Never Ending

I was talking to my bestest friend in the world this morning, Teri King. I’m going to insert my Facebook post I wrote this morning after this preface.

Teri and I were talking about many things, but she can always hear what we need to focus on in each of our conversations, today being no exception. She told me for New Years she does a word for the year each year instead of resolutions. I haven’t done anything for a while now. She thought based on what I had been saying throughout our convo I might benefit from having a word or phrase for the year. She suggested “never ending.”

I’ll admit, I have felt like everything has been ending for me: seminary, life in Texas, loss of pet, loss of parent, loss of traditions (Thanksgiving), and on and on. I still feel like I’m losing important relationships too. It’s so hard. Teri reminded me they haven’t ended. They are just left where they are.

It’s interesting, as I read back through my Facebook post, it seems like there are a lot ending mentioned in the posts, including Twitter—at least the way Twitter was. But none of them are endings, really; they are portals to new beginnings. An opportunity to say yes and follow where that yes leads—even when it feels like it’s leading to a breaking point. Grace somehow tumbles out of the gore.

Never ending.

Here’s the Facebook post from this morning.

This morning I attended church with my friend Teri Colleen who lives in another state. Teri and I met through Twitter in 2017. We were able to meet in person, and the only time we have met in person, at the Alliance of Baptists conference in Washington DC in 2019. Thanks to Wilshire Baptist Church for sending me to this conference and to Rev. Dr. JCS for advocating for me to attend. Life-changing conference for both Teri and me.

Teri was early in her transition journey and was only free to be her truest self at this conference at that time. Thank you Alliance of Baptists for being a safe and brave place for people as they begin their journey of discovery about themselves. I got to meet the real Teri yearning to come out and be free, and Teri met Lindsay doing the same thing—just differently. Teri told me that my advocacy through Twitter for the LGBTQ community and peoples literally saved her life. She was hating herself for who she really was and had thoughts of not being here anymore. Y’all, this is serious. I am so grateful my advocacy made a life-changing impact. I cannot imagine living this life right now without my dearest friend. The things we do and say have the power to give life, and to take it away. Teri and Lindsay were able to choose life because of people who have advocated for us and helped us find our voice so we can live into the gift that is our life (words of Jonathan Martin this morning, who quite literally saved my spiritual life—also a friend I met through Twitter. More on that later).

This morning I woke up and called Teri. She and I talk periodically. She coached me all the way through seminary—she was a pastor for over 40 years—and now is journeying with me through this next stage of growth for both of us. Both of us are still experiencing the joys that come through growth, but also the real pains of it too—the kind of pain that even poetry cannot make beautiful. Jonathan Martin analogy again—out of the gore, grace tumbled(s) out. (Talking about Mary birthing).

What is funny is we had no idea we were preparing coffee at the same time while we were talking. Teri stopped our conversation to let me know that her joy has been refilled. Her joy will last until her coffee cools. This is funny because we were talking about how temporary joy can feel, especially when we thought we were getting somewhere only to be halted again.

Also funny, our coffees both cooled at the same time.

Teri:I am putting mine into the microwave, which I will call my joy maker.

Me: I am pouring more hot coffee from the pot into mine.

Teri: Oh, this is good. Sometimes we can refill our joy because there is a source (coffee pot) pouring back into us when we are depleted. There is an infusion of others. But sometimes that is not available and we need an intervention, the microwave.

This is why Teri and I have so much fun talking. Every little thing can be turned into a sermon that will take our conversation places we never would have gone had we not noticed what is around us joining our conversation too. Look at how our mugs even share encouragement with us!

Teri and I got to talking so long she missed her church service, so I took her to the The Table with me. Ironically, Jake Bruehl had a friend message him they are going to NorthHaven today because they have been reading my posts, watched the last three weeks online, and now want to experience this church in person and visit them in their current building for the final time. So Jake and I both brought friends to church today.

I love being a part of The Table and NorthHaven. Two churches in Oklahoma doing incredible work and not following the script we are seeing in way too many churches here. Jakob Topper, the pastor of NorthHaven, is also a part of my healing journey. He was at Wilshire when I showed up almost done with church back in 2017. All these connections are wild and making my post really long, but I just do not care today. Life is happening and I want to talk about it.

This was NorthHaven’s last meeting in the current building, but great things lie ahead. NorthHaven is still saying yes to life. Speaking of that…

This morning Teri was also being silly about the word yes. We were talking about saying yes long before we listened to Jonathan’s sermon.

Teri: You cannot testify until you ‘yesify’.

She thought she was being funny and a bit heretical when she said that, but I wrote it down because I knew there was wisdom—and Jonathan preached it this morning! And NorthHaven is living it.

Jonathan: (Talking about Mary’s yes) When you say yes, can you see Mary smiling? Are you willing to follow that yes wherever it may lead. Even to the point of breaking—breaking open or breaking down?

I think about how all these journeys I mentioned in this post have been hard: Lindsay, Teri, Jonathan, The Table, Wilshire, NorthHaven—but new life has tumbled and is still tumbling out of these vessels.

Today I took notes again. Lots of them. Oh, they are scribbled and only makes sense to me, but they are from me. This is what I love to do. And look at the paper I used, it was the first notebook I found, to start writing, dreaming, and creating again.

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