Unity Church

When Erin lived in Pisgah Forest, NC, and when we were up there for the weekend instead of here, we would drive out to Asheville and go to a church called Jubilee! Community Church.  They teach off the principles of Matthew Fox, a creation spiritualist who use to be a Catholic priest.  There are really two types of Christianity: the type that focuses on the fall and redemption (which is most of Christianity, and very much the most vocal part) and then there’s the other type that focuses on creation and sees Jesus as a guide to how we should live, rather than a savior.

There’s a greater focus on God being a loving creator rather than a scary being that damns everyone unless you do X, Y, and Z.  Under creation spirituality, like most things, are different branches.  There are the ones that follow the teachings of Matthew Fox, who preach on the four Vias.  Then there are others who just preach positive creation Christianity, and may or may not have ever heard of Matthew Fox.  They’re all considered “New Thought” so to speak.  Fall/Redemption Christianity is the type that’s working really hard to come to terms with homosexuality right now, and some of them aren’t.  Creation Spirituality churches have been on board for awhile, some of them since their creation.

They’re all forms of Christianity, but the creation spirituality churches tend to be a lot more open to people of different faith backgrounds.  They read from the Bible, but because all creation is divinely inspired, they will also read and teach from other sources as well.  As Pagans, Erin and I were very welcomed at Jubilee! as both a lesbian couple and a pagan one.  They even called corners at Jubilee!, although, not in the way most pagans do.  They don’t really call the elements, just the “winds of X” to flow through us.  I tried to match them up with the traditional elements that are called, but they weren’t in the right order… East isn’t air, and South wasn’t fire, etc.  But it was still cool.

They used modern music, had a band, and everyone was really nice and very welcoming to us.  When Erin moved here, we knew that driving to Jubilee! every week was going to be out of the question, and it made us a little sad.  We knew that their space was really unique, and I had never heard of a place like them in the Upstate.  I spent a lot of time searching online and found another Jubilee! Church in Columbia, but again, that’s too far of a distance to drive every weekend for service.  Aside from one other that I know of out in the midwest, that’s all the churches I knew about.

Erin and I have always wanted a spiritual community where we could feel at home and welcomed for who we were and what we believed.  I’d felt welcomed by the people at the UU in Spartanburg, but we didn’t feel as great a spiritual connection, and it was also a long drive for us as well.  We tried a more local UU, but we had the same problem: friendly people, no spiritual connection.  They had great talks, but that’s all they were: talks.  A friend of mine said that the UU’s are so worried about offending everyone that they end up trying to offend no one, often to their own detriment.  It felt like a church for atheists, and not that there is anything wrong with atheists, but we aren’t atheists.

I put out a thing on Facebook, and got a few responses back.  I wasn’t asking for a whole lot… just a gay-friendly church that was accepting and validating of pagans.  They could be Christian, as long as we would be Pagan and still worship under the same roof.  Multiple People came back with Unity Church.  I checked it out, watched a couple of their services online, and really liked what I saw.

They honor all paths to God and teach that Jesus was a teacher who lived a divinely inspired life that we can all reach.  I showed the service to Erin, and she said she liked it, was willing to try, but still a little skeptical because of their very much Christian stance.  I decided to e-mail the minister directly because if we were going to be a part of this community, we were going to be a part of this community openly.  I told the minister that we were gay, looking for a place of community to raise our child in, and that we were pagan.

He wrote me back and said they have people from all paths there, and that we were welcome.  Always.

We conned our friend Ashley into going with us, and it was an absolutely amazing service.  We weren’t sure how long it was going to take us to get there, so we left well before we should have.  We got there well before the service started and decided to explore the grounds a little.  The church is situation on 13.5 acres of land.  There’s a good sized lake that back up to the church that the church owns.  There’s a labyrinth, a mediation garden, a fire pit, cook out area.  Lots of land to expand onto.  They have a nursery and children classrooms.  We saw a calendar with all the stuff they do every week, and it felt like we could pretty much do something with the church every nigh if we wanted to.

We took a stroll out to find the labyrinth because it was a bit of a walk along the lake.  It’s far from the sounds of the church out in an open field.  I wish I had taken pictures so I could show you how beautiful this place was, but I didn’t.

We went to the service and it was all about going with the flow rather than fighting the changes that happen all around us.  They had a band, they welcomed us, and it felt nice.  Multiple people came to us and told us about how there were people from different paths that came there.  We all agreed that we’d gotten more out of that one service than we had from multiple visits to other churches combined.  It was so nice to feel a spiritual connection again with a community, and I’m so happy we found this church.  I think it’ll be a wonderful fit.

Ashley’s going with us again on Sunday, and we’re taking our Goddaughter with us this time.  It’ll be good practice for when the baby comes in February.  Then next week, we have more friends coming for their first time visit with their kids.

 

Pagan Parenting

As adoptive parents, we have to go through a long and extended process to welcome this child into our home.  When I went with the birth mother to the ultrasound, we were expecting to see a little blob of cells at 9 weeks.  What we saw was a 12 week fetus.  I didn’t have time to get super excited because I went from having three weeks to figure this process out to “Get it done NOW” in the span of about thirty minutes.

