Wednesday, June 30, 2004

an apple a day???

while in canada they broadcast a medical radio program i listened to regularly. i can't get it here, but i receive his email updates and visit his website regularly. he's the best i've heard on nutrition and wellness. because my family of origin had NO teaching on health and nutrition i found this to be very helpful for me. if you are in the same boat you can find him here:

dr. mirkin

here's the news i needed to hear today as i am an 'apple'...

Dear Dr. Mirkin: Why is it worse to have a fat stomach than fat hips?

A new study from Queen’s University in Canada confirms that storing fat primarily in your belly, rather than your hips, increases your chances of suffering heart attacks and diabetes (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, March 2004). When you take in more calories than your body needs, your liver turns them into fat. People who store fat primarily in their bellies are called "apples," while those who store fat primarily in their hips are called "pears."

Fat cells in your belly are different from those in your hips. The blood that flows from belly fat goes directly to your liver, whereas the blood that flows from your hips goes into your general circulation. The livers of those who store fat in their bellies are blocked from removing insulin by the extra fat and therefore do not remove insulin from the bloodstream as effectively as the livers of those who store fat in their hips and have less fat in their livers. So "apples" have higher blood insulin and sugar levels.

You need insulin to drive sugar from your bloodstream into your cells, but insulin is also a harmful hormone because it lowers blood levels of the good HDL cholesterol that prevents heart attacks and raises blood levels of the bad triglycerides that cause heart attacks. Being shaped like an apple and having a beer belly increases your risk for a heart attack and diabetes. People who store fat primarily in their hips and are shaped like pears are less likely to have heart attacks.

damn genetics...

it's real, it's real, it's real!!

wooooooooo hoooooooo! it's real. i'm really published. i can't link to it here, but it's real! sigh. i actually thought that at the last minute they'd change their minds, but it's real. i've seen the cover - IT'S REAL!

i haven't had a job in over 8 years. no paycheck, no pat on the head, no immediate validation. i proposed an article for a trade journal and not only did they like it they are featuring it, and i've got my name (my real name) on the cover - wooo hooo! this is really validating for me. someone else realized i have a brain in my head. for some strange reason that is so important to me.

you may be able to put 2&2 together and figure out who i am, and that's never been my reason for anonimity here on my blog. it's truly so the sr. pastor/board and our church or my extended family can't google my name (like they don't have better things to do) and find out i'm airing myself (and sometimes them) in public). if curiosity is killing you (and i'm sure you have better things to do too) email me and i will send you the link. the article link isn't active yet, but the cover and the descriptions of the articles are there. they usually activate the links about a week into release.

i sent it to a friend who i respect and she told me the article was 'beautiful and brave'. it's that brave part i'm still a bit nervous about. i know that it could fall into the hands of those in authority at our church, and it's a challenge to them, and to all churches to use power properly. so, for as excited as i am that this is soon to arrive on my doorstep, i'm also a bit anxious.

i watched my mother bobbie, the real bobbie, write her whole life without getting published. it broke her heart. i hope she's happy for me. my father's reaction will be a crap shoot. he may love it, or he may hate it. it's kind of critical of churches that think they have it all figured out. we'll see. either way i set out to accomplish something and i did it. i'm really proud of myself, i hope that doesn't sound vain (because you know pride comes before the fall... as my mother would remind me EVERY time i would be happy about something that i had accomplished...)

father help me to glory in the fact that i have accomplished something without being prideful. help me to find that balance. i don't want to fall. i don't want to be prideful. i just truly want to enjoy the fact that something i did worked. amen.

if i surrender to your will

my best friend and i won tickets on WLS to see cheap trick in concert when i was in 8th grade. my parents were not thrilled, but allowed me to attend. i was going to marry robin zander and he was going to sweep me away from my little boring life. he would look into my eyes in the 14th row and know we were meant to be together... the band was cheap trick, it was 1979. the reason that i am traversing down memory lane is that they had a anthem to my generation about surrender that has been running through my head since i started contemplating this line yesterday.

your mommy's all right
your daddy's all right
they just seem a little weird
surrender, surrender, but don't give yourself away, ay, ay, ay

the rest of the lyrics are stupid, that's probably why it rarely gets covered, but the chorus spoke to my budding rebel soul.

pretend, pretend, but hold a piece of yourself back...

that was me. that still is me. surrender? that means i loose right? white flag, hands up, i loose. no thanks.

i am no huge fan of james dobson, but his famous book, strong willed child could have been written about me. i am very strong willed. the frustrated perfectionist. determined to get my way, but so exhausted from the fight that i give up mid process because it isn't exactly like i dreamed it could/would/should be.

if. that song's been going through my head too. you know, the one by bread. 'if a picture paints a 1000 words, then why can't i paint you?' blah, blah, blah. okay, so i have a choice, right? if.

what happens 'if' i won't?? ah, the story of my life... okay. maybe trying it your way god won't kill me. if i surrender to your will.

this is a daily struggle for me. daily. today, this morning i'm in a pretty crappy mood (oh you noticed? sorry...) my in-laws come today, and they are the helpful ones, not the picky ones, but i still resent having to have to set aside my writing and my obsessive computer time to focus on my house. we just got back from camping... uck. most of the stuff has been put away, but now there's just the regular house mess. surrender. i'd like to say 'stuff it'. but they are coming to help us out.

problem #2. i am helping liam with his youth group this upcoming week. we are taking 30 youth to our national convention. i'm kind of resenting having to leave home again. i don't know why, it's a great escape, no kids, no driving, we're flying this year and we get to stay in hotel rooms not dorms, and the speakers are even great. so why am i so pissy? i don't know. maybe because it's not my idea. maybe because it takes me way longer than it used to to recover from stupid things like camping, i'm not sure. all i know is 'surrender' this morning is kind of ticking me off. if i surrender to you will.


okay god. i give up. you have plans for me to prosper, not to harm, to give me a hopeful future, right? just for today lord, make me be willing to be willing. willing to surrender. willing to quit butting my head against the ceiling of your will. i surrender. help me surrender. just for today.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

the 'bless me' bug

christianity today has invited brian mclaren to be a regular columnist - his new article is a must read!

trusting that you will make all things right

trust. that is the eternal question isn't it? do i trust him? do i trust anyone? yuck.

it is my suspicion that any and all abuse survivors have issues with trust. hurt me once shame on you, hurt me twice, shame on me... trust is the issue that seperates those who can live a pretty normal attached life from those who are just once step (at least) away from normal. arm's length.

i want to trust with all my heart, honest i do. i want someone to be worthy of that, but it's really handing someone your heart and letting them carry it around in their pocket. what will you do with it? will you care for it? will you honor it? will you play basketball with it, and leave it bleeding at the side of the road?

on the surface i seem like a trusting, accepting person. i have to be, i'm a pastor's wife. but deeper down there is a suspicious core that watches everything. everything.

i am hyper-vigilant. the thought that someone could hurt someone i love on my watch - not if i can do anything about it. i am a ferocious momma bear. i don't want to ever have anyone look me in the eyes and say 'you failed'. i can't hardly even trust myself.

so trusting god, whew... that's a biggie. to make all things 'right'. that's huge. like so huge i am really struggling with it right now. make all things right - hello?? have you seen the mess we're in down here? sudan?? HIV in africa?? and we have yet to see what it's doing in china... and don't get me started about 'your church' - come on god - make all things right?? yuck.

but it brings me back, each time to 'god doesn't waste anything'. nothing, zilch, zero. he has used each difficult step in my life to make me stronger, more able to help, make me more real and useful to the world. i can honestly say that i have seen growth and even blossoms from the fertilizer of each shitty step.

making all things right. god will never do for me what i can do for myself. i'd love quick fixes, i'd love a pie in the sky kind of god who gives gold teeth, but i know that he's more concerned with making me more like jesus. using each step to help me be more loving, more concerned about my world, more concerned about the poor and the oppressed. because trust me, if there wasn't any hardships in my life i'd be the most self-absorbed brat you've ever seen. no one else would matter.

right. that is one of the 'key words' of my life. i wanted to be right more than anything. winner of every arguement, pure theology, politically 'right', heck i was even upset that i was left handed. i wanted to be RIGHT.

i think it has it's roots in my learning disability. it is still to this day 'undiagnosed', but in doing research into my daughter's difficulty with math i am nearly positive that i have dyscalculia. for those of you who are unfamiliar with it it's similar to dyslexia, but with numbers. it haunted me all though my school years, and even into working situations any time i had to balance a till or make change. even when i was 'right' i wasn't really sure how it happened. i guess that being 'right' in other areas became my compensation.

if i wasn't good at something i didn't do it. i only participated in sports or activities where i could be 'right'. i'd argue my point until the other person just got tired out and gave in. right went hand in hand with 'fair'. and fair was something i wanted even more than right. it was the 'it's not fair' chant of my childhood that probably seperated me most from god. i wanted a god who made things fair. so because that didn't happen he never really had my heart. it looked like he did to any and all observing, but deep down i never really trusted him.

he now has my heart, i know it's been a journey to get there, but where else would i go?? so just for today lord, help me to trust that you will make all things right. help me understand that what i think is 'right' is not always part of the big picture. please be worthy of my trust, and help me to be worthy of other's. just for today.

