Sunday, August 31, 2008

Hurricanes Big and Bad

Living along the east coast, we have the opportunity to experience hurrincanes up close an personal. Isabel was nothing to sneeze at, the damage it caused to northeast North Carolina and the southestern portion of Virginia took months to recover from. In the Tidewater area we have the sound to the south, the ocean to the east and the bay to the northeast. So flooding from three directions as the storm moves through. Yet all the problems we experienced during Isabel are nothing compared to the destruction Katrina brought to the gulf coast states. They are still rebuilding and recovering from its lasting impact. The lives that were lost, the illness it caused, the loss of livlihood, home, possesions, history. I cannot imagine, yet it can happen anywhere any time. By hurricane, tornado, bad thunderstorm.

Here we are again, facing another monster storm! The gulf coast states facing a direct hit. How horrendous. I feel helpless. Yet I am not, I can pray, I am praying. Please join me in praying for this storm to diminish in strength and size. To veer away from any land and go to sea and fizzle out. Join me in praying for the preparations, for the evacuees, those in the helping roles, for leaders. Pray for protection. There are other storms out there, it could happen anywhere.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Another Coming Out (of sorts)

OMG!!! What a day yesterday was. I walked into the office of our housekeeping director at the assisted Living where I am Chaplain part time. She is from Europe, and is in a bi-racial marriage of 25 years. We have a lot of conversations about her family, her employees. Well yesterday I was sharing some work related issues with her, and concerns about the future. Nothing specific about my sexuality. She turned to me and said, "This is 2008, don't you think its time you stop worrying about what people think, and just enjoy living your life and be who you are?" I just looked at her and thought she knows!!! She went on to say something about ministry that who I am should not impact my ability to minister. In fact dealing with it would make me a better minister. Also that if I am not accepted, then change my audience go where I am accepted and minister there.

We talked about it, and she told me the employees here know, or they suspect and its OK. It makes me human to them, not someone who has to be walked around very carefully. she also mentioned there are others here who are gay as well. yes, I know at least 1 for sure. After that I don't remember much else about the conversation. I wonder have I become obvious?

I am still processing this, its quite a journey. But for someone to say its OK, be who you are in the way she did I think is significant.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Invitation

Well the mail came today and in it was an invitation to a "Summer Get Together" from Miss Betty! This brings up so many memories, and emotions. Let me explain who she is... my Sunday School teacher from the time I joined my home church till the time I started college. She also led the youth department I was a part of. Otherwords a right good while! I was part of this church as a member, and staff member. The church was a large and unique SBC church in our city. I say unique it was annointed in the respect that we had many visitors every week and people would hear and respond to the gospel message weekly. It was quite a shock for me when I went on staff at another church it found what I was used to was not the "norm". This church family gave me my beginings in spiritual things, (that is besides what my mother gave me) set me on a firm foundation as it were. One on which I rely today. At the same time it also bound me up with regard to my sexuality, not so much the church but the tradition in which the church stood. This coupled with family things kept me bound up until my late thirties. The people who will be at this get together are folk who I consider family. They nurtured me, saw me through some very difficult times, watched me grow up, some grew up with me. Some were parents to me, certainly Miss Betty and her husband are.

I live in the area where its easy for me to go. I have not seen but one or two of these people since Christmas. This year I have really come out, but not generally. Though some may suspect the don't KNOW. If they did I am not sure I would have been invited. The old catch 22, I would like for these people to understand my rainbow fish journey. Yet I know that will never happen. I sit here with tears in my eyes saying that. Yes I have changed, I am so far from where I have been. Yet I am still the same person. Is that person they remember the real me?
One obvious change they will see right off, is the goatee I have grown. Some will be shocked by that! Good! So I am going to go to this get together. I will enjoy the food, the company and conversation. They don't need to know what has changed me, just that I am grown up in more ways than they know.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Broke Back Mountain

Well I viewed Broke Back Mountain last night for the at least the third time. Every time I see this movie I am touched. The love between the characters. What a complicated yet simple friendship! How their lives could have been different only if... How Jack died in the movie is so sad, tragic, and wrong. Most likely the thugs hired by his father in law. But I am making my own scenario to the movie. The ending of this movie is so sad to me, it brings tears to my eyes every time I see it. it make me think of my own love life, my hope for love, true love. Not secret love but out in the open love. I never want to have to sneak off to a mountain to be with the one I love.

