreciate that Elle Woods quote.
    8. Hold onto your faith. Your friends will let you down. Your family will let you down. God will never let you down. He may frustrate and confuse you, but He will ALWAYS be at your side with your best interest in mind. God has a wonderful, beautiful plan for your life. When life sucks, just trust that God is working in everything for a reason.
    9. Be good to your friends. Apologize when you’ve wronged them and forgive them when they screw up. We’re human, it happens. But life truly is not worth living without some badass friends at your side. Look at all your aunts and uncles; very few of us are genetically related to you, but consider ourselves family. We couldn’t have made this family work without a little bit of forgiveness, understanding and A LOT of love.
    10. Do whatever it takes to get along with your parents and introduce them to your friends. Yes, they’re super annoying, but they are your #1 fans! They are going to be way more likely to let you borrow the car and stay out past curfew if they know and trust who you are with.
    11. Be nice to girls. They are fragile creatures that need to be treated with respect and care.
    12. Is Facebook still at thing in 2029? God, I hope so! I can only imagine all the cool foods I will be eating and fantastic things I will be doing in 15 years! I will want to make sure all my friends know about it! I digress… Don’t friend your parents on Facebook! Sure, you should be open and honest with them about your life, but your friends are idiots and are going to post stupid things that you would much rather your parents didn’t know about. And the truth is, they probably don’t need to know. Don’t worry… I’ll talk to them about this.
    13. Call your grandparents! Once again, you come from a very loving and supportive family. Would it kill you to tell your grandparents what is going on in your life? Plus, they’ll be more likely to slip a 20 in your Christmas card!
    14. YOU’RE a badass kid, but don’t let that go to YOUR head. Let’s go THERE so we can drink THEIR beer THEY’RE dumb enough to be giving away. If you learn nothing else from me, know the difference between these five words!
    15. We are not guaranteed tomorrow. Embrace EVERY day you are blessed with by finding some small bit of happiness in it.
    16. Surround yourself with people that make you a better man. Shake the haters off and latch onto the friends that tell you when you’re being an idiot, but encourage you to be better than you were before.
    17. You are going to fail at things in life. What will impress people is when you get up and try again EVERY time. You’ll probably even impress yourself.
    18. NEVER drink straight Everclear. You’ll go blind and your man bits will never work right again! Okay…maybe not, but seriously. Not worth the risk.
    19. Be silly and laugh at yourself! People will laugh with you and life is more fun when you’re not worried what other people are thinking.
    20. A few days after you were born, Maya Angelou passed away. She was a brilliant poet and author. She was also an actress, screenwriter, director, civil rights activist, and educator. One of her most famous quotes is “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” In my 29 years in this world, I have learned this to be absolutely true. I can’t remember what one of my ex-boyfriends said to make me angry, but I remember being so angry I threw a hairbrush at his foot. I can’t remember every kind act your mom has ever done for me, but I know she has made me feel loved. The point is, don’t overthink saying the right thing or doing everything right; focus on how your words and actions will affect people later.
    21. Don’t let your significant other be the focus of your life 100% of the time. You still need to put effort into your friendships because who else is going to listen while you ramble on about how perfectly fantastic they are?? And trust me – it can be very hard to earn back friendships you pushed aside for a relationship that lasted half as long.
    22. Learn to cook. There is nothing sexier than a man offering to make dinner.
    23. Something my mom taught me: Never rely on anyone to take care of you financially past the age of 22(ish). Not even your parents. You could and should rely on Mom and Dad to help you when you need it, but learn to be self-sufficient. And never, EVER, expect your significant other to support you 100%. Life happens and you need to know how to take care of yourself.
    24. Something my dad taught me: Always have more than one toolbox to work from. Be good at more than one thing. Your first career choice might cease to interest you someday, or for reasons outside of your control, you are unable to maintain your dream job. Be able to make money doing something else and be willing to learn new skills.
    25. “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8) When we love people, it is more difficult to wrong each other, but when we do (we’re human, so it’s going to happen!), they will see the love in our hearts and be better able to forgive us. Plus, you want to be remembered as the nice guy and not the bully. Loving people should come naturally to you because your parents are two of the most loving people I have ever met. It has never quite made sense to me how two people can be so short in stature and yet have hearts so big. You are truly blessed, Dominick.

