Saturday, May 31, 2008

preaching tomorrow

i'm only using that word to stand up for my female self, but i am actually the 'anti-preacher' and do very little from the homiletics course i was required in bible college. and our church is so very far away from that kind of modern church too - every sunday is fully interactive and much heckling, questions and challenges are welcomed and embraced. it's a different way to teach as you need to be prepared for interaction - it's a learned dance and i'm still a bit clumsy with it as i loose my place sometimes, but i'm looking forward to it none the less. i am loved deeply here and among friends, so i really shouldn't be nearly as nervous as i am right now...

anyway - i'm talking about story tomorrow and how better stories help us all to slow, permanent change.

it will be posted online early this week - if you want the link leave me a comment, or email me and i'll be happy to send it to you (so long as i don't totally embarrass myself!) :)

Monday, May 12, 2008

hunger can lead to more life

you can listen to this 3 minute "this i believe" here on NPR:

Strangers Bring Us Closer to God - Sara Miles

As heard on NPR's All Things Considered, May 5, 2008.

Until recently, I thought being a Christian was all about belief. I didn’t know any Christians, but I considered them people who believed in the virgin birth, for example, the way I believed in photosynthesis or germs.

But then, in an experience I still can’t logically explain, I walked into a church and a stranger handed me a chunk of bread. Suddenly, I knew that it was made out of real flour and water and yeast––yet I also knew that God, named Jesus, was alive and in my mouth.

That first communion knocked me upside-down. Faith turned out not to be abstract at all, but material and physical. I’d thought Christianity meant angels and trinities and being good. Instead, I discovered a religion rooted in the most ordinary yet subversive practice: a dinner table where everyone is welcome, where the despised and outcasts are honored.

I came to believe that God is revealed not only in bread and wine during church services, but whenever we share food with others––particularly strangers. I came to believe that the fruits of creation are for everyone, without exception––not something to be doled out to insiders or the “deserving.”

So, over the objections of some of my fellow parishioners, I started a food pantry right in the church sanctuary, giving away literally tons of oranges and potatoes and Cheerios around the very same altar where I’d eaten the body of Christ. We gave food to anyone who showed up. I met thieves, child abusers, millionaires, day laborers, politicians, schizophrenics, gangsters, bishops—all blown into my life through the restless power of a call to feed people.

At the pantry, serving over 500 strangers a week, I confronted the same issues that had kept me from religion in the first place. Like church, the food pantry asked me to leave certainty behind, tangled me up with people I didn’t particularly want to know and scared me with its demand for more faith than I was ready to give.

Because my new vocation didn't turn out to be as simple as going to church on Sundays and declaring myself “saved.” I had to trudge in the rain through housing projects, sit on the curb wiping the runny nose of a psychotic man, take the firing pin out of a battered woman's Magnum and then stick the gun in a cookie tin in the trunk of my car. I had to struggle with my atheist family, my doubting friends, and the prejudices and traditions of my new-found church.

But I learned that hunger can lead to more life—that by sharing real food I’d find communion with the most unlikely people; that by eating a piece of bread I’d experience myself as part of one body. This I believe: that by opening ourselves to strangers, we will taste God.

Sara Miles is founder of The Food Pantry at St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco. A former restaurant cook, Miles is a journalist who writes about military affairs, politics and culture, and is author of the memoir Take This Bread.

again, thanks bob!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

fear factor

okay, i've just finished the post on my other blog about my day yesterday. and i'm having a lot of fear. i haven't owned this much of my own story and personal writing "in public" and under my own name before and it's freaking me out.


i know that this is a huge part of why i'm stalled lately. my fear of rejection and judgment is massive.

yesterday was so personal. so important. it would have been so natural to write about it here where i am safe. with all of you. the people who get it. the people who know me without knowing me. but there. there anyone could read it. there people from my past lives can access it. it's fed into my facebook profile. what have i done?


tears are streaming down my face. the temptation to delete it and repost it here is huge.

it's not like i've taken my clothes off and pranced around for all to see, but it really feels like i've left part of me there for people who "know/know" me to see. and judge. and reject. and talk about amongst themselves. leaving me out. and judging me. and saying mean things. and dang. why is this so hard?

why is being me so much easier to do when no one is looking?

restoring my soul

this was the view from my lunch table yesterday.

being at the shore restores my soul.

this was the innukshuk that i built, you can read about it on my other blog later today.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

this is your brain on abuse...

oh. my. gosh.

research shows that abuse and neglect actually affects our brains. this is ground breaking.

