Only 2 Days Left!

Hey Friends!

There’s TWO big things that you should know about and only TWO Days left to be a part of them! I don’t want you to miss out! So here they are…

FIRST:

My upcoming book, “Unashamed: A Coming-Out Guide for LGBTQ Christians” is now available for pre-order. BUT, if you pre-order by this Sunday, September 30th you can get it for 40% off by ordering HERE and using the promo code: UNASHAMED at checkout!


You don’t want to miss out on this. This is the book that everyone has been asking me for. The first book of its kind in this genre, Unashamed will take a holistic approach to coming out and share the stories of many LGBTQ people of faith while addressing important topics such as internalized homophobia, establishing an affirming community, knowing when you’re ready to come out, tips and strategies for coming out, the importance of healthy boundaries, how to tend to your soul in the midst of hurt and rejection, and how to embrace yourself and the unique place you have in the family of God. You won’t want to miss it!

SECOND:

My September Patreon campaign will be ending this Sunday, September 30th as well. While you can join Patreon at any time, there’s only TWO days left to join if you want to receive the added perk of being part of a private Facebook group that gets behind-the-scenes access to my journey back to music. After a decade away from my classical piano training, vocal touring, worship-leading, and performing background, I will be returning to one of the things I love most: music. If you join by Sunday with just $1.00, you will get to be part of a small, private community of people who, like you, joined within the first 30 days. In this group, I will be posting my creative and musical content as it comes to life! I’ll be writing and recording new music and YOU will be the first to have access to it! So join today and you’ll not only be helping me continue the work that I love with LGBTQ people of faith, but you’ll get to be a part of a great community and watch my music come back to life in the midst of it! Don’t miss out! I want to see you in my private group!

You can learn more about Patreon and What I’m Doing Here!

Or Join Patreon Today!

So those are my two big announcements for this weekend! In the coming weeks, you’ll get to see some of the amazing people that have endorsed “Unashamed” and hear their exciting thoughts about the book. AND I’ll be releasing info about “Unashamed” workshops coming to a select number of cities in Spring 2019! So stay tuned!

As always, thank you for believing in the work that I do. I’m so excited about these upcoming resources and hope you find them to be a helpful and healing balm for your soul.

 

Because Love Makes All the Difference,

Amber Cantorna

5 Ways to Hug Your Anxiety Today

I recently went through the most intense bout of anxiety that I have experienced in years. It grabbed hold of my very being and altered my reality in such a way, that I could only see life through a lens of fear. I was not okay. And even though I knew what had triggered it, I couldn’t seem to make it stop or go away.

It lasted for weeks and there were days where I found myself curled up in a ball in the middle of the day trying to simply slow my heart rate and even my breathing out. In the midst of this unwelcome visitor, there are a few things that I learned during this most recent encounter with anxiety.

  1. Acknowledge It

    One day when I was sitting at a stoplight, I spoke directly to my anxiety. Saying something along the lines of, “I see you. I hear you. I know you’re not okay right now. But take one day at a time, and just breathe. Things will even out and eventually, return back to normal.” It was surprisingly comforting to acknowledge and speak directly to the very feeling that was causing me such distress. Recognizing and naming how you feel, and then speaking to it with compassion was a technique I hadn’t tried in the past, but that I found particularly comforting.

  2. Share About Your Anxiety With Someone

    Sharing how you feel with someone (as long as it’s the right someone) can help immensely at getting you outside the small bubble that your anxiety tries to force you to live inside. One day I emailed a friend and simply said, “I’m not okay right now.” It was freeing to let someone else into my fear and my pain. Letting them in can help deflate your anxiety bubble and give you some perspective into why you are feeling the way that you do, and if your fears are valid.

  3. Hug Your Anxiety with Kindness

    It may seem like common sense, but when we are anxious, simple things like drinking water, eating healthy, and getting enough sleep can go right out the window. I remember having to intentionally think and ask myself, “Have I drank enough water today?” The answer was usually “No.” Maybe you need a nap, or some greens and protein. Simple necessities like a walk or a cold glass of water can make a big difference.

  4. Meditate

    For some people, meditation helps. For others, it’s yoga or an early morning run. I even found a phone app called Calm that gives you short meditation breaks to calm your anxiety in the middle of the day. Giving yourself and your anxiety some time each day to breathe and recenter will help ground you in what is real and tangible right now.

  5. Get outside of your routine

    The key to me breaking out of my anxiety this time around was getting outside of my routine and everyday environment. I had a trip that had been long-planned and was smack dab right in the middle of this bout of anxiety. For me, a change of scenery made all the difference. If you can, get away from your everyday environment for a day or two, switch up your routine, or try a new hobby. Changing things up a bit may be exactly what your soul needs to release the fear it is holding and find a new place of calm.