Dominick

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Taking the Dip

Yesterday morning was supposed to be fairly simple for a Sunday…church with Shelly, Dad & Cathy, lunch, laundry….my typical get stuff done day. Well, all of those things happened, but one more item was spontaneously added to the list.

I have been attending Rock City Church since November of last year. As a lifelong Christian, I have been through my fair share of churches. I grew up attending a Lutheran church with my family, often attended Sunday mass with my childhood best friend Sarah (she couldn’t sleep over Saturday night unless she went to mass first, so I made it part of the event!), switched to a different Lutheran church where many of my high school friends were in 9th grade and began going to a nondenominational Christian church after college, where many of those same friends had moved to. Needless to say, church has always been an important part of my life and it needs to be a place where my friends and I feel welcome, wanted and safe from judgement.

Rock City not only makes me feel all of those things, but in the 7 short months I have attended, mI have felt more compelled to do the work of Jesus than I ever felt anywhere else. At previous churches, when service opportunities were announced, by intial thought was, “Well, I shoudl probably go, but I don’t wanna go if I don’t know anyone there. Meh, I probably won’t know anyone. I’ll go to the next one.” There is nothing wrong with wanting to serve alongside our close friends and family, but God calls us to do His work whether we are with each and every one of our Facebook friends, a few acquaintances or no one we know at all. I was not able to focus on that fact – I was more worried about if I would have to meet new people, which for me, is something I actually love!

I have not done a lot of service events with Rock City Church, but now, rather than wondering who will be there that I know, I figure, “That sounds cool and like something that really needs to be done – sign me up!” For example, when I first heard about Rock City’s mission trips to San Salvador,my interest was immediately piqued. I had always wanted to go on a mission trip, but for one reason or another, never made it a reality. But when the idea of traveling with Rock City to San Salvador crossed my path, I decided I was going to “pray circles” around whether or not I should go. It didn’t matter to me who else would be going; more likely than not, being that I was so new in the church, I probably would not know anyone on this trip. One prayer led to another and I knew that God was putting the people of San Salvador on my heart for a reason and that I was meant to go.

Not only had my motives behind serving change after joining Rock City, but my relationship with my dad changed as well. I invited Dad and his girlfriend Cathy to join me for a service one weekend. With the loud music, unusual venue (Rock City Church uses movie theaters as their place of worship!), and the fact that it was something new (my dad and I both cling to tradition very tightly), I was sure Dad would come once to be nice and that would be that. Well, I was wrong! Dad and Cathy both LOVED it! They loved the upbeat, heart-pounding music. They loved the cleverness of a movie theater house of worships, and most importantly, they loved the pastor Chad’s message. So they came back the next week with Cathy’s really-not-so-elderly father, John (make sure he knows I put that in print!!). And even John loved the service!

Because Dad and I had begun worshipping together again for the first time since around 2003, God began working in our relationship. Planning for my trip to San salvador brought Dad and I closer. Chad’s weekly messages gave us something to discuss at our weekly dinners. I was trying to refine my ability with my father to be slow to anger and quick to listen. I truly believe Rock City Church has brought out the best in both of us and helped remind us that before getting frustrated with one another (which happens VERY frequently), we need to express ourselves in love. Dad and I have gotten along better in the past 5 months than we have in any of our 29 years together.

This brings me to yesterday’s unexpected event. I woke up early, took care of some things around the house and went to church to meet Shelly. The message was the 2nd of a 2 week series called “The Dip.” Last week’s sermon was the idea that “We all go through it. One way or another. Whether by design or by default. We want to avoid it. Nobody wants to go through it. But there are some things God can only speak to us in The Dip. Find out what to do when you’re in it, and what’s waiting for you on the other side once you go through The Dip.” I should’ve seen what was coming in yesterday’s message – a different kind of “dip.”

It was Baptism Sunday.

