Wednesday, May 31, 2006


okay, i love the ocean, but right about now i'd trade it for a good mall - i miss robinson town center more than i want to admit, especially the IKEA!

i NEED this hardware for a bay window and 2 flat windows i am making curtains for - IS ANYONE GOING TO IKEA??

i will paypal you cost, shipping and even a some thank you $$ for your time. people who sell these on ebay are robbers! they are tripling the price and it makes me sick to pay those prices. (and their outrageous shipping prices!)

we have one set somewhere in the boxes, but i can't seem to lay my hands on it... i am not picky, and would appreciate any help, but US shipping is much less expensive (otherwise i'd beg my sister-in-law to get them in burlington...) - but i'm to the point where beggars can't be choosers.

you would think that a company that has things packaged so very well would be better with their online shopping - i am astounded at how few of their products are really available online. (so IKEA people, if you stumble across this post you are DROPPING THE BALL online - every product you make should be available online - we don't all live in areas (anymore) that have stores available to us!)

IKEA | home | Textiles | Curtains & blinds | Curtain rods & accessories | DEKA Curtain wire incl. clips

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Blog Tour for Contemplative Youth Ministry

Practicing the Presence of Jesus, Mark Yaconelli

oh to hold in my hand a book with the name yaconelli on the spine - it thrills my heart indeed! please everyone not associated with youth ministry - keep reading - this book is for ALL OF US! it's an incredible resource for all who long for the bridge to the contemplative life. it's heartfelt, honoring and a joy to read. mark has truly taken his time and this book has the taste of fine, aged wine. oh, and the forward by the high-priestess anne lamott is a wonderful surprise and insight into her church and their ministry to their youth (including her son).

first off I LOVE the book, it has been so validating to read as liam and i left a youth pastor position at a fairly large evangelical church within the past 12 months because of our deep desire to have a contemplative youth ministry and the church's desire for him to indoctrinate the youth colliding. i can't wait for him to have the opportunity to read it.

DISCLOSURE: this book was provided to me free of charge by zondervan as christian bookstores are few and far between on this edge of the ocean! i am not being paid or otherwise compensated for this review.

i had a wonderful opportunity to supply mark with questions - many others on the tour have taken the scholastic and vocational perspective on the book - my blog isn't really that kind of place, so my questions are a bit more personal:

First, let me say how much I appreciated the introductions to each chapter - the quotes - from such amazing contemplatives married with quotes from youth and youth workers - it was so honoring. Were these extraordinary people, mystics of some sort, or normal people who had spent time alone with God?
For seven years I worked with very average, normal, in some cases dying congregations, seeking to try and form them in contemplative awareness. The quotes in the book come from people from these churches. They are accountants, electrical linemen, receptionists, part-time and full time youth workers who innocently participated in my work and were introduced to contemplative prayer and practice. To be a mystic is to experience God. We are all mystics. These people were just given the time to notice it, to notice God, to notice the thin, frail, thread of eternity that runs through each and every moment.
My husband and I attempted to bring contemplative ministry to an evangelical church and found so much resistance. Your book was incredibly affirming for me to read because of this. Is there hope for helping that style of church to receive this type of ministry, or are they destined (doomed) to indoctrination only? We found the youth incredibly receptive, but the leadership of the church we were in was threatened and abrasive to our work. We made our great share of mistakes along the way, and I was wondering if you had any advice for youth workers who find themselves in our situation to navigate this in a better way than we did?
It's difficult to work in the church. There are so many egos and insecurities. So many ways that the church has absorbed the values and mores of the culture (sigh). I don't know what the specific "resistance" is that you experienced. Most churches are simply secular institutions with a religious veneer. There's a driveness to succeed, to produce results, to grow numbers, to be productive and efficient--just like any American profit-making institution. Unfortunately, this is all in contrast to the Spirit, message, and life of Jesus. Jesus, to be truthful, is unproductive (in the world's terms), inefficient and the "results" of his ministry are ambiguous (the disciples flee, misunderstand his identity and intentions, etc.).

"Success is not a name for God" Martin Buber once said, nor is it a name for Jesus. And yet most churches and pastors want to succeed. If not success, then what is it we're after? Faithfulness. Transparency to God. Obedience (which etymologically means "to listen"). Our job is to be faithful, Mother Teresa once said, not successful. We don't need churches speaking spiritual truth we need churches that know how to embody the spirit.

