Mindy's Blog


 

Daily Email during Lent 

By Mindy Caliguire - Wednesday, February 06, 2008

I’ve written before about a ministry I have loved getting to know: CRM: Empowering Leaders.

At the event a few weeks ago, I received a lovely devotional guide for Lent that I intend to use, beginning today–Ash Wednesday. It’s called The Journey to Surrender.

I have a printed copy, but also signed up for their daily emails during Lent. Link here to see today’s which is about experiencing Lent in community.

If you are searching for a way to connect to the meaning of this season, I would encourage you to sign up for the daily email, too.

Themes developed will be: Thirst, Seize, Relinquish, Prevail

I am looking forward to this journey! Please, join in…


From Mass Evangelist to Soul Friend 

By Mindy Caliguire - Wednesday, January 23, 2008

In preparing for this weekend’s National Missionary Training Forum, sponsored by Church Resource Ministries, I read a fascinating article about Leighton Ford’s current involvement in Spiritual Direction.

For those who want to understand more about spiritual direction, from the heart and soul of a respected and beloved evangelist, I thought you might find it inspiring and interesting as well.

Enjoy!

a Quote:

“I began to realize that a lot of my best work in Arrow [leadership development ministry] had been at the level of spiritual direction—long walks and talks with men and women, listening to their own stories, telling them mine,” he says. “Increasingly, I found that many of them wanted guidance about evangelism and mission, but more than anything they wanted spiritual guidance.” (emphasis mine)

Link to whole article.


Anyone Out There Who… feels this tension? 

By Mindy Caliguire - Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Author Eugene Peterson speaks directly and poignantly on the dilemma many of us feel in vocational ministry. I’ll let his words (below) speak for themselves, but would love to hear your thoughts. (BTW, thanks, Gary, for your comments on the importance of silence as a pastor. I think you’ll like this)

Early on in Peterson’s ministry he developed this awareness:

    “I and my work converged: my work an extension of my faith, vocation serving as paving to make the faith accessible for others who wished to travel this road.

    Then this chasm opened up. This split between personal faith and pastoral vocation… Gradually it dawned on me that the crevasse was not before but within me. … Why weren’t things fitting together simply and easily?  I was a pastor vocationally; I was a Christian personally. I had always assumed the two, “pastor” and “Christian”, were essentially the same thing and naturally congruent. Now I was finding that they were not. Being a Christian, more often than not, seemed to get in the way of working as a pastor. Working as a pastor, with surprising frequency, seemed to put me at odds with living as a Christian.”
(Under the Unpredictable Plant: An Exploration in Vocational Holiness, Eugene Peterson)

This painful awareness led Peterson to search for “a spirituality adequate to my calling” or “an interior adequate to the exterior“, which he writes of, now, with some thirty years’ worth of hindsight on pastoral ministry and the personal life. The big idea? Our ministry becomes a career, and we bow low to it, UNLESS we find a way to “pay more attention to what God does than what I do., and to find daily, weekly, yearly rhythms that would get that awareness into my bones.”

He particularly hopes to encourage those who, facing this same painful awareness, never resolve the chord in their souls, and instead abandon vocational ministry.

So how about you? Have you had a similar awareness? What helps you develop a spirituality adequate to your vocation, be it “ministry” “motherhood” “marketplace” “student” or something entirely different? The challenge, of course, is universal.

journaling questions:

    * What tensions exist between my personal devotion to Jesus Christ and the work I do?
    * What helps resolve that tension constructively?


Best T-Shirt Slogan 

By Mindy Caliguire - Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Best T-Shirt Slogan
Silence is Golden
Duct Tape is Silver

So read the T-shirt slogen most often quoted by my noisy family this year!!

Over the Christmas vacation, I learned about silence in a new way, thanks to J. Brent Bill, who leads the Center for Congregational Growth in Indianapolis. While Brent’s organization serves a diverse range of congregations, he himself is a Quaker and has written two excellent books on Quaker history, spirituality, and practice: Holy Silence and Mind the Light.

