Friday, March 30, 2012

Grace in My Life

As a Christian, I've been taught that Grace is "unmerited favor"; a gift I have done nothing to earn.  Poppa is very much in the Grace business.  Sometimes, I think I am His number one customer.
This is all my feelings, thoughts and conclusions about my life and spirituality.  I am not pushing this on anyone.  It is just me.
How He has Graced me throughout my life I could never begin to tell.  But how He has Graced me the last few years?  Oh, my!
My Second Daughter, Debra, says I cry a lot in church.  It is very true.  I have always Believed, always been a church-goer.  But for all those years, I never knew the joy that is talked about constantly.  For Fifty-plus years, I tried to hide my secret from my God who was not then my Poppa.  I knew He knew, but I still tried to hide.  And then came the day when I quit hiding, when I stood before my God in my spiritual and emotional nakedness and ... and ... and He Loved Me!  How could I not cry?!?!? To know that He knows everything about me, my deepest secrets, my greatest shames, and He still Loves Me!  It's a wonder I ever Stop crying!  This is His Grace.
In His Love, His Compassion and His Wisdom, he introduced me to a young woman gravely wounded by her parents.  I, without my children at the time [and still, but there is hope], was equally broken. And we became friends.  In time, I came to see her like a daughter.  And she began to call me Momma.  In time we grew to be truly Momma and Daughter in every way but blood.  We have been there for each other through the good times which have been multitude and very good, and the very few bad times.  Poppa made us a family.  This, too, is His Grace.
A year ago, I met another young woman, Annabelle, a transsexual woman, who was going to get her surgery.  I knew that I had some resources that she and her mother might make use of in the process and I freely offered it.  I came  to know her mother, Sandie, and became frriends.  I developed a very close connection to this young woman and discovered I do "Mom" really well  Annabelle didn't need a mom; Sandie loves her dearly and has supported her in everything she has done.  But her Mom lives in New England.  So our relationship has grown to be something like Mom and Daughter.  Then her Mom graced me no end.  She told me I could be her daughter's West Coast Surrogate Mom.  To be trusted with her flesh-and-blood Daughter is a Grace-thing so special!  [I don't cry just in church...]  Over the last year, Sandie and I have become Sisters-of-the-Heart.  So my family has grown with another Daughter and a Sister.  This is Poppa's Grace, again.
At a turning point in Debra's life, she met Johanna and they became BFF's.  I like Johanna and I really like her as Debra's friend, but the relationship between Johanna and myself has always been ... complicated.  I tend to throw my heart at people and Johanna rather resists that.  She and I process things different but we have one thing in common to the depths of our souls, our love for Debra.  By Poppa's Wisdom, or His Humor, We have come to love each other dearly.  A Grace-thing I will Never be able to stop thanking Poppa for!
I met Lisa through Johanna more than any other way.  A very vibrant, firecracker of a woman!  And incredibly intelligent and wise beyond her years.  We have become good friends, very good friends!  I have asked her to mentor me in a number of projects.  She has been there for me to cry on. She says my presence is calming and sometimes she needs a lot of that.  She helps me wth my cooking and I am very happy to be her Taxi.  She has stretched my mind with her addiction to Words for Friends [Do friends let friends play Words for Friends?].  And she is constantly knitting or spinning yarn!  She gives me a lot of balance. She is a dear, Dear Sister to me.  And a gift from Poppa I never would have imagined.
Poppa's Grace comes in unexpected circumstances.  When I had my stroke recently, it was a very precious gift to see my ex-Wife at the hospital concerned about me.  I don't see her much anymore and, frankly, I miss her. But it's time to move on with our lives.  But it was something that choked me up to see her there at the hospital for me.  My brother Tim and his family came and blessed me with their love.  and a huge surprise, huge gift was to see my brother Bill there for me!  My son, Jake, had called to see if he should come from Canada.  I miss him, laughing with himand talking with him so even though I was well enough that he didn't need to come down, it was a blessing that he Loved me still.  But as wonderful as all that was...  That my First Daughter, my Becca, my Pride and my Joy! came to see me!  We didn't get much chance to talk.  But she hugged me and Loved me for the first time since I came out!  We have much to Love our way through, but by Poppa's Grace there is hope!  And I had just about found my Hope jar empty.
I shake my head in my unbelief at how much Poppa has Graced me!  I cannot imagine being so very special and so very loved but so many people.  Debra would tell you that I deserve it!  Every bit!  But it's hard for me to embrace that.  Worthy or not, I can accept and thank Poppa for all His Love and all the Ways He has watched out for me.  It is so far from the relationship I had with Him before.  I hope I am able to be used by Him to give His Grace to others.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