The message focused on the fact that God gives us a very simple and straightforward command: “Repent and be baptized.” (Acts 2:38) A water baptism is meant to be our first act of obedience to Christ. He doesn’t say “Repent and convert at least 5 other people.” or “Repent and tithe all your money to the church!” or “Repent and give up all your heathen ways NOW!” No, God says “Repent and be baptized.” So why is water baptism so important to Christians? What does it mean for us? God responds to simple obedience. If we can be trusted to do the little things He asks of us, imagine the big things God can trust us with! We might not understand why God tells us to do something, but He’s God, so we just do it. Take the story In Acts of Philip and the Ethiopian. God told Philip to “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” So he did. There, he met an Ethiopian who was “on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet.” God then directed Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” So he did. Philip overheard the man reading from Isaiah and asked him if he understood what he was reading. The Ethiopian replied, “How can I, unless someone explains it to me?” and invited Philip onto the chariot to sit with him. He showed Philip the passage her was reading:

“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter,
    and as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
    so he did not open his mouth.
In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.
    Who can speak of his descendants?
    For his life was taken from the earth.” (Isaiah 53:7,8)

Using that piece of scripture, Philip began telling the Ethiopian the good news of Jesus Christ. They traveled along the road together and came upon some water. The Ethiopian asked, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?” So they went down to the water and Philip baptized the Ethiopian.

What is holding each of us back from begin baptized? Often the simplest commands and the most simple acts of obedience have the deepest significance and yield the greatest results. When God proclaimed that “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased,” Jesus had just been baptized. All it took for him to please his father, the creator of the universe, was to be baptized; to proclaim in front of everyone that he belonged to God. 

I was listening to Chad preach, I wondered, Well, I was baptized as a baby, doesn’t that count?? You’re just talking to the people that have never been baptized at all, right?? WRONG. This is something I have wondered many times before – if someone needs to be re-baptized if their parents did it for them as a baby. As if Chad was reading my mind, he imparted, “If you were baptized as a baby, that says more about your parents’ faith than your own faith.” This actually made sense to me. When Mom and Dad had Uncle Art baptize me, they were proclaiming the church and to God that they would raise me in a Christ-centered home, with Biblical values and teach me to live a Christian life. So yes, that says a lot about their faith and how important it was to their life. And they did all those things. They “made” me go to church each Sunday, they encouraged me to join the youth group and they were at each and every time I earned a place in the church musical chorus, they were there front and center.

But I never announced to the world that I had made a decision to follow Christ and declare myself as his. I truly appreciate that my parents had a very big part in pointing me towards Jesus, but as a person that can (and sometimes to my parents’ chagrin) and has always made my own decisions, He asks me to proclaim it for myself. So yesterday, after Chad gave an amazing and action-inspiring sermon about the importance of water baptism, he invited anyone that wanted to make the decision and announce to the world their dedication to Jesus to head out back where a team of people would meet them. Well, that would be cool, but when I get baptized, I wanna have an outfit prepared, I want to invite my friends and family, I want to have a lunch planned afterwa…wait. Where’s Dad going? “Shelly, did he just walk out there?? We should probably go with him, right? Holy crap!” Shelly and I followed Dad to a room where he was filling out a baptism registration card and getting clothes he could get baptized in so he wouldn’t have to drench his church clothes. “What’re you doing??” Dad asserted, “I was baptized as a baby, but this is important to me and I want to do it now! Plus, it’s better than when they do the winter baptisms in 12-degree weather!” (He had a point, yesterday was a beautiful, sunshiney day!) I stuttered, “Oh! Huh…well, I guess I can’t let you do this alone…hand me a card!”

