Monday, October 31, 2005

Not ready for some football

I must say, as Viking fan (born in MN) and Packer fan (lived there for several years), I have seen better seasons.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Weekend Fun

Going to great heights for a costume party!

Endorsement for "The Way They Were"

Some time ago, I mentioned another book about the long term effects of divorce, The Way They Were: Dealing with Your Parents' Divorce After A Lifetime of Marriage by Brooke Lea Foster. The book releases in January, but I encourage you to pre-order it.

My endorsement reads:

No matter when our parents divorce, we’re still their kids, and it still hurts. Brooke Lea Foster understands this truth first hand, which makes her an ideal tour guide to led twenty and thirty somethings toward understanding what to do after Mom and Dad say “I don’t.”
-- Jen Abbas, author of Generation Ex: Adult Children of Divorce and the Healing of Our Pain

Between Two Worlds by Elizabeth Marquardt

At long last, Between Two Worlds by Elizabeth Marquardt has been published. Those who have read Generation Ex may recall her name as I reference her research.

Elizabeth first caught my attention with an article she wrote for The Washington Post, "We're Successful and We're Hurt." Her words validated my experience:

Those of us who have experienced the losses of divorce know the truth. I'm 31 years old. I'm a writer, just as I always wanted to be. I have a graduate degree from the University of Chicago, a loving husband, and supportive family and friends. From the outside, I look pretty successful. But I have a complex story that, especially through my early years, was largely shaped by my parents' divorce. They divorced when I was 2 and both remain to this day very much involved in my life. I have never doubted their love for me. But for as long as I can remember, they led completely separate lives. I lived with my mother during the school year, and with my father during summers and holidays. I did not lose either of my parents, but a reunion with one of them was always a parting from the other, and the longing I felt for each of them produced sadness and a fear of loss that persisted when I grew up. Their divorce doesn't explain all that I am, but the way it shaped my childhood is central to understanding who I am.

In her book, Elizabeth presents the results of a new national study she conducted with sociologist Norval Glenn. Between Two Worlds focuses on two facets of the divorce experience for children. One is how divorce negatively affects the spiritual and moral formation of children. The second is the analogy of children of divorce being aliens in two worlds (mom's house, dad's house), a part of both, but not truly belonging to either. In intact families, parents made the adjustments to define the rules and roles of home. In divorced families, the child is expected to morph to fit the expectations of each.

I highly encourage you to pick up this important book. Elizabeth is no stranger to the media so I anticipate that we'll be seeing more on her in the coming months.

(btw...Elizabeth mentions my book on page 10).

Northern Lights on Generation Ex

Blogger Northern Lights recently posted her thoughts on Generation Ex:

Sep. 29, 2005


I have been reading an interesting book. It is called, "Generation Ex" by J. Abbas. It is written for adult children of divorce and it really hits the mark. It is almost the author studied our family (my parents and my brothers) and put us in a book. It is meant as a way for healing and moving on with your life, but the pain you have to go through to get there causes me to be moving VERY slowly through the chapters and Bible readings. I usually read a book in a few days and I've been picking this up for several months now, so I guess the 13 bucks I spent are worth it. It really is helping me, even though I "should" be over my parent's divorce by now since I am nearing 40 and they divorced when I was a freshman in college. This book really validates my feelings and explains some of the choices I've made in my life. I would strongly reccommend it for any adult that has been a child of divorced parents. The author describes divorce for children as an eternal funeral that goes on and on and offers hope to put hurt feelings to rest at last. Tons of scripture references and suggestion of other books to read as well.

Online Class Uses Generation Ex

How cool is this? A web-based class on Parenting Children of Divorce recommends Generation Ex for further information. I'm very grateful for the counselors and divorce mediators who have recommended my book. I hope that the next generation ex benefits from what we have learned.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

My Dad is Santa Claus

No, really! It's true...

