Progress Fatigue

Change can be hard. Change can also be good. When those two truths collide , exhaustion can take over.

I am not a believer in New Year’s resolutions. In our house, we’ve been steadily working toward a more sustainable life. I don’t mean sustainability in the sense of self-sufficiency. I am speaking more in terms of attainability.

We decided to grow a garden this year to offset our expenses. Living on Vancouver Island produce is very expensive, especially when out of season. Just this week one head of cauliflower was 7.99 at the grocery store. When the minimum wage is 12.65 an hour it’s unsustainable (unattainable) to eat nutritious fresh food. Items that were priced in the 2 to 3 dollar range were 5 to 8 dollars on our trip to replenish today.

Though we have to fork out 200.00 for the lumber and likely 300.00 for the proper soil, we will save up to 5000.00 this summer alone. I’m tired from spending money to save money, but I know the end result will be worth it all.

Likewise, there are three people with a uterus in our home. This means spending around 60.00 a month on menstrual products. Instead, we invested nearly 300.00 in reusable pads and period underwear from https://lunapads.ca  This will save us thousands of dollars in the years to come. The best thing about Luna Pads (aside from being local, environmentally friendly, machine washable, and trans inclusive) is their commitment to providing period products to people in underprivileged countries.

With eating fresh veggies from the garden we needed to invest in ways to make the familiar interesting. I don’t know about you, but I get tired of eating the same thing over and over again. Thankfully Epicure has many solutions (that after an initial investment) save money over time. For example, veggie broth costs 2 to 4 dollars a carton here. One jar of all natural powdered broth is 10 to 12 dollars depending on the type. I can make 60 or more dishes from the one jar effectively saving myself 226.00 annually for that one item.

I’ve had to let go of convenience to save money. Returning to baking bread, making granola bars, canning fruits, veggies and pickles. A call back to my mother’s and grandmother’s recipe boxes while employing modern time saving techniques like a magic bullet, a smart chopper and an instant pot. All these initial investments hurt the cheque book, but are worth it in the annual savings. The amount we’re spending to reboot an attainable life style will refund itself in less than the time it takes to grow a squash.

I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t hurt my heart a little to spend money in large chunks. I prefer to pinch as many pennies as I can. I budgeted to include student loan payments for next year and realized the defict in our two incomes was the EXACT amount we were paying for groceries. Aside from a Netflix subscription, half a dozen movies and a pizza addiction, we don’t have many non-essential spending habits. The only change we can make is to reevaluate how we source our goods, where we get our essentials, and try to cut costs that way.

It is not attainable or sustainable to work two to three jobs to cover the cost of living. We do not go on extravagant vactions. We have one car that my partner brought brand new 20 years ago. We do not have cable or air conditioning. We don’t go to the bar regularly or attend concerts or other forms of live entertainment. We, like so many other people, are living simply and barely making it.

How do you live an attainable life?

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Writer Wednesday: Greg White

This week’s post comes from a man named Greg White. I met Greg on social media. Social media, especially Facebook groups and Google Hangouts, have become a safe haven for marginalized people groups of all walks of life to gain support away from those who would cause injury. Greg’s recent Facebook post resonated with me and many others. It’s a reflection on the events in Orlando after the media has moved on to other things. It’s a reminder of how people are hurting, not helping. Most importantly, it’s an honest account from someone like me. 

It’s been over a week since the events of Orlando, and it seems everyone has had their say. Forgive me if I’m late to the conversation, but I’m still trying to piece together my feelings about it. I find myself utterly heartbroken. While I floated through Sunday in a sense of shock, and even went to a candle light vigil in a strange disconnect, reality set in on Monday night.

I’d come home from work having spent the day in a numb haze, and decided to decompress by making soap. It’s a simple hobby, one that requires little concentration and lets my mind wander through the day’s events and prepare for the stressors to come. As the bars of soap began to congeal in their molds, I began to sob uncontrollably. I cried first for the victims, every precious soul gunned down in the Pulse nightclub. I cried for their families, for their friends.

Suddenly the face of every LGBT person I know flashed through my brain and all I could think was, “It could have been him. It could have been her,” and finally, “It could have been me.”

In the days that followed, I found myself torn by grief while tending wounds that I thought had healed shut. Theological debates about the six “clobber passages” regarding homosexuality came roaring back into focus. My sense of public safety was suddenly shaken. The true face of bald, unbridled homophobia was unleashed in that hail of gunfire, and in its wake, those sympathetic to the gunman’s hatred were emboldened to speak. Fringe public religious figures like Pat Robertson pointed their fingers back at the LGBT community, and some even praised the killings.

But most painful of all, my beloved denomination put out a well-meaning but tepid response. They were sorry and saddened by the events. They were praying for the victims and their families. But where were these words when LGBT kids were killing themselves? Where were those prayers as queer people were denied their rights, kicked out of their homes, suffering depression and religious trauma, bullied, or ostracized?

We have told our stories over and over, and it seems they’ve fallen on deaf ears. Does it really take the worst mass shooting of the century to elicit a response? Decrying the violence, the Church never even condemned the cause. They never said the words “homophobia,” “LGBT,” “gay,” “lesbian,”“bisexual,” “transgender.” And so, the only word that really mattered to me was the word they’ve used to describe homosexuality in the manual; “perversion.”