The adoption process is not easy, and it’s definitely not cheap.  It’s not something you just wake up one morning and say, “Hey, let’s go out and get ourselves a baby.  It’ll be fun.”  Not belittling anyone in their path to motherhood, but adoption is definitely more expensive that finding a known donor and tracking.  Now, if you go to a reproductive endocrinologist and get into IUI and IVF, adoption is right up there with you, but you’re simply trying at home, it is not that expensive and it’s definitely not something you have to think as long and hard about as adoption because of financial reasons.

When you are trying to conceive on your own, there is stress.  There is stress because you might not get pregnant, or you might miscarry, or you may have to do this process over and over again for months, maybe years on end.  Once you get pregnant, there are stresses about the nursery, the parenting situations, child care, etc.  But you know what you don’t have to stress about?  Bringing a baby home or having your home, your relationship, your lifestyle, your faith judged for “proper child raising ability” by the state.  Sure, people will talk, but unless you give the state any reason to think that you’re unfit parents, your child will come home with you and you’ll never have any problems whatsoever.

Erin and I are staring a home study down the throat in November.  We’ve already filled out the consent forms to have our arrest records checked, our backgrounds double checked, and the sex registry list triple checked.  After that, we each have to fill out a SIX page questionnaire about our families, our finances, our hobbies, and our faith.  Then we have to gather a bunch of pictures of the house and a lot of other paperwork before November rolls around when someone who is certified by the state comes through and makes sure that our house is in proper working order and safe for a baby.  We have to baby proof our house, I think, before all is said and done, and not that we wouldn’t do this anyway, but we might have waited until, you know, our baby could crawl and had the dexterity to open bottles.

After that, we wait and wait and stress the entire time because until the birth mother and father signs the paperwork that relinquishes their rights, that baby is still not ours.  We could go through all of this and still not come home with a baby.  It happens all the time.  I don’t think that that will happen in our case, but you can never be sure until it’s all over.  This creates a lot of excitement and a lot of stress at the same time.

Erin and I have been mulling over all the interview questions, and we’re not as nervous about the fact that we’re a same-sex couple as we are about the fact that we’re devoutly pagan.  I take comfort in knowing we can’t be discriminated against for religious reasons, but I know there could always be “something else.”  We’ve been talking a lot about what to do with our altars.  Should we leave them out or put them away for a day?  According to Kemetic Orthodox belief, they shouldn’t be out anyway, but it feels wrong.

I think what we’ve decided is that we’re going to put our faith in the Gods to see us through this situation.  They’ve gotten us this far on their faith and they won’t let us down right at halftime.  I think we’re planning on leaving the altars out and answering any and all questions genuinely and truthfully.  There is no reason to begin a family based on lies and misdirection.  If we have to resort to lies and deception to  win over the state, then we don’t deserve to win over the state.

We are choosing to raise our child as a Kemetic, and we have to be honest about that.  I wrote awhile back about the importance of pagan children, and my views have not changed.  Except that now it’s not a day dream, it’s reality.  Unless Erin gets a job in a more liberal part of the country after she graduates, we might be here awhile.  Our child will grow up in a place surrounded by Christianity, and not just any type of Christianity, but Christianity where they’re right and everyone else is wrong.  We’re talking the condemn-you-tell-hell-first-save-you-second type of Christianity.  The type that is against homosexuality, abortion, homeless people and immigrant children, but all for women submission, corporate money, and the soul-saving resurrection of Jesus Christ.  That type of Christianity.  It’s the type that I don’t particularly care for.

I believe in the Gods’ love for all Their creations.  I believe that along the way, we were given humans who led us to a greater understanding of what it means to act in a way that is pleasing to Them.  I believe that Jesus is probably one of those people, along with the Buddha, Muhammad, and Imhotep, among others.  There is going to come a time when our child is going to come across one of those Christians that will tell him that he’s wrong or that she’s going to hell for not believing in Jesus as the son of God, and we have to be ready for those days.

If we can’t stand up for our faith now, how will we be able to do it then?  How will we be able to teach our child how to in the days to come?  The simple answer is that we won’t, and that’s not an answer I’m okay with.

Why Adoption… Why Now…

As of this moment, Erin and I have a combined total of 317 likes on our “announcement photos.”  We’ve had multiple people tell us that they’re excited for our baby shower, people across the country have been asking for our registry information to so that they can send us stuff to help us get started.  I didn’t realize how well Erin and I were respected in the community, how much of a positive impact we’ve had on others’ lives up until this moment.  It’s been really, really overwhelming and emotional.  I don’t really know how to explain it.  I am so thankful and so blessed beyond words.

One of the things I’ve been thinking about are some questions that I’ve off-handedly answered over the last few days about “what made you want to adopt?” and “why did you decide to adopt when you were planning on waiting a few years?

I’ll answer the second one first: we chose to adopt right now because the Gods placed a blessing in our lives in the absolute perfect situation.  This child will never have to wonder where it came from, genetically speaking, which happens sometimes when birth parents aren’t known in a closed adoption.  It can cause a lot of emotional distress when a child doesn’t know his or her genetic history, and it could potentially cause health issues if you don’t know DNA health histories.  We have a situation where the birth mother AND birth father are both willing to be known and give us health histories.  Our child will never have to wonder where he or she came from, genetically speaking.