midnight confessions

liam told me about a midnight confession he watched last night on leno. i'm still laughing about it, so i thought maybe you could use a good chuckle. i didn't hear it myself, so it might not be word for word, but it's the gist of it.

a college student confessed that while he was back in high school he and some friends stole some beers from his parents fridge. they snuck down to the basement to drink them. this was a fool proof plan, all except for the fact that there was no bathroom in the basement.

they brilliantly remembered that the kitty litter box was down there, so they decided to use it.

he got home from school the next day to find that his father had spent that day at the vet for $400 worth of tests for the cat to find out what was wrong with the poor thing.

my father would have killed me.

lunch box twins

i went to school that first day of second grade with my most amazing purchase, a bobby sherman lunch box. i finally owned something cool - something that someone else would want - something that wasn’t a hand-me-down and something that made me feel like a big kid.

until i saw her's - i don’t even remember her name - but she was in fifth grade. she was big, with greasy hair and she used to chase us during recess and she terrified me. once she caught me and put me in jail and lurched over me telling me i was in trouble. her breath stank and she had b.o. she is one of the most real people in my memory and always brings me a lot of fear and anxiety when i remember her - but she, yes she too had a bobby sherman lunch box.

crashed were my hopes of belonging, of having the envy of the girls in my class. i was somehow linked to the shame of being a lunch box twin with this horrible, stinky bully. life just wasn’t fair.

Monday, June 28, 2004

...not as i would have it

this line by itself is a bit obscure. but i think that it is necessary, because 'as i would have it' is after all what every addict wants, right? life as i would have it. now, immediately, make me feel good, less bad or numb. NOW... as i would have it.

that's where i get into the problems. when i go from god's timing to bobbie's timing. NOW. no delayed gratification here.

when i get into 'NOW' mode i think of violet from willie wonka and the chocolate factory (which by the way is a very spiritual film when you think about it, who doesn't want a god to make rivers of chocolate and allow us to fly with bubbles of carbonation??). violet is the caricature of NOW. she's who i put into my head when i'm acting like a brat and feeling sorry for myself. it gives me perspective on how i must seem to god, stamping my feet, throwing things out of the way, demanding my needs be met at my whim and in the way that i want them to be met. NOW!

we all have real live basic human needs. food, water, shelter, sex. i struggle with each level of those needs. being satisfied with god's provision to meet those needs instead of my own concoction of what that should look like is where the rubber hits the road for me. masturbation is me determining how one of my basic human needs is going to be met. i can satisfy myself. i don't need you. never have, never will. yuck. but that's really what i am saying, both to god and to liam. your timing isn't good enough for me. i don't want to have to work for intimacy, i'll take a short-cut.

because really, if we're all honest we don't like the long way when it comes to having to truly connect with god or our spouse (or wait until we have one to connect with if we are single). but when we truly look at it from the point of intimacy we begin to understand why god created sex at all.

i mean really, the procreation thing, god could have done it in another way. he could have made it so much easier to make babies. but his goal really wasn't babies, it was bigger than that. it was families, it was community. god knew that we would never experience intimacy if it were left up to us. that bond that comes from sex when it isn't abused is the most beautiful picture of god, communion, and his love for us. but we miss it. we don't get it. it's about intimacy. not stimulation. not babies. not even marriage building. it's a BIG picture for us to get a tiny glimpse into the eternal. into the trinity. into the nature of god. but it's been so distorted and so polluted that we can't even imagine it could be used for anything but making us feel better.

that 'one flesh' concept, if kept as god intended it, is meant to form a bond between a man and woman that is unachievable in any other form. that is why the devil works so hard to twist it, deform it and make it about me. just me. NOW!

liam and i will be married for 17 years in september. for the longest time i thought that god played a pretty sick joke on us. this will take some explaining, but i think we're not the only couple with these kind of extremes, so let me try to hash it out here.

we each have a love language that fills us. (book by gary chapman) liam's is physical touch. mine is quality time. here's the broken part. liam married a sexual abuse survivor who struggles with sexual addiction. bobbie married a workaholic who could work 80 hours a week if allowed. problems?? you bet. this is definitely 'not as i would have it'.

how did this happen? seems like a sick joke doesn't it? it did to me for a very long time. liam and i have been working through a 12 step book with another couple, and what did we find... the SAME thing is true in their marriage. i've spoken to a couple friends and have seen that their love languages have been at extreme opposites from their spouses too. why? sick joke of god? i don't think so any more. i honestly believe that we are drawn to that opposite so that we can truly find balance. that when we work at it we are both brought to the healthy center - where we long to be. it's all about intimacy.

when our marriage is working liam is not spending 80 hours at the church. i am not meeting my own needs or avoiding sex and physical touch. we are both drawn out of our dysfunction into 'function' for lack of a better word, and intimacy is achieved. not such a sick joke any more.

this isn't only about sex either. when i seek to meet my own needs for food i get into trouble. when i am satisfied with my 3 meals a day i am able to live in serenity. it's only when i allow god to meet those needs for me that my life functions as it should. when i seek to meet my needs on my own i will always land back in the place of struggle, difficulty and usually shame.

so god, i don't' want to be violet any more. just for today, help me find intimacy with both you, and liam. help me to be satisfied with you meeting my needs and not strive to meet them on my own. just for today.

if you would like to find out what your love language is you can take this online quiz (make sure your pop-up blocker is ON).

love language quiz

Sunday, June 27, 2004

the naked chef

okay, i know he needs no props from my little blog, but my favorite chef has begun his own blog and i'm thrilled.

jamie oliver formerly known as the 'naked chef' (because of his simple recipes and style of cooking, not because he roasts in the buff) kept me sane during my difficult years trapped at home with two tiny babies in the middle of nowhere canada. tvo (tv ontario) regularly showed episodes of the naked chef and it was virtually the only tv we got on our rabbit ears that didn't melt my brain.

so, if you're not familiar with him check him out, and if you're a fan enjoy his new blog. (thanks to marissa for the head's up!)

Saturday, June 26, 2004

sunburn, claustrophobia and vip treatment

i'm back... and never going camping again! :)

the change of pace was great, the event itself was incredible, but i'm just plain old not made for camping. i had forgotten how much i hate tents, even though ours is 10' x 20' it still left me with thoughts of turning into the incredible hulk and running through the side for some fresh air. trapped is not a feeling that i am comfortable with, but i lived.

i spent today fulfilling a promise to my 8 year old daughter pink, we are big superchick fans and because our friend blessed us with vip passes, we got down front, dead center - best standing room in the arena for the concert and waited over 1 hour to get her cd jacket signed (we even got to pet their pet toy yorkie 'belle'!). we ended up baking in the sun for over 3 hours and i am fried. i haven't been this sunburned since the days of baby oil and iodine trying to convince my high school skin that i 'just needed a base' to get a tan - it never worked. my scandanavian heritage doesn't have one ounce of pigment and my red hair and freckles just leave me on the short end of the melatonin scale.

i have missed you all (and have 100's of entries in my bloglines to 'catch up' on). the blog world has gone on without me believe it or not!

i will begin again with the prayer thoughts after a good shower, a wonderful nights sleep in my own bed and a fresh ground cup of real coffee in the morning! night all!

Monday, June 21, 2004


i think that recreation is so important, i have little idea how to do it, but i think it's really important. to that end our family has been gifted 4 passes to creation east this week, and we are heading up tomorrow to beat the crowds. one of the adult coaches in my husband's youth group has a lot of connections and he can get us in the gate early. so off we go... to camp... and use port-a-potties, and cold showers and hang out with 90,000 of our closest friends... AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

and i know it's not hugely emergent to love christian bands, but i do - i get to hear kutless, fm static and superchick, switchfoot and relient k. delirious and jars of clay, audio a and third day. and of course my all time favorite DCB - i have to get the remainder of signatures on my cd jacket. just so you know david crowder is the nicest 'famous person' i've ever had the opportunity to meet. he treated this 38 year old woman like a real human being and chatted with me like we were old friends.

i'm also looking forward to hearing rob bell teach for 2 sessions. he is one of the most gifted speakers i've heard in recent years.

but unlike most bloggers i am laptop-less... and that is my biggest regret. i will miss these keys and this screen. i feel like i'm leaving my children behind. sounds like i need this break (or an intervention) doesn't it?? i can feel the withdrawl shakes happening already.

back to the pen and paper. and some silence and solitude will definately be happening. and i'm sure i'll get to read some of those books i've been setting aside to blog. breathe...

so have a great week. if i can find a computer anywhere on site i will drop in and say 'hi'. you're in my prayers!

training cowards

something to ponder while i'm gone...

