Friday, April 29, 2005

Shout outs

It's easy to see how addicting blogs can be, not only writing your own, but reading others. Since I haven't figured out how to put these links on my template, here are a few I've been reading:
  • Normal Rockstar: Jeremy and I go back about four years now, since his band's Canadian invasion. (He's also getting married in a few weeks. Congrats, Jer!)
  • Glenn Lavender: Jer's bandmate. Glenn and his wife, Sherri, endeared themselves to meforever when a trip to Nashville included a scenic tour of the ER and a sick bed at Chez downhere.
  • Living Lavada Mama: one of the coolest blog names I've seen. Sherri, thanks for the shout out!
  • This Guy Falls Down: Mark's blog got me thinking, "This is something I should be doing..." As an author, marketing director for a publisher and avid book fan, I think his book club is pretty stinkin' cool.
  • Blogstar: I met Chad a few years ago when I was writing Generation Ex and he was a newlywed. The insights he shared were subtly woven in throughout the book. Thanks, Chad!
  • Zondervan: I've had a great time learning about the blogging world from my colleague, Jon.

And a few people I've never met, and yet...

  • A Blog for AJ & Kellie: I came across this site because an entry on my book and keep coming back because Kellie inspires me. A young widow and mom, she has an amazing story and the grace with which she is responding to the recent tragedies in her life convicts me.
  • Tent Peg: this guy is a pastor here in GR. Our paths haven't crossed in the real world, but I appreciate his local take on things, his random thoughts and the way his more vulnerable posts challenge me.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

The Steps and Halves that Make Us Whole

The author of this article from the Los Angeles City Beat would drive Kevin Leman nuts.

Little Big Brother

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Introduction to Generation Ex

It occurred to me that, depending on how you found this blog, some of you may not be familiar with my book, Generation Ex: Adult Children of Divorce and the Healing of Our Pain. There's a ton of information at my site: Or, you can read an excerpt here. I wrote the book in part because I couldn't find a book that address the long term effects of divorce, specifically how parental divorce affects our relationships and our own marriages. There are still woefully few resources on the topic. In the meantime, here are a few others I recommend:

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Grasping Grace

God is strange. Every time I think I get a grasp on grace, He amazes me. Last week is a great example. It was a discouraging week on the surface, and as a result I have some re-evaluating to do of things I've assumed and taken for granted. Death of a dream stuff. Hard stuff for the heart. But then, I go to small group and one of the couples shares with me how something I said helped get their marriage through a rough patch. So crazy...I would love to be married, to be involved in marriage ministry of some sort, to use what I've learned and experienced to help a generation raised on divorce to have great marriages...and yet I can't even get a second date! And just went I'm discouraged about that, someone I respect tells me that I've had a positive effect on her marriage. The irony.

Maybe that's just it, maybe my dream for influencing marriages is something that I'm meant to do as a single. It's certainly not my first choice, but then, the Catholics don't seem to have an issue with single priests ministering to engaged and married couples. It just seems that a person has more credibility when they are speaking from experience rather than theory. Frustrating though, because on one hand, I can't make someone chose me, and at the same time, I don't know how to move forward with my dream alone. And that's when God's grace steps in.

This week, in addition to the encouragement at small group, I received a book from a woman who cited Generation Ex in her new book, When Your Marriage Dies. Laura's book is for spouses stuck on the wrong side of no-fault divorce. God's grace is demonstrated again in the way my book has been embraced by divorced parents.

The last bit of unexpected encouragement I want to share with you has to do with another new book. Jesse Butterworth was the lead singer of a band called Daily Planet when I met him a few weeks back. His song, "Six String Rocketeer" does a wonderful job of showing how children of divorce can escape into a hobby (music for him, writing for me) as a way of coping with the pressures and stress of parental divorce. (You can read the lyrics to SSR at my site). Jesse has now written a memoir based on the song and I was asked to endorse it. I get a bit frustrated when I go to sites or see authors only promote their own work, as if any one person can get a complete handle on a topic. So I was happy to see another child of divorce get his voice out there. As soon as the manuscript arrived, I jumped in. Jesse is a vivid writer and reading his manuscript was a emotional experience for me. He does a wonderful job of bringing those emotions to the surface, even as he revisits them through the objective eyes of an adult. As I was reading I started thinking of how to craft my (first!) endorsement. And then I got to the end. The original conclusion was misleading, I thought, and to endorse the book as it was would be to contradict one of the major points of my books. I felt stuck. I really wanted to support Jesse's book, but wasn't sure how to do so without being a hypocrite to my own views. So I wrote a letter to the publisher, sharing my concerns and offering a couple of solutions. She wrote me back, very graciously, and thanked me for reading the manuscript, even if I couldn't endorsement. End of topic...or so I thought.

She forwarded my email to Jesse's editor, who in turn, forwarded it to Jesse. I am humbled that Jesse took my concerns to heart. Jesse and I emailed a few times and he made a few tweaks that I believe will make his book more powerful and effective to his readers. So mark your calendars, folks, Six String Rocketeer by Jesse Butterworth is coming to a store near you this September, with this endorsement:

As a child of divorce, Jesse’s song, “Six String Rocketeer,” is on the soundtrack of my life. Now with his book, Jesse has crafted a poignant memoir, introducing readers to the important first step of acknowledging that parental divorce has lasting effects. His gracious approach and discerning insights invite readers to visit his past, and in the process, better understand their own.
-Jen Abbas, author of Generation
Ex: Adult Children of Divorce and the Healing of Our Pain.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Generation Ex Scholarship Essay Contest Winner!

