I talk honestly and openly about my experiences with mental illness, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome through the lens of feminism, fat acceptance and process theology. I also do recipe and book reviews. My mission is to spread the message that hope is always real for a better life, despite living in a world that is often very harsh.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Psalm 50 - Listen to Godde

I, Godde, have words to say
And I will not be silent.
In fact, if you listen,
You will hear me
From sunup to sundown.
My words are eternal light.

My words are for everyone:
For the heavenly hosts
And for all humankind.
Gather round, all you righteous-
All who are in relationship with me.
Let me assure you-you are enough.
You do not need to give up what gives you life.
I love you and you are my beloved children,
So do not fear. What do I want?
I want to hear your songs of praises.
I want to hear your cries of joy
And cries of pain. I want to be
In right relationship with you.

But to you, evildoers, this is what I want:
I want you to acknowledge your evil.
Know that when you watch a crime,
You commit that crime.
Do not remain complicit.
You speak evil and spread lies
And you thought I did not hear.
You thought I was complicit in your bullying,
But I was not, for I am Godde.

Remember this:
I hear everything
And I listen to your cries.
Let me hear your praise;
Let me be your salvation.
It occurs to me that we often ask Godde for what we want, but we seldom listen for what Godde wants. This psalm is all about being in a relationship with Godde and how we must listen to each other. I believe that Godde wants to be a part of our lives, but so many times we just shut Her out. Often we think Godde is silent, but I wonder if it's just that we aren't listening carefully enough.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Don't Worry-Eat Pineapple Beets Instead!

Today I had a revelation. I was in the car and someone answered the phone when I thought they wouldn't. I had been worrying about what would happen if I couldn't get in touch with them and after the phone call, I had this epiphany: Maybe all my worrying isn't so necessary after all. Maybe everything will be alright. My revelation may have been inspired by my minister's sermon on the same subject just a few days before. Or maybe the timing was finally right for this anxiety-ridden woman. Not that I think that I'll never worry again by a long shot. At my church, the congregation discusses what was said in the sermon, which I like a lot. I tried to explain what having an anxiety disorder is like, but I don't think I did a very good job. Of course, I thought of the perfect description a day later. Having an anxiety disorder is like having an annoying alarm bell go off in your head over and over again and the only way to stop it is by developing strange habits. This anxiety doesn't just happen over ordinary worries, like problems at work, but with illogical things, such as, "I left my coupons at home! Oh, no! I can't shop without them-if I do, I'm a bad person!" And I'm not worrying about shopping without coupons, because I'm poor and can't afford to buy food without them. I'm worrying about the coupons, because in my mind, shopping with coupons means everything in life will be alright. My OCDis a part of my eating disorder. I used to be a whole lot worse-years ago, my life was ruled by rules about food. Now I know the only way to get better is by confronting my compulsions head on. For instance, if I forget my coupons, I don't go home to get them, but continue shopping. This is very hard for me, because at that point, alarm bells are ringing extremely loudly in my head, but I must sigh and tell myself that everything will be alright.

I've been thinking a lot about how much I worry lately. I go to the grocery store a lot with my boyfriend and this has highlighted to me the fact that I still have issues with food. I want these issues to go away and the only way to do this is by fiercely attacking them. I worry about friends a lot too and there have been times when I have avoided friends instead of dealing with the worry that comes along with a friendship. The only way to attack this kind of worry is by forcing myself to talk to certain people. But as my minister pointed out last Sunday, Jesus tells us not to worry. Godde provides all we need and everything will be alright. Notice I did not say "everything we want!" And when I say everything will be alright, I don't mean that we never experience tragedy in our lives, but that no matter what happens, Godde is with us, encouraging us to choose the better path.

A recipe where I worried a lot, but everything turned out alright in the end were these pineapple beets. You see, my mom said that if you boil beets, you can rub the peel right off! Unfortunately, it seemed to take forever for the beets to become appropriately tender and finally my mom announced, "This beets are tender now or they never will be!"
So I rubbed the beets with a paper towel, being careful not to burn my hands, and the peel like magic came right off. It was pretty cool! Even better, the beets were perfectly tender.
It looks like a heart in my hand!