When the primacy of love is subordinated to doctrinal correctness and orthodox exegesis, cool cordiality and polite indifference masquerade as love among theologians, biblical scholars, and faculties across the land. When absolute control and rigid obedience pose as love within the family and the local faith-community, we produce trained cowards rather than Christian persons. - Brennan Manning

i love that guy!

taking as jesus did this sinful world as it is

this was the line in the prayer that really got me thinking, and wanting to pull apart this prayer. i had been saying it for years and i never really caught this line until a couple months ago.

it was like my brain said 'wait, what was that? back up.' so many times i expect god to just sweep into my life, clean up all of the problems and fix everything. everything. why would my friend have a sick child, why would this teenager die unexpectedly, why wouldn't we have more financial freedom? why, why, why?

and then i really heard this line:

...taking as jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as i would have it..."

jesus didn't come to earth, heal everyone, feed everyone and make things all better. why? i don't know, but he didn't. he had a purpose, and he even faced his own share of hardships while on earth. why should i expect any different.

the jesus of my childhood and youth was more like mr. rogers than the son of god. i adore mr. rogers, so that was okay for awhile. but he was so emasculated and so 'nice' that when life got hard he just didn't have the grit i needed to help me, so i set him aside.

it was only when some women from my church wanted me to teach a study on phillip yancy's 'the jesus i never knew' that i even remotely started to understand how wrong what i had been taught was.

i fell in love, deeply in love.

this jesus was real, he respected women and let them speak. he loved them and redeemed them IN THEIR SITUATIONS - not plucking them OUT and giving them new circumstances. the woman caught in adultery was told to go and sin no more - jesus didn't make it easy for her. he just loved her where she was at.

that 'name it claim it' theology is dangerous, not because it's making some bad preachers rich, but because it puts a wall between the seeker and god when all the 'claim it' stuff doesn't fall into their laps. church is not an amway convention. church is where jesus should meet us in our circumstances and give us the strength to climb out of them. we think that means from lower middle class to upper middle class. nope. that means from brokenness, generations of addictions, to health and healing. jesus never promised me an suv and a fancy house.

he actually said the opposite.

i'm glad that reinhold neibuhr added this line. i'm glad he didn't make it all about sunshine and posies. jesus didn't come to earth with a big agenda, he helped those in front of him, who screwed up the courage to ask. yes, some got healed, but 1000's didn't. that jesus rarely shows up at our churches.

when i said 'should' and 'rarely shows up' i don't mean that it's HIS fault - it's the churches fault. rarely do we teach or talk about this jesus. we want the big medicine in the sky, the big slot machine in the sky - give me the bling bling jesus, not the one who 'took this sinful world as it is' and left it with more problems and confusion than when he got there.

god is such a mystery to me. he works backwards most of the time as far as i'm concerned, that's what makes him real to me. that's when i know that i didn't just invent him as a crutch. because trust me - i could invent a super sonic, never let me down, opiate of the masses kind of crutch. god doesn't just make everything better, he challenges me, spurrs me on and causes me to reach. he will never do for me what i can do for myself. trust me, if i was inventing a god that's not who he'd be. my god would have given me remote control finger tips. i wouldn't have to leave my couch to do anything.

that's really why we try to sugar coat it and make it pretty, shine it up for the world, because in truth, our god is hard to swallow. he requires a lot of me, expects a lot of me - but gives me all the strength i need to accomplish it. i'm glad jesus didn't get his followers together, build them a resort complex and say - 'enjoy, look what i've done for you - look at the place i've prepared, live here and all your problems will be taken care of.' that's the jesus i see far to many 'christians' pushing in our world today.

my mother (the real bobbie) was very sick for most of my life. shortly after our family found jesus in 1973 she began to get very ill. the doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong with her. we heard diagnoses from 'cat scratch fever' to you've got cancer, and 2 weeks to live, go home and prepare your family. what really was wrong was that my mother had SLE nephritis, more commonly called 'lupus'.

lupus is a very personal disease, it affects each person in their own curious way. basically my mom had these really eager white blood cells that thought she was sick all through her body, and so they would attack her organs and eventually injure them, and then she really would get sick. it destroyed her kidneys and lymph nodes.

our church didn't 'do' healing, but i know she wanted to meet that jesus who would take that away. when he didn't 'hear' her prayers it made her very angry. anger was my mom's way of dealing with the things in the world that were out of her control. a seething, slow burn kind of anger.

so i grew up thinking god was pretty impotent. i would have never admitted it out loud, but really i didn't get why someone so powerful would choose to let bad things happen to people who followed him. my world was so small i never thought about 'why are people starving in third world countries' - i just thought that if someone was wearing god's badge that they should at least get some club membership priveledges.

taking as jesus did this sinful world as it is...

today, just for today i am going to try to see a bit from his perspective. how facing my hardships makes me better and stronger, that by leaning into the wind i am developing the spiritual muscles i need to face each day. as jesus did. help me jesus.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

accepting hardship as a pathway to peace

hardship and peace in the same sentence? really? and i have to accept it?

accepting hardship is stupid, i'm smarter than that. i spent most of my life thinking that very thought. take the easy way out, instant gratification, no worries. but i was like the chronic careless driver who has a glove compartment filled with citations, speeding violations and parking tickets. problems? i don't see any problems...

the road i was on was paved with puffy clouds of denial cushioning every bump, medicated air bags keeping me from feeling any pain. hardship? i'm smarter than that. why should i feel those horrible emotions and fears when i can block them out or inhibriate myself into believing they don't exist?

hitting bottom is really the only way god ever really gets an addict's (my) attention. i was so out of touch and out of control that falling flat on my face was what i needed. the road to recovery is the pathway to peace. i would not be where i am now if i had not experienced the hardships i have endured.


when i was seven i 'accepted' jesus into my heart. i 'accepted' presents at birthdays and christmas. i even 'accepted' awards and diplomas. accepting hardship? yuck. no thank you. can you please tell me where the customer service department is? i'd like to return this hardship, it just doesn't seem to fit.

but 'in and through' is truly part of accepting the things i cannot change. my life is my own. it's been bumped and bruised, chipped and crazed, but it's MINE. no one can take that away from me. god doesn't waste anything.


into each life a little rain must fall... crap. greeting card crap. how 'bout typhoons and hurricaines? and mine is mild compared to some. each of us have our bumps and bruises, our difficulties and our hardship. owning it is truly the pathway to peace.


the most recent gift recovery and therapy has brought to me is a gentle path through the 12 steps by patrick cairns. this book is a blend of workbook and spiritual practices, reading and doing. it has been integral in my healing from both the abuse and the addictions.

i am on a path, today a bit farther along than yesterday. it is a path i choose - a path that is leading me toward peace, health and recovery. i can choose to go backward, or even convince myself that standing still is a pretty good option. that the woods ahead are dark and mysterious and filled with unknown spectres and fears. but standing still looks an awful lot like camping after awhile. pitching a tent and deciding that comfort and ease are a better alternative. 'look how far i've come, let me rest awhile' can soon turn into a village of squatters and we all know how difficult it is to actually get moving again.

and the problem with squatting is that you soon are surrounded by other squatters. people who are also filled with fear and are also afraid to move forward. it can get so bad that going backward looks even more attractive than hanging around with them. at least those people 'back there' seem to be having a lot more fun. and i'm not having any fun at all here on the path. standing still on the path is the most dangerous place i know.

i have to keep my destination in clear focus. it's only then that i can truly keep myself motivated and moving forward. i am always only one bite away from relapse. one of my favorite sayings 'guru jim' always said was that during abstinence or sobriety my addiction is doing push-ups. it's getting stronger and more brutal even during the time i'm not participating in it. relapse is a deadly dangerous place along the path. sometimes it's marked with cemetaries, prisons and psychiatric hospitals.


pray for peace. give peace a chance. peace at all costs. peace on earth goodwill to men. i know it smacks of a beauty pagent answer - but don't we all just want peace? peace in the world, peace in our hearts, peace in our homes. peace.

i was raised in a very conservative fundamental church. the one that invented dispensationalism. war was something that was biblical, necessary, it marked the coming end of all things and the great 'sweep' so i have grown up thinking that peace was almost a 4-letter word. really. war was good, it meant relevation was true, peace was for leftist hippies and amillenialists (both equally as bad). john lennon was a heretic and peace was for the millenial kingdom. i even remember hearing a sermon about the 'peace sign' being a broken cross and how it was evil and of the devil.

so finding a pathway to peace could only be some figurative, artsy fartsy method that was probably involved some 'new age' mumbo jumbo and it too was 'of the devil.' how good it feels to be free from that bondage. to know that the god in heaven doesn't need 'wars and rumors of wars' to bring the fulfillment of his will. i'm still finding my way on what i believe and where i stand to the end of time as we know it, i just know that today i can pray for peace and not be a heretic.

so, just for today i can accept the hardships i have endured, and face the ones yet to come knowing that they are truly heading toward the goal of peace. peace in my life, and in my home. and maybe one day our world. pray for peace.

feelings, nothing more than feelings...

okay, it's a bad title, but it's my 4th post today! :)

one of the frustrations i've had with my healing and recovery was trying to identify and feel the feelings i was (duh) feeling.

i told my therapist that i didn't even have the words i needed to describe them. they weren't a part of my vocabulary. i am an educated, fairly intelligent individual, so this came as a great frustration to me. it felt like another language i had never learned.

at that point she got up, when to her office and returned with a watercolor print that had small children drawn all over it. each child was expressing a different feeling or emotion and they were drawn to express that emotion, and even without the words and definitions you would be able to identify the emotion. it was magical - i loved it and have searched high and low for it.