To embody the Spirit, we need to slow down. We need patience. We need to pray and wait and trust and listen and then respond. We need to stop running ahead of grace. How do you do this when you have a leadership "driven to succeed?" You speak the truth in love. You find others within the church who will slow down, pray and then move intentionally. Most of all you pray and listen for what God is really asking of you...and then you trust and respond.
As a follow up do you think you can pull a Stormie Omartian and follow up with "Contemplative Senior Pastoring" and "Contemplative Parenting"? You really could make a full career out of this one book title! On a more serious note - how do we get this book into the hands (and hearts) of those in church leadership?
Actually, I am thinking about writing a "contemplative parenting" book. Mostly based on my wife as the positive examples and my own parenting methods as the worst case scenarios. My wife is a natural contemplative...where as I struggle to be engaged and attentive. That's why contemplation is interesting to's something I need. In terms of how to get it to the leadership...give them the book and ask them to read it. Or, for senior pastor types who might dis-regard it...give them Eugene Peterson's "The Contemplative Pastor" or Gerald May's "The Awakened Heart."
On page 74 you write "To stop and surrender is to repent" - it is a small thought that isn't fully developed, but it made me gasp when I read it - in our work-aholic, fast-paced world I can think of nothing that the church needs more than to repent of this kind of lifestyle - I loved the idea that taking time to be silent is a form of repentance - could you expand on that thought please?
More and more I'm convinced that the root of our brokenness, as North Americans, is our inability to be present to God and others. The reason we're unable to be present to others is because we're moving too fast, multi-tasking, moving from one activity to another without absorbing/feeling what we're doing. It's difficult to pay attention when there is great suffering and pain in the world. It's much easier to stay distracted and busy when slowing down often means feeling pain, or helplessness or acknowledging the ways in which we are hurting ourselves, our children or our world.

One month after the United States began the 2003 bombing and invasion of Iraq, a neighbor of mine began to post pictures of the civilian dead. She collected these images from European and Middle Eastern news services, then pinned them to the large sycamore tree that grew along the sidewalk in front of her house. Each photograph was covered by a white piece of paper. Above the images was a sign that read, If you are willing, look and see the suffering and death we're causing in Iraq. One day I took the time to look. The images were horrific. Most of them of mothers and fathers grieving over young children whose bodies had been torn apart from the bombing.

For the next two years my neighbor continued to post pictures on top of pictures until the sycamore became covered in sheets of white paper. I had many occasions over those two years to observe people walking along the busy sidewalk in front of my neighbor's house, not once did I see someone stop and look at these images. More frequently, what I observed was people turning their head to avoid the invitation to look and witness the pain and suffering.

The truth is that slowing down and being present to life is hard and painful. Who wants to slow down and notice a world that is increasingly becoming, what former President Jimmy Carter recently labeled a culture of death. Who wants to slow down and recognize the pain and violence that so many youth are forced to live with. Who wants to pray and become vulnerable to bleeding and brokenness within so many families? Who can really stand to look and see the devastation that is occurring in our natural world? Who wants to be aware of the ways in which our faith, our churches, our ministries seem so inadequate at inviting any real change or hope within people? It's difficult to be present. It's difficult to see and hear. It's also difficult to be vulnerable and aware. And yet, as Biblical scholar Walter Brueggeman reminds us, our central task in ministry is making people aware.

We trust the truth, we trust the stories of faith passed down from generation to generation and most of all we trust God. We trust God that our sins, our brokenness, our fears and mediocre attempts at loving are not the last word. We trust that God is on a mission of love and that love, like Jesus, always comes vulnerable, undefended in weakness and trust. Can we believe that our weakness and helplessness makes us more available to God's love and presence? How do we begin to repent? We slow down. We stop. We look. We listen. We feel.
Your father was/is one of my mentors, I know he would be/is so proud of you and your book. I had a parent, my mother, die early in her life and I wondered if it gives you comfort to know that your dad was able to experience the contemplative life before he died?
My spiritual life is deeply connected to my dad's. I kind of began where he was leaving off. He started reading Henri Nouwen in his mid forties, I read him in my early twenties. So much of my spiritual life was in dialogue with my dad. We were reading similar books and both of us felt excited that we were on to something new and life-giving.

I realized, a couple of years before he died, that much of my motivation in doing contemplative retreats was to provide a place and setting for my dad to experience the contemplative life. In many ways I got to go out and get the formation and training that my dad was looking for and I wanted to share it with him. My dad was a busy man. It was hard to get him to slow down...even harder to get him to do something for himself.

