Thursday, September 30, 2004

now it's just getting weird

okay, i've got some intense google searches because of the topics that i write on, but this one is just too weird not to share...


to see the posts they had to link to get to me is so very strange...

going underground

one of the things about the 'onion' of recovery and dealing with our pasts is that the pain and memories sometimes become so great and overwhelming that we choose to stop the process. it's a little disappearing act we play with ourselves and it seems so innocent at first. my self talk goes something like this... 'this is too hard, i just need a break, one week won't hurt... i'm so busy anyway... they don't really understand me anyway...' you get the picture. whether i'm avoiding my recovery group or my therapist the whole point is because i've gotten too close to the issue/memory/cause and it's terrified me.

quick fixes are also tempting. miracle pills, wonder drugs, surgeries or cold turkey, white knuckle abstinence all look more attractive than the work of truly getting to the real pain, uncovering the skeletons in the closet or exposing the family secret. allegiance to the code can sometimes become so ingrained in our psyches that we don't even realize how programmed we are.

liam and i were talking on our walk the other day and he said 'your mom would have loved recovery' or something like that. i started to think about it and realized that i have been freed from much of the family bondage because she died so early. she probably would have come around, but it would have been through much kicking and screaming. her early death in my life, while painful, did free me from her influence and secret keeping.

she and her siblings are masters of it. it used to be my goal to expose that family secret, to root it out and shout it from the roof tops. my mother's older sister, and her younger brother are still alive and tortured by the secrets - but they are the vault. we moved pretty close to my aunt, and things were going well for a year or two, until i started asking questions. it was like she and her daughters went on red alert. the signal went out and they truly have created a wall of silence. the shame is too great.

i finally realized that i didn't need 'the secret' to recover. they did, i didn't. i was able to deal with the truth i had been given and allow the rest to be, and die with them if necessary. but i see the damage it reeks in their lives. the physical manifestations of a life that has decided to say no to recovery.

at group a couple weeks ago we talked about denial, and how truly easy it is to convince ourselves that something true is actually not. the woman giving the talk then went on to explain that denial left unchecked turned mercilessly into delusion. living a life where the truth becomes a lie and life becomes a charade.

this is most tempting when the truth isn't our own, but the truth of one we love. codependent denial seeks to protect, even the dead. when in truth it looks more like shame and slow burning hatred and resentment. if you loved me you wouldn't force me to bear your secrets. one of my best friend's here is slowing creeping out of that tunnel of delusion. she is very close to understanding her mother's addiction to prescription pain medication. watching someone you love deal with pain is truly horrible. but where does the emotional pain start and the physical pain stop? that line is so blurry that denial and delusion seem to be our only line of defense.

this was the state were my mother (and aunt and uncle) lived. my mother-in-law 'visits' frequently. she's in her late 60's and has just finally admitted to me that her beloved father was 'probably' an alcoholic. this is about a man in ireland who heated shoe polish to drink it because they were so poor. 'probably'. it's like that monty python song 'always look on the bright side of life'... this is what delusion looks like.

i have met a couple, i don't know them well, but they shared at group that they both were compulsive overeaters who were at their top range over 400 lbs. each had gastric bypass and look like anyone else you'd pass on the street today. the next words they shared terrified me. they spoke of this past year of how now because they didn't deal with the roots of the problem that got them there they had both been secretly drinking. food could no longer be a comfort because of the surgery. but alcohol wasn't painful for their new stomachs to digest. it had only been recently that they admitted their alcoholism to each other and are now seeking help.

i don't know exactly what david was talking about here in psalm 22 , but i have my suspicions. his secrets and lies had caught up with him, his sins and his disobedience were taking a physical toll on his body.

I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.
i have to keep telling myself that going underground is going backwards. father, please keep me from walking away in denial. help me to own my secrets, face the truth, even when it's horribly ugly and take things one day at a time.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

only you can silence yourself

this image makes me cry

The women were innocent and defenseless. And by the end of the night,
they were barely alive. Forty prison guards wielding clubs and with
their warden's blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly
convicted of "obstructing sidewalk traffic."

They beat Lucy Burn, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head
and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air. They
hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed
and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was
dead and suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the
guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching,
twisting and kicking the women.

Thus unfolded the "Night of Terror" on November 15, 1917 (a mere 87
years ago), when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia
ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned
there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the
right to vote.

For weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail. Their
food--all of it colorless slop--was infested with worms. When one of the
leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a
chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until
she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was
smuggled out to the press.

So, refresh my memory. Some women won't vote this year because--why,
exactly? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work? Our vote
doesn't matter? It's raining?

Last week, I went to a sparsely attended screening of HBO's new movie
"Iron Jawed Angels." It is a graphic depiction of the battle these women
waged so that I could pull the curtain at the polling booth and have my
say. I am ashamed to say I needed the reminder.

All these years later, voter registration is still my passion. But the
actual act of voting had become less personal for me, more rote.
Frankly, voting often felt more like an obligation than a privilege.
Sometimes it was inconvenient.

My friend Wendy, who is my age and studied women's history, saw the HBO
movie, too. When she stopped by my desk to talk about it, she looked
angry. She was--with herself.

"One thought kept coming back to me as I watched that movie," she said.
"What would those women think of the way I use--or don't use--my right
to vote? All of us take it for granted now, not just younger women, but
those of us who did seek to learn. "The right to vote" she said, had
become valuable to her all over again.

HBO will run the movie periodically before releasing it on video and

I wish all history, social studies and government teachers would include
the movie in their curriculum. we are not voting in the numbers that we
should be, and I think a little shock therapy is in order.

It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a
psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be
permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor
refuse. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn't make her
crazy. The doctor admonished the men: "Courage in women is often
mistaken for insanity."


i'm not sure of the writer of this, i received it in an email. it really moved me to get my butt off the couch this year and vote.

are you registered? register here by OCTOBER 4th!!

National Rape Evidence Project

National Rape Evidence Project

the gift of celibacy

i know this is a weird thing for me to be blogging about. i've just celebrated my 17th wedding anniversary, what the heck do i know about celibacy...

please don't read from my words anything that would make you think that i know what it's like to come home at night to an empty house and an empty bed. i do not know the pain or loss associated with that. i am not writing to that end. i just think that the church has screwed this up massively and want to begin to put my thoughts on this in order. i believe this needs to be a place where the emergent church does it better. challenges the status quo of the way churches today help/challenge/minister to those in the church who are unmarried.

i must also qualify that this is not written to anyone in the blogosphere directly. i have many blogging friends who are godly, amazing single women - i love you all. i hate that there isn't a liam in your lives. the things i'm writing are inspired by, but not directed at any of you, and please, please clear up any misconceptions i may have in this regard. i just think it's time that we tangle with the poor way the church has chosen to treat the unmarried.

i have only met one person in my life who was truly pleased to have, possess and claim the 'gift of celibacy'. he was a theologian and very content to be single. i have met other men who claimed to be 'bachelors till the rapture' and found later that many of them used that to hide a gay lifestyle the church had forced them to hide.

far too many of those unwilling singles are incredibly wonderful women, dedicating their lives to god and helping others. i regularly think that many if not most of you would make a far better wife, mother and housekeeper than i do, why did i get liam and others didn't? it makes very little sense to me.

i know that most of the time 'celibacy' is never talked about, taught on or even discussed. i can still see the shock on the youth group's faces when i told them they all currently were possessors of the gift of celibacy. because of where they were in life they needed to face the fact that not being married means something to god. otherwise it wouldn't be called a 'gift'. i know most would like to find the return department, and would even face the day after christmas lines to return this unwanted 'gift'.

if we as a community could take the time to 'unwrap' this gift i think we might find that a change in perspective would allow us to more fully understand what god intends the gift of celibacy to look like, and reap some of it's benefits instead of despising it's possession.

i know that i have many times despised some of the 'gifts' that i have been given as a woman. the church didn't welcome females with my gifting set. i spent most of my life in the church resenting them and wanting to exchange them for something that 'fit better' or was more fashionable to the church.

i have written about the new math for relationships before and how i try to help the teens i work with understand that being whole doesn't depend on other people, but comes from within.

i also tell my students that 1/2 people only ever attract 1/2 people. whole people avoid 1/2 people like the plague. if they are only 'the loops' looking for that other 1/2 of velcro to stick to that is all they are ever going to find. wholeness draws wholeness. like i said above, it's a magnet. 1/2 + 1/2 does equal a whole. you can manage a life long marriage with that kind of math. but god desires magnification. he longs to have marriage be a picture here on earth for us that mirrors the trinity, that brings community, communication and wholeness. magnify those around you, multiply wholeness.

