Why a Grown Woman Needs a Teddy Bear

Don’t tell anyone this, but in one week and one day I will turn 30.

And tonight, I found myself curled up in my favorite comfy chair with my teddy bear.

Yes, in 30 years I’ve gained a lot but also had to let go of some things. I outgrew the high-top sneakers and neon spandex of the 1980s (thankfully). I ditched all my old prom dresses because I’m (honestly) never going to be able to fit into them again, and even if I could, where the hell am I going to wear a prom dress at 30 anyway? And I finally got rid of my cassette tape collection just 6 months ago, before undertaking our most recent move. It’s important to note that I haven’t had a working tape player in probably 10 years.

Tonight, I had to let go of my grandmother. She was by far the most influential person in my life. She was the example of faith and family. She taught me love, kindness, forgiveness, and the value of laughter. She was there when I was born, and for every significant milestone since. She was my biggest fan, my strongest supporter. We’ve played thousands of card games together in 30 years. We’ve taken trips, danced, sang, read books, baked, shared ideas, crafted, planned events, planned shenanigans, sat on the back deck drinking tea and wine (though not at the same time). She was my best friend: The first person I called when anything happened in my life, good or bad or insignificant. Tonight, all I wanted to do was call her and talk to her and cry with her, and have her tell me she was sending a hug through the phone and that everything would be OK because God has it under control.

But I couldn’t. For the first time in 30 years.

Thankfully, I’d kept that teddy bear.

When I was probably 7 or 8 years old, I was camping with my grandparents at Echo Lake in Montana. Camping was one of their favorite summer activities; a passionate pastime that they were thrilled to be able to share with my sister and I. One day my grandpa took me out fishing. Now even as a kid I wasn’t a huge fan of boats and open water, so we fished from the shore. This particular day grandpa sat on a tree stump next to me on my little fold-out fishing chair.

Turns out, somehow a whole bunch of battery acid had made its way onto that tree stump. Grandpa’s jeans were ruined. But my grandma never wasted anything, so rather than throw the jeans away she came up with a plan.

It just so happens that my teddy bear was the beneficiary.

Grandma decided that the teddy bear I carted everywhere (“Whitey Bear” is his name, in case you were wondering … And no, it’s not racist, he’s white and I was 4 when I named him so lay off) needed some clothes. I mean, that bear went everywhere naked, and that was just darn indecent! So we spent the day making him jeans and a jean jacket. And despite now being a couple of decades behind in fashion, he’s not been naked a day since.

The photo is my grandparents and I when I was maybe 3 or 4 years old. My grandmother put it in the frame for me after it was taken and I’ve had it by my bedside ever since. The back is broken and taped up, but I’ll never get rid of it. Whitey Bear is too cool for school in his homemade jean-jacket.

Tonight as I sat crying and holding onto that little teddy bear, I looked around my house and realized how deep her influence really has been. There is literally no corner of my house, or my life, that doesn’t reflect her life and our relationship. Her dining room table (her mother’s before her) now sits in my dining room. The hope chest she and my grandpa bought for me when I graduated high school sits in my living room, filled with memories we’ve all made together. Her picture (and normally my teddy bear) sits on my dresser in the bedroom. I have clothes she’s given me, notes she’s written me, photos we’ve taken, souvenirs she’s brought me, pie plates and dishes and silverware from her kitchen … My desk where my computer sits right now was first part of her house. I have an angel on the visor of my truck that says, “Grandchild, please drive safely” that I’ve had there for at least 10 years.

I do not even know who I would be now if she had not played such an active role in my life.

There really is no good way to sum this up. It sucks, and it’s hard. What makes it harder is that we almost shared a birthday. One week from today, she would have turned 77. One week and one day from today (on her mother’s birthday), I will turn 30. I will be back in Montana for our birthdays this year … The first time I will celebrate without her. I think Whitey Bear may need to make that trip with me.

Grandma and I last fall.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:4

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Close to My Heart

A very dear friend of mine, Jeb, is getting married in September and has asked me to be the wedding photographer. I’m SO EXCITED, and was so honored that he would ask me to play such an important role in his special day. I was blessed to meet his fiance this past fall, and what a great pair. They are loving, respectful, and make each other laugh. You will never meet a more gracious and well-matched couple.

