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Issue 7-15

The Planning/Praying Ratio

You Are Invited to Attend
A Microcredit Christmas Party in September

(For Hungry Souls Friends in the Chicago Area)
Karen Mains and Carla Boelkens
have turned the living and dining room
at 29W377 Hawthorne Lane
West Chicago, IL 60185 into the
Beads, Bags, and Bangles Boutique

Do Your Christmas Shopping Early. Give Gifts That Save Lives.
We have beads made from paper by Sudanese Refugees.
We have jewelry made by HIV/AIDS Widows.
We have African-Made Sustainable Cloth Shopping Bags.
We have American-Supplied I’M A GLOBAL BAG LADY or
I’M A GLOBAL BAG GUY canvas shopping totes.

We will provide information and answer your questions
about the Hungry Souls March 25-April 6 African Project,
A Meeting of Women’s Minds: A Microenterprise Journey to Kenya.
There is room for 14 adventurous world-changers.
(Follow this link for more details.)

And we’ll give you a 101 introduction to microloans, small loans given to the poorest of the poor (mostly women), which have lifted literally millions of families out of the deepest of hopeless, grinding poverty.

Saturday, September 27 at 7:00 P.M. or
Sunday, September 28 at 4:00 P.M.
Feel free to bring friends and family. Just give me an e-mail heads-up at

A friend said to me recently, “Your Soulish Foods are getting longer and longer, aren’t they?” I agreed. And then she said, as really good friends should do when they notice something that needs self-correcting, “You know, Karen, people have really busy lives.” I agreed again, duly chastened.

So this (brief) Soulish Food is a list of (short) announcements with a (mini) essay at the end!

A New Listening Group Cycle for 2008-2009
Begins Week of October 13-18, 2008
We meet once a month in groups of three to four
for two and a half hours.
The groups will continue for eight months to June 2009.

If you are in the Chicago area and would like to be part of a Listening Group for the purpose of spiritual growth, register with . These groups are built upon the amazing discoveries science is making about what happens biologically in the brain when people feel heard, listened to and really understood. One actual result is that new “social circuitries” begin to be formed in the brain. Listeners and listenees (new word!) experience what the social scientists term “attunement”—a peaceful, wholesome, deeper communion with themselves, with one another, and with God. Listening prayer is the spiritual practice around which we have built the architecture of the Hungry Souls Listening Groups.

I’ve interviewed almost all of the members of the last Listening Group cycle. Unbelievably, many said in one way or another, “The Listening Groups changed my life.” These positive results seem to be disproportionate to the small amount of time allotted to listening to one another and to silent prayer: We meet once a month for about two-and-a-half hours. Most of us do not know one, nor do we see one another between monthly meetings. If you are being nudged inwardly, I strongly challenge you to join a Listening Group. You may be ready for a remarkable journey

We are establishing the parameters for a qualitative research project under the supervision of Dr. Tom Altepeter, a Ph.D. clinical psychologist. To make this research project viable, we need 50 to 80 people to join (12 to 20 groups). Any one who has been in a previous group is welcome to start again. We also will need 12.5 (!) to 20 group leaders. If you want to start a group in your neighborhood, among friends, or in your church, Hungry Souls will be conducting a two-hour leaders training Saturday morning, October 11. Contact me at if you are interested. We have about six leaders who have gone through listening groups ready to lead their own groups; so we need six to 14 more leaders.

For those of you who are outside the Chicago area, I will be happy to set up teleconference training for group leaders. And for all leaders, in Chicago or across the country, I will be more than happy to be available for consultation and supervision.

Annual Advent 24-hour Retreat of Silence
Wednesday and Thursday
December 3-4
Bishop Lane Retreat Center in Rockford, IL
(for details, click this link)
The Theme Is: Fear Not

Partly because Valerie Bell and I will leave for France with a total of 15 pilgrims October 24 to return on November 4, we are encouraging early registration for the Advent Retreat. If you register in the next two weeks, the fee for early registration is $100. After October 1, the normal fee will be $120. However, if you bring new people to the Advent Retreat, the welcome fee for any new attendees (and for you) will be $90. The cutoff date for registrations is November 25. Contact our volunteer registrar Melodee Cook ( ) for more details.

There now. Just one short thought. Early this morning, I was working through my prayer journal, and then I turned off the lights, went back to bed and just stayed in silence before the Lord. I heard that still, small voice, which over the years has become so familiar: You’re planning more than you’re praying. ‘Nuff said, right? So I spent the next hour worshiping Him, taking time to remind myself of how much He has helped me, of how present and perfect He has been, of choosing not to worry about the finances, but to confidently do my share of the work of raising funds by trusting. Then I lifted up all these projects to give back into His hands.

