Categories
Faith

Using My Prayer Journal to Be Closer to God

I don’t know about you, but prayer has been one of the most challenging parts of my faith. And it shouldn’t be! The bible is littered with scriptures about prayer: its importance, how to, famous answers. It is woven into every part of the church experience, whether you are just a Sunday sermon goer or whether you are involved in all the groups. Prayer begins and ends all the meetings and gatherings. And it always seemed, to me, that everyone just automatically knew how to pray. Everyone, that is, except me.

You want me to pray… out loud?

Never one for public speaking, public praying was something I always left to the others. The ones who knew how to pray. They knew the right words to say. The right order to say them in. It was like they had access to the secret handshake and I had somehow missed that part of orientation.

Now, that’s not to say I don’t pray at all. I do. But it doesn’t look like what I used to think it should look like. It is informal. And silent. And usually in small snippets throughout the day. It is more of an ongoing conversation with my Creator.

For the longer conversations, I turn to my prayer journal.

Writing out my prayers

If you do a quick Pinterest search you’ll see a lot of how tos for a journal that pays homage to the Christian flick War Room. And while all the pictures of the beautifully decorated and organized prayer books and binders draw me in, they’re not for me. I don’t view prayer as going to war. I view it as a conversation. It is my time to commune with my Creator, to share my doubts and worries and fears with Him. To thank Him for everything He has provided in my life. It’s also a place to seek His guidance when I have decisions to make.

For this, I need something much simpler. Basic, even. A beautiful notebook and a trusty pen.

As a writer, I have a mini obsession with notebooks and pens. I will take any excuse to wander through the office supplies section of Target to browse the pretty covers and colors. So it seemed natural to turn to my writer habits to build my prayer habits.

Spending time with my Creator

Once a week at least, I try to find the time and space to sit in the quiet with my notebook and pen. I can clear away the cobwebs in my mind and just pour out whatever I need to to God. I’m able to get into the details of things, be more specific with my fears and needs. I am free to fall into the glory of worshiping without feeling oddly on display. It is private. It is between Him and me.

Sometimes, through the course of writing out my prayers to Him, He leads me to scriptures. Those times I turn quickly to my bible or bible app. And then they are copied into the notebook, written down to call forth their power.

Writing down my prayers in this way also gives me a record of His answers. Sometimes the answers are no. Sometimes they are yes. And sometimes they are a long time coming. Only when I have “forgotten” do they get answered in some way.

Leaving a record of my journey

It is a visual journey of my relationship with God. It is a love story from budding new Christian to… now. I can flip through those pages and see His influence on my life, see how He has protected me, guided me, and lead me ever closer to Him. I can see the people He has brought to me, and those He has separated.

Prayer is still something I struggle with out loud. I still feel like that young kid asked to give a report to the class whenever I’m asked to pray out loud. And maybe I always will. But that’s okay. Because I know He hears me anyway. I know He doesn’t really care about the words that come out of my mouth, or that come out of my pen. He only cares that I talk to Him.

Tell me about your prayer life. Do you use a journal to write down requests and answers?

Categories
Family

How Cross Country Friends Became A Happy Poly Family

The year is at its end. And the new one is here. It’s a been a weird, roller coaster of a year. And this last week of it has led to a lot of reflection on how we got here. Lovey and I will be celebrating (God willing) our 16th year together. We will also (God willing) be moving our not so little poly family into a much larger home, where we can all be under the same roof. These are dreams we have had for our entire relationship, though they did look a little more monogamous at the beginning.

A long distance friendship

Lovey and I met 22 years ago through a mutual friend. He was a Senior in High School and I was a lowly Sophomore. And there was an entire country between us. Or three quarters of one, anyway. We were friends, exchanging long distance phone calls and the occasional email. It was one of the first real friendships I had had with a guy.

Over the years, we managed to “meet” one time during our friendship. And it sent my young innocent heart all a flutter. I was sunk from that day on, hopelessly pining away after the older guy that lived oh so very far away. So could you blame me if I secretly hoped whatever relationship he entered during our friendship would sour and fall apart?

