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Refocusing My Family: Coming Out, Being Cast Out, and Discovering the True Love of God

Author: 
Amber Cantorna (Author)
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Description

In 2012, at the age of twenty-seven, Amber Cantorna came out to her family as gay. As the daughter of a Focus on the Family executive, that transparency cost her everything.

Refocusing My Family is Amber’s journey from the suffocating expectations of Focus on the Family to the liberating joy of claiming her own identity.

A powerful story of survival, Amber’s struggle under the weight of perfectionism, reputation, and appearances, is transformed into freedom when she boldly steps into her identity and discovers that the true love of God surpasses all.  

ISBN: 
9781506418797
Price: 
$26.99
ISBN: 
9781506418803
Price: 
$26.99
Release date: 
October 1, 2017
Pages: 
272
Width: 
6
Height: 
9

Reviews

Review on Sarahbeth Caplin's blog

Endorsements

The kind of story that has the power to change the world into a kinder, safer, more loving place for all of us to live.

"You will cry and you will cheer as Amber Cantorna shares her journey of overcoming tremendous difficulties in order to live her life authentically, while still honoring her core values and beliefs. Refocusing My Family is the kind of story that has the power to change the world into a kinder, safer, more loving place for all of us to live."

Liz Dyer | founder and owner of Serendipitydodah for Moms—a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids

Amber's intense fight for love and life itself is on every page of this important, life-giving book. A must-read!

"Amber’s book, Refocusing My Family, crystallizes the unique journey of LGBTQ people with conservative, evangelical parents and families. Her intense fight for love and life itself is on every page of this important, life-giving book. A must-read!"

—Susan Cottrell, author of “Mom, I’m Gay,” founder and president of FreedHearts

I hope and pray this book is widely read.

"Focus on the Family has had an immeasurable impact on the Christian family. This organization that has been embraced across denominational lines has long set the standard of what a Christian family ought to look like. Unfortunately, the ideologies of this organization—everything from how purity culture is taught to its rejection of LGBTQ identities—have caused untold damage to so many of its adherents.
In Refocusing My Family, Amber Cantorna is able to share honestly about her own struggles of growing up within the organization. Through these pages, she lifts the covers off of harmful practices to bring much needed nuance to the Christian faith. Amber is a remarkable testament of how God was able to break the spiritual and mental chains that had kept her from being her true self. I hope and pray this book is widely read."

—Danny Cortez, copastor of New Heart Community Church, Whittier, California

Amber Cantorna's story resonates, opens eyes, and proves that Christ’s love is bigger than those who try to control it.

"I have spent my professional life as a storyteller. I have had the great pleasure of meeting and working with so many people from across a broad spectrum of issues and points of view. Rarely have I been as struck by a personal story as I have by Amber’s. Hers is a story of redemption in a world that requires people to live in confined boxes. In our current political and social climate, her story resonates, opens eyes, and proves that Christ’s love is bigger than those who try to control it."

Patrick Jager | CEO of CORE Innovation Group, award-winning television producer

Refocusing My Family pulls back the curtain and reveals the real-life realities behind Focus’s books, purity rings, and radio shows.

"Literally millions of us trusted James Dobson and Focus on the Family to guide us in how to raise the ideal Christian family. Amber Cantorna’s book, Refocusing My Family, pulls back the curtain and reveals the real-life realities behind Focus’s books, purity rings, and radio shows. I hope that today’s young parents who are part of the evangelical community will allow Amber’s story to guide them into a better way of parenting, so they can discover a more authentic way of being Christians—and human beings, too."

Brian D. McLaren | author of "The Great Spiritual Migration"

This book will help many young people struggling to live an authentic life.

"Amber writes a courageous deep dive into her experience in and out of the closet. Her memoir, Refocusing My Family, will help many young people struggling to live an authentic life. Her words touch the heart and offer hope."

Gayani DeSilva | MD, author of A Psychiatrist’s Guide: Helping Parents Reach Their Depressed Tween

Equally tragic and inspiring.

"Conservative evangelical Christianity cannot come to terms with the stubborn fact that 3 to 5 percent of the human family is LGBTQ. They have cornered themselves into a place where accepting this fact is theologically impossible. Therefore, when one of their own children turns out to be a part of this sexual/gender minority, it creates an extraordinary crisis for families, churches, and above all for the LGBTQ person.

