Soul Emptying  0



“God has shot his arrow and made my heart his mark…”

Lam 3:12


Another phase of soul emptying came when we landed in a seemingly forsaken post-Soviet land. Prior to this assignment my husband and I had lived in Bolivia, South America for seven years where we learned the language and culture, had four kids, worked with a team of movers and shakers and had our share of adjustments. So starting again in yet another unknown culture, and one of lesser appeal, I had nothing left to give. Though I wanted to be there, my heart was not yet. I wanted to want to learn the language, and I hoped to do something of help to the people of this land where God had supposedly been dead for quite awhile.

This place seemed to be paused in century-old ways with leftover Soviet concrete rubble and dilapidated pipes on display, with crumbling infrastructure alongside breathtaking scenery that no one seemed to notice…snow capped mountains, blue mesmerising lakes, jutting rock faces. A dusty, gold plastic amulet with Arabic writing swinging from the rear view mirror of the taxi exhibited the mishmash cimg9932of cultures. Things were used and overused; overlooked and worn out, little shanty-like towns passed us; miles of stout concrete gingerbread-looking cottages lined up, smoking in the cold, fatigued haze. It was a long, frigid ride to our new home.


We arrived in the capital on a very dreary day in early September 1994. There was nothing of beauty to be found. Looking out of the third floor apartment window I saw the rusty, arthritic playground equipment, broken glass and old crusty men in the courtyard. That’s where my kids were supposed to play?

I had, in the back of my mind, decided the language was too hard and I would thus stay at home and just take care of the kids, the house and my husband. That’s about all I could muster up at the time. So my first week there I went out to meet another expatriate woman with five kids, thinking I’d get some sympathy. When she opened the door, she was in the middle of her language lesson, her kids were working on their schooling and she mentioned something about going to help at a clinic…

I had some talking to do with the Lord about comparison, about copping out, about relying on myself, about his plan and not mine. It’s been a long discussion.


Disillusionment has to combine with emptying ourselves of what we thought would or should be, if we hope to grow. Often facing disillusionment is just the beginning of real faith, otherwise it can lead to a reactionary betrayal of faith, throwing out the baby with the bath water. I had a long way to go in what seemed to be a tunnel of questions about God, church and how to live out truth. I clung to what I knew was true though I didn’t have many answers. It is amazing the power of our misconceptions and what it takes to break through them.


God goes to great lengths to show us what we wrongfully believe about him and ourselves. I had ideas about God that needed reworking and ideas about myself that were a result of living in a fallen world.


Free us Lord to really want the truth; whether it fits into our boxes or not.

The truth is what sets us free!

We are fractions of ourselves and He’s in the business of putting us back together. Difficulties in our lives that we endure are often more for Him to show us ourselves and who He really is. This emptying isn’t the Buddhist kind where you try to rid yourself of all desire (which strips us of our humanity) it is rather the kind that rids us of our boxes of limited thinking. And God is always blowing out my boxes!


Have a soul conversation:

  • Acknowledge and listen for your self-talk (the underlying messages playing in your head. Like “I’m on my own” or “I’m not worth anyone’s love…”). Bring it into the open.
  • Where have you been disillusioned? Or felt mislead by God?
  • How might He want to redeem that?


“If your life is broken, it may be that the pieces will

feed the world. The loaf will feed only a little boy.”

Elizabeth Elliot

80 year-old Soul  0



Pay attention and turn your ear to the sayings of the wise.”

Prov 22:17



Some things 80 year-olds said when asked what would they do differently in their lives:


  • Don’t expect life to be fair.


  • figure-2-old-woman-old-man-dancing-shadowsKeep it simple.


  • Risk more; do more things that will live on after you’re dead.


  • Reflect more on the journey while you’re on it.


  • Take charge of your attitude.


  • Remember that 80 per cent of the success in any job is based on your ability to deal with people.


  • Become someone’s hero.


I find it fascinating how much we can influence one another by our lives and choices.


“The I develops inside the we,” says Judith Glaser, Organizational Anthropologist.