as the blog world is unusually silent today my usual reading time was empty and i got a bit bored, so i began to google and came across this great site that is similar to, but not nearly as artistic as the print. it is a great tool to help those of us who need 'remedial feelings 101' as a kind of cheat sheet. so if this is you enjoy!

list of feeling words

here are some more to enjoy:

feelings inventory

needs inventory

the main man

michael main of the main point is the main man! sage and servant, helper and encourager - for someone i have never met he has taken the time to really give me help and assistance.

many times taken he's emailed me to give this newbie at html assitance and for that i am grateful. through his kind tutalage he helped me get my comments working again, and at the bottom of my post and not the top - hurray! thank you, thank you, thank you!

so stop by his amazing blog, get to know he and amy, his amazing, blessed wife and say hi! thank you michael, you're the best!

enjoying one moment at a time

this is the most difficult line in the prayer (yet) for me. i rarely live 'in the moment', let alone enjoy it. engaging is hard for me. i shield myself from others by not fully engaging. even my husband and children. intimacy is a gift i long to give, to myself and others, but i'm struggling with trusting someone enough to be able to give them 'this' when they could turn it back around on me as a weapon. i'm not ready to take that chance, yet. it's about trust.

a couple of years ago i heard tony campolo speak on martin buber and the 'i thou' experience. it blew my mind. i am not going to try to explain it here because i will do it a grave injustice, but if you are interested i recommend his book "i and thou". he talked about how this isn't a problem just for me, but that most people don't live in the now because it is so dangerous. that when we live in the 'moment' we could truly be experienced by someone else living in the 'moment' when we have an 'i thou' connection.

the 'moment' terrifies me. i think it's because one of us is going to be disappointed. if someone was to see into my deepest soul and experience me for what i truly am, my thoughts, my hopes, my dreams - i would be found out. the myriads of masks i wear would fall away and what would be exposed would be shame. or you, you might not have my best interests at heart, you might see into my soul and laugh, or mock. i can't take that chance. my potential disappointment terrifies me too.

liam is the most loyal person i know. he isn't mean spirited and wouldn't use what he knows about me (and he knows everything i know) to hurt me, but to still offer myself to him in the moment, the now, the present isn't something i'm yet willing to do. the crazy thing is is that i want that 'i thou' moment more than i want anything, both with liam and with god. i still long for that 'i thou' experience.

but even in my longing, most of the time i even keep him at arms length too. right now i'm avoiding silence and solitude.

what if god doesn't show up? what if he's not all i hope him to be? what if he does show up and he's like they told me he would be my whole young life. misogynist silencer? what if? i can barely take that chance.

now don't get me wrong. i've done silence before. that 'moment' i talk about happening didn't happen. but that's the thing about fear, it's not based in reality. it looms dark and spectral, free floating and undefined.

fear is crippling, disabling and so powerful that it truly makes us forget the past sometimes. all the wonderful ways someone or god was trustworthy and loving. how they proved themselves over and over.

fear also recalls the past, those times when we were hurt or injured, our shame and our failures. and the failures of those who were given to us as caretakers. fear is diabolical. it's selective and cunning. it kills hope if we let it.

that's why that merton quote i added last night was so important to me - 'solitude and silence teach me to love my brothers (and sisters) for what they are, not for what they say.' in their 'moment' i am to love them in mine. but that only comes from constant contact with god. if it's left up to me i am a snarling, impatient miserable wretch. loving someone for who they are, not what they can do for me, or say to me. but their core and my core becoming friends. i like that.

especially for my children. i've been trying pseudonyms out for them and i think i will use their nick names - pink and buck. pink (i called her that WAY before the musician ever existed) is 8 and she is like a willow tree. long, wispy and free - i adore her, she is so completely different than i, and she adores me. it is one of the great mysteries of my life. i know it won't last, but for now she thinks i'm beautiful and smart and lovely and wants to be like me. she is fragile and sensitive. things that have been lost to me. i want to engage in life for her.

i want to step away from the computer and say - you are important enough to engage with, i'll prove it to you. one moment at at time. it's rare that i do. my goal is to do that at least once a day. to engage, really engage. most of the time they don't know they difference (yet), but i know there are times when i can wound pink by being distracted with writing and reading. when it's easier to escape my real world for something virtual or made up.

buck is 6, he's so like me that it almost scares me. heck, when i let it, it terrifies me. he has my compulsive nature, that love of sweets and that focus that quickly can turn to obsession. it's inate. and i want to save him from it. i want to keep him from the mistakes i've made, allow him to have that chance that i wasn't given. to turn those areas to strengths instead of weaknesses. so i need to engage in today to model something to him that i can't do when i myself am obsessed.

enjoying one moment at a time. it's so different than living for enjoyment. that's the twist - that's what makes things either healthy or unhealthy. what is at the core - is it the moment? or is it the enjoyment? if we can choose to enjoy the moment, instead of sacrificing the moment for enjoyment - that's where health and healing lives. that is serenity.

i've thought a lot about 'the perfect present' - present both meaning gift, and the here and now - and how being able to give that to the ones i adore. to engage, truly engage, love and care for them in the way i know i should, and long to do.

enjoying one moment at a time.

the perfect present. being so in tune with everything that is going on within me that i can set that aside to experience what is going on within you. what a grand gift that would be.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

gentleness and love

laura at beentherestillthere introduced me to this amazing merton quote that i needed desperately:

"It is in deep solitude that I find the gentleness with which I can truly love my brothers (and sisters). The more solitary I am the more affection I have for them…. Solitude and silence teach me to love my brothers (and sisters) for what they are, not for what they say." --Thomas Merton

gentleness, love and affection have been in short supply around here - maybe i need some solitude and silence??

living one day at a time

odaat - that's one of the biggest themes of my life. and boy was yesterday a good day to be pondering this line. i couldn't wait to get through it, it was horrible.

i was emotional, prickly, jealous and all out having a pity party. but today, new every morning. blessed be the name of the lord. really, honest. i don't mean that in the knee-jerk, christian way people say it. i truly believe that as i opened my eyes today fresh energy, serenity and wisdom was falling from above.

finding the extension of the serenity prayer was a real gift for me. i have been looking to pull apart these lines for some time now. this line though is throughout 12 step thought.


life before recovery felt little like 'living', more like surviving, or existing. barely like living. to choose to live means i must engage. i must be intentional and act, not re-act. serenity helps with that.

at the beginning of my recovery even 24 hours seemed very overwhelming. i posted earlier this month on breaking up the day from the moment i opened my eyes until breakfast "god please get me to breakfast without binging". then i would do that at each meal. it gave me strength and little victories. linking them together so that the full 24 hours was past.

today there sometimes doesn't seem like enough time to fit it all in. that can be just as dangerous as that white knuckle time years ago. busy is a quick replacement for 'living' - it's more like being swept away by a raging river. probably more dangerous for me than the early years because i forget, forget to breathe, forget to pray. forget to stop, and be still and know that he is god.

busy is a horrible way to fill time. i'm moving so quickly i can't engage, 'don't get in my way, i've got important things to accomplish, i don't have time for you' it's as insulating as secluding myself away in my home, but sneakier to my psyche. i trick myself into believing that i'm really doing it and not just avoiding 'living'.

one day.

i love the line 'borrowing trouble'. i think i read it in a book and it was said by a wise old southern grandmother. today has enough problems of it's own, don't borrow trouble and waste all of the energy you'll need today, to bear up under it, on tomorrow or the anxieties of the future.

busy also robs that 'one day' beauty. finding sitters, making plans, fielding calls and fighting traffic force yesterday and tomorrow upon us. that is one of the drawbacks to living in our culture. information speeds like lightning into our homes keeping us disconnected with the illusion of community. we can have our needs met by a screen - tv, video, game boy or computer - each tricks us into thinking we are relating with others, but we are truly insulating and isolating ourselves from engaging with our world.

just for today. i tell that to myself both consciously and subconsciously now many times throughout the day. just for today i choose to use the strength god has given me to refrain from eating chocolate, sugar and my binge foods. i choose to refrain from self stimulation or filling my mind with images or words that are sexual in nature. just for today, i choose to have constant contact with god and be responsible for myself. i choose to allow god to meet my needs instead of grasping to meet them on my own.

at a time.

that means that there will be a tomorrow. suicide is not an option. i have lived far to many years plagued by the threat of taking my own life. it seemed like such an easy out. i was so miserable to be around everyone would just be relieved anyway. at a time means that i am linking 24 hour periods of abstinence, health and sobriety together, and i will continue to do it again tomorrow.

it gives me hope. hope was in short supply during the blur of my addiction. cursing liam because he was not home, and cursing him because he was. i was a mess. but hope cracked the door and she came into my shame and caressed my face and told me i wasn't alone.

i remember seeing the little hand-made flyer on the wall of my doctor's office. 'eating disorder support group'. hope. we had moved to our first pastorate and lived in the absolute dead center of middle of nowhere. but hope found me, even there. she's determined, deliberate. hope changes everything.

one of the things old time 12 steppers will tell you of is their e/s/h - experience, strength and hope. that is the foundation of step 12 - 'having had a spiritual experience as a result of these steps we tried to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs.' it's like a bucket brigade. 'hey, we found water, want some? no really it's free, here, have some of mine'. we live off that until we can find the source ourselves.

experience, strength and hope - it's silly in it's simplicity. it says anybody and everybody gets to help. it's not just the podium preachers or the trained, lettered and educated. nope, everybody. because we have all been through our own trials, and mine might help you, and yours will definitely help me. god doesn't waste anything.

it's really what emergent is - removing the expert talking head and sharing the wealth and the load between us. real live community. one day at a time.