Amber Cantorna has survived this crisis. But it was a near thing. Her story is equally tragic and inspiring. It is tragic that her physical, emotional, and spiritual survival comes at the cost of her relationship with her Focus on the Family parents. But she has made the right choice. I applaud her courage, I pray for her flourishing, and I hope that within our lifetime stories like hers will no longer have to be told."

David Gushee | president of the Society of Christian Ethics, president-elect of the American Academy of Religion

Intimate and deeply affecting. A must read!

"At once both intimate and deeply affecting, Amber Cantorna’s moving memoir powerfully unpacks the shame and self-loathing so often felt by those caught in the cross hairs of conservative Christianity and sexual identity. Her ultimate redemption comes when she is finally able to step beyond the confines of her Focus on the Family upbringing to find unconditional love among her new chosen family. A must read!"

Daniel Karslake | director/producer of "For the Bible Tells Me So" and "For They Know Not What They Do"

A raw and unflinching walk through the treacherous minefield of being both gay and Christian in a world that tells you these things are incompatible.

"Every life has a story to tell—one that, were we to listen to it, would change us. In Refocusing My Family, Amber Cantorna gives us the privilege of stepping into her remarkable story; one she tells with clarity, vulnerability, and great courage. It is a raw and unflinching walk through the treacherous minefield of being both gay and Christian in a world that tells you these things are incompatible. It is at times heartbreaking and other times overflowing with hope, as all our stories are—which is the point. In Refocusing My Family, reminds us that our desire to be known and loved is universal. Step into her story and you will surely find yours as well."

John Pavlovitz | author of "A Bigger Table: Building Messy, Authentic, and Hopeful Spiritual Community"

"Refocusing my Family is as much a harrowing tale of one woman’s struggle to swim up to the surface as it is an indictment of the deadening consequences of bad religion that holds people under in the name of all things holy."

Mark Tidd | founder and copastor of Highlands Church, Denver, Colorado

This book will resonate with anyone who has struggled with feeling different or not fitting the mold.

"Amber Cantorna’s story of growing up gay and Christian will resonate with anyone who has struggled with feeling different or not fitting the mold. Her bravery and perseverance will inspire other LGBTQ people, and her love for her faith will change many hearts and minds in the church. This is an important book for all Christians to read and share, and I am very grateful to Amber for writing it."

Matthew Vines | executive director of The Reformation Project, author of "God and the Gay Christian"

"I am one of millions who raised their children on Dr. James Dobson’s parenting principles. I am also one of the millions of Christians who would have been counted among Dobson’s army of evangelical voices speaking to our nation’s political powers about the decay of moral and family structure in the culture. While I long ago left the grip of manipulation, exaggerations, and hypocrisy sourced with Dobson and the Focus on the Family organization, Amber grew up in the midst of it. She gives her readers an intimate perspective of her Dobson-esque family with the imposed stress for imagined Christian perfection. Her memoir of the damage along with the struggle to survive and overcome the toxic grip of her family is worthy of reading."

—Kathy Baldock, founder and executive director of Canyonwalker Connections, author of "Walking the Bridgeless Canyon"

"The all-too-common practice of rejecting LGBTQI children from their Christian families is a religious tragedy Amber Cantorna has experienced firsthand. Yet, exiled from her family home, Amber clung to the assurance of things hoped for. Thank you, Amber, for sharing what it is like to walk the gay Christian crucible of faith toward dignity, healing, and most miraculous of all—love."

Jennifer Knapp | Dove Award winning artist, singer/songwriter/author, founder of Inside Out Faith Foundation

A beautiful narrative of the journey from torment and shame to authenticity and hope.

"No amount of theological posturing has the power of a story well told, and Amber Cantorna’s Refocusing My Family is a beautiful narrative of the journey from torment and shame to authenticity and hope. Wherever you find yourself in the LGBTQ debate, this book will get you thinking about what really matters."

Paula Stone Williams | national transgender advocate and former megachurch preaching pastor

"In our family, we focus on two core things: being brave and being kind. After reading Refocusing My Family, it is clear to me that Amber must be the sister I never had. The sheer bravery she displays—not just in telling this story, but first in living it out—is astounding. It is matched only by the kindness she shows—both to herself and to the family that rejected her. May Amber’s story do for you what it did for me: teach me that it will only be through the stories of the marginalized that the church has hope for finding the healing it so desperately needs."

Colby Martin | author of "UnClobber: Rethinking Our Misuse of the Bible on Homosexuality"