“We are hardwired with the learnable ability to connect and grow…to write new things on each other’s brains.” There is a genetic ability to affect one another. Brain science is proving this.


“Stimulate one another to love and good deeds…” Heb. 10:24


My choice today to reach out to someone, deal with my emotions (see previous post) or change my attitude with God’s help, could be the microscopic adjustment that leads to major influence on others down the road.


So which of these wise sayings do you need to take to heart today?

What choice is God holding before you?

Your life is passing by.

Growing Soul  0


“Coaching focuses on growing intentionally with purpose and passion …”

Keith Webb

I’ve come across a great resource for soul growth: Taking Out Your Emotional Trash, by Georgia Shaffer


Her website also offers some free resources like the “Dump Your Junk Self Assessment” – you might want to take a look.


Taking Out Your Emotional Trash



Feeling Tired? Overwhelmed? Unhappy?
Do you want more energy, more peace, more happiness? Christian psychologist Georgia Shaffer offers a proven “toss and recycle” program to help you evaluate your emotions, keep the life-affirming ones, and discard the ones that hinder healthy relationships. Step-by-step you’ll discover how to

  • reduce destructive anxiety, fear, guilt, and shame eliminate persistent, toxic emotions
  • experience greater intimacy in relationships
  • handle life’s ups and downs more easily
  • introduce more hope and joy into your life

Through real-life stories, insightful questions, and wisdom from God’s Word, you’ll discover transforming truths that will help you be free to be who you are—loved, talented, valued, and forgiven.


Georgia Shaffer is a PA licensed psychologist, life coach, and the author of Taking Out Your Emotional Trash: Face Your Feelings and Build Healthy Relationships. She writes and speaks frequently on the subjects of relationships, growing emotionally and spiritually, dating, grief, and rebuilding after loss. Her book for singles is entitled How Not to Date a Loser: A Guide to Making Smart Choices. Georgia has 19 years experience helping people identify: “What needs to grow? What needs to go?” For more information, visit:

Offended Soul  0


“A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.”

Prov. 19:11

I had an interesting moment when I happened to come across a friend’s note to me where she said.

“…resting in God, you will be able to get hurt and still care more about the other person than your own untitledpain.”  I read that while fuming about an offense I was holding onto. It took me right back to one of the messages of Moses and turned my heart. 


From Moses’ life we learn that


  • after failure in trying to help others on his own
  • after running for his life
  • after surrendering to God when he felt entirely inadequate for what God was asking
  • after leaving his comfortable, peaceful life on the side of the mountain


Moses was accused, offended, fed up, wounded by God’s people and felt his stinging weakness.

That’s when God brought others around him and Moses persevered in the dry, barren wilderness where all depended on God. (Numbers 11) But not without some soul searching.


I found an offense lingering in my soul taking up space, keeping me from rest and freedom to relate with joy and care toward others. I don’t want to live like that! I remembered (as Michael Hyatt says):


Offenses are inevitable, often unintentional, they can be good for us (to look at ourselves) and holding onto them is a choice.


I chose, after some wrestling, to let it go into God’s hands and see what I can learn from it. I’m already seeing how self-focused the reaction was and feeling the freedom of a whole new perspective. Will you stop long enough to consider:


Is there anything lingering in your soul taking up space?

Some questions to help with that: What am I anxious about?  What makes me feel discontent?  What could be some reasons for lack of joy and freedom in me?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Changed Soul  0



Some people get tattoos, some lose a ton of weight, some change careers and others (on their way to figuring out their lives or marking a new path for their souls) change their names!



I met her at a course on spiritual formation.  She was vibrant and full of fun energy.  When I heard she had an ileostomy I thought, “What? Where?” She told me she almost died when she had a one-year old.  At one point, she was in the hospital for 42 days. She miraculously made it through and now lives and thrives with her ileostomy.  She even became a partner with a friend who started an underwear company for people like herself!  ☺


Cricket’s Story


“I was at a play in 2006 and there was this goofy little cricket character.  The name resonated within me so much so that when we left the play I announced to everyone from that point on I wanted to be called Cricket. They were like, “Okay… whatever.” But I was serious and I didn’t know why. The following Sunday I told all my youth group kids I didn’t want to be called Cheri anymore, I wanted to be called Cricket. They were cool and many started calling me that. 