and i think we set up the unmarried in our christian communities to only be looking for that other 1/2. that they aren't whole in and of themselves. it's a horrible shame, and even sinful. i remember back to when my parents, active in a very small church decided to create a social, fellowship type small group - very cutting edge for the 70's - my mother brainstormed the idea (and i know i've heard it in others areas since, but honest, she came up with this one herself - there was no google back then!) to call it 'pairs and spares' - little bowling logo and everything...

yuck. who wants to be a 'spare'. what kind of message does that send? we, the church MUST do an about face on how we minister to the unmarried in our midst. stop setting up 'singles ministries' that are a poor masquerade of a match making service. start to celebrate those things that the unmarried bring to the table. start to honestly address the difficulties facing each one. stop lumping them into a seperate category and become inclusive and inviting.

one of my best friends in the world speaks truth into my life like few others do. she is an amazing single woman. she is the best cook and baker, the most gifted woman with children, everything a proverbs 31 woman is supposed to be, and yet she is single. she has told me many times of how god has 'told her' that she is not going to be single, that 'this one' is it, or that marriage was the subject of that retreat just for her as a signal from god that she wasn't going to be single forever... it breaks my heart. instead of glorying in the place she is right now (seminary - heading toward an amazing ministry that i envy so much, free to travel at the drop of a hat, and spending every cent she makes on herself) she sees my life and wants it more than anything.

i don't have the heart to break her heart and challenge her messages from god. who am i to do so? but i hate the crash that follows her 'logic'. watching her pick herself back up off the ground after another man informs her that he never intended anything he ever did to insinuate he was interested in her that way... my heart literally weeps for her losses. how did we get from 'gift' to this?

i know i'm not the only person needed to help unwrap this gift - we as a church must do it together. too many are feeling, or being treated like 1/2's in the kingdom and i know that isn't what god intends. somehow we need to find out what it means to be unmarried in the kingdom and celebrate that with those who are unmarried. help them find their way through the maze of purity and lonliness, childlessness and ignorance (not the single, the church). help me will you? lets unwrap this 'gift' together. let's not settle for the crappy way we're doing it now - there is much to be redeemed here. i for one want to participate in the process of redemption. care to join me?

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

187 is my new favorite number.

see why.

seventeen years!

wow - hard to believe this time 17 years ago i was curling my hair and preparing to marry my best friend. can it really be that long ago? it seems like just yesterday, and it seems like forever.

liam and i dated for 3 years through college, so it's been 20 that we've been together. hard to believe that those 2 babies fresh out of college have made it to this point. what a ride!

we celebrated last week on thursday by heading into the city. we tried to tour some of the major sites, but much was closed due to the flooding and our poor timing. we still had a wonderful day together talking about the future and trying not to talk about ministry present.

yesterday we also celebrated close to home. today, i'm cleaning toilets and he's off to work, but we've connected to mark this milestone in our lives together. marriage has truly been the most difficult, rewarding discipline either of us has faced. we've been through thick and thin, lean and fat, shaky and stable. i can't imagine anyone i'd be better suited to journey this life with, and he for me. we've become a matched set, push each other's buttons and live life full tilt together.

liam, i love you, you sharpen me and inspire me, make me crazy with both frustration and passion. i adore you. thank you for walking these past 17 years side by side with me. i am truly blessed to call you husband and to be your wife. thank you! happy anniversary babe!

Sunday, September 26, 2004

beautiful beauty

i have a bad habit of saving some blogs to read when i have a nice chunk of time to digest them. i haven't had that uninterrupted time lately, so i have almost missed out on the focus on beauty in the word challenge that wes roberts has given. he's been posting his thoughts on beauty for the past two weeks or so.

i just finished reading them all and have so enjoyed the process. although i think i'll try to keep up with the next word - imagination on a post by post basis! even though i haven't been reading them as they come, i have been pondering and ruminating on words beauty & beautiful; and i find myself struggling with these words.

they speak of supermodels and perfection to me - not something attainable or personal. i can appreciate beauty outside of myself, in creation, art, music, even in the beauty of another. i just can't seem to bridge the gap that in any way, shape or form links those words to me. i'm not fishing for compliments here, just trying to be honest. there may be parts of me that might be considered pretty, and maybe i even have 'beautiful' hair (it's copper red, many have told me so). but beautiful isn't a word that i associate with myself - and so these words have been a struggle for me.

it just so happens that during this time i have been listening to a new artist. her extraordinary talent makes it hard to believe that she is only 15. her name is bethany dillon and her cd arrived in our interlinc box a couple of weeks ago and i haven't set it aside since. she has a single called, surprisingly, beautiful. listening to it has forced me to deal with my self image and how that word penetrates into my life. (she even has a song called revolutionaries - which happened to be wes' last word!)

i was so unique now i feel skin deep
count on the makeup to cover it all
crying myself to sleep
because i cannot keep their attention
thought i could be strong
but it's killing me
does someone hear my cry
i'm dying for new life

i want to be beautiful
and make you stand in awe
look inside my heart and be amazed
i want to hear you say
who i am is quite enough
just want to be worthy of love
and beautiful

sometimes i wish i was someone other than me
fighting to make the mirror happy
trying to find whatever is missing
won't you help me back to glory

you make me beautiful
you make me stand in awe
look inside my heart and be amazed
i want to hear you say
who i am is quite enough
just want to be worthy of love
and beautiful

i know that 'beautiful' isn't a prerequisite of being 'worthy of love' and the two aren't linked in most people's minds. in my head i 'know' i don't have to be beautiful to be loved, but when she joined those two thoughts together they penetrated into my soul and the lies have been exposed. they are painful ones to dwell on. maybe that is why i have been avoiding wes' blog?

as an exercise he encouraged us to read 4 passages from the message that describe the beauty of god in fresh new words.

In all these readings, one needs to read the whole context of the chapter. I got wonderfully lost several times pondering "terrible beauty" in the following.......

Job 37...speaks of a terrible beauty that streams from God

Psalm 68...speaks about a terrible beauty that streams from the sanctuary of God

Psalm 96...terrible beauty shows up again, as well as powerful beauty

Matthew 6...speaks of blazing beauty from within a very familiar portion of scripture
i read them at my desk and i was transported from my white walls to places of true beauty. wes' rocky mountains, stephanie's ocean vista, sunrises and sunsets, the place where he 'ties the dragons tail in knots and muzzles the deep blue sea' (ps. 68:22-23).

beauty is in the eye of the beholder we are told. i know i am beholden of god. i weep as i type the words that i'm holding in my heart. i am beautiful in his eyes, he looks inside my heart and sees the beauty of his image there. that he sees his reflection in my eyes and the things that matter to him reflect back. that is what makes me beautiful. not the mirror, or the makeup, or the hair. man looks on the outward appearance, but god looks on the heart. oh god make my heart beautiful today.

Saturday, September 25, 2004


Blessed are the poor in spirit; yours is the kingdom of heaven!

What could the church do, not just say, that would make the poor in spirit believe that?

Blessed are the mourners; they shall be comforted!

How will the mourners believe that, if we are not God's agents in bringing that comfort?

Blessed are the meek; they shall inherit the earth.

How will the meek ever believe such nonsense if the church does not stand up for their rights against the rich and the powerful, in the name of the crucified Messiah who had nowhere to lay his head?

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for God's justice.

How will that message get through, unless we are prepared to stand alongside those who are denied justice and go on making a fuss until they get it?

Blessed are the merciful.

How are people to believe that, in a world where mercy is weakness, unless we visit the prisoner and welcome the prodigal?

Blessed are the pure in heart.

How will people believe that, in a world where impurity is big business, unless we ourselves are worshiping the living God until our own hearts are set on fire and scorched through with his purity?

Blessed are the peacemakers.

How will we ever learn that, in a world where war in one country means business for another, unless the church stands in the middle and says that there is a different way of being human, a different way of ordering our common life?

Blessed are those who are persecuted and insulted for the kingdom's sake, for Jesus' sake.

How will that message ever get across if the church is so anxious not to court bad publicity that it refuses to every say or do anything that might get it into trouble either with the authorities, for being so subversive, or with the revolutionaries, for insisting that the true revolution begins at the foot of the cross?

N.T. Wright - For All God's Worth, pg. 135

via dwight at epic journeys

my fun meter exploded

words from buck after returning from his best friend's house for a play date.

'it so was great mom, my fun meter exploded!'

god light my world on fire...

thank you jen for this.