From the MN Sun:

Santa Clauses gather at Eden Prairie home to share fellowship, stories
By Lyn Jerde\Sun Newspapers
(Created: Thursday, September 22, 2005 1:23 PM CDT)

Approximately 25 white-bearded men gathered around a backyard pool in Eden Prairie last week for the semi-annual meeting of Minnesota and Wisconsin Santa Clauses. There were no sleighs parked on the street, no reindeer grazing on the lawn. But anyone looking for the semi-annual meeting of Minnesota and Wisconsin Santa Clauses Sept. 17 in Eden Prairie knew they were in the right place by the giant candy canes lining the driveway and the sign on the house declaring "Santa Stops Here."

The approximately 25 white-bearded men gathered around the backyard pool (at least one of whom wore red velvet-like shorts) put to rest any doubt that those seeking Santa Claus had come to the right place.

So, what do Santas talk about when they get together?"

Who's been naughty and who's been nice," said one Kris Kringle.

"Where to buy red cloth," said another.

"Where to get cheap toys and candy," said another.

"The kids," said several.

Sid Fletcher of Eden Prairie (who claims Sid stands for "Santa in disguise") played host at the gathering, where most of the guests greeted each other, and identified themselves, only by Santa and a first name. They compared scrapbooks, swapped stories and shared beard-care tips.

One of the two Santa Dans at the gathering - who's from Champlin, and who works mostly at private residences - said his wife insists that he chop off his extra hair after Christmas. "She sent me to a barber the first week in January," he recalled. "So I went to the barber and I got my hair cut short, but I couldn't part with the beard." Fleming's hair and beard are naturally curly and white, but during the holiday season, the beard is curled daily with hot rollers before he assumes his throne at the Mall of America.

Santa Elmer - also known as Elmer Abbas of Buffalo - said he typically trims down his beard after Christmas, but stops shaving after Father's Day each year." If I don't trim the beard," he said, "the kids think I look like a homeless man." But there's more involved in being Santa Claus than stuffing a red suit and donning a red hat. Whether it's coaxing a smile from a tearful 2-year-old or answering a smart-aleck question from a youngster who's just old enough to wonder whether Santa is real or fake, the Santas said they have to be prepared for anything.

Santa Dan said he has a standard answer: "Christmas Eve is magic."When children ask him, "May I see your reindeer?" or "Can your reindeer fly today?", Santa Dan responds, "Ho, ho, ho! Reindeer can only fly on Christmas Eve, because it's magical. For the rest of the year, Santa has to get around the same way everybody else does."

Santa Elmer said he tries to leave open the possibilities of magic. For example, the child who wants to see reindeer might be told, "Maybe you'll see them on your way out."And, for those who wonder why every store and shopping center has a different Santa, the Santa Elmer answer is, "Sometimes Santa is in a hurry" or "Santa can change his appearance."

For the quintessential question - how can such a chubby guy get down a skinny chimney? - Santa Dan resorts his standby answer."I tell them Santa can get into all types of houses," he said. "Christmas Eve is magic, and I can get down any chimney, whether it's 2 inches or 4 feet wide."

Sometimes, there are moments that can make Santa start to cry. All the Santas said they hear requests to heal loved ones who are sick, or to bring back daddies who are no longer living at home. What a Santa can say in such situations, Santa Elmer said, depends on where he's working. Some shopping centers caution Santas against making religious references of any kind. But if he's working somewhere other than a store or mall, Santa Elmer can, and does, say, "Santa will say a prayer for you."

Not all the hard questions are sad.The Santas have heard from pre-teen girls who ask for a boyfriend, pre-teen boys who want a car, or kids who want Santa to bring them a puppy or kitten. For the latter request, Santa Dan might say, "Oh, I don't know. A little puppy might be afraid riding in my sleigh." Santa Carlucci, who's based in Bloomington and works at a lot of hospitals, said he's had some choked-up moments. Once, he saw a little girl peeking around the corner, who wouldn't respond to his invitation: "Come on over. Santa's got something for you."As he was about to leave, he saw the little girl once more, and asked her, "Why didn't you come to see me?"Leaning against the wall on one leg - the other had been amputated - she replied, "Because I haven't gotten my new leg yet."

