Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm headed over to the home of "the family down the street" for this year's Thanksgiving festivities, which have promised to include baking lessons from E-mom. That and a whole lot of lovin' by four adorable kiddos. It's gonna be a good day.

Thanksgiving also marks the beginning of my end of the year reflections and new year resolutions. Thanks to Tracy for finding my song of the year in Sara Grove's "Less Like Scars," from her album, All Right Here.

It's been a hard year
But I'm climbing out of the rubble
These lessons are hard
Healing changes are subtle
But every day it's
Less like tearing, more like building
Less like captive, more like willing
Less like breakdown, more like surrender
Less like haunting, more like remember
And I feel you here
And you're picking up the pieces
Forever faithful
It seemed out of my hands, a bad situation
But you are able
And in your hands the pain and hurt
Look less like scars and more like
Less like a prison, more like my room
It's less like a casket, more like a womb
Less like dying, more like transcending
Less like fear, less like an ending
And I feel you here
And you're picking up the pieces
Forever faithful
It seemed out of my hands, a bad situation
But you are able
And in your hands the pain and hurt
Look less like scars
Just a little while ago
I couldn't feel the power or the hope
I couldn't cope, I couldn't feel a thing
Just a little while back
I was desperate, broken, laid out, hoping
You would come
And I need you
And I want you here
And I feel you
And I know you're here
And you're picking up the pieces
Forever faithful
It seemed out of my hands, a bad, bad situation
But you are able
And in your hands the pain and hurt
Look less like scars (x3)
And more like

And a few Scriptures to mull over:

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.--Romans 5:1-5 (TNIV).

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us--Hebrews 12:1 (TNIV).

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything...Blessed are those who persevere under trial, because when they have stood the test, they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.--James 1:2-4, 12 (TNIV).

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.--2 Peter 1:5-7 (TNIV).

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Book Notes: Sacred Pathways, Introduction

So I've started digging into Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas. If you haven't read it yet, I highly recommend it. If you are reading it with me, I encourage you to check out the discussion questions from Gary's website:

My notes from the the introduction (direct quotes in italics):

It is my pleasure to serve as Gary's marketing director. After hosting Gary for the last few days at work, reading his book this time is more like reading a letter from a friend. And the content of this book is exactly what I most need to hear from my friend, as Proverbs 27:17 comes to life: As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. (TNIV). Gary's words are sharpening my ability to connect with God after a season of silence.

* [For those in valley seasons] Their love for God has not dimmed, they’ve just fallen into a soul-numbing rut. Their devotions seem like nothing more than shadows of what they’ve been doing for years…They finally wake up one morning and ask, “Is this really all there is to knowing God?” –p.15

* In fact, by worshiping God according to the way he made us, we are affirming his work as Creator. – p. 18

I love the wide view of worship. I think at times, especially when we are disappointed or disillusioned, it's easy to fall for the temptation that God is mean spirited or spiteful. Sometimes, as we seek His will, we find it hard to believe that God would truly delight in allowing us to delight. We think that if something is enjoying or fulfilling, it must not be God's best because we aren't suffering for Him: this job must not be serving God because I like it, I'm good at it and I'm paid well to do it; maybe this relationship is a distraction because I enjoy it too much. What freedom I find in the knowledge that I can both love God and love what He allows me to experience.

* On historic movements within the church: All four players—Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Calvinists, and Anabaptists—were trying to love God, but with unique expressions of that love. Many differences had theological roots, but some were also related to worship preferences. – p.19

It's become to so popular to mock our differences in the church. I'm reminded of a quote by St. Augustine: "In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, diversity; and in everything, love."

* “doctrinally neutral worship preference” – p. 21

* God has given us different personalities and temperaments. It’s only natural that these differences should be reflected in our worship. – p. 21

* What is a sacred pathway? Put very simply, it describes the way we relate to God, how we draw near to him. Do we have just one pathway? Not necessarily. Most of us, however, will naturally have a certain disposition for relating to God, which is our predominant spiritual temperament. – p. 21-22.

