Below is what I shared with the women at the Disciples Women’s Conference held at the Abe Martin Lodge/Brown County State Park on August 25, 2019. I wanted to share it with you and pray that you are encouraged to life your voice wherever you are in the world. It was an awesome weekend filled with testimonies of strong, confidence and courageous women. The presence of the Lord and the Holy Spirit were in the space!
Good Morning Ladies –
It is a privilege and an honor to be sharing with you this morning. When I was first ask about participating I responded with a quick, YES! And, then I said to myself, “What exactly did I agree to do?” The quick answer of “Yes” to sharing was something I clearly saw as an invitation from God and the Holy Spirit.
I’ll admit there’s a level of nervousness about speaking but there’s also equal fear of not. So this is in a manner of speaking, giving birth to “Lifting a voice!, My Voice!”
I want to give you a little bit of background to who I am and what I do. I am a member of Avon Christian Church, where I am currently serving as an Elder in my second year. I participate in teaching in a variety of ways through Adult Sunday school, Wednesday Morning Bible Study and I am active in two women’s groups called Esther’s Circle and Juliet’s. Esther’s Circle meets once a month in one of our homes and we share in a devotional (usually) but always in conversation and in support of one another and this involves pre-meeting snacks and concluding the evening with coffee and dessert. The other group meets once a month for lunch at a different location just to share a meal and support one another. By the way Juliet’s stands for (Jolly Unique Ladies Informally Eating Together Somewhere)
I work for the Department of Homeland Security/TSA at the Indianapolis International Airport and have been there for 14 years, previously I had worked with at risk youth for 5 years at the Indiana United Methodists Children’s Home in Lebanon. And prior to that I worked for 13 years with adults with disabilities in residential services.
I earned my Bachelor of Arts degree in Secondary Education and Biological Science from Judson University in Elgin, IL (a christian liberal arts component of Northern Baptist Theological Seminary). I attended High School at Grace Christian Academy (an ACE Accelerated Christian Education Program). *I have met very few people who actually know what ACE is and 1 of them is in the audience today, Pastor Paula from Avon Christian!
I am also an aspiring writer and have had a few poems published and I started a blog in 2013. I attended a writing conference in March of this year, where I had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with renowned author, Barbara Brown Taylor. I found the following quote from her book, “Learning to Walk in the Dark” and felt it appropriate for today!
As created beings, we are all individual and unique by God’s design. Each of us can and do have different perspectives and experiences, the my hope is that we not only see our differences but that we see our similarities too. First and foremost, we are all God’s children! My experiences in life have taught me that I am the most scared and fearful of the things I do not understand. Fear and hate are fed through insufficient knowledge and/or denial of said knowledge. The more you know, the more informed you can be to form educated risk assessments.
You will always remain scared of the dark, if you never turn the light on. The smallest hint of light will always illuminate the darkness. The same is true for just about anything and everything we fear, as knowledge is gained we start to chip away the unknown and it’s power over us is diminished.”
Reminds me of the NBC slogan; do you remember…
And, for all the Star Wars fans…a quote from Master Yoda…
As I was contemplating the theme of this conference, “Lift Every Voice” I had a moment of clarity as if struck by an electrical current, it was the Holy Spirit speaking to me. This clarity was as if a great light had been turned on and scattered the shadows away, the things I’ve been avoiding were now in plain sight. I have never wanted to be “a voice” or as I have called it in the past, “a poster” “a neon sign” for any one cause or group. Simply ignoring something does not cause it to cease to be and certainly does not change it from being factual. My choice of not being a voice and remaining silent has potentially been more harmful than I anticipated. My lukewarm, mediocre attitude towards being a voice has the potential for a fertile breeding ground for innuendos and misinformation and I have a responsibility to speak “truth” at least my truth. My life is a worthy cause and a cause that deserves its truth to be said, especially since I want to be known for truth. Just as we are individual created beings and will be judged accordingly, I must accept the responsibilities of such. I now realize that God is not asking me to speak on anyone else’s behalf, only for my own life. And just maybe that will encourage someone else to claim their voice.
With my voice, I am a Christian, an aunt, a child, a cousin, a daughter, a great-aunt, a sister, and a woman. I am also a woman, who is attracted to other women, I do not hate men, and find many of them attractive as well. There’s different names that people and our society has chosen to use in describing such a relationship and I must confess none have ever felt right for me. I’m not offended if someone refers to me as gay or lesbian, and I’ve never considered myself bisexual for that matter, these labels just have never been important to me. Love is love. But, with that being said, they do matter to some and that’s okay. The LGBTQ community encompasses many individuals and their need to find community, as we all desire to have such community to meet our needs. The things I would like to be called or known for are; she’s nice, she’s caring, she’s compassionate, she’s giving, she’s friendly, she’s humble, she’s selfless, she’s loving, she’s forgiving, she’s supportive, she’s patient, she’s smart, she’s funny and she’s kind… I want people to see Jesus through my words and actions, I want people to see Jesus in me and with regard to my sexuality and sexual orientation…I want it to be no more and no less important than the color of my eyes. Which, by the way are brown! 😊
Of all the things that I am, there are just as many that I am not, and I’m okay with that. We are all sisters and brothers, in Christ and my hope is we begin to care for one another as Christ cares for us.
Lift Your Voice, You are Worthy!
The Bible gives us many examples of loving one another. Jesus tells us in John 13:34-35
“I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
“Love one another deeply as brothers and sisters. Outdo one another in showing honor.” -Romans 12:10
“And may the Lord cause you to increase and overflow with love for one another and for everyone, just as we do for you.” -1 Thessalonians 3:12
“Since you have purified yourselves by your obedience to the truth, so that you show sincere brotherly love for each other, from a pure heart love one another constantly.” -1 Peter 1:22
“And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.” -Ephesians 4:32
“Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” -Philippians 2:4
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing.” -1 Thessalonians 5:11
“Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” -Galatians 6:2
“For you were called to be free, brothers and sisters; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love.” -Galatians 5:13
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.” -Philippians 2:3
“Be hospitable to one another without complaining.” -1 Peter 4:9
“And let us watch out for one another to provoke love and good works.” -Hebrews 10:24
In closing, it would not be me if I didn’t impart a few lines of C.S.Lewis to you:
“Friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others.”
“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art, like the universe itself (for God did not need to create). It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”
Thank you Disciples Women!
And a special Thank You to the women, my friends, my family at Avon Christian Church!
God Bless you-Amen!