When I was first told of the pregnancy and before we had discussed possible adoptions, the first thought in my head was, “this is my child.”  It wasn’t a “I want this child” or “I wish I had my own kids,” it was a definite, this is my child.  I didn’t understand why I would have those thoughts, this was obviously not my child, and the birth mother hadn’t made any indication towards me about this at all, but I had a feeling.  She knew, when she told me, that she wasn’t going to keep the baby, but she hadn’t talked to us about it yet.

I was talking to the birth mother today and she was telling me how she thought this baby chose us.  “I know that sounds stupid,” she said, “but it’s the truth.”  She was talking about how when she was thinking about adopting the baby out to someone else, she always felt uneasy, but when it was suggested that we might be an option, she suddenly felt a wash of relief.  “Ever since that moment, I knew you were the right choice.  It sounds really weird, but my belly felt happy, like the baby was happy, like he or she knew that it was supposed to be yours.”

Yes, we were planning on waiting a couple years to have kids, but as they say in The Prince of Egypt, “When the Gods give you a blessing, you don’t ask why it was sent.”

Ever since then, ever since the announcement, we’ve been inundated with “Congrats!  You’re going to make awesome parents!”  Everything works out the way that it is supposed to, and this is how it is supposed to.

The second question is, “why adoption?”  I haven’t had anything against adoption to begin with.  I would love to have kids of my own, experience carrying a child and giving birth, and everything that goes a long with that process, but adoption has always been an option for me.

A number of years ago, I was diagnosed with weight-induced lack of ovulation.  My doctor told me that to ovulate, I would need to lose weight.  Later, I was diagnosed with PCOS, even though I atypical in that I never had any cysts.  I simply didn’t ovulate.  Once I dropped a good deal of weight, my cycle came back and I’ve been pretty regular since then; however, there’s no promise that I’ll have an easy time getting pregnant.  Adoption is, honestly and especially in this situation, less of a gamble.

On top of that, Erin and I come into the parenting situation on the same level.  We are both equal in the amount of DNA we share with this child, which is none (other than the DNA we share in common with all humans).  It will prevent either one of us feeling less than a parent ever, not that either one of us ever would.  It also makes us have an easier time of getting Erin to be a legal parent because we won’t have to go through all the home study stuff again since we’ve already been checked out, and the birth father will have already consented to giving up his parental rights.

Adoption fact #394: When someone plans on completing a second parent adoption (which is where a non-biological parent adopts their partner’s child, whether it’s a LGBT couple or straight couple), the second biological parent either has to be notified that his parental rights are being terminated or he or she must terminate their own rights (usually done through paperwork through a sperm bank or similar institution).  If the other biological parent cannot be found to legally terminate his or her rights, you MUST file a publication, and the fees are usually around $500.  (This is one of the things we don’t have to pay because we have a known father who is willing to terminate.)  If you use a known sperm donor in a lesbian pregnancy for an artificial insemination, and you don’t have paperwork that the sperm donor is giving up his parental rights, your child has a legal, biological father, and you will have to pay to have that terminated.  Or at least that’s how it works in SC.

If Erin can’t legally adopt this baby with me, we won’t have to pay as much the second round (even though we’ll have to pay like everyone else) because we’re already doing a lot of the legal stuff the first time around.  If Erin can legally adopt with me, then we’ll be one of the few same-sex couples in the state who’s child has two legal parents, and this puts us on an equal playing field.  We still plan on trying for me to have kids later, but I’d like two years between our first child and our second, so we have the time to work through the costs of the adoption and get some money saved for round two.  And then hopefully when baby two is born, we’ll be able to put Erin’s name straight onto the birth certificate because the laws will have changed, and then we’ll be on an equal playing field again.

Second Parent Adoption

I don’t know how many people actually read this blog, but I follow quite a few people who live in England or other states that aren’t in the southeastern United States, like I am.  If you haven’t been keeping up with the news, the Supreme Court (which is the governing God of the U.S.  What they say goes. The End.) said that it was illegal for the federal government not to recognize same-sex marriages that were performed in states that allow for same-sex marriages.  The states don’t have to perform or recognize, but the federal government does.

That sounds really confusing, and I’m not sure how this country functions sometimes, but there are five-ish different basic levels of government in the U.S.  The first is city/county, which is the lowest.  They create laws for their specific area, and then the state governments (or the next higher level) come in and overthrow them.  We saw this recently in SC where the city of Greenville made a really strict no-cell phone law, and the the state came back and said, “Texting bad, talking OK.”  The City of Greenville spent all this money to make anti-cell phone laws for all their signs and then immediately had to turn around and remove them all because the State Law made their city law invalid.

After the state law, there’s the appellate courts, which are over group of states, and then after that is the federal courts.  What’s happening with marriage laws right now is that we have a bunch of states, all with their own laws that say “yes marriage equality or no marriage equality.”  One by one, each someone has to challenge the state laws, and one by one the states are coming back saying that they’re unconstitutional, and one by one the states are moving up the ladder of appeals, wasting our money just to have the next level say that marriage is equality is the new black.  Since last year, not a SINGLE court has upheld discrimination.  Not. A. Single. One.

