Tuesday, May 31, 2005


Now that I'm starting to get a hang of this blogging thing, I thought I'd run a little experiment to see if anyone's stopping by here. So here's the deal. I'm going to send a copy of my book to the first five people who email me with their name, address, and something nice about my blog :-)

A Few of My Favorite Things

In honor of The Sound of Music, which I watched last night, here are a few of my favorite things:

Favorite Salad Dressing: Olive Oil or Caesar (on the side)
Favorite Color: Plum
Favorite Flower: daisies, gerber daisies, cala lilies
Favorite Smell: baked apple
Favorite Movie(s): hmmm…changes daily…50 First Dates, Les Miserables, Serendipity, You’ve Got Mail, Shop Around the Corner, An Affair to Remember, Shawshank Redemption, Amistad, Ever After, The Princess Bride, That Thing You Do, When Harry Me Sally, Finding Forrester, Never Been Kissed, Alex & Emma
Favorite Book(s): Dancing in the Arms of God, Every Man’s Battle, Generation Ex (!), Lost Daughters of China, Ragamuffin Gospel, Sacred Marriage, Second Chances, Total Money Makeover, A Women’s Guide to Financial Peace of Mind...
Favorite TV show: nothing that I set my calendar to anymore, usually some VH1 countdown, biography show or football. I did start watching Everybody Loves Raymond about 6 episodes before it ended.
Favorite Pastimes: writing, volleyball, watching football, reading, ultimate Frisbee, disc golf, golf, walking, putzing around the house, hiking, game nights, travel, church stuff, computer stuff, great conversations, museums…
Favorite Board Game: Settlers of Cataan
Favorite Type of Music: Mostly Christian because I worked in the industry for several years
Favorite Store: Barnes & Noble
Favorite CDs: Bebo Norman, Chris Tomlin, downhere, The Normals’ Coming to Life, Louis Armstrong’s Greatest Hits, Casting Crowns
Favorite Place: low-maintenance: my home; high maintenance: snorkeling in St. John
Favorite Comfort Food: chips and salsa
Favorite Pizza: the late great Donatos thin crust Pepperoni
Favorite Ice Cream: amaretto cherry chocolate or cinnamon
Favorite Soda: would rather have water, but mountain dew if I must
Favorite Sport to Watch: definitely football
Favorite Sport to Play: Volleyball
Favorite Holiday: Easter

Monday, May 30, 2005

Why Blog?

I have loved this time off to think and sleep and rest. I spent a good couple hours today journaling and enjoying the solitude of God's presence. I was writing about a few of the recent emails I received from readers and prayed for the concerns and situations they shared with me. Then I started thinking of the parallels between writing a personal book and writing a blog. The thing about a blog is that a stranger can access your thoughts and in doing so, develop a sense of relationship to you without your knowledge. As I spent WAY too much time losing myself in the blogs of others in the last few days, I noticed several posts along these lines as bloggers wrestle out the pros and cons of revelation and restraint. There's great freedom in flinging your thoughts out into the blogosphere, but a bit of paranoia knowing that the wrong person might choose to use your words against you. For me, blogging is an extension of my writing, and those extremes are just an extension of the ramifications of being a writer. There is an odd, but wonderful, bond my readers share with me when they write. Even in interviews, I'm asked about my dog and the COWS (you'll have to read my book to understand that one). The nature of my book necessitates a certain level of vulnerability, I suppose, in order to develop the trust of my reader and credibility that I'm not this expert, detached professional talking about "them." I'm just a messed up child of God, muddling through life the best I can, as authentically as I can, as Christlike as I can. I share some of my foibles and fumbling in the book, and if you follow along here, you'll find more, I'm sure.

Long preface aside, I decided to post my reasons for blogging. In no particular order:

* To learn a new form of media for personal and professional use
* As a way of keeping friends and family up to date
* To post current (and less important) news on my book's ministry to those who venture here
from my site
* For an extra level of accountability that I am living out the things I profess in my book
* To provide an outlet for writing during a season when future writing projects are "on the shelf"

Friday, May 27, 2005

Book Notes: Authentic Faith

authentic faith

A few nights ago, Bailey jumped on my bed with enough force to knock the books off my headboard shelf--and onto my head! Seemed to be a good time to do a little winnowing.

One book that stayed is Gary Thomas' Authentic Faith: The Power of a Fire-Tested Life. The tagline is What if life isn't meant to be perfect but we are meant to trust the One who is? Similar in format to his Sacred Pathways, Gary outlines several disciplines that God uses to bring us to greater depth and maturity--authenticity--in our relationship with Him. He's not talking about the disciplines we can take pride in: Scripture memorization, fasting, giving, quiet times, etc. Those are cake compared to the ones God allows on His terms: selflessness, waiting, suffering, persecution, social mercy, forgiveness, mourning, contentment, sacrifice, hope and fear.