Relationships came and went, for both of us. Phone calls and emails were a little more sporadic as time went on as well. We were young adults, coming into our own, and we lived on opposite sides of the country practically. But when we did connect, it was as if the time elapsed was only minutes instead of weeks or months.

A blessing in disguise

And then, finally, the catalyst that started what would be us. An accident put him out of commission for a bit. And so we talked almost daily while he healed. It seems weird to thank God for an accident like his, but I did. And I still do. It slowed him down enough to reevaluate his path and where he wanted to go. Luckily it lead him to me.

Somewhere in those multiple phone calls and emails following the accident, our friendship shifted. A relationship began to grow. And before we knew it, we were sharing I Love Yous and falling asleep talking to each other at night. Several oversized phone bills later and he took the next big step in our budding romance. He jumped on a plane and moved to my town. To my house, specifically.

It was intense. And wonderful. And scary. And the best several months of my short life to that point.

A happy poly family

Before our new relationship had celebrated an anniversary, we were pregnant and engaged. On our second anniversary, we said I Do. Anniversary #3 (or #1 the reboot, depending on how you count) saw us pregnant again. Four years into our relationship we were a happy little family of four.

We’ve had several more anniversaries since. And a lot of ups, and some pretty dark downs. But we are still here, still together, 22 years after those first awkward phone calls. I could never have imagined our life would look the way it does now. Three kids. Five cats. A boyfriend for me. A partner for him. And a dog. Just one happy poly family with some big plans for the future.

Categories
General Info

Merry Christmas Eve

Well, it’s finally the end of the year. Only one more week to go before we say goodbye to 2020 and welcome in a new year. But first, we celebrate with food and friends and family and gifts.

I pray that you all get to enjoy this day and the next with whoever you choose to spend it with. I pray all of the worries and stress from this year and this season melt away for just these days at least. I pray we all wake up refreshed Saturday morning, ready to kick this year to the curb.

Whether or not you are celebrating Christmas with us, I wish you the happiest of holiday seasons. And I will see you all next week!

If you haven’t yet had your fill of Christmas movies this year, or you want to rewatch some while putting the finishing touches on the festivities today, you can check out last month’s post with a list of new LGBTQ+ friendly holiday movies.

Merry Christmas!

Categories
Faith

Why I Won’t Use This Word to Describe My Faith

Christmas is one of those times during the year where I find myself examining my beliefs a little more closely. It probably has something to do with the Christian part of the holiday. And this year, that introspection got me thinking about the language I use when I talk about my faith.

I won’t use the word Christianity very much. I will not proclaim myself a Christian. Even though others would say that I am, and I do fall under the definition. I cannot proudly say that I am one.

Is Christian a bad word?

The word has carried so many horrific crimes against humanity, so many oppressive views, so many controlling policies, that I simply can’t claim it. I cannot overlook the damage Christianity has done long enough to proudly proclaim that I am a Christian myself.

But what about the good? You may ask.

The good exists whether or not I claim the label. I can cheer for the all the positives my chosen faith community has done and is doing in this world. I can jump and shout and be so excited when I see headlines like this one: Religious Leaders Call For Global Ban On So-Called Gay Conversion Therapies.

But for me, the association with the hurt Christianity and Christians in general has done is foremost. It is the first thing that pops into my head. And it really shouldn’t be. So you will not see me use the words Christian or Christianity as much as my fellow Christ followers.

Labels aren’t everything

Let’s be clear. My feelings about the words do not have any bearing on your faith or my faith. My faith is important to me. I am constantly trying to learn and grow in it. My relationship with God is sound. My relationship with His Son is sound. Neither are in jeopardy or lacking in anyway because I refuse to call myself by that word.

I can follow Christ, read His word, pray and seek His counsel without having to say “I’m Christian.” People should be able to see it by my actions, by my love, by who I am. They should not need me to spell it out for them by saying those words. He doesn’t.

Christian? Not a Christian?

