Thursday, September 28, 2006

dirty little secrets - porn & the church

professor ben witherington @ asbury seminary has a great post on the church's dirty little secret - both in the pulpit & the pews much of the church is struggling with unacknowledged sexual addiction. the dirty part of this isn't the struggle - it's the lack of acknowledgment. i left a comment there and committed to blog on why i think this is a problem at the deepest root core of the modern church.

paul tells us in 1 corinthians 10:13 - such is common to all - no, not maybe the addiction aspect of the struggle - but the acknowledgment of the problem - we ALL are created as sexual beings, it is a basic, god-given part of our nature. god knew that without that drive we would all be sitting alone in our caves communicating through the internet (wait, isn't that what we're doing??). intimacy is the deep well within each of us that we desperately try to fill. i believe that is one of the reasons why god gave us our sex-drives.

this is a theory in process, i have been thinking about it for over a year now and have never written about it - i don't think i have all of the answers, but i know that the time and work others have taken to earn degrees and diplomas i have poured into recovery and addiction. i am not a theologian or a psychologist, that may disqualify me to some, but i would find that unfortunate as my black-belt in recovery has been earned with books, bumps, bruises and a life lived in the attempt of acknowledging my powerlessness over my addictions.

the base of my hypothesis (please track this all out with me, it's not scholarly, but i think if you read to the end it might explain itself) is that somewhere along the line of our spiritual lives, especially those who choose a life in ministry and receive theological training (i have a bsc in biblical studies and a call of god on my life) something happens between the christian's need for answers to the mysteries of god and their need for surety.

most of this training occurs in the lives of the called at a very tender age. the idealism of youth works against the christian's ability to dwell in the questions. the surety of their education and good grades allows them to leave university or seminary with the confidence that they are able to face any and all of lifes issues.

my theory is that when my answers and surety don't line up with reality and the problems and questions i face day to day (especially in ministry) i begin to separate myself. to doubt is unacceptable. to question god seems sinful, so i give assent to what i "know in my head" but my heart and soul start to withdraw from that aspect of my life. this creates a real inconsistency that when driven apart by crisis becomes the crevasse that so many deeply committed christians begin to fall into.

the downfall of the educational process is that no rewards are given for the mystery. no honors are given for the questions. it is only the answers, and the correct answers at that, that are held up as good and right. and because most educational institutions are supported by denominations only those denominationally correct answers are honored. the others are unfortunately demonized to some level.

so i begin to minister, whether it is lay ministry or paid ministry, it rarely matters, i am fulfilling the call of god on my life. i begin to create the person that i bring with me to church, to my community and into public life. this is the person with all of the answers, the knowing smile and the deep desire to please god and fulfill my call.

this projected personality begins with the best of intentions, with the deepest level of commitment to god and ministry and is born out of an insecurity that comes from the realization that we aren't as prepared for ministry and real life as we thought we were.

what if someone finds out i don't have all the answers? what if they see i am this afraid? what if they see me for who i really am? how will i support my family? who will hire me again? what can i do now?

it is fear that separates us and shame that keeps us separated.

the part i am ashamed of stays back in the recesses. confused, alone afraid and beginning to question everything. life isn't working out at all like i planned it. my marriage is hard work, my finances are a mess, my boss doesn't understand me and my congregation doesn't appreciate me.

i try only to feed the public projection of myself. the part that everyone sees. i work for all i'm worth, meet as many needs as i am able and stand as a paramount to all that god has done in my life. this projection is real, it isn't a mask.(yet) this projected self is who i long to be with all of my heart. unfortunately i am unable to keep this projection functioning without my heart and soul. i am unable to join into the community i have created, to know and be known because it is there someone might realize that i am divided. that i am separate. that i am hiding something.

even the relationships that are most intimate to me, my spouse, family members and best friends must be kept at arms length so that i don't disappoint them, and supremely so that i don't disappoint god.

when that happens i must revert to my hidden self. the self that feels the emotions, the rejection, the pain. the self that grieves the losses and questions the answers and the theology i have been taught. they fail me now and i am unable to come in from the cold. all of my self-discipline, determination and desire cannot keep me from this frailty and keep the projected self on course. this is when the division between selves becomes critical. intervention at this point can save many. but the tyranny of church boards and the need for ministers to be free from sin, especially sexual sin, causes most to give up hope of ever receiving the help they truly need.