Van Gogh - Insights from an Artist

Bruderhof Communities - Insights from an Artist

I once saw a beautiful picture: it is a landscape at evening. In the distance, on the right-hand side, a row of hills appears blue in the evening mist. Above those hills, the splendor of the sunset, gray clouds float with linings of silver and gold and purple. The landscape is plain, like a heath, covered with grass and yellow leaves, for it is autumn. Through it runs a road leading to a high mountain, far, far away, and on top of that mountain is a city whereon the setting sun casts its glory. On the road walks a pilgrim, staff in hand. He has been walking a long while already, and is very tired. And now he meets a woman, or figure in black that makes one think of St. Paul’s word: sorrowful yet always rejoicing. That angel of God has been placed there to encourage the pilgrims and to answer their questions.

The pilgrim asks her, “Does the road go uphill all the way?” And the answer is, “Yes, to the very end.” And he asks again, “And will the journey take all day?” And the answer is, “From morn to night, my friend.”

And the pilgrim goes on, sorrowful yet always rejoicing-sorrowful because it is so far off and the road so long: hopeful as he looks up to the eternal city far away, resplendent in the evening glow. And he thinks of an old saying that he heard long ago: “Much strife must be striven, much suffering must be suffered, much prayer must be prayed, but the end will be peace.”

- November 5, 1876

Friday, September 24, 2004

predators among us

i am angry. of all the people in god's green earth i thought liam got it. i thought he really understood how diabolical predators truly are. he has seen first hand the damage done in my life because at least two males had their way with me.

we have a 14 year old predator at church. he's a bastard, i could tear him limb from limb. he's got the full brunt of my wrath right now (of course i have not even acknowledged that i know or said anything to anyone but liam) but liam has just gotten an earful.

tonight is an all-nighter at a fun park. the area churches have rented it for the night and are going to be there for a lock-in. this boy has been cornering all of the mid-high girls and propositioning them, stalking them and even a couple he's tried to touch while he cornered them. and these are the ones we know about. it is all i can do to let liam handle this. but i have.

he has done well up to this point. tonight i found out that he is allowing this little creep to attend the lock-in. we had discussed this earlier and i was shocked to receive a phone call from the boy asking questions about the night. i truly thought he was trying to manipulate his way in. little did i know liam had given him permission at attend.

i am angry. if he can't be trusted in the confines of our own church how can he be trusted with 400 pre-teens/teens at an all night function? i just gave liam both barrels. that could be our daughter. i am livid. i'm hoping that writing this out will help clear away the white hot rage and flashes of light that are flying in my head right now. i have never been in touch with this level of controlled rage before. i know the level of hatred i am feeling toward this boy is misdirected, but i truly don't care.

people who could do something to stop someone from being hurt and still choose not to set limits is completely unfathomable to me. there were too many people who could have stopped what happened to me. what happens to everyone who is abused. i just can't stomach the thought that something could happen tonight that ruins a little girl's life. why can't liam understand this?

UPDATE: liam and staff maintained a close watch on the kid, he was always within 5 feet of an adult, i just can't stand the thought of anyone every going through the yuck that i've been through. and i'm going to apologize for burning liam's ears off with my blistering attack last night... oh was i angry...

emergent is the kabbalah of the church???

i was reading in the 'trends' section of group magazine (sept/oct issue) yesterday and on page 19 noticed a picture of madonna, er... esther?? and noted an article on the sweeping interest among youth in the newest spiritual trend of kabbalah. what i didn't expect was that this wasn't an article on kabbalah at all, but a poorly worded swipe at the emergent church.

i quote:

the quasi-jewish practice of kabbalah is a perfect case study of what's changing in the religious landscape. kabbalah is not a religion in itself, but an approach to practicing judaism that essentially transforms it into a me-first strategy to gain more 'joy and fulfillment.' and that's happening more and more in the christian world as well.

celebrities including madonna have made kabbalah a hot spiritual fad - practictioners wear a red-string bracelet that's supposedly imbued with the protection of the hebrew matriarch rachel and promises to guard the wearer from the 'evil eye.'

that's right, it's goofy. but not so goofy that it doesn't hit on teenagers' embedded craving for 'spiritual' practices that promise self-centered personal 'riches.' at san diego's kabbalah centre, rabbi yosef shvili is offering a two-week course for teenagers that promised to help them 'get what you want and control your future.'

meanwhile, back at the church, a lot of what's bubbling up in the emergent church movement has a similar DNA.

in alan wolfe's new book the transformation of american religion, he writes: 'more americans than ever proclaim themselves born again in christ, but the lord to whom they turn rarely gets angry and frequently strenghtens self-esteem."

commenting on his book in an interview with michael cromartie of the ethics and public policy center, wolfe says, 'there is a phrase in the book i like - salvation inflation, which i compare to grade inflation. i define grade inflation by the fact that over the 30 years i've been teaching, every year i assign less and less, and every year the grades get higher and higher... to some degree, we've seen that with salvation as well. people confess fewer and fewer sins and are rewarded with more and more.'

critics point to the emergent church's penchant for removing the 'hard symbols' of the faith (such as the cross) and substituting hip t-shirt slogans such as 'jesus is my homeboy' for 'hard truths' such as 'for the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. (matthew 7:14 NASB). conservative theologian michael novak says, 'in boiling it down, trying to make it relevant, you leave out the hard edges and the complicated points. you make the faith less than it is.'

stephanie martin is a contributing editor for group and writes weekly breaking news discussion starters for group's online resource she's a freelance writer and editor in colorado.

okay, i don't even know where to start with this. the writer here could have done with an editor herself. first of all how many who even use the term emergent would ever be caught dead in a t-shirt like that. how did that get laid at 'our' (and i include myself in this) doorstep? and, excuse me, but many of us are the people of the crosses, images and symbols.

i find her leaps in logic completely abstract and unfounded. i am not familiar with the authors/theologians she has sited, and don't know if she is using their words to support her position or if these are their opinions also. either way this irresponsible kind of journalism is cheap and fear-mongering. likening emergent to a self-satisfying belief system is erroneous and incompetent.

it's so similar to the straw men construction and defeat that is flying through the evangelical world right now. i for one am really disappointed that this made it past edit and am really disappointed in group for allowing this shoddy type of writing and cheap shots.

our youth are growing up in a world that must deal with post-modern thought whether the church likes it or not. we cannot protect them, build the walls higher and keep them from confronting the places where their faith and their world intersect. i for one embrace the idea that youth pastors/workers would be more capable to prepare these students, instead of mocking and pandering to the basest fears of the church power structures.

more than anything i think this is a swipe at youth specialties and emergent. i fear that there are probably more 'well placed' shots throughout the magazine. i hope not, but i'm probably not going to continue reading it. there are two roads diverging in the church, but more particularly in youth ministry. many soon will be forced to make a stand for or against. fear mongering will make it so. liam and i have talked of this at length.

we are prepared, but know it will still hurt when it comes. two roads diverged in a wood, we will take the one less travelled, i know that will make all the difference.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

stumbling toward faith virtual book tour

my hero

a couple of months ago i was invited to participate in a project that was very exciting to me. i've always wanted to own a bookstore like meg ryan had in 'you've got mail'. i love book signings, they are like brushes with greatness. i stand in awe of published authors, so this was quite an honor and fulfillment of a dream for me. it is also an honor to be included with a month long list of amazing bloggers. if you haven't been following the tour i recommend clicking the link to read some of the most challenging and inspiring posts (and you'll find lots of new blogging friends to add to your blogroll!)

yesterday renee was at doug ferguson's blog mute troubadour and tomorrow she'll be visiting mike todd at waving or drowning.

here are my questions for renee:

do you have any metaphors you use in your recovery process?

yes, i actually am quite interested in metaphor, mythology and symbolism. it's interesting how the things i need seem to find me.

on my blog, i use the name "iphy" which is short for "iphigeneia." iphigeneia, in greek mythology, is sort of a female version of the biblical isaac story. basically, iphy's father was about to sacrifice her at artemis' request, and at the moment of the intended sacrifice, artemis replaced iphy with a deer and whisked iphigeneia away to a different country. i always felt a connection with isaac in the isaac story, but having a woman who was about to be sacrificed and then spared, that connected even more.

another metaphor that has meant a lot to me is that of the phoenix. it's funny how this metaphor was "given" to me -- many years ago an online friend sent me a beautiful silver phoenix necklace charm. i thought it was beautiful, and held onto the story, but didn't think
much more about it. this past year, 2 different people who read my book described my story in terms of the phoenix: karla yaconelli, in her review of it, and phyllis tickle, in the introduction.

a friend and i have what we call "dragon days" -- where we feel like dragons in a cave. i have a beautiful dragon necklace, a "dragon egg," and a "dragon days mix" -- a collection of songs that i put on when i need to feel encouraged.

