Mindy's Blog


Inspiration for Blank Pages 

By Mindy Caliguire - Friday, January 29, 2010

At Soul Care it's no secret: We believe in the life habit of journaling. Like anything else you do to take care of your self, this requires planning and effort. But sometimes, the words don't come, the thoughts are lost, and the page seems . . . well, blank. Below, we've posted a few ideas (from Write For Your Soul: The Whys and Hows of Journaling) for inspiration:
  • Look back ("Yesterday I...")
  • Record your dreams (Particularly recurring, troubling, or exciting dreams.)
  • It you're bold, try to analyze them. (You may want to find a book on the topic.)
  • Fun moments (You're birdie on the 18th hole!)
  • Pray on paper ("Dear God...")
  • What you're learning lately (insights, wisdom, mistakes)
  • Work through decisions (write out pros and cons)
  • Quotes or stories you want to remember (something you read or that a friend told you)
  • Observations about how life works ("Malls instill a need for more. When I go there, I feel dissatisfied with what I have.")
  • Precious moments (What your 3-year-old said to his baby brother)
  • Scenes you want to keep with you (the incredible sunset over Lake Pleasant)
  • Ideas or goals for the future ("Go whitewater rafting this summer.")
  • Your values
  • Mission statements (personal or family)
  • Notes from sermons or lectures
Have a great (and maybe reflective journaling) weekend . . .

Waste Not. Want Not. 

By Mindy Caliguire - Sunday, January 24, 2010

Waste Not. Want Not . . . ageless wisdom on economic thrift from our friend Ben Franklin. Business leader Jim Collins advises something similar in his newest book, How the Mighty Fall, in which he exposes the five stages of decline organizations go through—from “success” to oblivion or obscurity. It’s not a pretty picture, but I find his warnings and guidance to be profound. Challenging.

Collins writes of leaders who used decline as a catalyst. I love the quote he uses from Dick Clark, “the quiet, longtime head of Merck manufacturing who become CEO after Gilmartin, put it, ‘A crisis is a terrible thing to waste’” (Page 116).

A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.

When life is really hard, it’s tempting just to use a journal as a place to “dump” all our woes and worries. And at times, that’s certainly helpful! But in heeding wisdom, be sure not to waste the opportunity that presents itself in a crisis. For many years, I believe I did just that, rather than seeing my journal as a place to record, yes, but then evaluate and even imagine where God was in the midst of that.

I distinctly remember a time . . . not that long ago . . . when I finished a proper pity-party for myself and sensed the Spirit nudging me. “The greatest potential loss in all this is not what you just wrote about . . . it would be if you don’t learn from this.” I began using my journal not only to record the hardship and frustrations, but also to consider different paths, new resolves; even earnest prayers for next things.

Of all the things we might waste (time, money, energy, talent, opportunity) please be sure not to waste failure and disappointment. They are invaluable to our growth and learning. Also, to our humility.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)

2010: Writing Life, No Edits 

By Mindy Caliguire - Thursday, January 14, 2010

A new year, much like a blank journal. Page after page, day after day, is open—wide open—waiting for the future to write itself into our lives.

Like the fresh, clean pages of a new journal, this year brings the promise of things sure to come. Tears I will cry, dreams I will dream, prayers I will pray. Ideas I will, well, ideate (?!).

I am facing new beginnings as I join forces with the Willow Creek Association in some exciting new ways. There are new beginnings for Soul Care, as a team steps forward to help shoulder this vision. “Behold, I am doing a new thing… do you not perceive it?” Isa 43:19. I am surrounded by new things. And I love that.

Yet that rhetorical question from God to us haunts me at times. Right now, at the beginning of this year, I’m hyper-attuned to the noticing… noticing the tragedy in Haiti, noticing the amazing students I’m with this week at Spring Arbor’s MSFL residency, noticing ways God seems to be orchestrating the most minute details in ways that bring life and hope and healing. How exciting it is to notice the activity of God!

But other times, I miss it. I do not perceive it. What a tragedy, to miss what’s right there, right before my eyes??!

One of the things that helps me most to notice… to not “miss” the ever-present activity of God… is to spend time reflecting and writing about what’s happening in my life in those blank pages of a journal.

In January, with the able help of our new team, we’ll focus this blog on how a journal helps us notice.

A journal is a great place to record one “jour”, one day. Let’s take 2010 one day at a time. Noticing. Celebrating. Grieving. Living. Watching, waiting, anticipating… God. The one who makes streams in the wasteland.

See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland.

Writing For Your Soul's Future 

By Mindy Caliguire - Thursday, June 04, 2009

Journals can be written for all sorts of things... prayer journals, scripture reading journals, gratitude journals, even pregnancy journals or travel journals. They all may be valuable, but what we've been focusing on in the midweek class at Willow Creek these last three weeks is how to write a Soul Care Journal. A place to write for your SOUL. To intentionally pursue authentic connection with God, with the sure hope of soul restoration and transformation. Of course, a soul care journal will likely include prayer, scripture, gratitude, and reflections on one's life. But most importantly, it will be a place to be honest with God about what's currently going on in our lives--in writing.

It's not about being eloquent, or creative, or pithy. It's not about alliteration or sentence structure or vocabulary. It's a place for the very real you to connect with a very real God. (you can listen to the entire series online here (last night's part three will be posted Fri June 5 after noon).

One of the other great values of a journal is that it can be a place to imagine and dream about the future. Far from self-absorption, a journal helps us walk the path of becoming who God intends for us to become--to accomplish the work he has in mind for us, or our calling. (Psalm 138, Eph 2)

Many spiritual directors advise directees to notice their desires, to "own" them, and to bring them to God. Yet often we are quite nervous about  our desires, well aware of those petty or even selfish ones that tend to lurk on the surface. What do I want? A Pottery Barn kitchen! New landscaping! A dog that doesn't eat furniture! While they may be surface desires, they are still important for us to name. But deeper, we have desires that have actually been placed there by God. Restored relationships. A sense of purpose. Freedom from an addiction. It is important for us to know them, "own" all of them and bring them to God (even the petty ones) not with a sense of entitlement but rather with a sense of honesty and surrender. Owning those dreams and visions... what we really want... can be essential to unlocking the redemptive story of our future.

"A primary reason most people don't get what they want is they don't know what they want. They haven't defined their dream in clear and compelling detail." (p 30, John Maxwell's Put your Dream to the Test)

One of the best books I've read on the topic of unlocking the future through a deep understanding of the past is Dan Allender's To Be Told (2005). Two of my favorite quotes (that are short enough for this space :))

"If I live my life for me alone, then my story is as dull as my self absorption"

"The more we take responsibility to write our present to honor the past, the greater number of stories there will be in the future that are lived for his glory."

I hope you'll take some time today to be honest with God about what's current in your life--in writing. Be honest about struggles, about your joy, about your hopes and fears and dreams. Write for your soul.