As a spur of the moment decision, I made the choice to go with my dad and be baptized. I have been doing my best to live a Christ-centered life my entire life. (Some days are notably better than others!) What was holding me back from making it official and declaring to God and to the world that my heart and my soul are His?? Not having a well planned out event or a fashionable outfit? Well, that definitely sounds like something I’d say, and just showed that I wasn’t think with my head on straight! I donned a Rock City Church t-shirt and a pair of workout shorts and headed outside with Dad. We were met by a team of people just waiting to pray with us. They thanked God for moving our hearts and our feet that day and sent us on our way towards the baptismal tubs! Dad and I decided that we were in this together, so we were getting dunked together! We stepped into the giant, horse-trough-turned-baptismal and sat facing each other. Pastor Todd Marrah knelt down beside me while another volunteer knelt next to Dad, and Todd assured us that as soon as we came up from the water, we would be washed clean in the blood of Christ, clean and forgiven from the sins we committed 10 years ago, the sins we committed 5 days ago and the sins we will commit 5 hours from that moment (we’re human…it’s normal to sin on your baptism day!). He asked if we understood and accepted that. Dad and I both said that we did, leaned back into the water and came up refreshed and new.

Oh, did I mention that Dad and I’s few moments of baptism were on the big screen? Oh yeah! Since Rock City holds their services in movie theaters, they live broadcast the baptism into the theater for the rest of the church to watch. I’ve been in there for previous baptism services, and it’s amazing. Every time someone come up from the water, the entire theater rejoices with applause and cheers!

Do I feel differently now that I’ve been baptized? Honestly, no, not really. But I am proud that I got to share the moment with my Dad and now I can go to San Salvador practicing what I preach. I now know, without a doubt, that when Jesus calls me home, my home is with Him in Heaven for eternity. My friends and family know who my heart belongs to, but most importantly, God knows!

I wholeheartedly trust that God has a plan for me, goes before me and has a place ready for me in Heaven. I know that if I trust God enough to follow him, He will allow me to do immeasurably more than I could ever do on my own. Yes, I will falter. But with God at my side, time and time again, He has and He will continue to strengthen my faith.

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Hillsong United

***UPDATE*** You can watch Chad’s sermon HERE! It’s Week 2 of the series.

Prayer Team

Prayer Team

 

We are assured that we are cleaned from ALL our past sins and ALL our future sins through Jesus' ultimate sacrifice.

We are assured that we are cleaned from ALL our past sins and ALL our future sins through Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice.

 

A friend in the worship service recognized a few familiar faces this week!

A friend in the worship service recognized a few familiar faces this week!

 

photo 3 (2)

Ending Up Helping :: Birthday Girl’s Choice

So I didn’t exactly write a blog a day…and for that I am honestly only mildly disappointed. I learned a lot about many local and national charities and I was able to pass this on to my students! As I mentioned earlier, I had my juniors do a project in which they were required to research one charity and interview someone involved with the organization. Some of my students took this assignment and ran with it! They chose things that meant something to them (Anxiety & Depression Association of America, Huckleberry House, Wounded Warrior, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Stonewall Columbus…I could go on!) and learned how to support these causes and why they are important. Other students…well…they just weren’t inspired. “I chose the Ronald McDonald House because I like McDonald’s.” I guess that’s a start! Oi veh…

One part of this idea that I did take VERY seriously was choosing one philanthropy to donate my own time and/or money to. And I’ve decided…

San Salvador Missions Trip with Rock City Church

Recently I have been searching for a church home. I grew up going to one Lutheran church until 9th grade, when I switched to a different Lutheran church where many of my high school peers attended. When I hit college, I pretty much stopped going to church altogether, other than when I was home on break. I tried different churches on my campus, but none of them were as good as my home church. I felt like my spirit wasn’t being fed, so I just quit trying (I don’t recommend this method, by the way). After college, I went back to that home church. A few years later, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (one branch of the Lutheran churches) voted that if a person was in a committed, monogamous homosexual relationship, they COULD be a pastor! HOLY YAY!!!!! (Literally!). Well, my home church did not feel the YAY as much as I did. They decided to put to a vote whether or not the church would stay part of the ELCA or leave (thus stating that they were against gays being able to be pastors in our church). Guess who could vote? People of a certain age that had tithed a certain number of times. Guess who couldn’t vote? Me. And most of my peers. One of my favorite memories of this time (okay, I wasn’t there for it, but I can imagine what it was like) was when my mom went to a forum to express why voting to leave the ELCA was ludicrous. As she stood up to speak, two elderly women behind her were heard whispering to each other, “Oh, that’s the woman that is friends with those gays.”