When I started leading Sabbath retreats (five day contemplative retreats for youth workers) I asked him to come and be the speaker....knowing that he would only come if there was work to do. Once he arrived I made him join a small group, see a spiritual director, do the prayer exercises, keep silence, and do everything else the participants were required to do. He did it and loved it and I think his best writing and speaking came out of these weeks of prayer and retreat. I cherish the times that he and I had together sharing our gifts side-by-side. It was nurturing to both of us.
While everyone else was jumping on the publishing bandwagon as soon as the 'ancient/future' scent entered the radar screen of the church I was always so amazed with your patience in writing this book. How did you maintain your time schedule and not bust out of it? Your book is so much better for it. Cut could you tell wanna-be writers like me what it was like for you along the patient process?
You're one of the few people to notice this. When I first started exploring the integration of Christian spirituality, spiritual direction, contemplative prayer and youth ministry I could tell immediately that the Christian marketing forces would want to exploit it (after all, I am the son of a publisher...). When I wrote an article on contemplative youth ministry in 1998 in the Christian Century I was contacted by six publishers and a big time publishing agent. Everyone wanted to do a book. Two different publishers offered me a book line and one publisher offered to hire ghost writers to write under my name.

My feeling, at the time, was that people needed to experience contemplative prayer...not read about it. So I refused to write anything. I then bullied and pleaded with my dad not to produce any books on the subject...he held out for three years. I also called friends at the upper room publishing and other publishing houses and asked them not to publish any books on the subject.

I wanted people to come to Sabbath and other contemplative retreats and experience it first. Of course this was unrealistic and soon books began to come out. Most of them are what I feared...they're written as journalistic books (sort of a tour of contemplative practices) or cut and paste together like any other educational curriculum. Contemplation is about the spirit and attitude or disposition by which we approach life. It's a certain awareness, openess, transparency.

People receive a book from the same place from which a person writes a book. If you have people writing about contemplative prayer...but not experiencing contemplative prayer then the book can be clever or informational...but never transformational. I wasn't ready to write a book from my heart eight years ago. It took ten years of struggling with prayer. Ten years of praying through doubt, grief, disillusionment, struggle, breakthroughs, etc....before I felt ready to write. I'm glad I waited....even though I often wanted to write much earlier.
And this was the question I always asked your dad - who are you reading? Who are the new contemplatives we need to know about?
I love Richard Rohr. He's a radical, Jesus-loving, truth telling itinerant Franciscan. I read all of his stuff.

Gerald May's "The Awakened Heart" is one of my touch stones.

I'm going through Elie Wiesel's works right now...trying to see how he brings together suffering and mysticism and Fredrick Buechner ("The Eyes of the Heart" and his collection of sermons).
And last, but not least - could I please have the recipe for the Famous Yaconelli Fried Spaghetti?
This is actually something I used to have for breakfast growing up and ate it almost every week in college. You chop up one onion a few cloves of garlic and fry it up with plenty of olive oil. Then you throw in spaghetti...already cooked and cooled in the refrigerator. You add lots of fresh black pepper and then top it with fresh Parmesan cheese (in college I used the canned stuff). Now days I also add broccoli or asparagus.
ah, the breakfast of champions! thank you mark! i so enjoyed reading your responses and look forward to what the future holds for you! you carry the yaconelli name so well!

here are the other previous & future stops on the grid-blog tour:

May 8 Jonny Baker
May 9 Gavin Richardson
May 10 Sarah Dylan Breuer she never posted a review
May 11 Jennifer Roach
May 12 Mark Oestreicher
May 15 Dixon Kinser
May 17 Jonathon Norman
May 19 Adam Cleaveland
May 22 Steve Case
May 24 Tim Van Meter
May 26 Lucas Land
May 29 Andy Jack
May 31 me
June 2 Darren Wright
June 5 Kester Brewin
June 7 Lilly Lewin
June 9 Mike King

all i know is that i am honored to be listed with such an amazing group of bloggers and have the opportunity to interact with mark as i blame he and his father for awakening my soul to the voice of god. you can read what i wrote about that here:

god i miss him

i remember

tears of joy

Monday, May 29, 2006

weepy day

i have been reading mark yaconelli's book 'contemplative youth ministry' for the past couple of weeks as i will be reviewing it on wednesday here on my blog as part of the grid-blog tour. i have been putting off writing mark as each time i sat down i was just overwhelmed with emotion. the fast approaching deadline forced my hand today and so i spent this morning in centering prayer and opened up to the emotions i had been holding back for far too long.

mark and his father mike were midwives of sorts to a very big spiritual awakening i had - i credit them for giving god permission to speak into my life (credit/blame - it's all the same!). they both taught me how to practice the presence of god - and remembering and honoring those emotions today has caused a lot of tears. if you've been reading my blog for a while you'll remember back in october i got a chance to thank mark at the nywc in pittsburgh and did the big ugly cry, right in front of him - trying to fight it the whole time. i was also dressed like a angel/fairy and he was the epitome of grace and kindness. he told me that my tears were a prayer, softening the hardened ground. well, today the ground is much softer as i have spent much time watering/praying.

it all seems so inefficient - i have THINGS TO DO - sitting in silence and tears just seems so indulgent, risky and like i'm tempting depression to take back it's ulgy hold on my life. how do we get to the place in our minds that doing the thing that will keep us from depression (being present to our emotions) is the exact opposite of what we tell ourselves - fight the emotions, keep a stiff upper lip, just keep swimming, just keep swimming... it's irony isn't lost on me here.

and so today i will enjoy the dirt under my psychological fingernails and plant some seeds in the tender soil of my soul and water them with my tears as i remember and am present to these life-changing memories and emotions.

