Saturday, December 30, 2006

English corner

Ni hao to all my friends from English Corner !!

Friday, December 29, 2006


Ni Hao from China!

My blogging aspirations from China have been temporarily delayed due to the earthquake in Taiwan (see CNN). I hope we'll be back online soon. In the meantime, I'm limited to email. (Thank you, Niels, for posting this on my behalf).

I remember how as a child how my mom, in an effort to get me to finish my meal, would tell me about children in China. It's mind-blowing to believe that I am actually here, nearly 7,000 miles from home! Melva and I are so fortunate to be able to experience this amazing country through the eyes of those who live here. In many ways, the lack of connectivity to the outside world is enhancing our experience. We have no TV to distract us, no international calling ability, our cell phones don't work here, we can't read the newspaper and can't access any websites outside mainland China. Outside of our first 24 hours in Beijing visiting T Square and the Forbidden City (in which one could spend days and not see everything), we have simply been absorbing every day life.

The character for happiness is ubiquitous here, and in that spirit (along with the sketchy duration of my internet connection), I offer...

as defined by Jen and Melva on their Chinese adventure
  1. upgrades to business class!!!
  2. safe arrivals
  3. seeing our friends at the airport with Santa hats
  4. safe travel in taxis
  5. Beijing beds--so comfortable!
  6. western toilets!!!
  7. fresh mandarin oranges
  8. sweet Chinese bread
  9. Starbucks in T square
  10. Imperial Garden in T square
  11. bookstore in T square
  12. translated English signs in T square
  13. beauty of Chinese language
  14. Hall of Mental Cultivation in T square
  15. Hall of Literacy Brilliance in T square
  16. cypresses with entwined branches
  17. long underwear
  18. Chinese food in China: current favorites--corn and pine nuts, garlic broccoli, chicken with Ancient Chinese Secret sauce, fried cucumber, all the tea in China
  19. escalators and elevators--no ADA here (#19)
  20. not living on the 10th floor--our friends are on the 6th, see #19
  21. kennedy kiddos
  22. new chinese friends
  23. legend of the candy cane (#23)
  24. telling new friends about #23
  25. ribs so tender the meat falls off
  26. Chinese candy
  27. Banana popcorn
  28. Peach popcorn
  29. fresh fruit from street vendors
  30. cooking with "Wendy"
  31. hot water
  32. house slippers
  33. illustrated books
  34. translators
  35. any internet access!
  36. sharing this experience with Melva
  37. thoughts of returning for my next visit
  38. guest apartments
  39. local tour guides
  40. Good Friend Stores
  41. successful shopping
  42. Chinese currency exchange rates
  43. Chinese generosity
  44. Chinese respect for authors
  45. conversations leading from my book
  46. conversations leading to Dad's book
  47. English club
  48. joy of giving
  49. a boyfriend who posts news about Chinese trip from the Netherlands on an American blog read by family and friends around the world
  50. Seeing Dad at work

Sunday, December 24, 2006

China: Day 1

It's midnight. Christmas Day, 2006. Our bags have been packed and repacked, weighed, shuffled and repacked. My house is clean--hopefully for a potential buyer, and definitely for some Ohio friends who will come up for a weekend while I'm gone. My brain is fried and my body tired, so I'm going upstairs for a few hours sleep before the journey begins.

Melva and I will head to the GR airport at 8:15 tomorrow morning. Our flight takes off at 10:30, arriving in Chicago at 10:15--thanks to the first of many, many time changes we'll encounter tomorrow. A little after noon, we'll board the plane for a THIRTEEN hour flight to Beijing. Our game plan is that exhaustion will help us sleep through a good portion of the flight. I hear we'll be flying over the North Pole on Christmas Day. How cool is that?!?

We'll land in Beijing at 4:30 in the afternoon on the 26th. So much for Christmas! Our friends will meet us at the airport and we'll head to a hotel for dinner and an early bedtime. We'll visit the Forbidden City and Tiananmin Square on the 27th. We won't likely have internet access until at least the 28th, but hopefully we can make some posts after that.

Thanks to all that have made this trip possible, and especially to my neighbors Sandy, Caleb and Beth for taking great care of Bailey and watching over my house while I'm gone. Jared and Tina, enjoy your stay!

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas in China!

My holiday celebration will be a bit different this year. For the last several years, more often then not, I found myself down the street celebrating Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, birthdays and other special days. In August of this year, my GR family moved to China. Thanks to the financial support of some good friends, I will be heading to Beijing Christmas morning with my friend, Melva. We'll spend 17 days touring and catching up with our much loved friends.

We've been planning the trip for about six months. Last month, we finally made the trip to Chicago to get our visa and Thursday night, we accomplished the minor miracle of packing. Niels caught us in the middle of the action. As you can see, Bailey was an excellent supervisor.

Believe it or not, we're all set with three big suitcases, one little carry on (filled with treats and many hopefully entertaining diversions) and two purses.

We're not exactly sure what to expect technology-wise, but hopefully, we'll be able to post updates of our travel. If you don't hear from me for a while...Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


Yesterday, my boyfriend's parents celebrated their 37th anniversary. It saddens me that so many couples have lost the opportunity to celebrate double digit anniversaries due to divorce. I was talking to my mom yesterday as she opened her Christmas gifts from me. One the books I gave her was about retirement. She was skimming through it and reading different headings to me. One had to do with adjusting to all the time with your spouse. My mom made a comment to the affect of, "Where's the chapter on finding a spouse?"

My stepdad and step-step mom celebrate their 15th anniversary today. The parents of another friend celebrate their 35th anniversary next month. As I get older, I see more and more of a disparity in the lives of my friends' divorced v. married parents. Our parents are baby boomers and many, if not most, are now retired. Those who are married seem to be enjoying the time to reflect and enjoy their years of partnership. Those who are divorced seem more reflective as they wonder if they should have taken different roads. Retirement is more difficult when you've had to financially have to start over a time or two. And emotionally, facing the twilight years can be daunting when you approach them alone.

When my younger sister married, she said something to me that has stuck with me. In fact, it made it into my book. We were talking about the idea of marriage snapshots, somewhat tangible concrete pictures of what we want our life to look like in the future, so we can work towards them, even when--especially when--we are creating that which we haven't experienced. I gave the example of a hallway in a friend's parents' home. The hallway was lined with pictures, first of grandparents and ancestors, then with the couple's wedding picture, then with baby pictures, annual family portraits--some formal, some not, and other visual representation of the family history. I love the continuity that hallway conveys, and I told her I want to have a similar hallway or stairway when I marry. I asked if she had any marriage snapshots, and she said, "I want to celebrate my 50th anniversary." I love that! Approaching marriage in the long-term view like that will help my sister and her husband overcome the inevitable struggles they'll face together.

I was thinking of friend recently who has been going through a rough patch with her husband. With all the milestone anniversaries around me, along with a few weddings, I thought it would be fun idea for a newlywed couple to get frames for several upcoming anniversaries (5th, 10th, 25th, etc.) In the frame, they could write the date they will celebrate those milestones. They could also talk together about what they think life might look like for them at that point in their marriage. As they celebrate each milestone, they could replace the date with a photo, and read their predictions. They could make a note of what their life is really like at that point, and in doing so, create a bit of history for the next generation.

I'd love to hear about marriage snapshots you might have.

p.s. Happy 37th, Jan & Kitty!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Selling a Home is a Lot Like Dating....

On Saturday, I had my fourth showing. As I recuperate from the flurry that is preparing for a showing, it occurred to me that selling a home is a lot like dating. There's a lot of praying that someone will notice you. The heart goes pitter-patter when the phone rings to set up a date. You run around before the appointed hour trying to make everything look just right. And then--especially as a girl--there's a lot of praying and waiting afterwards as your mind spins with a bevy of questions like:

"Does he like me?"

"If he does like me, does he like me enough to call me again?"

"Will he treat me the way I hope and deserve?"

and most importantly...

"Will he commit?!?!"