The opening story is about a one of those golden guys with a Midas touch. Then one day he's hit with a brain hemorrhage and life changed.

Gary writes:

The devastating effect on his body was paralleled by an equally powerful--and wonderful--change in his spirit...Whereas before his focus was on the masses, Mike now specializes in healing hurting hearts one at a time.

"The brain hemorrhage took a lot away from me," Mike told me recently, "but it gave me even more." Mike is now the type of guy whose spirit invites you to quiet your heart, get rid of all pretenses, and revel in God's presence. I think the main difference is that in college, when I was around Mike, I wanted to be like Mike. now, after spending time with Mike, I want to be more like Jesus.

Wow. Gary got my attention.

The premise of Authentic Faith is that like any relationship of depth, our faith must move past the infatuation stage where God is palpably present and our prayers are quickly answered. Gary writes:

That means...growing in ways that we naturally wouldn't be inclined to grow...This is a painful process, a very real spiritual death...The first sign that a believer has failed to move in a timely fashion past the spiritual infatuation stage is usually disillusionment. Whereas before they thought of God as only kind, only merciful, and only loving, they now tend to view him as stubborn, severe, and unyielding...There's a place for this disillusionment, provided it effects the change that leads to mature friendship with God. If disillusionment remains, however, it ceases to motivate and eventually may bury the believer under its despair.

I admit, I've been a bit mired in disillusionment lately. I've been a believer for 14 years, and know--intellectually--that my faith ebbs and flows, and the depth of my friendship with God dips and dives. And if I'm really honest, as much as I hate the valleys, I know they are necessary testing grounds, to slough off the dust of all this world dictates. Growth is painful.

Gary's words both encourage and disappoint me. I'm encouraged by the reminder that asking the tough questions and honestly admitting my frustration is a natural and necessary part of the process. I'm disappointed that the depth of my disillusionment reveals how necessary this test has been. We live in such a formulaic culture, especially in the church: if you do A, B and C, and avoid X, Y and Z, you'll return the favored result. God isn't that predictable. I think I needed this disillusionment to recognize some of those shadow beliefs I've yet to surrender. God has given me new life and the promise of forever. When will I really realize that my life here, because it is HERE and not heaven, by definition, cannot be perfect? When will I submit my idealized life as an attainable goal? If I believe that God is moving too slowly according to my timetable, or what I perceive is the world's timetable, is that really His issue, or am I humble enough to accept that it is mine?

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Memorial Day Weekend

One more day! It's going to be a crazy day of meetings at work today, but then I am off for five long--hopefully slow and restful--days. If you think of my brain as a battery, I'm been on low for quite a while so it's time to recharge. My plan is to spend at least 12 hours either sleeping or in bed for each of the next five days!

I do have some other plans, including Les Miserables (the best grace story outside the Bible) and Petra (the exhibit, not the band). I'm also hoping to start the summer season of Ultimate Frisbee.

I've been ruminating on the verse I posted about a few days ago, "Go in the strength you have." God has provided another opportunity for me to serve tonight. One of my favorite people in the world is a neighbor with 3 (soon to be 4) kiddos. Living in singleland, it's easy to get caught up in both the advantages and disadvantages of living alone. Without a family, it's tempting to take your identity and worth from what you do. Relationships are important, of course, but you have to be intentional about letting people in when it's alarmingly easy to keep people out. It's a different thing altogether you go home and there they are. For me, especially, since my return to work, coming home means turning my brain off and usually, going to bed earlier than most ten-year-olds.

This family down the street has done more to heal my heart (and my head) than I'm sure I even know. I am amazed by the way they live their lives and faith and am utterly blessed to have been adopted by them. When I think of what family is meant to be, this family is the first snapshot that comes to mind.

On occasion the husband has to go out of town for work. During those times, I'm often invited over for dinner and assisting with the bedtime routine. My friend thinks I'm helping her out, but I'm definitely getting the better end of the bargain. Not only do I spend time, living real life with a woman I admire as a mentor and role model, but I get loved on by three of the most adorable children in the world. But wait, there's more! I get an outlet for my maternal desires and practice establishing the rituals and habits I hope to establish in my own family. And best of all, in a season of weakness, I still have the strength to be used in a way that is meaningful to one of the people I love the most. Isn't God cool?