images are so important to you, can you explain why and how they impact you?

so often i discover that there really aren't words for some of the things that i feel. i love words, and i use them to the extent that i have them, but sometimes i need a lonely picture or a desperate picture or a joyful picture.

i recently got a really great digital camera, and i have discovered part of my heart through photography. i see that my eye captures some of what i feel in images. i went on a retreat to a monastery and took a lot of pictures, i seem to be drawn to stones, water, statues, and icons.

when life is darkest are there any things that keep you hanging on?

when my daughter was born, i made a promise to her (and to me) that she would not grow up motherless, as i did. i remember that, in my darkest days.

who/what inspires you or makes you smile?

my friend larry makes me smile. my daughter makes me smile. the colour green brings me life. my husband reminds me i am loved. i could swim in "sleep" aromatherapy spray from bath & body works. i have the biggest stuffed animal collection in california. my blue lava lamp makes me giggle. i really love scrapbooking, and all the stereotypes that go with that make me laugh out loud. if i'm really in a bad mood, the best thing that will make me happy is my husband saying "uh, ma'am, you've reached the department of redundancy department" (just typing it makes me snicker).

have there been any divine interventions in your life?

yes. grace has taken the form of pelicans, an unexpected phone call, and a lesbian couple who knew the meaning of love.

thank you renee! it's been so fun to follow your tour, i learn more about you at each stop! please keep writing and inspiring us with your words!

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

stumbling toward faith - my review

tomorrow i am welcoming my good friend, and AUTHOR renee altson to my blog. renee and i 'met' while sharing grief over the death of mike yaconelli last november. we soon found out that we had much more in common than our love for that great man. in finding her i found her blog, and in finding her blog i found a window into the soul of one too precious for this world. she is stronger than anyone i 'know' and braver than the fiercest warrior. she has faced demons and wolves that no person, let alone a young fragile girl should ever have to face.

renee gave me permission and courage to face my own. her transparency and gut level emotion brought me to places i never wanted to go alone. now i didn't have to. she was a guide to the deep levels of my soul. knowing that renee was 'here' made me realize that i wasn't alone. she has become a friend and a confidant to weather the most of difficult storms.

although we've never met i know her like a sister, and love her just as much. she is funny, creative, talented and brilliant. her insight and discernment give me confidence to trust my own. getting a window into her world and watching the journey that brought stumbling toward faith to life has been inspirational for me. thank you renee, you give me courage and strength to face my darkest moments and hope that rebirth is truly possible.

some mentioned that they wanted to see my review of renee's book, i wrote it for amazon, and left out a lot because of their 'spoiler warning rule', so here it is, and then afterward i am going to add in the things that i couldn't there, be aware though that there are places that i may tell you more than you want to know if you'd prefer to save it for the book come back later (and by all means - buy that book!)

i have avoided writing this review because i would hate to say anything that would keep someone from reading this important book.

the level of abuse and trauma that renee endured at the hands of her father and the church is sickening, and yet she writes with beauty and depth. there are times you wish she'd stop, you can't fathom anyone enduring the horror she did, but you feel a bit braver for having heard her story, shared her journey.

never have i read anyone with the courage and stamina to endure what she has endured. yet her pain is laced with glimpses of hope, beautiful prose and inspiring tender moments of care. it's unlike anything you have ever read.

if you work with children/teens, or in a church or know someone who has been abused this is a MUST READ. never again should this be allowed to happen. renee's abuse had the church's stamp of approval, it must stop, we must hear the child, we must punish the abuser and allow the hurt to grieve at their own pace.

amazingly this is a story of hope, a story of grace and a story of courage. you won't be the same after you read it.


okay - this is the part where i will talk about the details that moved me, so you are warned that there will parts that might wreck it for you.

within the first few pages of the book we learn that she has had to go undercover and change her name for her safety and protection. she tells us that she asks her former therapist to name her. he takes that responsibility very seriously, searching name books and choosing one well suited for her new persona. he finally hands her a piece of paper with the name 'renee' written on it.

i didn't know this part of her story, it really moved me because that is my middle name. it was going to be my first name 'renee beth', but for some reason my parents decided at the last minute to call me by another one. but i loved the fact that we 'shared' that name bond.

i devour the book and near the end of the book she reveals the meaning of her name. it is 'reborn'. i literally gasped when i read that word. reborn. it fit so well, so beautifully, and also spoke beauty into my own name. redemption. reborn. i wept.

one of the best parts of the book is how renee uses images and metaphors to give illustration to her deepest pain. one of the most searing is the metaphor of her family given to her by her mother. 'we are all crows'. her mother through addiction and mental illness had abandoned renee as a young girl. the picture that the crows placed in my mind was stark and eerie.

not at all warm or family like. i thought it a cruel and cold metaphor to give a daughter to remember her family by. in her illness she was unable to reach out to renee and give her the mothering she so craved.

at a most desperate time in her life, needing a miracle renee goes to the place she remembers feeling safest with her mother. and god gives her a new metaphor, a miracle of sorts. he redeems the crows with pelicans. i love that this cold bird metaphor is replaced with one of community and life.

after finishing her book i realized how even amidst the pain and the trauma she endured renee never lost site of god. her god is so big, so vast. handling any question she throws, and frustration she hurls, and even the silent tears she cries. renee's understanding of god has widened my own small miracle god that i kept tucked away in my small box, into a full, sweeping god that i don't understand but love even more. that she could have endured all she did and still love him gives me solace and safety, and increases my own stumbling faith.

renee, i would like to 'gift' you with another metaphor. it is another bird, another winged beast that i pray sweeps into your soul and shows you how i see you, your story, and your life. from the ashes which you were given you have truly been reborn. god wastes nothing, and you truly are a 'wounded healer'. thank you for telling your story, for facing your demons and for trusting us with your words. i love you!

a quizzy kind of day...

Earth Mama
You're an earth mother! Your friends sometimes
call you Gaea, because you're the original
earth goddess! You and your kids both have
dirt under your fingernails, and you spend as
much of your time as possible out of doors.
Your kids have an incredible appreciation for

What kind of a freaky mother are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

What herb are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

what flavor pocky are you?

[c] sugardew

i don't know how these are done, when i read them i am flattered at the results, but think they only capture the nice parts of me... there are so many parts left out of those quizzes...

thanks to anj and stephanie

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

enough already...

one of the lies i learned as a child of alcoholics was that there would never be enough. i don't know if it's because my parents were raised by depression era parents, but i have grown up with the fear that there will never be enough.

of anything. i literally grieve the bottom of a peanut butter jar, and conversely a new jar of peanut butter gives me great joy. (i cringe as i write this but it's the truth).

i still remember the day i was talking to my counselor and she ran to her office and offered me her closed hand. she dropped something into my outstretched hand and blessed me with these words, "there will always be enough". i looked into my open hand and saw a penny with a heart cut into it. i placed it on my key chain and use it as a reminder of that day truth replaced the lies.

there will always be enough. i don't have to hoard pot roasts in my freezer for company, i can actually make them just for my family. i think the lie of deprivation comes straight from the pit of hell.

i taught on parker palmer's book 'let your life speak' a last winter and one of the most poignant points he makes is about the effect that the theory of evolution had on western culture.

survival of the fittest became a sociological mindset - we must fight for resources, we must take care of our own - we must survive. what biology has shown us is that cells and humans both do best when they work in community. together for the same cause, instead of the concept that they are fighting for what little is left in the world.

christy's blog on power reminded me of this concept. power and control is something i both fight, and hoard. she has challenged that if we are generous with the power we have others will benefit and community will strengthen, and we won't be so concerned with the power that we don't possess.

palmer uses the metaphor of the seasons to teach us about cycles in life. it is a rich, earthy metaphor that resonates with the overarching truth of god. these are eternal laws like gravity, if we can embrace them instead of fighting them we will become much more able to participate in the community each of us truly desires.

here's a quote (it's long, but oh so worth it, really!):

"this fact of nature is in sharp contrast to human nature, which seems to regard perpetual scarcity as the law of life. daily i am astonished at how readily i believe that something i need is in short supply. if i hoard possessions, it is because i believe that there are not enough to go around. if i struggle with others over power, it is because i believe that power is limited. if i become jealous in relationships, it is because i believe that when you get too much love, i will be short changed.

even in writing this essay, i have had to struggle with the scarcity assumption. it is easy to stare at a blank page and despair of ever having another idea, another image, another illustration. it is easy to look back at what one has written and say, 'that's not very good, but i'd better keep it, because nothing better will come along.' it is difficult to trust that the pool of possibilities is bottomless, that one can keep diving in and finding more.

