The End of the Beginning

My Dear Friends,

Greetings from Denver, CO! I am finally home in my own town for awhile after months of traveling and speaking, and am breathing a sigh of contentment tinged with sadness as I write to you. I’m sad because I’ve gotten to meet so many of you on the road these past many months and you’ve filled my heart with joy and I don’t want it to end. But I’m content because of the stories you are telling me of the work God is doing in your hearts and lives.

As I prepare to celebrate Easter this Sunday, I’ve been thinking this week about the idea of the “end of the beginning.” In the last six months since Refocusing My Family released last October, we have traveled just under 20,000 miles and spoken at 25 different events nation-wide. Ranging from universities in Los Angeles, to churches in North Carolina, to bookstores in Seattle, we have met some of the kindest and warmest people on the planet (many of you have been among them!).

Being on the road has stretched my wife and I in so many ways – physically, emotionally, relationally, and financially. But the reward in the form of the stories we’ve heard and the people we’ve met has brought fulfillment in its deepest forms. I’ve gotten countless emails and met hundreds of people who have read Refocusing My Family who’ve said they couldn’t put it down, or they felt like they were reading their own life on paper, or this book gave them hope for the very first time, or changed the way they view therapy with their LGBT clients, or helped them understand their child better, or changed their stance on LGBTQ inclusion in the church.

One 17-year-old girl messaged me and said, “I tried to kill myself because I didn’t believe that you could be both gay and Christian. I found your book in the psych ward, and it saved my life.” Whew…after being both incredibly humbled, and grateful for whoever put my book there, it is stories like those that keep me pressing on for equality each day. My heart is full.

As we wind down the official portion our RMF book tour, people are asking me, “What’s next? Is this the end?”

  1. First, let me say, No. This is not the end. This is only the beginning. This may be the official “end” of the Refocusing My Family book tour, but it is only the beginning of the speaking, writing, and advocacy work I plan to do in the future.
  2. If I did not make it to your city on this portion of the RMF tour, that doesn’t mean it’s too late! We are still more than happy to continue booking RMF events going forward wherever there is a need. We are also branching out to speak in more conferences, organizations, and similar capacities. So if you are interested in booking me to speak at one of your events, visit my website and reach out to me with more information! We also have plans to expand into Canada later this summer! So keep up with me on social media and on my website for more info.
  3. We already have a second book in the making! I am going under contract with a publishing company this week for a second book which I am SO excited about. It is the book all of you have been asking me for and as soon as we are officially under contract, I will tell you more about it!
  4. I will be having foot surgery on April 24th. During this time, I will be accepting all forms of chocolate, letters, flowers, and candy. Lol. But in all honesty, even though no one jumps for joy at the thought of having surgery, I am looking forward to devoting those 6 weeks of recovery to writing this second book. The forced down time will be well spent!

So that is what is next on the horizon! Even though we’ve concluded the end of this RMF book tour season, it is only the end of the beginning and we are so excited for what is to come as we move forward.

As you move into your Easter weekend, let me leave you with this:

Love is the beginning. Love is the end. And love is everything in between. Easter is an annual way for all of us to celebrate the end of the beginnings in our lives. Jesus died on Friday causing all his friends and family to think it was the end of everything they had dreamed of and hoped for. But in reality, it was only the beginning. Sunday came and with it, death was brought to life and all things were made new.

So as you examine your life and heart this Holy Week, think of those things in your life that cause you to feel like you’re at the end. Maybe you’re exhausted physically, maybe you’re emotionally at the end of your rope, maybe your job is demanding more of you than you have to give, or your family continues to challenge your worth and identity leaving you feeling hopeless.

If that is you this week, remember this: Jesus loves you so deeply. Christ came for no other reason than to tell you that one thing–you are loved. You are loved completely. You are loved fully. You are loved because of (not in spite of) who you are. Know that in the depths of your soul. Speak it to your heart. Drink it in. Lay to rest all that drains the life from your being and know…resurrection Sunday is coming. All things are being made new. This is only the end of the beginning.

As we journey on together, may you find peace in the knowledge that you are completely and fully loved by God exactly as you are. Breathe it in like the rising and setting of the sun which is new each and every day.

Because Love Makes All the Difference,

Amber Cantorna

Refocusing My Family and Beyond Update

Dear Friend,

     Since my last email to you announcing the launch of Beyond, many exciting things have happened!
 
     Refocusing My Family is currently being reviewed by people for endorsements. Among those willing to endorse the book are author/theologian Brian D. McLaren, singer/songwriter Jennifer Knapp, Christian ethicist David Gushee, film producer of “For the Bible Tells Me So” Daniel Karslake, and well known blogger and activist John Pavlovitz, as well as about a dozen others. I’m excited about this strong list of names and believe it will help in catching the eye of those who may not otherwise open the book. We are excited that it will be available for pre-order on Amazon in just a few weeks!
     Since the launch of Beyond, I have met with someone from Out Front Colorado that is helping us network with other LGBTQ+ organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign, the Matthew Shepard Foundation, PFLAG, and The LGBT Center. I also had an interview with another person from Out Front yesterday and they will be running an article on Beyond and my story in one of their upcoming editions.
     We’re also in the process of bringing a part-time intern on board to help with the many tasks that still lie ahead of us to really get Beyond up and running. I am interviewing a candidate this weekend and am excited about the prospect.
     As far as our fundraising campaign goes, we’ve had a handful of donations come through from people who follow us online or receive the weekly Beyond Blog. However, those donations have only covered about 2% of our total goal. We’ve scaled back our initial budget from $52,000 to $48,000 for this first year but we still have so very far to go in raising the needed funds. Part of this will be done through applying for grants and talking to larger corporations. However there are still a few ways you can help!
 

Three ways you can help:

1) Consider giving a tax-deductible gift to Beyond by visiting http://refocusingbeyond.org/donate/. Every donation counts! There is no amount too small!
2) Share and talk about this with your friends. The more we spread the word, the more people we can reach. Our goal through Beyond is to focus on helping LGBTQ+ people through their coming out process, especially those that come from conservative upbringings or strict religious families. There’s still so many people that need to hear a message of hope.
3) Consider whether your company may want to partner with us in this mission of social justice and activism. They can do that two ways. A) They can simply make a donation through the link above, OR B) They can consider being a sponsor and funding one or more of the cities on our upcoming speaking tour. By doing that, their company logo would then be placed on our marketing materials that we will be taking to our 16+ cities. If this seems like it may be a good fit for your company or for more information, please contact me at: Beyond.AmberCantorna@gmail.com.
   
 Thank you again for your love and support during this time. It is both exciting and overwhelming but I can’t wait to see what God does and the doors He opens for us in this coming year.

Because Love Makes All the Difference,

Amber Cantorna