Recently, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals (the one that is over South Carolina law, which is where I live) said that Virginia can’t deny same-sex couples the right to marry (which we expected them to say, but it was only for Virginia).  What it means for South Carolina and all the other states in this area is that they have no leg to stand on when it comes to fighting the marriage laws in the state.  They’re going to lose.  North Carolina was smart and said, “Fine, we give up.”  They decided to stop fighting the laws, which means NC is going to be a marriage equality state pretty quickly.  South Carolina said, “WE’RE GOING TO FIGHT TO THE DEATH.”

They’re going to lose, I know this.  It’s really obvious, but it’s really annoying still.  They have NO ONE supporting them in their fight.  The Circuit isn’t backing them, and the Supreme Court won’t either.  EVERYONE KNOWS THIS.

What does that have to do with Erin and I?

Our lawyer said that while two-parent same-sex adoption isn’t illegal, there are no laws on record that saw that it has to be done.  Since South Carolina is a fight-to-the-death-for-“traditional”-marriage state, Erin and I cannot legally get married here, and even if we were legally married in another state, we wouldn’t be recognized as married here.

The absolute least expensive adoption that can be done ANYWHERE (because, let’s be real, this isn’t cheap) after a foster-adopt is a non-Native American, birth father on board and living in the same state and county with no matching or agency involved adoption.  This is what Erin and I have.  It will still cost us around $8,000.  (If you want the broken down process, I can give you the link to my adoption blog OR we can talk.)

If Erin and I were married and that marriage was legally recognized in the state of South Carolina, then this would be a one time deal.  We’d pay for the adoption, and then we’d be set to go as two legally recognized parents.  But since it’s not, our adoption will depend entirely on which judge we get whether we can adopt together or not.

What this means is that I’ll legally adopt OUR child and then we will find the money to go through this process AGAIN once the laws change but that we’ll have to get together a lot of legal paperwork and the like so that Erin can adopt at a later date or somewhere else where it is legal.  It’ll be another couple thousand dollars when that happens.  And it’s not just like this because we’re adopting: couples who have their children through artificial insemination have to pay legal fees for a second parent adoption, and again, it depends on the judge you get whether or not it will all be legal.

Until that point, if you don’t have paperwork on file saying you can make legal decisions for your child, you are playing a dangerous gamble.  Schools, doctors, daycare facilities, etc may not talk to you, help you, or even seen you.  How is that helping a child?

I don’t really care what the cost is.  Erin and I always figure out money situations.  We always have everything we need when we need it, but we seriously hope the laws change before February so that we don’t have to do this all over again.

 

Dating Advice From a Lesbian: Finding “The One”

With all the positive feedback about this adoption in regards to our relationship, it got me to thinking: how, exactly, did I find Erin?  How did I get so “lucky?”

And the truth of the matter is: it wasn’t just luck.  There are a lot of things a person can do that will help them find “The One.”  I’ve given this advice to quite a few people, and I’ve seen a lot of really amazing relationships come out of it, so I figured it’s time to write something down.  Are you struggling to find “The One?”  Then keep reading and maybe this will help:

1) Make a Conscious Decision 

One thing a lot of people don’t realize, whether it’s from lack of experience, Hollywood, or a general absence of positive gay everyday role models in successful relationships, but being with someone for “the long haul” requires some form of a choice.  It’s not a choice that you’re going to be with that one person for the rest of your life if you start dating someone (because we have all started dating someone at some point and it has been really, really bad) and then it starts to not work out.  By all means, if you are with someone and it’s really not working out, then it’s okay to leave that relationship.

This is a multi-faceted decision.  This decision is the decision that you are going to actively seek out and find “The One.”  It is the understanding that this decision means that when you think you have found “The One” that there will be times when things aren’t picture perfect and you are again making the decision to attempt to work through these times.  We cannot, if we ever decide we’re ready to find that special someone, run at the first sign of trouble.  (But just remember… if you’re having “signs of trouble” frequently, or you’re unable to work through this with the person you’re with, it is okay and recommended that you let it go.)

2) Know Who You Are

The way I see it, there are three types of “things” in everyone’s life.  There are things that are important and permanent, important and not permanent, not important and permanent, not important and not permanent, and not important.  In these categories, things that are not permanent are things in your life that in a year, two years, five years will probably not exist anymore.  This could be things you are doing, hobbies that you have, beliefs that you hold.  Things that are permanent are things that have been in your life for multitudes of years and haven’t gone anywhere.  Their importance can change, but what I’ve found is that they usually become more important as we get older.

If we can think about all the things in our lives as being in one of these three categories, we can start to use them as a basis for how we view potential partners in our relationships.  Things in each category can have different rankings as well, but we need to make sure that we know what our own personal views and rankings are before we start talking to someone who might have different views and rankings than us.