BAHAHAHA! Hell yeah she was! God, I miss her.

I digress…needless to say, it was time for me to leave my home church and find a new home. After much searching and wrestling with what’s important to me in a church, I landed in a seat at Rock City Church.  

Rock City Church is a newish church in Columbus, almost 3 years old. They don’t actually have their own building. They use movie theaters (specifically the Lennox and Regal theaters) as their worship halls. I know this sounds kinda weird, but in all actuality, it rocks. They have a full rock band that performs in front of the giant screen while the lyrics are projected behind them. The band is so loud and so rocking that the church offers earplugs for more sensitive listeners. To expand their audience, Rock City live streams the pastor’s message from the main theater in Lennox to another theater down the hall and another theater across the city at the Regal Cinema! The Regal Cinema has their own band, but they get to hear the same message from across the city. How 21st century is that??

The set is a little more elaborate now, this is from their opening day, but you get the idea!

The set is a little more elaborate now, this is from their opening day, but you get the idea!

My favorite part of church is the music. When I can close my eyes, sing along and rock out my worship to Jesus, that’s when I’m most connected. I recently learned that ONE SONG at Rock City can last as long as 15 minutes!! I had NO clue!! It certainly doesn’t feel that long! Every time I leave Rock City, I feel good! The message sticks with me through the week and actually affects my daily living.

You might have seen our pastor Chad in last month’s 614 Magazine!

I realized Rock City was worth a hard look as a possible home church when one week, I “accidentally” planted myself next to this fabulously sweet gay man (who happens to be a teacher as well!) and the next week I saw one of my college sorority sisters sitting alone before the service! Josie and I reconnected and she seemed just as interested as I was. Just like any activity that requires commitment, having a buddy definitely helps. Josie encouraged me to join her for the Rock City Connect classes, where you get to learn more about the church.

Well, one thing led to another, and I had decided that Rock City was the church for me. I don’t think I can ever be 100% sure about a church. The church changes and I change, so who knows how long this will be my home, but for now, it’s the perfect fit.

Getting Involved

Since I had finally found a new church home, I wanted to be involved and stay connected. Here’s where the charity part FINALLY comes into play! It has been 9 long years since I have left the country (Canada doesn’t count). I have been wanting to see more of the world for years, but haven’t made saving money a priority. Well, now I’m going to pay it forward AND see the world all in one swoop.

In just a few short months,  June 7th – June 15th 2014, I will be joining a short-term missions trip to San Salvador, El Salvador with people from Rock City Church and our partner church, the Great Commission Latin America. Because of generous donations, Rock City Church was able to fund and finish construction on a Child Development Center in 2013. At the center, 120 children are provided with healthy meals, medical and dental care, education, Jesus, and hope.

San Sal Promo

Our role during this trip will be to serve the community through working with the children, assisting in the health clinic and possibly some construction work. We will share the love and message of Jesus Christ and build relationships with people that are eager to share their life stories and hear why we have the hope we have.

In order for me to go on this trip, I will need some serious prayer warriors. I am learning to “Pray BIG!” God can handle my big prayers. So I am asking people to pray that I allow God to use me for His will, not my own, on this trip. I’m not sure in what way God will use me on this trip, but I hope not only to be a blessing to those I encounter, but also to be blessed by this new experience.

I must admit that I am a little nervous. I feel like this is a quick decision, even though I’ve been thinking and praying about it for almost 2 months now. I trust that this is something God wants me to do and that he will use me to His benefit. I’ve also never been to a Spanish speaking country before! So, I’m learning Spanish! I took French in high school, and I’m finding that background knowledge does help a little! I will be going on this adventure with a brand new group of people. Sure, I’m pretty good at making friends, but it’s still a little nerve racking, even for me!

So as I prepare for this trip over the next 4 months, please pray, send good karma, whatever it is you do! I am so excited for this experience and I can’t wait to tell you all about it, from planning and preparation to the actual trip!

As Jesus once said, “¡Ve!”

(I’m told that means to command someone to “GO!”)

Confession: I had to look up where El Salvador is...