Figuring Things Out

Thanks to Ryan for introducing me to Flickr. I'm still figuring things out, but I think I'll like it a lot more than Picasa. For one thing, I now have pictures on my sidebar! I figured out how to put an image in my profile, but I'm stumped on how to not to have that image pop up on the "About Me" section. Stay tuned...

Monday, May 23, 2005

I'm rich...and so are you!

A sobering thought for us Americans...Global Rich List

Go in the Strength You Have

Last week was pretty foggy. I started a few posts that I hope to finish up. Here's the first, which I started on Thursday...

Wow...Today was a quiet day at work. There are a couple of conferences going on so many of my co-workers were away. I took advantage of the opportunity to get caught up on email.

I love working at a Christian company because God is often able to get my attention simply as I do my work. In my inbox was a devotional from the Proverbs 31 ministry. The key verse got my attention: Judges 6:14, "Go in the strength you have…Am I not sending you?" (NLT)

I had an email from a friend this morning questioning whether or not we should go ahead with the plans we made this weekend. I was telling God that I was beginning to doubt that there would be a time again when I could live my life without worrying about my health, or could at least assume that my body could keep up with whatever I wanted to do. The temptation is do give up on really living life until I'm fully recovered, but that doesn't seem to be the right answer either.

How cool that God answered my question just a few minutes later with this devotional! Just when I think that God can't use me when I'm less than 100%, I sense this Scripture reminding me that He can. In the face of my obvious physical weakness, His strength is much more evident. There's no question that anything I accomplish is because of His strength, not mine.

More from the devotion:

Gideon's family was going through a very difficult time. Their enemies, the Midianites, were stealing crops and destroying their land. Gideon had become fearful. His heart was overwhelmed by what seemed to be an impossible situation. As he focused on the strengths of the Midianites, his own weaknesses were magnified, leaving him with a sense of inadequacy. One day Gideon decided to take his sheaves of wheat into a winepress for threshing so no one could find him. While Gideon was there, an angel of God came to him and said, "The LORD is with you, mighty warrior." Was Gideon acting like a mighty warrior? No. He was acting more like a mighty wimp! Yet God saw beyond who Gideon was that day and gave Him the name of who he could become, a mighty warrior."But sir," Gideon replied, "if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us?" The LORD turned to him and said, "Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian's hand. Am I not sending you?" "But Lord," Gideon asked, "how can I save Israel? My family is the weakest and I am the smallest in my family." The LORD answered, "I will be with you, and you will strike down all your enemies together."

Gideon was filled with uncertainty, fear and unbelief. He questioned the promise of God's presence. He doubted the strength of his personal abilities. And he denied the possibility of victory over his enemies....Fear of not being able to do it all leads me to doubt. Did I hear God wrong when I made these commitments? ...If He is with me, why has God allowed my circumstances to be so difficult?...I may not be able to do all that I want to do, when I want to do it, but I can do all that God is "sending me" to do today. I can choose to focus on the strength that I have - His strength. I can face my day with confident trust, because He promises to be with me. And with Him by my side, I can strike down the enemies of doubt and fear as I face obstacles and overcome challenges that are part of God's plan for me today.

My prayer for today:Lord, help me see myself and my life through your eyes. I often focus on my circumstances instead of focusing on You. When I look at what I can't do and what I don't have, I get discouraged and overwhelmed. I want to run and hide. Please come to me like you came to Gideon, and set my eyes on Your plan and your provision for today. You are the strength of my heart and my portion forever!

To read the whole devotion, click here

Power Verses:

Psalm 73:26, "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." (NIV)

Matthew 28:20b, "I'll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age." (The Message)

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17, "May our Lord Jesus Christ and God our Father, who loved us and in his special favor gave us everlasting comfort and good hope, comfort your hearts and give you strength in every good thing you do and say." (NLT)

And just in case He didn't get my attention, I received 2 emails from readers about my book. I am humbled and amazed that God allowed me to finish that work before the injury so that even in my recovery, when I feel most useless, I can see the harvest of what I have sown.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Thursday, May 19, 2005

I Love Bailey

I was thinking I had a rough couple of days. I was wrong.

It's 11pm and I've just returned from the Bebo concert. Much too tired to comment on that, but had to describe what I found when I returned home.

So, today, my dog, Bailey had endured her least favorite thing in the world--grooming.

(Quick aside. Bailey loves going to the vet. She literally smiles. It's very odd to have a dog smiling as a vet is checking everything out. On the other hand, she DESPISES the groomer. As soon as she sees the Petsmart sign, she starts convulsing and giving me the "Don't Leave Me Here!!!" eye plea. Why getting pretty is worse that getting poked and prodded is beyond me. My dog is certifiably weird)

Usually after grooming day, Bailey gets a little extra attention. We go for a walk, we play catch, we cuddle. But today I had the concert, so I left my place a little after 6. It was still light out, so I didn't leave any lights on.

