Because of the incredible demand from Spanish-speaking people worldwide, we are pleased to announce our Embracing the Journey Companion Study Guide is now available for sale here or at your favorite bookseller. This resource contains 21 lessons and truths that the Bible offers on how to love God and love your child. We have developed these lessons over 20 years of walking with thousands of Christian families who have LGBTQ+ children. If you are exhausted by this situation you find yourself in and want to explore how Jesus would respond, this book is for you. The book is designed to help you on your journey from a place of fear to surviving to thriving.
Whether you’re still reeling from a new revelation or you’ve been processing this for a while, this Companion Study Guide is a safe space for you to process the emotional and spiritual hurdles of parenting the LGBTQ+ child God has entrusted to you. The study allows you to dive deep, either independently or as part of a small group.
By Melanie Vadzemnieks and Lynn McDonald
“If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). Many people have used this as their life verse, particularly when things are going well. But what if things are not going as we planned? Does that mean God is not for us? Or does it just mean that we're not the ones in control? Many Christians believe God is always for us, but when we come to significant upheavals, like learning our child is LGBTQ+, it can feel like everything is spiraling out of control, and God may feel far away. Friend, is that how you are feeling today?
Be encouraged and remember this: God is always for you and wants you to trust Him with your life AND your children. He is all-knowing, all-powerful; nothing catches Him by surprise. He oversees everything, even the things we were never meant to control. Now when we surrender control to God, we need to have faith. That might sound simple, yet we know this can be difficult and scary. Yet we all know that fear paralyzes us and gets us nowhere. Faith, however, will take you places you never imagined. Perhaps of most interest is that when we surrender control to God, He lifts our burdens off our shoulders, and we receive incredible freedom. As with most of the lessons we've learned from years of counseling and coming alongside hurting Christian parents, the answer lies in loving unconditionally. 1 John 4:18 reminds us, "There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear." Did you hear that? Banishes! That is to say, well-formed love forbids, abolishes, or casts out, fear. Banish is a strong word. Here are some practical ways we can practice banishing fear by showing love to our children:
Let go of expectations—we often need to relinquish the vision we had for our children and allow God to reveal what He has in store.
Listen intently without judgment—look your child in the eyes while they are talking with you and respond through the lens of love.
Practice radical gratitude—wake up each day thanking God for the gift of your child.
Put yourself in your LGBTQ+ child's shoes—try to encounter their story through their eyes.
Seek out the good in your situation—We find that journaling helps us remember the many ways we've seen God's faithfulness throughout our lives.
Find your purpose—This looks different for everyone. It may be engaging in the LGBTQ+ community and delivering a meal to an LGBTQ+ homeless shelter, offering an encouraging word to a parent who has an LGBTQ+ child—volunteering with Embracing the Journey in leading a parent care virtual group. These are just a few of the many things that would bring purpose.
Always assume the best—why? Because God is in control, He is crazy about you and your children with a never-ending, unconditional love.
Remember, there is no room in love for fear!
Inaugural Speaker Series Wrap-Up
Hundreds of people from 44 states and 8 countries registered for our March 24th inaugural Speaker Series featuring Dr. Mark Yarhouse. We designed the Speakers Series as an interactive forum to help educate and equip parents with LGBTQ+ loved ones for their journey ahead. Mark shared from his forthcoming book “When Children Come Out” for 40 minutes and then answered questions from the audience for another 40 minutes. The survey results following the webinar were overwhelmingly incredibly positive. If you were unable to attend the webinar, we recorded Dr. Yarhouse’s talk, titled “When Children Come Out,” and it is featured here for your viewing.
Thursday, June 9, 2022, featuring Dr. David P. Gushee
Our next Embracing the Journey Speaker Series features well-known Christian ethicist Dr. David P. Gushee as our guest speaker. Dr. Gushee (bio included below) will share thoughts on “Transformative Encounters and Paradigm Leaps,” inviting listeners to understand and accept encounters with their own LGBTQ children as something that can change us and how we read scripture. Dr. Gushee has requested we leave plenty of time for Q&A, where he can address your questions.