An Open Letter to the Parents of a Transgender Child

It is from the heart of a parent and from the love my Poppa gives me that I write this.  I pray that Poppa, His Son, the One Who Loves Me, and the Comforter that Poppa has sent, gives His words of Love. 
You have suffered a great loss.  The child that together you conceived and bore, raised and suffered your child's hurts and celebrated your child's victories, the child for whom your hopes and dreams and prayers have been constant and unstinting, your child appears to be on a different path.  Your hopes, your dreams, your prayers seem rejected and dashed. Your vision of family twisted and unrecognizable. There is nothing but despair.
You sought guidance and counciling, for your child and yourself.  Your counselor taught that you should reject your child in the life your child now lives; that you should think of your child as dead.  The death of a child is no little thing to deal with. I would suggest that this teaching is not from Poppa.  It is not a teaching of Love. It is a teaching of Vengance, a teaching of Man.
You have done so well loving and raising your child!  Your child is a beacon among your child's peers.  Your child is a comforter and encourager to many, many children of all ages caught in this strange gift Poppa gives some of His children. Your child is someone to be proud of. I am so very proud for your child, but your child is not mine to be proud of.  Nothing good your child lives is mine to claim. Everything good in your child, everything good! is from you and you should be proud!
Your child loves you both.  Your child needs you both. Your child aches to go on Sunday walks to get an espresso and talk of life, model trains and God.  Your child has suffered grievous hurts but could not turn to you for comfort because you would not give it. You reject your child.  Your precious first-born!  You cannot call your child by name.  You call "him" Dennis.  You cannot call her Deniece.  Always you refer to Dennis, or Denmo, or, simply, Den, like a compromise of the truth is enough.  You do not see that all your hopes and dreams and prayers that really matter live on gloriously in your child!  
Your child is not perfect.  There is only one Perfect Child, the Son, the One Who Loves Us.  The Son is the only child to live up to the dreams and hopes and prayers of his Father.  All other children have flaws.  All other children are not perfect.  You, both of you, we re children once.  There are no perfect parents save for Poppa, Father to us all.  You remember your parents.  They were not perfect.  Your parents did not live up to your hopes and dreams and prayers.  But you loved them still.  Your child, who is not perfect, loves you still.  I believe Poppa and the One Who Loves Us call us to love the imperfect children in our lives as they love us even though we are not perfect. 
My prayer, small though it is, is simply that you both open your hearts to Poppa and to your daughter, Deniece.  Dennis is not coming back.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Dating Someone New

I'm going to go shopping later today for a couple new outfits.  I want to look good for my birthday out with my Second Daughter on Thursday.  I deserve to feel good about myself.  I am attractive woman for someone not quite 60. I've gotten too comfortable with my "jeans-t's-and-tennies" and I need to get back to doing what I can to look nice like I did when I thought I had to to be seen as the woman I am. I like looking nice and I need to dress for myself. I'm never going to be in Debra's class but I'm never going to be 30 again, either.  But I can be a really attractive woman when I work at it.
And I deserve it!  I deserve me!  Dating has been frustrating.  The women my age think I'm great! And think I'm a really good friend, but ... but ... when it comes to dating, they see me as a man still, or not fully a woman or something.  The women I hang out with and tend to identify with are in their 30's. I am totally a woman to them, but, again, they see me as a "Mom."  And no one wants to date a "Mom." It's ok.  Well, really, it's not ok, but it is what it is. 
There is one woman who I am going to date.  I am going to date myself.  I am going to treat myself to the social life I deserve.  I am going to take myself to dinners and movies and give myself cards and flowers. I am going to court myself. I am going to be my lover. I am going to love myself. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Asking For What I Need