Like most people, I have a place where my stuff tends to collect--mail, papers, etc. In my house it's the dining room table. Like most dogs, Bailey likes to go where she shouldn't whenever she can get away with it. I made the mistake of not completely pushing all the chairs in.

I arrived home a few minutes ago to a completely dark house. Usually Bailey greets me at the door. Not tonight. When I called out her name, I heard a swish and the flutter of papers. I turned on the light to find a very dejected dog, sitting on top of my table, resigned to the fact that she got up and couldn't get down, and was SO busted. She could have been up there in the dark for hours. Poor girl. The more I laughed, the sorrier she looked. Oh...I needed that.

I'm going to go take my sorry dog to bed now...Good night!

Life is a Roller Coaster

Since Easter, I've been part of a Bible in 90 Days group at work. We meet on Wednesdays during lunch to test drive the curriculum. I was struck by a comment on the video. John Walton explained that our perspective shapes our response to events. We get in trouble when we expect life to be a monorail ride. If we're expecting a monorail, we get alarmed if we take an unexpected dip or a sharp turn. If we think life is a roller coaster, on the other hand, we'd be disappointed if our ride was level. We raise our hands and thoroughly enjoy the highs, scream in delight as we come crashing down, and wait expectantly in the low points because we know that the next high point is just around the corner. I needed that reminder because life is giving me whiplash.

This week is good example. For those of you following along, you know I've been looking forward to the concert tonight (and yes, I have a friend joining me!) Work is getting better and I'm FINALLY feeling like I'm making a contribution. On the other hand, I can tell that I'm on the bubble healthwise, and I'm so afraid of another relapse. Next week I'm going to have a five day weekend so I'm just praying that I can make it until then. Yesterday, I had a bit of a scare. All week I've been feeling nauseous, dizzy, light-headed, headache-y, all the lovely friends I've bonded with since my injury. I also had a bit of sore throat. I wasn't sure if I was feeling off because I need a few days off or if I was fighting off a cold. Saturday I was cleaning my bathroom and apparently didn't have the room as well ventilated as I thought. That apparently was too much for my wussy immune system. By yesterday afternoon I was having a hard time breathing and my doc sent me to the ER. I wonder if I can get frequent visitor discounts! Because of my history they took some extra precautions, but I'm fine. Annoyed with my body, but fine. I'm breathing better today with the help of a fancy-schmancy inhaler. I'm tempted to think I'm on a low rider monorail, but I'm thinking, even though my health stuff frustrates me, it's getting easier to see the highs in my life right now...great job, great insurance, great friends (Dan and Sara rock!) who cancelled plans to take me to the ER, great neighbors to watch my dog, and the best dog in the world.

I've learned a lot about unconditional love from my dog. No matter what my mind or emotions through at me, Bailey makes me smile. So I'll end this update (and explanation of my MIA status yesterday) with her. Today was grooming day. Here's the before close up:

After Photo

...and here's Bailey after her cut. (Kudos to Petsmart for getting her to stay still for ribbons!)

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Cool Site Alert

Wow...I could spend days running around here...


Blog Spam???

GRRRR....When I saw that I had 48 comments for Jer and Erin's wedding, I thought maybe I wasn't alone in the blogosphere. Well...I'm not, but instead of fellow well-wishers, my blog got spammed! If only all that creativity spammers have could be directed for some GOOD use.

I'm trying to figure out how to block or protect against spam. (Advice is welcome!) In the meantime, I changed the setting for posters to registered users only, and am manually deleted the little rabbit spams. ARGH!

Monday, May 16, 2005

Sparta Baptist Church

Yesterday I was invited to do a Q&A at Sparta Baptist Church, which I discovered is about as far from me in the same city as me as possible! After a few "scenic" turns, I arrived safely. I enjoyed the time with the Sunday school class and commend the group for tackling the tough family life issues.

My speaking and promotional schedule has been pretty lean since my I've returned to work. It was good to be back in the saddle!

Shout outs: Crossroads

Shout out to my friends at Crossroads. Thanks for the plug! Posted by Hello

Thursday, May 12, 2005

The Funeral That Never Ends

A few years ago I interviewed Gary Chapman, ex-husband of Amy Grant. When he learned of my book, we talked off-record about his recent divorce. The one bit of that conversation that I've shared in my book is his comment that divorce is the funeral that never ends.