Pineapple beets are delicious! The pineapple makes them sweet, almost like a desert, and the dish is just as good cold as it is hot. Here's the recipe:

2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 (8 ounce) can pineapple tidbits, undrained
1 (16 ounce) can sliced beets, drained
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1.In a saucepan, combine brown sugar, cornstarch and salt; add pineapple and bring to a boil, stirring constantly until thick, about 2 minutes. Add the beets, butter and lemon juice; cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

The pineapple beets are on the left. They have an almost jelly consistency and I will definitely make them again. Next time, without the worry.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Spiritual Quote - The Way Evil is Overcome

...one can conclude that evil is loss, and that it is overcome by the way we remember the past, the way that God remembers us and searches for the best in us, and through the vision for the common good that we can experience in God's calling. (53, Monica A. Coleman, Making a Way Out of No Way)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Eating Disorder Recovery and The Highland Games

As you know, I attend an alcoholics anonymous group and one thing I often hear people say is that they are proud that they are alcoholic. They are proud, because they have worked the twelve steps and so have become a better person. I was thinking about this on my home from group and I realized that although I am not an alcoholic, I am proud that I am an eating disordered person in recovery. Being an eating disordered person in recovery means that I listen to my body and I do not diet. It means that I am learning to trust my body and to give it what it needs. I know the value of good nutrition, moderate exercise, and meditation. I do not compulsively weigh myself or count calories and fat grams. In short, I am no longer a slave to the diet industry or the eating disorder monster in my head.

While I try to eat healthily most of the time, there are, of course, times when I cannot. One of these such times was at the Highland Games at Stone Mountain last October. The Highland Games are a Scottish heritage festival with competitive outdoor games, traditional music and dancing, vendors and food. People come dressed in kilts and other traditional garb and hang out with other members of their clan. My boyfriend, Charlie, belongs to the MacLeod clan. He has attended the Highland Games all of his life and so the Games have a very special place in his heart. I was excited to be able to share this special event with him, as I had only been one time before. Funnily enough, I found out that I am also a MacLeod! The MacLeod tartan is bright yellow, so we're called, "The Loud MacLeod!"

While there, Charlie insisted that I try the traditional food, which is all fried. Fried food used to be a huge fear of mine and I did catch myself say to him, "Oh, this is scary!" but I was mainly joking. In reality, I didn't freak out at all, but tried a meat pie,

a bridie,
and a sausage roll.
They look different, but they're all basically the same: a flaky pastry filled with the same lightly spiced ground beef.

They were pretty good, although I'll probably get just one next year... After all the fried beef, I needed some vegetables, so I had a bloody mary.It was the best I could do... Then I helped Charlie pour drinks at the hospitality tent, which was fun. I liked chatting with the people there, while occassionally sneaking a drink. I also ended up taking two trash bags full of bottles home to recycle.

I enjoyed myself and I am sure I will be going to the Highland Games for many years to come. I am also proud of my recovery. Hopefully, next year I won't even feel the need to joke about being scared of the food, because next year I am going to try another not-so-healthy Scottish food-a hard-boiled egg wrapped in sausage. I'll admit, to me it sounds gross, but everyone claims it's really good. Read my blog a year from now to find out my reaction! (Let's hope I think it's tasty...)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Spiritual Quote of the Day and Finding Value Amidst My Anger

God attempts to save what is lost and find value in every aspect of the world. (52, Making a Way Out of No Way, Monica Coleman)

Right now I am having a very frustrating experience dealing with a harmful person. I really cannot get into the situation, but I will say that I was extremely angry this morning. But then some friends helped me realize that I am giving this person way too much power over me. Several friends suggested I find something to be grateful in and I guess I was in a healthy frame of mind, because I took their advice. This surprised me a little, because usually I like to talk about what made me mad over and over again, which keeps me in the mode of righteous anger, but I realized today that I did not want to stay mad. What is happening to me is wrong, but staying angry and hurt only harms me more. And then I read this quote and I realized that I could find value in what had happened to me today. In fact, I can find a lot of value in what happened! You see, I am a very unconfrontational person and today I had to confront someone. In the past, I would have become so uncomfortable that I would have cried would have resorted to self-harm in order to run away from my feelings. They often say in recovery circles that people in recovery cannot afford to stay mad, not even if the anger is justified and I am beginning to see why. I don't think the people are saying that I should not experience anger at all-I cannot help my feelings, at least at first, and I think anger can sometimes be a good motivator. What I should not do is dwell in the anger for a long period of time, because after a while, stale anger becomes toxic. I was so angry that I quickly recognized that I needed to somehow let go of it or the anger would become harmful to me. I am thankful for this realization. The value in this situation is that I was shown just how healthy I now am and that realization makes me genuinely happy.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

My Sermon-When People in Power Don't Get "The Big Picture"

This past Sunday I led the service at my church and preached. It felt good and I am proud of myself, although I was a little annoyed by how my voice started to get a little shaky towards the end. I spoke about a tough subject, but I didn't realize I was still that affected by the incident I was describing. I was also nervous, but the only way to get over nervousness is to keep putting yourself in the same nerve-inducing situation... Here is my sermon and the verses that go along with it. The verses are from The Inclusive Bible.
I changed some of the wording in the sermon, so that I don't name the people I talk about-I wouldn't want anyone to get in trouble...

