Mindy's Blog


 

Making All Things New 

By Mindy Caliguire - Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Hello friends! Welcome to the new Soul Care site and, here, the blog. It has been a long labor process, with many voices and many visions... finally brought over the finish line by my new friend Ben Jordan, of Big Bad Collab. He is a rock star of design and web development, but that's not even the most important thing. Ben and his business partner Mark have a huge vision for the Kingdom of God and even huger hearts to follow Jesus. I am immensely grateful for their friendship and leadership in bringing the vision of this site to reality. With enthusiasm, creativity, grace, and excellence. You could say I'm a raving fan!

It has been nearly 18 months in the making... 18 months of dreaming about a place online where folks who attend Soul Care classes, or seminars, or who read the books or are simply eager to connect deeply with God can come together and share ideas, share experiences, and be refreshed. We hope you'll find here an oasis on the web for your soul. A place of refreshment; a place to stop and stay awhile on the journey. Take a seat. In the "chair". Connect with God and others. That's our dream. So, I hope you'll take some time to mess around with the various features. We've never done a forum before! We'll all be learning. And we'd love your feedback.

So there's a few new things going on. Lately, I've been trying to pay attention to what's NEW in my life, in the spirit of Isaiah 43:19a "See, I am doing a new thing... now it springs up, do you not perceive it?"  Could it be we actually miss the activity of God? I know sometimes I do. So I've been keeping a list of what's NEW in my journal.

How about you? What's NEW for you lately?

Circumstances? Attitudes? Lessons? Can you see God's hand?


A Holy Longing 

By Mindy Caliguire - Saturday, January 24, 2009

"I have come to bring fire on the earth,
and how I wish it were already kindled!
But I have a baptism to undergo,
and what constraint I am under
until it is completed!"

(two exclamation points!)

In reading Luke 12:49-50 this morning, I am struck by something I've never noticed: Jesus felt the constraint of the not-yet reality of being human. The "baptism" he needed to undergo was his own death and resurrection. "How I wish [the fire he would one day bring] were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo..."  Divine patience! A Holy Longing!

Imagining Jesus feeling constraint as he waited for God's timing and plan to unfold stops me in my tracks this morning. Each of us feel that... and I find his example to me, today, is mixed. We, Jesus and I, are not alike.

Un-similarly (yes, I know it's not a word), he knew the exact reason for the delay, and his knowledge of the bigger picture in this case clearly bolstered and under-girded his willingness to wait on God's timing despite Holy Discontent. He is content to wait, because he knows full well what must happen first. We don't always know the reasons why perfectly good desires--even "ministry" desires--are delayed. Hardly ever, in my experience.

But similarly, I am able to wait on God's timing--even when I don't know the "why". Jesus could see, and I cannot. But though I cannot see, I can still trust the unseen One who surely governs my world.

This story affirms for me both the emotional tension of living in the "now" and the "not yet"--and also the certain promise of God's  purposes unfolding.

It does really feel like constraint--aligned with, in our case, blind but firm hope.

How about you... have you experienced a Holy longing?
What did you do with that tension between the "now" and the "not yet"?



Midday Connection with Anita Lustrea! 

By Mindy Caliguire - Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Today, I get to enjoy time with one of my favorite women–Anita Lustrea, of WMBI’s Midday Connection.

For those of you just checking out Soul Care, please enjoy reading these past posts and be sure to sign up for our E-Notes for the Soul, which will give you an update soon on the new Soul Care website and community being developed online as we speak! Whisper a few prayers for our talented design and coding team… they’re amazing!

Lastly, always feel free to connection on Twitter at mindycaliguire and Facebook too!

I’ll be updating more in the future…

But for now, blessings and peace,

Mindy

(if you want to listen in on some Soul Care online, check out the watch/listen link at classes.willowcreek.org and search for the SP–Spiritual Practice–classes offered there since June ‘08!)


Dreaming of a World Where… Joy is the Whole Point 

By Mindy Caliguire - Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I wanted to share a great poem from Lew Smedes’ Shame and Grace that I stumbled back on as I completed copyedits for Soul Searching

Maybe it will bless you today:

    
    A World…

    Where unhealthy shame is obsolete.

    Where healthy shame has lost its sting.

    Where we know we are of great worth when we accept the grace we do not deserve.

    Where bad choices of the past do not determine our worth today or forfeit our hopes for tomorrow.

    Where we dare to feel guilty where guilty we are, for we know our guilt can be forgiven.

    Where we celebrate our imperfections.

    Where we can feel silly without feeling shame.

    Where grace gives us reason to be proud of ourselves.

    Where the lightness of grace lifts the heaviness of shame.