Tom Elliff, pastor of the Oklahoma City-area First Baptist Church in Del City, and leader of the Southern Baptist Convention's "Kingdom Families" initiative agrees.

What Not to Do

This column appeared in the Contra Costa Times on May 11, 2005. I wish every divorced parent would take this counsel to heart.


Son takes back seat to new partner

Q: I have a 20-year-old son who still lives with me. After being divorced for six years, I am finally in a loving relationship and even though my son was my confidant, I sat him down and explained to him that my partner is moving in and in the future my partner will now play that role. He said that he understood completely, but then decided to move into his father's home -- a man with whom he has not had a close relationship for many years. I'm not sure how to handle this situation. Please help.

A: We are not sure you need to handle anything at this point. Your son is an adult and has made the choice to live somewhere else. Had you asked us how to handle it before your partner moved in, we would have probably told you not to put your son and your partner in direct competition with each other. If you do, one will lose, and the other will win, and in your case, it sounds as if your son gave up without a fight. How did you put your son in competition with your significant other? By stating that being your confidant used to be your son's job, but now that you have a partner, your son is out and your partner is in. Basically, you told your son that he could easily be replaced. Is there any wonder why he chose to move and cultivate a better relationship with his other parent?

It's not uncommon for divorced parents to use their children as their confidants -- someone to lean on in a time of stress -- and divorce or separation is a perfect time for this mistake because the adult is now alone without another adult in which to confide. At a time when children need to feel the most secure, however, telling them your problems only lets them know that Mom or Dad doesn't have the foggiest idea what to do, either.

When parents need someone to talk to about adult decisions -- for example, should your new love sleep over, should you blow your life savings on that trip to Fiji or should you invest in Microsoft -- consider talking to a therapist, an investment counselor, maybe your travel agent, but not your kids. Certainly, don't preface a huge decision with "Now that (insert a new boyfriend or girlfriend's name) is here, things are really going to change," or you are setting their relationship up for failure. The child will automatically think the new "friend" is taking over and, like the 20-year-old in this case, he or she will either leave or fight the change or resent the new person.

A better way to begin such a relationship is to not compare the two people. Understand that they both have separate roles in your life. Rejoice in the fact that you have a child and life partner and do not allow their roles to overlap.

Ex-Etiquette is written by Discovery Bay residents Jann Blackstone-Ford, M.A., and her husband's ex-wife, Sharyl Jupe, authors of Ex-Etiquette for Parents: Good Behavior After a Divorce or Separation.

Visit their website at www.bonusfamilies.com.

Child Custody in Israel

Sad article about child custody realities in Israel

At Last....

My website has finally been updated! You can now read the winning scholarshipship essay and find a link to this blog for the latest news. It's a much needed start. My bio, schedule and resource sections will be next on the agenda. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

belated evidence that I am a woman of my word...for those who wondered :-) Posted by Hello
Figuring out how to post pictures again... Posted by Hello

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

I Love Gary Thomas

My job is starting to get fun.

The last week has been very affirming that I'm not the idiot I've started to believe I am. About a week ago someone gave me a great compliment. I realized that those have been few and far between since I started my job. Don't get me wrong, my supervisors have all been great, with the patience of Job. They've encouraged me throughout my recovery. This compliment felt different because it was the first I remember (!), that I didn't feel had the head injury caveat. (Whether intended or internalized that way by me). Kinda like when someone says, "You'd be so pretty if you'd lose 10 pounds..." or whatever. I feel like my work life since the injury has been, "You did a good job...for a head-injured person." Typically my work history has involved promotions within my first six months. This has been a humbling change of events, which is why it is especially gratifying that I am finally feeling like I am contributing. Which brings me to the fun stuff.

Long before I ever had interest in marriage, I would pick up a book or two to read "just in case" I ever got married. Five Love Languages, Love is A Decision, His Needs, Her Needs...books like that. Then a few years ago, I became a judge for the ECPA Gold Medallion Awards. Ironically, I judged the marriage category. In 2000, one of the nominees was a book called Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas. It utterly, completely and every way blew me away. Hands down. The BEST book on marriage out there. The subtitle of the book is: What if the purpose of marriage is to be holy more than happy? This book transformed my understanding of marriage. Once I saw it as a spiritual discipline, as a way of demonstrating in a tangible way God's love for us, I was sold. I wanted to be married.

Since that first reading, I have been a Gary Thomas advocate. Most anyone who know me who's married since 2000 has received a copy. I believe this book, if read and practiced by Christians, could change the world.