* 9 pathways (2.22-29)
Naturalists: Loving God Out of Doors
Sensates: Loving God with the Senses
Traditionalists: Loving God through Ritual and Symbol
Ascetics: Loving God in Solitude and Simplicity
Activists: Loving God Through Confrontation
Caregivers: Loving God by Loving Others
Enthusiasts: Loving God with Mystery and Celebration
Contemplative: Loving God Through Adoration
Intellectual: Loving God with the Mind

* If you are in a spiritual malaise, it might be that you just need a change in your spiritual diet. If you just can’t seem to leave that one particular sin, you may find that the answer is very simple: You don’t know how to be nourished according to the way God made you so you’re seeking spiritual “junk food,” in the form of sin or addictions, somewhere else. Finding fulfillment in God is the most powerful antidote to any sin. – p. 30

I'm really looking forward to experimenting with new ways to connect with God. The junk food analogy really makes sense. In the early months of recovery from my head injury I craved beef jerky and peanut butter because my brain needed a lot of protein to heal. Even now, when I am situations that tend to make me sympomatic (traveling, changes in my schedule, stress), I crave steak. I've never thought of my spiritual hunger in the same way.

* According to Jesus, four elements are essential to every true expression of faith. It is essential that we love God with all our heart (adoration), soul (will), mind (belief), and strength (body). The intellectual is not excused from failing to adore. Neither is the contemplative excused from harboring wrong beliefs about God. Complete Christians—which all of us are called to be—should exhibit adoration, belief, commitment, and service. – p. 30-31

This makes a lot of sense. In the same way, each believer has spiritual gifts, but the lack of a particular gift doesn't negate the need to cultivate the character of that gift.

How do we learn to love God, day in and day out, through the seasons of life? How do we keep this love fresh? How do we grow in our adoration and understanding of God. We do it by spending time with him. And once we understand the myriad ways that Christians have cultivated this relationship, we’ll have more ideas than we need to walk closer, and more constantly by his side. - p. 32

One reason I respect Gary's writing is because he has a wonderful way of elevating everyday life into a spiritual discipline. For example, with so many books on marriage or relationships, I think, "this will be helpful if I get married." When I read Sacred Marriage, it was the first book that made me want to get married. It taught me that I could see from the peaks and valleys of my spiritual life than peaks and valleys are to be expected in my emotional life, not only with God, but with my friendships and other relationships. There is great freedom in that understanding. And I am liberated by the truth that even in the silent seasons of my faith, I can strive to learn to recognize different nuances of God's voice.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


In the past few weeks, I've had several conversations with friends about connection. Connecting with friends, connecting with friends-with-potential, and most importantly, connecting with God.

I'm coming up on my 15th anniversary in relationship with Christ. For most of those years, I had a "Jesus and me" mentality. Relationships are nice, but I only need, I thought, Christ. And it is true that I could live in solitude and survive just fine, but I don't want just fine. I want God's best.

Back to that in a moment...

The trademarks of my faith have long been the disciplines of faith: daily quiet times, journaling, reading, studying different concepts, terms and words. I felt most intimate with God when I spent time with Him, alone, sharing with Him my most vulnerable thoughts, and quietly listening for Him to direct me to His responses and leadings.

I've mentioned in the past how my head injury has changed me physically and emotionally. And I've touched on how it's changed me spiritually. During those quiet months when I couldn't read, couldn't write, couldn't do, I was forced to learn to just be. The process challenged me to re-evaluate what it meant to be in relationship with God. What if it's not about what I am doing? What if the next season of growth can only come from being? And, the more troublesome question: what if being requires relating to others outside the "Jesus & me" bubble? What if the real challenge in being a Christ follower is putting into practice (good term) all that I learned when I was doing Christ-following things? In my less mature moments, I can rail against God with all of my perceived injustices, but I can do so knowing that I have a wide open invitation to come back to Him with a more contrite heart. There's a safety in being real with God. I know He isn't going to reject me. Unfortunately, I don't have those same assurances with those around me.

The most important lesson I've learned since knockin' my noggin is that I need people, and I especially need them when I can't do for myself what I always have been able to do before. And as a result, my faith, or perhaps more accurately, the application of my faith, is much more evident (or very much not, depending on the moment). So I'm putting myself in more situations to learn to relate well. Results have been mixed. Who knew? I'm a selfish, faulted person. Not an unlovable, unworthy one, but a selfish, faulted person nonetheless.