Abuse Changes Brains of Suicide Victims

Monday, May 05, 2008

fathers and daughters

neatorama had a link to an unusual article for them, they're usually fun facts, funny videos and interesting stories - this is something i wouldn't have found on my own, but followed the link and read the full article. while not a father i fully appreciated the author's dilemma - how to raise his new daughter in a world where she is valued and honored for far more than the media tells women they should be:

Best Life Magazine: Family & Fatherhood - Bimbo Proof the Nursery: How to be sure your daughter doesn't turn out like Lindsay Lohan, by Steve Almond
It’s here that my old Dude Self and my brand-new Dad Self come to blows. Because as much as I want to check out Paris and Lindsay, I know I’m harming my daughter by doing so. For one thing, I’m sending her a very clear message: Daddy loves sluts. Be a slut and Daddy will love you. And if you don’t believe that a 1-year-old picks up on messages, you’ve never seen my daughter in action. She is intensely focused on everything in her environment, especially whatever I happen to be looking at.

But even if I ogled Paris in private, I would still be contributing to the Culture of Paris, helping to shape a world in which young women win adulation for making porn videos and getting arrested, rather than for, say, curing cancer or brokering peace in the Middle East or being a mom. If we all stopped consuming celebrity scandals, they would cease to exist. If a media slut goes to jail and no one’s there to film the perp walk, does it really matter?


I want Josephine to grow up in a world where her ambitions will be about what she wants, not what the panting men of the world want from her. My daughter is not a commodity. Her heart can be broken. Her spirit can be wounded. And there is no accessory that can rescue her from these dangers.

this reminds me a lot of a post i wrote four years ago that still seems to find it's way into a lot of google searches: daddy's girl - an open letter to fathers of daughters

Saturday, May 03, 2008

good sport

i have made some connections recently that i want to flesh out a bit. writing helps me to do that, and because i think this might connect with other's stories a bit too i'll blog it instead of journaling it.

my father always wanted a son. i was the first born of two girls and somewhere along the way i understood that if i was ever really going to capture my father's attention it was going to have to be me building the bridge instead of him. my father was born and raised in minnesota, and i remember hearing once on the Prairie Home Companion about minnesota language systems. two farmers standing at a fence at the end of a driveway having a conversation. it's a couple of grunts and hmmmms until a truck goes by and they both become animated talking about whether it was a chevy or a ford and you can't shut them up. minnesota language systems.

my dad was like that. if you got one of his 4-5 pet topics he became animated, interested and engaged. basketball, football, fishing, hunting or trapping. that's it. that's all. he's a man of few words until you engage his language system and then you can't shut him up.

it didn't take me long to realize that when i played sports i got his attention. i was a bright kid, and actually really athletically gifted, so i excelled, and got his attention. two points. literally.

it became my life. each season was filled with either softball, volleyball or basketball and downhill skiing. i was skilled at all and they kept me busy and social and i enjoyed playing on teams.

when i got to high school i became the gym teachers pets. we had two gym teachers. they were an older lesbian couple who adored me. i remember the junior and senior burn outs who had to retake freshman gym hated me because the teachers always picked me as an example or trusted me with responsibility. it was the only time i had any physical altercations. we were playing flag football and they determined to make me hurt. it worked, but somehow, something intervened and it stopped. i'm not sure what, i have no memory of what happened after, but they only picked on me once. i wish i could remember if i stood up to them or if someone came to my rescue, but i remember that i was frightened.

in my junior year of high school i realized that i was really knowledgeable about basketball and by that time i had grown tired of the gym teachers and the basketball coach and i had had our differences. i realized that the boys team was far more interesting than the girls team and decided to start to take stats for the boys varsity team. we were good and ended up taking conference and going to state - and the boys were way more interesting than any of the girls team.

that was the first time i think i realized that most guys weren't interested in a girl who was better than they were at sports. and i was. i kept playing volleyball and was captain my senior year and all conference. it was my favorite sport to play and found co-ed pick up games were great places to meet guys. volleyball players were less threatened by females who could play. and because i was a setter they loved having me around because i made them look really good.