All of the Santas at the get-together were what Fletcher calls "natural Santas" - who have the white beard and hair (and usually, but not always, the paunch) to look the part no matter what they're wearing. All the Santas looked the part, though some wore shorts and summer shirts (albeit with prints of wreathes and snowmen) and others wore T-shirts with occupational slogans.Two of the Santas wore identical T-shirts, touting the four stages of Santa: Believing in Santa, suspecting Santa is a fake, dressing like Santa and looking like Santa. Fletcher is, and has been for a long time, at the final stage. He looks so much like Santa that he and his wife, Mollie, dress as Santa and Mrs. Claus every year for their own Christmas card portraits. And, he's home for the holidays year-round, with a Santa-themed toilet seat cover in the bathroom, a red-and-green holiday-theme quilt on the bed and a lighted tree in the bedroom. Mollie Fletcher said the tree's decorations come from the kids who visit Santa at the Mall of America - kid-made ornaments on the branches, plush reindeer and snowman toys beneath the tree.When the Fletchers put up their seasonal holiday tree in December, they decorate it partly with pacifiers. Mollie Fletcher said at least five youngsters give Santa their pacifiers every year - ostensibly because they've outgrown them and want Santa to pass them on to younger children who need them. All the "natural Santas" said they experience Christmas year-round, too, whenever they go to a restaurant and some child excitedly points them out."You live being Santa Claus," Fletcher said. "When you look like this, it's 365 days a year. I'll be in a restaurant, and kids will come up to me and tell me they've been good.""Well," said Mollie Fletcher, "you guys have that glimmer in your eyes. The kids can see that it's really Santa Claus, even if the parents ignore it."

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Nice nod from Modern Disciple

Funny, just as I'm coming to terms with the fact that my book is out of print, the world starts discovering it. C'est la vie.

Modern Disciple reviewed Generation Ex awhile ago, an yet, my reviewer was nice enough to throw me a bone when he reviewed another book, Ambassador Families.

Mitali Perkins has written a book about following Jesus. If that doesn't interest you, I suggest that you stop here.

Still with me? This is a great topic to write about. I mean, I used to watch a lot of TV as a kid, but that was when there were only three networks. I was teaching a first year university class two years ago, and made the mistake of mentioning that I got my degree in 1994, a full year before I surfed the web for the first time - (thanks, Tony Shore). The gasp that filled the room was horrific. I mean, how did I survive without the internet?

Words have been added to our lexicon just in the last nine years since my son was born: ipod, MP3, Tamagochi, Digimon, etc. This book acts as a guide to navigating your kids through the maze of choices that the culture provides, but also to prepare them to observe and interact pop culture to find truth for themselves and others.

A Bengali immigrant and a former missionary, the author uses the imagery of the modern missionary to emphasize the role that we have the privilege to play in the 21st century.

"The best preparation we can give them is to travel into popular culture with them, just as Jesus did with his 'children'" p. 26

She begins with Following Jesus:
Into Uncharted Territory
Into Hostile Places
To Hunt For Treasure
To Find The Outsider
To Speak The Language
When Others Judge You

In each chapter, she lays out tangible examples and practical applications for you and your family to not only see the media choices, but also to process them together. The Put It Into Practice and Bringing It Home sections serve this purpose very well. And I like the way she encourages us as parents not to "use" popular culture, but to "engage" it. Big difference.

Like Jen Abbas' Generation Ex, Perkins provides a necessary resource at a time when there are few like it.

- Ryan Richardson

Armchair Interviews Review

Thanks to my friends at Armchair Interviews for this kind review:

Generation Ex
by Jen Abbas Waterbrook Press-Random House

Reviewed by Connie Anderson

A poem, written when the author was 18, starts the book by describing her parents' divorce as resembling an earthquake, rumbling with rage, anger and guilt that have been festering for a long time.

This powerful poem tells you Generation Ex will be a painful ride toward much-needed healing for adult children of divorce.