It simply isn’t enough to stand up against mass murder without condemning the more subtle, institutional forms of bigotry that enforced it. I’m not a pervert, I’m a human being. I’m not an issue, I’m a child of God. I’m not a problem to be solved, a policy to be debated, a statement in a manual or even an out-of-context Bible verse.

How could the denomination that I love so dearly be so tone-deaf? Maybe it’s politics. Maybe it’s blind conviction. Maybe it’s fear. Maybe it’s a love too bewildered by a changing world to know how to express itself. All I know is that it doesn’t seem to be listening.

And yet, in the midst of all this heartbreak, I’m reminded of the text messages and phone calls from my sisters, brother, parents, friends, asking if I was okay. I’m reminded of the extra long hugs I received at church before I even realized I was going to need them for the week ahead. I’m reminded of my church friends marching alongside me in the candle light vigil, crying for justice. I’m reminded of my pastor, who preached repentance from bullying and lamented with me. His precious wife told me that she recognized my hurt, opened her home and let me know I wasn’t alone. Two friends had me over for dinner, let me pour out my anger and frustration, and made me feel understood. During communion, a friend looked me square in the eye, reached out, and clasped my hand in support. Countless conversations, notes of solidarity, and messages of comfort began to put me back together.

Is this what Jesus looks like? Is this what he meant when he said, “the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand”?

I want more than anything for my denomination to understand, to listen, to learn to love more fully. I want them to recognize the depths of pain their policies cause, to recognize that homophobia doesn’t only manifest itself in bullets. Sometimes it looks like smug superiority. Sometimes it looks patronizing. Sometimes it’s disgust disguised as moral righteousness. And sometimes it’s a child learning to hate herself.

But then, I guess policies and manual statements were never really Jesus’ M.O. The Holy Spirit transcends issues of doctrinal and theological debate. And God, it seems, is reluctant to work through imperious power or righteous fiat, but rather through individual acts of love. We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus, and my congregation, family, and friends have been that to me. I only hope the broader Church can one day do the same. I long for the day the Church can be that for each member of the LGBT community, and not only in times of crisis.

You can view the original post here. 

If you would like to be featured on Writer Wednesday, visit the contact link in the main menu.

~Cheryl

Time for an Upgrade

Due to the amount of traffic to my previous blog, and to make a cleaner more professional impression–we have moved! In the past two months traffic has gone from 32 views a month to well over 1500.

Thank you to everyone for their support in this journey. I’m looking forward to bringing you content that is personal, passionate and authentic.

Fridays will be “Fan Fridays” moving forward. This is where you can write in, Tweet or Facebook me questions or issues that you’d like covered on the next week’s blog.

Are you a writer? Writer Wednesdays are a place where guest bloggers can have their work showcased. Send me an email follandcheryl86@gmail.com or a direct message on Twitter @cherylfolland to learn more. I’ll even do the editing for you!

Live your story, only you can do it. Talk to you soon.

~ Cheryl

Hot Topic : The Use of the Word Homosexual in the Bible

As you might imagine, I’ve been receiving many emails, messages and questions asking how I interpret the verses in scripture that condemn homosexuality.

Rather than speak from my point of view, I would like to provide readers with the same information I read and allow them to come to their own conclusions.

 I believe that we are all responsible for our own theology and faith –and it would be a great disservice to only know one way of thinking before weighing the evidence.

Our Spirit Now addresses what are widely known as “the clobber passages” among LGBTQ Christians. These are the verses in scripture that are translated in English containing the word homosexual or homosexuality.

“Where in the Bible you might find the word homosexual used incorrectly:
  • The Hebrew word kedah means temple prostitute and is sometimes inaccurately translated at sodomite or homosexual.
  • In 1 Corinthians, sodomite or homosexual are sometimes used, but they are incorrect translations of the Greek malakos which means something closer to effeminate or the Greek practice of pederastywhich is older men having sex with boys and is not consensual gay sex between peers.
  • 1 Corinthians also refers in Greek to arsenokaitai, which appears nowhere else in the Bible or in Greek writings about homoerotic sexuality, but probably means male prostitute.
  • Jude 7 sometimes refers to homosexual flesh that the Sodomites pursued.  This is an inaccurate translation of hetera sarx which means, literally, strange flesh to describe the flesh of the angels who were sent by God to evaluate Sodom and Gomorrah.
  • In Timothy 1:9-10, translators sometimes use homosexual for the original Greek words, pornoi, arsenokoitai, and andrapodistai, meaning male prostitutesmales who hire male prostitutes or the slave dealers who procure them.”
Taken from www.ourspiritnow.org, Friday , June 3, 2016.

For me, one of the interesting things to consider was the lack of examples of same sex sex outside of prostitution, idolatry, sexual abuse of minors or slavery. It also came as a surprise to me that the word homosexual didn’t exist at the time of English translations. It was coined in 1869 by Dr. Karoly Benkert by combining the Greek term “homo” for same and the Latin “sexual”. It was after his studies in the field that translations started to have the word included. 