Whatever it takes for you to hug your anxiety, do that thing. And remember, be kind to yourself. Don’t just extend grace to others. Extend it to your own heart as well.

Because Love Makes All the Difference,

Amber Cantorna

How “She is Called” Awakened the Poet Within Me

My Dear Friends,

This last weekend, I had the rare and incredible opportunity to gather with a group of 50 women from across America for a unique conference experience titled “She is Called.” Together we had discussions around the topics of sex and power, intersectionality and equity, and prevention and repair. We made art, we did yoga, we encouraged one another, we laughed together, we cried together, and we bonded in a way that only women can. It was magical.

I admit I was highly hesitant to walk into a space of all Christian women given my previous experience with evangelical women’s retreats in the past. The last thing I wanted to do was sit around in dresses, drink tea, and talk about purity and submission. But this was far, far from that. It was rich with conversation, deep with emotion, and all about empowering one another to fulfill our calling in these progressive and inclusive spaces. Not at all like my previous women’s retreat experiences!

These women were small business owners, pastors, artists, leaders of non-profit organizations, marriage podcasters, sex therapists, and just about every other beautiful occupation you can imagine for a woman to make roots in.

For many years prior to coming out, I was an avid journaller and musician. And while I’ve done a lot of writing and blogging since coming out, I’ve struggled to reclaim the artist, songwriter, poet side of me. But being around such powerful women this weekend awakened something inside of me that I’ve been struggling to arouse on my own. And during one of our contemplation periods, a poem of sorts emerged from my soul. It wasn’t even what I had planned to write about, it’s just what came out. At the end of our weekend together, we held an Open Mic. This is what I shared:

 

I am Me

Coming out six years ago, the price of authenticity was high.
Nothing will ever be able to erase the memory of the anger on my dad’s face
As he compared my being gay to murders, pedophiles, and bestiality,
Or the look in my mom’s eyes as she told me she felt like I had died.
Nothing will ever make me forget my dad asking for the keys to his house back
Saying he no longer trusted me to have open access to my only childhood home.

In that moment, I wanted to die
As all that I loved and held dear was being ripped
From the threads of the fabric of my soul.
The gift of authenticity felt like it left me with nothing
But the dusty remains of what once was.

Surviving one awful day at a time,
I grasped for particles of hope
But only continued to lose more
Of the relationships I held dear as time went on.

My parents, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, friends, and church
All labeling me as abominable,
As if I deserved to share a prison cell with a rapist or a serial killer
Simply for loving a woman instead of a man.

When did love become a crime?
When did feeling alive become something worthy of being damned to hell?
If peace and honesty and vulnerability and transparency
Can’t be something we value and hold space for
Then I am already in hell as it is.

The first twenty-seven years of my life felt like hell
As I wrestled with something that was nameless and unrecognizable
Because of my sheer lack of exposure to diversity of any kind
Yet ate away at my soul day by day,
Causing depression, anxiety, fear, self-hatred, self-injury, and suicidal ideations.

No, coming out did not damn my soul to hell.
It set my soul free!
Free to release myself from perfection,
Free to take off the mask,
Free to let go of the expectations of others,
To release myself from the burden of protecting appearances,
To finally feel ALIVE.

Yes, I came ALIVE the day I came out.
Even in all its heartache,
These past six years have been the best years of my life.
I finally get to be ME.

And as I move forward,
I will continue to embrace vulnerability, authenticity,
Courage, wholeheartedness, and true belonging
In all its gifts and forms
Because that is the essence of life in its fullest capacity.

And I will live!

There is nothing that I am not worthy of.

I am ME.

© Amber Cantorna, 5-18-18

Go boldly into the world my friend. Claim your space. You are brave, bruised, and beautiful. There is nothing you’re not worthy of!

 

Because Love Makes All the Difference,

Amber Cantorna

Refocusing My Family Discount Now Available

Hey Friends,

Gift a copy to someone in need. 

I wanted to let you know that you can now order Refocusing My Family at a discounted rate if you order more than one copy! This is a great opportunity if you are wanting to gift a copy to some of your friends or family members in need of a story like this. You can also consider donating a few copies to your local school, church, or public library, engage in discussion around this topic with your PFLAG chapter, or read it as the next pick in your book club!