I finished up my move today.  We moved all the stuff that didn't get moved originally to storage yesterday and I went back to clean up a little and empty out the fridge today.  I checked the mail one last time and turned in the keys. It was the apartment I moved to when my wife told me I needed to move out.  It was the place I lived and adjusted to my new life. I healed there, both from the loss of my family and from my DVTs and   It was a place for me to grow and get my feet and become the everyday woman I had always wanted to be. It is time now, to move on with my life.
I did this move with the help of my friends and a professional moving company. And I intentionally did not ask my Second Daughter, Debra, to help. I was thinking she wouldn't really want to help [which is not true!] and she has her own life and a boyfriend she loves very much.  I told myself I didn't want to get in the way of that.  But when I was all done, I felt like ... she should have been there, been a part of the move with me.  I really missed having her around.  [I always miss having her around]  So why couldn't I ask for what I wanted?
Part of my thinking, actually crying words, lies I tell myself to hurt me, is I tell myself that I do not deserve good things, I don't deserve to have my daughter spend time with me.  And the other thing is I am very used to sacrificing my desires and needs, that my children can be more comfortable or not inconvenienced.  It was this trait that helped me get my First Daughter and my Son through college before I came out and started living my own life. 
I tell myself, if Debra wants to spend time with me, she'll let me know and we'll schedule something.  I tell myself that I'm not letting her go, not letting her grow up and have her own life if I'm asking for more of her time.  
I tell myself a lot of crying words.
I wonder sometimes if I'm the one who needs to grow up.
We have gone for weeks where the only time we get with each other is Monday's.  And we will say goodnight sometimes and I love you and, sometimes, I miss you.  Often her schedule is very busy, but as often as not, we don't see each other because I don't ask. 
There is a risk in asking for what I need, for what I want.  She might be busy or not interested and not able to get together for something specific. And the childish me gets hurt.  I have chosen not to ask on occasions because I don't want to deal with what I interpret as rejection.  The truth is Debra has always been there for me and never has she rejected me. There have been times where we have had to rework schedules or find some other time to do something together.  But she has always, Always been there when I needed her.
I need to remember, that for the first time in my life, it's ok to ask for what I want, for what I need. And Debra wants me to let her know when I want time with her.

Church Shopping

Today is Sunday, the 18th of March.  Today I have started my search for a new church near where I live now in issaquah.  Looking on the Internet, there was only one church that is reconciling or affirming or in some way upfront about welcoming some one like me, transsexual and a lesbian. I will try the United Church of Christ sometime in the future. Today I am at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church. I think it is an ELCA church, but it doesn't claim to be Recociled In Christ. I was very scared to drive up to the church. The Pastor's sermon today seems to be "All Are Welcome.". As I typed this, he, the pastor, or Poppa, through him, welcomed Gay and Lesbian believers... I have quietly been in tears and as choked up as I can be for the last few moments. I do not Know if this place is home but, maybe, maybe, it can be.  
The church celebrated Communion on this, the 4th Sunday of Lent. I passed on taking Communion.  I did not feel prepared or "right" for Communion; though where my emotional place was, it probably would have been a good thing to share the Blood and Body of the One Who Loves Me.  But my LCMS upbringing treats the Table as a very Sacred place and I did not feel right approaching the Table of my Lord.  I Believe!  This is a very serious thing to me!  My Faith and the way I relate to Poppa, and to my Brother, the One Who Loves Me, and to my Comforter, is my faith and it is woven into my life! and cannot ignore it!  Nor do I want to.  I want, I need to be a whole woman.
After the service, I thanked the pastor for his sermon and the welcome he extended in his sermon. I explained how I spent the morning looking for Reconciled in Christ or welcoming and affirming churches without any success. I took a chance on Shepherd of the Hills.  He understood and introduced me to the head usher who took me back to the Coffee Hour.  I was introduced around to several people who all were very welcoming. I ended up spending a half hour, forty minutes just chatting with people.  Mostly women of the church but that felt extremely comfortable.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