getting to college my first real boyfriend wasn't athletic at all. somehow the guys who always stole my heart were a little awkward and soulful with a bit of the bad boy in them. usually not jocks. anyway, he was terribly threatened by my athletic ability, and while he made the basketball team he really never got to play. i took stats and virtually stopped playing sports. i realized that his 'manhood' (ugh, this is so offensive to me now) was more important to me than my own personhood. and i sacrificed myself.

my second year of college started with me playing sports again as we had broken up that year. he never returned to school and i reinvented myself again. i played volleyball a lot and we had a good co-ed team. unfortunately there was a woman on the team who rubbed me the wrong way and i couldn't stand her. she had some ability, but no training and was so bossy. it was at that time was when i met liam. it was way more fun to be with him, than be bossed around by her, so i left the team.

liam grew up playing soccer, his father was nearly on the irish national soccer team and spent liam's childhood trying to fulfill his missed chance in his sons. it wasn't liam's favorite thing to do, but he was still played it, just not passionately. i was attracted by a man who had no real interest in sports as the thought of living my life watching my husband watch sports had little interest to me.

again i withdrew from all sports because they didn't fit into our social life.

it was then that i started to pack on the weight. you see i never, ever had to diet before. i was always athletic so i could eat anything i wanted (i was a compulsive over eater back then too, i just maintained my weight with exercise. most likely a compulsive exerciser too, which is really what is motivating me to write this post).

liam was a 6'4" twig and could eat like a horse. he had a metabolism like a hummingbird and loved to eat. and wasn't at all bothered by the fact that i did too.

we dated through the last three years of college and i became heavier and heavier. there were a few times we had broken up and i realized that i was never going to get another man looking like i was, so i began to run again, and skip meals and starve myself (never really dieting though) and got back into shape, dated casually, messed around and then found myself back with liam when school started the next year.

we were married the september after graduation and then we both began the slow, consistent climb up in weight. it happens to so many. it really happened to us. food was comforting and times were tough. i've blogged through much of that if you care to look it up in my archives.

anyway, what brings me to this place is that i realized that i had demonized exercise and sports in my mind. because they were linked to my father and attention i had determined that i was never, ever going to try to earn again by being athletic and loosing weight (oh my weight has always been a burden for my father - he always tried to tempt me by promising me the reward of buying me a whole new wardrobe when i got to my "goal weight" as he put it - it messed with my mind and my self acceptance and any acceptance from him).

these past few months liam and i have both found a really good place with food. making friends with empty, buck's diabetes, regular meals and recovery have all come together to slow, permanent changes that have had an incredible impact on our bodies. i sit here typing in size 14 jeans. i am astounded. i haven't been in size 14 clothes since i was in junior high.

i haven't weighed myself in over six months and don't really care what the scale would say. i am only eating meals and eating healthier, not strict, and i am enjoying my food, not shaming myself and not limiting myself, except for the trigger foods that i've avoided for years.

the other night at our small group there was a verse in psalms that someone read about 'god lifting up your head' - and it reminded me of my junior high years. i spent 90% of junior high looking at the floor. i remember little snips from those times, walking through the mall, me 20' in front of my parents and my father muttering things like "does she think she's too good for us? does she think she doesn't have parents? does she think if she stares at her chest all the time it will grow?, etc..."

i shared with the group that the shame i carried through those years made it impossible to look anyone in the eye. my sexual addiction, eating disorder, shame from the abuse and introversion made it impossible. hanging my head was the only way i knew to move through public.

and then i said these words "it was only sports that helped me to break through that" - oh. my. gosh.


i had never consciously realized that - how i said it out loud i'll never know. but it was the truth. instead of sports being a manipulative way for my father to give me attention they were the very tool god used to raise my head.


what a change in perspective.

so today was the first time in years that i got my butt on a bicycle. i went for a bike ride today. i don't know where this will lead. i don't know what form exercise and athletics will begin to take in my life, but i know that i don't want to be a lethargic couch potato any more. but i have to admit i am afraid.

nothing with my addict soul is ever simple. i really don't want to be at all compulsive in this area of my life either. i know that if i am avoiding emotions and life by exercising, while physically healthier than watching television, it is not emotionally or spiritually healthier if i am doing it compulsively.

i've always joked that i'm compulsive about everything, except cleaning and exercise. i really don't think i can honestly say that any more. now it's just cleaning. in taking my OA inventory i had to admit that i hadn't dieted compulsively, but had maintained my addiction with exercise.

in everything balance. god help me to find it please.