Placing an order is easy and shipping is very affordable! Here’s the breakdown:

2-5 copies ($18.89, 30% discount)
6-10 copies ($16.19, 40% discount)
11+ copies ($13.50, 50% discount)

To place an order, visit this link: Order Refocusing My Family

Here’s what some people are saying about Refocusing My Family:

“Amber’s ability to distill the lifestyle of Christian conservatism and show the infinitesimal ways that being gay/coming out affect someone raised in this community, are nothing short of brilliant. Wholly well written yet still accessible, Amber’s story is not just for those of the LGBT community or for someone who knows someone who identifies as such (which is, quite frankly, everyone), but for anyone interested in reading a story about an incredible woman overcoming considerable adversity. I cannot recommend it more, for both its exquisite vulnerability and cultural accuracy.” –Kristen B.

“Never have I read a book that brought me so much hope before. Reading Amber’s story, and coming into the realization that there’s someone else out there who gets what I’ve gone through, was such an amazing experience.” -Anonymous

“I was captivated from the first page. The life story that Amber shares will challenge some and encourage others. It is a story of faith, loss, restoration, and perseverance. It’s an inside look into the experiences an thought processes of one in the midst of their own personal coming out story. A must-read for allies and LGBT people alike!” -Christina

“Reading Refocusing My Family has changed my life and helped me better understand my child. I don’t feel so alone on this path now.” –Julie, mother of an LGBT child

 “Amber’s willingness to be honest and bold about her experience will help readers to feel honest and bold themselves.” –Erin L.

“Amber’s bravery shines in this powerful memoir reminding us that it will be through witness of the marginalized that we find the hope and healing we need for a more loving, peace-filled planet. If you grew up in the Focus on the Family universe (as I did), then you owe it to yourself to read this account of what happens when good people, within a good system, get controlled by bad theology.” –Colby M.

I hope you will join me on continuing to help spread a message of hope and love to those who need it the most. Together we can make a difference!

Because Love Makes All the Difference,

Amber Cantorna

Colorado Matters Interview

Hey Friends,

This morning I had the honor of being interviewed by Ryan Warner on Colorado Matters (CPR). You check it out and listen below. And if YOU have been among the first to already finish reading Refocusing My Family, I’d love to hear from you. So drop me a line with your thoughts!


Colorado Author Bounces Back After Life Goes Out of Focus

 

Because Love Makes All the Difference,

Amber Cantorna

Refocusing My Family Book and Speaking Tour Announcement!

Hello Everyone!

It is with great excitement that I finally get to announce to you the official tour dates and locations for the Refocusing My Family book and speaking tour! We are still working on adding a few more, but the official dates and locations are…(drum roll please)…

You can see more of the event details by visiting the Events page.

Books will be available for sale at all these events and supporting your local bookstore is highly encouraged. However, if you just can’t wait, you can pre-order Refocusing My Family on Amazon now!

Here is the short promo video that we’ve created! Don’t forget to share with your friends!

Interview on “The Friendly Athiest” Podcast with Hemant Mehta

Hey Friends!

I had the honor of being interviewed by Hemant Mehta on “The Friendly Athiest” Podcast yesterday. Give it a listen!

The Friendly Athiest Podcast with Amber Cantorna, Author of Refocusing My Family

And keep an eye out for Refocusing My Family tour dates! We will be announcing tour cities and dates very soon!

Because Love Makes All the Difference,
Amber

Choosing to Carry New Life Past Easter Sunday

 

Taboola_Foundation_FeaturedImg1It is now two days after Easter and I suspect most of us spent a good chunk of yesterday recovering from Easter festivities. The Easter bunny may have visited your home or left baskets for your little ones. If you were lucky, he might have even left a basket for you! You most likely attended a church service of some kind or shared a meal with family or friends. But now that Easter is over, what’s next? How do we carry that new “resurrection” life past Easter Sunday?

Leading up to a holiday, it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bussle. Perhaps you’re good with time management and took time to reflect on what the holiday means to you personally, or perhaps like many of us, the craziness of life didn’t allow for you to reflect the way you would’ve liked. I know for me personally, I was so caught up in launching this new non-profit to help LGBT people navigate their coming out process, that it left me little time at all to reflect on what Easter meant to me this year in light of the 5-year anniversary of my own coming out. Fundraising campaigns, 5-year “It Gets Better” videos, website updates, and sending out my manuscript for endorsements all pulled for my attention simultaneously. It was exciting, but it’s also overwhelming and exhausting.

My body reminded me of that this morning when I woke up. I spent a good part of yesterday trying to help my back recover from all I’d put it through this past week. Yet this morning it still struggled to heal. Dealing with chronic pain is far from my desired lot in life. I hate feeling restricted or weak. But after a full week of working like a mad woman, my body was not-so-gently reminding me that I needed to slow down.