I Am So Tired

My INR today was 3.7, same as Wednesday. At least I don't have to have the lab do a blood draw.  But I find myself very sad and discouraged.  I need to start at the Overlake ACC; it is so much closer.  But then I have to start with new people and there is already a lot of "Leaving" going on. My doctor has been with me for seven years and has been through all of my transition with me.  She's been with me with me through my hormones and my first blood clots and now their recurrence, getting my diabetes managed, and changed my records from Male to Female after my orchiectomy.  But... but ... I can't continue to drive to Everett; it's a nearly 3 hour drive round trip. 

I have been overwhelmed the last few weeks: looking for, finding, and moving into a new apartment, finding new blood clots, dealing with atrial fibrillation, suffering a stroke, and trying to stabilized my new blood thinning regimen, facing the cost of being uninsured and having to pay for the hospital and clinic bills, discouraged that I haven't been able to schedule my GCS and facing the very real possibility that I may not ever have the finances to pay for it. I'm not sure how I will face not ever being complete. 

And I have been overwhelmed by the love and the care and the concern of those who know me when they heard about my stroke. Again, I was floored by the love my First Daughter and my Son shared with me when I was in the hospital. And my Second Brother, who has not said more than a dozen words to me since I came out!

Through all of this, my closest friends have been right there for me ... Always. And when I lose it, when my fears run me over, my Second Daughter has taken the brunt of it and has steadfastly stood with me and loved me. She dropped everything the weekend of my stroke and stayed with me and would not let me be alone in the hospital. And last night I read her out over some imagined slight and not for the first time. She called me late last night and patiently talked me through my fears and loved me. 

Many times my fears do run me over. I have a great fear of being abandoned by people I love. I have been brave through so much!  I am tired and I am scared. I am getting old. My health isn't as good as it was once. I don't want to be brave any more. I want to curl up in somebody's arms while they hold the dragons at bay for a while. I am so tired!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Poppa's Hand in my life...

I hope that anyone who knows me, knows that my God is important to me. My relationship with my Lord and Savior, and my Spiritual belief, my Faith life are all important to me and always have been. But it didn't flower until I came out and started being who I really am and at the same time came to see my God as my Holy, Loving Poppa.

This last weekend was terrifying to me. I don't have any idea where my faith went -- I certainly wasn't thinking about it much at all. But in looking back, Poppa's hand was Everywhere!

First, I was with friends and not on the road, driving. or by myself without anyone to lean on.

Second, the two friends I was with have extensive lay medical knowledge and knew exactly what to do. They knew what and how to test me for the stroke.

Third, the house I was visiting is TWO BLOCKS from the EMTs.

In the aid car and at the ER, I was accompanied by one of my friends who gave clear and concise answers to questions about the event.

When I was assigned a room, it was the same room as my friend who had been in for an emergency appendectomy the night before.

The hospital I was admitted to is brand new, state-of-the-art and able to run all of the tests I needed to diagnose my stroke.

My Second Daughter dropped all her plans for the day and came straight to see me.

My ex [I hate calling her that!] came to visit right away.

My First Daughter, who I have not seen in a year and a half and only rarely communicated with, came, scared for me, scared of me, but she came, and she hugged me for along time. For me that was Huge!

My brother Tim and his family came to support me.

My brother Bill and his wife came ti the hospital to see me. Bill has not talked to me at all since the day I came out. He followed up the next day with a txt asking how I was and saying I looked good.

My friends kept me company and reassured me til very late. All of us were exhausted, but no one more so than my friend who had just had an appendectomy. They all went an extra mile!

My Second Daughter stayed with me all night, she wouldn't let me be alone with my thoughts and fears!

When I was discharged, I went to my friend's home again and they convinced me to stay the night so there would be someone there if something happened to me.

The many things that happened that were coincidences were things that I take for me to be Poppa's Hand. But so much more than that was the great outpouring of support, and concern, and love. For Love is from Poppa, for Poppa IS Love.

- Shannon Tucker
"It takes courage to grow up and turn out to be who you really are."
e. e. cummings