if resentments or hurt are done to the projected self i must return to my hidden self to lick my wounds. this is where i meet my needs because god seems to be unable or unwilling to do so. this is where i rationalize what is owed to me for all of the hard work i have been doing. i begin to decide what i 'deserve'. i begin to feel levels of entitlement before unknown to me. this is place where the addictions begin.

i blogged earlier this month about the 'thumb in my back' where i talked about my hunch that far too often the call of god looks an awful lot like codependency and manifests itself like another of the church's dirty little secrets of ministry - workaholism and a driven lifestyle:
one of my favorite metaphors about workaholism and that driven mentality is that of a boiling pot. the steam must escape somewhere. we just keep adding fuel, sitting on the lid and trying our darnedest to keep it sealed tight. the truth is that there will always be a place where the steam escapes. it's a law of nature.

i think that the steam escapes either physically, the workaholic's own body betrays him. heart attacks, strokes or other manifestations of the inability to be the six-million dollar pastor. usually those type of ministers don't last. it's the physically healthy ones we prop up on the pedestals - so then the steam must escape elsewhere.

i think family relations are probably the truest vent. the weakest link in the chain of the family dynamic falls apart - usually that 'black sheep' of a pastor's kid who just can't take the all of the stress that the mechanical family is dishing out.

my greatest fear though is that the steam escapes through sin. the rationalization that happens in the mind of an overworked person is an extraordinary thing. entitlement and payback for slaving away can be so very enticing. convincing ourselves that we "deserve" a break or a reward is so easy. but unfortunately the relational ties in the life of the workaholic are so non-existent true celebration and engagement can't happen. so that desire for intimacy won't go unmet and the minister ends up substituting any fix along the way to fill the gaping void of reward and relationship.
the steam is what drives us to back to the hidden personality. we are drained, wounded and need refilled. we don't have the time, relationships, energy, or financial resources to refill in healthy ways, so a quick fix must be found.

ministers are called to create intimacy and community - it is usually a great desire of their heart. i believe that many times we are most broken in the places of our greatest passion. my sexual addiction really has very little to do with sex. it has to do with my deep desire for intimacy. instead of banqueting at the lavish table of kingdom life - i replace the feast of community with the bait of sexual addiction and pornography.

bait for real food. it is why addiction works. it is enough like the real thing to masquerade itself as the banquet. my hidden self would never get an invitation to the banquet, so i must feed myself. the lie of pornography and sexual addiction is that it is going to fill that void. that what i really want is sex, release, pleasure and stimulation. it comes straight from the pit of hell. bait always does. it also always has a hook in it. it is the nature of bait.

i blogged on it here:
satan is the master of the bait and switch. he takes what is given by god and bastardizes it just one notch. instead of healthy, healing, god-given guilt the devil steps in and turns it into shame. guilt brings life and restoration, shame only death and separation.

the only problem is that in an addict's mind the two have never been separated. our minds are so clouded by shame and the addiction that the life giving guilt that allows others to make different choices has been bastardized by the devil into one and the same. shame convinces me that i am wrong, that i have no choice.

that is why a feast can be prepared before an addict and they will choose to eat the ashes. i try to explain it to the youth i work with by talking about fishing. i personally hate fishing, but liam and my father love it.

they wade in the water and offer food to those fish. big, juicy looking worms and bugs. but they aren't offering food are they? they are offering bait. there is always a hook involved in bait. satan is the baitmaster. he holds out the counterfeit and says 'hey look, yummy!' and those pre-disposed to bait end up falling for it. the false intimacy of pornography, the mind numbing effect of drugs or alcohol, the quick fix of adrenaline that comes from risky behavior, the lie of feeling less empty with my mouth full of food. it all has a hook. it's not the feast of amazing.
so my theory is that the root of this problem stems from the inability the church has to wrestle with the questions and not have the answers. i don't know how this can be fixed, but i know we are doing a great disservice to those sincere young men and women who fill our bible schools and seminaries looking for all the answers their idealistic minds can hold. what could be done if we allowed them to dwell in the questions, to teach them to teach others to do the same? to live in the present, feel our emotions and re-learn how to confess our sins.