So what do I do when I find myself in a strange situation? I run to God for guidance. Which has always worked out pretty well in the past. But now, I don't hear Him in the same way. I don't doubt His presence, but I'm just not connecting with Him the way I'm used to. I've been focused on learning about God through relationships. And for the most part, it's been a pretty fruitful, though at times, humbling, endeavor. The problem is, as good as it gets, the worse it has the potential to be. And I made a mistake. I allowed myself to make a frightenly bad decision. I pressured someone I care about to choose me over God. Stupid. The thing that really rocked me is that what I like about this person is the way they desire to make God smile. Why would I want to get in the middle of that? (Did I mention stupid?)

At any rate, it shook me and I've spent quite a bit of time the last few days chatting with God about it. I love to recommend books to encourage the faith of others. And certain books have really resonated with me, so they come up more often. One such book is Sacred Pathways, by Gary Thomas. The essence of the book is that just as God has created us each uniquely, He has designed in us nine different ways to connect with Him. These nine pathways reflect our personality and preferences, and understanding them can free us meet God as we are, where we are. I recently recommended Sacred Pathways to a friend, but it occurred to me, in light of my own changes, I need to read it again.

Borrowing Bebo

Last weekend at church, the Bebo Norman song "Borrow Mine" was played. It reminded me that I started a post on it back in May. Funny how these things get buried. Reading it today, I realize that I missed an opportunity to meet the need of a friend because I was focused on how that person wasn't able to meet what I thought I needed. I don't know that I can make it right with the person I wronged, but perhaps, though this, it can be redeemed.

May 21, 2005
It was an adventure getting there, but I did make the Bebo Norman, Fernando Ortega, Sara Groves concert on Thursday. After my trip to the ER on Wednesday night, I was still feeling a bit off on Thursday (later I saw that my discharge papers said I shouldn't drive, and should rest for 24 hours...oops!). I did find a co-worker to join me and we made plans to meet at 6:45 a few miles from the venue. The site I looked at had a concert start time of 8pm, so we figured we'd be there at 7 for the meet and greet. When we arrived, the place was PACKED. Alas, the concert started at 7 so we missed saying our hellos. That was a disappointment.

The concert itself did not disappoint. Sara came on first after a very cute introduction from her 4 year old son. She played several favorites, plus a couple songs from a new children's album she recently released. Always great to see a fellow Minnesota native do well. The first time I interviewed her I was struck by how much she reminds me of my best friend, Steph.

I was pleased to see that Bebo still has Gabe Scott playing with him. Gabe is quite possibly the most talented musician I know, not only in how well he plays, but in how many instruments he plays well: guitar, piano, dulcimer, name it, I'm sure he plays it. Some may remember him from his days with Andrew Petersen. He's a Michigan native. One of my favorite music moments ever was a duet between Bebo and Gabe at Hope College maybe 2 years ago. I can't remember the song--a hymn, maybe?--but I had goose bumps the rest of the night.

I was telling my friend that "I am Nothing" was my theme song during my time off last year. That song was my prayer:

Take these hands and lift them up
For I have not the strength to praise You near enough
For I have nothing,
I have nothing without You

Take my voice and pour it out
Let it sing the songs of mercy I have found
For I have nothing,
I have nothing without You

All my soul needs
Is all Your love to cover me
So all the world will see
That I have nothing without You

Take my body and build it up
May it be broken as an offering of love

For I have nothing,
I have nothing without You


I love You
With all my heart
With all my soul
With all my mind
And all the strength I can find


Take my time here on earth
And let it glorify all that You are worth
For I am nothing,
I am nothing,
I am nothing without You

That verse about body really struck close to home. I really do feel that God stripped me from anything and everything I took my identity from. All I had with my relationship with God, and without Him, I was overwhelmed by my nothingness.

I also told my friend that my all time least favorite song was on Bebo's album Try. How it irritated me to no end. And if by cue, Bebo started introducing it. How convicting. The song is called "You Can Borrow Mine." I'll be honest, the past six months have been some of the most difficult since I became a believer 14 years ago, and the first time that I've really questioned my calling. I haven't reached a point of clarity yet and feel left out in the cold. I know, intellectually, that that isn't true. I can read my old journals and see how God uses everything for His good and that He will redeem this season as well. But I do feel utterly raw and bare and lost. I'm in the waiting, and watching good things--things I desire--coming to those around me. I share their joy, but have to guard my heart from jealousy that life is passing me by.