Things that are important and permanent are things in our lives that we care about a lot.  These are the things (or people) in our lives that have been there for many, many years and their importance to us has only increased.  It’s things in this category that usually become “deal breakers” in a relationship, and with good reason.  If we’re not compatible with someone in the absolute most important areas in our lives, then how are we compatible at all?  These are things that, regardless of what we would like to think, it is best if we match up with someone in these categories.  There are ALWAYS exceptions to the rules, but as a general statement of experience: If you are a devout Pagan, you will probably not mesh well with someone who is a devout Christian.  If you are pro-choice, you will probably not do well with a pro-lifer.  As an example, things in this category for me are: my pagan faith, my desire for children, my family, my pets, my political views in regards to GLBT rights and women’s rights, my beliefs surrounding education and advancement of individuals.  There’s others, but these are just to help.

Things that are important and not permanent are usually emotions surrounding recurring or temporary situations that a person we are with will need to be able to handle if and when these situations occur, but they can also be various life events that we sometimes to through that may last a few years (like school or boot camp).  These are things that will disrupt your daily life for a short amount of time (short is relevant, it could be years).  These are not deal breakers because these situations can be worked through.  A person can be taught how to help or work with you while you are going through these times in your life.  Communication is key with this category, and an understanding that you and your partner can and probably will be very different in this section.  For me, things in this section currently (and I say currently because this section depends on your current situation) include: my anxiety/excitement surrounding this adoption, my three-day stint with depression each month (I like to think it’s my body being upset that I’m not pregnant.. again).  Coming up soon, I’ll be adding back my need to have dedicated time to grading and school work.  Other things from the past that have been in this category are things like my college and graduate school classes, my need to study for an important test, etc.

Things that are in the not important category can vary widely, and are often times hard to pinpoint, at least for me.  This is what I would call the “everything else” category, and it’s the area of greatest compromise.  These are things that you really don’t care one way or the other, you don’t really have an opinion on.  Usually, because of that lack of opinion, we don’t ever think about them… which is probably why I can’t put anything into a list for you right now for this category.

3) Put Yourself Out There

This is probably the hardest part.  Where do you meet people?  It use to be that you’d go out to the local “gay event” or “gay bar,” but now that the LGBT community is becoming less “alternative lifestyle” and more “normal variance in human expressions of love,” these events and businesses are going under rather rapidly.  Where I live, we had four “gay bars” in the area when I was in high school and college.  Now we have one, and it’s 45 minutes away for me to drive there.  Most people are going out to just regular old bars or events… places don’t have to be labeled as “gay” anymore for gay people to show up.  So now what?

Well, you can go out to these places and see who you see, or you can do what I did to find Erin and try your hand at online dating.  I know, I know.  It sounds really silly, but if you take it seriously, you might be surprised at how well it works out.  But it doesn’t happen overnight and it doesn’t happen easily.  You actually have to work at it.

So here’s a bit of a run down on some places you can try (not all because I don’t have the time or the experience for all that):

Facebook: Now, before you get all “that’s not a dating website” on me, keep reading.  Facebook has a thing called “groups” and there are groups for everything.  The area where I live has SC Lez, SC LGBT, Upstate Lesbians, Takeover Upstate, etc.  These aren’t groups for dating, but they are groups for meeting people, and that’s the first step to the whole finding someone bit: meeting them.

OkCupidI have to plug this one next because this is the site that Erin and I found each other through.  You create a profile and then you start answering questions.  The website matches you with people based on how you answer those questions.  I answered about 100 questions and then started looking at matches, going through and answering questions they’d answered and then going back and comparing again.  I think I ended up with 300 – 400 questions by the end of the whole thing, and the entire time I was talking to people.  I’d go through and find someone who looked like they fit my “deal breakers” and I found them attractive.  I would message multiple people each day.  Some I would hit it off with, some I wouldn’t.  Erin and I hit it off and talked for months before deciding to meet.  Best. Decision. Ever.  By the way, this place is free.

Plenty of FishAnother freebie site.  On this site, you take tests and they match you based on your test results.  I didn’t spend as much time here as I did on OkC; however, I have a friend who met her current girlfriend on there and they’ve been together for awhile.  Even bought a house together recently.

Match.Com, Chemistry.Com, Compatible Partners:  These are your three big websites that all cost some $$$.  Compatible Partners is the LGBT version of eHarmony, in case you weren’t aware.  They will usually give you some free days to play around, but it’s almost never enough time.  Compatible Partners has, in the past, given two to three months of free time, but it’s a rare swing around when that happens.  On these websites, if you decide to pay, you know you’ll be meeting other people who have decided to pay, which means they’re probably serious and less likely to be looking for just a hook up.  Also, they’re more likely to have decent jobs and home life since they can afford to pay these places money each month.  Not that people who don’t pay don’t have decent jobs, it’s just an observation.

4) Don’t Let Yourself Make Excuses

If you start talking to someone, and they make you laugh and you’re having a good time, but then they say or do something that sends you a little red flag… STOP IMMEDIATELY and double check yourself.  Do not let yourself get bogged down in making compromises during the talking and getting to know a person stage.  This isn’t a time to make excuses for people, it’s a time to legitimately get to know someone.  If you want to be with someone who’s graduated from college or is in college, don’t make excuses for someone who’s not.  It’s okay to be discriminatory during this stage because, let’s face it, if it’s important enough to be on your list and someone isn’t meeting that, then it probably won’t work out in the long run anyway.  Better end it before it begins, which brings me to my last point:

5) Don’t Waste Your Time

There is nothing worse than being with someone for an extended period of time, having it not work out, and the beating yourself up for all the “lost time.”  Don’t lie, everyone’s done it.  We get swept up in the big romance or newness factor, we ignore a whole lot of stuff, and then finally we can’t ignore it anymore and bam!  It’s all over.  This is the one point I wish I had known and followed sooner rather than later: do not waste your time dating people when you know there might be issues.