one of the greatest losses to the protestant church was the discipline of confession. instead of reforming the idea of verbal confession to begin between brothers and sisters in the church and removing it from the 'father confessor' role (which with good theology behind it can still be an amazingly useful tool). james 5:16 tells us that if we confess our sins one to another and pray for each other WE WILL BE HEALED. yes, we are meant to confess to god - but what we forget is the power of confessing to a trusted, kindred soul allows us to see a jesus 'with skin on' and when they don't run screaming from the room something within us heals. we are reassured that 'such is common to all' is really true.

that is truly why the 12 steps work. if the church could re-learn this discipline of confession (instead of accountability, which is a whole different post...) and prayer community could truly be restored. god help us all.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

miniature earth

this puts life in full perspective:

miniature earth

thanks again bob - i'm tracking with ya!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

won't you be my neighbor?

i just started a VOX blog and wondered if anyone was using it??

email me a emergingsideways AT gmail DOT com if you are - i'd love to add you to my 'neighborhood'

Thursday, September 21, 2006

celebrating in civilization

liam and i are in the 'big city' for a night to celebrate our 19th anniversary. it's actually next week, but he had a mini-conference for work and so i'm blogging from the hotel. yipee!

kids are being well cared for at friend's house and we have the next couple of days to be together.

i'm off to the 'mall' - it's been literally years since i've really set foot in one - fear and loathing... but maybe a bookstore and a starbucks?? worth braving the plastic zone for a cuppa!

peace to all and THANK YOU for your incredible support of my last post - i am so moved by your kind comments and words. i intend to unpack those thoughts more soon. much love!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

the thumb in my back

i've been doing a lot of thinking and praying on the things that push us. the culture, especially the christian one, that we left when we moved was filled with 'driven' people. really driven people. everything moved so fast and very few really took the time to be present to themselves, to god, their families or especially their emotions.

the pace of life was so hectic. we found that in choosing the discipline of simplicity we were more able to see the chaos in the world around us. the maritime pace here is much more conducive to the way we want to live our lives.

i have noticed though that there are still some here (most of them in ministry of some sort) that still choose that lifestyle even though the culture here moves much more slowly and is very present to the people in community. they really take time and smell the roses, sit and converse and engage with each other. i really enjoy it. except for those little whirlwinds that blow through town like some dust storm. i guess because it's something we struggle with that i notice all the more. it really breaks my heart.

i think it comes from bad theology. like i said, most of these people are in ministry. what it is about the call of god that distorts our need for quiet, simplicity and taking the time to be present? is the call of god truly just co-dependency and a need to be needed, or do those personality types end up hearing the call because they long to be needed so desperately?

i'm just trying to untie this a bit to understand it better. i think it's pervasive and very destructive. it looks to me like ministry, or the call of god is a large thumb in the backs of so many. what are they avoiding? what are they needing? what is it that drives them instead of calls them?

i have a real struggle with codependency in my own life. raised as i was my culture and theology honed me as a sharp tool to be the true co-dependent wife. it was my call of sorts. there was no way to fulfill it on my own - only through liam. this wasn't either of our intentions and liam was never the caveman demanding my service - but we both hold responsibility for not seeing the unhealthy extremes the church influences this lifestyle upon ministry couples.

one of my favorite metaphors about workaholism and that driven mentality is that of a boiling pot. the steam must escape somewhere. we just keep adding fuel, sitting on the lid and trying our darnedest to keep it sealed tight. the truth is that there will always be a place where the steam escapes. it's a law of nature.

i think that the steam escapes either physically, the workaholic's own body betrays him. heart attacks, strokes or other manifestations of the inability to be the six-million dollar pastor. usually those type of ministers don't last. it's the physically healthy ones we prop up on the pedestals - so then the steam must escape elsewhere.

i think family relations are probably the truest vent. the weakest link in the chain of the family dynamic falls apart - usually that 'black sheep' of a pastor's kid who just can't take the all of the stress that the mechanical family is dishing out.

my greatest fear though is that the steam escapes through sin. the rationalization that happens in the mind of an overworked person is an extraordinary thing. entitlement and payback for slaving away can be so very enticing. convincing ourselves that we "deserve" a break or a reward is so easy. but unfortunately the relational ties in the life of the workaholic are so non-existent true celebration and engagement can't happen. so that desire for intimacy won't go unmet and the minister ends up substituting any fix along the way to fill the gaping void of reward and relationship.

all of these vents create such great shame that the need for the cycle to continue, the need for looking busy, working for greater achievements and avoidance of those who might begin to see the cracks increases at every turn. and the call, meant to be an invitation becomes a burden, becomes that thumb, set deep between the shoulders pushing, pushing, pushing.