the irony, often tragic, is that by embracing the scarcity assumption, we create the very scarcities we fear. if i hoard material goods, others will have too little and i will never have enough. if i fight my way up the ladder of power, others will be defeated and i will never feel secure. if i get jealous of someone i love, i am likely to drive that person away. if i cling to the words i have written as if they were the last of their kind, the pool of new possibilities will surely go dry. we create scarcity by fearfully accepting it as law and by competing with others for resources as if we were stranded in the sahara at the last oasis.

in the human world abundance does not happen automatically. it is created when we have the sense to choose community. to come together to celebrate and share our common store. whether the scarce resource is money or love or power or words, the true law of life is that we generate more of whatever seems scarce by trusting its supply and passing it around. authentic abundance does not lie in secured stockpiles of food or cash or influence or affection but in belonging to a community where we can give those goods to others who need them - and receive them from others when we are in need.

i sometimes speak on college campuses about the importance of community in academic life, one of the most competitive cultures i know. on one such occasion, following my talk, a man stood in the audience, introduced himself as occupant of the 'distinguished such-and-such chair of biology,' and began what i thought - given his rather pompous self-introduction - would surely be an attack. instead, he said simply, 'of course we must learn to live in community with each other. after all, it is only good biology.' biology, the discipline that was once driven by anxious metaphors like 'survival of the fittest' and 'nature red in tooth and claw' now has a new metaphor - community. death has not ceased, of course, but now it is understood as a legacy to the community of abundant life.

here is a summertime truth: abundance is a communal act, the joint creation of an incredibly complex ecology in which each part functions on behalf of the whole and, in return, is sustainable by the whole. community doesn't just create abundance. community is abundance. if we could learn that equation from the world of nature, the human world might be transformed."

let your life speak, pages 106-108
heck, i know the church would be transformed...

like a bowler who loves ballet

chuck used those words today and they touched a place in me of want and desire. i constantly feel like i'm on the inside looking out - observing, instead of participating. watching instead of doing. like a bowler who loves ballet.

i have realized that in my head i can dance and be graceful, but on the outside i'm uncoordinated, like a marionette in the hands of an unskilled puppeteer, my arms and legs don't move that way. there is little grace and flow.

i abhor bowling. i think it's great that other people love it, do it and find their needs met by bowling. to me it smacks of the great divide economically in the community in which i was raised. it was a form of the 'white trash country club' that i so wanted to distance myself from. it's returned in a retro chic that it never had in tourist town wisconsin growing up.

my friend's parents golfed and played tennis. graceful, outdoor games that spoke of skill and talent. my parents bowled, they were damn good at it, but it reminded me regularly of the shame of my low class heritage. i know it sounds ungrateful, bratty and even petulant. i'm not trying for that, only to get in touch with that place of shame that came from being a 'have not'.

i grew up with friends who's parents owned resorts, lived on lakes and had shiney cars and boats. i benefited from much of their wealth, but was always the outsider.

we drove the ugliest cars that american motors ever produced. the seafoam green rambler station wagon, the rust orange 4-door matador, the yellow gremlin and the baby blue pacer with woody sides. 'if it's good enough to put food on the table, it's good enough to drive' was the mantra my father reminded me of every time i slunk down in the back seat as we drove through town. a bowler who loves ballet...

i have always been a large female too. even when i wasn't struggling with my weight, i was bigger than the other girls (and most of the boys too). i am 'solid' as my father used to say... he meant it as a compliment because i could play center and nobody could beat me under the boards. he said solid, i heard 'humongous'... like a bowler who loves ballet...

i am the shortest woman in my family. my sister, aunts and cousins all set me aside at 5'8" by inches. my size 10 1/2 feet are tiny compared to my mother's, sister's and cousin's size 12's. dad always said 'tall buildings need big foundations...' he always knew how to turn a phrase... ugh.

we come from large stock (poor pink...), and i married large stock. liam is 6'4' and i fit nicely into the bend of his arm. his size 15's dwarf my shoes lined up in the hallway, and his hands, oh his hands, when i place mine in his they look like children's hands. i adore his hands. he makes me feel more ballerina like, and less like the clumsy bowler.

breaking free of the shame i have imprisoned myself in is a huge part of my recovery. to find that woman, who might not be a ballerina, but can frolic and spin in her own way, to her own songs. i may never love bowling. but it is part of my heritage. it takes skill and talent. i may not appreciate it, but i can celebrate it in others. shame is a prison i must be free of. it's walls only stand because i allow them to.

jesus help me take them down brick by brick, bar by bar and break free from the chains that clasp around my ankles, so i might be able to jump and spin. i no longer need that prison to feel safe, i want to be outside, participating, not inside looking out anymore. please help me.

Monday, September 20, 2004

letting out that big sigh of relief

today marks the end of a huge month's push for liam and i with his ministry. too many different programs and necessary items converged into a massive amount of work and events, and we are finally today marking the end of that.

because of my co-dependency and liam's workaholism i enable him to take on much more than he should frequently. i'm getting better at not doing that as much, but we both knew this past month was necessary, even though it was intense.

i think much of my missing serenity came from acting out co-dependently last month when i didn't actively realize it until last week. it's amazing how things creep up on you, and start to roll, and it happens at such a small increment that when you're caught in the middle of the landslide you can't even fathom how you got there.

that was last month. and today we celebrate the end of that crazy, insane season with joy.

i had a 'double date' this morning with two of my favorite men. liam and my father. we went out for breakfast and had a nice time talking about things that weren't anything to do with church. what a concept!?!?! even the air in our home is lighter today. it's amazing how that happens.

now we just have some normal weeks until the national youth workers convention in dallas at the beginning of october. a much needed get-away and a nurturing time for our souls. i'm really looking forward to the trip, but know it will be a different event this year.

no yac, no tony and no cpr... three of my most favorite people in the world. i use each year at convention as a benchmark for my soul. it's like the marks on the doorway where i notch pink and buck's height. it's become a spiritual discipline of sorts. so change will be good, but it will definately mark 'different'. different is good too, but i will grieve the passing of the old as we move on to the new.

so, as i relax my shoulders, take a deep breath and roll my neck i can feel the tension lift as i begin to welcome the fall with it's slow progression into the death of winter and the expectation of new life in spring.

A Conspiracy of Cordiality

wooly bear of hope

from today's daily dig:

What we call “church” is too often a gathering of strangers who see the church as yet another “helping institution” to gratify further their individual desires. One of the reasons some church members are so mean-spirited with their pastor, particularly when the pastor urges them to look at God, is that they feel deceived by such pastoral invitations to look beyond themselves. They have come to church for “strokes,” to have their personal needs met. What we call church is often a conspiracy of cordiality. Pastors learn to pacify rather than preach to their Ananiases and Sapphiras. We say we do it out of “love.” Usually, we do it as a means of keeping everyone as distant from everyone else as possible. You don’t get into my life and I will not get into yours.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

the W.I.

one of the things about calendar girls that really resonated with me was watching them sit at the back of the lecture on brocolli or tea towels and becoming so bored or in hysterics because of it's innability to connect with their minds, hearts, or god forbid souls.

i know that the WI (women's institute) is not a christian organization, but my own experience with church ministries to women is rarely much different. one of the things that must be readdressed in this new era of reformation in the church is the way in which we minister to women.

everything at our current church, while done beautifully and in order is 'the same' - they target 'the same' audience with each event and almost all of it is based on a consumer mentality, sorry to say, even the bible studies. our church is known in the area as the one to visit for women's events. they are truly breathtaking in their decor and decorum, but i honestly could never see another doily or tablecloth at a woman's event and i'd be okay with that. it's nice to be honored and spoiled every once in a while, but that regular menu of lace and fuff is excessive and overdone.

and i know it's not just my church. when will it ever get past the tablecloth?? when will we ever get farther than the pleasantries and small talk and find the path to our souls?

the powers that be at my church have whittled the only event at that managed to do so, the women's retreat, down from it's full-weekend status, to only one night, and this year, poof, it's gone. now we're going to have 'a one day retreat'. gone is the connection time, the community building and the depth of relationship that is built when you allow women to have their own time and event without men or children around. this was the only event i was even asked to participate in, (and that's because the 'powers that be' had let go of the reigns - they want control back again...) and now it's gone.

as i watched that film i was struck by the desperate need we have as women to break through the mundane and the frills and finally get to the meat of finding each other and sharing our lives together. of doing ropes courses or contemplative retreats, building habitat homes or fighting for social change, or real, rich, extended times of laughter and bonding, tears and support. not show up, be entertained and stuffed with as much fattening, excessive desserts as we can find to put in one place.