There is no cost to attend, all our offerings are free of charge, and the Zoom webinar platform allows you to remain anonymous.
We hope you’ll join us!
With over 500 people registered at our last event, Register NOW and reserve your spot.
Dr. David P. Gushee (PhD, Union Theological Seminary, New York) is Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics at Mercer University, Chair of Christian Social Ethics at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and Senior Research Fellow, International Baptist Theological Study Centre.
Gushee is the elected Past-President of both the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Christian Ethics, signaling his role as one of America’s leading Christian ethicists. He is the author, co-author, editor, or co-editor of more than 25 books and approximately 175 book chapters, journal articles, and reviews. His most recognized works before 2014 include Righteous Gentiles of the Holocaust, Kingdom Ethics, The Sacredness of Human Life. With his 2014 book Changing Our Mind and then After Evangelicalism, he has been charting a theological course for post-evangelical Christians, a course he more personally relates in his memoir, Still Christian. Now with the recent publication of the accessible Introducing Christian Ethics, these works have broadened his readership considerably.
Over a full 29-year career, he’s been a devoted teacher as Professor Gushee to college students, seminarians, and PhD students. He’s also led activist efforts on climate, torture, and LGBTQ inclusion, and is a keynote speaker at churches, forums, and universities.
For the general media, Dr. Gushee has written hundreds of opinion pieces and given interviews to major outlets and podcasts.
Dr. Gushee and his wife Jeanie live in Atlanta, and you can connect with him and subscribe to his newsletter at davidpgushee.com or @dpgushee on social media.
Bob & Heidi Veenema
Heidi is a retired dental hygienist, and Bob is a pediatrician who worked in a private group practice before transitioning to currently working as a pediatric hospitalist at a children’s hospital in Grand Rapids, Mi. Bob enjoys teaching residents and medical students and providing inpatient care to complex medical patients. Bob and Heidi have been married 38 years, are proud parents of three adult children, and grandparents to seven young grandchildren.
Twelve years ago, when their son Max came out as same sex attracted, their world was completely rocked as conservative Christian parents. “We thought Max was going through a phase where he was “choosing” to be different. We wondered what we did wrong and how can we “fix” this before realizing this was not a choice,” Heidi says. She notes that “it was a game-changer” when they discovered Embracing the Journey and learned they didn’t have to abandon their faith to love their LGBTQ+ child.
Two years ago, the Veenema’s began volunteering and became Embracing the Journey coaching and counseling team members. God has been using them to help countless hurting Christian families grow deeper relationships with each other and God. They are relational people who have a heart for others. They now feel they are blessed to be parents of a gay son. Their journey has opened doors toward further spiritual growth and learning about the LGBTQ+ community. To quote Bob, “By showing Christ-like love, we are acknowledging God’s grace and desire for everyone to be part of God’s family.”
Bob and Heidi enjoy being active outdoors, golfing, hiking spending time with each other, their adult children, and their grandkids in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Max currently lives in Louisiana where he is studying veterinary medicine.
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.” ”
— ELEANOR ROOSEVELT
It takes a lot of courage for a parent to begin looking for support and seeking ways to love their LGBTQ child. Through our Parent Care groups, we see Christian parents taking steps toward a solid, Gospel-centered relationship with their children. Take time to identify your fears and then tackle them with God. Your relationship with God and your child will blossom and grow in amazing ways.
Embracing the Journey Launches First Parent Care Group in The United Kingdom
If you live in the United Kingdom or a nearby time zone, we are delighted to inform you that we launched our first virtual Embracing the Journey Parent Care Group in the United Kingdom. This safe and confidential group meets on the 2nd and 4th Thursday evenings of the month from 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm (GMT+1). Greg and Lynn McDonald and Andy and Kate Smith from Newbury, England, co-host the group. You'll be introduced to other Christian parents in the group on similar journeys. Here, parents have the opportunity to share their stories, discuss their faith, their fears, prayer requests, and, yes, even their successes. Our lessons help parents move from fear to surviving to thriving.