shame is the great distancer. the silencer. the uncrossable divide that reminds us of how very ugly the deep things within us are. how truly unlovable we have become. that all of the things we have told those we minister to don't somehow work for us. it is this place far too many of us find ourselves. trapped with no visible way to get out. who can we tell, who will understand. that thumb that is so heavy in our backs somehow in all of the brokenness becomes the thumb of god, so we are at a loss of which way to turn. the addiction seems to be the only way to turn and that continues until the vents blow sky high and life as we know it implodes.

someone finds out, a child gets pregnant or the congregation is tired of the minister who can't engage in the community he tells everyone from the pulpit is so important. what then? the shattered pieces are so scattered can real, true life be restored? can ministry continue? what then?

this was why we withdrew from that driven life. liam and i could see it happening all around us. we knew our own need for approval and being needed was so great that our own family would wind up a casualty someday soon. we needed to withdraw to a safe place to find out if there is really a way for ministry to happen, for that call to be fulfilled that doesn't destroy and wreck all that is sacred, all that is lovely.

i suspect that something at the core of much of the theology is so broken that we can't even identify what it is. something we believe to be true and right about god and ministry is foundationally built on error. on lies. the steam must escape. ministers are not meant to be robots without emotion or flaw. how can they fulfill the work god has for them and not fall into these traps? not feel that the call is the thumb of god in their back?

i have a theory that it's about creating communities of true transparency. i know it's not a new theory, it's not original to me - but i still don't think we've really gotten the ones we've tried right somehow. i don't see any evidence that it's working.

i have the opportunity to teach in november at our new church. i know this will somehow be a small part of that somehow. i think that the 'just keep swimming' mentality isn't working. parker palmer speaks of a hidden wholeness in his new book. i believe that is what we all long for. to be so comfortable in our own skin that we are able to be present in the community we all deeply long for. to know and be known.

i remember when i finally heard those words 'may god's hand be upon you' and sat with them. it has such an oppressive feel to it. 'no thanks' was the first thought that went through my head. that thumb in my back was heavy enough already. then i realized that maybe it meant god's hand stroking my face, lifting my chin to gaze into my eyes. i think that is truly the hope that we all have. getting god's thumb out of our backs and under our chins. i think that comes when we face our shame. when we share it with a trusted soul so doesn't run screaming from the room, but still loves us anyway.

i think that is why recovery works. why being in a room of struggling alcoholics feels more like church than most sunday mornings do. they have looked into the eyes of god and seen their own reflections there.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

the lost boys

our community here has a high amount of children left to roam and wander. many single parents trying to make it on their own leave the kids left to themselves to wander, play and find all sorts of mischief. right now at the age most of these boys are at it is okay and they're pretty harmless. in a couple more years it might become a real problem.

some of these boys have ended up on our doorstep more times than i can count this past summer. yesterday we took one of these boys with us to the fair and a kids event at the local anglican church. both were small town attempts at doing the best they could with what they have. on the scale of my own, even my kids experiences they were not anything great or grand. all the kids had a really good time though. afterward this little red-haired boy came up to me and say 'thank you, that was the most fun i've had in a very long time'.

10 years old and he had never ridden a pony or had a snow cone or sat in the love of a church trying to reach children for christ.

i wanted to weep. i could even now. the joy on his face was evident. he truly had a really good time. later that day his father called to say thank you. i can't imagine how difficult it would be to want more for your children that you are unable to give them. the need in this community is so great. the lack so profound. god, please open the door so that i am able to use whatever you've given me to bring light and life to this place.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Famous Divinity School Dropouts.

i find this article fascinating. i could 'add' one to the list - richard simmons. i guess he once was studying to be a priest at the dubuque, iowa catholic thomas aquinas seminary. that was always the rumor that went around the school after the bible college bought it???

Neatorama » Blog Archive » Famous Divinity School Dropouts.

Friday, September 15, 2006

kingdom graffiti

artist cleans surfaces with 'water, elbow grease and a shoe brush' leaving 'reverse graffiti' on walls all over britian. brilliant!

NPR interview


Thursday, September 14, 2006

hot and black please!

NYT article - Things You Don't Know, Can't Know and Don't Want to Know:
Make That a Skim Mocha

Your morning Starbucks latte may never seem as sweet again.