As I type this, I'm praying and waiting for a call from my Realtor ("Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match..."). So far everyone who has seen my home has loved it, but has gone with other options due to things they knew about the house before they ever looked at. Sigh...The first wanted three bedrooms; I have two. The second didn't want stairs; mine is a two-story townhouse. The third, who was between mine and one other, opted for the two-car garage over my single. Can't say I blame them. Hopefully, the fourth time is the charm.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Red Plate Blessing

Someday, when my brain is working again, and I can write again, I'd like to write about how Generations X and Y are embracing ritual and tradition as they raise their families. I have a long list of ideas I hope to incorporate with my own family.

In a few short weeks--after I return from China--I will be moving in with an amazing family in Ohio. It'll be an adjustment going from a nice-sized home of my own to a room in the home of a family of five. I've been blessed to spend several weeks with this family over the past few months, and though I'm sure there will be adjustments for all of us, I am really looking forward to living with a family, with all the joy and chaos that comes with it.

This family is part of the community to which God has led me in Canton, Ohio. One of the things I most appreciate about this group is their own sense of ritual and tradition. Today, this community is having a blessing ceremony for my host family's oldest child. It's a time of affirming celebrating the person being blessed. This is my blessing for T.

The Red Plate Blessing
for T., on the occasion of his tenth birthday

For most of my adult life, I’ve observed the character and traditions of those I admired and looked to as models. Older women to demonstrate the woman I want to be, couples whose marriages grow stronger even through the seasons of struggle, families who create rituals and traditions to commemorate a collective history of celebrating everyday life.

A few years ago, I heard of the Red Plate tradition. Typically, it’s a red plate with the white words, “You are special today.” The plate is used to celebrate birthdays, awards, good grades, championships, acts of kindness, accomplishments and any event worth noting. At the end of the meal, the act is written on the back of the plate as a way of memorializing it. Other Red Plate rituals include the recipient choosing the evening meal and leading the family prayer.

T., because we are brother and sister in the family of God, I wanted to do something unique to celebrate our Father in this tradition, so I used the words, “You are blessed today.”

And T., as you turn ten years old, you are blessed, and very much loved. I am thrilled to come to live with you and your family. I’m looking forward to watching you grow into a godly young man. I can already see how you are choosing to live your life in a way that makes God smile. When I wasn’t feeling well after the car accident, you volunteered to help me by getting my things from downstairs, bringing me water, taking my plates after meals, and asking me what else you could do to help me or make me more comfortable. I saw Jesus in you. And I know He was smiling.

My blessing for you as you turn ten is to give you a Red Plate and commission you to start this tradition with your family, with your friends, and with us, your church community. Actively look for reasons to celebrate the good around you. As a big brother, recognize when A. or K. are good or helpful. As a son, be kind to your parents, and let them know what you appreciate and love about them. With your friends, be the first to cheer, first to apologize, and first to love. With your church family, help us discover the things we have in common, seek to learn what you can learn from us, and show us what we can learn from you. You are loved. You are special. You are blessed.

Much love,

I'd love to hear from others what traditions and rituals you've incorporated to celebrate life.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Celebrating Sinterklaas

Today is December 5, and as I'm quickly learning, the day the Dutch celebrate Sinterklaas.

About a month ago I was in the Dutch store here in Grand Rapids (the Netherlands of North America), and saw a display filled with chocolate letters. A sign explained that part of the Sinterklaas tradition is giving chocolate bars in the shape of the first letter of one's name. So, I bought an "N" for my new Dutch friend. I put it in a red bag with a note that he couldn't open it until today. He opened it at midnight and somehow I managed to surprise him. Either that, or he was being very kind. That wouldn't surprise me.

He promised to do a post explaining the celebration better than I can, so click here to read what he has to say.

You can also learn more here.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

New Edition to the COD Soundtrack

Thanks to anonymous for alerting me to Lindsey Lohan's song, "Confessions Of A Broken Heart" It's found on her album, A Little More Personal (Raw).

The video offers an insightful look at Lindsay's private pain in the midst of her parents' very public divorce.

Confessions Of A Broken Heart

I wait for the postman to bring me a letter
I wait for the good Lord to make me feel better
And I carry the weight of the world on my shoulders
A family in crisis that only grows older

Why'd you have to go
Why'd you have to go
Why'd you have to go

Daughter to father, daughter to father
I am broken but I am hoping
Daughter to father, daughter to father
I am crying, a part of me is dying and
These are, these are
The confessions of a broken heart

And I wear all your old clothes, your polo sweater
I dream of another you
The one who would never (never)
Leave me alone to pick up the pieces
A daddy to hold me, that's what I needed

So why'd you have to go
Why'd you have to go
Why'd you have to go!!

Daughter to father, daughter to father
I don't know you, but I still want to
Daughter to father, daughter to father
Tell me the truth, did you ever love me
Cause these are, these are
The confessions of a broken heart

I love you,
I love you
I love you
I love you!!

Daughter to father, daughter to father
I don't know you, but I still want to
Daughter to father, daughter to father
Tell me the truth...
Did you ever love me!!!?
Did you ever love me?
These are.....
The confessions...of a broken heart


I wait for the postman to bring me a letter..

Friday, November 24, 2006

Becoming a Buckeye

It's official....I have my Ohio driver's license. Now if only I could sell my house in Michigan! I'll be shuttling back and forth until January when I hope to start vocational rehab in Canton.

Not sure about a school with a nut for a mascot, but Ohioans are quite nuts about their team. If you want to show a little love for my new home state, click here to purchase the children's book pictured.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Coping with Christmas

Next week is Thanksgiving, ushering in what is often the most difficult time of the year for families affected by divorce. With that in mind, here's a article Ann Byle wrote for Christianity Today a few years ago.

Coping with Christmas
For adult children of divorced parents, the holidays aren't as happy as they are supposed to be. Author Jen Abbas has some advice.
By Ann Byle

The holiday season can be a difficult time for adult children of divorce. Family gatherings are often hard to attend with family members spread across the country. Traditional activities such as caroling or baking or even going to church can be stressful as memories of happier holidays haunt the present.

Jen Abbas, author of Generation EX: Adult Children of Divorce and the Healing of Our Pain has twice felt the pain of divorce. Her birth parents divorced when she was six; her mother and stepfather divorced when she was 18. Abbas, 32, says other adult children of divorce can take steps toward making the holidays happy again.

Realistic expectations

"You must be realistic about your expectations," says Abbas, an associate marketing director at Zondervan. "There will probably be tension. There may be a situation where you can't be in two places at once, where it's not practical to see both parents."

Abbas recommends setting another day for holiday celebrations with divorced parents. She travels to Minnesota, where her mother, father and stepfather live, over Thanksgiving and celebrates Christmas then. "You can't control what your parents' responses are; you can only control what you do," she says. "Parents do the best that they can, but Christmas is not going to be the way it used to be."

Abbas has reclaimed Christmas for herself, a task she urges other adult children of divorce to do. She spends Christmas with friends because she knows the holidays will never be same with her family. One person she knows has a Christmas party featuring the traditions and food of a different country each year. "It's kind of embracing the idea that things always change," said Abbas. "Embrace the change and create your own traditions."

Be proactive

While relationships with parents may be strained, Abbas encourages adult children to tell their parents what they want to do for the holidays. She says adult children should tell their divorced parents they can't be in two places as once but they want to spend time with both sides of the family.

"You're regaining a sense of control because you're not caught in the middle of their expectations," says Abbas. "If you're proactive about saying what you can do, that takes you out of feeling guilty. It's your right to take a little control over how you spend the holidays because you didn't choose this to begin with."

Build a support system

Abbas, who lives near Grand Rapids, Michigan, is far from her birth parents and stepfather. She's gathered a cadre of friends around her who understand her struggles as a child of divorced parents, and who know how difficult this season is for Abbas.

"A support system is important because if you have people who know the holidays are hard, as well as why and how you respond to that time, they will be intentional about reaching out to you," she says. "This year I had some friends say in October that they expected me at their home on Christmas morning. I never had to worry about where I'd go."

Friends who are part of your support system will draw you out at this time of year, help you acknowledge your feelings, and remind you of the truth of Christ. They also affirm their commitment to you despite "this not being our finest moment," Abbas says.

Abbas says adult children of divorce should tell friends about their feelings and actions so they know what is going on. "A support system will be intentional about reaching out. For me, my friends are the family that I choose when my family of origin is my stressor."