If you talk to someone and you get to know them, and you want to start dating them, great! Go for it!  But if you’re talking to that person and there’s something you aren’t sure about but you’re “willing to overlook it” for whatever reason, STOP.  You will end up wasting your time.  When you are in the “dating game” to win it, there isn’t time to fuss over anyone who doesn’t fit what you’re looking for.  Do. Not. Settle.  The beautiful thing about this is that if you decide to NOT waste your time, it gives you more time to actually find “The One” because you’ll realize early on who does and doesn’t make the cut.   This might sound like a harsh way to treat people, but remember: this isn’t about them, it’s about you and finding someone you can be with for the long haul.  And really, it’s better for the other people if it ends before it begins because it saves a lot of broken hearts.  When you stop wasting your time, you stop wasting everyone else’s time as well.

————————————————————–

Well, there you have it.  That’s the not-so-short explanation as to how Erin and I managed to find each other and how you can use what we did to hopefully help yourselves if you want to.  Happy dating!

Going With the Flow

This has been an absolutely amazing experience.  I feel so blessed by everyone around me.  I can’t even explain what all of this means to me.

Last night, after we got home from talking to my parents and having dinner with them, we decided to post announcements on Facebook.  Partially to tell everyone at once, and partially to play a game.  We wanted to see who could get more likes on their photo, and we were pretty neck and neck until I changed the picture to my profile picture, which I think knocked my announcement photo off the News Feed.

Anyway, as of right now, we have a combined total of 300 likes on our announcements.  Three hundred.  This completely blows my mind.  We’ve had absolutely nothing less than support and complete excitement.

We’ve had multiple, multiple people how great of parents we’re going to make.  People have told us how lucky this baby is going to be to have a family so full of so much love.  I was told that Erin and I are a true testament to what true love really is.  One of my friends asked me to adopt her too while we were at it.  My friend Amanda has been swooning over the news since she found out and already wants to go and buy stuff for the baby.  (Go right ahead, Amanda!  We won’t say no!!)

This journey has been an absolute roller coaster from the time we were “asked” about adopting to now and I’m sure it’ll continue into the future.

Erin and I hadn’t planned on adopting or having kids for a couple of years.  Our grand plan was to wait until Erin finished graduate school.  We were in the early planning stages of pregnancy, and everything was going exactly the way we had seen it going in our minds.  But then, we had a wonderful opportunity and blessing bestowed upon us.  We were approached by someone who knew we wanted kids and asked to adopt.

We were chosen by this person.  This person believed that we would be able to parent her child in a way that the child deserved, and she wanted us to adopt.  At that point, we were faced with a situation most gay couples don’t ever find themselves in: An unplanned pregnancy.  What were we going to do?

We had two choices, and they were pretty obvious ones at that: parent this child or possibly regret not taking this chance for the rest of our lives.

We have, obviously, decided to say yes.

We put our faith in the Gods and decided to ride this crazy ride to see where it would lead us, and the path has been an overwhelmingly emotional and intensely exciting journey.  The love and support we’ve gotten has made me breakdown into tears on multiple occasions, and I am so happy to have all these world people in my life.  We are truly blessed people.

 

Now on to start planning the nursery (Harry Potter theme!) and the baby shower!!

P.S. – This just in: the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals found Virginia’s marriage bans to be UNCONSTITUTIONAL!  We’re one step closer in SC because that ruling affects us too!!!!  Maybe SC won’t be the last state in the U.S. to allow gay marriage after all. :)

An Update and An AWESOME EXCITING Story

Erin, our friend Ashley, and I all went to check out this new church called Unity today.  It’s very similar to Jubilee! in Asheville, and we really liked it, so we’re going to be going back next weekend.  It was nice to finally find a place that was welcoming to “the gays” and “the pagans” while still doing some form of actual worship.

We got more out of this service that we ever go out of the last four or five visits to the UU combined.  It was amazing.  I’m so grateful to all my friends who suggested we try them out.  It was definitely worth it.

That was my update….

…Now for the story.

Two years ago, one of my coworkers (who’s a friend) randomly went down to visit another coworker because the rumors were that she had absolutely everything a person would need for their classroom.  They got to talking and became fairly close.  Well, one day, she asked my coworker-friend if she would mind watching her grandchild for a day or two.  My coworker said sure, not a problem.

Well, it started this cycle of my coworker-friend keeping this baby for extended periods of time, sometimes months on end.  The baby started calling her mom, even.  The last time this happened, they said they couldn’t do this anymore because it was getting to hard to have to give her back all the time.  So they didn’t keep her for awhile.