So Bebo tells the story of someone in a similar place, who is comforted by a fellow believer, who essentially says that their belief that God is at work is strong enough to cover the faith of the one is doubting and lost. Theologically, of course, it doesn't mean that the other person's faith assures salvation for their friend, but it does assume a good way. There are times when the fog of emotion (or even a head injury) can prevent someone from seeing the bigger picture. And that's when the comfort of Galatians 6:1-2 comes alive:

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (TNIV).

A much belated thanks to all who have allowed me to borrow their faith during this season...

You Can Borrow Mine by Bebo Norman

Take my hand and walk with me a while
Cause it seems your smile has left you
And don't give in, when you fall apart
And your broken heart has failed you
I'll set a light up
On a hilltop
To show you my love
For this world to see

You can borrow mine
When your hope is gone
Borrow mine
When you can't go on
'Cause the world will not defeat you
When we're side by side
When your faith is hard to find
You can borrow mine

Take my love when all that you can see
Is the raging sea all around us
And don't give up 'cause I'm not letting go
And the God we know will not fail us
We'll lay it all down
As we call out
Sweet Savior
help our unbelief

You can borrow mine
When your hope is gone
Borrow mine
When you can't go on
'Cause the world will not defeat you
When we're side by side
When your faith is hard to find
You can borrow mine

When you are weak
Unable to speak
You are not alone
The God who has saved us
Will never forsake us
he's coming to take us
Take us to our home

You can borrow mine
When your hope is gone
Borrow mine
When you can't go on
'Cause the world will not defeat you
When we're side by side
When your faith is hard to find
When your faith is hard to find
You can borrow mine

Take my hand
Take my love
Don't give in
Don't give up

Fabulous Fall

This is the fourth fall I've been in my condo. Each year, as the leaves start to turn, I am stunned by the beauty of the tree in front of my place. I may be biased, but I think it is the most amazingly beautiful tree on the street. One of life's simple pleasures, at this stage of life, is coming home to this gorgeous site and realizing that of all the places God could have planted this particular tree, He chose my home.

There's a classic little book by Brother Andrew, called Practicing the Presence of God. The main idea is that we can strive to live our lives mindful each moment of God's participation with us. This tree is my remembrance tree.

God of Second Chances

In the new classic movie You've Got Mail (a remake of an old classic, Shop Around the Corner), Tom Hanks' character tells Meg Ryan's character that everything in life has a link to a line in The Godfather triology. In my life, music trumps movies, and the musician whose lyrics link to everything else, for me, is Bebo Norman.

The song currently playing on the soundtrack of my life is "A Page is Turned." The song is not so much fitting for the implications of romance referred to in the song (sadly, it seems I need more than two chances), but for the reminder that God is always in the business of redemption. I love the promise that someday, my day will come.

A Page Is Turned

A page is turned by the wind to a boy in curly grin
With a world to conquer at the age of ten
But as history unfolds and the storybook is told
He finds salvation but not at the hands of man
And the God of second chance
Picked him up and He let him dance
Through a world that is not kind A
nd all this time, preparing him, the one
To hold him up when he comes undone
Beneath the storm, beneath the sun
And now a man, here you stand
Your day has come

A page is turned in this world to reveal a little girl
With a heart that's bigger, as it is unfurled
By the language in her soul, that's teaching her to grow
With a careful cover of love that will not fail
And the God of second chance
Picked her up and He let her dance
Through a world that isn't kind
And all this time, preparing her the one
To hold her up when she comes undone
Beneath the storm, beneath the sun
And grown up tall, here you are
Your day has come

Beneath the air of autumn, she took him by his hand
And warm within the ardor, she took his heart instead
And high upon the mountain, he asked her for her hand
Just for her hand
A page is turned in this life, he's making her his wife
And there is no secret to the source of this much life
When the grace that falls like rain is washing them again
Just a chance to somehow rise above this land
Where the God of second chance
Will pick them up and he'll let them dance
Through a world that is not kind
And all this time, they're sharing with the one
That holds them up when they come undone
Beneath the storm, beneath the sun
And once again, here you stand
And once again, here you stand
Your day has come

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

One Year Ago...