Manage the triggers

Abbas recommends managing the many memory triggers that occur during the holidays. A smell, a place, a song can bring you back to your past.

"If you recognize that those triggers will come up, you can acknowledge them, then choose your response," she says. "If people are aware of a trigger, they'll do something different. Maybe if cutting a tree is too painful, you get an artificial tree and make it special in your own way.

"My mom's favorite carol is 'O Holy Night,' so when I heard it I would think about sad things. Now when I hear it I've reclaimed it for myself. I tie it to new memories," she says.

With 33 million adult children of divorce and a million children affected by divorce each year, Abbas has a ready audience.

Generation EX has highlighted the controversy over the long-term effects of divorce. Many believe divorce does not affect children throughout their lives

"People ask when is the best time to get a divorce. But divorce is always horrific, traumatic," says Abbas. "Your life will never be the same again. Just like a child who loses a limb can live a full and happy life, you can't deny there is still a loss. So it is with divorce."

Abbas wrote Generation EX, her first book, because she wanted to read a volume like it. She found plenty of books on how to get a divorce, books for children and teens on coping with divorce, but not many books on how divorce affects us over a lifetime. She also saw it as a way to process her own parents' divorce.

"It's not a book about blame or saying that your parents should have stayed together, because that's their issue. The book says that divorce hurts, that you must accept that, and then asks what you are going to do to heal. It's about what I've learned."

Friday, November 03, 2006

House STILL For Sale

I'm coming up on the third anniversary of my first head injury. I've been pretty amazed by the way God has provided for my needs during this time. I continue to learn and accept the way this injury has changed my life, and while I'm sad by many of the changes, I can also embrace the blessings.

One of the blessings for which I'm most thankful is the new family of friends He has given me in Canton, Ohio. When I moved to Grand Rapids seven years ago, I knew no one. In short time, I grew to love this area and the many friends that made this place home. In the past several months as I've felt God pulling up the tent pegs on my life here, I have become more aware of how He has been preparing for my life there.

Since August, I've been spending at least a week a month in Canton with my new friends, developing not only a picture of my new life, but solidifying the new me. Everyone in Canton has met me post-injury and their love has helped me learn to love the post-injury me. This past trip, I had the opportunity to stay with a couple's three children while they were out of town for the weekend. It was great to be in a position to serve others. Though there's still so much I love about GR, I'm increasingly feeling that my life is on hold here in GR, and in play when I'm in Canton. I'm excited to get started on my new life in Canton...spiritually, emotionally, professionally (in whatever shape that might take), and especially financially.

The greatest financial pressure comes comes my home. I've come to accept that, like most who have sustained MTBIs, I can't do the same work I did before. And quite likely, that I won't be able to earn or sustain the same standard of living I've been blessed to enjoy before the head injury. I've made my peace with it and already I'm started to come up with ideas of new jobs I'd like to try. But first, I need to move. So far I've been able to pay my mortgage, COBRA and other utilities with savings, my advance, a few gifts and downsizing my stuff. Though my budget is lean, my income is leaner. With the snow swirling outside as I type this, my constant prayer is that the house will sell quickly so I can move before the Michigan winter really hits. I just dropped the price, and I posted this message today so that those who live in GR--and maybe those who wish they did!-- could spread the word to those they know.

My townhouse is in Bailey's Grove, a wonderful neighborhood with a community center, pool, and walking paths. My neighbors are amazing and many have become friends. All of the townhouses in our development have been completed so the only options are previously owned homes. What distinguishes mine from the others is brand new carpeting and padding, fresh paint, a furnace humidifier (our homes get a bit dry in the winter), contemporary ceiling fans in each bedroom, a big, clean basement ready to be finished, and now, a new low price.

Learn more about it here. Even better, take a peek inside here.

Regardless of where you live, I'd appreciate you joining me in prayer that God would quickly unite my home with its new owners.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

MEDIA ALERT: The River 100.5 and Lite Rock 95.7

Today I braved the Michigan snow to meet Judy Wagley from The River 100.5 FM here in Grand Rapids. We had a great time recording 20 minute interview that will air next Sunday morning, November 12th on both The River and their sister station, WLTE Lite Rock 95.7

The inteview will air at 8am on WLTE and 9am on The River. If you're not here in GR, you can listen online.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Approaching Marriage (FamilyLife Interview Day 5)

Adult Children of Divorce: Healing the Pain That Lives On

Divorce has a dramatic impact on the lives of children. But how does it affect a person's approach to marriage as an adult? Today on the broadcast, Dennis Rainey talks with Jen Abbas, author of Generation Ex, and researcher Elizabeth Marquardt, both adult children of divorce, about how how their parents' divorce affected their thoughts about marriage and family.

Guests Include: Jen Abbas, Elizabeth Marquardt

Tune in here to listen or read the transcript from the last day of my radio interview on FamilyLife Today.

SPECIAL OFFER: In support of this week's broadcast, FamilyLife is offering free CDs of all five programs with the purchase of both my book and Elizabeth Marquardt's Between Two Worlds.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Forgiving Our Parents (FamilyLife Interview Day 4)

Adult Children of Divorce: Healing the Pain That Lives On

Today on the broadcast, Jen Abbas, author of the book Generation Ex, and Elizabeth Marquardt, director of the Center for Marriage and Families at the Institute for American Values, talk about forgiving their parents for the divorces that catapulted them as children into a strange new world often difficult to navigate or understand.

Guests Include: Jen Abbas, Elizabeth Marquardt

Tune in here to listen or read the transcript from day four of my radio interview on FamilyLife Today.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Singlehood Phenomenon

My friends Tom & Beverly Rodgers have released a new book called The Singlehood Phenomenon: 10 Brutally Honest Reasons People Aren't Getting Married.

Generation Ex is cited on page 15, and includes this endorsement:

Today's singles grew up learning more about how relationships end than how they can be sustained. Drs. Beverly and Tom Rodgers offer life-changing insight and helpful instructino for those who find themselves unintentionally single.
Jen Abbas, author of Generation Ex: Adult Children of Divorce and the Healing of Our Pain

You can read an excerpt of the book here.

The Sleeper Effect of Divorce (FamilyLife Interview Day 3)

Adult Children of Divorce: Healing the Pain That Lives On

On today's broadcast, divorce survivors Elizabeth Marquardt and Jen Abbas tell Dennis Rainey how their parents' divorce nearly 20 years earlier has affected them throughout their lives and continues to affect them today.

Guests Include: Jen Abbas, Elizabeth Marquardt

Tune in here to listen or read the transcript from day three of my radio interview on FamilyLife Today.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Emotional Hurdles of Living Through a Divorce (FamilyLife Interview Day 2)

Adult Children of Divorce: Healing the Pain That Lives On


Divorce not only dramatically affects the couple involved, but also their children. That's according to authors Elizabeth Marquardt and Jen Abbas, both adult children of divorce. Today on the broadcast, Elizabeth and Jen talk about the reality of divorce emotionally for children with FamilyLife President, Dennis Rainey.

Guests Include: Jen Abbas, Elizabeth Marquardt

Tune in here to listen or read the transcript from day two of my radio interview on FamilyLife Today.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Surviving the Aftermath of Divorce (FamilyLife Interview Day 1)

Adult Children of Divorce: Healing the Pain That Lives On

On the broadcast today, Elizabeth Marquardt, director of the Center for Marriage and Families at the Institute for American Values, and Jen Abbas, author of the book Generation Ex, tell Dennis Rainey about their experience growing up without both a mother and a father in the home.

Guests Include: Jen Abbas, Elizabeth Marquardt

Tune in here to listen or read the transcript from day one of my radio interview on FamilyLife Today.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Media Alert: FamilyLife Today

Elizabeth Marquardt and I will on the FamilyLife Today radio program all this week, October 23-27 talking about the long-term effects of divorce. Check your local radio station for air time, or check here to listen online or read a transcript after the program airs.

Oh yeah, and you can order the book here.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

It's Here!

I'm back home safe in Michigan. My dad is here and has been a great help as I'm still in quite a bit of pain from the accident. It's been so nice to have someone to run errands and do my lifting. Dad's been a great sport. Probably not the vacation he expected, but it sure has been good timing.