Before I get (more) sickening in my Gary adoration, let me share my fun news. I'm now Gary's marketing director. "Gee Jen, can you get excited about this author?" So very cool!

p.s. the Gary love is mutual. He had this to say about Generation Ex:
This is a brilliant book! Though I have never faced the issues Jen Abbas talks about, I was still enthralled because Jen is such an engaging writer. Her counsel is as practical as it is profound, and relevant not just for children of divorced couples, but any couple considering a divorce or anyone ministering to the children of divorce. You hold in your hands the debut of a gifted writer in whom the calling of God is most evident. —Gary Thomas, author of Sacred Marriage

Check out Gary's newest book, Devotions for Sacred Parenting. Chapter 40 is my favorite :-)

Monday, May 09, 2005

Jennifer Aniston on Parental Divorce...and her own

I've been meaning to post this for awhile. Jennifer Aniston's comments are right on:

"When your parents split up, it's impossible to delude yourself about fairy tale romance and happy endings," she explained. "Marriage actually brought up all the sorts of things I pushed on to the back-burner."

Read the full article here:
Jen blames childhood for split

I Love Zondervan

Shortly after I returned to work last November, I filled out a survey nominating my employer for the Best Christian Workplace. I'm grateful that we won, but even more grateful that my bills were paid and I still have a job!

The 40 Best Christian Places to Work

The Fog

Sorry about the lack of posts.

I've been back in "The Fog." Work is picking up as I am able to handle more, but with each adjustment in my workload, I regress a bit in my ability to handle anything else. It's rather sad when my dad calls to ask what I've been doing (i.e. why haven't you called), and all I can say is, "work." I'm not even working more than 40 hours a week, but still I'm mentally exhausted and need a ton of sleep. Throw in any stress, late nights, transition, travel or anything else out of the normal schedule and I'm affected even more.

Affected means entering "The Fog." I thought of this analogy Saturday morning driving to church for a retreat of silence with some others in my 20something group. The fog was so thick I could hardly see much in front of my car. I realized that that was how I spent most of the last 16 months. I lived in that little spot of clarity. I lived in the moment and when the moment was gone, so was the memory. I don't remember events, only the emotions. I remember being upset with someone, but not knowing why. I remember feeling close to someone, but forget what developed that intimacy. When I was off work, I was able to write things down as I journaled. I haven't done much of that since I've returned to work, which is maybe why I feel like I've lost more of life (or memory of it) lately.

I'm well enough to tell when I'm entering the fog. I have some warning now. Before the fog would just come up and envelop me and the next thing I know I'm at home, though I don't know how I go there, or I'm somewhere else I wasn't before the fog hit. Now the fog comes more slowly: my vision blurs, my thoughts start to swirl, words are hard to come by, the world starts spinning. I get nauseous. It happened again on Saturday. The only remedy I've found is sleep and it seems I'm sleeping my life away.

I've come to an awareness that I've likely hurt some people while I've been in The Fog. I've let people down, or forgot important things or said the wrong thing because my mind wasn't working to filter my raw feelings. It's unsettling for the security of my relationships. It's humbling. I know I owe apologies, but I don't know to whom or for why.

Thursday, May 05, 2005


I've mentioned the Smart Marriage newslist a few times. There's also a Smart Marriages conference each year where all the leaders in the field meet and mingle. I've thought about attending the last couple of years as I was researching for my book. The conference features most everyone I quote. What's held me back is the fact that I'm single. Seems like I've picked the wrong hobbies to meet a good Christian single guy! Alas, I'm going. I can boost my confidence with the fact that I'm now going for work but I gotta tell ya, I'm pretty excited about it!

Solo to Bebo?

In my previous position I often received tickets to different concerts and events. A great perk for any music fan. The downside is that I often had two tickets...which would be great if I was married, or had a significant other, or even a good single friend with no significant other obligations. But what often happened is that when it came time to figure out who to invite, I had to go through quite a list before finding a taker. And there seemed to be a direct correlation between who I asked first and the complexity of their schedule....which could lead to hurt feelings on their side and frustration on mine. And sometimes, as a girl, the event is just the kind of thing you want to enjoy with a guy. No romantic strings intended (appreciated, but not intended, because, as the girl, it's not my place to initiate). Just a guy and a reason to get dressed up to remind myself that I am a feminine creature. Which brings me back to the dilemma of what to do with the extra ticket. Married friends would often say, "I'd love to go! Do you have have TWO extra tickets?" And of course I didn't, and if was a great show, my married friends would want to go with their spouses. (Totally understand. I'd likely want to do the same). My girl friends who are single (an increasingly rare commodity) are often out of state (or even out of country) or so stinkin' busy that there's usually a schedule conflict with small group, a class, a volunteer activity or any other really cool thing that in my less selfish moments I totally support. And guys are a completely different animal all together...