'o god, you will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are fixed on you; for in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and trust shall be our strength'
isaiah 26:3

Friday, June 18, 2004

my refrigerator box

it was 2nd grade, the school year after the abuse. my teacher was mrs. wilson. it was 1973, but she still had a huge beehive hairdoo and cats eye glasses with the cord that held them to her neck. her classroom was a wonder to behold for my 7 year old mind. there was a library and a story carpet and a science center - with a real, live octopus floating in formaldehyde, and a paper wasps nest hanging from the ceiling suspended on a branch. this was a place of learning, a place of inspiration, a place that i adored.

my favorite place in the whole room was the three cardboard refrigerator boxes at the back of the room that were for reading.

i loved them. they made me feel safe. no one could sneak up on me and i could always see them coming. why couldn't more of life be like that? places of safety that allow us to see what's coming. i hate feeling out of control or blindsided.

those boxes gave me an island of security that nothing else in my little life held for me. my own home had become a place of fear and loathing. i remember i started wetting the bed after the abuse, and having terrible, frightening nightmares.

they were always the same. the tin man, lion and scarecrow would be walking toward me, and i was excited, feeling like dorothy on my way to oz. then they just started to float at me at high speed, and i couldn't move. my feet were cemented to the ground, and it wouldn't stop, over and over until i woke up ashamed in cold, wet sheets.

i'd lay in bed and cry. failing at comforting myself and so confused as to why this was happening, i'd strip off my wet nightgown and crawl into my parents room. i'd sit inside the door listening to them breathe, so sound asleep, and i'd shiver. i was so cold, i remember being so very cold.

i'd crawl to the end of their bed and try to wrap myself in the bottom of their chenille bedspread to keep warm. it did't work. by the time i'd finally crawl under the covers at the base of their bed it would be almost morning. rarely was i well received to be found smelling of pee at the end of their bed. i was shamed and ashamed. i would slink to my room and roll up my bedsheets and take them to the basement.

so getting to school and finding a box that kept me safe, even for the 20 minutes a day was a godsend. thank you mrs. wilson.

the wisdom to know the difference

requesting wisdom is the mother of all prayer requests. solomon was given carte blanch from god and he picked wisdom and was honored for it. (maybe there should be another line in the prayer that says 'help me to use the wisdom you give me' because solomon didn't and got himself into a houseful of trouble).

knowing the difference between bad and good is usually easy to spot. even children have the ability to decipher that. choosing between good and best is where things get murky and grey. figuring out the difference between the things i have to accept as they are, and things that i need courage to change. this is where the rubber meets the road.

differences are very often arbitrary. what seems like something you would choose to change might be something that i can live with. so this wisdom needs to be asked for in daily doses, like manna from heaven. yesterday's wisdom doesn't fit today's circumstances. just because i made that choice yesterday today might mean that today it may need to be different.

serenity comes when that balance is struck.

my father lives with us. what he chooses to live with, the difficulties of his life sometimes overflow into mine. it is a very fine line that i must tread in establishing those boundaries that keep his chaos from inflicting itself on me.

he's a 'white knuckle' dry alcoholic. has been for 31 years. he's the most determined man i know. but the evidence of addiction is still winding it's way throughout every choice he makes like vines and tendrils binding themselves to him. he has no serenity. each choice is governed by his replacement addictions, codependency, spending and food. it's a daily reminder to me to make the choice to pray this prayer.

today god, i need wisdom. wisdom to know when to speak, and when to be silent. when to challenge and when to fall back. what can i do today that will move me forward instead of backwards? because really, in recovery - if you aren't going forward, you're really falling back.

so just for today, what needs to happen?

during my first run through of the steps i thought i had a recovery buddy. i've never had a sponsor, it's been one of my greatest discouragements in my recovery. but this person was someone i thought i could trust, i thought 'got it'. she agreed to hear my step 5 (my searching and fearless moral inventory). so i diligently worked on my step 4 inventory and prepared myself to be able to give it away to her. about a month before we scheduled 'the time' she flaked on me. no explanation, just said she didn't feel comfortable and i'd have to find someone else. i was crushed.

wounded and broken i became frozen in my recovery. it halted at that place for about 2 years. who could i trust? who would love me enough to hear my most horrible parts and not flake, or even greater still, love me? at least she flaked before i told her my secrets, but i was so hurt.

i learned some very good lessons from that difficult time. being wise as serpents and gentle as doves (i think that's the quote?) is necessary. learning lessons the hard way does teach us wisdom, as long as we take the time to pull those events apart and learn from them.

finding safe people, people who respect your journey and your boundaries, friends who will walk along side you and challenge without judging is what we all truly long for. surround yourself with people who build you up and limit your interaction with people who don't.

the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. where am i doing this in my life? where am i spinning my wheels, stuck and mired down? facing the places that this is happening takes courage and determination. once we realize that the only place real change can take place is 'within' then the journey becomes much different than it looked before.

i adore the band superchick, i am thrilled my daughter has such empowering music to grow up to. i wish i had them when i was a young girl. their lyrics go straight to my soul. girl power was so far from where i was raised. they have a wonderful song called 'let it be'.

Some people bring you gifts,
some bring you bricks to weigh you down
So they can swim a little higher while you drown
Some people mean so well,
their way was the best way that they’ve found
But any other way you choose
is a brick that weighs you down

Some people give themselves a brick,
I know most people do
When we compare, we fall short somewhere,
it’s always true
If all we see is where we fall,
we’ve bricked the prison wall
Instead of trying to learn to fly
we’ve taught ourselves to crawl

So tell me what do I do with
this backpack full of bricks
Of sticks and stones and word’s<b>r>that stuck to me like ticks

We could believe in ourselves more
We could try for unique instead of trying to conform
We could defy what they tell us
And don’t buy the lies they sell us
And we’re brave we can believe in what we are

Let it go, let it be
brick by brick we can be free
Of all the words we saved til
we were our own enemies
Let it go, let it be brick by brick
we can believe
in the person God intended us to be
Let it be.

wisdom about people is one of the gifts serenity brings to me.

so, just for today god, grant me the wisdom i need to differentiate between those things i cannot change and those things i must change, between good and best, between safe and unsafe. i need your serenity father and the courage to carry that out. amen

Thursday, June 17, 2004

the courage to change the things i can

courage. the best definition i have heard was that courage wasn't the absence of fear in a situation, but being afraid, and doing it anyway.

to change the things i can. having the mental space to be removed enough from my life to be able to start to examine my choices is probably one of the the first achievements in regaining my health and well being. it's what serenity does. it's not just about meditating on a mountain top removed from the world, but being able to accomplish life as we live it with healthy choices.

i see a spiritual director every year at the national youth workers convention when i attend with my husband. last september we were in phoenix and i was telling her of my deep temptation to chuck my life and move to a monastery. live the life of the contemplative nun.

it's difficult for me as a sexual abuse survivor, and a recovering sexual addict to be able to live in a healthy, fulfilling marriage. i would just rather slam the door to those parts of my life and pretend they never existed. abstinence is very attractive to me.

when i am sexual with liam there are many times that door of my past opens, the tapes in my head start to replay and i am either that terrified 6 year old girl or that whore of an addict. neither role is the woman i long to be, and neither are safe and comfortable.

my spiritual director drew a parallel for me that neither the whore or the nun can survive in society. both are 'set aside' from community and extremes on each end of the spectrum. and neither is truly healthy and balanced. so it is here, in the middle of that spectrum that i truly will find my healing and the woman that i long to be.

the courage to change the things i can...

the nun is safer for me, more spiritual and totally within my control. i like her, i want to be her, but she is not who god has chosen for me to be at this time. i am a woman, i am a wife and i am a mother among many other facets of my persona. today, just for today i must feed and care for my children, live in intimacy with my husband and engage in my community and make choices that are within my control.

change. what are the things that are within my control to change?

change for me used to mean everybody else. "if they would all get their lives together mine would be so much healthier." blame, blame, blame. i have learned that the only thing i really have control over is me and the way that i respond to a situation.

instead of controlling others or thinking i have control over myself because i can eat anything and everything i see i have found that that is a lie. that is not control, that is not freedom. that is slavery. control is being free enough to make the choices toward health and healing. believing the lie that my sexual sin is just hurting 'me' is choosing to believe that i am an island. my choices affect all those around me.

i remember that seinfeld about masterbation. are you 'master of your domain?' they actually understood a part of what a sexual addict tells themselves on a daily basis. 'i can do this, i can master this, i am stronger than this, i am master of my domain.' it didn't work on the show, and it doesn't work in real life. honest it doesn't. that is why the 12 steps do work. i am powerless over my addictions and my life has become unmanagable. and that doesn't come easily to the addict. the words just stick in our throats. "powerless? come on, i'm smarter than that. unmanagable? oh i can manage this, i'm bright, capable and 'master of my domain'."

sometimes courage comes in the form of admitting defeat. i am powerless, i cannot change on my own.