This went on for about 4 months when finally one of my friends said to me, “I can’t call you Cricket because I HATE crickets and I really like you!” Her husband said, “It must mean something other than the bug…let’s go online and see.” So we looked up the definitions to find that the word had multiple meanings: the insect, the game cricket, and from the game, the state of “being cricket” which meant “fair play or honorable conduct”! We all looked at each other and my friend’s husband said, “See, that’s why it’s important to you!” And it hit me; I wanted to be CRICKET!! Not just some silly name. In my marriage I had not been honorable or fair to my husband and God was doing a work in me, to change me, because of the new creation I was in Christ. I saw this new name as a severance of who I was and what I did to my husband as Cheri. So it was deep within me to walk out in fairness and honesty.


In 2007, I legally changed my name from Cheri to Cricket, after really living with it for a year. And it has been cool how there have been times I’ve thought of doing something dishonorable and the Lord reminded me in my spirit that the action would not be Cricket!!”



It helps to put stakes in the ground along the way as we journey with God

to remind us of the decisions we’ve made and of what he has done for us.

Soul training: How do you remember what He has done for you?

“Only take care and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget…”

Deut. 4:8


Broken Soul  0



The “beyond within”- our inner workings

Often quite a mixed pond of murkings

With parts so crystal clear and gleamings

Of freedom from old and putrid holdings;

Other parts rippled with stirrings of teeming

New life and struggle to grow into meaning

Afar the diseased corner, sludge-afflicted

Where deficit shows and care neglected

Hidden under brush and shadows until

The Pond-keeper begins a flushing drill

Ready-ing an unseemly empty place to fill

With new and fresh water of Life

That our deficit calls forth in its strife

To re purpose yet another place rife

With mired ungratefulness, shame, and grief

O Pond-keeper, come



JS 8/16

“He desires truth in our inmost being…” Psalm 51:6

Have you been there with Him lately?


“The beyond within” – Dallas Willard’s description of the soul in Renovation of the Heart

Tenacious Soul  0

“Suffering, like nothing else, shows us what we really love.”

Matt Papa




A beautiful and sweetly raw post by Carolyn B as her 3 ½ year old daughter, Ruby starts her 4th phase of chemo on 8/6/16.  You are teaching us all in your pain.  Thank you for taking the time and energy to share.


“You come right up to the thing you’ve been dreading, and stare it in the face, quaking in your boots. Imagining what might lie ahead puts knots in your stomach.  What if it’s the same as before? you think. I just can NOT watch her suffer again. It was agony the first time, when we didn’t know what to expect. I can NOT do it again.

And you just keep putting one foot in front of the other.  Keep breathing hard, in and out.  Keep focusing on the next tree, the next bend in the path, pulling it doggedly towards you step by step.


Day 1:

Made to fast from breakfast, she’s whiny and clingy.  At the hospital for a general anesthetic and spinal tap, but she’s last on the list, so while we wait she’s given her two hefty chemo drugs for the day — the dreaded red one, Doxorubicin, that shredded her insides from mouth to bum last time…

Please God, don’t let it happen again.

Click, click, the IV pump ticks the seconds away. You try not to watch, but your eyes are drawn in terrible fascination to that red syringe emptying into the tiny tube feeding the drug into her port and through her veins.  Poison to heal… targeted medicine… it only takes one cell to bring it all back…