that is what our women's ministry has become. it's convinced us that we are as shallow as it is. we've believed the lie that women are just too busy, or too indispensable to take time away from everything to nurture our own souls, god knows that if we don't do it for ourselves nobody else will.

i have a dream, a vision, an inspiration to create something new. to do it differently. they can have their chocolate and their 3 minute devotionals, brocolli arranging and crafts.

i want art, nutrition, inspiration and a challenge. i want to step farther into the unknown and not have all the answers before i do. and i want to be surrounded by amazing, inspiring, challenging females who are all at different places in their lives so i can nurture and be nurtured and challenge and be challenged, inspire and be inspired while surrounded by a tribe of fearless, amazing women.

something different

Saturday, September 18, 2004

programming my satellite dish

yesterday while everyone was at work and school i indulged myself with a gentleness break. i watched 'calendar girls' on dvd. i really had no expectation that i was really going to enjoy it, but i knew it was a film liam would have no desire to watch, so i snuggled in during the horrible rainstorm and let the story unfold.

it is a story of a different kind of 'coming of age', it's end of life stuff, aging, finding beauty in oneself and breaking free of roles and life expectations.

i won't even go to the place that compares the 'w.i.' to women's ministries at our churches nowdays - that's another post...

what i didn't expect was how large a role 'my flower' was going to play in the movie. it totally took me off guard. i use netflix for dvd's so we don't get the pretty covers with pictures. i guess there is probably a sunflower on the dvd box, but all i get is an envelope. so i was totaly unprepared.

the most moving part for me were the words of a husband fighting lukemia early in the movie. he writes them down to share with the 'w.i.' and dies before he is able. they are read by the widow's best friend. i went back and re-watched these words over and over so i could type them here:

a while ago i asked john clark to speak at the W.I., i'm going to read to you what he wrote:

the flowers of yorkshire are like the women of yorkshire. every stage of their growth has it's own beauty. but the last phase is always the most glorious.

then very quickly they go to seed.

which makes it ironic, my favorite flower isn't even indiginious to the british isles, let alone yorkshire.

i don't think there is anything on this planet that more trumpets life than the sunflower.

for me that's because the reason behind it's name. not because it looks like the sun, but because it follows the sun.

during the course of the day the head tracks the journey of the sun across the sky.

a satellite dish for sunshine.

wherever light is, no matter how weak, these flowers will find it.

and that's such an admirable thing.

and such a lesson in life.

calendar girls, 2003
the head tracks the journey of the sun... wherever light is... no matter how weak... these flowers will find it.

i feel as if i've lost my ability to follow the sun, to track the light. no matter how weak? oh it doesn't feel that way, i feel too weak.

father reprogram the satellite dish that is my soul to constantly reach for those things that are good and whole, to see the best in those around me, to turn my face, help me to follow the light today.

Friday, September 17, 2004

you're not mary, but you'll do

those words have echoed in my head since grade school, i can't remember what year it was but they were said to me by my next door neighbor one summer after my vacationing cousin left for home.

they must have had a tryst. mary was (is) one year older than i, all legs, long blonde hair and everything i wasn't. i had lived next to cris as long as i could remember. he was three years older than i and we had little to do with each other. in my awakening to the world of boys though i became very aware of he and his older brother. my sister was best friends with their youngest brother, and my mother with their mom. i was left out of the equation until that day.

it's one of those memories i've had my whole life, but only in bits and pieces. i verbalized it to liam this morning and realized there are still a lot of questions and unknowns about this memory. why i have never before started to untangle it i'm really not sure.

all i remembered was him saying those words to me by the big maple tree that was the dividing line of our back property. the next thing i remember was that we were in my sister's closet. then the needle skips and all i remember after that was screaming for help. i always thought that it was because we were trapped in the closet.

but it was a large 6 foot closet with sliding doors that i never remember getting stuck, but i do remember them regularly smashing my fingers because they slid so fast along the track. it's amazing how the re-explaining of the ending happens... if i know anything about my mother she told me from that point on that we were stuck in there, tee hee... just being kids... tee hee... i'm not so sure now.

that memory never brought me fear before, i always believed it was just childhood experimentation and innocence as my mother instructed me it was, just NORMAL. but verbalizing it this morning put it into perspective as he was either in 8th or 9th grade at the time, so he definitely knew better than just a young kid goofing around, and most likely it was far from NORMAL.

the other memory i know to be true about cris was that he frequently molested my best friend mary alice. she was fully mature in 5th grade and as beautiful as a starlet, not in the little girl, 5th grade way, but in the 'i'm a full-grown woman' way. the boys our own age wanted nothing to do with her, but full grown men and older males always made inappropriate comments (an worse i suspect) to mary alice.

cris grabbed her breasts frequently in the hallway or in the school yard and always rejoined her with 'how now brown cow?.' even when he didn't grab her but passed her in the halls he would echo those horrible mean words with a cruel sinister smile on his face. nobody ever did one thing about it. our culture at that time told us we were to take it. we never even had the thought to report it, that there would have ever been any recourse to stop him.

i have no other memory of him ever being in my house. i was frequently in their home trying to find my mother, but like i said we lived in two separate worlds, until this day. i just have no memory of anything other than my mother finding us in the closet, trapped. i know i was in a panic. frantic. that i remember. but like the re-defining of the oral rape event my mother sought to reprogram this event too.

oh holy spirit, today though i am not virginal, pure and innocent, may i hear those words again, fill me, redeem me - say to me 'you're not mary, but you'll do.'

Thursday, September 16, 2004

what candy are you?

discover what candy you are @ quiz me

hold bush to his 2002 promise

in 2002 president bush committed funds to the 'millenium challenge' to help fight global poverty. this is the email i received from DATA today:

America’s Millennium Challenge to fight global poverty and corruption is in danger. Today, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to cut requested funding by more than 50%.

YOU can help to save the Millennium Challenge!

America’s Millennium Challenge is an historic initiative to help the poorest countries fight poverty and corruption. It rewards democratic countries that use their own resources to fight poverty, and demonstrate a commitment to fighting corruption. Support for anti poverty programs such as this also helps the fight against AIDS because AIDS thrives in conditions of extreme poverty.

Unfortunately, two years after announcing this initiative, the Bush Administration has failed to get it fully up and running and fight for full funding. Because of this inaction, the House of Representatives cut Millennium Challenge funding in half. Yesterday, the Senate Appropriations Committee cut even further.

Announcing the Millennium Challenge in 2002, President Bush said there are no second-class citizens in the human race, and he "carries this commitment in my soul."

Now it’s up to you to tell President Bush to live up to his commitment and save the Millennium Challenge.

Call 1-877-HOPE-USA (1-877-467-3872)

to be connected directly to the White House.

Tell President Bush you support the lifesaving Millennium Challenge.

For more information about the Millennium Challenge and what to say when you call, please click here.

Act now and lend your voice to the fight against global AIDS and poverty.

This message brought to you by DATA, a member of the ONE campaign .

grumpy girl for president!

your vote counts!

yes, finally a candidate i can stand behind! here is her platform:

  • increase motivation and productivity with Federally subsidized "Free Shiatsu Friday's" and manditory work naps.
  • Guarentee every citizen access to affordable gourmet coffee plans and established tax preferred CSA's (Coffee Savings Accounts).
  • Instantly reverse the deficit and balance the budget annually with the institution of long overdue "Rude Person Tax".
  • Organize Task force to seek out and expose the increasing existence of insidious WMD (Wreckless and Miseducated Drivers).
  • Improve Homeland Security by giving women 3 extra sick days per month plus free pizza, fries and ice cream.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

midtone blue

new blogger alert

there is a new (familiar??) anonymous blogger in our midst and the words he writes are music to my heart. i have added him to my blogroll - blue - and wanted to give you a signpost so you can enjoy them as much as i have.

welcome to our midst blue, the image above is my contribution to your sacraments. if i had a tanglible one to send to you i would. i too crave that which reminds, that which connects. that evidence of the sacred here among us. thank you.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

the perfect present

the perfect present

i am so thrilled that others of you are finding as much hope as i have in the words 'you control the door'.

i find that when i am able to recover control of the proper items in my life my thirst to control everything else is sated a bit.

i used to think that control meant that i got to eat everything i wanted to - no one was gonna tell me i couldn't. that was so backwards. i was being controlled and couldn't even see it. realizing that a balanced view of my eating habits required me to say no to certain foods recovered that control that i was originally looking for, and put things in proper perspective.

it was very empowering.