Generation Ex turned one year old last week.

To celebrate, I announced that Anna Dolezal, a senior at Drake University, is the winner of The Generation Ex Scholarship Essay Contest! Anna's essay will be posted on the website shortly (my webmaster is on vacation, lucky guy!). But you can get your first look here! CONGRATULATIONS ANNA!

Working Title: The Sleeper Effect

The scene opens in my memory. It is Christmas Day. My brother has just opened his last gift, and the two of us are smiling and eager to play with our new treasures. In my memory, my parents are holding hands, clinging to each other, as if they could provide each other with strength, a particularly ironic sentiment given the circumstance. I see the carpet very vividly, the ugly black, red, yellow and white shag carpet that would have been intolerable had it not represented home. It has sound, too, crystal clear despite the years. Mom says, “Damon, Anna, we have something important we want to tell you. Your father and I are getting a divorce.”

Fade to black.

Oh, how the magician in my brain has deceived me.

It wasn’t Christmas at all, and my mom tells me that she thinks they told me in my bedroom (adorned with white and blue carpet). The fact is that even though I was seven when my parents decided to divorce, and eight when the divorce was finalized (my dad remarried days later and my half-sister born just weeks after the legal formalities), I don’t remember it at all.

I don’t remember crying. I don’t remember moving, or the first time that I met my stepmom. And I don’t remember anything at all about my parents’ relationship before they got divorced. I don’t remember if they were affectionate with each other, nor remember them fighting. It is as if someone has erased the tape. I do remember chewing bubble gum with my best friend on the stairs of my childhood home. I remember the feeling of having a cat fall asleep in my arms, and thinking how much that creature trusted me. Your parents relationship isn’t important to a child. Until it is gone. I don’t remember understanding.

In a new house, at new school, with a scrambled memory, life as I know it began. In my new elementary school, residing in a working class neighborhood with plenty of newly made single mothers, it seemed to my third grade mentality that there were two kinds of kids; those with divorced parents, and the lucky ones. I belonged to the former.

But at least in elementary school it was standard stuff to have divorced parents. The pervasive normality of it is, I believe, why I never really questioned it and why I never felt that it was worthy of grief. As a youngster, I didn’t make a conscious choice to set out to show everyone how “okay” I was, but that was the result. Everyone marveled at my ability to be so “well-adjusted” at such a young age.

The tape rolled on, capturing the moments of my life: Middle school, high school, college. Reviewing the footage, the every-other-weekend-and-Wednesday-night crowd, slowly disappeared from the action. What happened to those kids that I went to elementary school with? They became statistics of the effect of divorce on children while I took the world by storm. Speech competitions, show choir, sports, academic achievement, a slew of friends, scholarships, and a precarious peace with all the members of my family.

The images show how it looked, but never how it felt.

The sleeper effect. I never had a name for it until reading Generation Ex, but it is the definition of my story, the working title to my life.
I prefer to work alone. Independence should be my first name. Do I trust people? About as far as I can throw them (I’m a pretty little person, so that doesn’t amount to far). Perfectionist, controlling, I have little faith in anything I can’t do myself. You act confidently so people won’t see your fear.

And I am so afraid.

I am afraid of ending up alone, afraid that as all those around me find happiness, I will look in my hands and find they are empty. I am afraid of being abandoned. I question how God could have let these things happen to my mother. I saw my mom feel alone and abandoned and lose faith and it hurt. It still hurts. Typical of a child of divorce, I feel the parental need to make my mom’s pain go away, and hope that maybe it would make mine dissipate as well.

But I don’t want to live in fear anymore; I want to rename my story.

I grew up, like most American children, on fairy tales. I grew up with Hollywood and Disney - ninety minute rollercoasters of emotion with a happy ending. We like our endings larger than life, want to go through hell and live to tell the tale. We want to be bruised, but not broken. I wish my life was a fairy tale, or even a Hollywood blockbuster, but perhaps it is an Indie film. There are lose ends, and questions left unanswered, and even dark endings.

I would love to write that reading this book has helped me figure it all out, has made me a better person, and helped me grieve. I would like to be able to write the picture perfect ending -that I have found peace in my faith, trust in God’s plan, and recognition that marriages are never perfect, that faith is essential - and now everything is roses and rainbows. While it is true I’m making progress, unfortunately, I can’t yet yell “that’s a wrap”.

For the truth is, I still am afraid.

But every day, through growing faith, patience, and trust, I am a little less.

And the reels are still rolling.

world's most adorable nephew

Colorado amends rules to accomodate children of divorce

I subscribe to theSmart Marriages newslist. Several times a week, the list manager compiles articles of interest to marriage educators and others passionate about family issues. When I was in college, the financial aid laws didn't really take into consideration the unique obstacles of those with divorced parents, so it's always good news when those in power to make these kinds of decisions do the right thing.

(testing BlogThis!)

Rocky Mountain News: Columnists

Did families get any better lookin' than this in the '70s?!

The Book

For those who stumbled upon this site, Generation Ex: Adult Children of Divorce and the Healing of Our Pain, released last year from WaterBrook Press. You can learn more about the book, read an excerpt, and more at my website.

Jen's Jottings

It's been just over a year since my book, Generation Ex, released. For quite some time, I've wanted to find a way to pass along articles and news that my readers might enjoy, as well as create an easy (quick!)way to post the latest news about my book. And like most bloggers, I like the idea of being able to share my thought with friends (both known and unknown). So without further's Generation Ex Files.