One errand I don't think Dad minded at all was answering the door when UPS arrived yesterday with my copies of the new edition of Generation Ex! I'm SO excited that this project of mine is available again. I'd do a dance of joy, but considering my condition, I'll just settle for a sit of joy! :-)

If you or someone you know can benefit from my book, you can order it from my publisher. Thanks!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

(Temporary) New Wheels

I'm very happy to report that I have wheels again. Not my own, though I'm sure I'll have some serious envy to work through by the time my car is fixed in a week or two. I love the purple car!

I'll be heading home tomorrow. I'm still feeling pretty sore so I promised my many concerned friends that I'll take it easy and stop every hour. I still appreciate any prayers lifted on behalf of my safety!

My dad is on his way to my place from Minneapolis so I'll someone to keep tabs on me at home for a few days. I have an appointment with my regular doctor on Friday, my neuro on Tuesday, and neuropsych on Thursday. That should give me a better idea of when I'll be feeling better.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Seriously?!? you book is being re-released next week. That, of course, must mean it's time for me to have another accident!

I'm here in Canton, Ohio visiting friends. Yesterday I was on my way to meet a friend for lunch. I exited the highway and stopped at the light. All was well til the car behind me didn't stop. Alas, Miles (my fairly faithful Mazda Protege) has a bit of a boo boo.

For that matter, so do I. Yes, I hit my head...again. You'd think that if I'm going to keep getting injured, I could at least change it up.

I got to spend a few quality hours in the ER for a CT and observation. I'm doing alright. Slight concussion, herniated disc and really sore. Today was spent talking to all manner of insurance folks. Since Ohio is a fault state (thank God!) , the other guy will be paying for my car repairs, rental and medical bills. The car is not legal to drive, so I'll take a rental back home and drive back down when it's fixed...unless of course, they determine that it costs more to fix it than it's worth. It doesn't seem like it's that damaged, but it is a 1998 so who knows.

At any rate, I'm following doctors orders to rest and let my drugs do their work. I'm very grateful that I wasn't more seriously hurt, that I have friends here to dote on me, that details are seeming to work out, for Ohio's auto laws, and for my very kind dogsitters who are spoiling Bailey rotten!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


As many of you guessed, my VERY BIG NEWS is that Generation Ex is being reprinted!!! FamilyLife is my new publishing home. You'll be seeing some changes to this blog in the coming weeks, starting with the book cover. The book has a soft release date, which means it will be available as soon as it comes of the press. We expect the first copies to ship October 15.

FamilyLife is perhaps best known for their radio broadcast with Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine. I've long been a fan of this organization's work to promote healthy families, and am honored to be part of their team.

I was in Little Rock in May (along with Elizabeth Marquardt) to record a few programs for the show. That led to discussions about the book, which led to my contract, which led to the fastest fast-track I've ever experienced. I signed my contract last month and the book releases in two weeks!

Thanks to all of you who have been supportive of me, my book and my mission. I appreciate your willingness to get the word out. After all, everyone knows someone who needs this book.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Drum Roll Still Rolling

Thanks for those who posted or emailed me about my VERY BIG NEWS. I promise, I will post about it soon. Here's a hint. I'm waiting for an image to post with my announcement :-).

In the meantime, I found a great overview of the long-term effects of divorce on Chrysalis' blog that serves as a great reminder for why I do what I do.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Late Review

Thanks to the wonder of Google Alerts, I found a review of my book on In related news, I have some VERY BIG NEWS to share soon. Stay tuned! For now, here's the review:

14 Jul 2006 02:28 PM

Book Review: Generation Ex
by Valerie Nelson

Divorce affects each person differently. In her book called Generation Ex, Jen Abbas explains the effects that divorce has on children and how we tend to carry them through to adulthood. Since the 1970's when no fault divorce laws were adopted, over a million children per year have been affected by divorce. Currently, nearly half of all children's families will experience divorce before that child reaches adulthood.

The author's catchy title "Generation Ex" stems from the understanding that the first generation (or largest up to that time)of children of divorce that grew up in the 70's and 80's are now into adulthood and oftentimes taking with them the emotional scars of divorce.

Jen tells us in her book that she seems to be more affected by her parents divorce each year, not less, and that divorce is not just a bump in the road that is easily overcome. Listed on pages 11 & 12 of the book are some of the effects of divorce that carry into adulthood:

• Fear of falling in love, even with a strong desire to do so.
• Turning into a perfectionist.
• Fear that even if someone says, "I love you," ultimately that person might leave you.
• Trust comes in hard-earned degrees.
• You are not sure where home is, or you aren't so sure you want to accept the home that society has defined for you.
• You have holes in your history.
• You aren't sure what a healthy marriage looks like.

I agree with a lot of what the author said, and found the book intriguing because my parents divorced after I was married. I thought that their divorce did not affect me because I was already an adult living my own married life. The book helped shed some light upon the truth that the divorce, and maybe more so the bad marriage prior to the divorce, did have an effect on me and still does today.

As a woman who has gone through divorce, and still wants the very best for her children, some parts of the book where the author posed tough questions and honest thoughts were difficult for me to read. For example on page 12, Jen writes:

If our parents' decision to divorce were truly a healthy one because it offered the potential for a happier home, then why do so many of us still struggle decades later with issues of abandonment, trust, commitment, and making our own marriages work?

Divorce is often the defining event of our life, and the implications of our parents' choice continue to ripple throughout our life.

Ouch, that hurts. So does divorce. It hurts all parties involved at some level.

Even though some of the book was difficult to read, I stil recommend it because it is written from the viewpoint of an adult who has grown up in a family that experienced two divorces-both her parents, and then her mother and step father's breakups. In addition, Jen Abbas is open and honest about the wide range of emotions due to divorce that she and many others feel throughout their lives. I think the book could be an important communication tool to utilize as our children grow and potentially experience some of the same difficulties discussed in the book.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Five Years Later

I woke up this morning and turned on the TV. MSNBC was airing their original broadcast from five years ago today. For most of the morning, I was glued to my TV, remembering all the emotion and uncertainty of that day.

Five years ago, I worked at Family Christian Stores. A music rep was presenting new titles to us that morning. We had just settled in, enjoyed Panera bagels and were about to get started when someone poked their head into the conference room to tell us a plane crashed into the World Trade Center. I remember some discussion about what kind of plane it might be--probably a Piper Cub or some other small plane. We went back to our business.

A few minutes later, someone else popped in. Just after that, an announcement was made over the loudspeaker--none of us even knew our building had one!--to take a moment to pray for those involved. We then went to the exercise room, joining about 30 others who were already watching the live news on the big screen TV. We were just getting a grip on what was happening when we saw the second plane crash into the other tower.

I remember a conversation with another single friend in the days after 9/11. He told me that the terrorist attack made him rethink his singleness. I think a lot of single thought that day about who they would call if they were in that situation. For many of my friends, 9/11 intensified our longing to belong to someone, to have an assumed emergency contact. After 9/11, I became more willing to take risks in my relationships, to risk loving and being loved.

Today, after learning that proceeds from 9/11 movies are being used to help raise funds for memorials, I decided to catch a matinee of World Trade Center. After a morning of mourning, I was encouraged by this story with a happy ending. Nicolas Cage plays John McLoughlin, one of two Port Authority officers rescued from the rubble. The movie does an engaging job of showing how John reflected on his life, and especially marriage. I imagine 9/11 gave a lot of couples a renewed appreciation for the ones they committed to love for life, at least I hope so.

The theatre was nearly empty. There were only five of us there. One elderly couple. One middle-aged couple. And me. At the end, I swear my nostrils were filled with smoke and debris. With all the change and uncertainty in my life these days, this day, I'm grateful for life.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

First Poem

In honor of my friend, Kevin, who recently shared his first poem with me. This is mine:

Ode to a Mosquito
by Jenny Abbas, age 10

In the land of ten thousand lakes
People suffer from bug bite aches

The reason is, of course, the mosquito
who flies through the air like a torpedo

lands on some innocent skin
and sticks his little pain-causing needle in

And that is why
in the land of ten thousand lakes
people suffer from bed bug aches

My Prayer

One the major ways I've been spending my days the last few months is getting my house ready to sell. In addition to the regular things, like cleaning, fixing and painting, I've also been (finally!) taking time to tackle paperwork and electronic files. I signed my book contract a few weeks after I moved in, and sustained my head injury shortly before my book released. So in the five years I've been here, much too much has collected, mostly in my office.