I also just found out that my one of my best friends, Chris, is getting ready to move in with his significant other. This is a HUGE step for him in the relationship department, and I couldn’t be happier. He is so happy and excited at the prospect of settling down, and I am so proud of the amazing and strong man he has become over the years we’ve known each other.

And both Jeb and Chris are gay.

I realize that it’s unusual (but thankfully not unheard of) for a Christian to come out in support of gay marriage, gay rights, and even just gay friends. Hear me out.

I don’t claim to be an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but please allow me to share what God’s placed on my heart.

Many who oppose gay marriage, and homosexual relationships in general, look first to Leviticus in the Old Testament. Leviticus 18:22 says, “Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.” This is only one example. There are other places in the Old and New Testaments where homosexuality is decried as a sin. For example: Genesis 18 & 19Romans 1:26-27 , 1 Timothy 1:10 , Jude 1:7 , 1 Corinthians 6:8-11.

Seems clear enough. To practice homosexuality is a sin. But so is greed, envy, murder, deceit, malice, gossiping, slandering, arrogance, disobedience of parents (Romans 1:29-32), false worship, swearing, stealing, adultery, lying, coveting others’ possessions, not observing the Sabbath (Exodus 20:1-21), being rebellious, breaking the law, kidnapping, lying, being profane (1 Timothy 1:9-10), fornication, idolatry, adultery, thieving, drunkenness, swindling or deception (1 Corinthians 6: 9-11), anger, filthiness, wickedness (James 1:19-21), showing favoritism, judging others (James 2: 1-13), lying, gluttony, laziness (Titus 1:12-13), boasting, knowing what is right but choosing not to do it (James 4:16-17), hate (1 John 2:9-11) … I think you get a clear picture here.

Homosexuality is not a category by itself … It is a sin, just as all of the above and more. It is no better, and it is no worse.

And we are all guilty of something (and therefore guilty of all, according to Matthew 5:21-28 and James 2:10-13).

If we weren’t, there would be no need for a Savior. The good news is this: Colossians 2:13-14 says “When you were dead in your sins … God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.”

The gospel (good news) messages as well as passages on love, forgiveness, and acceptance of each other’s shortcomings are much easier to find in God’s Word than passages condemning or even referencing homosexuality. My Bible is a New American Standard translation, and in the concordance (glossary), there are 22 entries on forgiving and forgiveness, 43 entries on love and lovingkindness, and two entries on homosexuality. Two.

I think it’s safe to say that we should be focused more on loving and forgiving than homosexuality. And that’s straight from the Word.

Don’t judge someone for his/her sins. Christ himself said: “Do not judge, so that you will not be judged. … Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. … In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law of the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:1-12)

Love each other. Lift each other up, despite all our flaws and sins. The goal is not to stop sinning (impossible – that’s why we need Christ) … It’s to love each other anyway.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.” Colossians 3:12-15

Some of these issues may still seem cloudy to some, but not to me. So let me be clear. I love my husband. To share my life with someone has brought indescribable joy and depth to my life. It’s something I wish for all my friends … For all humanity. Some find that connection with people of the same gender, and some find it with people of the opposite gender. It’s not my place to deny anyone the chance to experience love. Gay relationships and gay marriages do not threaten my marriage and my relationship with my husband, just as my marriage does not threaten theirs. The existence of homosexuality does not make me less of a person, nor a less secure Christian. My friends who are homosexuals are not lesser people, and have the same gift of the grace of God extended and available to them.

God has blessed me with the friendships of both of these wonderful men. I am not ashamed of them. I love both of them just as they are, with all I’ve got (and I believe, so does God). My life is better – richer – because they are a part of my story.

Maybe that makes me a bad Christian. Maybe it makes me a stronger one.

That’s for God to decide.

“‘A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.'”
John 13:34

Chris (R) and his boyfriend, Evan.                   Jeb (L) and his fiance, Dave.

Ed. Note: For anyone interested in additional reading on this topic, here’s a great piece.

Thanks for reading!

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I think sometimes
we need to hear
that we are
valued
appreciated
Loved

I think sometimes
we need to speak
so that we are
heard
seen
known

I think sometimes
we need to Love
so that we are
valuing
appreciating
hearing
seeing
knowing

More

Than just ourselves