The movie spans 20 years from 1963 to 1983. Have times really changed for GLBT people since then? I sure hope they are, I think they are. I thought of the tragic death of Heath Ledger. What a waste! What talent he had. I hope is was an accident and not a result of suicide or even worse. Will the world ever really know? Most likely not.

Here it is August and where has the year gone? Time seems to be slipping by us, in a few weeks schools will be in, most colleges start next week! Soon it will be fall again, then the fall celebrations will be upon us. Of course dare I say it Christmas. Of course this fall we have the election to think about. Not sure who I am going to vote for this time. Can't say that as a gay man I can vote the conservative republican ticket I used to. Well I never really voted a straight republican ticket anyway. This year to me I have no desire to vote for a particular candidate, which is different for me. Now how did I get on THAT subject?

Well just my ramblings for today.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Graduation

Yesterday I attended the graduation of the CPE Residents at the Hospital where I work. Not only was this their graduation, but it was also the graduation of my CPE supervisor to retirement. It was a time of worship, reflection, satisfaction, joy, and tears. For the residents it on to new beginnings in their ministries, looking forward to where God will take them. For my boss its a time of looking back at a lifetime of ministry, impact, the fact he trained and prepared a generation of Chaplains. He even said that is his legacy. It is that and more!

The Lord used him (and his staff chaplains) in my life to set me on a path of self discovery and growth. There have been times I hated him for it, He pushed me out of my comfort zone, but those times are few. That self discovery and growth led me to deal with my theology; what I really believe not what the church tells me to believe. This led me to examine my spirituality how I practice what I believe and how it impacts my ministry to others. I became more open to the people I work with and those on the receiving end of my ministry. This path led me to recognize and deal with my feelings, the fact I have feelings. This progressed to my sexuality. Dealing with my homosexuality before the Lord and honestly within myself. You know what I have discovered? This CPE process is lifelong. I am continuing to discover, and deal with things in my walk with the Lord through this life. Whats more at times its still painful, but its also glorious. Its growing, maturing, becoming more the man I was born to be.

Even more than what I have written, he became my supervisor, boss, friend, and a spiritual father. So have the other staff chaplains who were part of my training. They all continue to challenge, cajole, and lead me. As he Begin's his retirement I pray the Lord will bless him with a long fruitful life in what I know will become semi-retirement. Perhaps one day I will be able to call upon him to come lead a conference at a place where I serve.

As for me I hope to make him proud by completing my education through to a doctoral degree. By continuing this path the Lord has me on. I don't know where it will lead but I know the one who is leading.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Light of the World

We are the light of the world! God has placed each of us here. He made us and not we ourselves. As God's creations we are valuable persons of worth no matter who we are! God has a plan for each persons life. Psalm 139. The website below contains a presentation that will encourage you. It did me.
be sure and have the volume up on your sound

Monday, August 11, 2008

Is it Revelation or Illumination?

In an earlier blog I describe how the Lord spoke to my heart through the Bible about His creation and acceptance of me as a gay man. I have asked myself the question why did I not see it before? After all I have been a student of the Bible all my life! Especially when I was seeking biblical answers to the question of my sexuality. I think the answer was the fact I was not ready to come out to myself, God or anyone else. I was still in denial and repression.

So the question comes to mind, was it a Holy Spirit guided revelation or what? Certainly it was in the fullness of God's timing in my life. There are those who say there is progressive revelation of the Scripture. This means there are new meanings and application in modern day life of the centuries old Scripture. Certainly the Bible speaks of itself in Hebrews 4:12 as being living active and sharper than any two edged sword. The Bible is certainly fluid document and living in that as it is Holy Spirit breathed. It is the Holy Spirit who opens the meanings and applications of it to the heart and mind of the reader.