Friday, May 26, 2006

things i said today - ii

....if you're moving two blocks away can't you just pack everything into black garbage bags the day before???

...or how 'bout those commercial laundry carts on wheels that i can just push down the road...

...or maybe the grocery store would lend me a couple of carts and i can look like a bag lady with A LOT of stuff for a couple of days...

...i really need to stop talking to myself... i hope those antibiotics i get from the doctor today work quickly...

Thursday, May 25, 2006

things i said today

.....if i scrub the tub in the new house i can decorate the bathroom even before we move...

...should you break a sweat while scrubbing the shower???

.....oh lord....please be armpit hair....please be armpit hair....

...thank you jesus for rubber gloves...

.....when was the last time this was scrubbed???

.....nothing gets this green residue off....

10 minutes later...

...there has to be some product here that will work...

.......bleach - no, comet - no, S.O.S. pads?...i'll try anything...

.....should it take FOUR of them to scrub one bath tub???

it took me over an hour to get that scuz off of the tub surround! but i did it, it's clean - it really needs replaced, but we'll have to make do. i told my friend about my cleaning trials today and she informed me of a tip that will hopefully keep the cleaning to a minimum in the future - TURTLE WAX (only on the tub surround NOT ON THE TUB FLOOR!!)

once the tub is clean apply like you would on your car and the water beads off - redo once or twice a year depending on water quality (which here is HORRIBLE!) it feels good to be on the other side of it though... i even got my new shower curtain and some decorations up.

i have missed my art and it was like christmas again taking it out today. there's no place like home... there's no place like home...

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

chasing paper, getting nowhere

liam and i have found ourselves in a spot that neither of us are ready for. it has been an emotional slog through each other's pain, burn-out and emotional upheaval. our commitment to each other hasn't budged, but finding the page we lost somewhere back to each other has been strained and struggling.

the move, the finances, the job search and job find were all ways that brought us together and took us apart. we have both been wounded and wounding these past couple of weeks. the stress of it all was becoming evident in our kids. we tried to only deal with it when school was in, or not at all, but they have radar installed for these things. most of the time it wasn't overt, but even that cold chill of disconnection creeps into the bones.

today we made progress. i have written before about the fact that we're just trying to hold it together until the landlords arrive (one is a counselor specializing in pastoral burnout and gender issues - we couldn't be more ready to see her if we tried). it's just that there is so much living to do between now and then. and adam sandler's life "clicker" isn't available to fast-forward us there. today there was real live communication - a couple of ah-ha moments and a restatement of our commitment to our marriage and to each other. we're on our way back home.

for liam - i love you.

The Two of Us - Lennon & McCartney

Two of us riding nowhere
spending someone's hard earned pay
You and me Sunday driving
Not arriving on our way back home
We're on our way back home
We're on our way home
We're going home

Two of us sending postcards
writing letters on my wall
You and me burning matches
lifting latches on our way back home
We're on our way back home
We're on our way home
We're going home

You and I have memories
longer that that road
that stretches out ahead

Two of us wearing raincoats
standing solo in the sun
You and me chasing paper
getting nowhere on our way back home
We're on our way back home
We're on our way home
We're going home

You and I have memories
longer that that road
that stretches out ahead

Two of us wearing raincoats
standing solo in the sun
You and me chasing paper
getting nowhere on our way back home
We're on our way back home
We're on our way home
We're going home
We're going home

We Test the Tips

we're all feeling it at the pump - here are some great gas saving tips:

We Test the Tips

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Etsy - Your place to buy and sell all things handmade

i might be well behind the times on this one, but i just found this wonderful site for all things hand-made. it's like ebay, but cuddly! enjoy!

