Changed Soul  0

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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!

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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

 

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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

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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

 

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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

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“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: http://thriveconnection.com/2016/08/23/stoops-make-great/

Soul Delight  0

 

 

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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?

 

Talking Soul  2

Talk to yourself

English heart surgeon Martyn Lloyd-Jones said,

“Most unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself rather than talking to yourself.”

“What kind of voices do you hear? When you meet people do you tell yourself they’ll let you down? When you face new experiences does a voice in your head say you’re going to fail?” The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader, John Maxwell p. 93

Sometimes we don’t even realize the tape playing inside, but that critic within keeps rearing its head and we have to deal with it. The subtle negative voices can be overbearing and discouraging, but there is Truth, hope, care and comfort that can wipe out the negative self-talk and help us decipher what is false and what needs attention.

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God is a Blessed Intruder. As we usher him into our “committee of selves” within, he sets things straight and gives a reference point to wade through the accusations, the downcast eyes and hands that hang down. He is the

  • Lifter of our heads when our sight is on ourselves Ps. 27:6
  • Holder of our hands when we are out of alignment. Is. 41:13
  • Keeper of our path when we’re unsure of our way Prov. 3:5,6

“For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble…and now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies around me…”  Ps. 27:5.6

Take notice today: Are you

  • talking to yourself (directing your heart to truth) or
  • listening to yourself (the inner critic, the doubter, the pessimist)?

#talktoyourself

Disconnected Soul  2

 

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We’re meant for community, shared lives, regularity, rhythm. For us, in our travels we have managed to keep good routine and rhythm, but the consistent shared lives with others, we miss.  I’ve described the feeling to friends as

“nomadic disconnectedness.”  🙂

There’s sweet connectedness sporadically, and a semblance of connection through social media and skype, which are great helps, but there is a sadness and weariness that can set in with much travel and movement.

Of course there’s the exhilarating side, the new, the invitation into lives that regulars may not get, the new perspective we see or can bring, the incredible people, energizing challenges, intriguing places and colorful cultures. All of that I love.

I wonder though, if a disconnected soul is part of life, everyone’s life…? I know people who have been in the same geographical place all their lives and feel pretty disconnected. I can only imagine the disconnected ache of the masses of refugees now being ripped from the fabric of their beloved lives and homes with little hope for their future. That kind of despairing disconnection I don’t know.

Maybe some kinds of disconnectedness can be a mercy that shakes us into the realization that we so need connection with our Maker first. That empty feeling can push us there – to realize that our disconnection is primarily from Him. We are His, first and foremost. That’s where real connection and wholeness is, that can then flow freely into the connection with the others that we’re made for.

I think there are times and seasons where the disconnect is a wooing He uses to call to us. A place to which God brings us to have conversations, new appreciation, fresh perspective, or a deeper sense of our need. I guess I should take advantage of that! I need to share life with others, but any distance in my relationship with Him hinders my connection with the rest of the Body.

 

“Abide in me, and I in you.. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him,

he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing…Abide in my love.”

(Stay connected to Love.) John 15:4-9

 

“…so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. “

Romans 12:5

 

An African brother (FD) said it so well, “How inadequate I am without my brothers and sisters.”

 

Do you sense any disconnectedness in your soul?

 

Could it be Him calling to you to reconnect with His Love?

 

 

 

Soul Expectations  2

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I kind of expect that when very competent and capable people give up their lives and loves for the sake of the gospel, take their young family and painstakingly spend years and make a home in an obscure and difficult place, there will be open doors, much fruit. Sometimes there are. Other times there are heartaches and hard questions. (I am reeling with the numbing news from a family in our organization whose 3-year old daughter was diagnosed with cancer, taking them from the field.)

 

We all have underlying expectations we don’t know about, nestled deep in the recesses of our hearts. I think that’s why there were so many varying reactions to Jesus when he was on earth – ranging from awe, appreciation and buy-in, to anger, jealousy and contempt. Underlying these reactions is something… some assumption or belief that they spring from. For example, under the anger could be a fierce disappointment that Jesus was not what I expected him to be or didn’t do what I expected him to do.   So my reaction comes to the surface and we take issue with Him today, just like people did back then. It’s good to wrestle it through – and think about what we think about.