Today marks the one year anniversary of my return to work following my head injury. Or, to be more accurate, the one year anniversary of my successful return to work following my head injury. I had made several previous attempts. There was a time in the not-so-distant past when I didn't understand ritual and tradition. I didn't care for special occasions. Now, I appreciate milestones for the opportunity they give us to stop, step back, and celebrate the progress we've made.

One year ago, my neurologist told me, "It's really too early for you to return to work, but let's try it anyway. With all the holidays, you'll have plenty of built in breaks. And if we find out that you can't do this job anymore, then we'll work on plan B."

One year ago, I was so afraid my life was going to have to turn to plan B. My confidence was pretty shot down. The person I had always been had been kidnapped by this person whose frailties and limitations I didn't understand. I wasn't sure that I would be able to return to work so the independence I had always valued seemed to be a misdirected goal. And yet, one year later, I'm finally starting to see how God is using this new normal for His good.

Instead, this past weekend at church, I went up front during the prayer time to thank God for second chances. A second chance at a job I knew I'd enjoy. A second chance for my book. And maybe, a second chance for my heart.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

It's Official.

It's official.

This week, WaterBrook/Random House reverted rights back to me for Generation Ex. It's a bittersweet experience. Since March when GE first went out of stock, I've been working with WaterBrook to either publish a small 3rd printing to support the promotions I was being asked to do, or revert rights. I hope that this feeling is the closest I come to experience divorce myself. I'm relieved that a decision has been made, but I wish it would have been different.

God's timing is ironic. The After Eve conference offered a significant boost to my confidence that God was not done using me or this message.

The good news is, I have an agent and a few interested publishers already.

As my agent and I begin the shopping process, I ask that you would remember this project in your prayers. I ask especially for direction and protection for all involved parties. I don't think it was an "accident" that I sustained such a serious injury just prior to Generation Ex releasing and I am humbly aware of how standing up for truth can make me a target of the Enemy.

Finally, I am updating my proposal and preparing materials for my agent. If you have a personal story or endorsement to offer, or any suggestions for how this book can be improved, I would love to hear from you or anyone else to whom you pass on this message.

Please email your thoughts and suggestions to

Many thanks to you all.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Birthday Boy!

Happy 2nd Birthday, CJ!
Much love from your godmother,
Aunt Jen

Dear Reader/Zondervan Book Club

Okay, so it's probably no surprise that I'm a reader. My bedroom includes stacks and stacks of books I want to read, and I usually find myself somewhere in several books all at once. About a year ago, I discovered a great little service,

Suzanne, the founder, selects a book each week (there are several genres to choose from). Once you sign up, she'll send you a 5-minute portion via email each morning. By the end of the week, you'll have sampled 2-3 chapters and will have a pretty good idea of you want to keep going. If so, you can click on a link to either borrow it from your local library or purchase it. In addition to the excerpt, her emails often also include promotions to win new books and other fun stuff.

Our team at Zondervan has partnered with Suzanne to offer The Breakfast Club. It works the same way, except that all the sampled books are published by Zondervan (shameless, I know!)

After Eve Recap

I'm back and mostly sleep recovered from my trip to DC. Wow...what a great event. Thanks to all who were praying and offering well wishes for my session.

As it turned out, the session went far beyond what I could have imagined. I've done speaking gigs in the past, but with only 60-90 minutes, it's not realistic to give more than an informational overview. With three hours at After Eve, I was able to give participants time to engage as well as learn. For each of the nine effects described in my book, I included an activity or discussion questions to give attendees time to process and personalize that effect in their lives. I learned how to include music clips in my PowerPoint, which not only allowed for an appropriate song to play during the work time, but it also helped me track time.

The most amazing aspect of the whole thing to me was watching these women go from nervous strangers to vulnerable fellow travelers. Somewhere around the 90 minute-mark, something happened, and the trust we needed to really dig in was there. Tears were followed by laughter, shared concerns were affirmed as the group brainstormed solutions together. And after our three hours were up, I stuck around for another 40 minutes to keep talking with these precious women. I'm quite certain I got as much out of the seminar as anyone else there.

So a heartfelt shoutout to the red-eye crew, I'm gonna get myself a spa day in honor of you!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

After Eve

Thanks to my friend, Rich Hurst, I'm back in the speaking saddle.