My latest endeavor has been cleaning out my desktop. A friend was helping me with the task, and just when I thought we were about done, he asked if I had any floppy disks or ZIP disks that needed to be converted to CD-ROM. Thus the latest trip down memory lane as I've discovered very early versions of my book, years-old journal entries, college papers, and even some poetry.

The poem below is still the cry of my heart:

My Prayer

As I make my way through this life
I find myself thinking I'm doing it on my own
that I can do it alone.
Thank you Jesus
for being my constant companion
reaching out
gently convicting
and encouraging me
I love being close to you.
You are truly my best friend.
When I think to the future
and all I desire to be,
I know you'll be right there with me.
When I struggle between the conflicting voices
of Your word and Your world
I thank you for giving me strength
to pursue righteousness.
Continue to mold me
shape me
transform me
to be the one You have called me to be.
Help me to be a transparent light
that others will see You through me.
Thank you for giving me a future
and a hope of complete redemption.
Use me to reach those who need You.
Make me a willing servant.
I want to be other-focused, not self-centered
I want my relationships to reflect Your love
I want others to desire what I have found
and love.
I want to be so filled with who You are
that it changes who I am.
I want to be so filled with what You did
that it changes what I do.
I can't wait to be made perfect
and to be near You forever.
Help me to be patient and devoted
to my current mission.
Thank you for the assurance
of knowing
You care
You bless
You heal
You love.
When I fret about my future
When I get impatient to fulfill my desires
Ground me
remind me
show me
Your love is all I need.
This is my prayer.

Jen Abbas
March 30, 1996

Friday, August 18, 2006

Holy Hospitality

I've been back from Ohio about a week now. The last night I was there, I again visited the Tuesday night group. The agenda for that night was a presentation of a new "church-within-a-church" plant. The core elements of the new church include an emphasis on hospitality, service, community and creativity. For those of you who have followed my blog for awhile, you'll understand my enthusiasm for this new endeavor. I didn't have any intentions of moving to Ohio when I visited, but last Tuesday, I sensed God finally direct my next steps.

I've spent some time this past week talking to friends, praying and seeking counsel. There are a million logistical things to work out--namely, selling my house and figuring out where to live. I've been in GR for seven years and it was been my home, but as one friend said, "God has been pulling the tent pegs for you for months. I have a peace about releasing you to Canton."

Ironically, before the message at church this weekend, there was a commissioning for several church members embarking on a new church plant. Again, the word release was used as we blessed those involved in the new church.

I met a girl in Canton who is buying a home and looking for housemates. I've lived on my own for 12 of the last 15 years. I know this isn't good for me. I yearn to share my life with others. I'm excited about the possibilities. Post-head injury, I'm a new person with new priorities. I need relationships more than I did. Or maybe, I just realize my need more now without that pesky self-reliance and independence in the way. My health has taken a dip again. I haven't been able to work for two months now. It's scary, but I sense God's presence more closely now that I have in months. I'm seeing my neurologist next week. This last headache has lasted about a month now, at times so painful I can't see. All the more reason to have others around me. On good days, I've been having friends over--to talk, or more often, to play Catan. I want to cultivate more of a heart of hospitality. I haven't had many dinner parties since my head injury. I want to start again. When I told my mom about my hope to buy a big, cheap house in Canton at some point, she reminded me that one of the happiest times in my life was when I shared a modest house with three other women. We had game nights, movie nights, theme parties, football parties, late night talks and many, many meals. I miss those days. I look forward to sharing them again with my new friends.

At church on Saturday, our pastor started a new series, Holy Hospitality. I think maybe God is lighting the road ahead.

Kids and divorce: crisis of faith

Kids and divorce: crisis of faith
By Deborah Potter
Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — When Jen Thompson looks at family pictures, the memories are still painful.

Her parents divorced when she was 14, and with the sense of loss came a crisis of faith.
"My father was emotionally just barren," she says. "... So I came across as thinking that my father was just impossible to please. And that definitely carried over into my relationship with God ... that I was, in God's eyes, unforgivable and unlovable."

A recent national survey of adults who were kids when their parents divorced found Thompson's experience is not unusual, that the separation had a major impact on their spiritual lives. They were, for example, much less likely to go to church or to call themselves religious than those adults whose parents stayed married.

"One extraordinary finding in our study was that of those grown children of divorce who were active in a church at the time of their parents' divorce, two-thirds say that no one in the clergy or congregation reached out to them," said Elizabeth Marquardt, the author of "Between Two Worlds," a study of children and divorce.

Her study found that adults often feel the church abandoned them as children when their parents were divorcing and that their pastors were no better than anyone else in helping them cope.

"At the time of divorce," Marquardt said, "people ... don't know what to say; they don't want to offend the parents. They're afraid they might upset the child, so they don't reach out."

Jeff Williams, a leader of the Association of Marriage and Family Ministries, was 10 when his parents divorced. He says no one seemed to notice the cataclysm that was taking place in his life.

"We went to church, and the older ladies were complaining about the temperature of the sanctuary, and the ushers, the people who served, went on with their rituals, and nothing seemed to change there, while my life had radically changed.

"And I know now they didn't know what to say," Williams said. "But it's like you have had a leg blown off or you've had a wound and it's terrible and nobody sees it."

Linda Ranson Jacobs, executive director of Divorce Care for Kids, or DC4K, says her group's program, which has been adopted by some 2,000 congregations — including some in the Puget Sound area — argues that divorce affects every area of a child's life — emotionally, spiritually and intellectually.

"We wanted to put together a program to teach churches what the children are experiencing, the grief that they're going through, the stress that they're under, and bring them into the church family," Jacobs said.

"You know, what better place for a child who's lost their earthly family to be than in a church family," she said.

Training videos by DC4K feature children wrestling with common divorce-related problems, such as being torn between the parents' two homes and their two churches.

"I think the biggest accomplishment is just keeping God in front of those children, changing how they look at a father image or a parent image," Jacobs said.

According to Marquardt, some children of divorce become more religious after their parents' breakup, but they do so in a different way. More than 40 percent of those adult children of divorce who are members of a faith community describe themselves as born again. Marquardt theorizes that they are drawn to the theology found in evangelical churches, "where you have a more direct personal relationship with God as father through the son, Jesus Christ.

"For instance, they're much more likely to agree that God became the loving father or parent [they] never had in real life," she said. "So they are turning to God and the faith for something they didn't have in their own lives. And in the midst of that healing, in the midst of finding wholeness, there's also a very poignant story of loss."

Williams agrees. "I'm interested in looking at God not as ... what he can do for me but what I can do for him — appreciating life, even being thankful for the experiences," Williams said. "The compassion born of sorrow has allowed me to feel deeply and minister deeply to the children of divorce and parents who are going through divorce."

Friday, August 04, 2006


I'm writing this post from the home of some friends in Ohio. This past Tuesday morning was the day I had been dreading for over a year. My best friends, the family down the street, left for their new home on the other side of the world. The thought of driving back to our neighborhood after seeing them off at the airport was more than I could take, so I was very grateful for the opportunity to head out of town for a few days.

A few weeks ago, the message at my church was about how sometimes, when we pursue God's will, things get worse. I've often said that I'm not afraid to do the hard thing, so long as I know it's the right thing. The challenge of this particular season of my life is not simply that change is here, whether I want it or not, but I don't know what I'm to do next. With the challenges of my health, I've finally accepted the reality that I am unable to do the work I've done for the last ten years. However, I don't yet know what I can do well. I know I can no longer afford to live in the home I love, but I don't yet know where I will live next. I know that it is not in my best interest--physically, emotionally or spiritually--to live alone, but I don't know yet with whom I will live. I feel as though the road I have been traveling has come to an end. There's no fork, no narrower path. Just emptiness ahead. And I wonder if somewhere along the way I got lost, or if this is the next step of learning to trust God. I'm seeking that pillar of fire or clouds to lead me. Someone once said that when you are unsure of your direction, to go back to the last place you felt confident of your route. For me, that place is here in Ohio.