“I can’t slow down!” I informed my body quite firmly. “I have endorsement requests still to submit, loads of fundraising still to do, blogs to write, and proofs to read. Don’t you understand that I’m on a deadline? I just need you to function properly.” But my body doesn’t seem to understand deadlines. It only understands stress and the toll that doing too much takes on me physically over time. Therefore I am struggling to keep up while my body screams at me to slow down.

So as I attempt to slow down and reflect today (and yes, share my thoughts with you while I do it-why not kill two birds with one stone?) I contemplate how to carry that new life that is given to me in the gift of Easter past the Sunday celebration.

These are the 3 ways I’ve come up with to keep life in my body and soul moving forward:

I Choose to Believe that it will Get Better

I’ve seen incredible things happen in my life over the last five years since I came out. Yes, I’ve experienced incredible loss, but I’ve also experienced incredible joy and freedom. I choose to believe that I will see many more great things come to pass in the next five years. While chronic pain is not something I ever would have chosen, I have learned a lot about listening to my body and treating it with respect. I choose to be optimistic that my situation will continue to gradually get better over time, while being realistic that I won’t ever be “normal” again and that there will always be things that I have to do differently than other people.

positive-thinking-will-let-you-do-everything-better-than-negative-thinking-willYou may not have chronic pain, but whatever the mountain is in your life, a healthy balance of being positive that it will get better while being realistic in the goals you set, can be the difference for you between success and failure. Your perspective can also give you a life full of joy in the midst of the challenges you face.

 

I Choose to Have Faith

I’ve had many moments in the midst of fighting to make the dream behind Beyond a reality where I’ve had to remind myself that God has brought me this far for a reason. There were many times where the task of writing and reliving my story in order to share it in the form of a book seemed to be more than I could handle. But in those moments when I had to dig deep, I reminded myself that I haven’t come all this way for nothing. There’s a purpose that lies before me to help other LGBT people of faith with their own coming out process. Every roadblock I’ve reached along the way has taught me something and made me a stronger person. So I choose to have faith that “that he who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion.” (Phil. 1:6)New Life

Whatever mountain you’re climbing, remember that you only need the faith of a mustard seed to be able to move it. (Matt. 17:20) Many times faith is the very thing that will carry you from one day to the next as you strive to accomplish your goals. Even the smallest amounts of faith cause new life to spring up in our souls and launch dreams beyond what we ever thought was possible.

I Choose to Rely on God and the Help of Others to do What I Can’t do on My Own

Living with chronic pain makes me very aware of my limits. I hate limits. Launching a non-profit on my own with virtually no financial resources yet to back it also reminds me of my limits and puts both me and my ministry at the mercy of others. If you read my blog last week announcing the launch of Beyond, then you know how much I hate campaigns and fundraising. I hate depending on others that way and I especially hate asking for money. But the one thing that causes me to press on to find the financial means to support this new baby of mine is knowing that the lives of other LGBT people are on the line if I don’t.

So I press onward, climbing a mountain that many days feels overwhelming, but doing so because I believe so strongly in what God is calling me to do with the story he’s entrusted to me. For those of you who have already believed in me and put your money behind this mission, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. We still have a very long way to go in reaching our goal, but as we work together, I chose to rely on God to open the right doors and I choose to believe that people will help in whatever way they can.

imagesToday I may feel weak and weary, but tomorrow I will press on because we are stronger together. Whatever your mountain is, don’t carry it alone. Share your burden with others and together we will reach the top, full of joy in our spirits and fresh life in our souls.

Because Love Makes all the Difference,

Amber

If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation to Beyond, please click here. You can also read about the incentives being offered for your donation by clicking this link.

“Mom, Dad, I’m Gay”

Last night, I was honored to hear I was the inspiration for this wonderfully written article by Peter Thurley, entitled “Mom, Day, I’m Gay”. I encourage you to give it a read. It is well done indeed.

“Mom, Dad, I’m Gay” by Peter Thurley

Big things are on the horizon and I covet your prayers as I walk through the process. When things are solidified, I will fill you in on all the details. Until then, stay strong in the faith.

God is good and faithful,

Amber

Focus on the Family Exec Shuns Gay Daughter: She Breaks Her Silence

Wed Pic

I am so honored to have been featured on Benjamin L. Corey’s blog this week and interviewed by him and Matthew Paul Turner for their most recent episode of That God Show. Read the article below:

Focus on the Family Exec Shuns Gay Daughter: She Breaks Her Silence

Or listen to the full interview by clicking this link:

Focus on the Family Exec Shuns Gay Daughter: She Breaks Her Silence-Full Interview