 

“the ruling passion conquers reason still….” Shakespeare

 

His ways are far beyond us because He is so FOR us. It takes seemingly unseemly measures at times for Him to get to our hidden parts or just to show His glory – for our good.

(From the DS journal):

“I’ve been in Ecclesiastes a bit lately – such a weird little poetry book – but bottomless insight into life. It can’t be just trivial cynicism right? – it’s inspired! One theme that’s been standing out is that: humanity and this world are cursed – that means there’s a lot of evil… and life to a large degree is TOILSOME – we can fight it, and resent it… or we can accept it (direct revelation about the Fall, God’s sovereignty, eternal hope ahead of us, etc. in the Word helps a ton!) – and if we accept it, it takes a lot of pressure off of life to deliver. We are free to just start the day by choosing the Joy of the Lord and to enjoy the little glimmers of God’s image that do shine through depraved people… and the Creator’s beauty that irrepressibly shines through the fallen-ness of His created world.  We’re free to enjoy the simple pleasures – to enjoy our food and drink and the woman we love… and to go “all in” on whatever we do, knowing life is short… and not load it up with too many expectations.”

 

So where do our expectations come from?

If there’s disappointment or discouragement?  Then there was an expectation.

Can you name one?

Does that naming unearth a ruling passion in you?

If so…does it need to be reigned in and put in its place, or repented of as something you’re putting your hope in more than Him?

Soul Rainbow  0

(Thoughts after PS, teaching elder at Sojo’s church, led us into Noah’s life in Genesis 8 & 9)

600 years strong, Nepic4oah was.

His “right” heart before God kept God from wiping out the whole race in his fury. (Gen. 6:7,8) Noah was a rock! He diligently obeyed for many years while withstanding ridicule & opposition, then weathered the terror of the flood.

Fast forward to the rainbow (Oh the bliss of this glorious thought!) depicting the unconditionally loving, utterly merciful, personal, 2nd chance-giving God of ours! Even when He knew those on earth would blow it again, His faithful love dictated that he make a way to really be right (eventually through the only Right One – Jesus).

But the insight we discovered together was the contrast in Noah’s stance before and after the rainbow. His fear of the Almighty One kept him from swaying as he built the ark and preached apocalypse to his jeering contemporaries. The fear of the catastrophic power of the God who brought the flood could have paralyzed him as he again stepped down onto dry ground. So the rainbow’s promise must have brought astounding relief for him and his family.

But, things were not all rosy after the rainbow. God’s word doesn’t hide the sin of the man whom God had called “righteous and blameless”. He’s found shamefully drunken… resulting in ruinous impact on his family for generations…

Did Noah lose his sense of purpose after the flood… and his alertness when there were no opponents hounding him? Could the fledgling remnant of humanity have fallen prey to more subtle, inner temptations of “self, home and the menial”? The confusing scene after the rainbow seems to scream a warning about the fragile human condition where inner temptations may actually outweigh outer ones.

The rainbow points to the Right One who walks alongside us in our sin, and kindly brings us to repentance again and again to make our hearts right. And we need that as much “at home” as “on the job” – maybe more! – When our guard is down and there’s not a big accomplishment we’re reaching for… when it’s down to the menial things of life.

What would our house say about us?” …The place where we’re off duty and not on display building our arks?

That’s where we need the fear of God in us even more – for our good and protection! The inner temptations are more subtle and insidious, so our vigilance and our open ears to the Right One need to be alerted and strengthened.

As Brennan Manning puts it: [Accepting the gospel of grace]

“…means hanging in there with God, learning our mind tricks by experiencing how they defeat us, recognizing our avoidances, acknowledging our lapses, learning completely that we cannot handle it ourselves. This steady self-confrontation requires strength and courage. We cannot use failure as an excuse to quit trying.”  The Ragamuffin Gospel, p. 86

There’s a rainbow for your soul today – pointing to the promise of Jesus who saves us from ourselves, from the wrath of God….and from giving in to defeat.

What part of your heart needs that rainbow today?