The last few days have been restful and have brought so much peace to my heart, even in the midst of the unknown. Being away from home is giving me clarity to see what I'm missing and to define what I really need. I'm enjoying the conversations I'm having as I reconnect and deepen relationships with friends here. I'm grateful for this oasis in Ohio.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Generation Ex on MP3

Good news on the book front...I just learned that Brilliance Audio, who created the CD and cassette versions of my book, are now making an MP3 version of my book available in October. You can pre-order it from Powells.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

This is how I feel

My mom--former Realtor and staging expert extraordinaire--came to visit this weekend to help me get my house ready to sell. I really wish I didn't have to sell, especially since God hasn't shown me where my next move is going to be...yet!

My health has been an issue again so I knew I needed the help to get things ready. Mom is really talented with this stuff so it was great to just follow her instructions.

Thanks to Mom, the following items have been checked off the to do list:

Front walk:
• planted flowers
• hung hanging plants on a shepherd’s hook
• put brick red mulch on both sides
• replaced the storm door with the screen door
• swept and cleaned the walk

• swept out the garage
• touched up paint
• cleaned the door
• moved the shoe rack
• brought lots of stuff to the basement
• tossed the old carpets
• hung my key rack in the garage
• took the hat/mitten thing downstairs
• brought extra shoes to the basement

• threw out the extra linoleum
• painted the closet
• touched up the door and baseboard
• touched up the wall
• hung a green mirror
• moved the bookshelf in the entryway to the living room

Guest Bath:
• repaired the hole in the guest bath and repainted the back of the door that Bailey scratched
• hung a new print above the towel rack

Dining Room:
• touched up the paint
• put border paper in the dining room and moved the table 180 degrees.
• hung up a new picture
• bought a large candle holder and runner for the table, used greenery from the living room as a centerpiece

• spackled holes and touched up the paint and baseboards
• put up greenery and a swag
• polished table
• printed picture of house in the fall and hung in frame

Living Room:
• touched up paint and baseboards
• rehung big picture
• moved the loveseat from the living room to my bedroom
• bought a 27” flat screen TV to replace my 20” for a steal, along with the TV stand I originally wanted for $25 at the Second Time around
• moved the old TV to the basement
• moved the old TV stand to my bedroom for a bedstand stand
• borrowed a suede chair, matching ottoman and end table from the neighbors
• moved the old end table to the office
• bought a purple and green tree for corner
• put framed picture of house on the CD shelf with purple vase with greens

• bought two chairs from Mel Trotter
• brought up plastic end table from basement
• hung plant

• removed picture from stairway and rehung in master bath
• touched up paint on walls and railing

Master Bedroom:
• moved the headboard from my bedroom to the basement
• hung pictures and a mirror from Salvation Army in my bedroom
• installed the ceiling fan in my bedroom
• moved the shelf I was using for a bedstand and the other shelf to the office
• moved the lamp from the living room to my bedroom
• hung print from the stairwell in the bathroom

• touched up paint on walls
• fixed my gold record and hung it the landing

Office Bath:
• hung a plate holder in my office bath and put rolled washcloths on it
• bought a basket at Mel Trotter and put rolled towels and toiletries in for the office bath
• hung the bulletin board in my office

At any rate, Mom and I are both exhausted. Bailey, as you can see, is well rested.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

I Couldn't Have Said it Better Myself

I'm in serious downsizing mode. After ten years in publishing and a lifelong addiction to books, I'm paring down my 3,000 book library. I've started with my fiction books, many of which have sat on my shelves for years, unread. So I'm in a bit of a reading race.

Today I finished a Sins of the Mother by Patricia Rushford. There's a great conversation between two characters that articulates well the idea of the sleeper effect and how child's "resilience" is often just a coping mechanism.

From p. 190:

“Most of us have childhood wounds that need to be dealt with. I’m convinced that God gives children the ability to overcome or forget the abuses or traumas they suffer until we’re old enough to cope. It’s like we stuff the bad things in a garbage bag and hide it in a corner of our minds. But eventually, when we’re old enough and mature enough, the garbage starts to ferment. It bubbles to the surface and needs to be sorted through and disposed of in a healthy way.”

“And keeping it stuffed down isn’t healthy.”

“No. The healthy way is to let each issue rise to the surface, examine I from your adult perspective, and hand it to God. He’s the Great Physician, Shanna. He’s the ultimate healer. It’s like if you have a ruptured appendix—if you don’t have surgery, the infection will kill you. With surgery and antibiotics, a doctor can restore you to health.”

“So you’re saying God can make everything better?”

“Only if we let Him. The Bible says to cast all your cares on Him.”

"Guess I have a lot of garbage to sort through. Where do I start?”

“You already have.”

Monday, July 17, 2006

Media Alert: The Abel Hour

A few weeks ago, I came across Abel Koegh's website. Abel was widowed in his early twenties and began blogging a few month's after his wife's death. Over the course of a few days, I was drawn into his story and spent many late hours reading his mostly-daily posts as he came to terms with his wife's death, dealing with issues like how/why to remove his wedding ring, dating again, and his eventual remarriage. Abel is working on a memoir and I wrote to offer my help. He sent me a few chapters and the proposal, and I'm even more hooked!

I have a link to my own blog and website in my email signature, and as a result of our correspondence, he checked out my blog. Abel recently began a new job as the host of a radio program and invited me to be a guest.

So tomorrow, Tuesday, July 18th, I'll be on The Abel Hour 11am-noon Mountain Time (1pm-2pm Eastern). Utah residents can tune in to K-Star 1400 AM in Provo. Everyone else can listen online.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

ABC-TV’s SUPERNANNY Seeks Divorced Parents and Stepfamilies

ABC-TV’s SUPERNANNY Seeks Divorced Parents and Stepfamilies
Free Best-Selling “Supernanny” Book For First 5 Families That Apply

Are you and your ex sharing custody? Are the rules between the two households different? Are your stepchildren having a hard time adjusting to your new family dynamic? Do you and your ex-husband or ex-wife have completely different ideas on disciplining your children?

Supernanny Jo Frost can help you!

If you’re interested in applying to appear on the show Supernanny, email Lisa Cohn at She’ll connect you with the folks at ABC-TV’s Supernanny.

The casting department is offering a free copy of Jo Frost’s “Supernanny: How To Get The Best From Your Children” (Hyperion Books) to the first five families that apply. The book was on the New York Times bestseller list for 10 weeks.

If a family gets selected to be on the show, the production crew visits them for two weeks. Jo Frost and the crew come to give you and your family hands-on advice, but within your normal routine. Supernanny wants to give you tools to deal with the frustrations you meet in the course of the day. The show’s producers may ask for a couple days off work or school depending on when Jo is in your house, and for that inconvenience the makers of Supernanny offer a stipend.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Making Peace with the Unknown

There's a saying, "The more I know, the more I know I don't know." In this season of transition, there's very little I take for granted. I'm no longer driven to make my mark on the world, but I am interested in making a mark in my world. My approach to time has changed, too. I'm much more of a day-by-day girl, now. One benefit of this approach time is being able to appreciate the process of life rather than only the outcomes. This weekend is a good example.

On Saturday I had a first date with a guy very different than my typical type. We've been getting to know each other for a few weeks now and the best word I can use to describe my interest is "intrigued." I don't know enough to know whether we should pursue things, but I don't know enough to say we definitely shouldn't either. In the past, I would have avoided the unknown by ruling him out. But I'm trying to do things differently. So we met and ended up having a really good time.

One of things that most attracted me to him is that it's clear from his relational history that he is able to love well. By well, I mean unconditionally. He's weathered some things I can't fathom, and has come through with a remarkably positive view of love and marriage. Those of you who know me and my own relational history understand that this is a rather irresistible trait. As we talked throughout the day, his outlook challenged me to be more free (less fearful) about the process of loving and be loved.