Confession: I had to look up where El Salvador is…

 

Please watch the video below to see where I will be and to meet Nelson, one of the Salvadorian children benefitting from Rock City’s efforts:

One Love

I had another post planned for today, but in light of what is going on in our country right now, I thought I’d postpone it and write this one instead.

In California “Today and tomorrow, the Supreme Court will hear two cases challenging the constitutionality of Proposition 8 and the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).” (HRC.org). If you are not familiar or want more specifics on what is at stake, please click here 🙂 . In the simplest, layman’s terms, the Supreme Court is about to make a giant step for or against marriage equality.

I want to share why this is an issue that I hold very dear to me. The issue of marriage equality is something that should be important to everyone in this country, but for me, it doesn’t hit close to home, it is my home.

My godfather, Tim, who is also my first cousin, is gay. Tim has been a profound influence on my life since day 1. He is on my mom’s side of the family and has told me that my mother, Lois, felt more like a 2nd mom to him than an aunt. Tim and my mom were actually relatively close in age because there is a 16 year gap between my mom and her older sister. I believe my mom was about 15 or so when Tim was born, so not exactly the same age as most aunts. Mom tells stories of how she would babysit Tim and his siblings and the time the spent just pulled them closer together. I cannot remember a time in my life that Tim was not a part of. He has been there to celebrate all of my accomplishments, has never missed a birthday, and I have always known that I can rely on him for anything.

I vaguely remember the day that Mom told me Tim is gay. Just as I can remember Tim always being around, I can remember Ken just as much. There is not one memory I have of Tim that Ken is not a part of as well. But, as a young child, and not knowing that gay was a thing, I just assumed Ken was Tim’s best friend. And I was right. But he is so much more. I don’t know how old I was, I’d guess between 5-10 years old. I was out to dinner with my family, including Tim & Ken. I’m not sure what spurred this revelation on, but all I can remember is being in the lobby of some restaurant and my mom explained to me that Ken was Tim’s boyfriend and that they are in love, just like Mommy & Daddy are in love. I don’t recall this disclosure being life altering. I just remembering thinking, Ok, cool! I like Ken! He always plays with me when he’s around, so he can stay! (And this remains true to this day! Ken is definitely the sillier of the two, often receiving an, “Ohmygawd! Ken!” from Tim.) From then on, that’s just how it was. There was no mention of Tim without Ken. I swear their names have merged into one: TimNKen. When are TimNKen getting here? TimNKen have invited us for dinner! I get to go to New York City with TimNKen! I never thought anything of this, right or wrong, normal or strange….it’s just how it was.

In 2005, Tim & Ken traveled to Massachusetts to be married. I was a sophomore in college. If I am being honest, I can remember being a little off-put by the idea of them getting married. If they wanted to live together, have a civil union, and love one another…GREAT! I had absolutely no qualms with that. I really hadn’t explored in my own faith and in my own heart, how I felt about gay people being married in a Christian setting. I was stuck in my literal translation of the Bible. I never said anything to anyone because didn’t want to hurt any feelings, but that was my opinion: Civil Union?? GREAT! Congrats! Christian Marriage?? Woah woah woah…the Bible says “No.” Sooo….WTF are you doing?!? It was a mindless and underdeveloped opinion.

I’m not sure what influenced me to rethink my opinion on gay marriage. Maybe it was the fact that as my college years went on, I began making more and more gay friends and realizing that I wanted them to be able to have the same happiness in marriage that I hoped (and still hope!) to have one day.

In my more recent years, I have become what some refer to as a “Fruit Fly!” Now, this is different from what may people think is a “Fag Hag.” Hags try to change their gay friends and turn them into a constant shopping partner, gossip girl and Dear Mr. Abby. Granted, some people are like that, but not all gays. The Fruit Fly on the other hand, loves the gay man for who and what he is and just wants to soak up their fabulousness. I try to subscribe to the fruit fly religion. I’m not sure what it is that draws me to gay men like a sorority girl to flip cup (I speak from experience on that one. It’s RIDICULOUS how quickly we flock to a competitive game of flip cup!). Perhaps it is their passion for life. Maybe it’s their ability to cook (I certainly can’t!). Maybe it’s their fierce fashion sense. Maybe it’s their quick wit with a snarky comment. Or maybe…it’s their bravery and conviction that it will get better.