If you thought you were being nutritionally virtuous by stopping at Starbucks instead of McDonald’s, the Center for Science in the Public Interest says, “Wrong!’’

A venti — or 20-ounce — Caffè Mocha with whipped cream has 490 calories, equivalent to a Quarter Pounder with cheese. And a 24-ounce Java Chip Frappuccino with whipped cream has 650 calories, not to mention almost an entire day’s allowance of saturated fat.

According to the center, a nutritional advocacy group, the Frappuccino is equivalent in calories to a McDonald’s coffee plus 11 of their creamers and 29 packets of sugar.
thanks will!

republishing nightmare

okay, your rss reader might be a bit full for me in the near future as i give labels for back posts. sorry...

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

big changes on blogger beta

i've made the big switch to the blogger beta and have played/argued with it all day. many things i really like - there are some other things i am not impressed with, but i know they'll work out the kinks soon.

if you take a look at my sidebar you will see the fruits of my labors. one of the frustrations i have had with blogger (actually all blogs in general) was that the meaningful posts that explain things get lost in the archieves. unless someone is intentionally searching for old posts and history new readers loose much of the story. also i know that there are some posts that i really have liked and would love for new readers feedback on them.

i have started with three sections, one on my history, why i'm anonymous, and some blog posts i really like. another is on my struggle with sexual addiction. it was the reason i started blogging - and i think there are far too many fellow strugglers out 'there' who feel alone, especially women. please know, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! the third is a series i wrote about the serenity prayer. i want to re-read it myself, so i made sure to put it in sequence so that i (and others) could read it too.

another new feature of blogger beta that i LOVE and have been begging for is labels. this will really allow people to find posts about subjects they are interested in. it will take a long time to get the back posts done, but i am committed to getting this up to form as soon as possible.

a HUGE frustration i have is the new archieving system. old years are just stacked on top of each other - months are not tabbed anymore and it's really frustrating that you have to search through the whole year to find an old post. PLEASE FIX THIS BLOGGER PEOPLE!! we want to have past years tabbed by month.

i also have had difficulty putting haloscan comments back into my template - hopefully this can be corrected as so many of you have blessed me by contributing to my blog with your words of encouragement and community.

advice to a first year teacher

amy at amy loves books has an incredible post for first year teachers.

a must read, especially if you are a teacher.

advice to a first year teacher

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

my favorite catalog came today!

i just love this company and catalog! it's funny, irreverant and filled with all things womanly!

some of the quotes and products make me laugh out loud!

a tea towel with:

"It's hard to be optimistic when your "fat" pants are tight!"

a key chain with the words imprinted:

"Oh shit, I've become my mother!"

there is even inspiring art, sculpture like this:

you can find it online here: femail creations

Monday, September 11, 2006

akeela and the bee

watched this video last night with our kids and was so moved.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.

There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Marianne Williamson in Return to Love: Reflections on a Course in Miracles

ebible now live!

i've been using the beta for the ebible for months now and i really love it. it's very web 2.0 and thinks like i think. i highly recommend adding this to your study links:

Sunday, September 10, 2006


Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.

- Albert Einstein

Friday, September 08, 2006

what does sexism say about god?

oh you know how i love the sister:

Kiko and Couric: Whew, that was close | National Catholic Reporter Conversation Cafe - Sister Joan Chittester:

"From where I stand, the answer is clear. It's not only what sexism says about women that's wrong. It's what sexism says about God that is the problem. Sexism says that femaleness is the only thing in creation before which God is powerless. It says that the God who parted the Red Sea, drew water from a rock and raised the dead to life goes impotent before a woman. It says that the only substance on earth that God cannot or will not work through is a female. Poor God."
read whole article here.

the singing bowl

commented on the family altar post and asked about the bowl in the picture above. it is a 'singing bowl' from nepal. liam brought it back with him when he was there a couple of years ago. it is made to ring like a bell when struck, or can be 'played' by ringing the lip of the bowl with the wooden puja (stick).

it plays different roles on the altar, the first being to remind me that we have much to learn from other cultures about centering and prayer. i think much has been lost to the church in healthy forms of silence and meditation. also, as a woman raised in farmland, white-bread, middle america i constantly want to remind myself that the world is far bigger than my own experience and i have much to learn from other cultures and peoples.

i also use it to break the silence after prayer. i am finding much life in engaging all of my senses in worship and this allows me to hear my prayers in a way i had not experienced before.