Jump ahead to this year, and she’s being asked again to watch the baby.  My coworker-friend said that if they watched this baby again, this was the last time time.  If they wanted her to keep the baby, they were going to let her keep the baby.  The birth mother agreed and surrendered her rights to the child to my coworker.

When she started telling me this story, I thought, “Dang.  I really wish the Gods would just bless me like this with a child… Just sorta drop on on my lap like that and all.”

Jump ahead again to a few months ago: a mutual friend of Erin and I is pregnant.  She had decided of her own free will that she cannot emotional or financially support this child and has chosen to put the baby up for adoption.  She knew that we wanted to have kids (even though we were planning on waiting for a few years), and she asked us if we were interested.

We looked over our finances, talked about it for awhile, and really prayed and thought about what this would mean for us.  We then came back and told her yes.

WE’RE ADOPTING A BABY!!!  The baby is due February 3, 2015!  We’ve gotten the money together, we’re talking to a lawyer, and we’re getting a home study done very, very soon!!!

WIN_20140727_165137

 

Bot of our families are absolutely thrilled and excited for us.  We’re probably going to fly Erin’s mom in from Michigan when the baby is born.  When we told her on the phone today, she said, “This is so exciting!  I’d almost given up on you!”  My mom started crying when we gave her the card and she attached one of the ultrasound photos onto their fridge.  She said, “I knew it was either that you were adopting or getting married, but either way, the news would have been really exciting!”

It’s been really crazy here with all the legal stuff, but we’re trying to work it so that we can both adopt legally and then not have to pay the fees a second time once the laws change.  It’s legal to do all that here, it just depends on the judge that you get.

This has been what all my vague-blogging has been about.  I just didn’t want to say anything until it was a done deal!

On Faith…

I’m not entirely sure where to begin this post.  I can’t fully divulge every tiny detail, but I promise all will be revealed in the next two weeks.

This past year, a situation happened with a coworker, and while she was telling me the whole story, I silently thought, “I wish the Gods would give me an opportunity like this.”

And now we’re less than a year later, and holy shit… I have the same opportunity, if not potentially better.

But the only problem is, there is a lot of stress that comes with said opportunity…  The next few days, weeks, months are going to busy.

At one point, Erin had her arms around me as I cried into her shoulder.  I’ve been so super emotional the last few weeks.  I told her about my fear and worries, but I finished it up with, “But I know the Gods wouldn’t bring us this far and not give us a way out.”

This is where my faith comes into play.  For the last couple of years, I have placed the Gods first in my life above all else.  I pray for guidance with all my decisions to make sure I’m on the right path, and ever sense then, things have always worked out well for me.  I’m not going to say that we’ve had smooth sailing because even good situations can be stressful and a lot of work, but everything has been, for the most part, very positive.  And with every blessing and with every bump, I give thanks to the Gods, through prayer, for their continued support and guidance.  They truly come first in my life.

My faith tells me that the Gods have my back.  It tells me that They wouldn’t give me an amazing opportunity without the ability to see it through to the end.  We may have bumps in the road along the way, but things will work out.  If the Gods will it, so shall it be.

Trying to Find “Home”

Or how Christian privilege affects me and my family
Or my problems with the Unitarian Universalist Church.

I am a Kemetic Pagan, and as such, I believe in a higher power.  I am not, however, an “exceptionalist.”  I don’t believe that my way to the Gods is the only right way.  At their very basic level, all spiritual paths include similar teachings about love and doing good and helping each other.  They are designed to help us grow as individuals and as a society.

With that being said, when I go to church, I like to feel connected.  With some really big stuff happening in the next few months, Erin and I decided that we needed to start our search back up for a community of people.

As Pagans, and especially as Kemetics, our places of welcome are very limited.  Many of the coven groups up here are full or not accepting new members, and most of those are Wiccan or Celtic based paganism, which is fine.  However, as with any place, we’d have to take a serious look at their practices for any “this is the only to believe” or “this is the right way.”  Granted, I don’t think that will be a problem with pagan groups; however, like I said, I haven’t found any in the area yet open to new people.

When Erin lived outside of Asheville, NC, there was a church there that we use to go to when we would spend the weekends there that we both felt connected to.  I’ve written about it (Jubilee Community Church) before.  This is the Christian Church that helped me to rekindle my own faith as a pagan.  They taught from the Bible, but also taught that all creation was divinely inspired; therefore, all creation is of God… And it didn’t matter if you worshiped the God specifically mentioned in the Bible or some other God, as long as you worshiped or served someone.

They take Joshua 24:15 very seriously: “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites,in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (NIV)

Now that Erin lives here, we’ve struggled finding a place of worship where we belong and feel connected.  It’s difficult when the majority of places in the area are strictly Christian (in the sense that they believe they are right and everyone else is wrong) places of worship, and the others are all very hidden.

We started attending the local UU churches, but neither really felt like home.  We stopped going for awhile, but then started going back recently… and the same feelings came back.  I didn’t understand it until I really started breaking it apart.  Why did I feel more at home in a  Christian place of “open” worship, but not in a place that wasn’t Christian?

Some would say that it’s the Christian God calling to me to have a relationship with Him, but that doesn’t feel right.  My Gods still feel right, and I still feel connected to Them, just missing a community.