Whatever it is that draws me to the gay community, I have been blessed to have each and every one of my gay friends in my life. I am fiercely loyal to my people and anything or anyone that tries to harm them better keep an eye out for my Madonna-Arms 😉 just kidding…but in all seriousness, I just don’t understand how our country can legitimize denying legal citizens the same rights as everyone else in this country just because of who they choose to love. I tried to explain this to one of my students today, and on the spot, the best simile I could come up with was, “It’s like if I fell in love with a black man and was told that I am unable to marry him simply based on the color of his skin. Or a Jewish man. Or someone from a different state.” The student hasn’t quite grasped the idea yet, but it’s a work in progress.

Say what you want about gay marriage in religion. My opinion has personally changed. God’s greatest commandment for us was to love one another. Do I know if partaking in a gay relationship is a sin? No, I don’t. But I also know that I sin daily and my sins are no less than anyone else’s. I also know that it’s not my job to judge, thank God (literally). I don’t have to choose who gets into Heaven and who doesn’t. I seriously pray that I will be in Heaven, glorifying God with all my brothers & sisters, gay and straight. But judgment not my job. My job is to love my neighbor and love my enemies. I know I fall short in loving people the way God asks me to, but I try.

Speaking of love, back to Tim & Ken. These men are two of the kindest, most loving people I have ever met. Since Tim and my mom were so close, when she died, Tim felt as though he had lost a mother as well. Tim was there was Mom died and didn’t leave my side for days afterwards. He helped me pick out dresses to wear to her services (I never thought I would hate shopping!), worked with me to write her obituary, and did his best to answer my most unanswerable questions. But most importantly, When I just needed to cry, Tim held me close. And Ken was right by Tim’s side, holding him when he needed to cry and supporting him when God just seemed cruel and unfair.

This past summer, Tim & Ken celebrated 25 years of unity. They have only been married for 8 of those years, but they have persevered, celebrated, cried, laughed, and loved through all of them. Tim & Ken are a beautiful example of the loving relationship I hope to have one day.

So you’re telling me that two men that capable and filled with love to spill out all over the world…don’t deserve the same political rights as heterosexual citizens? I have seen love in many of its forms and I have been blessed to feel love in many ways. No one love is greater than another. We are all equal under the law and in God’s eyes.

I look forward to telling future generations of the day when “Aunt A’s gay friends could all get married, no matter the state, and all of Auntie A’s friends had open bars at their receptions because they knew she’d be there!” I just hope you will join me in our fight for equality and stand tall on the right side of history.

ps…today’s post is red because, in support of marriage equality, people all over social media sites have turned their profiles red!

NOTE: Right before publishing this post, a friend shared this article, in which the author argues that simply changing your Facebook picture red for a day or 2 does not make one a moral crusader, and is actually, useless. At first I was offended, Hey! I’m supporting the gay community! Don’t take that away from me! But the more I thought about, the more I realized that he’s right! Sure, it’s nice to show our support, but that’s not enough. It doesn’t change people’s ignorance and it doesn’t change the 9 justices opinions. I should have done something more so that this didn’t end up in front of the Supreme Court in the first place! But now is better than never. I am going to take author Brian Moylan’s advice and donate money to the Human Rights Campaign so that they can fight on my behalf. I seem to be a pretty good writer, maybe I’ll write a letter to my senator demanding equality for my gay peers. The tangible options are many.

What will you do?

Tim & I at his 25th Anniversary with Ken.

Tim & I at his 25th Anniversary with Ken.

Ken, me & Tim at their 25th Anniversary

Ken, me & Tim at their 25th Anniversary

My college graduation in 2007 from Ohio University!

My college graduation in 2007 from Ohio University!

TIm's brother, Bill, my dad, Mom & Tim at Human Rights banquet

TIm’s brother, Matt, my dad, Mom & Tim at Human Rights Cleveland Dinner, 2000/2001. Mom was gorgeous!