i choose today to change the way that i relate to the world around me; in a different way than the generations of my family did before me. to break the cycle and give hope to the legacy of my family after me.

sara groves, on her conversations cd has a song called generations. it is a vision. a true gift to adult children of alcoholics, to abuse survivors, to those who want to make choices to change the things they can. i am including the lyrics here for you to enjoy:

I can taste the fruit of Eve
I’m aware of sickness, death and disease
The results of our choices are vast
Eve was the first but she wasn’t the last

And if I were honest with myself
Had I been standing at that tree
My mouth and my hands would be covered with fruit
Things I shouldn’t know and things I shouldn’t see

Remind me of this with every decision
Generations will reap what I sow
I can pass on a curse or a blessing
To those I will never know

She taught me to fear the serpent
I’m learning the fear myself
And all of the things I am capable of
In my search for wisdom, acceptance and wealth

And to say that the devil made me do it
Is a cop out and a lie
The devil can’t make me do anything
When I’m calling on Jesus Christ

Remind me of this with every decision
Generations will reap what I sow
I can pass on a curse or a blessing
To those I will never know

To my great, great, great grand daughter
Live in peace
To my great, great, great grand son
Live in peace
To my great, great, great grand daughter
Live in peace
To my great, great, great grand son
Live in peace, oh, live in peace

Remind me of this with every decision
Generations will reap what I sow
I can pass on a curse or a blessing
To those I will never know

Oh, remind me
Generations will reap what I sow
I can pass on a curse or a blessing
To those I will never know
Oh, I may never know

do yourself a favor and find that cd - it is truly beautiful and this song will inspire you as you make decisions and choices. realizing that our decisions truly have a much larger effect than only our own personal life and psyche is another break in chain of the bondage of addiction.

god, give me courage today to make changes. you are the god of change and creativity. help me be creative in my change. to be life giving and bring hope, to myself and those in my community. give me courage, courage like i've never had to face parts of me i've never seen. help me to live in today but dream of tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

to accept the things i cannot change

i hate this line, i really do. it catches in my throat when i have to say it or even now as i type it. but i know that i can't have the rest (serenity and recovery) without this line.

serenity is a process. it is a daily choice. accept the things i cannot change. yuck.

what can't i change? well for starters liam. i have tried to change liam since we started dating. (we'll be married 17 years in september, 20 years since our first date). it doesn't work.

in recovery we take a 'searching and fearless moral inventory' of ourselves. not our spouses, relatives, coworkers or friends. ourselves. by spending our time trying to fix another person instead of ourselves we are taking their inventory. trust me, it doesn't work, and it definately doesn't bring serenity.

it's only when, through god, i keep my eyes on myself and my inventory that i am going to make progress. that my recovery will step forward today.

'but liam would be such an amazing pastor if he'd just _________' fill in the blank... i was motivated 'for god', not just myself, (i had convinced myself) but it was still wrong. liam had to get to the point where he hit bottom all on his own before he was willing to begin his own recovery process.

accept the things i cannot change... my circumstances. contentment is one of the biggest keys to unlocking serenity. if i am constantly looking over the fence, keeping up with the joneses and lusting over things that are not mine i will never have serenity.

contentment. accepting the things i cannot change.

this does not mean taking abuse or mistreatment, being taken advantage of or settling. it doesn't mean to stop dreaming, hoping or striving. it means that those things will fall into place as we concentrate on our own recovery and work the 12 steps.

after this series i want to focus on the 12 step promises. they are real tangible evidence that the 12 steps work. i truly have experienced every one of these promises in various forms.

contentment. serenity. accepting the things i cannot change.

those promises remind me that the things i long for with all my heart will be made real. no, maybe not the new shiny SUV or that kitchen aid mixer i covet. but the real stuff that matters. those existential things that make everything else fade in the distance.

the truth will set you free, but first it's gonna hurt like hell.

in and through. parker palmer talks of a life changing moment he had on an outward bound experience. rappelling down a cliff face the rocks inverted into a deep pocket. he froze in fear. his instructor informed him that the only way out was through. that is where recovery happens. through the fear and the pain.

in and through.

i quote 'it's counterintuitive, but it's the only way what works.' (let your life speak, listening for the voice of vocation, pg. 83). btw - i highly recommend this book to anyone (and everyone) who is trying to 'find themselves' or seek out what is next in their lives. parker palmer is an author, speaker and educational specialist (i have no idea what else to call him) and was a close friend of henri nouwen. he's a quaker and incredibly challenging to the 'status quo'. i literally would chuck everything, pack up my family and follow him around with a notepad writing down every word he utters. okay, bunny trail over...

in and through. we avoid, block and stuff our feelings and fears by eating, drinking or just plain old drowning them out with noise and busy-ness. it's only when we turn our heads and stare them down that they shrink to their normal size.

i heard a story about people fleeing a tall burning building. one woman froze at the top of the stairs. 'i can't do it, i'm scared' she gasped. the woman behind her said 'do it scared'.

do it scared... when i heard that story i knew that line was meant for me.

you see, i had let fear choke my life. i always knew that something had happened. i just didn't know what. i had blocked it out and was terrified that if i remembered it i would have a nervous breakdown. i had regained some semblance of a life and wasn't willing to trade that for this horrible memory i knew i had to face.

do it scared.

i was running from that memory my whole life. i argued with my therapist weekly. "i can't remember, i have two tiny kids, a pastor for a husband, and a church that will crucify me (memories of our last church) if i have a breakdown. i'll just have to live without it."

it wasn't until i felt safe enough and relaxed enough that i finally did remember.

it didn't come back to me in her office. i had visions of her hypnotizing me (she would have never done that) and i would shake and cry and revert to that 6 year old girl and share with her my trauma. it was much less 'hollywood' than that.

i was shopping at this dirty little thrift store in the town next door. i had to pee, really had to pee. if the store was dirty, you can imagine what the bathroom was like. but there was NO WAY that i was going to set aside my bargains to drive home and have someone else possibly buy them out from under me. so i braved the bathroom.

as i pulled the slide lock shut on the door i remembered everything (well except 'his face'). the bathroom. it happened in the bathroom. i had always thought it happened in my bedroom. my mother found me crying under my big, antique, brass bed, so i had always suspected i was raped there. i remembered crying under my bed, but until that day the details were gone, until that day.

i remember sitting on that toilet (yes, i know it was a dirty bathroom, but remember i was stunned.) and remembered it all. my world didn't implode, i didn't have nervous breakdown. i remembered. in and through. turning my head and staring down that memory shrunk it to it's proper size.

it has it still wrought horrors in my life, yes. please don't think i'm saying it's been all sunshine and roses since. but what i am saying is that i ran in fear from that memory for 29 years, it haunted me, my life was controlled by it, and there on that toilet in that dirty little thrift store it shrunk down to normal size. i wasn't 6 and he wasn't there. i made it. i didn't implode or break down.

in and through.

today, just for today, i accept that i cannot change. liam, my 2 wonderful children my friends, my family or my cirumstances. just for today.

thank you god that accepting each and every difficulty and blessing i face today will bring me the serenity i long for today. help me to accept each one without trying to impose my will on it. amen

god grant me the serenity

okay, first line - what is serenity to me?

i first felt serenity in that micro moment i realized that chocolate had stopped talking to me. i don't know if this sounds far fetched or weird, but unfinished boxes or bags of chocolate would 'call to me' or 'summon me', literally speak to me telling me to "come and eat me, i'm still here, if you don't someone else will beat you to me, finish me, you'll feel better, you know you can't resist". twisted stuff like that. i don't know if it was mental unbalance or something spiritual, but it was finally gone.

i used to think i was the only one, but i've mentioned this a couple times in group and others have smiled that knowing smile - yes, you are not alone.

i think it was about 5-7 days off chocolate, when that crazed withdrawal feeling was passing and there was silence.

i had serenity. granted by god. nothing tastes as good as that felt. nothing.

it can be elusive though, it slips away as mysteriously as it arrives. i can give it away or even allow it to be stolen. but it only comes from god.

this is why i could never be an agnostic. i am reminded of that passage in john 6 where jesus tells the crowd - 'eat my body, drink my blood' and they fled. he turned to the disciples and say 'you're still here??" and one of them (probably peter) said 'where would we go?'

that is truly what keeps me sometimes - where would i go? who else can grant me serenity but you god?

i've tried to suck it out of liam (and the boyfriends before him), i've even tried to substitute ministry and good things to bring me serenity - but they are incapable of granting it to me.

there is no magic genie, no drug, drink or substance that will bring me what i long for.


i almost wanted to name my daughter serenity before she was born. but then i realized that there would be many times she would keep me up at night screaming or be demanding and i heard myself saying 'not now serenity, please stop crying' - we quickly abandoned that one.

it is my daily prayer. god, please grant me serenity today - and help me not to trade anything for it. anxiety, anger, fear, control, food or meeting my own needs apart from you. breathe.

one of the things that i suffer from is the inability to breathe. i catch myself holding my breath, even when nothing stressful is happening. i will be typing and find myself light headed and realize i'm doing it again. somewhere back 'there' i think i thought that holding my breath would make me invisible, unnoticeable, in control. it didn't work. but i still to this moment don't breathe like normal human beings do.

part of my serenity includes breathing. in, out, in, out. it almost seems like i hate the rhythm of it all. repetitive rhythm gives me anxiety. the ticking of a loud clock stresses me out. having to listen to a clothes dryer tumble will about drive me round the bend. maybe i can't breath because my own rhythm brings me stress? i don't really know. i do know it is common for abuse sufferers. i even have to have a sound machine in our bedroom because listening to liam's breathing in and out throws off my own breathing.

so many times a day i have to remind myself to breathe. deep filling breaths, cleansing me, refilling me. granting me serenity.

i also clench my jaw. lock solid. before we moved stateside i had the most amazing dentist. i only saw him a couple of times, but he changed my life, honest he did.

he said 'bobbie, you grind your teeth.'