Since I left that position nearly two years ago, I haven't had that problem. I haven't been to many concerts, except in the typical manner of buying tickets with a group of friends where we have the flexibility to include spouses and significant others and crushes and anyone else.

Which leads me to my current condundrum. For years I have told my friends in Nashvegas that my DREAM concert would be Bebo, Fernando and Sara. Alas, at last, the dream tour is coming to my city. I still have friends in all the right places. I have two great seats reserved for me. My first choice went south about a month ago. Then I asked a (very pregnant) female friend who shares my Bebo love. Then...surprise! A baby shower is being thrown for her that day. I asked another friend I know who would love the show, but darn that Bible study! So I'm stuck. I feel like some Napoleon Dynamite-type looking for a date to the prom. Rejection! I know it's not personal, it's just life, but I think something is wrong with this world when a relatively attractive woman with free tickets can't find a date to a great show!

That's all I have to say about that.

SWF seeks...

I've made an executive decision. I've amended my wish list for my Mr. Wonderful. Christian, still most important. Single (not divorced), still required. My new #3: technologically saavy.

I finally upgraded from my classic HP DeskJet 712 C (3 ppm) to an HP PhotoSmart 2710 all-in-one (23 ppm). I bought it a week ago and I'm still trying to figure the thing out.

In the meantime, at one point I figured out how to use Hello to post pictures, but was stuck on how to post pictures on my sidebars. Now...I can't remember how to use Hello. Hello? I know I'm head-injured, but this is just crazy!

Calling all blogga-brainiacs (single or otherwise), HELP!

Journal Gazette | 04/30/2005 | Divorce is especially hard on the children

Have you heard of Google alerts? If you are frequently Googling something, you can simply set up an alert. Google will then search for the terms you want and send you an email with the list as they come up, daily or weekly. I have a few alerts set up to find stories, websites and other divorce related news. Not everyone hhas a huge public platform. I've found this feature to be a great way to meet those who share my passion.

Today I received I was alerted to this article in the Fort Wayn Journal Gazette. I always appreciate journalists willing to share the hard truth about divorce. Saneta Maiko brings up a needed challenge to the church, both little and big "C." What is your local church doing to not only prevent divorce, but to promote strong marriages? Pre-marriage counseling is important, pre-engagement counseling is better. Pre-marriage classes, mentoring, marriage enhancement opportunties...all good things. We need to change as a society in our erroneous view that only troubled couples need help? We take our cars to the shop for routine checks. Our physician gives us a physical once-over? What is so intimidating about seeking opportunities to upgrade our most primary relationships?

But I digress :-)

Journal Gazette | 04/30/2005 | Divorce is especially hard on the children

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

A Father's Reflection

This article ("Sometimes Divorce Hurts Children Long After the Fact") from Doug Mead appeared in the 5/1/05 edition of Inside Bay Area. I might re-title it, "MOST OF THE TIME Divorce Hurts Children Long After the Fact" Nonetheless, I appreciate the author's willingness to his feelings aside to provide the environment where his son felt safe to share his feelings. From the interviews and conversations I've had with other children of divorce, his son likely will continue to be affected by the divorce, even if he doesn't talk to his dad about, especially if he doesn't talk to his dad about it. It takes a strong child to talk honestly about divorce with their parents. What child wants to make their parent feel bad or guilty about something that happened long ago. And if mom and dad appear to have bounced back just fine, by remarrying and moving on, then it's even more difficult for the average young adult to pose the disturbing question, "If mom and dad got over the divorce, why is it still bothering me?" As this son approaches marriage, who other than his dad will provide his first picture of what a husband and father should be? And if he loves his dad, how intimidating will it be to talk about what now feels like ancient history to his father about what went wrong. No doubt that when this son is in love and thinking about marriage, his joy will be tempered by an unsettling fear that his dad once felt this way too.

But I give this dad HUGE props for this paragraph alone:

He was hurting, and he chose to talk about it at that moment. The ensuing discussion opened up his eyes to some of the truths of the divorce. I told him I was sorry we got divorced and asked him to forgive me.

My parents' generation was assured that kids were resilient and personal happiness was more important than family commitment. I think one of the most difficult (and respect-worthy) actions is for a parent to humbling seek their child's forgiveness.

