Nov 032009

Have you seen the movie, The Reader? It’s a strange movie, but I’ve not been able to stop thinking about it lately. It’s about a woman who is stuck in a figurative prison of isolation because she doesn’t know how to read. Then she is put into real prison and learns to read, and through reading she becomes connected to humanity and free.

My time in jail was not quite as productive, but still, this theme rings true to me.

Yesterday I explained that anxiety and fear were at the root of my destructive behaviors, so this week I’m writing about the things I do that help me relax and be brave. Remembering that there is enough and that I am enough is one thing that helps. Another is remembering that everyone else is enough, too, and that we are all connected. I try to remember that while other women might speak differently and act differently… on the inside we are more alike than different. And that if someone accidentally or purposefully hurts me, it’s usually not personal. It’s just that we all have our own sets of strengths, weaknesses, hurts, secrets, and fears. Believing that people generally do the best they can helps me be less suspicious, which is relaxing to me. Because it’s exhausting to be in charge of deciding who is good and bad, right and wrong, and worthy and unworthy all the time. It’s a heavy burden. Letting go and letting people be is crucial to my peace.

Now, please understand that it is important for me to appreciate humanity and all those lovely humans who make up humanity from a comfortable distance.Because, close up, they all tend to make me quite nervous and often, annoyed. This leads me to believe that I may be far from mastering the unity/connectedness concept . As I may have mentioned before, I am tired and socially anxious, so going to parties and showers and things such as this where I might actually be forced to sit next to and talk to humanity is really out of the question. So, I learn about love and humanity through books. I know it’s not a perfect plan. Sometimes I picture my funeral and I see the front row filled with my family and then I picture Chase putting books in all the other chairs so the church appears to be full of my friends. It’s fine, really. At least the catering will be cheap.

My point is that reading helps me relax and stay healthy, because it makes me feel less alone and less isolated. You know, while I am at home, alone and isolated.

Whatever. Sometimes I feel like I get to know more about a person from reading her story than I would if we met for coffee thirty times. Maybe because in person I am always meeting women’s public selves, but in books I get to meet their private selves, which are more interesting and make me feel more normal. In any case, reading is how I escape from myself in order to return to myself. Reading about other people’s fears and triumphs reminds me that I’m not alone, that we are all the same, and that helps me relax and breathe. While remaining in my jammies, which is crucial.

A while ago, Chimmy mentioned that she felt like Momastery was sort of her “book club.” And that got me thinking. I’ve always loved the idea of a book club.But not the idea of going to a book club. Book club meetings tend to be held in the evenings. I don’t really do evenings.Usually, when the sun sets, after a long day with the kids, I become sort of a reclusive crank. A hermit crab.

So, friends, I was wondering if any of you would be interested in joining a Momastery book club. I need someone to talk to about the books I read and the movies I watch, because Craig really doesn’t want to talk about it anymore. Just this weekend I was excitedly reviewing the symbolism in the film we’d just enjoyed together and he interrupted me, rolled his eyes and said “No, I don’t think Owen Wilson was a Christ figure. It was Wedding Crashers, Glennon.” And then he picked up his popcorn bowl andleft.And so I’d love to have some people to talk to about books and movies and art who are willing to be a little more patient andopen- minded.

If you’re a regular Momastery reader or would like to be, would you comment and let me know if you’re interested in joining a weekly book club? We will, obviously, call ourselves the Hermit Crabs. And we’ll meet online and say delicious and brilliant things. If you hate this idea, feel free to be honest about that, but nicely, so sister doesn’t hurt you.Also, share book and movie suggestions.



Jan 052010


Our name is derived from the fact that we are too reclusive and cranky to attend real book clubs. So here we are.

Hermit Crab Book Club Rules:

1. Everyone is invited.

2.We will try not to be jerks.

3.We will try to feel inspired rather than guilty, since we’re exhausted and likely can’t fly to the third world today. We will consider that a shift in thinking can be as powerful as a shift in doing. We might even decide that since we’ve been up all night with sick children or we have a big presentation or 49 PB and Js to make today…we won’t think or do a darn thing other than become more aware. And maybe pray for those on the battlefield of oppression. And we will grow more fearless by loving bravely and telling the truth at home and the office. This is enough work for a day in the life of a Revolutionary.

I’ve done my best to outline JC into questions followed by Haugen quotes to get us thinking and talking, and in hopes that this would help Monkees who didn’t read the book. (SHC- Slacker Hermit Crabs) I’ve overdone it, sorry. Feel free to comment on the questions and quotes or ignore them completely and go rogue

“In a world where 27 million children, women, and men live as modern day slaves, the fight for justice cannot wait.”