that is how i feel with this new information. empowered. i can name the fear, shut the door on the rest, bring it into the light, deal rationally with it and lay it to rest. light puts things in their proper perspective. darkness creates shadows that make things seem larger than they actually are. the light focuses on each fear and reduces it to it's real size. reality and fear aren't very good friends. living in reality is a much healthier place for me than dwelling in the maybe's and could be's, the what if's and whether or not's.

reality asks what is the issue i am afraid of? is it the fear of rejection? okay, let's examine it: rejected by whom? for what? what will the consequenses really be if this is true? is it true? do i have any control in this issue that i'm not taking? do i really care as much as i think i do if i am truly rejected by these people i'm fearing? can i surround myself with people who won't reject me to offset the other's possible rejection therefore building my confidence back and probably forgoing the possible rejection from happening in reality?

this is the thought process that i am following. i think each of these questions (and more) bring my fear into the light and help me gain freedom from that fear. it also usually turns that fear into a straw man and i am able to set it aside as powerless, or deal with it in it's proper perspective if it truly turns out to be real.

one of the best tools i have been given is to take each thought to it's full end course. i do this with temptation naturally now as i have trained myself to fully see the end of acting out on something that tempts me to throw away my abstinence or moral commitment. doing this with my fear is just as helpful. remembering that i am not six anymore, that i know how to dial 911, that i'm a larger woman who can put up a pretty good fight especially if her children are in danger (mama bear), etc. allows me to say 'even if someone, god forbid, does sneak into my home and i am not able to keep them out, i am not a weak, helpless victim.'

seeing each fear to it's final possible end makes me realize how silly some of those fears truly are. no, silly is the wrong word, because none of our fears actually ever feel silly. they are tangible and real. a better word would be baseless. how baseless they truly are.

i remember when pink and buck were very young we went to visit my sister. she was single and somehow terrified that my two children would place their fingers in her fans. she insisted instead that we sit in the heat and humidity of fanless existence. it really controller her. i couldn't take it any more and turned them back on. every time they neared a fan she would caution them, 'ah, no, ah, stay away from the fan...' i looked at her in my exhausted mom state and said 'they'll only do it once'... she gasped in horror at my casual attitude. how could i be so cruel? so uncaring?

never in their whole childhood did my children ever put their fingers near a fan. i could have chosen to be frantic for the past 8 years about something that never happened, but i chose not to be. if that was a lesson they needed to learn the hard way, well, then i guess that's what needed to happen.

i tell you this story to illustrate a point i make to my children when they voice fears about things out of our control. they remember how freaked out aunt 'd' got back then. and i remind them that they each have every one of their fingers and they never chose to place any of them near the fan blades (not because of her cautions, but because they knew that would be stupid). i forget myself sometimes that fear over things that haven't happened is probably fear over things that probably will never happen. i can waste my time concerned about what if's or frozen by maybe's. instead of enjoying the now, the present. this time that we are gifted from god. fear steals that away from us. it causes us to live in the past or the future, instead of right now.

what a gift. the perfect present. perfect love casts out fear. being present in the present is truly were we can experience and feel that love, express that love that casts out our fears. thank you father for this perfect present.

Monday, September 13, 2004

divide and conquer

i saw my therapist today. the timing couldn't have been better. she listened patiently as i caught her up on all of the many things that happened over the summer and then go to what i've been working through these past couple of weeks.

i talked of my dream, my concerns and the many other ways i've been dealing with fear. she's very gifted at listening to it all and asking some very pointed questions, and then giving a perspective. i told her about 'sitting with fear' and how overwhelmed i was feeling and how it seemed so sufficating sometimes.

her wise words were 'bobbie, you control the door. you don't have to let every fear in all at once. just invite the one you're feeling at the time, name it and deal with it.' what a concept. the big blob of 'free floating anxiety' i was dealing with was overwhelming for a reason.

she said fear can't stand on it's own. it's always attached to something. when we can identify what it's attached to we can then name it and face it. good timing. great wisdom. divide and conquer. that i can manage.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

invisible at a church picnic what a concept!

well, liam survived the sr. hi retreat and while he was gone i found out that our good friends cpr were going to be doing a show within driving distance, so i bailed us out of our own church picnic and we all went to enjoy another church's picnic/fall festival (i think they're rushing that 'fall' thing a bit - but it was lovely).

cpr is disbanding, so it was really important for us to see them one last time. we've grown close to them over the years and while they make you laugh until it hurts i admit i teared up at the end knowing i would never hear 'gloog, gloog, gloog' again...

it was so much fun to be at a 'church event' and not have my husband caught in 'pastor chat' every five minutes. we actually got to talk and catch up on the weekend and make plans for the week while pink and buck jumped in the bouncy house and waited in line for cotton candy. it truly felt like we were invisible. i loved it!

all in all it was a nice ending to a rather stressful weekend. liam has tucked the kids in bed and is heading back to the hotel the guys are staying at so they can laugh together one last time. i'm pooped and heading to bed. have a great night!

weekend update

do you ever have to do something for a full day before you actually figure out why you did it?

as i headed up to bed last night i had an 'ah-ha' moment. you see it was the kind of day yesterday that dreams are made of - glorious and cool, sunshiney and perfect, and yet i did not step one toe out the door. not even to get the mail.

i puttered, cleaned, read, blogged, read blogs, commented, cleaned some more, played with the kids, let them watch tv whenever they wanted - it was a lazy cloistered kind of day. i barely even peaked out the window.

the kids and i had intended to run a few errands and then go and visit 'daddy' at the camp where the retreat was being held. i caved and didn't go.

as i climbed the stairs last night, after the house was dark and quiet i realized why. i didn't want to have to come home to an empty house alone. if i stayed with the doors locked i wouldn't have to return to the unknown. it didn't make me feel any better that we had wasted an absolutely beautiful day, but it did help me understand a bit more about my fear.

i was also a bit stressed with the thought of having to staff the youth booth at the ministry fair at church today without liam - i hate small talk, i can do it like a pro - but it's exhausting and i really resent it. i have to portray the yp's wife, smile and look like i have far more together today than i really do.

last month after talking with anj she told me about her friend who used to talk about getting her period like taking a ride on a menstrual cycle - so here's mine, anybody want a ride??

Saturday, September 11, 2004

good for america??

gosh i wish this wasn't so close to home...

click on the image to see in full size so you can read it.

found here
via here

digging deep

what does it matter

What does it matter to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?

Mohandas K. Gandhi

peace amidst the storm

good morning! this morning i awoke to jimmmaaa's comment in my comment box and he reminded me of a familiar verse, this morning it was salve to my soul.

"The LORD is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit"
Psalm 34:18
i have felt that nearness in these past 24 hours. your prayers have blessed me greatly. peacefulness amidst the storm.

i don't talk about the real bobbie too much any more, but she was very sick for a very long time. her fight with sle nephritis (lupus) was a horrible one. during one of the most difficult times a good friend gave her a pen and ink drawing of a gull over the waves with these words:

sometimes the lord
calms the storm
sometimes he lets the storm rage
and calms his child
he has been calming me during these past days.

i know that it is tempting in these difficult spots of recovery to write it all off to spiritual battles and avoid the emotions it churns up. i personally believe that that mentality will only prolong the inevitable pain. i did not have the tools to feel the pain when these things originally happened, i didn't have the support, love and knowledge that i have now. i know that i am ready for the memories now. they will not crush me. i have the tools. it isn't easy, but it is easier.

i wish jesus was magic, i really do. i wish someone could wack me on the head, slay me in the spirit and clean away all of the trash from my past, but i've been there, done that and found that jesus won't do for me what i can do for myself. he knows i can bear these memories. they will make me stronger and more able to minister. he doesn't waste anything. each time he chose to heal someone it was something they could not do for themselves. i see no evidence in the bible of any miracle that intervenes on the natural ability of that person. each of us who have experienced childhood trauma - no matter what that level of pain was, are able to face it if we surround ourselves in a healing community and admit our need.

running or denying or praying for a miracle to make this easier only resulted in a lot of addiction and shame for me. i can't pretend any longer. this hurts. it's the hardest thing i've ever done, but i am up to the challenge. i am loved and safe. the memories don't make the remembering real again. i am not six. they make the pain real, and the emotions i feel are more real than anything i've ever felt before. it's almost like something being born.

anne lamott writes about a discussion a woman had with a man who worked with the dalai lama:

And he said-gently-that they believe when a lot of things are going wrong all at once, it is to protect something big and lovely that is trying to get itself born-and that this something needs for you to be distracted so that it can be born as perfectly as possible.
i know this to be true in my life. the other memory i received came when i wasn't looking for it - when i wasn't straining or striving. i needed to be distracted so it could be born.

remember, i truly believe that god redeems all things if we let him. i am a junkie for redemption. i want this part of my soul back, this part of my childhood back, they have stolen enough already. i want it redeemed.

so let the storm rage father, calm me, redeem me and surround me with those who can help these memories to be birthed in their own time.

we remember

we remember

Thursday, September 09, 2004

the cup of our life

i have been working through the cup of our life by joyce rupp. it is the perfect time for this book to come into my hands. i stumbled across it the other day at the used book store. i was looking for an image and stumbled across her site. i clicked on this book and saw this poem there. i'm sure it's in the book, i just haven't noticed it yet. the timing couldn't be better for me right now.

she uses a coffee cup as a metaphor to assist in meditation and prayer. my love for both coffee and restaurant china have both been nurtured by these prayer exercises.