I'm reminded that everyone we meet has the power to influence us for better or for worse. As for my Saturday date, I'm better for having met him. I hope he feels the same way.

Friday, July 07, 2006

A Good Day

A variety of people, in a variety of ways, have asked me a variation of the same question, "What are you going to do with your life now that...?" I don't think anyone is more surprised than I am that I don't have a tidy answer. I'm just open. My constant prayer for the last several months has been for God to show me where and how He can use me, as I am, post-injury.

I've always been a security girl. Give me a steady paycheck and clearly outlined expectations and I'm good to go. It fits real well with the independent streak I've been nurturing for the last 30 years.

That streak has ended.

There's a term thrown around a lot in post-modern circles, deconstruction. In the Jen dictionary, it's the idea that you have to completely breaking something down, set aside all assumptions to get to a new starting point, after which, presumably, you then build it back up with a new/better/more solid foundation. I've had to deconstruct much of what I've believed about love, relationships and marriage. In this current season of life, I'm deconstructing my faith in some ways

I was talked to a friend recently about my relationship with God. I said I feel like I'm in a bad marriage with Him right now. Neither of us are going to divorce and I know that the only thing worse than where I am is being where I am without Him. So it's rough...for now. We aren't communicating well. We aren't (I'm not) hearing well. But it's a valley, not the end of the relationship. It's been miserable, but I think maybe I've needed the misery. (I hate that I've needed the misery). I needed to get good and mad so that I could be good and mad at God. I've needed to come to this place of being utterly unable to put on a good front. I needed to get messy and raw and broken to see that even when I'm messy and raw and broken, I'm still of value to Him. I can lose my job, my house, my bank account, my friends, my boyfriend, my hope...and still be loved and worthy of love. I've known that truth with my head, but I think maybe I needed to experience the truth of it with my heart to let it sink in.

I'm optimistic today that I've started re-constructing. Last night I had two separate conversations with out-of-state friends who shared with me how God has used to post-injury me to bring healing to others. I so needed that affirmation. I still don't have a good answer to the question, but I'm seeing the return of hope that there is an answer.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


I'm very grateful to a few friends who invited me to join them up north for the holiday weekend. After dropping the K family at the airport, the last thing I wanted to do was be home alone.

On the way up, I listened to John Mayer and was reminded of his great song, "Daughters." Another great addition to the child of divorce soundtrack, this song hits on a couple of important points. Of course, the overall theme is the generational effect parental choices have on their kids. If parents teach their children that love is fickle and fleeting, their kids are going to struggle to receive and relay love, especially as adults in their own romantic relationships.

But the first stanza is the one that really gets to me. John muses about the girl he loves and how, despite all the hoops he jumps through to prove his love, she is still an emotional chameleon. He realizes that her inability to be secure with him is more about her father's love than his. I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about the perfectionistic view of love I've held--that it is something we earn for what we can offer--not only with my parents, but with my friends, the guys I've known, my friends, and especially with God. This weekend I was around a couple that inspires me with their picture of imperfect, yet faithful love. It fuels my hope that I will someday love and be loved well. In the meantime, I wonder if there will be a man patient enough to figure out the puzzle that is me.

w/m John Mayer
from the album, Heavier Things

I know a girl
She puts the color inside of my world
but she's just like a maze
Where all of the walls all continually change

And I've done all I can
To stand on her steps with my heart in my hands
Now I'm starting to see
Maybe it’s got nothing to do with me

Fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers, be good to your daughters too

Ooh, you see that skin?
It's the same she's been standing in
Since the day she saw him walking away
Now she's left
cleaning up the mess he made

So fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers, be good to your daughters too

Boys, you can break
You find out how much they can take
Boys will be strong
And boys soldier on
But boys would be gone without warmth from
A woman's good, good heart

On behalf of every man
looking out for every girl
You are the guide and the weight of her world

So fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers be good to your daughters, too
So mothers be good to your daughters, too
So mothers be good to your daughters, too.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

OPPORTUNITY: Upcoming CBS Early Show segment on divorce

CBS The Early Show
Upcoming 3-part segment on divorce

A producer at the Early Show is looking for adult children of divorce interested in talking about their experiences on camera, AS WELL AS divorced parents of at-home children who are going through some of the typical stresses of divorce and joint custody.

If you are interested, or know someone who is, please contact Kim Kennedy, producer, at

Friday, June 30, 2006

A Tale of Two Goodbyes

Anticipatory Grief is a term used in psychology to explain the process of bereavement that begins before the actual loss has occurred. For example, when a loved one has a terminal illness, family and friends tend to begin feeling the loss before the loved one actually passes. The past few months have included a lot of loss and to be honest, I've rather resigned myself to the fact that it's just going to be a rough patch for now.

A while back I wrote in my journal that I could handle anything so long as I knew I could redeem in through writing at some point. And while I'm sure that I still believe that, right now, I just want the pain of parting to be over.

The losses I'm grieving are all intertwined, though somewhat independent. I'm not sure if that makes it easier or more difficult. At this point, I can't really analyze it, I'm just living it, and that's okay for now. I've been listening to the audio book of When God Doesn't Answer Your Prayer by Jerry Sittser. What I've appreciated about the book so much so far is the freedom I've found in being really, brutally honest with God about how I'm feeling. I didn't realize how much I've held back from being authentic. I suppose that if, as a child, you learn to put your best face on for your parents for no other reason than you want to be okay, that you learn to approach your heavenly Father in the same way. I don't want to seem ungrateful for all the things He has given me, so I'm hesitant to tell Him how it hurts me to be denied the things I really desire. But, Jerry tells me, isn't it better to come straight to God with our unfiltered feelings and let Him absorb them? David's Psalms often start out with him railing against God and then, ultimately, end up with him making peace not only with God, but also with his situation.

David's Psalms give me hope that this anger is only a dot, not my destination.

A few months back, I was experiencing probably the sweetest time in my life. It seemed that everything I had hoped for was finally coming together at just the right time. Ever since my head injury, my personality has become less accomplishment-oriented, and much more relationship-oriented. Relationships have always been a challenge for me, but the two types of relationships I most yearned to experience were, for the first time in my life, fulfilled at the same time.

The first relationship was family. A few years back, I was asked to move into a smaller office to accommodate a new co-worker. When he learned I had to move, he invited me to have dinner with his family to make up for it. This family of four is now a family of six, with the youngest daughter being my god-daughter. In addition to adopting two little girls, this couple adopted me into their family in our own formal way. For the last several years, I never had to think about where I would spend Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, my birthday, or any other occasion that historically has triggered a sense of loss. When I visit my biological family, it's "Mom's house" or "Dad's house." I don't belong there. I have a key to this family's home and I know I belong there. This family has done more to heal my heart than anything else I've experienced as an adult. They have shown me unconditional love and modeled family in a way that has utterly transformed me. I've been able to watch a husband and wife run a full gamut of emotions where leaving is not even a thought. I've watched patient parenting in action and loved on four of the best behaved kids on the planet. I never even really wanted kids until these kids wiggled their way into my heart. Now I long for a legacy of my own. In this family, I finally have a vivid picture of what I want to create for myself.

And they're moving. Not just out of the neighborhood. Not out of town or even out of state. They are moving to the other side of the world and the thought of it makes my heart hurt so much I can't breathe.

I have no doubt that they're doing what they need to do. Though they don't move until August 1, they will be gone from the neighborhood most of July, starting on Sunday. Less than 48 hours away.

I've known this day was coming for more than a year. I do feel a sense of progress in that, when I learned this news, I didn't pull away as I would have so often in the past. I made the most of the remaining time we had together. At the same time, not a day has gone by when I haven't prayed that God would bring someone into my life so that I can start creating my own family. The time has come, I believe, when I shouldn't have to settle for being the add-on to my friend's growing families.

