Friday, December 3, 2010

An Open Letter to Friends of Eve's Daughters


A year ago, we took a deep breath and stepped out with our first fundraising campaign. In return, so many of you stepped up—and we raised nearly $8,000 in that effort alone. Since it’s that time of year to be grateful for the bounty, we wanted to recap for you the growth that’s happened thanks to your support.

-We continue meeting with women individually to hear their stories and best meet their needs, and have more than doubled our contact list

-We’ve researched and met myriad needs, from distributing food and gasoline gift cards to helping with medical bills, to researching low-cost cancer screenings and low-income housing to creating mom-to-mom connections

-We began a monthly dinner after learning in our focus groups that our women struggled with a lack of local family and community. Since February, we’ve seen our numbers go from single digits to over 40 moms, kids and volunteers, and have “guest chefs” who volunteer to cook almost every month

-We started an online Meetup group to reach women outside of the area

-We were featured in a 20-minute radio interview at the end of July, which then brought in more single moms and volunteers

-We got our first monthly donor

-We revamped the website to strengthen our online presence and searchability

-We’ve partnered with another local church, whose support and programming specifically target area single moms

This and so much more—we’ve got a ton to be grateful for this year and invite you to join us in giving thanks.

What Lies Ahead
As we continue to grow and get a better handle on local “universal” needs, we’re hoping to next create a single parenting curriculum and a speaker series to address the topics we’re challenged with constantly: finances, legal advice, emotional support, etc. These will dovetail nicely into the community that’s been growing and gaining ground in 2010.

Our Greatest Needs
As we look toward 2011, we’re realizing one great need is office space. As you can imagine, it’s difficult to talk about deeply personal topics sitting at Starbucks. The more we grow and the more women we reach, the more we need a safe, welcoming spot for them to come talk and bring their kids, as needed. Our second great need is for a paid worker, starting with one day a week and hopefully moving to two, with the knowledge that still many hours will be donated without pay. With a dedicated worker, our reach will continue to grow.

For these and other programming needs, we are hoping to build a team of regular monthly donors. We currently have one, and she is likely lonely… Won’t you consider joining her?? Seriously, if you are so moved, any donation will help us continue strengthening our foundation. We hear comments regularly from women who’ve met other moms at the dinners and have started much-needed friendships and support, or many thanks from those who’ve received financial assistance to report they made it past that hurdle. As our community-wide safety net grows, we ask you to stay with us and thank you for your continued support and encouragement.

All blessings to you and your families—

Cathlin Brewer
Executive Director
Karen Sjoblom
Program Director
Eve's Daughters
PO Box 1959
Beaverton OR 97075

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Grace and Peace

I have people in my life who sign all their emails with with "Cheers!" or "Blessings" or "Best." But one in particular uses "Grace and Peace." This simple phrase weaves in and out of Paul's letters in the New Testament, almost always followed by " you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." It's something I've read dozens of times that's never sunk in til this morning.

It's Thanksgiving, and, yeah, I'm supposed to be thankful. But sometimes I find it an impossible assignment. There are always loved ones struggling in some capacity, unmet needs, unfulfilled hopes. There's that stupid extra weight, or health challenges, or a shortage of time, or a conflict or three.

Things are not always as I would have them.

The grace part--the thing that smooths out the edges and makes each new day at least marginally doable--has to come first. And since that's an undeserved gift that we can't manufacture for ourselves, we've got to at least be aware of its existence. We've all been shown it, likely at some of our worst moments; it's the grease that keeps things running.

And then peace--glorious peace--follows: Likely you've had a glimpse of this, too, recently. The baby finally falls asleep, the job finally comes through, the teen finally gets home (even if it's 3 a.m.). It can range from a momentary glimpse to sheer relief to some stunningly clear vision, in the midst of imperfection.

You know peace when you feel it, just as you know what life feels like in its absence.

Somehow this morning, in between making a disgusting turkey hand puppet to completely gross out my daughter (just because I love to make her laugh), to talking to my big brother, to anticipating a houseful of friends 'cause we don't have much family nearby, I accepted some grace and got the peace to boot. It's a Thanksgiving first since my divorce, all those years ago, and I'm so incredibly aware of their presence right now I hardly know what to do with myself.

I don't have any illusions that this will last. And that's OK--they will come again. But for now, I feel them, this remarkable duo, on either side of me as I type, and I'm more thankful than I've been in a long time.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Exiting Chaos

Not unsurprisingly, I'm overcommitted. Seems it's that time of year where I say "yes" to practically everything. I should know better: I function so much better in what I call my Zenny place--manageable, organized, quiet.

Too bad life isn't like that with any regularity.

Someone with some actual perspective reminded me this week that being a single mom requires a lot of juggling. Somehow, I forgot. But maybe the bigger lesson is that our lives in general, single mom or not, are prone to overcommitment. The more we learn, the quicker we run; the more technology, the faster we're expected to go.

Today, I'm jumping off the rat wheel. We get to have friends over for dinner tonight and I think I will forego autoclaving the house prior to their arrival. I may read a little while the roast cooks slowly. I'm going to ignore the sticky notes all over my desk, in 6 different colors (that means I've gone through 6 different pads of them recently), with the exception of crossing "BLOG" off the list.

What do you do to slow down and exit chaos?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Six months later...

I have a magnetic notepad on my fridge with a quote from Joan Rivers that says, "I hate housework. You do the dishes, you make the beds and six months later you've got to do it all again."

When I saw how much time flew by from my last blog, I kinda felt the same: I suppose it would be beneficial if I actually kept up on it... And while it hasn't been six months, it feels like it. A lot of life has happened: kids back to school, kids leaving home, friends having medical crises, friends getting jobs, things breaking and things getting fixed...a whirlwind of real life.