Etsy - Your place to buy and sell all things handmade

Friday, May 19, 2006

ah the three day weekend!

one thing that canada has realized is the need for holiday - the summer pace is dotted with wonderful three-day weekends. this, the queen's birthday (or the may 2-4 holiday as most call it) is always celebrated the weekend before memorial day. (they also stick in a "civic holiday" in august just when you need it!)

things are looking up here. my friend was a huge help the other day and the next home is almost clean (have to still mop the floors, but i'm not doing that until right before we move in - even though i know i'll have to do it after too). it was just so nice not to be alone. the moral support meant a lot.

i have taped pink's room and it's ready for the lovely light chartreuse color that will look stunning with her pretty pink butterfly duvet cover. one of the things we promised the kids was that we would make their rooms special after the move - since this was just a temporary stop on the way it means that the next place needs some work to personalize them. it's tempting to let it slide, but i can remember as a kid how much identity i found in my room. it seemed my little sister was always getting the cute stuff and i somehow didn't. maybe my tastes ran counter to my mom's or frilly pink gunk was easier to find at the rummage sales? i dont know, but her room seemed to regularly be the focus of my mom's attention.

pink is getting the funky, cool tweenie room and it's been fun to work on and plan. i'm excited to see it come together. buck is into castles, knights and dragons - so we are doing our best to honor that (i'm just glad it's not race cars or hockey!). liam and i are going to paint our family crest on a shield (that way he can take it with him). while doing some research into the crest we found a latin motto - i have no idea if it specifically linked to our last name, or just one someone used, but we've claimed it for our family.


"to be rather than to seem"

isn't that great?? we'll make sure that is included on the shield. quite a motto for a young man to strive for.

so, this three day weekend will be spent together, hopefully cheerfully painting and prepping our new home. enjoying doing for us, even though it's a rental - and making it a place of peace.

we found out that the original owners of the home were the founders of the university. left in the living room was a tiny, little lighthouse trinket. i almost pitched it, but thought it might be special to someone. i come to find out that it is a tradition, a permanent fixture - passing from one family to the next - to remind us that this home is a lighthouse to our neighborhood. seems quite fitting don't you think?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Beauty Beats and Shines

I am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along.
I am aging and eaten and have done my share of eating too.
I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world
in which everything fits, but instead am wandering awed about
on a splintered wreck I've come to care for,
whose gnawed trees breathe delicate air,
whose bloodied and scarred creatures are my dearest companions,
and whose beauty beats and shines not in its imperfections,
but overwhelmingly in spite of them.

Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

get daily quotes from inward/outward here

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

jesus with skin on

i received an email this morning from my dear friend hope who saw the promises below and wondered if things were okay here. i can't lie to her - she knows me deepest, darkest parts - so i told her no, it's gotten hard again. liam's job was enough of a distration for a bit, but the newness of that has left and we are back to remembering what discouragement and burn-out feel like. we have realized that reaching out and asking for help involves trust, and trust is in short supply here. we've gotten burned by to many churches and it's hard to forget what that feels like.

it was easier to be financially needy and ask for prayer and help than it is to be emotionally desperate and wounded.

i wrote her back asking for prayer for some people here (the end of the school year and preperations for the europe trip have most people we would go to tied up in really demanding circumstances) to come and rescue us - there is just no motivation to get the things done for the move that need to be done and the stress of it all has us snipping and sniping at each other.

just typing out my response to her helped and not an hour later i had a phone call from a friend asking if she could come help me clean the new place to ready it for the move. the help cleaning won't be nearly as helpful as just having someone to talk to face to face.

the woman who will be our counselor arrives in about 5 weeks, but that seems so very far away. so if you think of us please say a prayer as the well is pretty dry and we must accomplish much in the next few weeks. reinforcements and encouragement would be so helpful. thanks!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The AA Promises

If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through.

We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.

We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.

We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace.

No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.

That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.

We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows.

Self-seeking will slip away.

Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change.

Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.

We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.

We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

Are these extravagant promises? We think not.

They are being fulfilled among us - sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.

They will always materialize if we work for them.

Alcoholics Anonymous p83-84

Sunday, May 14, 2006

a day for the struggling

from 1988 to 1996 i loathed mothers day. my mother passed in 1988 and i was infertile for the eight years following. for women who are single and wanting to be married, married and struggling to conceive, those grieving the loss of a child or mothers with prodigal children this is the most difficult day on the calendar.

i loathed being forced to go to church, listen to some man give lip service to females one day of the year and then have to walk out as they 'honored' mothers with a cheap lousy carnation or bookmark. i wanted to beat them with it. one year i actually refused to take one.

the memory of seeing the blood each month, proving i was a failure, not fit to bear children or mother them - it's truly devastating. your own body becomes your enemy.

so today, i stand with you. i know it is only a gesture - but i remember the pain, the grief and the longing. i stand with you today.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

just call me mrs. clean

well, we got the keys to our next home today - and it's a mess. i knew it would be - but it still doesn't make the fact that it is any easier. ugh. i have been avoiding cleaning here at our current home because i knew we were moving. isn't that horrible. i figure i'll clean it once and for all (not picking up and keeping tidy - but scrubbing sinks, tubs and washing walls, etc) when we move out.