Day 4: 
Back in for another drug…  Entertaining an almost 4-year-old for 4 hours in an isolation room: watching screens, sticking stickers, painting watercolors, doing puzzles.  The minutes tick past.  Finally the drug is done, the flush goes through, and the nurse is ready to de-access Ruby’s port.  Although it’s supposed to be routine by now, it’s still hard every time.  This is the bravest one I’ve seen her do… Crying huge tears the whole time, she voluntarily lifts up her little t-shirt so the nurse can gently peel off the 10cm-square sticky dressing – which after 5 days is stuck tightly to her tender skin.  “Stop!” she cries out once through her tears, and the nurse obediently pauses.  “Go…” she whimpers bravely a second later, and the nurse finishes peeling off the dressing.  Then the painful pressure on the titanium port, sandwiched between tender layers of skin and muscle, as the nurse holds it firmly to steady it as she skillfully pulls the needle and dressing off together with one quick tug. Ruby doesn’t want a bandaid (one more sticky to remove later).  She reaches across her tummy with a small hand, still trembling, to hold the gauze in place herself until the oozing stops.

Still heaving with sobs, she lets me gather her into my lap. Unlike some days, she’s not mad at me today, because I’ve obediently followed her request to “just sit on the bed but DON’T TALK.” Today I was silently supportive, my heart aching at her bravery, marveling at her maturity beyond her tiny years.  As I gather her in I dissolve a bit myself, welling up with relief that it’s over, sheer pride at her immensmomdaute courage, deep grief that we have to do these painful things together at least twice every single week.  Feeling my tears fall on her soft, fuzzy head, she sits up abruptly and looks at me, fat tears still rolling down her own cheeks.  Switching immediately into compassionate concern, she says sweetly, “It’s ok to cry, Mommy.”  Mute, I nod, patting first her cheeks and then my own with the same crumpled tissue.
Later, on the way to the car, with her all soft and tender and sucking her thumb (a rare gesture) for comfort after her ordeal, we talk together about how crying is good because it lets all the yucky feelings come out.  I tell her how proud I am of how brave she was, that I was so amazed at how she could cry so hard and yet keep herself so still and hold her shirt up so bravely.  I asked her whether I had done what she wanted, staying close but quiet, and she said, “Yes, I don’t want you to talk – I just want you to stay with me.” She’s outgrown all my attempts to reason and explain her through it.  She just wants me to trust her now that she knows what’s coming, she knows how to handle it, and she knows what she needs from me.  It’s pretty remarkable that she’s only been on this planet for 46 months.

In the car I ask her if there might be something we could say together next time, something that would calm and settle us and give us courage, something that would remind us both of the Source of our comfort… (She wouldn’t let me pray out loud with her today before the nurse came in – I think she was already deep into trying to get into the right space for what was coming.  So I just prayed for her silently…)

“We could say Psalm 23,” she chirps brightly.

“Yes we could,” I agree.  “Shall we say it now?”

“The Lord is my Shepherd,” she begins promptly, tears forgotten already, “I shall not want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures…”

“He leads me beside quiet waters,” I continue. “He restores — ”

” — my soul,” she finishes happily.

We keep on driving and reciting, and we come to “He prepares a table in the presence of my enemies.”  We talk about how “enemies” can mean fear or anxiousness, or something yucky we don’t want to do, and that “preparing a table” means Jesus can pour into our hearts the sweetness of His love and courage, through the Holy Spirit…  Then even when it’s dark or scary we don’t need to feel afraid because Jesus has poured his sweet love into our hearts.  And perfect love pushes out fear.

“I love you, Mommy,” she sighs contentedly.

Another day in this journey, fighting cancer, growing holy, saving Ruby’s life, watching her faith and mine deepen and expand… Mingled joy and pain, happiness and tears, relief and despair, heaven and hell, sin and redemption, ugly and beautiful, bitter and sweet.”


What am I learning from my own suffering?

What can I learn from others’?

Great Soul  2


“He stoops to make me great…”

(2 Samuel 22:36)


God changes us and rearranges us as He stoops to make us great. We really are very ordinary. We are just broken vessels. As we let Him break us from sin and the negative pull of this world, more of His glory shines through. We are still in that process.