In some ways, I feel really blessed to have this existence, balancing mom duties with work duties with Eve's Ds duties; in other ways, I find my heart breaks on a regular basis due to mom duties, work get the point. It's that cyclical nature of life that, ironically, keeps us both tethered and on our toes. Strangely, it's the promise of do-overs that helps me keep going: When things are good, I've got to remember to enjoy it because it will change. When things are bad, I can remember what I've slogged through before and that likely an oasis is coming.

The past six months of Eve's Daughters has seen more activity, more women, more successes, more failures, more stumbling and bumbling with a few things that really stuck. Kinda like real life. I don't know where we'll be six months later--but I'm grateful to be on the journey with you amazing women.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Risky Business

Yesterday, a friend of mine relayed a comment made by a famous woman who's in the process of reinventing herself at midlife. The gist of it was that women need to let their daughters see them taking risks...and even see them fail (and of course, this goes for sons as well). The "gift" of failing, after you finish nursing your bruises, frees our most-loveds to fail themselves and learn that it's rarely fatal.

For anyone who knows me, it should go without saying that I'm not referring to heliskiing, mountaineering or deep-water scuba-type risks. I'm talking about starting that business, moving to another state (or country), living alone even though you're scared or lonely, giving so much that you're always living on the edge, going back to 50.

I've always tended toward the orderly and predictable, preferring life to be on the neater side (if anyone had bothered to ask). But I'm also a very strong woman on a lot of levels. So why, then, do I want to show my daughter only the clean side, the pain-free side? Often, it's because I want her to feel safe, and that is a good a point. Because we live in an unsafe place where bad things happen to innocent people and longings go unanswered and people up and die, there's only so much safety I can provide. Do I want her to think well of me (by keeping everything neat and in control) or would I rather she think well of herself ("If Mom can do a face plant in life and keep going, so can I")?

The older I get, the freer I get, and the freer I get, the more I can share the real me with my girl. I'm less afraid of telling her the times I've been terrified; I'm no longer searching for the perfect answer, instead telling her I've often been unclear. This frees her to go through life wondering, questioning, marveling. Risking. The way we were wired. Life is indeed risky business--how are you living it?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

For Giving

"You may be the only Bible that people are reading," our guest pastor said this morning, referring to the fact that we're supposed to be *living* our faith in the world. We've got the guidebook, but how we do it and what that looks like is up to us.

I haven't been to church in a long time, but I heard to go this morning, and that pastor may have well as thrown an NIV upside my head. How often do I forget that people watch me, listen to me, hear when I'm snarky, complaining, cursing or despondent? Do I come across as hopeless...or hope-filled? Victim or redeemed? Compounding the issue is that he also said we need to be reconciled to whomever or whatever needs it, in order to be authentic. Real. And sadly, this involves the often painful experience of forgiving.

This last year has, frankly, been tough. There's been a lot of loss--of people, relationships and support. I've been adrift, questioning and feeling pretty lonely and forgotten. But if I take this morning's words to heart, then I need to take steps to make that right with the people involved if I want my parenting, my writing and my work with Eve's Daughters to have the scent of authenticity to it...vs. the stink of withholding, of unforgiveness, of bitter disappointment.

During my divorce, a wise friend taught me that often people who've hurt us don't deserve our forgiveness, but that I deserved to be a woman who forgave--that I was made for giving. Most days I forget that. I'm at that critical crossroads yet again: Forgive and make progress, or don't and stay stuck.

And although I am heavily into reality, I confess today that I am caught in the stink...even as I sit here, mere minutes away from gladly preparing a meal for some 40 single moms, their kids and our volunteers. I will happily pour into these women...but I also know I've got some hard interior work to do to make this meal--and the next and the next--all the more real.

My desire to be right, to be vindicated, fights with my desire to be free. But for now, I'm trying to be "willing to be willing"--to loosen my fist a bit, to relax into an imperfect ending. To go prepare a meal and serve it with imperfect grace. And I know if I stay willing, forgiveness will come with silent steps when I least expect it--when I suddenly find I'm no longer in this tight-fisted place, when reality shows up with wide, hopeful spaces.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


I have been blessed with some of the finest women friends available--some long-term, some for a season--and all of them have somehow kept me tethered while encouraging me to still go deep. While in Chicago for my dad's memorial, I was able to catch up with four of my bestest high school girlfriends. It was fabulous because these amazing women--some of whom I knew in junior high--hold parts of my history that no one else knows. So in addition to being reminded of incredibly embarrassing things we did, we were able to catch up seamlessly and it felt like we never missed a beat.

In and around some abysmally poor service from a waitress who--how shall we say??--was not operating within her area of gifting, we got to spend a few blissful hours laughing, remembering and encouraging with a side order of some good-hearted mocking. Who knew--seriously?--we'd end up where we are: a long-term married with college kids; a married ER nurse with two adopted kids; a newer mom with two young girls at home; a professional w/o kids, and a single mom. We've worked, we haven't; we've had kids, we didn't; we've had relationships, we've been single...You'd think we wouldn't have much in common, but you'd be wrong. And with one who couldn't hear too well, two sharing reader glasses to scan the menu and a couple of us saying how the aging snuck up on us, we were a funny buncha broads if I do say.

These are some of the finest friends money can buy, and they have anchored me seemingly for a million years. There's no telling where I might have landed if I didn't know--really, truly know in my bones--that they would be there for me, long-term. We all can go crazy amounts of time without talking and pick up where we left off. And that is an amazing gift.

We want to create those kinds of deep relationships--those anchors--in Eve's Daughters. Getting these babies raised well take a long time and a lot of energy, and who better to walk alongside than someone who knows the landscape? I am grateful beyond measure to the women who help me, step by step. Come join us, be a beacon for others...and then take a minute to thank your anchors today.