So, what does that all mean? If I’m not calling myself a Christian, what am I, what do I believe? Well, I believe in a perfect Creator, one who does not make mistakes. I believe in Christ, as the Son of God, and in the Holy Spirit. I believe in His Word, that he breathed life into the Bible, while still acknowledging that it was written by man. And I follow Christ’s commandments: to love God and love my fellow humans.

Being human myself, I often fail at the second one. But I try. And when I do fail, I turn to Him to help me be better.

I am a work in progress.

And part of that progress is this. Sharing myself with you all. Maybe some of you are as in progress as I am. If you are, welcome aboard! My type of Christianity may not be for you. (I am unapologetically polyamorous and bisexual.) If it’s not, that is okay! I wish you well on your own journey. Otherwise, welcome to my world. May we grow in our relationships with Christ together.

Categories
Family Polyamory

Navigating Family Gatherings When You’re Not Out

Family gatherings can be difficult to navigate no matter the season. The holidays don’t make them any more or less tricky, despite what we may think. The trickiness comes from the sheer number of gatherings that happen during that time. For 2 months, we get pulled in all directions to spend time with family and friends. Add in a partner, and you have doubled those numbers. Add in multiple partners and… Well, thank goodness for Google Calendar and planners.

If you’re polyamorous, and open about it with everyone, then these family gatherings are easier to deal with. Everyone will assume you’ll either bring multiple partners or trade off, depending on schedules and personalities. If you’re polyamorous and not open about it, you have got your hands full!

Who knows about which partner? Who has met which partner? Are you open with some, and not others? Did Aunt Betty spill the beans to Grandma about your “unique” relationship? Will Grandpa Joe spill the beans to everyone over Christmas dinner because someone poured him one too many cups of the eggnog?

And let’s not forget the effect this can all have on your partners. If, like me, you started your polyamorous journey from an  already established relationship, where family members know your main or primary partner, then your other partners can feel left out. Or like the dirty little secret that you are keeping from your family. And nobody wants that.

Family Gathering Negotiations

So how do we navigate all of the trickiness that comes with multiple partners and family gatherings? Carefully, and with a lot of communication.

The best place to start is to sit down with your partners. If you can do this all together, at one sit down, even better! If schedules don’t allow for it, don’t sweat it. But make sure no big decisions are made until everyone is on the same page and on board.

Then, it’s time to go through the calendar, event by event. Include their family gatherings too. This is a group project, after all. But not the dumb kind from school where only one person did the work. Everyone is pulling their fair share of figuring out how to maneuver through the holidays together.

Important things to ask each other

  1. Who is out about being polyamorous? And are they out with everyone, or just a select few?
  2. Assuming most are not out, which partner has the family already met? And is that partner available to attend those events? And do they want to? Sometimes the answer is no, and that is okay. No one said we have to get along with everyone all the time.
  3. Are the partners that will be staying home for those events okay with how the evening will go? Are they invited to attend as a friend? Or would they rather just sit this one out? This is going to depend on that individual. Some are not okay just being introduced as a friend when the relationship is so much deeper and more intimate than that. And others are okay with it, so long as they get to spend time with their people.

Family Gatherings: Out or Not Out?

A big thing to remember during all of the negotiating is to not pressure anyone to come out to their family. Don’t push that door open for someone who is just not ready. No matter their reason for keeping that part of themselves private. It is up to them to decide if, when, and how to share that information with other people. If you are already out, I’m sure this can be frustrating at times. As one who is still in the closet to some, I can tell you it is frustrating on this side too sometimes. So please be patient with us.

Holiday gatherings can add another layer of stress to an already stressful season for some. Just remember, it’s also supposed to be one of the happiest seasons. If you find yourself stressed about navigating gatherings, then it’s perfectly okay to just stay in. And this year has given everyone the absolute perfect excuse to skip the big family gatherings, so feel free to take advantage of it! But if you want to go out and (safely!) spend time during the holidays with family, remember to communicate with everyone in your polycule beforehand. Ask questions. Be ready to hear their answers.

I hope you all enjoy your holidays, no matter which ones you celebrate. And enjoy the people you get to spend them with.