I enjoyed both, especially the one on silence. Brent explains, [Quakers] worshiped in silence. They did so because they felt that they needed to be quiet and wait on God–not man–to speak. … They saw holy silence as a way to encourage men and women on their spiritual journey.

With all the current talk about how to help people on the spiritual journey, this really caught my eye! Have we thought much about the role of silence in helping ourselves? Or in helping others on the journey?

One of his self-examination questions gets me thinking as I prepare for church this morning…

(Quietude Queries interspersed thoughtfully throughout the book).

        Relax your body and mind

        Breathe deeply

        Think about the following question slowly and gently. Savor each thought:

What do I normally do to prepare my soul for a spiritual exerience?
Can I see silence as enhancing that?

Journaling questions:

    How does silence fit in your life, if at all?

    What difference do you find it makes?

    How might you incorporate silence into your life in 2008?


Spiritual Formation Alliance–Midwest 

By Mindy Caliguire - Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Over the past few years, I’ve had the great honor (and fun!) of working with some exceptionally gifted leaders and teachers and musicians through the Spiritual Formation Alliance. The SFA hosted national events in 2004 and 2006, and then regional Forums in 2007.

Currently, I give leadership to the Midwest-based efforts. At our most recent gathering we decided on a few things I want to share with the Soul Care community:

    * We have a new Facebook group, Alliance-Midwest, to make connections with others and share upcoming events/helpful resources. Already, discussions on retreat centers and books have begun. (We’ll interpret “Midwest” loosely if you live elsewhere but would like to join us online for the conversation!) If/when you have a Facebook account (free), simply request to join the group.

    * Our next “event” is Saturday, May 3, hosted at Willow Creek Community Church. The morning provides a guided solitude experience for personal refreshment, and the afternoon will be devoted to various topics related to spiritual formation and leadership, prayer ministry, personal soul care, etc. Registration information will be available soon. If you would like to be placed on our email list, please contact us.


Lifestyle Make-Over Week on Moody 

By Mindy Caliguire - Sunday, January 13, 2008

This past week, I had the great fun of joining in a week-long conversation about starting the new year out right… courtesy of Midday Connection on WMBI. Throughout the week, hosts Melinda Schmidt and Anita Lustrea interviewed guests on several topics such as getting organized and being wise with money.

And Thursday was Soul Care day! Anita wondered, how might we arrange our lives in 2008 for a healthy, growing relationship with God? Adele Calhoun and I shared the interview, and enjoyed the conversation with Anita as well as the folks who called in during the broadcast.

So what was the “answer”? How do we care for our souls in ‘08? You’ll need to listen to the archives to hear the whole thing… but here’s a few highlights:

Pay attention to your desire. For “more” for “something else” for “transformation”. Desire, Adele reminded us, can take the form of a positive feeling or even a holy discontent, a holy longing, both pointing to a desire for change. What to do with that desire? First, it might be helpful to write about it in a journal. Capture those fleeting thoughts or wishes or longings on paper, where they can become more concrete and actionable.

Once identified, you can seek out ways to connect with God… you may need silence, you may need community, you may need solitude, you may need a time of serving. Your desire for God will help lead you. “You lead me on paths of righteousness for your name’s sake” (Psalm 23)

A second help is actually a “what not to do”. So often, we build what we refer to as our “spiritual life” around a particular spiritual practice or pattern for “devotions” or “quiet time”. While those patterns may serve us well in one season of life, they may or may not adapt to new circumstances or new seasons of the soul. In light of that, we need to abandon or tendency to see our “spiritual life” as something distinct from the “rest of life”. All of life is spiritual, is it not? “Where can I go from your spirit?” the psalmist asks… answer: nowhere.

Instead of searching for what “counts” in the “spiritual life” (ie, does a walk in nature “count” as solitude?), seek out soul health. Is your soul healthy? If not, what restores health and life to your soul? The goal is spiritual vitality in all of life, not a mechanical formula of spiritual disciplines.