now i have 2 homes to clean... sigh. and the one we're in is HUGE! three bathrooms is too much. i admit i have LOVED having my own to get ready in - nobody else goes in - it's just mine. but 3 toilets, 3 sinks, 3 tubs... too much. it will almost make going back to one bathroom again bearable... almost.

that's going to be the hardest thing about this move - only one bathroom again. never judge a family who has only one bathroom for being late to ANYTHING - it's like staging a multi-level production just to get everyone to church on time. that i haven't missed. nope, not one little bit.

but only having to keep the smaller place clean will be enough of a trade to tide me over. it's strange though, there is much less floor space, but it actually feels roomier. the rooms are larger and the floor plan is much more family friendly. it will be good to get settled for a longer stretch of time. it's not permanent, but it's an affordable, long term solution.

and i can't wait to get my art up on the walls!!! we didn't unpack it for this move - and i have missed it so!! it's going to be the motivation to actually get me over to the new place! hope your weekend is going beautifully!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Ben Witherington: Omar's Story-- The Tale of a Shiite Christian

this is beautiful and important - please read this man's moving account of living in the shadow of different.

Ben Witherington: Omar's Story-- The Tale of a Shiite Christian

blog tour for contemplative youth ministry

i have been asked to blog on mark yaconelli's new book "contemplative youth ministry" as part of a grid-blog this month. i am honored and excited. the book just arrived in the mail today and i can't wait to have some time to sink my brain and soul into it.

my official day isn't until may 31, but i wanted to make sure you were reading what everyone else had to say too. bob carlton at 'the corner' is the master of the grid-blog and this is what he had to say:

For the next month, Mark will be touring a group of blogs, sharing his story in ways that are unique to that blog and the community that reads it. I invite you to journey along with us, to offer your voice and experience integrating Christian spirituality and ministry.

May 8 Jonny Baker
May 9 Gavin Richardson
May 10 Sarah Dylan Breuer cannot find the link/post
May 11 Jennifer Roach
May 12 Mark Oestreicher
May 15 Dixon Kinser
May 17 Jonathon Norman
May 19 Adam Cleaveland
May 22 Steve Case
May 24 Tim Van Meter
May 26 Lucas Land
May 29 Andy Jack
May 31 me
June 2 Darren Wright
June 5 Kester Brewin
June 7 Lilly Lewin
June 9 Mike King

all i know is that i am honored to be listed with such an amazing group of bloggers and have the opportunity to interact with mark as i blame he and his father for awakening my soul to the voice of god. you can read what i wrote about that here:

god i miss him

i remember

tears of joy

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

patriarchy and pornography - part ii

stephanie has opened up a whole can of worms for me lately - her past two posts weight and gender and more gender questions are taking me places i haven't been wanting to go lately. i tried to respond on my other blog and found i couldn't be as honest under my 'real name' as i would have liked to be - so i set it aside. now i know i must face these issues. stuffing them, eating them and ignoring them aren't going to get me anywhere.

i have found many new plants to grow in that garden i spoke of (another garden metaphor...) on the grid blog for international womens day. i wrote:

patriarchy has planted and nurtured most of the plants in my garden. their roots go very deep. my hammer looks more like a machete some days - whacking away at the branches and leaves that overshadow everything else i try to plant. i can nurture it for a moment, for a small season, but then the well established roots catch up to me and i am left in the shadows again. too exhausted to care any more. too ashamed for even wanting this small life to grow on it's own.

the thought of a hammer makes me violent, smashing and crashing to release some of this deep, dark anger and rage i have against the machine. i realize it will make me no more than those who have made me this way. violence will solve nothing however tempting it would be to crush that which has wounded my very soul.

so, i am turning in my hammer for a plowshare to clear out these roots, once and for all, get to the bottom of that ugly theology that has made these plants that overshadow everything else i try to plant. remove them, shred them, burn the seeds so they cannot take root ever again. and maybe pink will grow up without them too. nurturing her own plants and bringing life to what god has planted inside of her.
i need to do some clearing out of the old plants - there is nowhere to plant the new ones that is clear enough and exposed enough for those tender new plants to survive. so i must root out the old, and i guess that happens for me with words - writing about it, asking questions, uncovering the questions to ask, and plain old allowing myself to get angry and sad and face the truth and allow myself to grieve it and then sit and allow the new plants time to grow. silence, prayer, writing and acknowledging my emotions on these issues (patriarchy and pornography) is my only way through.

and i am angry. really angry. these two issues have shaped and distorted my life more than any other issue except for my relationship with god - and the fact that that is marred by P&P is what makes me just want to explode.