'no i don't'

'yes you do'.

i argued a bit and he said that the only time my teeth should touch is when i'm chewing. huh? really.

he told me that there should be enough space between your resting teeth to hold a pencil. (but remember your lips should be closed - slack jaw mouth breathing isn't serenity!)

he told me 6 times a day to ask myself 'bobbie, where are you teeth?' it sounds stupid, but try it. if they are clenched i had to separate them and concentrate on relaxing, (it's harder than it sounds) and eventually i had mastered the skill of unclenching my jaw.

those skull crawling headaches disappeared. my shoulders, that used to be up around my ears lowered and my back relaxed, my neck actually had range of motion. it was glorious!

that's what serenity feels like to me - deep intentional breaths, relaxed muscles and silence in my head. i know that when those three things are missing they are red flags that indicate my serenity is slipping or all together gone.

and even today - nothing tastes as good as serenity feels.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

serenity prayer

one of the things that recovery has given me is the serenity prayer, the whole prayer, not just the little bit that everybody knows. just in case you haven't heard the whole prayer i'm going to type it out.

god, grant me the serenity
to accept the things i cannot change
the courage to change the things i can
and the wisdom to know the difference.

living one day at a time
enjoying one moment at a time
accepting hardship as a pathway to peace
taking as jesus did, this sinful world as it is
not as i would have it

trusting that you will make all things right
if i surrender to your will
so that i may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with you forever
in the next.


reinhold neibuhr

one of the things i've wanted to do was to break down the prayer sentence by sentence and explain what it means to me.

i hope you enjoy this prayer today.

Monday, June 14, 2004

all things emergent

i have been given a grand compliment by deoduce in my comment section. he said i was a great resource for the emergent church. that makes me smile (please don't think i'm mocking you deoduce, honest) because i am so 'outside' the real discussions and actual work that is being done.

what i am gifted in is gathering information - so i'm going to send you to the places where the real conversation is happening. i'm a 'lurker', never been to an event or even an 'emergent church' but pray that one day will actually be able to 'do' all of the dreams and ideas that i've gleaned or been inspired to by this discussion.

there are really three circles of emergent (please again, i am no expert here and don't claim to have it all figured out - if there is something happening that i don't know about i'd love to hear it). most of these are blogrolled to the right.

the one that seems to be farthest ahead and most on the edge (imho) is down under. my favorite is kiwi steve his ideas, thoughts and ability to distill and illustrate a concept is a gift i fear not many have. his blogroll will link you to many other like minded.

next i think that great britian has a jump (minus some really amazing pockets of emergence here in the states) on us stateside. jonny baker blogs and vj's the world over and is so generous with his ideas and creativity - he has almost 100 different inspirations he gifts us with. andrew is the heartbeat of all things emergent 'across the pond' - he knows what's up in both GB and across europe and keeps us all up to date on what is happening - everywhere! he also does it with a lot of personal flair and great humor thrown in.

here stateside the list is incredibly long and diverse. of course there is the godfather as jen lemen the emergent midwife calls him. both of those blogs will inspire you in different ways. brian's site will challenge your mind, and jen's will inspire your soul.

corporate thought is really the most exciting aspect to american emergence - you can find out lots of people, places and things through ministries (conglomerations?) - or should i say 'cohorts' :) like the ooze and allelon and of course the emergent convention there are probably more that i can't remember (but will add as i find them) or that i don't even know about.

then you can see this working in emergent churches all over the states. brian's church cedar ridge and solomon's porch which is doug padgett's incarnation of what an emergent church looks like.

i know there are more - chris at desert pastor blogs about his california incarnation. it is the most contemplative, ancient modern one that i can find (and the one i'd choose to go to except that it's in a desert and i'm a pasty white scandinavian who doesn't even like 'dry heat' and of course he's all the way in california)

there are so many more but i'm running out of blogging time this a.m. (please don't be offended if i've left you off my 'list' - i'll edit and improve it when i have more time). my blogroll has the ones that inspire and challenge me.

deoduce - the best way to find 'all things emergent' is to bunny trail blog rolls, read book suggestions and ask questions on the comments. you will find that this community is as real as it claims to be. it is filled with honest, incredible passionate people who truly want to meet people where they are at and live jesus with them.

the other thing you will find is that each and every one is tailored specifically to their community and looks a lot like the gifts that it's leaders possess. rachelle's incarnation looks a lot like her and her community out west. brian mclaren's looks a lot like him and the community he ministers to. there isn't 'one way' or 'one look' and that is the beauty of the emergent church.

i hope that helps, again, i am no expert - just an observer right now, but maybe one day we'll be able to start that church we dream of. have a great day!

Sunday, June 13, 2004

your honesty frees up little bits in me

“Your honesty frees up little bits in me.”

andrea wrote so personally as she shared the emotions and grief of miscarriage. she did that because one of her friends said that to her. “Your honesty frees up little bits in me.” that quote just sticks with me.

it's 4:42 in the morning. i've been up since 1:30 - yes, i know it's the time a lot of you go to bed, not wake up - but i'm restless and i can't figure out why.

i've been reading blogs for a couple of hours it seems, catching up on those my syndicator seems to miss somehow and am so moved by how this blogging community has become so life-giving to me.

each of us sharing our own struggles, pain and hope. all of it would be 'lost' if it had to wait for a book to be published, or trapped only within the small community of our influence. but now, now it crosses time, location, language, prejudice and preconceived notions.

i'm sure if you dumped us all in a room together our own brokenness would keep us from forming a community - he's too weird looking, she's too fat, wow, i didn't know he was that old, ewe, she looks stuck up. but here none of that happens, our words are all that is needed to show our hearts.

i like that.

i like your hearts, i love your words, and i crave this community that is forming here.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

the divine hours

by the encouragement of lilly i have been participating in the daily office by reading 'the divine hours' by phyllis tickle. the church i grew up in stayed as far away from 'organized religion' and 'prayers of repetion' as possible (even the lord's prayer was vain repetition... (UGH).

this has been a joy for me. to know that i am joining with others, across the globe, throughout the day in praying prayers to our god. this week's appointed prayer (5 times a day for 7 days) has ingrained itself into my soul. almost to the point that i will be saddened by having to pray a new appointed prayer tomorrow.

i thought i would post it here:

O God, from whom all good proceeds: Grant that by your inspiration I may think of those things that are right, and by your merciful guiding may do them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.

i love that phrase 'think of those things that are right' - so many times in my life i'm trying 'not to think of those things that are wrong' - and this is just another step in replacing the lies with the truth for me. praying in the positive, instead of the negative. powerful stuff.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Barnard Commencement 2004 Speech by Barbara Ehrenreich

it's long, but well worth the read:

It is a total thrill to share this day with you today. I really feel honored to participate.

How many of you are parents of graduates? What I'm really curious about is how you managed to get here today, after paying all that money for tuition - Greyhound bus? I put two kids thru Ivy League myself, which meant I had to hitchhike to their ommencement ceremonies.

I had another speech prepared for today- all about the cost of college and how the doors to higher education are closing to all but the wealthy. It was a good speech -lots of laugh lines - but 2 weeks ago something came along that wiped the smile right off my face. You know, you saw them too - the photographs of American soldiers sadistically humiliating and abusing detainees in Iraq.

These photos turned my stomach - yours too, I'm sure. But they did something else to me: they broke my heart. I had no illusions about the United States mission in Iraq, but it turns out that I did have some illusions about women.

There was the photo of Specialist Sabrina Harman smilng an impish little smile and giving the thumbs sign from behind a pile of naked Iraqi men - as if to say, "Hi mom, here I am in Abu Ghraib!"

We've gone from the banality of evil... to the cuteness of evil.

There was the photo of Private First Class Lynndie England dragging a naked Iraqi man on a leash. She's cute too, in those cool cammy pants and high boots. He's grimacing in pain. If you were doing PR for al Qaeda, you couldn't have staged a better picture to galvanize misogynist Islamic fundamentalists around the world. And never underestimate the misogyny of the real enemy, which was never the Iraqis; it was and should be the Al Qaeda-type fundamentalist extremists: Two weeks ago in eastern Afghanistan, suspected Taliban members (I thought we had defeated them, but never mind) ... poisoned three little girls for the crime of going to school. That seems to be the attitude in that camp: In the case of women: better dead than well-read. But here in these photos from Abu
Ghraib, you have every Islamic fundamentalist stereotype of Western culture -- all nicely arranged in one hideous image-- imperial arrogance, sexual depravity ... and gender equality.