This winter, I thought I found him. I've always been so cautious, so full of fear and anxiety when it comes to dating. I was wary of those who got emotional too quickly. After all, you've gotta be wise about these things and I had just the checklist to help you along. But then it happened to me. I met someone and he was everything I wanted and more than I could have thought up myself. And amazingly, he wanted me too. For once, I was pursued, hard, by a good guy...a great guy. No red flags anywhere, just green all around. I met his friends. He met mine. We all got along. The first time I walked into his house, I felt like I was home. (The first time I met him, I felt at home). I could see our life together and I loved what I saw. It wasn't just exactly what I had been hoping and praying for, it was better. We both felt so confident that we started making plans, seeking counsel, planning our budget, dreaming our future. Finally, talking about marriage with someone filled me with joy, not fear. The timing seemed so perfect, I was losing my family, but gaining MY family. It balanced out. It made sense. It was finally my time!

I had been struggling at work. I had known for some time that though I was fully recovered from my head injury, I was not fully healed, and I was not the same. I couldn't do the job the way it deserved to be done. I could give 20 good hours, but if I tried to give 40, the rest of my life suffered...and it did suffer. But I needed to work to pay my bills. So I put life and God and my passion for writing on the back burner to make money, each day feeling a bit of a failure for not being who I used to be. As talk of marriage became up more often, I finally felt free to admit that I needed to leave. I began talking with my boss and planning for my departure. I looked forward to moving out of the fast lane and moving into a life I really wanted: as a wife and mom who writes as God inspires.

This spring I hit a rough patch with my boyfriend, which I believed was due to the distance. We both got testy and picked fights. The content didn't seem to me to be anything substantial, and we both agreed that we needed time to develop an everyday relationship. With my job change in the works, I agreed that we needed to take a break and slow things down. I knew enough about relationships to realize that they have seasons of peaks and valleys and understood that it was to be expected that the distance would create a valley, especially if we really did want to be together. He had been so confident in his love for me that I felt secure in stepping back for the time being to get caught up in the other areas of our lives. We continued to talk every week, and I continued to share my status of my transition with him. I hated the thought of selling my house (see previous posts) but it was tempered by the idea of moving into his house after we were married. As my final day at work neared, I started thinking about where I would move. Would I stay here and visit there more extendedly? Or should I just go ahead and move to where he lived? We had talked about both. Finally I decided that moving sooner rather than later would be easier--one move, and I would have plenty of new things to occupy my thoughts and hopefully help with the transition. I was scared for all the change, but so excited about starting this much-anticipated new chapter of my life.

And then the other shoe dropped.

A week before my last day at work, he called to see how my day went. We were planning to get together in Minnesota in a few weeks and talked about how good it would be to actually see each other again. We got talking about my transition and my move. And that's when he told me he had changed his mind. He didn't want to marry me after all. He had made the decision in his mind and had emotionally moved on.

<<<The thing is, as much as I hate the way things ended, I understand it. Well, maybe not IT, but him. He's so much like me, personality-wise. In all the good ways and in all the annoying ways. Typically I've been the one to internalize my concerns and spring a decision on someone. Granted, I never got this far, and I never took my words back, but I still understand what drives a person to have this sort of decision-making thought process about someone without that someone. Being on the other side has forever cured me from not sharing my apprehensions with someone along the way. We have our differences, but I can't imagine finding someone so much the same. And that's what makes me sad. I can't say it was the right decision. For sure, it was a premature decision. But it is the decision he made, so it's decision I'll accept.>>>

I can't say that I handled it as well as I could have. I know that he cares for me, and I do think he realizes how much it hurt me. At the same time, I wasn't willing to take his olive branch of friendship, either. You can't offer someone your heart, your dreams, your life...and then say, "Never mind all that, but let's be friends." I thought we were friends...and more! I was blindsided by his change of heart. I thought I was finally secure in a relationship that could weather ups and downs. He was plain down and out. I just didn't see it coming.

We didn't get together as planned in Minnesota, though we did see each other twice. Once was anticipated, when we were in the same place at the same time. The other was an odd coincidence, where we were in the same suburb in the same restaurant. Our relationship was filled with little coincidences and affirmations. I'm sure they played a part in why I let myself fall for him so fast and so hard. It just seemed like everything was perfectly aligned for us to be together at just this time.

We didn't really talk when we saw each other, either time. I don't know what he experienced, but what I felt was the horrible awkwardness of wanting so much for him to show me in some way at all that he did care for me once, even if he no longer did. I wanted him to say he was sorry that it didn't turn out the way we dreamed, because it was a really wonderful dream. I wanted to see some sense of sadness and pain, not because I want him to be full of sadness and pain, but because I don't want to believe that he could get over me so quickly. I wish I could get over him as quickly. But he didn't reach out to me. He didn't touch me. He hardly said anything. And that's how I knew it really was over, and part of me wonders if it ever was. It had been so wonderful, I think it must have been just a dream.

Since then, I've left my job. I'm still selling my house. And after that, I'm not really sure. I'm praying that God will show me what I can still do well with the lasting limitations of my head injury. Life is not turning out the way I planned, and I'm in desperate need for Him to show me a new plan. Hope deferred makes the heart sick. I feel like my heart is terminally ill.

My family here got me a webcam so I can still see them after they move. I gave back all my ex-boyfriend's things so I wouldn't have to see them anymore. As I've been cleaning and sorting through my things to prepare my house to list, I've been going through my memory boxes. Pictures of my family here. Pictures of the man with whom I thought I was going to have a family of my own. One set of pictures got burned to a CD so I'll have them when I settle in my next place. The other set got deleted so I can start healing.

I'm starting to say goodbye.

I Love You This Much

Another great song for the child of divorce soundtrack. This one was performed by Jimmy Wayne.

Check out the video here.

I Love You This Much
performed by Jimmy Wayne
from his self-titled album

He can't remember
The times that he thought
Does my daddy love me?
Probably not
That didn't stop him
From wishing that he did
Didn't keep him from wanting
Or worshipping him

He guesses he saw him
About once a year
He could still feel the way he felt
Standing in tears
Stretching his arms out
As far as they'd go
Whispering daddy
I want you to know

I love you this much
And i'm waiting on you
To make up your mind
Do you love me too?
How ever long it takes
I'm never giving up no matter what
I love you this much

He grew to hate him for what he had done
'cause what kind of father
Could do that to his son?
He said 'damn you daddy'
The day that he died
The man didn't blink
But the little boy cried

I love you this much
And i'm waiting on you
To make up your mind
Do you love me too?
How ever long it takes
I'm never giving up no matter what
I love you this much

Half way through the service
While the choir sang a hymn
He looked up above the preacher
And he sat and stared at him

He said
'forgive me father'
When he realized
That he hadn't been unloved
Or alone all his life
His arms were stretched out
As far as they'd go
Nailed to the cross
For the whole world to know

I love you this much
And i'm waiting on you
To make up your mind
Do you love me too?
How ever long it takes
I'm never giving up no matter what
I love you this much

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

I Just Wanna Be Mad

Another song for stickin' it out...

I Just Wanna Be Mad
performed by Terri Clark
from the album, Greatest Hits 1994-2004

Last night we went to bed not talkin',
'Cause we'd already said too much.
I faced the wall, you faced the window.
Bound and determined not to touch.

We've been married seven years now.
Sometimes it feels like 21.
I'm still mad at you this mornin'.
Coffee's ready if you want some.
I've been up since five, thinkin' bout me and you.
And I've got to tell you the conclusion I've come to.

I'll never leave, I'll never stray.
My love for you will never change.
But I ain't ready to make up.
We'll get around to that.
I think I'm right, I think you're wrong.
I'll prob'ly give in before long.
Please don't make me smile.
I just wanna be mad for a while.

Well, now you might as well forget it.
Don't run your fingers through my hair.
Yeah, that's right, I'm bein' stubborn.
No, I don't wanna go back upstairs.
I'm gonna leave for work without a goodbye kiss.
But as I'm drivin' off, just remember this.

I'll never leave, I'll never stray.
My love for you will never change.
But I ain't ready to make up.
We'll get around to that.
I think I'm right, I think you're wrong.
I'll prob'ly give in before long.
Please don't make me smile.
I just wanna be mad for a while.

I'll never leave, I'll never stray.
My love for you will never change.
But I ain't ready to make up.
We'll get around to that.
I think I'm right, I think you're wrong.
I'll prob'ly give in before long.
Please don't make me smile.
I just wanna be mad for a while.

I just wanna be mad for a while.
I just wanna be mad for a while.
I just wanna be mad for a while.