you see, i bought in - i believed it all. i loathe that i was so easily manipulated and formed by it, but it has truly made me who i am today. spiritual formation is a powerful thing - anything can become a spiritual discipline. silence is one of the most treasured of all spiritual disciplines. sitting in the presence of god in expectation - oh what joy and rapture. but when that is distorted like it was in my church of origin - silence no longer becomes a tool, but a weapon.

and not only was i to be silent, but god was too. who did i think i was that i would merit a word from god - the written word from god was the ONLY WORD FROM GOD. so silence was pointless, useless, just a cause for creating a fantasy life to keep myself from utter boredom and sheer desperation. how totally cruel to make half the kingdom (at least the only part i knew) silent, but to then take away any input from god - it was sick, twisted and wrong and it makes me want to hurt someone. the anger deep in my soul is so vile. all i ever wanted, please understand me, all i ever wanted was to please god. to serve god. to be obedient. i was truly silent, my head was covered, my heart was even covered. while i was in that place i was there trying for all i was worth to please god. i didn't fight, question or challenge. that would have been sin, and the deepest place of my heart has always been to please god.

so i sat. in silence. and heard god. and pushed the voice away. do you understand how much they stole from me? i thought i was crazy. hearing voices. god was SILENT JUST LIKE ME. then why did i hear his voice? i fought that voice my whole life. thinking i was crazy. the level of distortion is cult-like in it's control and influence over my young, eager soul. THEY WILL PAY FOR THIS at the foot of god one day. they stole from me and i want it back. i want them to pay. i want to take that hammer instead of that plowshare and bash them all to bits. the anger is so deep and so strong that i feel it overpowering me as i type. i am reduced to a puddle and trying to keep from keening.

what happens when a church makes a young girl feel like she is insane?

patriarchy and pornography

stephanie at just etchings is doing some important work on her blog right now. this quote is so good i just can't let go of it and wanted to honor it here too:
The war on women is not a war of men against women. We naively assume that this war has been declared by and caused by men. That’s the big lie! This war is being fought against both sexes, against all of us. Men are not the author of this war, Satan is. This cause of the war on women is Satan, who uses the fallen powers and principalities of this world to keep us in oppressive traditions and structures. Jesus has taught us to know that the enemy is always the Enemy! Pg 106/107

Both man and woman participated in the Fall. Adam and Eve were both responsible (Gen 3:6; Rom 5:15-21; 1 Cor 15:21-22). A direct result of the Fall, gender mutuality was disrupted and woman became dependent on man and man became an authority over women. Sin, not God, destroyed the partnership between man and woman. Patriarchy is worshipping the curse. Pg 109

Calling Patriarchy God’s will is like calling pornography God’s will. The analogy between patriarchy and pornography is quite fitting because the two are very similar in their effects. Pornography objectifies persons by turning them into property to be owned, demeans the feminine, trivializes sexuality, and perpetuates violence toward women. This is precisely what patriarchy does. Patriarchy treats women as objects, demeans and trivializes them, and provides a subtle theological framework for the right to abuse women. Calling patriarchy God’s will is theological pornography! pg 114

wow - i'm ordering this book today!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

my first story

okay, i've finally got a bit of time to maybe put this out here. sorry i haven't done it sooner, i've been helping a friend launch a new initiative for the university and trying to get my immigration status in order.

it was amazing! i really enjoyed it. as i told hope today i realized as i saw the women listen and react to the story why jesus told stories. it just kind of hovers out there and floats - instead of facts and proof, opinions and reproof - this allowed each woman to enter into the space the story created and receive it in her own way. it was beautiful. parker palmer calls it 'telling the truth, but telling it slant'.

the story i wrote had to do with the garden metaphor "what flower are you?" that we've done here on my blog for the past couple of springs. it inspired my story of the giant sunflower who thought she was supposed to be a rose. it is my story - but told in such a way that it was actually interesting! HA!

i'm hoping to give it a lot more detail and see if it has any legs in the publishing world.

after i told the story we had a time of silent reflection so each woman could begin to think on her own story and her own flower.

the woman who invited me to speak came up after the place erupted like popcorn with each woman talking about her own experience and told me of how excited she was because she saw how this really got each woman thinking of her own place in the community (garden) and how far reaching this would be for the group. it was very validating and i really enjoyed it all.

hopefully i'll have a bit more clarity the next time and i maybe won't be so tied up before hand. all in all it was an terrific opportunity and i can't wait to do it again!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

garden story

well, i'm off to tell my first story. i haven't been able to blog about it, i don't know why, but i guess i had to work all of this out on my own.

i'm nervous, excited, emotional and more stressed than i should be. these people love me, invited me and i really want show up, be present and be past it somehow.