another important part of our altar is that all of the elements are represented. sometimes the bowl holds water and floats a blossom. right now it is holding ashes from a guided practice of writing down a fear and burning it. it was during the late winter when jobs were no where to be found and we were feeling the pull of 'what have we done moving here!'. those ashes are the ones used in the utmost desperation felt in the pain of that season and i angrily smeared them on my face, rending my shirt and crying out to god, begging to not be forgotten. they are a reminder that we weren't. (wow that took me back to that time instantly and the depth of emotion is seen trickling down my face even now.)

when the water is not there we have the fish liam drew on the rock while at dawsonwood cottage in the hospitable care of connie's husband rob while we healed from another dry season.

as i stated in the previous post, each item here is a sacred reminder to me of our path, where we came from and where we are headed. so, while a bit cluttered and un-simple it is all so treasured and vital for now.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

pushing against the invisible

a quote i didn't want to loose:

David Byrne Journal: 9.4.06: V for Vendetta, Paradise, Procession:

"When the Bass brothers financed the first Biosphere, that earth in a bubble out in Arizona, the trees all failed in an interesting way. All the trees in the biosphere were droopy and lacked the strength to stand upright. They grew, but were too weak to stand. They studied the problem and found the answer. No wind. The Biosphere bubble lacked any wind so the trees had nothing to make them sway. It was the swaying, pushing against an invisible yet very palpable force, that gave them the strength to grow upright, stand reaching up to the sky. I met one of the Bass brothers at an American Museum Association show and he took me to a Blues club that he owned in Fort Worth. The band was rocking and he was so down home I forgot all about the Biosphere so I never got to ask if the story was true."

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

alone at last!

today is the first day i have been alone and quiet enough to sit in silence, light a candle and journal my thoughts. it is a good thing.

i hit my threshold yesterday. you know that imaginary mark you place on a calendar or in your mind that says "i can make it until HERE", "if i can just hold out until IT'S over", "only THREE MORE DAYS until they're gone"? i had been holding out 'the first day of school' as that threshold, and none of it was spent alone, in quiet or taking deep breaths. by supper time i was pretty stressed out.

i awoke this morning around 6:00 and laid in bed thinking through some inconsistencies i had been unable to put my finger on. the clarity was beautiful. so much so that i didn't want to loose the thoughts and headed for the computer. i realized on my way though that if i opened up the internet i would get lost (as would my clarity) in the looking glass this computer is for me far too many times.

so i did what i haven't done in months. i picked up a pen, grabbed my fresh, new journal and wrote three pages of thoughts on the ah-ha's i had this morning. oh how i have missed that medium. the horror of missing things (or getting old and not remembering that you are missing things?) is that the imprint it leaves on our lives disappears so very quickly that we forget how important it is.

writing by hand engages different parts of my brain that writing on the computer. it's actually why i still use lower case letters. because i spent so many years typing for the institutions in my life that i become a different person when i must punctuate and capitalize. it engages a part of my brain that is thwarted far too often by my frustrated perfectionist. so lower case slides right by him somehow. (and yes, he is a man, i don't know why - but he is...)

anyway, back to the real purpose of this post. after everyone left i grabbed my guide (the cup of life, joyce rupp, that is taking me FAR TOO LONG to move through) and my own 'cup of life', and the sparker to light my candles on my altar. downsizing here at the flat meant that the table altar we had at our last home didn't fit here and it gave me a lot of frustration trying to find a space where it could nest.

another frustration here at the flat is a monolith of a brick fireplace - when the roof was replaced on the house they didn't fix the chimneys and the three fireplaces are now just monoliths instead of useful, warm additions to our space (the lower apartment has 2, we only have 1). it was uncared for by previous tenants and needed some love. we used stove paint to clean up the interior bricks and then it just looked like a black hole in the room. ideally we would have candelabras and lovely pillar candles to fill it with - they just didn't fit into the budget. so in a brush of impulsiveness i decided to marry the two decorating dilemmas i was having and put the altar in the fireplace. i blogged about my deep desire for a sacred space within my home way back in october 2004.


it's not really what i would have chosen in my 'perfect decorating world' but it works for now. i really want to paint a wrapped canvas with a fire element art piece, but that will have to wait for those cold winter nights. until then this is where i light my candles and pray for you.

as i sat there on my knees i thought how busy it looked and thought that simplifying it might help. then realized how each piece on the altar was significant to me and i thought i'd give you a tour.