I tend to categorize people and size them up, but I hate it when people do that to me. I try to figure out who has more experience or has more to say or says it more creatively. Who uses their time well or better or best? Who knows more or is more insightful or more caring? I am beginning to realise that our life paths are not linear, nor is it to our advantage to act like it is a race against each other. Our lives are more like balls of string wrapped together, spiralling, twisting, curving around in many different ways toward different ends. You may have more experience or a keener insight into many different realms where I have not ventured. I may have depths and clues that have not yet come up in your life. We can always learn from each other. We get too categorized and fail to explore parts of our lives that need perhaps a fresh eye, from a different angle.


I want to be great! I do! I want to have something to “show” for all these years on this earth! Paul said: In Christ…I have reason to be proud of my work for God (Romans 15:17). I tend to measure by certain things in my life, and you probably do so by other things in yours. Would you say (if no one were listening) that you are great? Do you want to be? Is that wrong? Is it pride? Well, apparently not, because the One who is our example said, “If you want to be great … ,” do this. He did not say, “Get rid of that desire,” or “It is wrong to want that.” Of course, He was talking about greatness in the kingdom of God, His kind of greatness that is good in this life and the next. Our measure is very different from God’s, so if we can learn to want His kind of greatness, we are doing well. That is the kind of greatness that will last past this life and will bring something of value into the next life. It is clear there is some reward for that kind of greatness.

As the Kerner/Rettinos put it in Kid’s Praise! 4, “If you want to be great, learn to be the servant of all.”


Wow, that is so vague—what could it mean? Could it mean that you are aware and looking out for others, anticipating needs, being okay with being common, yet with excellence? Being extraordinary in the ordinary? We want to do big things—but sometimes the big things are in the little mundane things over a long period of time. They do not come with a lot of outward applause or pats on the back or frills, but rather in just doing and being His hands and feet and voice and arms to others that He has put in our little worlds. This is not the picture we had in mind. It is harder and takes longer, and no one notices.

Was Jesus great in His world? I mean: did many people see Him as great?


A few saw His greatness—mostly unimportant people.  How do I measure greatness?


For full article:

Soul Delight  0




If your word had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.” Ps. 119:92

“They are not just idle words for you, they are your life…” Deut. 32:47

“The word – living and active” in us… Heb. 4:12

I’ve started a list of descriptions in Scriptures of what a mature believer looks like. I was intrigued with the end of Hebrews 5 about being “skilled in the Word of righteousness and trained in the powers of discernment.” Then I read a good friend’s words:

Guest post; thanks to Timmy Hanauer, landscape designer, integrated farming consultant, fisherman, theologian, and best man in our wedding. : )

Hebrews 5 :11-14 “…you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles…of God, and you need milk and not solid food. For everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.”

He notes:

“To soak in the analogy for a moment – infants, because their digestive tract is still developing, require specific food that breaks down easily and does not need to be chewed.  Also because they lack of handling skills, they require someone to deliver that food, making them dependent. The analogy finds traction at several points.  Immature believers are still learning how to absorb, understand, and integrate the Scriptures into their lives.  Their inability to chew – to study, memorize, and meditate on the Word of God in such a way as to be self-directed by God, as opposed to dependent on other people as teachers, speaks to their spiritual “toothlessness”.   The immature believer typically gets his spiritual input from hearing the Word of God taught or preached (pre-digested food, i.e. MILK).  Studying or rightly handling the word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15) is an essential skill acquired by the maturing believer.  It involves considering the context of a passage of scripture, not reading into a passage meanings that aren’t there, taking into account the interplay of culture, history, etc.

All of this is part of our romancing the Lord with our minds and hearts – pursuing the food that fuels our pursuit of Him and His kingdom.  Cherishing the Word, meditation and hunger for it, flow from this type of study. As God is revealed in the Word through daily chewing and absorption, our attitudes and outward actions change.  When this is happening primarily apart from just “hearing” the Word of God taught and preached, then one has graduated from “milk” to “meat.”  At this point, someone is also ready to teach or parent those still dependent on milk.”

Interesting analogy! What do you do to chew on the Word?

