once in a while since we had a new kitchen stove installed seven years
ago, I’ve thought, I
really need to pull that out and clean behind it.
This thought became increasingly pervasive as I noticed the dried
spills that were clogging the quarter-inch opening between the enamel
side of the stove and the wooden baking cupboard beside it.
one morning, after Christmas week, the New Year now unfolding with all
its possibilities before me, I looked at the kitchen stove and thought,
I should use this
morning to clean up
that mess. David is home; he can help pull it out. I don’t have
anything on the schedule for this day. How long will it take? An hour?
Obviously, the time is at hand.
And sure enough, we
pulled the stove out from the wall. The dirt and dried drippings behind
and beside and underneath were as bad as I’d imagined they’d be. I
contortioned my body to climb over the gas connector, wedged my tummy
past the pan-storage cupboard, climbed back out to get a pan of soapy
water, and with the aid of my spray jar of Greased Lightning, I began
scrubbing down the adjoining cupboard walls, the overhead ventilator
fan, the oven backside, and finally the filthy, dirty floor (my vacuum
had been of little help since most of the dirt was caked to whatever
surface I was scrubbing).
task was complicated by the fact that this fall, my computer-desk cords
finally grabbed my ankle, tripped me and sent me sprawling face-down,
banging my knee hard as I landed. So I’ve been nursing a bum joint,
which sometimes negotiates stair-climbing just fine and other days
decides that I’m going to take them a baby step at a time. This day,
bending and kneeling and hauling that knee behind the stove aggravated
my injury, and I could tell I would be heading back to CURVES
religiously to get the exercise I needed to strengthen the muscles
designed by God to hold that knee joint in alignment.
finally—about an hour and a half later—the filth beside, under and
behind the stove was vanquished. We were sanitized again. I probably
won’t think I really
need to pull that out and clean behind it
for another seven years. But the job is done. It feels good. I take a
special housewifely pride in the fact that I know it is clean. And
David even jumped on the sterilizing bandwagon that morning and cleaned
out the refrigerator (which I HATE to do and count on him to accomplish
during those times when he’s in the kitchen talking on the phone)! What
a great way to start a New Year.
cleaning adventures like this always make me wonder: Why is
it so hard for me to do the things at hand that I know I should do?
Do you have any ideas? I went around positively crowing when I cleaned
and organized the attic. What a sense of accomplishment I felt when we
parked the car in the garage for the first time in two years (since I
now had room in the attic for all those boxes that had been waiting to
be shoved up the metal stairs and stored away).
I am still
decorating portions of the house for Christmas (don’t even try to
figure it out—I know some of you have torn everything down and have all
the holiday stuff stored in marked boxes). But this year, I am loving
what has happened with the decorating. I had time to use all the
after-Christmas-sale stuff that I found in those boxes I organized in
the attic—Spring and Summer Decorations, southeast corner; Fall
Decorations, south wall; Christmas decorations, whole north side. This
year, I want to take photos with the cheap digital camera Office Depot
sent along with a Mainstay office supply order over $250. The idea is
to pack everything away according to its usage (wreaths for hall doors
and stairway draperies, for instance), take photos and put them in a
Christmas decorating journal. That way, in case of early-onset
Alzheimer’s, I can read the journal, look at the photos and get the
house decorated next year with minimal memory-anxiety. (I don’t think
this is the way cognitive dementia works, but it is a comforting
I’ve made a
rule of thumb for this New Year: If it is on your mind to do it, DO IT!
Jesus said, “No one
who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the
kingdom of God”
(Luke 9:26, NIV). Now, I’m smart enough to know He was not referring to
odorous tasks like scrubbing behind the stove or cleaning out the
attic. This text relates more to advancing the Kingdom of God in the
world. But in another sense, when we are faithful in the small,
unpleasant details of daily living, we develop the discipline to be
faithful in the large, life-forming habits of daily discipleship.
Keeping a clean house, ordering the Christmas decorating systems,
clearing off the office desk are all practice sessions (as long as they
don’t become so obsessive that we can’t get to discipleship issues
we have one more thing to clean up, one more thing before we finish the
whole to-do list; obviously, this is not my problem).
that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and
he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much” (Luke 16:10, KJV). The
little is prelude to the large.
So—take a little time over the next week and notice how often you
think, I really should…
Ask yourself: “Do I need to set my hand to the plow and not look back?
How am I developing unfaithfulness
doing the little (annoying, unpleasant, interrupting, messy, filthy)
things that are at hand to do?” And then, guess what?—DO IT.
I bet I’m not the only person on Earth who needs to discover “what’s
behind the kitchen stove?”