Now we don't know whether women were encouraged to partcipate. All we know is they didn't say no. Of the 7 US soldiers now charged with the abuse of prisoners in Abu Ghraib, 3 are women : Harman, England and Megan Ambuhl.

Maybe I shouldn't have been so shocked. Certainly not about the existence of abuse. Reports of this and similar abuse have been leaking out of Guantanamo and immigrant detention centers in NYC for over a year We know, if we've been paying attention, that similar kinds of abuse, including sexual humiliation, are not unusual in our own vast US prison system.

We know too, that good people can do terrible things under the right circumstances. This is what psychologist Stanley Milgram found in his famous experiments in the 1960s. Sabrina and Lynndie are not congenitally evil people. They are working class women who wanted to go to college and knew the military as the quickest way in that direction. Once they got in, they wanted to fit in.

And I shouldn't be surprised either because I never believed that women are innately less aggressive than men. I have argued this repeatedly - once with the famously macho anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon. When he kept insisting that women are just too nice and incapable of combat, I answered him the best way I could: I asked him if he wanted to step outside...

I have supported full opportunity for women within the military, in part because -- with rising tuition-- it's one of the few options around for low-income young people.

I opposed the first Gulf War in 1991, but at the same time I was proud of our servicewomen and delighted that their presence irked their Saudi hosts.

Secretly, I hoped that the presence of women would eventually change the military, making it more respectful of other people and their cultures, more capable of genuine peace keeping.

That's what I thought, but I don't think that any more.

A lot of things died with those photos.

The last moral justification for the war with Iraq died with those photos. First the justification was the supposed weapons of mass destruction. Then it was the supposed links between Saddam and Osama bin Laden - those links were never found either. So the final justification was that we had removed an evil dictator who tortured his own people. As recently as April 30, George Bush exulted that the torture chambers of Iraq were no longer operating. Well, it turns out they were just operating under different management. We didn't displace Saddam Hussein; we replaced him. And when you throw in the similar abuses in Afghanistan and Guantanamo, in immigrant detention centers and US prisons, you see that we have created a spreading regime of torture - an empire of pain.

But there's another thing that died for me in the last couple of weeks - a certain kind of feminism or, perhaps I should say, a certain kind of feminist naiveté.

It was a kind of feminism that saw men as the perpetual perpetrators, women as the perpetual victims, and male sexual violence against women as the root of all injustice. Maybe this sort of feminism made more sense in the 1970s. Certainly it seemed to make sense when we learned about the rape camps in Bosnia in the early 90s. There was a lot of talk about women then - I remember because I was in the discussions - about rape as an instrument of war and even war as an extension of rape.

I didn't agree, but I didn't disagree very loudly either. There seemed to be at least some reason to believe that male sexual sadism may somehow be deeply connected to our species' tragic propensity for violence.

That was before we had seen female sexual sadism in action.

But it's not just the theory of this naïve feminism that was wrong. So was its strategy and vision for change. That strategy and vision for change rested on the assumption, implicit or stated outright, that women are morally superior to men. We had a lot of debates over whether it was biology or conditioning that made women superior- or maybe the experience of being a woman in a sexist culture. But the assumption of superiority was beyond debate. After all, women do most of the caring work in our culture, and
in polls are consistently less inclined toward war than men.

Now I'm not the only one wrestling with that assumption today. Here's Mary Jo Melone, a columnist in the St. Petersburg Times, writing on May 7:

"I can't et this picture of [Pfc. Lynndie] England out of my head because this is not how women are expected to behave. Feminism taught me 30 years ago that not only had women gotten a raw deal from men, but that we were morally superior to them."

Now the implication of this assumption was that all we had to do to make the world a better place - kinder, less violent, more just - was to assimilate into what had been, for so many centuries, the world of men. We would fight so that women could become the CEOs, the senators, the generals, the judges and opinion-makers - because that was really the only fight we had to undertake.

Because once they gained power and authority, once they had achieved a critical mass within the institutions of society, women would naturally work for change.

That's what we thought, even if we thought it unconsciously. And the most profound thing I have to say to you today, as a group of brilliant young women poised to enter the world - is that it's just not true.

You can't even argue, in the case of Abu Ghraib, that the problem was that there just weren't ENOUGH women in the military hierarchy to stop the abuses.

The prison was directed by a woman, General Janis Karpinski. The top US intelligence official in Iraq, who was also responsible for reviewing the status of detainees prior to their release, was a woman, Major Gen. Barbara Fast.

And the US official ultimately responsible for the managing the occupation of Iraq since last October was Condoleezza Rice. What we have learned, once and for all, is that a uterus is not a substitute for a conscience; menstrual periods are not the foundation of morality. This does not mean gender equality isn't worth fighting for for its own sake. It is. And I will keep fighting for it as long as I live.

Gender equality cannot, all alone, bring about a just and peaceful world. What I have finally come to understand, sadly and irreversibly, is that the kind of feminism based on an assumption of moral superiority on the part of women is a lazy and self-indulgent form of feminism.

Self-indulgent because it assumes that a victory for a woman - whether a diploma, a promotion, a right to serve alongside men in the military - is ipso facto - by its very nature -- a victory for humanity.

And lazy because it assumes that we have only one struggle - the struggle for gender equality - when in fact we have many more. The struggles for peace, for social justice and against imperialist and racist arrogance ... cannot, I am truly sorry to say, be folded into the struggle for gender equality.

Women do not change institutions simply just by assimilating into them. But - and this is the "but" on which all my hopes hinge - a CERTAIN KIND of woman can still do that-- and this is where you come in. We need a kind of woman who can say NO, not just to the date rapist or overly persistent boyfriend, but to the military or corporate hierarchy within which she finds herself.

We need a kind of woman who doesn't want to be one of the boys when the boys are acting like sadists or fools.

And we need a kind of woman who isn't trying to assimilate, but to infiltrate - and subvert the institutions she goes into. YOU can be those women. And as the brightest and best educated women of your generation, you better be. First, because our nation is in such terrible trouble - hated worldwide, and not just by the fundamentalist fanatics. My version of patriotism is simple: When the powerful no longer act responsibly, then it is our responsibility to take the power away from them. You have to become tough-minded activists for change because the entire feminist project is also in terrible trouble worldwide. That project, which is minimally about the achievement of equality with men, is threatened by fundamentalisms of all kinds - Christian as well as Islamic. But we cannot successfully confront that threat without a moral vision that goes beyond gender equality. To cite an old - and far from naïve -- feminist saying: "If you think equality is the goal, your standards are too low."

It is not enough to be equal to men, when the men are acting like beasts. It is not enough to assimilate. We need to create a world worth assimilating into.

I'm counting on you. I want YOU to be the face of American women that the world sees -- not those of Sabrina or Megan or Lynndie or Condoleezza.

Don't let me down. Take your hard-won diplomas, your knowledge and your talents and go out there and RAISE HELL!


the link to emergent convention downloads just got posted and i'm avoiding housework, so of course i decided to go and take a look. btw - the parodies are hysterical (being married to a youth pastor i really liked that one the best - esp. the part about 'even your bald head looks cool').

so i'm blindly downloading and listening/reading and i came across the monologues by mark scandrette. i wasn't at the convention nor do i even know who this man is, but his first monologue hits me like a lightening bolt to my soul.

"My rust colored AMC matador barrels down the road toward justice/mercy/love"

you see we actually had a 'rust colored amc matador' when i was a teenager - i truly thought there was only one. it was the UGLIEST car imaginable - why would they ever make more than one?

it was because of that reference that i even read read the monologue now, i was saving it to read at a later date. but that third line, it caught my eye like a flash.

i hated that car. it represented everything about our family that i resented. those days of riding in that car filled me with shame. we lived in a town where most drove bmw's, mercedes and other interesting, beautiful foreign cars.

my father used to get so angry at me because every time we drove through town i would duck down in the back seat, mortified to be seen in such an ugly vehicle. he'd sternly say 'if it's good enough to put food on the table, it's good enough to drive'. he worked for amc and we owned every crappy used car they ever made - that horrible seafoam green station wagon, a brown hornet, a yellow gremlin and even a baby blue pacer. but the matador was by far the worst. big, noticeable and horrible in all it's 'rust colored glory'.

in my memory that car represents a road to injustice/law/shame, not justice/mercy/love.

i like where mark's car is going much better.


Lonely Highways, Dusty Fields
flatland midwest humidity
My rust colored AMC matador barrels down the road toward justice/mercy/love

You Leave Home to Jericho you roam
through fallow fields and winter trees stripped bare
skeleton branches reaching for the air

and they are waiting...

waiting for the sons and daughters to be revealed.
Waiting for the hands that will soothe and heal.

And down the road

I see the Nazarene, embraced as Messiah and Rabbi King

I see our desperation for substance become living abundance

Loosening the chains of injustice
Breaking the yoke of oppression
sheltering the stranger
feeding the hungry
clothing the naked
comforting the sick
welcoming the weak

and WE will no longer turn away from our own flesh and blood

WE will be called Repairer of broken walls restorer of streets with dwellings.

The road ahead is a road to justice/mercy/love

by Mark Scandrette

road trip anyone?