i think i'm in need of a change - i can feel my serenity flying above my head like a gull. warning me that if i don't make some changes i'm in for a relapse or depression, or both.

it's not white knuckle or desperate - i just feel like i've been insulating myself from reality lately. liam's hospital visit, the new community and culture we're experiencing here, and all of the many changes, both good and bad. they have created stressors that i am carrying in my body instead of dealing with head on. the closest OA group is 90 minutes away. there are AA groups and ALANON here, so i might be making some phone calls this week to ask if they would mind me attending.

my future counselor is my landlord at present. they don't arrive here until the end of june. i am so looking forward to getting to know her and her husband and living a life examined again. i just have to make it through the next couple of months without throwing it all away. i would appreciate your prayers. now i'm going to stop because i've already done my makeup and i can feel my eyes getting a bit teary. thanks for listening.

UPDATE: it went so well - what fun! i'll blog about it tomorrow. thanks for your prayers!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

why i am a friend of emergent

woot woot! great thoughts from leron shults on the emergent us site

emergent-us: Doctrinal Statement: "Such a move would be inappropriate. Various communities throughout church history have often developed new creeds and confessions in order to express the Gospel in their cultural context, but the early modern use of linguistic formulations as 'statements' that allegedly capture the truth about God with certainty for all cultures and contexts is deeply problematic for at least two reasons. First, such an approach presupposes a (Platonic or Cartesian) representationalist view of language, which has been undermined in late modernity by a variety of disciplines across the social and physical sciences (e.g., sociolinguistics and paleo-biology). Why would Emergent want to force the new wine of the Spirit’s powerful transformation of communities into old modernist wineskins? Second, and more importantly from a theological perspective, this fixation with propositions can easily lead to the attempt to use the finite tool of language on an absolute Presence that transcends and embraces all finite reality. Languages are culturally constructed symbol systems that enable humans to communicate by designating one finite reality in distinction from another. The truly infinite God of Christian faith is beyond all our linguistic grasping, as all the great theologians from Irenaeus to Calvin have insisted, and so the struggle to capture God in our finite propositional structures is nothing short of linguistic idolatry."

Leadership Blog: Out of Ur: Spencer Burke on the Church that Consumerism Built--and Why I Fled

Leadership Blog: Out of Ur: Spencer Burke on the Church that Consumerism Built--and Why I Fled

via jordan

i'm tired of moving

life here has gotten a bit overwhelming - lots of good things too, not all bad, but i'm feeling it and the second wave of relocation has hit me. i am aware of it, and feeling it - and hopefully facing it in a healthier way than i've faced some other moves we've made - but i can feel it's residual stress deep down in my bones. i have actually been carrying it in my muscles.

whether a genetic trait, or a by-product of a stressful childhood i have a very bad habit. i tense and lock my muscles instead of sitting relaxed and loose. this is especially prominent in my jaw, shoulders and my bum. i carry all of my stress there and screw up my body and cause myself a lot of discomfort. anger and resentment somehow sits in my butt muscles - the seed of my soul? i don't know - but i have been carrying a lot of resentment and anger there and it can be nearly crippling if i don't pay attention to it.

breathing, stretching (damn i've got to get over my inhibitions and get my butt to yoga) and actually feeling and processing the emotions that cause me to lock up and freeze. i've never been good at the limber sports - running, swimming, dance, gymnastics, tennis, golf - but give me a ball to hit hard and far, score a basket, spike a volleyball - strong muscle sports and i excelled. i could never even do a bridge (as a young in shape 2nd grader) or touch my toes when limber young muscles should be able to stretch. so both genetics and bad body connections play into the fact that i am now coiled as tight as a spring and on the verge of incapacitating myself (could that be what i really want - flat on my back in bed??) if i don't start to relax, loosen up and breathe through some of this.

so, i've lit my candles, will sit and meditate on my story for saturday (i'll blog about that later) and spend a day focused on lightening the load. we move in less than a month and if i don't come apart i've realized i'm going to come apart...

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Ideals Collide as Vatican Rethinks Condom Ban - New York Times

could it be so? that faithful wives of unfaithful husbands could be protected by the church?? god please make it so.

Ideals Collide as Vatican Rethinks Condom Ban - New York Times: "The issue is AIDS. Church officials recently confirmed that Pope Benedict XVI had requested a report on whether it might be acceptable for Catholics to use condoms in one narrow circumstance: to protect life inside a marriage when one partner is infected with H.I.V. or is sick with AIDS."

big news from youth specialties

woo hoo!!!! BIG news from YS!

Congratulations Marko, Tic & Karla (& co!) Celebrating with you all today!

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