ACCELERATED, MEASURABLE SPIRITUAL-GROWTH OPPORTUNITIES
Look the following 2010 growth opportunities over
and see if there is anything here that is something the Holy Spirit is
nudging you to do today.
Wannabe (Better) Writers: Personal Memoir Writing
Registration Deadline is January
Karen Mains tested this teleconference mentoring training for writers
last year and found it such a joyful enterprise for her and seemingly
profitable for the six writers (with various publishing experiences),
who met via phone for one hour twice a month, that she is offering it
as a major outreach for eight months, from Feb. 18 through Oct. 28,
(with a break in August.)
The writers will meet via teleconference calls on the second and fourth
Thursday of each month at 7:00 p.m., Central Standard Time. The cost is
$40 a month ($20 for each conference call, including three manuscript
evaluations—works in progress—or a lump sum fee of $320). If you are
interested in looking over the curriculum for the 16 teleconference
calls, the prerequisites for attending, and further details as to the
goals of the training, click this link: http://www.hungrysouls.org/events.php.
if you wish to
register. You must set up your payment
schedule by January 31, since you need to e-mail some work to Karen by
the first teleconference call on February 18, 2010.
A couple distance-learning advisors have commented that no one is doing
this kind of long-term mentoring at this price—but this eight-month
learning curve is deliberately designed to give adult learners enough
time to integrate what they are learning into their writing attempts.
We have room for 12 participants.
“Listen to My Life Mapping” Listening Group
This is the only Listening
Group Hungry Souls will offer in 2010 since the plan is to finish
gathering data, organize our findings, do a better job of training
Listening Group Leaders, and begin publishing articles and books about
the Listening Group experience.
The Listen to My Life
Mapping Listening Group will run for 8 months, from
February to October 2010. We will begin with an introductory and
get-acquainted session, work on one map per month on our own, then
debrief that journey by using the Listening Group architecture
(listening in silence to one another, responding only through asking
questions). The groups will be 3-4 people in size, will take 2.5 hours
once a month, and will meet in safe and comfortable homes. We predict
that this self-reflective tool, which has been tested nationally and is
beginning to be used internationally, will give you a unique
opportunity to see how your life story intersects with God’s story. The
fee for the Listen to
My Life workbook is $35. If you want to register interest
or have other questions, contact Sharon Swing at
More information can be obtained by visiting the Web site,
Three-Day Retreats of Silence
Hungry Souls spent
last spring working with a group of retreat leaders to
develop the schedule for 3-Day Retreats of Silence. We are
offer two 3-Day Retreats of Silence in 2010.
The first, held at the lovely St. Mary’s Monastery in Rock Island,
Illinois (about a 2.5-hour drive from Chicago’s western suburbs) will
be April 18-21. This is for women only. The cost is $225 for a single
room (with bath). Karen Franzen and Brenna Jones will be leading this
Karen Franzen is the Executive Pastor for Willow Creek McHenry County
Church. She is responsible for training and development of the staff
team as well as overseeing the day-to-day running of the church. Prior
to her joining the Willow Creek staff 10 years ago, Karen taught at
Northern Illinois University and counseled individuals, couples and
families at Kairos Family Center in Elgin. Brenna Jones is a spiritual
director, retreat leader and teacher trained through the Christos
Center for Spiritual Formation. She has graduate training in biblical
and theological studies and leads an active ministry of discipleship
and support for women. She and her husband Stan are coauthors of God’s Design for Sex,
a resource series for family sex education published by NavPress. Registration
deadline is February 28.
A weekend retreat of silence will be offered for men and women and will
be led by Gay and Tom Patten. The dates for this are September 10-12.
This is also being held at St. Mary’s Monastery in Rock, Island. More
details to follow.
We have room for ten retreatants at each retreat. If you want to make
sure to reserve a space, contact Susan Hands at
Be warned: We have a waiting list, so you will want to get your name in
Recovering Your Inner Child
Several years ago, Hungry Souls
offered a small-group venture into the drawing and writing techniques
offered by Dr. Lucia Capacchione in her workbook Recovery of Your Inner Child:
The Highly Acclaimed Method of Liberating Your Inner Self.
By request, we have been asked to revisit this and will do so
during the months of March and April, meeting once a week for
two hours in the Mainses’ home. We gather, enter into quiet and prayer,
then work on the workbook as individuals in different rooms. After an
hour or so, we reconvene to share in an informal, listening way,
what we have learned (or encountered) in our time of working solitude.
Susan Garrison, LCSW, is joining a practice in West Chicago and will be
co-leading this journey with Karen Mains. The fee for the course is
$75, which includes the price of the workbook. We are planning day
sessions, Thursdays at 10:00 a.m. but can make room for one evening
session. If you are interested, let Karen know at
. We have a waiting list but have room for a few more.