“Like abolitionists from Moses to Harriet Tubman, those who carry on their legacy honor the simple belief that slaves are our sisters and brothers.”

-At the End of Slavery: The Battle for Justice In Our Time

G- I’ve been too busy reading about your sex life to read this book. What is “Just Courage” about? Make it snappy.

Please read this post for the history of IJM and why the Monkees are involved. Just Courage was written by Gary Haugen, the founder of the International Justice Mission, a Christian organization that takes to heart God’s commands to:

“seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, and plead for the widow.” (Isaiah 1:17)

IJM storms into the darkest places in the world to rescue victims of injustice and violence. Then they prosecute the abusers and rehabilitate their clients. Many of IJM clients are young children, girls as young as five in bondage as sex slaves. This is a commonplace scenario in many parts of the world. IJM believes they can make a difference for these children of God and by God, they are, one rescued person at a time.

Haugen suggests that here on the shiny side of the world, where things are relatively comfortable…it becomes easy to pretend that the world is an okay place, and that people are pretty much fine. Apparently, it’s not, and they’re not. They’ve got problems. They can’t feed their families and their kids are being kidnapped and raped and they have no recourse because their legal systems are corrupt. And we’ve got problems over here in shiny land, too. Because sometimes we feel bored, unfulfilled, uninspired, impotent, lost when it comes to our faith life. We know deep down that there has to be more. That we were made for more. That life can’t really be about acquiring stuff and status. Haugen suggests that the disconnect between these two worlds is the cause of both sets of problems. If we in this world used our power (time, money, and energy) to follow God’s repeated commands to “seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, and plead for the widow (Isaiah 1:17)” both sets of problems would be solved, because we would all witness God’s healing power, and be forever changed. The victims of violence would be free to care for their families and we would be free from our restlessness and feelings of uselessness. They would find freedom and peace and we would find purpose and peace. Haugen suggests that the pursuit of happiness is in the pursuit of JUSTICE. It’s the Holy Grail, if you will. The joy, the adventure, the peace, is with the poor. Seems like Jesus agrees, with all His “blessed are the poor, blessed are those who mourn, blessed are the meek, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness sake, blessed are the merciful” and things such as this.

From Just Courage:

“To love our neighbor is simply to consider how we would want to be treated- and then treat all others that way. For those neighbors around the world who are suffering injustice, we can’t say that we love them if we do not draw near and seek justice on their behalf.” 74

“This is the moment in which we can see that the all the work that God has been doing in our lives and in the life of the church is not an end in itself; rather, the work he has been doing in us is a powerful means to a grander purpose beyond ourselves. This is the supernatural moment when the rescued entered into their divine destiny as rescuers.” (28)

“Rather than looking away from ugliness, Christians actually have to go looking for it.” 51

“According to Christ, significance is found in transforming people’s lives through love. This is living a truly significant life.” 119

“Deep within all of us there is a yearning to be brave. And like all of our deepest, truest, and best yearnings, it comes from how we were made. Courage- the power to do the right thing even when it is scary and hard – resonates deeply within the original shape of our soul…who we truly are and were meant to be is evidenced more by our yearnings than by our history.” 104

“There are two things that are always the will of God and almost always dangerous: telling the truth and loving needy people. (Jesus tells us this is where the deepest joy is found) In fact, if following Jesus does not feel dangerous, I should probably pause and check to see if it is Jesus I’m following.” 115

G- I just made it through the family holiday without doubling my Prozac, so I feel brave enough, thank you very much. But just for arguments sake..why is it so hard to be brave and try to make a difference?

(My first thought when I looked at this picture, taken outside of a brothel, was that the the girl was texting. She’s not.)

From Just Courage

“Ignorance. (We don’t know about the suffering of the world)

Despair (We don’t think there’s anything we can do about it.)

Fear.” (We are scared to do anything about it)”

2″Sometimes the will of God is scary because he is asking us to choose between a life that looks successful and a life that is actually significant, between a life that wins applause of our peers and a life that actually transforms lives through love.” 119

“Hopelessness (despair) says to God: You are a God who calls your people to ministry without providing any power to actually do it.”