this is my inukshuk. i know they are 'supposed' to have legs. i tried and tried to balance the rocks we found (each member of the family or tribe gathers the rocks for the inukshucks and all are important and used). he kept falling over. over and over. to the point where i was going to start over, scatter the rocks and we'd all find new ones on another trip to the shore. then i realized that he wasn't a he, he was a she. she is me. i am here. life is found here. community is found here. sustenance is found here.

this birdcage is a gift from my family. it was one of my most favorite christmas presents. you see i needed a bird for my empty birdcage i posted about here.

and this is getting far to long of a tour and a blog post, so i will leave you with this, pink drew it for me years ago and it's of her and i celebrating together:

i knew the www felt warmer today!

wonderful to see your wonderful self and story with us again jen!! welcome back!

for those of you who are new to the blogosphere you are about to be in for a treat. jen is the reason so many of us began blogging years ago. we have missed you dear friend!!

about me - jen lemen

thanks for the update adam!

Monday, September 04, 2006

oh thank heaven

i know that deb writes regularly about her family's ability to confuse and mix up phrases and words. it always makes me laugh when i read them.

liam and are always get a smile over our own fathers mix-ups - they both have the gift of not really nailing things right on the head.

i remember back when pink was a baby, we wanted a little toy cart for her and asked that liam's dad buy it for her for her 1st birthday. we gave him the particulars and told him that he could get it at toys-r-us or one of the big chain stores. so we were quite surprised at the party when she was given a knock-off, made in china car that played 'scotland the brave' when you pushed the horn. THE WHOLE SONG, over and over - and over...

he explained afterward that nobody in our area carried the pisher-fish kids car. he said he went to each store and asked the workers there where the pisher-fish section was and all he got was blank stares. (fisher-price)

last night liam got off the phone with his dad and was chuckling. he said his father was very moved by all of the world trade center remembrances and tributes that have been happening on the television these past couple of days. he said 'i can't believe 7-11 happened 5 years ago'.

anybody want a slurpee?

Sunday, September 03, 2006


I am a

What Flower
Are You?

"Mischief is your middle name, but your first is friend. You are quite the prankster that loves to make other people laugh."


Saturday, September 02, 2006


You Are 30% Left Brained, 70% Right Brained

The left side of your brain controls verbal ability, attention to detail, and reasoning.
Left brained people are good at communication and persuading others.
If you're left brained, you are likely good at math and logic.
Your left brain prefers dogs, reading, and quiet.

The right side of your brain is all about creativity and flexibility.
Daring and intuitive, right brained people see the world in their unique way.
If you're right brained, you likely have a talent for creative writing and art.
Your right brain prefers day dreaming, philosophy, and sports.

Friday, September 01, 2006

rough night

i feel hungover. like i was hit by a mack truck. pummled.

i guess i didn't take my magnesium properly yesterday, or something else was off because i got one of those 'cold seizures' last night and just could not get warm.

i wish i knew how to stop this from happening. it feels so random, and it's really scary not knowing when it will happen and how to fix it. extra blankets. winter pj's. liam's cuddling so close i can't move. thick socks, even on my hands. i ended up last night with my winter pj's, winter robe, 2 pair of thick socks, and four blankets. it still took an hour to shake it.

my body feels like it was dropped off a cliff this morning. like i'm bruised deep inside. it has been so long since my last episode that i almost forgot how powerless it feels. i'm sure it's a type of hypothermia. buck had a similar reaction this summer after swimming. we just couldn't get him warm. i hope it's not hereditary.

we're supposed to go camping next week at bar harbor with friends. i don't think i can manage it with this looming again. i can't imagine not having the resources of warm clothes and heat on demand at my fingers in case this happens there.

i'm starting to loosen up and stretch, but it feels like someone took a sardine can key to the bottom of my spine and just wound it up tight. my head feels 10 lbs. heavier and i'm so thick and cloudy in my thoughts. oh i don't miss this at all.

since i started the magnesium i haven't even really had a headache. not a good feeling. i thought maybe writing about it would help to clear some of the fog and journal for me a reminder that keeping good tabs on my magnesium is important. hope you have a great day! thanks for listening.

Bloggermann: Feeling morally, intellectually confused? - Bloggermann -

important read

Bloggermann: Feeling morally, intellectually confused? - Bloggermann -

thanks jim!