Now I may be nit picking at semantics, but in my way of thinking when one says there is progressive revelation; this implies more than new meaning to existing Scripture. A revelation is something entirely new. A new revelation of God to man, or additions to the existing Scripture. I do not go along with the thought of new revelation. In my faith journey the Scriptures are complete, and perfect Word of God. We have the whole revelation of God to man in our hands.

Rather, I prefer the idea of progressive illumination. This means the Holy Spirit illumines the heart and mind of the reader to a meaning and application of the Scripture which is consistent with its original intent. Consistent with its message of God's revelation of himself to His creation to where the person is in his or her walk with Christ. That is how I can read a passage and see one application. Another person can read the same passage and see a different application. It depends how the Holy Spirit illumines the heart and mind of the reader. The Spirit is the the guide to the guidebook.

That is what happened in my heart, mind, and life. It has changed my life! Over a period of time as I was yielded to the teaching of the Spirit in my heart. Also yeilded myself to the answer I was seeking not a preconceived notion of what the answer should be. The Lord allowed me to see application of Scripture, to think theologically about grace, mercy, forgiveness. Thus came the application of the Word of God to my sexuality. You see our spirituality does indeed inform our sexuality. It certainly has and continues to in my life.

So for me its progressive illumination which leads to the AH HAH moment in my life. The ah hah then can be a revelation to my way of living.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Birthday Party

Tonight I had the priviledge of attending the birthday party for a dear friend of mine. This friend is someone who I look to often. It was so special to me to be able to be there. It was a great time, the party moved to the club we all go to, and continued there. I enjoyed meeting some other friends and talking, joking, the laughing. It was so much fun I was very glad to be there. You might ask how much I had to drink, well one beer. but I did have too much to eat! food at the house, more food at the club. I am stuffed! It was a good release for me as well. Now its time for bed, time to rest for the long day ahead tomorrow. I work at the assisted living a few hours then go to the Hospital. so its off to bed for me.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Being There!

Today I sit here struggling to blog this, but I must. I must get this out of me. Part of the ministry of a chaplain as with anyone who does pastoral care is the ministry of presence. Being there, being the nonanxious presence in the midst of folks crisies and situations. Immediately we think of being present when a patient is dying. I have quite a bit of expereince with death, some of my most significant minstry expereinces have been at the bedside of a dying patient and his or her family. There is a particular type of death that seems to push my buttons everytime it happens. I have had a quite a few of these over the years as well. That is the death of an infant, or a preamie. Now that may stop some of you right there from continuing to read this post. Thats fine, I still need to write this. The reason being in my residency I had several of these deaths in a row over a period of just a few weeks. I wrote about that then and it helped. I may add the letter I wrote to this blog.

It was a little after midnight this morning when the pager sounded. It was the ER, the secretary was informing me a patient had just delivered a 9 week fetus. Oh God No! I thought as I rushed to the bedside. As I stood by the family who was grieving and began to speak with them and listen to them, I went to my God talk, we began to unpack and defuse their feelings. its still very early in their grief process. I try to just allow them to be where they are. The doctor came in, he used the term "tissue" to describe the couples baby. TISSUE I thought? You are talking about a human being! the begining of life! I thought. I realize that as a medical person he is going to his clinical talk to deal the the situation. I know this doctor he has feelings and will need to defuse later himself. He is getting through it too, as is the nurse and everybody else.