“I don’t know if Jesus actually rolls his eyes, but that is what I picture him doing every time he hears “realistic” and “mature” Christians give fourteen reasons why there is nothing we can do to stop violence and injustice. I think He is very sympathetic to our honest fears. But I think He is annoyed when those fears are dressed up in a sophisticated analysis of why nothing will work…because He hears us simply regurgitating the ancient, tired nostrums of the father of lies.” 78

“While our arguments for the impracticality of doing justice are understandable, they are ultimately not very interesting to Jesus. Nor are they very helpful to the slave boy or the prisoner being tortured or to the widow brutally thrown off her land. Imagine yourself enslaved on a concrete floor or violently chased from your own home, and then picture yourself listening to millions of Christians explain why there is nothing they can do to help you…Wouldn’t you long to hear someone- anyone-speak up and say, “Wait! We may not be able to do everything, but can’t we help this one?” 79

“What are we going to do? I am much more interested in telling Jesus and other what I believe, but Jesus (and the watching world) knows what I truly believe will be manifested in what I choose to do.” 125

“Christians are not insincere when they say that they believe these things. They do believe them, as people believe what they have always heard lauded but never discussed…they have a habitual respect for the sound of them…but wherever conduct is concerned, they look round for Mr. A and B to direct them how far to go in obeying Christ.”p 13

“Despair is a worse sin than any sin that causes it.” -C.S. Lewis

So…If I decide to be brave rather than safe….What’s in it for me?

From Just Courage

-You might change the world, and you might change the way the world views Christians:

“If we in the church really did justice today, we would turn our culture upside down for Jesus Christ. We need the high powered offense of justice to make headway in a world deeply suspicious of religious phonies.” 42

-You might become a hero to your children, and keep them in the “right” kind of trouble:

A child says to his Christian parent: “Your grand ambition for me is that nothing bad happens?” 126

“Doing justice, without sacrificing righteousness, is an effective way to keep our children passionate about following Jesus.”42

“Parenting seems to be the great leveling experience among human beings, especially in the unique sense of vulnerability that mysteriously accompanies parents of all places…parents all over the world love their kids but none of us- rich or poor- can control what happens to them.” “If any of us has ever felt the stomach churning panic of desperate love, then it turns out that Mary is not a total stranger to us after all. She is a human being who loves deeply, and like all of us, she needs some help. “94/95

-You might lose some friends and worldly success and feel scared:

“The fact is, when people choose to be brave instead of smart, their courage is generally so threatening to those who are smart rather than brave that they end up being maligned, not congratulated. This is what the Bible says we can expect…so are we going to love or are we going to look smart? Because loving the needy doesn’t look smart. And sadly, in much of our culture this is one of our deepest fears: looking like a fool, naïve, unsophisticated, a little too earnest, a loser.” 118

You might end up on the right side of history:

“The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” MLK Jr.

“In the long run, it is always the tyrants and the bullies who end up on the ash heap of history.” 79

-And you might walk closer to your God each day. You might experience miracles. You might get to know your Father. You might find that peace for which you’ve become desperate:

It is a means of rescue not only for the powerless but also for the powerful who otherwise waste away in a world of triviality and fear.” 41

“They yearn for liberation from small and trivial things, and to experience the passion and power of God on the more jagged edges of faith, where true glory lies.” 38

“If you lose your life for my sake you will find it. We may give up: comfort, security, control, success. But we will find: adventure, faith, miracles. Deep knowledge of Jesus.” 123

“Rather, she has intentionally taken those gifts onto battlefields where she knows she can’t win on her own, and where she believes that God is pleased to stand with her. And she gets to experience God. Not without struggle and scrapes and doubts. But at the end of the day her cheeks are flushed, her eyes are clear, and she has stories. She has unforgettable days with her Father on great mountains.” 21

Kay..I’m picking up what you’re putting down. But knowing that God calls each of us to be brave in different ways…What brave choices can I make to help myself and others?

I dunno. Watcha think?

PHEW, I’m done. Talk amongst yourselves. I’m excited.

Jan 182010

Monkees, please be patient with me.

I have to make a few little changes to today’s plan.

I have spent the entire weekend, as has Erin, thinking about Friday’s post about food. Erin wrote a beautiful, truthful piece about our attitudes about food and how those attitudes effect our lives and other lives. Erin was right. But we both think that it’s not the right thing to do to talk specifically about “healthy eating” today.

Here’s why.

First, we don’t want to make the age old, infuriating mistake of pretending that food issues are about food. They’re not, and I, of all people should know that. I am a little confused about food. I have been since elementary school. I guess I was thinking that maybe you were more clear minded. A lot of you, clearly, are. But I’m selfishly comforted knowing that some of your relationships with food are as complicated as mine. It seems that we are one, crazy, beautiful, Monkee mess. Which is kinda nice. I’m also aware, based on some of your emails, that you will never, ever believe that I have body and food issues since I’m thin. Okay, fine. But hold on a second…would you, looking at Husband, think that he had a major problem getting made out with? Might we all, as Monkees, admit once and for all that what’s on the outside rarely offers any indication as to what’s going on inside? Please?