Here’s to our maturing spiritual digestive systems!  🙂

Soul Warrior  4

I’m resonating with this post, so wanted to share.wowarrior

Beth Moore on spiritual warfare:

“The enemy comes for you. Of course, some of you aren’t calling it spiritual warfare yet because that’s what the older generation called it and you want to be cooler than that. [:)] You had sort-of become convinced that the devil was not that real. Not that specific. Not that personal. Not that aware. And surely God would not allow him to mess with your kids.

And it’s not just the enemy. Your own vulnerabilities erupt into liabilities. Life’s taking a crowbar to every crack in your armor. You are tempted to things you swore you’d never do. That you judged _____________ for doing. Your past comes calling. If you’re married, your marriage, which you’d boasted about publicly, looks like it could go humiliatingly belly-up. Your kids are going nuts. Or maybe it’s you losing your mind. Half the time, you think you are going crazy. You’re getting criticized. You’re getting a lot of opposition. You daydream sometimes that you quit and moved to a remote island with your family, wore loin cloths and drank milk out of coconuts and swam with dolphins. You night-dream that you hung in there in your calling and it slaughtered you.

You have come of age.

What you’re going through is how it goes. I don’t know why on earth we older ones are not telling you more often and with more volume. Maybe it’s because we don’t want to discourage you but it’s so ridiculous because you’re already discouraged. Or maybe it’s that you won’t listen to us anyway. [I don’t agree with her here; I have found open ears among this group.]

But this is my shot at it today. You have come of age. You have come of notice to the devil. At the same time, your very faithful God who loves you has made a covenant through the cross of Christ not only to save you but to conform you to the image of His Son. His obligation out of His wonderful grace is to grow you up. And there is suffering in growing up. Among other things, you are forced to face the deceiver and pretender in your mirror.

I’m here to say to you today that it will not always be this hellacious. Oh, trust me. It will ALWAYS be hard. It will at times be horrific. But this season of eyeball-bulging nobody-ever-said-it would-be-like-this coming of age will not last forever. Mine lasted about seven years. Yours could last one. Or ten. That’s all up to God. Well, and you. Your cooperation is required.

It’s all about whether or not you’ll quit. Or whether or not you’ll get sloppy. Whether or not you’ll hang onto the first things that so drove you in the beginning. Jesus. The Scriptures. Holy passion. Holiness. And not just hang onto them but press further and further and further into them. Or will you slip into the black hole of busy-ness and business, of name-making, marketing, position, notoriety, self-importance, celebrity and Instacrap? Now that you are no longer naïve, what will you do with all of this? Will you fight for a pure heart that the world and your own flesh have so polluted that you think you no longer have what it takes or will you just go with it and figure this is how it happens?

And, in the words of Galatians 3:3, what you’d begun in the Spirit, you’ll just do from now on mostly in the flesh. You’ll  get prayer warriors to pray for you instead of also scrapping it out yourself on the floor, fighting with everything you’ve got in the heavenlies, hacking it through, bloody and bruised, defending the ground God entrusted to you.

You’re at the most critical place in your calling. The place of slaughter. The place where either the devil’s going to all but kill you, your flesh is going to destroy you or God is going to crucify with Christ that ego and fear and, truth-told, laziness and raise you MIGHTY.

Fight it out. Do not quit. If you’ve gotten sloppy, stop it. If you’re messing around in sin, repent. Go back to your face. Get that Bible open and plant your nose in it. Memorize Scripture. Learn how to fast and pray. Quit talking about Jesus more than you actually talk to Him. Quit letting your mouth overshoot your character. Become that person you’ve made fun of for taking it too seriously and being so dramatic about it.

You have what it takes. Do it. And I’m going to tell you something. What it will get you is Jesus. JESUS HIMSELF. Pre-eminent in all things. He is the joy. He is the prize in the fight. He is what makes getting hit by the debris in the hurricane worth it. Jesus Himself. He is everything.

I’m writing you today because I’m so proud of you. You’re out there doing the thing. And I don’t want you to quit. Pay the price.”

What is your next step in training your soul to be a warrior?