Inside Bay Area - Bay Area Living

Greeting Cards for Generation Ex

The article was sent to me on today's Smart Marriages list. What's interesting to me is that while I'm not crazy about the idea that there is a need for these cards...the reality is that there IS. As someone who doesn't have a family tree, but a family bush, card shopping is usually a challenging task. My parents have made their mistakes (haven't we all?) but the sentiments of far too many cards just don't quite fit. And then I have steps and halves and even step-steps. I don't want to ignore these family members, but how do I get card for a brother who didn't become my brother until I was teen? I'm not a fan of "Congratulations on your divorce" cards, but I certainly hope that greeting card companies become more sensitive to the needs of kids (of all ages) who are simply trying to find a card appropriate for life as they know it.

Telegraph News Happy divorce/remarriage/lovechild: what greetings cards say about the way we live now

Monday, May 02, 2005

The World As Best I Remember It, Volume 1

A recent conversation reminded me that we often have the emotional resources to persevere during a crisis. It is typically later, when the immediate threat passes that we tend to fall apart emotionally, or maybe finally allow ourselves to experience the emotions we had kept at bay. In an email last week to friends and family, I offered a blanket apology for not keeping up on relationships (or life, for that matter) since sustaining a mild traumatic brain injury in January of 2004. Realizing that the emotional aftermath comes, well, after, the trauma, I discover grace for all these messy feelings that now overwhelm me. I lost most of a YEAR of my life. I realized a lifelong dream when my first book came out, but I don't remember. I've done interviews and events, but I don't remember. I've met people, important people to me, but I don't remember. I shared my heart and my life with others, and they with me, but I don't remember. Everything from January 21, 2004 until sometime in November is lost in a fog that won't clear.

My speech therapist had me journal while I was off-work. I've journaled since high school, but this was different. These rambled writings record the events, but not the emotions, of my lost year. I hate that I feel like a spectator in the history of my own life, relying on others to tell me, through their eyes, where I've been and who I've become. Thus, the emotional flood and the unsettling question: who am I now?

Some very dear friends have walked with me closer that I realize, and I suppose others have simply wondered where I've been, why I'm gone, or maybe haven't wondered at all. As my health and mental endurance improve, it's humbling to see that life has gone along just fine without me and now I wrestle to figure out where I still fit in. Everything has changed. Friends have married, had children, moved away and moved on. My little church group that previously provided my everyday friendships has grown considerably, and those who knew me before are far outnumbered by those who've met me since. Those who were closest to me before are closer to others now. But perhaps the most unsettling realization is that I have changed. Formerly the uber-independent woman, I now realize that I need much more than I like to admit. Not just on a physical, please-drive-me-around, help-me-with-errands kind of a way, but on the much more vulnerable, emotional, please-love-me-because-God-created-me-to-be-a-relational-being kind of way. No longer do I want to conquer the world. I just want to make sense of my world.

I suppose on a spiritual level, I'm the same person: A created being in desperate need of her Creator Savior. But my priorities have changed, my goals have changed, my hopes have changed. Accomplishments and accolades aren't nearly as important as the contentment of commited relationships and knowing that I'm a priority to those whose relationships I have prioritized. In case I ever doubted, the physical is fleeting. There's a lot I've loved about my life. I've been able to do a lot of wonderful things: travel the world, write a book, pay off my debt, own a home, adopt a puppy...And while all those things are great, at the end of the day, I know what it is to need, and I don't want to be alone. I've made lists of to do and to have before feeling "ready" for marriage. I realize now that you will never be ready. You can never get all your ducks in a row because only God knows how many ducks there are. While chemistry and attraction has an important place, I realize that confidence in the security of a relationship depends more on character and a capacity to commit.

I can work and plan and prepare all I want to be the best friend, best wife I can possibly be, but ultimately, it's a matter of the heart. Will I choose to love when it isn't convenient, easy or attractive? And from the other side, will I choose to let myself receive love when I can't give anything in return, when I am the one who needs, when what I need is embarrassing to admit because it is so basic?

This stage of my healing has been the hardest. Before, I was unable to comprehend the seriousness of my injury. My emotions were up because ignorance was truly bliss. Now I know what I have lost and I grieve what I cannot get back. I struggle because now I can experience moments of life as it used to be and rather than celebrating those periods, I'm frustrated at their fleeting nature. I struggle because my desire to be fully recovered is not enough to make it so, and that One who can make it so continues to say, "Not yet," or, I fear, "Not again in this life."

If you are a person of faith, I covet your prayers:
* for ongoing healing, especially fully restored mental endurance to carry a full load at work, with reserves to be able to keep up with home, relationships and life.
* for a new vision for what God intends for me. The old vision has expired and I need desperately to discern His direction.
* for the ability to accept myself for who I am today and see myself through the loving eyes of my Father.
* for restored trust in the One who promises to provide good things--even in the midst of hard things.