The Perfect Cup

it is time for me
to see the flaws
of myself
and stop
being alarmed

it is time for me
to halt my drive
for perfection
and to accept
my blemishes

it is time for me
to receive
slowly evolving growth
the kind that comes
in God's own good time
and pays no heed
to my panicky pushing

it is time for me
to embrace
my humanness
to love
my incompleteness

it is time for me
to cherish
the unwanted
to welcome
the unknown
to treasure
the unfulfilled

if I wait to be
before I love myself
I will always be
and ungrateful

if I wait until
all the flaws, chips,
and cracks disappear
I will be the cup
that stands on the shelf
and is never used

--- Joyce Rupp

friends with skin on

one of the most wonderful things about blogging is all of you. the community that has been created and the freedom we have to share in each other's pain and joys. i love that. one of the most horrible things about blogging is that we've created this community and it's so spread out that the people in our lives every day know less about us than those of you who read my blog.

this is a constant struggle for me. i don't do well with those who have 'skin on' - those in my every day life, i'm either false around them, or they're false around me. trust is humongeous for me, and each interaction is a test of sorts. i know it's not fair, but i'm being honest. i'm asking them without the words, 'are you worthy of my trust'. usually i judge them not to be, or they show me clearly that they aren't. so i withdraw.

isolation is one of my largest character defects. it's 2:09 and i'm still in my pj's. no one just drops by my house and i rarely pick up the phone. after i drove liam out of the house (not by car, but by vicious anger (see - anger is easier than fear...) and snarkiness) i again was alone. i needed some sleep desperately, but i chose to make myself a nice big bowl of oatmeal with raisins and watch the news.

i headed back to bed at 10:00 and read fiction until i fell asleep. it was noon when i awoke. there were 2 messages on my answering machine. i avoided them and headed for the computer. your comments and prayers are being felt deeply here, thank you.

i heard the phone ring and answered it before i realized i really didn't want to. it was one of the professors at the local college. i was a guest lecturer in her women's in ministry class last year and i spoke of my sexual abuse and issues. so she knew without me having to explain a lot why i would be a horrible mentor for that graduate student that just moved to town and is really lonely right now. she heard me and in her way ministered deeply into my life. i mentioned that i didn't want to burden this young woman with my stuff and i wasn't sure right now that my boundaries were strong enough not to as i didn't have a lot of people right now to talk with. she immediately turned her rolodex and gave me the name of the woman at the crisis center and made me promise to call her to find a survivor's support group. i know i can't do this alone anymore.

i am seeing my therapist on monday, but it's not enough. so when i stopped crying long enough to speak clearly i decided to call that number, and then i rememembered the messages. one was from my hopeful new spiritual director. i have been trying to reach her for over a month now, and she's working from home for the next two days, so maybe i can connect with her tomorrow. i screwed up the courage to call her and left a message on her machine, and then called the shelter.

both women are going to call me back. i know that those phone calls where spiritual interventions and a result of your prayers. thank you. i'm feeling much less hopeless right now, still scared and weepy, but not so alone. i just have to make it through the weekend. liam will be away at the sr. high retreat. we have been invited, but i don't think i can pull it together enough to 'do' youth pastor's wife in public for that extended amount of time, so i think we'll make some other plans for saturday that we can look forward to.

thank you again for praying, writing and commenting. it means so very much to me!

the nightmares have begun

the stuff below was written straight from the nightmare so that i could get it all out, remember all of it. you see, i don't dream. none of those deep meaningful intense dreams i jealously hear others speak of, nope, nothing. occasionally there is a bit of a sexual dream that i have tiny bits of, but really there doesn't seem to be anything 'going on' up there while i sleep, at least anything that i can remember.

this morning on the other hand i awoke in terror. like those dreams i had so long ago that would leave my sheets soaked and my body shivering. i mentioned it before. it was always the same one. i was standing and the lion, the tin man and the scarecrow would start to float at me. i am frozen. i can't move, they come at me faster and faster and my lungs seize, there is no air to scream with, no air to breathe. next they have knocked me over and i am on my back and they are over me and i awake in terror. shaking from the exhaustion and the fear.

i couldn't sleep last night with liam's snoring, so i stumbled down the stairs at 2:30 wide awake again. i read blogs, left comments and answered some wonderful emails.

at 4:30 i determined to head to the couch, so i went to the basement to pee and remembered that my dad's apartment was down there empty. as i reached the bottom of the stairs i landed in a pool of rainwater. yuck. 4:30 in the morning and our basement is soaked. not near what others are dealing with, so i won't bore you with my irritation of sopping up water with chamois and rolling up carpet remnants. it's coming in three places, and it will mean a lot of work for liam right before the sr. high retreat, not good news.

i do this for about 40 minutes and figure i've got enough of a handle on it that we won't get mold or water damage. i sit on my father's bed to watch the weather station and cool down. i watch the re-run of hardball and click through the news and hear of the horrible bombing in jakarta. we have a compassion child - jeremiah in jakarta, i pray for him. exhaustion finally hits and i close my eyes tensely knowing that i will have to awaken in less than 1 hour to get the kids ready for the bus.

the next thing i know i am screaming liam's name. this is what i wrote as i stumbled up the stair to try and remember every little piece of it.


in my dream we were cleaning up from the mess the rain had left in the basement, even the kids were there eventually. i was so tired, it was a bigger mess in my dream than it was in reality. i was so tired. i left them to go upstairs to get something to drink and was so tired i laid on the couch for a moment. i was awoken by someone at my front door, it's still dark out and i know something is wrong. they are knocking and fumbling with the doorknob. is it locked? i pray it's locked. i am frozen. frozen in terror. silenced, unable to breathe and trying like anything to lift my arms and get up off the couch. i am frozen again. now i'm trying to yell for liam. my voice won't come, like in the nightmares of childhood. he gets the door open and slurs, 'i just wann somthin to drink... i jusss wanna i come in, i just wann sometin to drink...' i try to scream, try to free myself from the frozen state. i am unable. buck comes up the stairs in my dream and he heads toward him, i am finally able to scream and lurch free of the blankets and i scream 'liam!' and awake bolt upright in bed for real. my heart is pounding and i am unable to calm myself. i can't even figure out where i am.

liam didn't hear me. i was in the basement. when i realized where i was i headed straight to here so i could remember it all.


one of the only nurturing memories i have from my early childhood is my mother tucking my blankets in totally around me, snug as a bug, in a rug. she would say. somehow i thought that would make me safer. it didn't work.

i can't have tucked in covers now. we don't make our bed tucked in because of it. at a hotel i have to pull all of the covers free so i can sleep in the bed.

oh i hate this, i was wrong, i can't do it. i want to go back to keeping the bubbles under the surface. i'm still shaking, terrified, and now weeping.

who are those people who use children as sex toys? how can you steal innocence and call it your's? you of all creation are the most hideous. the most pitiful, the most cancerous. i blame you for the migraines, the anti-depressants, the ulcers and the pain. you have made the need for sleeping pills, for addiction, for escapism and numbing out. you cowards, you arrogant predators, no one your own age will have anything to do with you so you gratify yourself by raping the innocence from the world. i pray the grace of god never extends to you, that you must suffer for eternity with the guilt and unsatisfied lust that you ruined so many lives with.

see, it's so much easier to be angry than it is to be scared, easier to be sad than it is to be afraid. i hate this fear. i loathe this fear. i want it carved out of my psyche with a scalpel so it's no longer a part of me. it's weak and lame and i don't want to be a victim anymore. i just wish i had a face. i still have no face. no one to rail against, no one to blame. no face to make sense of this senseless violence against the child that was me. sleep is no longer my friend. sleep is something to be afraid of now. i am so tired, so very tired. i just want to wrap myself in my children's innocence and absorb it back into myself. i'm just so very tired.