    Where joy is the whole point.


Please be part of creating a world like that today…

back to work now…


Starting a Day Well 

By Mindy Caliguire - Tuesday, May 13, 2008

This quote keeps coming to mind this week… I thought you might enjoy:

“For Christians, the beginning of the day should not be burdened and haunted by the various kinds of concerns that they face during the day. The Lord stands above the new day, for God has made it. All restlessness, all impurity, all worry and anxiety flee before him. Therefore, in the early morning hours of the day, may our many thoughts and our many idle words be silent and may the first word and the first thought belong to the One to whom our whole life belongs.” Deitrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together


Oprah’s Big Give 

By Mindy Caliguire - Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I’ve been waiting to write this post FOREVER!!!

Stephen Paletta won the Big Give!

Well, you already know that if you’ve been watching Oprah’s recent philanthropy contest on TV. But you may not know the rest of the story…!  And we all love a great back story, right?!

Here goes at least a small portion…. going back more than 20 years! Many of you know I first met my husband Jeff through a Bible Study at Cornell University, when invited by a lacrosse player friend of mine named Frank Kelly. Frank and Jeff played football together at Cornell, and Jeff invited Frank to a Bible Study he began in his fraternity house. God works in mysterious ways!?!

Frank and his wife Gayle have remained great friends of ours over the years… helping our ministry in Boston, sharing vacations, etc. They live in Baltimore and are very active in business, ministry, the community, and philanthropy both locally and in Africa. Some of their story will be included in the next Soul Care Study Guide on Simplicity! We love and treasure Frank and Gayle and their dear kiddos.

Frank reached out to many other students at Cornell–including his all-star teammate and fraternity brother, Stephen Paletta. Steve is now a devoted Christian man, and it was his pastor who suggested Paletta audition for the show. Another element of interconnectedness: Stephen’s “winning give” took place right here in Chicago, raising over $160,000 for an amazing inner-city Christian school, Chicago Hope Academy, founded by our friend Bob Muzikowski.

I love a great God-story, and I thought you might as well.

Here’s more about Stephen’s work, his faith journey, and his part on The Big Give.

I hope you’ll find encouragement in these inter-woven stories to persevere in serving both the least and the lost. Who in your life right now needs help–spiritually or materially? Who are your Stephen Palettas? What worthy causes do you know that could be served by a few strategic phone calls or a day of service? Maybe God will whisper something to you, even now… be ready to jump!

“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8


Practicing Peace 

By Mindy Caliguire - Thursday, March 20, 2008

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about peace. Not the kind we pray for globally, though admittedly that is very important.

I’ve been wondering, instead, about peace, or lack of it, in my body.  Did you know these things take up residence in our bodies? As we grow and develop, certain attitudes–character qualities–become settled into our body. Automatic, physical activites we do quite easily without actually thinking. (how often do we really think about smiling? Glaring? Shampooing our hair? Tying shoes? Typing a sentance? The body learns to do it.)

In the same way that attitudes such as joy, openness or wonder visibly reside on faces, the fibers of our muscles also become hardened into shape by patterns of stress, rage, or panic.  Tension that “lives” in our shoulders or back,  tightness in the stomach or chest, stress on our forehead, feet that just keep tapping. Our unrest, discontent, pain, anger, and even confusion eventually settle into our bodies.

For better or for worse, our bodies get “formed” as a result of our interior world–the world of the soul.

So what about peace? How do I persuade my body to be at peace?  I am learning that I need to actually practice peace. Here’s a few of the ways I’m practicing… when I notice physical anxiety, I choose to relax that part of my body. Saying, in essence, Peace, be still. Praying through the 23rd Psalm reminds me of ultimate peace in God’s good care. Times of solitude help me physically experience peace, which is slowly re-training my body. Allowing my body enough sleep helps, too. There is no virtue in sleep deprivation!!

Of course, as a fruit of the spirit, Peace invades my soul–including my body–when I connect with Christ, the Prince of Peace. Sometimes, that re-connection with Jesus is explicitly needed before I can relax into physical peace. Sometimes, I can just remind my shoulders that Jesus is here.

I’m challenged especially this week by his example. He who, in the face of unjust accusation, betrayal, physical torture, and even death, seems to have remained composed. At peace. Not retaliating, not crumbling.