So, is your soul healthy? How would you know? What are your symptoms of Soul Health or Soul Neglect? What helps you receive from God? Seek the answers to those questions in these opening weeks of 2008…. and watch out! A soul intimately connected with God is a powerful force to be reckoned with in this world.

The last point Anita raised is the value of a Spiritual Friend. Someone with whom to share the journey, like a workout buddy, can significantly increase our odds of sticking with our intention to care for our souls. But unlike most workout buddies (not mine, though… thanks Suz!!), a deepening soul friendship brings with it the incarnational presence of Christ. The Holy Spirit is an active and welcome member of a soul friendship. Opening ourselves to the person of Christ in each other, flawed and broken though we are, opens wide the floodgates of God’s transforming activity in our souls.

Grab a journal, grab (or deepen) a soul friend, and take a dive into 2008!


A Less-Than-Glamourous Farewell 

By Mindy Caliguire - Tuesday, January 01, 2008

How did you celebrate the New Year?

Bidding 2007 good-bye as I sped along the New York State Thruway was not one of the more meaningful moments of my life. I did catch a few fireworks announcing 2008 over the Syracyse horizon, but my private party was nothing more than a brief but authentic prayer in the driver’s seat as the rest of the family slept in a tangled mess of luggage, laundry, blankets, skis, DVD’s, iPods, and Christmas gifts. As mid-night struck, we still had 12 hours to go; it would be a long night ahead. Especially through the blizzards in Northern Indiana. And, wouldn’t you know it, nary an open Starbucks in the wee hours of January 1, 2008. Not till Toledo. That’s a long way!

It wasn’t a very kind farewell to a year rich with fond memories, signficiant firsts, and many many divine graces. Like the stripes marking dividing lines on the freeway, life in the mini-van keeps moving on.

So today begins a whole new year, and I haven’t had one deep thought or a moment of reflection. Not one. I’ll do that tomorrow, when I’m not so tired!, I argue with myself. Starting the year with procrastination? Counters the voice in my head…

Being so consumed with trivial things that you neglect the most important?

and then, of course, Beginning the year with self-recrimination already?

And an argument with your husband, too? Nice.

Yeah, that too.

Driving home from the grocery store (Is this any way to spend a national holiday?!) I stumbled on a radio station playing a favorite song (How lame, you can’t even sit in silence in your car–you need noise) Not even sure which artist sings, but it always catches me… speaks to me.

The lyrics remind me of an insistant run-on-sentance from God:

“I love you more than the sun and the stars that I taught how to shine you are mine and you shine for me, too I love you yesterday and today and tomorrow again I’ll say it again, and again, I love you more… more than you can imagine… more than you can fathom… Maybe you know that song, too?

The lyrics came fast and furious… finally, something standing in the way of all those condemning thoughts threatening or criticizing my every move. Is this what it means to be weak? To need something that would stand in the way for me tonight?

Maybe I will know the answer tomorrow.

Right now, I am just grateful for the reminder. It is good to be home, good to be watching football, good to have enjoyed vacation with family and friends in New York, good to have groceries for tomorrow, good to have clean laundry, good to have peace in the home (well, mostly!).

And it’s good to be back with you all on the Soul Care blog–December offered many opportunities to read, reflect, and rejoice at the Birth of our Saviour. And I took them!

2008 will have much in store here as well.

So, again, how did you celebrate the New Year?

Here’s a few questions to start journaling in ‘08 with Soul Care:

What’s one line of thinking or relational pattern that, especially when you’re weak, you need God’s protection from? Write about that pattern, and be sure to just ask God directly for help…

What’s one hope for 2008 that you can name and bring to God in prayer? What is that so important to you? Spend some time thinking and praying about this as well.

Use the comments to give us a quick answer! And, Happy New Year! I’m going to bed!


A Moment of Silence 

By Mindy Caliguire - Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Two weeks ago today, I sat at the funeral of young girl. She attended the same school as two of my sons, and the entire school had rallied for almost a year as she was diagnosed with Leukemia and then endured several paths of treatment in an effort to spare her young life. Though she fought valiantly, in the end the cancer won.