How about you? How’s your planning/praying ratio? It’s a job, isn’t it, keeping it all in balance.

“Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You;
Let such as love Your salvation say continually,
‘The Lord be magnified!’
But I am poor and needy;
Yet the Lord thinks upon me.” —
Psalm 40:16-17a.

Karen Mains

GOAL: 600 Global Bag Ladies Project shopping bags
to be sold

 600 bags @ an average of $20 margin each = an estimated $12,000
-103 bags already sold = $1,450 toward our goal.                                       
Goal to Go: 497 bags = $10,550 (!)

Have you considered giving GBLP tote bags as gifts? One of these shopping bags was recently purchased "in honor of" a person being celebrated, who really appreciated the donation in their name and the purpose of the GBLP bag. Other suggestions have been to fill a GBLP tote bag with shower gift items for an upcoming wedding, give these bags as Christmas gifts, or purchase several as favors for a women's retreat.

To receive your own Global Bag Ladies Project tote bags, click on this GBLP Purchase Order, print it off, fill it out and send it with a check made out to Hungry Souls/GBLP for $20-$50 to Box 30, Wheaton, IL 60187.


The Soulish Food e-mails are being posted bi-weekly on the Hungry Souls Web site. Newcomers can look that over and decide if they want to register on the Web site to receive the bi-weekly newsletter. You might want to recommend this to friends also. They can go to

Karen Mains

Karen Mains

"I heard that still, small voice, which over the years has become so familiar: You’re planning more than you’re praying."
Sacred Listening

Sacred Listening: Discovering the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola
by James Wakefield

I’ve been going through this book as a discipline in listening to Scripture, using an adaptation of the spiritual exercises of Ignatius of Loyola. Wakefield is a Protestant minister and seminary professor who has designed this participatory daily meditation and journaling exercise to introduce people like myself to the Ignatian Exercises, which usually are conducted in a month-long retreat under the supervision of a trained director. Some people think the Exercises are “rigorous” but I’m wondering if they don’t mean that the impact that occurs after a time of being intensely concentrated in prayer on the Scriptures and in the accountability relationship with a director isn’t “thorough”!

Buy from Amazon

Comments from Listening Group Members

“The biggest gift from being in a Listening Group was in the area of relationships. I discovered the value of listening without having to have solutions and advice to give to other people. It was such a freedom!”

“I’ve never had such a rapid spiritual growth curve in my entire life. Somehow just making this small monthly place for God has allowed me to be more conscious of Him in all my life.”

“Before the Listening Group experience, I would have been a basket case over an adult child turning from faith. Now I believe that I can trust God to work. It is like a partnership between God and myself. Learning to trust God to work in the lives of other group members has made this possible. I always met with God in the Listening Groups.”

“One thing I noticed was the freedom I felt, learning how to ‘unpack or unstuff,’ to deal with the emotional needs of my soul and mind that have lingered for awhile; not just recognizing it and calling it out, but spending time with it, truly asking for God’s help very specifically and being vulnerable to His healing Presence. This has helped me to come to Him more in prayer in a deeper, more specific way.”

“The Listening Group was beneficial for me because it was like an ‘oral journal’ in which I could hear myself talk about my specific information. The same day and the next few days following the group, I would feel convicted about some things. I feel it is from the Holy Spirit and a result of prayers from my group.”

“Because of my past, being divorced and a single mom, I never felt as though I was welcome with married women. But since everyone else in my Listening Group was married, and they were dealing with real-life stuff, I felt included and a part of them. It was very healing.”

“Because, even in my family of origin, I was never heard, to be listened to so deeply and to be allowed to reach my deepest pain—I used a lot of Karen’s boxes of tissues—I began to find a resource in me that was filling and becoming strong. I am sure I found my job because of being in this group. I never believed I was worthy of a good job. But this is a perfect match for me. Thank you for listening.”

“I thought I was a good listener, but I discovered I really wasn’t. I think I’m really improving as a listener, and a questioner, because of the months in the Listening Group.”

“The biggest change was becoming much more aware of myself and more understanding of my own thinking and my emotional life so I could get to a place where I was ready to find and marry my husband. I can’t fully articulate how that happened, but it seems like I was so out of touch with myself (including some significant anxiety… ) that I couldn’t possibly feel comfortable enough to be in a significant relationship with someone or to marry him.”

Copyright 2006-2008 Mainstay Ministries. All rights reserved.

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