An interesting quote on spiritual formation and the body, as it relates to peace, from Dallas Willard:

    “Peace is a condition of the body, and until it has enveloped our body it has not enveloped us.”
—Renovation of the Heart

Often, lately, I join the writer of Pslam 116, saying ”Be at rest, once more, O my soul”


Strategy and Soul Care 

By Mindy Caliguire - Thursday, February 28, 2008

For those of us who enjoy the strategic conversations connected to soul development, you might find this book to be helpful and inspiring. Reveal: Where Are You? discusses the results from a massive spiritual growth survey done in 2004 at Willow Creek Community Church (and the growing body of data from other churches who have been surveyed as well). The Reveal website, through the Willow Creek Association, is helpful and interesting, too.

As I work with church leaders around the country (and even internationally), I find a tremendous amount of interest in these survey results–and rightly so. Here we find the convergence of “church growth” and “spiritual growth”.

Have you read it? What do you think about it?

If you want to learn more about connecting spiritual formation, soul care, and strategic next steps, you could

    * attend our next gathering of the Spiritual Formation Alliance–Midwest Region on May 3.  Joel Warne will again facilitate our morning, and then we will enjoy lunch and afternoon workshops followed by a closing session. All are welcome! Register on the site.

    * listen to the audio of a Reveal-related session I gave at last week’s Catalyst Bonfire . (Pastor Harvey Carey’s keynote is excellent, too!) (see also: www.catalystweb.org)



Powering Down 

By Mindy Caliguire - Thursday, February 28, 2008

Power. We all need it, we all use it. And to some degree, we all have it. Personal power, girl power, star power. Knowledge is power. Position is power. God is power. We talk about the power of the gospel, the power of the cross, the power of prayer.

Ephesians chapter one affirms that the very same power that started Jesus’ dead heart beating and sent brain waves through his silent skull is available for us today. Throughout history, God’s people have journeyed into the darkest needs of the world by the tailwind of that very real power. Mountains have been moved.

And yet many remain, so we look for more power.

One of my favorite contrarian realities of the Christian faith is the inverse relationship between human power and the power of God. In Powers, Weakness, and the Tabernacling of God, Marva Dawn explores this relationship through a careful study of Paul’s words to us in 2 Corinthians 12:9. I recommend you read her book to understand her thesis about our common mis-understanding of the truth stated by God to Paul in response to his weakness. Dawn suggests a truer rendering of this beloved text would convey this idea: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is brought to its end (or to its limit) in weakness”.

Might it be that only our weaknesses bring us to the point of being able to receive God’s power?

Gerald May writes this: “There is a relentless willfulness in us that seldom ceases until we have been brought to our knees by incapacity and failure.” (The Dark Night of the Soul, p 86)

Only then can we even imagine honestly echoing the Apostle Paul’s radical words: “Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest (=tabernacle!!) on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight (can you imagine?!?!) in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor. 12: 9-10)

Where does that hit you today? What difficulties are you in the middle of? What weakness has been exposed in you lately? What hardship are you facing? Have you been persecuted? Insulted? Have you been brought to your knees by incapacity and failure? If so, gain the hope of the tabernacling presence of the Powerful One. The Loving One. The One who is very much alive.

    “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom

    or the strong boast of their strength

    or the rich boast of their riches,

    but let those who boast boast about this:

    that they understand and know me,

    that I am the Lord,

    who exercises kindness, justice, and righteousness on earth,

    for in these I delight.”
Jeremiah 9:23-24



Do you plug in? 

By Mindy Caliguire - Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I have never been asked a more sincere but bewildering question. “Do you plug in?” she repeated? “Oh, yeah… you’re driving Brendon’s car; Brendon doesn’t plug in. Do you want to plug in?”

Again, clueless.

Turns out, in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada… the environmental conditions tend to make car engines freeze. Minus 40 is a hostile environment for maintaining the core heart of a vehicle. How do folks make sure they can still drive? They plug in.

In fact, the entire community arranges itself for this! Drivers purchase special adaptors for the engine block (I am stretching my automotive understanding to its limits), so that whether they are in the garage, at the office parking lot, at the church parking lot, and even at the hotel where I am staying, they often “plug in”.

While this is certainly no perfect image, I couldn’t help but notice the connections to our need for connection with God. Like the harsh Saskatchewan winter, the reality of ordinary life is often quite hostile to the well-being of our soul. And yet, deep within, the soul invisibly drives everything that matters to us… far more than just our car!

In order to live the lives we’re called to live, in order to be available and effective and loved as God’s people in this world, we, too, need to guard and protect that inner engine, what Henri Nouwen called, “the fire within”. Of course, the opportunity for us to “plug in” doesn’t require a physical outlet in a parking lot; God’s presence and power and love surround us at all times. Yet we, too, need to be intentional about connecting to the source. Simple spiritual practices do this. They care for our souls; they connect us to love.

Do you plug in? Can you connect with God right now, even as you read? What difference does it make?