Haggai 2:1-9

In the second year of Darius the ruler, on the twenty-first day of the seventh month, the word of YHWH came through the prophet Haggai and told him, “Speak to Zerubbabel ben-Shealtiel, the high commissioner of Judah, and to Joshua ben-Jehozadek, the high priest, and to all the remnant of the people. Ask them, ‘Who is there left among you who saw this Temple in its former glory? And how does it look to you now? Doesn’t it seem like nothing in comparison? But take courage now, Zerubbabel!-it is YHWH who speaks. Courage, High Priest Joshua ben-Jehozadek! Courage, all you people of the country!-it is YHWH who speaks. To work! I am with you-it is YHWH Omnipotent who speaks- as I promised I would be when you came out of Egypt, and my Spirit remains among you. Don’t be afraid! For YHWH Omnipotent says this: A little while now, and I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, and the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and the treasures of all the nations will flow in, and I will fill this Temple with glory, says YHWH Omnipotent. Mine is the silver, mine the gold! Says YHWH Omnipotent. The new glory of this Temple is going to surpass the old, says YHWH Omnipotent, and in this place I will give peace, says YHWH Omnipotent.

Luke 20:27-38

Some Sadducees-the ones who claim there is no resurrection-came forward to pose this question: “Teacher, Moses wrote that if a man’s brother dies leaving a wife and no child, the brother should marry the woman now widowed, to raise up children with her. Let’s say that there were seven brothers. The first one married and died childless. The second brother then married the woman, then the third, and so on. All seven died without leaving her any children. Finally the woman herself died. At the resurrection, who will be her husband? Remember, seven married her.”
Jesus said to them, "The children of this age marry each other, but those judged worthy of a place in the age to come and of the resurrection from the dead don’t take husbands or wives. They can no longer die, like the angels-they are children of God, since they are children of the resurrection. That the dead rise again was even demonstrated by Moses when, in the passage about the bush, he called the Most High ‘the God of Sarah and Abraham, and the God of Rebecca and Isaac, and the God of Leah and Rachel and Jacob.’ God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. All are alive to God.”

Sermon - "The Big Picture"

When I read those verses in Luke, I laughed out loud-the question posed by the Sadducees seemed so silly! I imagined Jesus thinking to himself, “What?! That’s what you’re going to ask me? What a stupid question!” *big sigh* And the Sadducees didn’t even really care about the answer. As it explains in the first verse, the Sadducees were the ones who claimed that there is no resurrection and here they are asking a question about the very thing they claim to not believe. They were not asking the question, because they were genuinely interested, but because they were trying to trip Jesus up. In short, they didn’t get it. They didn’t get that Jesus was there to show us how to be better people and how to be free, as Connie likes to say. The Sadducees, like so many others, were fixating on an unimportant question, instead of looking at the big picture.

The Sadducees were a priestly group, the Aaronites, associated with the leadership of the Temple in Jerusalem. Sadducees represented the aristocratic group of the Hasmonean High Priests. They insisted on strict literal interpretation of the Five books of Moses, the Written Torah. So the Sadducees were a group of great religious and political power, who believe on a “strict literal interpretation” of their holy book. Sound familiar? I think humans often get caught up in the unimportant questions of the day, but it’s even sadder when it’s a person in power. It’s like the story of the youth minister at Chrissy’s church. A few weeks ago, as many of you know, I was with a youth minister who started talking about “those people” and their “gay lifestyle” and whether living the “gay lifestyle” is right or wrong. I think this is definitely another case of a religious person in power who is not seeing the big picture. Who a person likes sexually has nothing to do with whether that person is righteous or not. What determines whether a person is acting righteously is found in Mark 12 - Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[b] 31 And also to ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.. Is the person loving Godde with all of his heart, soul, mind, and strength? Is the person loving her neighbor as herself? Then that person is righteous!

When the Sadducees ask Jesus the question, they are asking a very specific and I would argue, an unimportant question, but Jesus gives them a broad answer to try to open their minds. Jesus answers with, “Every human being is important-for we are all children of Godde. (my own words) God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. All are alive to God.” You see, the Sadducees wanted Jesus to single out one of the husbands as being the most important, perhaps the most pure, but Jesus wasn’t about to fall for that trap. He instead affirmed all people-that all are important and worthy of Godde’s grace, as a child of Godde. I think he was also making a sideswipe remark at the Sadducees, for when Jesus says, “God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. All are alive to God” he is basically urging them to ask another question. This time about how to live! It is ultimately how we live that matters and I think that is what Jesus was trying to convey to the Sadducees. Whether they got the hint or not, I don’t know.