I leave in a few hours for DC, where I will be presenting a three-hour intensive at the After Eve Conference. After Eve is a new conference for 18-35 year old women. From the website:

This is a conference by young women for young women. We believe there are many out there thirsting for truth and facing challenges in their lives - just as we are...we want to bring them a fluff-free conference that deals with relevant matters and challenges them to a deeper walk with Christ through living by the Word.

I've wanted to visit the host church, McLean Bible Church, in McLean, Virginia for some time. I'm grateful for this opportunity to check it out Sunday morning. My employer is a sponsor for the event, so I'll be toggling both hats while I'm there.

In a very cool case of God's planning, my trip aligns with that of Gary Thomas, my friend and now one of the authors I'm paid to promote. You can be sure I'll be announcing that here at a later time. In the meantime, Gary and I will have time to meet up on Friday.

I haven't been to DC since I was a kid, so I'm hoping for an opportunity to tour the city. My friends, "the family down the street," have gotten me hooked on The West Wing, so I have a new appreciation for our political system.

I'd appreciate your prayers for safe travel for my team and all those coming in from around the company. And I specifically covet your prayers that the sessions presented (including mine) will be conduits through which God's transforming love and presence will be felt.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

US News & Worlds Report on "Between Two Worlds"

An interview with Elizabeth Marquardt, author of Between Two Worlds:

On the Bookshelf: For kids, no 'good' divorces
Posted 9/26/05
By Katy Kelly

For divorced parents trying to minimize the effect on their children, this news is bad. Author Elizabeth Marquardt's new groundbreaking national study of adult children of divorce (ages 18–35) concludes that there is no such thing as a "good" divorce. While good splits are better than bitter ones are, the best divorces still leave children with lasting inner conflict, says Marquardt, a Chicago-based affiliate scholar at the nonpartisan Institute for American Values in New York City and herself a child of a good divorce. Her study makes her case in the just published Between Two Worlds (Crown, $24.95).

Q: Much has been written about the low impact of "good" divorce. Your study says otherwise.

A: Good divorce is a theory, not a fact. The grown children of divorce will tell you there is no such thing as a "good" divorce. Despite parental love and good intentions, divorce creates insurmountable problems for a child.

Q: How so?

A: The parents can both be good people, but they are different. In a marriage, it's the job of the parents to make sense out of their two worlds. Divorced parents have two different versions of truth. The child sees these worlds as polar opposites. The children grow up traveling between two worlds. They start to feel like a different person with each parent. It really hits the child in their identity formation. With divorce, all of a sudden the child has to say: "Who am I?" and "How do I make sense of this?" This is a huge developmental task that is handed to children of divorce that is not part the lives of children of intact families.

Q: Eventually we all have to answer those questions.

A: Yes, but it happens on the divorce timeline, not on the timeline of the child's own needs.

Q: Shouldn't it comfort a child when both parents attend the child's games and school events?

A: In a "good" divorce, parents get to get together on the soccer field, but because the only connection is the child, that's hard. It's the child alone who maintains these two relationships. They are the only common link to both worlds. That's a big job. It makes them self-conscious. It makes them feel they have to watch both sides. Even surrounded by people, they feel much more isolated.

Q: Other fallout?

A: There's a lot of loss that comes with divorce. There is this theme of loneliness. Children of divorce are three times more likely to say, "I was alone a lot as a child." It makes them feel grown up too soon, like little adults. It makes them guarded and can make them secretive. These are the kinds of things that make it really hard to be honest with themselves–from being their honest true self with the person they are most intimate with–their spouse. These are huge losses that impact their spiritual lives. Most are much less likely to be religious than those from intact families, but others look to God as the father they never had in real life.

The cost can be in their relationship with the parent. One huge finding: Only one third of children of divorce say they went to one or both parents for comfort. Children of divorce are more likely to say they went to peers or handled it alone.

Q: If one is settled on getting a divorce, is there a better time in the child's life to do it?

A:I don't find that there is, but the earlier you do it the more complicated it is for the child.

Q: Your advice?

A: Two thirds of divorces end low-conflict marriages. Most are not these abusive, fighting like cats and dogs marriages. People just want out. For parents who are married and have considered divorce–and who hasn't?–it might be the midlife blahs or boredom. But this good divorce talk is incredibly misleading. We hear the stories about how many kids end up brutally damaged by awful divorces and then hear this good divorce thought: Your child will be fine. But you don't want to just prevent awful damage in your child. You want them to thrive.