The author said: When it came to love and my own adult relationships, what I wanted so desperately (love) was what I feared the most. I didn't want to repeat what my parents did.
Abbas wrote the book not to revisit "the divorce," but to give other adult children of divorce permission to admit it hurt and to give us hope so we can choose to begin to heal that hurt.
Written from the Christian perspective, the author tells the lesson God has whispered to her was that she was no longer the victim of her parents' past. She is God's precious child with a future full of promise in her relationships. And so are you! We don't always know why our God allows us to experience pain, but we can be confident that He has a plan.

This message is about deep pain that led to her healing--and by following in her guided footsteps, your healing can begin too. Some of her chapters are: Make Peace; Redefine Our Family Relationships; Find Home for Ourselves; Seek Wholeness; Learn to Trust; Anticipate Our Triggers; Create Our Own Marriage Model; and Choose to Love. The book has four appendixes of "things to do."

Armchair Interviews says: If you have felt any hurt from a parents' divorce, this book is for you. It is a gift waiting for you to open and explore, learn from and work toward healing. Her advice, resources and message are invaluable.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Breaking Up with ED

I've been meaning to mention this website for quite a while. Lee Blum has recovered from an eating disorder (ED) and is using her experience to help others recover. Based in Minnesota, Lee speaks to groups and leads support groups in the Minneapolis area. Lee is also working on a book, Breaking Up With ED, that is quite unique in it's approach. With the assistance of her counselor, Lee uses the romantic analogy of courtship to illustrate how someone might be drawn into--and out of--an eating disorder. Where Lee shares her perspective as the person with the eating disorder, family and loved ones will benefit from her counselor's notes and observations.

If you know anyone who has been involved with ED, please visit Lee's site.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Not dead yet...'s been awhile since I've posted. No real excuse for that, expecially since this way my attempt to stay in touch with everyone. I have a few drafts saved, which I'll try to finish and post. Since my last post I've had one trip to Nashville for work and another little relapse.

A few quick thoughts about my trip:

* I represented my company at the American Association of Christian Counselors world conference. We haven't exhibited at this event before and it was an enlightening time for our team. Zondervan has a wealth of resources for counselors (both professional, pastoral and lay counselors)--not only the big names most folks are know, but also a bevy of hidden gems like Stumbling Toward Faith, Conversations with the Voiceless and Surviving Information Overload. I think the thing I love most about my job is connecting resources with those who need them.

* The highlight of my trip with a little divine intersection with a neuropsychologist who stopped by our booth. My colleague and I would often ask attendees about their area of specialty as a way of educating them about new resources for their clients. When this man stopped by, I gushed, "I LOVE neuropsychologists!" because my neuropsych was so beneficial in helping me understand the emotional effects of my head injury. And emotionally, at this point in my recovery, I was having a hard time with the reality that I'm not the same person I was pre-injury. I was so blessed by our conversation, the affirmation that what I was experiencing really was normal, and especially by the prayer he shared with me. We talked a bit about the spiritual effects of head injuries (something I hope to write about more at a later date) and the whole idea of redefining normal for me. Because my long term memory is fine, my mind still thinks I should function at the level and in the way I did before. But I can't. And when I try to, I fail. I need to learn to live with my new limits, and it's extraordinarily frustrating. I need to remember that God has allowed this for His purposes and instead of railing against Him for allowing it, I need to ask Him to show me what He desires for this new me. The prayer this man prayed over me was a soothing balm based on the fruits of the spirit:

may I love I am now
may I experiece joy...with life as it is now
may I have peace with I am now
may I have patience with I am now
may I show kindness to I am now
my I seek the goodness in I am now
may I renew faithfulness in my I am now
may I show gentleness to I am now
may I exhibit self-control in my thoughts toward I am now.

Father, bless that man for his discernment for the words and assurance I needed that day.

As a result of our talk, and a conversation I had with a professor of psychology and neuroscience the night before, I found a few articles online to enlighten and assure me a bit more:

What is Brain Injury?

Emotional Stages of Recovery