Friday, March 31, 2006

Going Into Labor

It's been roughly nine months (about two weeks shy) of when I started this blog recording my journey of figuring out what it means to be gay and Christian.

Five years ago, I would have bucked the idea of such blasphemy. Four years ago, God led me to confronting the conflict within me. Two years ago, God began to break my heart for "the" gay community. One year ago, God began to break my heart for "my" gay community. Nine months ago, God conceived in me a vision - a realization that He was working amidst this gay community and that I was a part of it.

This week, it seems i've begun that labor process of birthing a new vision. In a season of transitions, I'm about to enter a new chapter of my life. Today, March 31st, is the official last day of being employed by my public ministry - that non-profit organization that I co-founded (my first baby). Tomorrow, April 1st, is the official incorporation day of Catalyst - my new public and "out" non-profit organization (my second baby) that I am founding to specifically work within our gay community here in Long Beach.

My week-long labor has included a number of contractions . . . .

For starters, there's the submission of an application for an apartment for my buddy and I. I am currently paying $1,330 rent for a one bedroom/one bathroom apartment. We found a two bedroom/two bathroom apartment with washer/dryer included, balcony, and gated garage parking for only $1,100 rent. Between the two of us, that will cut this expense in half for me. Two days ago, our application was approved! We can start the move-in in about two weeks. Tomorrow, i'll be submitting my 30-day notice to terminate my rental lease early.

Since i'll be leaving my job, I really don't know when i'll have health insurance again. This week, I wrote the letter to our insurance to terminate my health plan at the end of March. I never really used my benefits while I had it (except for my vision plan so that i could get new glasses last year). I suppose I took it for granted. I figured that I should at least get a medical check up before I leave. So last week, I saw a doctor and had some blood work done. My main concern was my blood sugar. For the past five years, i noticed that every once in a while (usually when hungry) i would get sweaty palms, dizziness, slight tremors in my right hand, and sometimes get close to blacking out. It wouldn't happen all the time. Just when I was hungry. Usually eating something sweet seems to stabilize me so I kinda figured that maybe it was an issue with my blood sugar. Yesterday, I saw the doctor again and my lab results showed no problems. It seems that i'm pretty healthy actually. It's no big surprise - I've been working out regularly and eating better over the past year, i've lost 25-30 pounds since January 2005 and have maintained it since, my blood pressure is great, and it appears that my blood sugar is normal. Another no big surprise - i'm HIV negative. (I wasn't worried about that, it's just good to get another baseline).

So why the tremors in my hand? He thinks that maybe it's anxiety. Ya think?

Yesterday, I also went to the last meeting of the planning team for that group that hosted that conference this last January. That was a significant season for me because we went through some fire together - conflicts with each other, conflicts that the Church is dealing with. There were times that were personally challenging for me. There was that time that I was "profoundly offended". There was that time that I wanted to vomit. Then there was the actual conference event. After the event, none of us on the planning team wanted to talk about any of it again. We were too exhausted and it took so much out of all of us. Now, two months after the event, we got together again to debrief and close the door on that whole thing. We resolved yesterday that while we may or may not do the same kind of event again in that same way, we will, however, continue to work for the good of the Kingdom in each of our own ways - in the ways that God has called us - and will maintain connections with each other. Needless to say, it was good to have closure on all of that.

Another huge contraction was beginning the process of incorporating Catalyst. I went to the county clerk's office to file for my fictitious business name statement. It seems that "Catalyst" is a business name that's already taken so our official name is actually "Catalyst Long Beach". It's okay - "Catalyst" for short will do just fine. So I filed the paperwork and got it published in a local newspaper for the next four weeks as required. Now that I have the official name set, I could then file to get a tax-id number for non-profit status. This is important so that I can accept donations and grants for funding. I got the number and am continuing that process to secure our 501(c)(3) status. I also worked on the Articles of Incorporation. I drafted it and sent it off to the Secretary of State in California. As I wrote it, it kinda felt like writing the Declaration of Independence. I was officially saying "here we are" to the world! I dated the Articles for April 1, 2006 and signed my John Hancock. Tomorrow's the day!

I've also been talking with my brother about creating a temporary logo for Catalyst. While I am pretty capable of writing code and scripts in building dynamic Web sites, I have zero talent with graphic design. I can build a Web site that can do alot, it'll just look like crap! So i usually work with a graphic artist to do all the pretty stuff. I've got a good eye for things (I think) so i can give good direction. I just don't have the skill to work that freaking Photoshop! I swear that application was built for a totally different brain! There are coders and there are graphic designers and they both use different parts of the brain. I'm a coder. Kudos to those who can do both! Anyway, my brother just recently learned Photoshop in a couple classes so he's going to come up with something temporary. I need it too because there were lots of opportunities this week where I wish I had a business card to give and a Web site to refer people to. Anyway, he says he'll hopefully have something to show me tonight.

Another major contraction - this afternoon, i'm planning on writing out my strategic business plan and case statement for Catalyst. I've written down some preliminary ideas and now i'll be articulating the meat of what we'll be doing. With these two documents, i'll be able to produce all other things - Web site content, brochures, grants, and information for donors.

So there have definitely been some labor contractions this week - significant milestones leading up to this new season of serving God and my community here in Long Beach. God and I - we're having another baby tomorrow - the birthing of a new vision that will (hopefully) catalyze this city towards trust, leadership, and life!


limited moments of reality said...

Gay hmmm no problem thinking God has a problem with gays big problem. God took the time to make you guess what when hes done he'll take you back.

Peterson Toscano said...

Eric, leap the the net will appear. I think about the amazing work of Jeremy Marks and how through the years he followed God's leading and transformed his "ex-gay" ministry into a gay affirming Christian ministry.

You will know doubt have detractors both from anti-gay Christians and anti-Christian gays, but there is a hunger and need out there to connect with God, to overcome hate and to overcome fear and hurt. Blessings on your work.

Eugene said...

Congrats on the apartment and on the impending launch of your new ministry. Like Peterson said, when God is at work things have a way of coming together even when everything looks chaotic.

Hmm, maybe I should listen to my own advice sometimes...

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! Those are all big steps. I wish you the best and look forward to learning more about Catalyst.

Anonymous said...

Long Journey's start with a first step.
Your on your way.


Anonymous said...

((((Hugs)))) You know I'm here praying!

:::Drooling:::: over Photoshop. I can't wait to see your new website!!

Christine Bakke said...

Eric...I join others wishing you the best here...and yes, like Peterson said, it's needed.

Congrats on the new apartment, too!

Anonymous said...

Eric, I am so excited for many changes... new apt., new vision, new job...

there is such a need for the kind of work you will be and are doing... it makes my heart smile to see this all progressing to a greater level