Then it hit me: I didn’t leave the local UU churches feeling any more enlightened than I did when I got there.  There was a lot of talk, but not much in the way of worship.  A friend of mine put it that they’re so afraid of offending anyone, they end up not really doing anything but talking.  They talk about welcoming everyone wherever they are on their spiritual journey, but then it feels like they never do anything to help guide you on that journey.  There’s a lot of talk, but not a lot of teaching… A lot of stories, but very little connection..

I find myself listening, but not actively.  I catch myself dozing off in the middle of the message, not processing it.  I’m like the little kids that color through a sermon, but never really getting anything out of it.  It’s all very flat…

But it puts Erin and I in a situation where we don’t really know where to go or what to do.  We thought about going to various different places around to see what we come up with… We thought about driving all the way to Asheville every Sunday, but it’s a lot of driving and a lot of gas money for a weekly trip.

I put out a blurb on Facebook saying, “Aside from the UU churches in the area… Are there any places of worship that accept GLBT folk AND…

Aren’t one of the “big three” faiths (Christian, Judaism, Islam)… or
Don’t require you believe the same way they do… or
Accept and affirm people from other faith backgrounds… or
Aren’t “exceptionalist” churches (aka our way is the right & only way)… or
Don’t require a belief that Jesus is the Son of God… or
Jesus is the only way to get into heaven…??

Just curious.”

 

The first response I got was “I believe you’ll only find that in the comfort of your own home! Welcome to the South!”

That’s so sad… and I really hope that it’s not true.

O is for… Omnipotence.

“Nothing can come between
You and I
Not even the gods above
Can separate the two of us”

- One Direction, You and I

Erin and I were driving… somewhere…  I don’t really remember where, and it’s not even that important, honestly.  And this song came on.  It’s a song by One Direction (this generation’s version of Backstreet Boys or NSync) called You and I.  It’s your stereotypical I’ll-love-you-forever-and-ever song, but this one has some lyrics that made me stop.

“Did he just says ‘gods‘?”

Why yes, he did.

I’m going to go off on a side rant here for a second: I really wish there was more pagan spiritual music that didn’t sound like heavy metal or celtic folk.  If anyone knows of any, please… PLEASE share it with me.  I absolutely would love some pagan music that’s more pop or alternative rock-ish.  I’ve gotten into this thing where I’m basically taking mainstream music and using it at spiritual music. All creation sings of wisdom and God, afterall.

Anyway, so we here this song and then Erin says, “You know, I don’t know if I’d really ever say that… I don’t feel comfortable tempting the Gods in that way.”

I agreed with her.

Lots of pagans have differing definitions of “the higher powers” and how far its higher power can go.  Some may not believe that there is any higher power controlling anything, but that we’re all connected by the spiritual energy found in us all.

For me, the Gods are omnipotent, which means I believe that They have unlimited power.  This doesn’t mean that they constantly control everything, but that they could if they wanted to.

Some sects of Christianity believe that the Christian God controls everything along with His unlimited power, which makes me wonder, then, why such bad things happen.  It’s a questions that comes up quite a bit.  Some will say that the Christian God is testing the faith of His followers and people.  Some will say that bad things happen to bad people, and that because of sin, there ARE NO good people.

For me, The Second Law of Thermodynamics explains why bad things can sometimes happen.  Now, there are probably a lot of people out there who’s head might start spinning because I suggest that science can explain my faith, and my explanation may be a bit shaky, but work with me.  The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that entropy (or the tendency for disorder) never decreases in a system.  Disorder is always increasing.

Disorder can mean any number of things, but I like to think of things in a very basic manner:  Order is Good, Disorder is Not-As-Good.  I don’t mean a cluttered room when I say disorder in this sense, although the Second Law might.  I’m saying when bad things happen in our lives, that our lives are in a state of disorder, and these things tend to happen.

So if this disorder is supposed to increase, why don’t our lives continuously get worse? The Gods.

The Gods have the ability to affect change in our lives.  They have the ability to make anything They want to happen, happen.  This is why They’re Gods.  This is why people call on Them for help.

On that same note, however, they can take things from us if they want.  They can decide to make something bad happen in our lives, if they wanted to.  The Bible itself is fully of stories of the Christian God bringing bad things down on people because He wanted them to happen.  There are stories about Ra and the destruction of mankind.  The Gods aren’t perfect.  They’ve hurt people in the past.

So why on Earth would anyone tempt them to do it again?

I’m not saying that we should fear the Gods, although that’s what it sounds like to some extent.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but from experience, the Gods bless us with everything we need right when it is that we need it.  They help to keep our lives out of that disorder and bad, and help us get out of it when we end up in it.  I don’t believe that all problems can be solved by prayer, but I believe prayer can help.  If anything, it gives us a way to take our stress and lessen it, to rid ourselves of negative emotions.

Those of you that are reading my other blog are probably all thinking, “Why don’t you take your own advice??”  And I’m trying to honestly, but I’ll be the first to say that this is easier said than done… To recognize the omnipotence of the Gods and allow Them to work in our lives for the greater good.  It’s not easy, but if we can, the benefits can be so rewarding.

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