I listen to the patient, family, the nurse and Doctor as we debrief. now I can go back and take care of my paperwork. Ok who debriefs the chaplain? I talk about it in report but its not quite enough. Today I have anger, I am angry at myself, angry at the traffic, angry at my best friend, angry at the world. I am angry at God...gasp I am angry at God! The Bible tells us to be angry yet do not sin do not let the sun go down on your anger. I prayed and acknowledge to my Lord my anger. It helps. So I ask myself what about these deaths touch me so? The answer is easy for me...but for the grace of God there go I. why am I still here o God? I was an underweight baby at birth. According to the doctor's at the time I should not have lived. I still am here. These babies are not. Why? that is my hot button issue. Perhaps its what helps me to be present with these parents? Several years ago I wrote a letter to the Babies who died. I shared it in my peer group, it has been published in two newspapers. I share it here now.

Dear Babies:
When I first saw you, you were so tiny, so helpless, and so innocent. You had your whole life ahead of you. If only you had been born healthy, born alive, or did not have some terrible thing happen to you. Your parents were so shocked, perplexed, crushed, distraught, angry and guilty at losing you. To them you were and continue to be precious. A few of you were lost at the hand of one who should have cared for you. How horrendous! I talked with the doctors and nurses who did all they could to save you. They poured their heart, their knowledge, their skill to give you life, to help you keep life. Nevertheless it did not work…you died. I know this because I was there. I am not the doctor or the nurse, I am the chaplain. For a few of you I was there when you came into this world; for all of you I was there when you left. I was there with your parents, helpless to do anything for you. I was there helpless to say anything to help ease their pain. There was nothing to say. I held them as they held you, I prayed with them as they cried over you…I cried also. I wish there was something I could do or say to heal their pain …there was not. For one I gave communion to your mother and grandmother as they renewed fellowship with God, a Holy moment. For another I baptized you as your parents named you, a Sacred moment. For still another, I held the door as the police hauled away one who should have protected you but instead hurt you, an angry moment. I pray for the strength and power that comes from the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord of hosts. I pray my presence made a difference, that I helped shepherd your families through this tough moment in their lives. I pray they are able to incorporate their grief in life. That they be able to live laugh, and love again. Rest assured they will never forget you; they will always love you. I will remember also, I will remember what you taught me… how to be there.
Chaplain Frank

How wonderful are your works O 'Lord, how vast are the sum of them? You know my thought from afar, you know a word on my tounge before it is formed. you wove me in my mothers womb, you knew my days before there was one of them. Ps. 139. God is in control that is why.
This is how this chaplain debriefs. if you read all of that thank you. bless you. MAY GOD CONTINUE TO BLESS THESE FAMILIES.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Comment Question

There was a question in a comment on an earlier post I want to comment on myself. It was in relation to "what am I looking for". The commentor asked to define what normal is. Hmmm. Good question. This was specifically in relation to my question if cheating in gay relationships is the "norm"? So what is normal, or is there a norm?

Well in my opinion, all things considered, it depends on the context of the relationship gay or straight.. What I mean by that? Well are the partners committed christians? Are the partners committed to one another to make the relationship work? There can be many other verables that come into play. I am not sure there is a "norm" for any relationship, again gay or straight. what are you measuring it to?

In my context, as a christian I want monagamy. I what to belong to someone in that context. to love and be loved. Two have said cheating has not entered their minds. They have not wanted to cheat. How blessed their relationships! They are working on teir relationships, and are committed. I want that!

In the case of my guy I hooked up with, he thought he had that. But his partner is apparently not committed to it. How sad, and hurtful. So as a result he is begining a process to move on. Still painful for him.

Would I ever consider an open relationship? Odd as it sounds after what I just wrote, I might. There is a person in my life whom I love. He has demonstrated love for me as well. If he were ready to settle down in an open relationship and wanted me. For him alone, I would consider it. For him the difference would be I am the one he would come home to. We would be together. I would consider it for him, but I pray for and seek the one and only.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

A Struggle of Ministry

Ministry is a calling, its a gifting, it is a coming along side both of the minister and the people one ministers to. Ministry is work, hard work, draining work. Ministry is a struggle, it is war! Its a struggle for the heart, mind, spirit and soul of those around us. A struggle with eternal outcomes. Whether it's a personal or professional ministry it is all the above for every christian. For all are called to be disciple makers, all are called to minister where they are. Some are called to professional ministry. Its a hard but rewarding life. When you are gay, and a minister it seems even harder. Its all about acceptance, God gives grace to accept.