As I was thinking about the Sadducees question and about the incident with the youth minister, I also thought about how it scary it can be when people in power do not get the big picture. When the youth minister starting talking about “those gay people” and “their lifestyle,” I felt hurt beyond belief. It hurt that someone in a position of Christian power didn’t get the big picture of Jesus. It hurt thinking that this person was teaching young people not in the way of compassion and liberation, but in judgment and close-minded literalism. (And I hope we all know that literalism is still a type of interpreting the Bible-for unless the priest follows all the codes for removing mildew that are in Leviticus, which I am pretty certain he does not, then he is still disregarding some laws as more important than others.) I felt angry and scared at the possible consequences of what he said, for he implied that someone living the “gay lifestyle” would go to hell. What if what he said led one of the kids down the road of self-hate? Or bullying? Or being bullied? Or even worse, I couldn’t help but think of the recent teen suicides and think to myself, “What if? What if? Oh my Godde, what if?”

When people in power don’t get the big picture, there can be serious consequences. That’s why I liked the verses in Haggai: Courage, all you people of the country!-it is YHWH who speaks. To work! I am with you-it is YHWH Omnipotent who speaks- as I promised I would be when you came out of Egypt, and my Spirit remains among you. Don’t be afraid! We are Godde’s workers and Godde’s children, as Jesus said. When people in power fail to see the big picture, it is our job to point it out. This is hard and scary work, but Godde tells us not to be afraid and to have courage. Godde has brought us out of many troubles and will do so again. We are a redeemed people, filled with Godde’s holy spirit. We are free if we will just remember who we are-we are Godde’s children, who need not be frightened. When people in power try to fool us, like they did to Jesus, we need to remind ourselves that we are the daughters and sons of the Most Powerful and Holy One. This does not make us more important than those that try to bring us down, but it does empower us to keep going. To stand up for ourselves and for those who are less powerful. I left that day when I was hurt by the youth minister and told him that I did not agree. I left with dignity and though I was very hurt and I cried a long time afterwards, I knew that I could not let the person who was only seeing the problem have the last word. I knew that only because I knew who I am. I am a child of God and I am important. And so are we all. Let us not be afraid, but remember the Holy Spirit is with us. Let us not get caught in the small picture of literalism and judgment, but become empowered in the knowing that we are all Godde’s powerful and loved children.

And here’s another message of hope: the big picture is that when it comes to the people in power, according to Haggai, Godde is going to shake things up- For YHWH Omnipotent says this: A little while now, and I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, and the sea and the dry land. Things are going to change and we are the agents of Godde’s change. YHWH All powerful says that there will be peace in this place. Sadly, there probably won’t be total peace on Earth during our lifetime, but you can carry an inner peace with you knowing that Godde fulfills Her promises and has given us the gift of the Holy Spirit to help us through our days.
(from the funny Christian comic, The Back Pew.)
I hoped you liked my message. I would love to hear your comments!

Friday, November 5, 2010

October Books

Jake Reynolds: Chicken or Eagle? - Sara Leach – Honestly, I thought this book was sort of boring. I liked that the female character was strong and I know that it’s probably good for kids to have stories about boys that are not super macho, but with that being said, I just found Jake’s character to be very boring and uninteresting. The book wasn’t bad-just one that I would not recommend.
And Another Thing – Eoin Colfer – This is the sixth in the Hitchhiker’s Guide “trilogy” and I give it a C+/B-. This book has many very funny moments and I love how Colfer brings in obscure characters from the other books, like Wowbagger, but the book just doesn’t have the same flow as the books by Douglas Adams. The book took me a long time to read, whereas I practically devoured the earlier ones. I still have one more hitchhiker’s book to read: Mostly Harmless, which is the last one written by Adams. Somehow I missed reading this book, which is a travesty! Read “And Another Thing” if you are a fan and you’ll be sure to smile-just don’t expect the same sort of Adams magic.

Sideways Stories from Wayside School – Louis Sachar – This is a classic book from my childhood that I enjoyed reading to the girl I work with. She thought it was hilarious and strange. Each chapter is a different short story about one of the kids or teachers at Wayside School and they are really funny. The stories are really short and entertaining-a quick read. This book is definitely my recommended reading for the month.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Spiritual Quote - A Constructive Postmodern Theology Insists...

That is, a constructive postmodern theology insists upon a belief in God, a cosmic purpose to our lives, and that it is possible, even advisable, to have a sacred relationship (as opposed to one of domination) with the earth. (50, Monica Coleman, Making a Way Out of No Way)