Q: So right the marriage at any cost?

A: No. With chronic infidelity, abuse, addictions, thank God we have divorce. These marriages have to end, but it's not easy. But for low-conflict marriages there are great resources, including two on the Web: and the marriage-friendly

McManus on Marquardt

Mike McManus, founder of Marriage Savers, wrote this article on Elizabeth Marquardt's new book, Between Two Worlds for his Ethics and Religion column.

btw...thanks to Crown for my copy. It arrived yesterday!

Between Two Worlds
October 19, 2005

One quarter of adults, aged 18-35, lived through the divorce of their parents. It is ashattering experience according to an powerful new book, "Between Two Worlds: The Inner Lives of Children of Divorce" by Elizabeth Marquardt.

When Elizabeth was aged seven, climbing a jungle gym, she heard a mother say toanother, "Kids with divorced parents are kicked back and forth like a footfall." The image grabbed her because that's what her life was like after age three when her parents divorced.

When she quoted the woman to her father, he turned a purplish red and sputtered that the image did not apply to her, because both he and her mother loved her very much. She saw how sad each were to say goodbye at the airport.

But she felt like the football flying "too high, too free" belonging "neither to the place it left nor to the place it was going."

Children of divorce are three times as likely to be expelled from school or to becomepregnant as teenagers as those from intact parents and are five times as apt to live in poverty.

But what about the much larger numbers of children of divorce who seem to be "fine?"

The assumption of many therapists and parents is that if divorcing parents have a "good divorce" in which they do not battle over custody, are civil when in the same room and stick to agreements on visitation and child support that their children will do well.

"In the first ever study of the inner lives of grown children of divorce, there is no such thing as a `good divorce.' It requires children to grow up between two worlds, between parents with vastly different beliefs," asserts Ms. Marquardt.

The study compared 750 Generation X adults of divorced parents with 750 who grew up in intact homes. The differences are stark. Two-thirds of children of divorce who stay in contact with both parents (and many do not) say they felt like they grew up in two families, not one, which creates "endless and often painful complications for a child."

For example, Elizabeth's father and mother both remarried. Her mother and stepfather were hippies who moved into a rented four room tenant farmer's house without indoor plumbing and took showers with a garden hose. Her father worked by day and went to law school at night. Elizabeth flew alone to visit him from age five. Eventually both parents divorced again, and her stepfather, whom she loved, committed suicide.

Fully 44 percent of children of divorce said "I was alone a lot as a child" vs. only 14percent of those in intact families - a three-fold difference. Melissa, one of 71 adult children of divorce interviewed, said that while in high school her mother was frequently absent - at work or on dates or spending the night with boyfriends.

When Daniel's father left his mother to move in with another woman, his mother wasdevastated. Daniel learned not to go to her when he felt sad or scared, because she would become overwhelmed with guilt, call herself a bad mother, and he'd have to comfort her!

A fifth of young adult children of divorce agree that "I love my mother, but do not respect her," triple that of those from intact homes. A quarter of young adults from divorced homes disagree with the assertion, "My father clearly taught me the difference between right and wrong." That compares with just 3 percent of those from intact homes. If the study had included the many children totally abandoned by divorced dads, the ratio would have been much worse.

Because the moral guidelines from each parent conflicted, children "had to create their own values and find within themselves the courage and capacity to trust their own judgment," writes Judith Wallerstein in a Foreword. As one young man put it, "I had to become my own parent."

What are the lessons of "Between Two Worlds?"

First, two-thirds of those who divorce who are in low-conflict marriages, should workharder to save their marriages, or at least wait until children are grown before divorcing. Only a third of the divorced said that they and ex-spouses tried to save the marriage.

Second, therapists who often recommend divorce and clergy who acquiesce in it - must become voices for the children urging parents to be more responsible.

Finally, this book is must reading for the millions of divorced parents or who areconsidering it, for the judges who always grant divorce when only one person asks for it, and by state legislators who should consider replacing "No Fault Divorce" (Unilateral Divorce) with "Mutual Consent Divorce."

"Because of You" video

Kelly Clarkson's video for "Because of You" is a powerful visual testament to the legacy of divorce.