During the service, many people spoke of the tremendous impact this young but brief life made, especially through her genuine and abiding concern for others. The vibrant portrait of a “little Christ”, or “Christian” emerged. She seemed to embody, at least in some important ways, the person of God to those around her—whether fellow students, nurses and doctors, family members, or friends.

What caused me to discreetly pull out my journal and write about the experience was the story her pastor, who knew her well, conveyed about her favorite verse from the Bible. I have never heard of someone choosing this as their “favorite verse”… John 11:35, “Jesus wept.”

I don’t think this reflects a young heart latching on to the easiest memorization assignment in Bible class. Rather, I suspect this reflects the true spirit of a young child who became sensitive to God’s heart for the tragedy of the world around her—and perhaps even the tragedy of the world in her own blood.

The most important, the most treasured, thing she knew about God was not God’s power, God’s love, God’s supremacy or truth, as important as those divine qualities are. What was most dear to her was that our God is a God who wept.

And so did I.

Journaling Prompt:
How do you respond to the idea that Jesus wept? Also, when was the last time you encountered a death–of a loved one, or a pet, or a complete stranger–how did you respond?


Trees Without Leaves 

By Mindy Caliguire - Wednesday, November 21, 2007

As autumn passes into winter, here in the Midwest and in the Northeast where I grew up, the trees gently surrender their leaves to the wind. One by one, sometimes dozens at a time, they float away, eventually down to the earth below. What remains, the skeleton trunk and branches, is bare, naked.


The true structure of the tree, invisible in full leaf, is now visible—and, to me, it is beautiful. One of my all-time favorite sights is a tree, or an entire forest, without leaves.

I always notice, and silently appreciate, these sterile beauties in photographs, in paintings, and in the fields nearby my house. Some (OK, most) friends think this is a bizarre or poorly developed aesthetic. One commented, “That’s crazy, Mindy…. trees without leaves are a sign of the Fall" (meaning original sin, not the season!). But it never wavers; if anything, as the years go by, I love trees without leaves more and more.

When someone asks why, my brain malfunctions, inventing reasons. How can you explain a favorite color? Or a favorite view? I’m not sure reason has anything to do with it.

But when my brain wins out, I do make a few observations about trees without leaves that may contribute. [Note: Of course, I’m really not sure. I don’t actually think about these things when I notice the beauty of barren trees. I just love them. Period.]



Trees without leaves symbolize the ability to survive harsh seasons, even to appear dead, yet to be very much alive.

Without leaves, you see the true structure of the tree—some branch systems are elongated and symmetrical, others twist and meander in a confused tangle. Always, they are interesting and seem to have a personality of their own. It’s like they show their true essence when the fluffy, vibrant, green no longer hides their character.

The gentle releasing of the leaves reminds me of seasons of life when I, too, must surrender to the harsh winds of life, to the declining sunlight, to the chill. I “let go” of what my life appears to be, even to what I may think the source of my energy and strength may be, and trust myself to the season. Sometimes I let go one lonely leaf at a time; sometimes I let go in droves. Always, I remain alive. Sustained by something much deeper and truer and enduring. My identity is not in my leaves or in my “fruit.”

The source of my life persists.

Trees without leaves are a picture of peace, simplicity, purity, and stillness. Why? I don’t really know. I just know I love them.


Conversations with Anita Lustrea 

By Mindy Caliguire - Wednesday, November 21, 2007

… and a few others listening in!

Today airs an interview with Anita Lustrea of WMBI’s wildly popular broadcast: Midday Connection! We had a lovely conversation on Spiritual Friendship, the new SoulCare® resource available through InterVarsityPress.

I love being with Anita—she’s the real deal. Sometimes I entirely forget we’re talking with a much larger audience… this isn’t Starbucks! She’s so engaging personally, and shares so authentically from her own life and journey, it’s no wonder she and her co-hosts Melinda Schmidt and Lori Neff are so treasured by listeners all over the country! May their tribe increase!

If you’d like to listen live, click here: (starts at noon CST on Wednesday November 21). After that hour, you can find the interview on Moody Radio’s archives.