Unfortunately, I am reminded of the time I sat on my dearest friend Adrianne’s couch and told her how much I related to some food issues she was having and how I felt her pain and understood her completely etc etc. When I was done, she looked at me with her big beautiful brown eyes and said “Oh honey. If I weren’t so tired right now I’d get off this chair, walk across the room and ring your skinny little neck.”

So, maybe not. Maybe you’ll never believe me. But as a last ditch effort, I’d like to remind you that I was once hospitalized for eating issues. I have the PAPERWORK. So I’ve got street cred, friends. I’m just saying.

I have read and reread your comments from Friday and it is clear to me that a lot of you have a healthy relationship with food and want some nutritional advice. I am going to hook you up with Erin at the end of this post. But it is also clear to me that some of you did not appreciate the fact that I seemed to be breaking my own rule: NO UNSOLICITED ADVICE at Momastery. This is not a self help place. Maybe it’s a “self breathe” or “self relax” or a “self laugh” or a “self connect” place. I don’t know what the heck it is, honestly, but it’s certainly not a place where we believe in trying to change each other on a surface level. Heck, no. That’s not the truth. If I know anything, it’s that happiness is not one new eating plan away. The truth is that I believe we are just fine the way we are and I also believe our kids are going to be fine and the only thing I believe we need to do differently is to reach out to each other more and stop hiding and thinking our secrets are the most unforgivable and our heads are the craziest and our hearts are the most confused. We just need to quit thinking we’re alone.

Now, I’d like to pause for a moment to publicly acknowledge MommySpoon. If you haven’t yet, please read her comments from Friday. What MommySpoon did in her comment was to remind me and Erin that when a friend is hanging, white knuckled and terrified, onto the edge of the food trauma cliff, it might be better to offer her a hand than a copy of an organic food pyramid. And since MommySpoon was brave, a lot of you started breathing easier. That was obvious. MommySpoon woke us up and kept it real. She went seven layers deeper than we were going, and I was impressed and grateful. So grateful that her name will be immortalized on this blog. From now on, if I offer unsolicited advice or in some way pretend that things are simpler than they really are, please, somebody call “SPOON! SPOON! SPOON! SPOON! If you’re really tired, one SPOON! will do. But SPOON! is now our code word for “keep it real.” The only rule is you’re only allowed to use it on me, not on each other.

Erin and I spent most of the weekend talking about this, and we’re learning. Erin heard you, and she is now is going to spend some time focusing less on nutrition and more on how our minds work. She loves us a whole lot, and she’s smart. She knows that if we’re gonna hear her, she’s got to understand us. For example, remember my organic week last week? It didn’t go as well as my posts may have suggested. I actually felt quite suffocated and panicked I sneaked out of my room each night and quietly stuffed my face with whatever I could find that was close and refined and processed before bed. Hmmm. Good luck with that one, Erin. She’s got her hands full. I’ve asked her to start by reading everything Geneen Roth ever wrote about compulsive eating. And one day, sweet, wise, passionate, Erin will hand us something that will help us. I think it might be what she was made for. But she promises it won’t be a juicer or a list of organic foods. It will be something helpful to our hearts and minds, too.

For those of you who are ready and want it, Erin has some health information for you, and she would love, love, love to get to know you, so email me and I’ll put you in contact. For those of you who would rather have an ear or a hand or a shoulder to cry on than a new eating plan, we’ve got that here, too. Keep sharing. We’ll listen and say “ME TOO.” Craig has software which shows that in the last four months 50,000 people have visited this site. Every time you are brave enough to share your heart here, you help another woman, somewhere, feel less alone. I have hundreds of emails to prove that a lot of women depend on your comments to feel connected and understood. If you have something to say, it might be because somebody else has something to hear. Just maybe.

For now, let’s get back to the point of this blog, which is to remind each other that we are fine, our kids are fine, and the world is going to go ahead and keep spinning for awhile, likely. And that God digs us BAD. He is WILD about us. The crazier, the weepier, the better.

And in keeping with this theme, I now introduce our NEW HERMIT CRAB BOOK CLUB selection:

I know a lot of you have probably already read it. I have. Let’s read it again. We can never be reminded too often that He’s got the whole darn world in His hands. As always, if it’s a bad money month, email me and I’ll send you a copy. Don’t hesitate. It’s important to me that you read this book and you should do things that are important to me because I lose a lot of sleep for you people.

I realize you might be too tired after reading this ridiculously long post to read another book. Maybe take a long break first.

I love you, Monkees.

P.S. Today, let’s all take a moment to remember a man who believed in Love Revolutions and justice and turning the other cheek and treating others as he wanted to be treated. A man who gave his life for those beliefs and in doing so, changed the world. Thank you, Dr. King. Thank you, thank you, a million thank yous.

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