As a christian who happens to be a single gay minister, my struggle with ministry is very personal. Its emotional, doing what I do seems to be in my blood. Becoming who I am, who I am supposed to be both as a christian and what it means for me to be gay, is a struggle. Do I think I am the only one with this struggle? NO. Why does it have to be so complicated? Lord why?

My personal struggle is complicated by the fact I have not completed my seminary training yet, its a work in progress. So I do not have all the credentials APC requires for certification. I am considering other jobs outside of ministry to help give me time to do me, and provide for completing my training. I must also admit that its a way of protecting myself. Right now I know I am vulnerable in my profession. Its a scary feeling. As I become more comfortable with myself as a gay christian, a gay minister its almost as if I don't care who knows. That is scary! Again its an acceptance thing, in the church as a whole being accepted as a gay man let alone a gay minister is difficult, its a struggle. In the gay community being accepted as a minister is scary as well. Being accepted as a minster who is interested in a relationship is a struggle. I see a pastoral counselor who is putting considerable pressure on me to do whatever it takes to complete my seminary. This is something I am praying through. No answers yet.

I have written before about my best friend, whom I love as if he were my brother. I have said that I am also in love with him. But by God's grace that is not as strong as it once was. Yet it is still there. He is someone in my circle who I strongly believe I am ministering to both in personal witness, prayer, and just being there. I see a difference in him by things I am praying for him in starting come about. Being a minister has always complicated our relationship. Of course he has things that complicate it for me as well. Part of the struggle.

My counselor asked me yesterday about my moral compass. Because I am so far from where I was as a "good Baptist". Hmmm. Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit and the word of God are my moral compass. True, I must confess I do hook up from time to time, it is wrong for me to express myself this way? Is it wrong for me to seek a relationship? Its part of life. Life I repressed until I was in my late 30's. Heterosexual ministers who are single do it I am certain of it. Is it wrong for me to work out my sexuality this way? I don't think so. Of course I could be wrong. Yet I have a peace with myself, a comfort with myself that I have never had. I know that comes from the Lord, it is He who has made me free. Not to use that freedom as a opportunity for the flesh, but freedom to become. I am discovering the connection between my sexuality and my spirituality. This has had a positive impact on my ministry as well. Its a wonderful journey. Yet its still a struggle. where to draw the line? what direction to take? That is my struggle in ministry right now. I pray for my Lord's direction, for the right doors to open, to make the right choices.

A note about my container garden, I wanted to place a bird feeder out there on the patio, but its not allowed by my complex. !@#$%!!! Oh well. I had a question about the flag I fly on my little patio flag stand. I have a collection of flags, one for every season, event, holiday in the year. Its fun to put them out and I have missed doing so.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Friday Fun (no not what you think)

Well, I got home from work this morning not too tired, rather bouncey, I guess from all the coffee. It was a steady night, the ER was packed, the house was pretty full, I think they are going to find they need to rethink the downsizing. Anyway just one death last night, no drama, fights, ect. so it was a good night!

Now onto today! After a nice breakfast at the local Cracker Barrel, not on my diet but hey. I got home and got to my container garden project. I just moved into an apartment, so no garden but a patio. So far I have a Hydrangia, a few bulbs. I want to get a miniature fir tree to put in a large pot I have, then place the bulbs around it so there is color. This is where I will place my patio flag pole. I want to get a couple of flower boxes to place seasonal flowers in. I wont do that until later in the month or early September. I will plant Pansies they will last through next spring. I repotted several plants and found I need a larger pot for the oldest one I have. It was horribly pot bound! when I get it where I want to be, I will take a few pix to post.

I have some shopping to do at the mall, and going to look at a new computer! Then I have to rest up for my one night out tonight. Its flounder night at the club I go to, then the show All male Review! YUM YUM! ( I can't believe I am posting that) Happy Friday!