Equip.org states:
Theologian Mel White agrees that the Greek word arsenokoitai, used for “homosexual” in 1Corinthians 6:9, seems to refer to same-sex behavior. He argues that Greek scholars don’t know exactly what it means, however, and that this simple detail is a big part of this tragic debate.
He explains, “Some scholars believe Paul was coining a name to refer to customers of ‘the effeminate call boys.’ We might call them ‘dirty old men.’ Others translate the word as ‘sodomites,’ but never explain what that means.”
According to White, in 1958, a translator for the New Amplified Bible set historical precedent by translating this “mysterious” Greek word into English as the word “homosexuals,” even though no such word exists in either Greek or Hebrew. It was that translator, according to White, who “placed the word homosexual in the English-language Bible for the very first time.”
White blames this bad translation for the inability of many NT scholars today to make the proper, culturally relevant application of this passage in 1Corinthians. He adds, “In the past, people used Paul’s writings to oppress women and limit their role in the home, in church, and in society. Now we have to ask ourselves, ‘Is it happening again? Is a word in Greek that has no clear definition being used to reflect society’s prejudice and condemn God’s gay children?’”

Mel White is also a Christian minister and filmmaker, who describes how he reconciles his homosexuality with his Christian faith in his book Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay and Christian in America (New York: Plume Books, 1994).

The reason I like this particular article is it shows the translation process and before concluding mentions that Paul was likely referring to Leviticus when speaking to the Corinthians. They also note that “nothing in 1Corinthians, or for that matter in any other biblical writing, speaks directly of the biological or psychological condition of homosexuality or homosexual ‘orientation’ as this is understood today and as it concerns believing Christian gay persons intent on worshipping and serving God.” (Theologian John H. Elliott, Professor Emeritus of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of San Francisco.)
While Equip is not in favour of LGBTQ Christians, its researchers do understand where the argument is coming from. It’s important to note that scholars are debating these issues trying to reconcile science, psychology, culture, history and theology while millions of people are navigating the tense waters in the meantime. 
gaychurch.org does a great job of presenting the inclusive argument. By focussing on the main passages Rev. Justin Cannon gives a detailed reasoning for his stance. I recommend anyone who wishes to seriously understand what inclusive affirming churches believe to read the Rev’s research. 
I think it’s unfair to assume that because someone professes Jesus and identifies as LGBTQ, they would automatically know all these arguments. I didn’t know about the deity of Christ when I received him as saviour and Lord, I didn’t know about creation, or the flood, or baptism or the Holy Spirit. All of these things I needed to study. Think carefully before engaging in debate with one another, give space and time for reflection and above all don’t attack someone with your point of view (or mine for that matter) and say you’re doing it in love. Love is patient, love is kind, it is not self seeking, it keeps no records of wrongs ect. (1 Corinthians 13).

Loneliness–Or as I like to call it, Black Hole of Doom

Talking with my fellow LGBT Christians, a real honest question that effects every person regardless of orientation, race, economical status or religion came up. How do you deal with loneliness. My first thought was my previous post about singleness you can read here.

Then my second thought was “I punch it in the face”. My tongue and cheek response received a few likes and comments on our Facebook page, but I sat back and chewed on it for a bit. How DO I deal with loneliness?

In my experience, I deal with it in one of two ways: horrible indulgence or optimistic resilience. There is no in-between. When I’m feeling lonely, alone, unwanted, invisible, awkward, prickly, forgotten…ect…I either disappear into Netflix and Youtube binges whilst devouring whatever salty carbohydrates fried cheese covered creation I can manage or I get out of my own way and have fun.

Loneliness is less about being alone and more about being discontent with whom you’re with/without. Think about it. I imagine at some point in your life , think a new situation/high school/or meeting someone’s life long friends–you have likely felt lonely in a crowd. You weren’t alone…but you felt alone. Surrounded by others and their happiness and memories, you felt like an outsider and were lonesome.

Then there’s those times when you are alone and feel lonely. We dislike being alone with ourselves. Self talk and silent lies are the most oppressive when there is no one fun and exciting around to distract us from all the ways we’ve disappointed ourselves. We begin to ask questions that have no answers outside of timing. Why are all my friends getting married? (If this were true, you would have no engagements popping up in your newsfeed next year…it’s likely an exaggeration.)

Which leads to: why am I single? Why haven’t I received that promotion? How come I wasn’t invited? Why don’t I have any texts….so on and so on.

STOP.

Get up.

DO SOMETHING.

The best cure for the loneliness of self loathing is to go out and enjoy something other than the prison of your thoughts. Go to a park and take the best Instagram photo of clouds ever offered to mankind.

Take yourself on a date to a new vegan fusion cafe you’ve been dying to try and snapchat the world how jealous they should be of you.

Sign up for a new class, cooking, dancing, painting, gardening…you won’t meet new people on your couch.

Lastly, write that friend that you miss. Not a text. Not a Facebook message, send them a long email or a long letter telling them about everything and nothing that you miss about them. Talk about the toast you made and how unfortunately seedy the bread was. DO something.

You can thank me later.