Tim, age 8 or 9, Mom, age 23 or 24

Tim, age 8 or 9, Mom, age 23 or 24

Mom & tim undoubtedly sharing a Dewars on the rocks with a twist.

Mom & tim undoubtedly sharing a Dewars on the rocks with a twist.

Search Instagram #noh8 for some fabulous marriage equality creations!

Search Instagram #noh8 for some fabulous marriage equality creations!

Going Old School

Going Old School.

Click above to read a post from William Ricci’s blog, “The Wasteland Here.” He puts into words perfectly my feeling towards the written word.

For me, reading is an intimate, corporal experience. The feeling of being curled up amongst a pile of blankets and pillows with a hot cup of coffee or tea…this would be the perfect day for me. Only one thing would be able to spoil it…

some sort of newfangled, scientific eReader!

Ugh. I mean, I get it. It’s trendy. It’s handy to have all your books in one place. It’s cost-efficient. Yeah, I understand all these perks of Kindles, iPads and other eReaders. But there is nothing comparable to the feeling of flipping to the next page, being able to physically see how much you have left to read, and smell of fresh or ancient pages.

I love the look of a library – of books on shelves. I think it makes a person look educated (not necessarily formally) and learned when the have shelves full of books and/or books strewn all over their home. It shows that they can think outside their own sphere, tiptoe into other worlds and attempt to understand where they land and see a world through the eyes of someone else. Yes, this goes for people, no matter their vehicle for reading. A person who enjoys a book electronically has the same intellectual abilities as one who reads them on paper, and maybe it’s due to my aesthetic nature and predisposition to assess people based on exterior factors – judging my people by their covers, but it is more apparent to me when a person has their literature on display for all to enjoy.

In short, if a person, man or woman, wants to win my love and eternal loyalty, it can be achieved with the simple gift of a book, one with pages not buttons.

The Beauty & the Beast Library

In my later years, I became less concerned about the budding romance between Belle & the Beast, and more preoccupied with the question of How can she turn him down NOW??!!

Nice Tats!

For the past 4 months, I have sat with my friends while they permanently inked their bodies. I had 4 tattoos and after watching my crew add to their tattoo collections one-by-one, I knew I had to be next. I had a million ideas swirling in my head of what I wanted my next one to be. I couldn’t narrow it down, so I went to Pinterest to find more inspiration and try to narrow down my ideas. Well, I certainly acquired more inspiration, but as for narrowing down my ideas…ooh fah! I only added MORE ideas to my mental bulletin board! I have so many passions, thoughts and feelings that I want to showcase on my canvas…it makes it close to impossible to choose just one!

So, I chose 3. Tonight, I had 2 of my 3 ideas inked onto my skin permanently and I couldn’t be happier.

The skull & crossbones tattoo is an homage to my dear friend Emily and I’s 10 year Depp-a-Thon tradition. In short, it’s a weekend-long Johnny Depp movie marathon. And it’s awesome. And it all started with the first Pirates of the Caribbean! We saw it together and immediately knew that we had to see every movie (and TV show!) that he has ever been in. And in 10 years, we have accomplished that.

The words “be still” are in memory to my beautiful and amazing mother who passed away from endometrial cancer October 27th, 2010. “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10) was her favorite Bible verse and she passed its sentiment on to me. When everything around me is chaos and I feel lost in the maelstrom, I only need to bow my head and remember that He is God and has everything under control.

On Monday, I will return to Jack at Fate Tattoo and have my 3rd piece done! Stay tuned!

I’d love to hear about your tattoos (already done or floating around in your head as haphazard ideas)! What are they? Where are they? Tell me all about it, stud!

Thanks LC!

Well this is pretty cool! Ever since the days of The Hills, I’ve been a Lauren Conrad fan. She has a blog that I follow. The other day, she asked her readers to share their blog websites. I visited a few blogs that my fellow LC followers posted and was impressed by the miscellany of the writings! I shared mine, thinking it would be lost in the profusions of replies.

But…hot damn! Someone found my needle in the haystack!

So, a warm welcome to my newest reader! Come on in, warm up with a mug of hot chocolate and enjoy yourself!

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