GROWTH OPPORTUNITIES NOW IN DEVELOPMENT
have been crucial in developing the growth tools offered by Hungry
Souls. The Listening Groups, the Retreats of Silence, the Global Bag
Project, and now major adult distance-learning programs have all and
are all being developed by capable volunteers. If you would like to be
a part of the teams exploring and creating any of the following growth
programs, we would love to have you join us. Inquire of Karen Mains at
Many of you have told us, “I’d
love to be a retreat leader.” In answer to this desire, and because of
the need for spiritually mature and discerning leaders, 12 of us spent
part of this last year designing a curriculum we feel retreat leaders
need in order to be effective in their roles. We would like to launch a
two-day training event this spring at the Mainstay Ministries teaching
center in West Chicago. This will be videotaped so we can build it into
Webinar training on the Hungry Souls Web site. The cost for the two-day
training is $150/person. Group discounts are given if more than three
people from one church attend. If you are interested, please register
intent to attend so we can get a head count (actual registration will
come later). E-mail Susan Hands at
will provide a training agenda later in the year, as well as
details as to date and times.
Global Bag Project
After a successful pre-holiday
home sales effort, the Global
Bag Project is developing a template for
Bag Parties in a
Box, which we are planning to ship all around the
country. We know the pre-Christmas parties are hugely successful, but
how can we develop home parties that achieve as much income per guest
(sometimes as much as $135 per individual attendee) for the rest of the
year? Could you hold a party in February, March or April?
We need to sell 40 bags a week to underwrite our commitments to
bag-producers in Africa as we work with the Kenyan model as our primary
location with the hope that we will become so glitch-free we can use it
to replicate other bag-producing models in other impoverished
countries. Contact Global
Bag Project Director Carla Boelkens at
Play for the Play-Deprived
Some of us, sorry to say, just
don’t play very well. We either never learned to play or we’ve
forgotten how! And yet, scientists are discovering that play is an
essential part of well-being, reaping huge benefits spiritually,
physically and relationally when we practice it.
Sue Higgins, spiritual director, and Karen Mains will be experimenting
with play (some of it outrageous) in the days ahead. We will be using
the book Play: How It
Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul
by Stuart Brown, M.D. As soon as you are interested, let Karen know.
When we have four to five at a minimum ready to read the book, mark
passages for discussion, take the “play history” provided, and
determine your play type, then we will gather. Let Karen Mains know at
or Sue Higgins at
Our initial thinking is to design a once-a-month Play Date out of these
discussions. We are embarking on a journey of discovery with one
another and with God, for the sake of improving our own play capacities
certainly, but also of coming closer to the Almighty, who it seems, has
genetically designed humans, more than any other of His creatures, for
What is at hand out of this list for you to do? Are you going to DO IT?
The Soulish Food e-mails are
posted biweekly 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 biweekly newsletter. You might
want to recommend this to friends also. They can go to www.HungrySouls.org.
"Jesus said, 'No one who puts his
hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of
Now, He was not referring to odorous tasks like scrubbing behind the
stove or cleaning out the attic. This text relates more to advancing
the Kingdom of God in the world. But in another sense, when we are
faithful in the small, unpleasant details of daily living, we develop
the discipline to be faithful in the large, life-forming habits of
The Help By Kathryn Stockett
is a book that
attempts to raise the consciousness on black/white relationships in the
South during the ‘50s and ‘60s. Kathryn Stockett, a white Southerner,
attempts to enter the world of two black domestic workers in order to
slice life finely during that time in U.S. history. The book is set in
Jackson, Mississippi. What is amazing about this book is the discussion
it is evoking in the reading public and it has bumped onto The New York Times
bestseller list—a surprise to many—particularly its author, who was
raised in Jackson. Michelle Norris at NPR interviewed
Kathryn Stockett on the show All
Things Considered. Read the book, go
to the Web site for NPR, listen to the interview, and then
read the comments that follow in
response to the radio interview. Having worked for ten years in the
inner city of Chicago during the ‘60s and ‘70s, I found them to be a
microcosm of the discussions, all learning and stretching and most
dismaying, that we experienced during those days. This is a good book,
well-written, from a white woman trying to get into the shoes of black
women in a certain period of our U.S. history. Do you think she is
In the interview, Norris—who is writing a book
on the hidden dialogue between the races in the States—asks Stockett
about the response of the people of Jackson to her book. Stockett
replies, “Well, many of the white folk are distressed that I didn’t
emphasize the love between white families and the domestics who helped
to raise their children [this is not a quote but my paraphrase], but I
have never had any black people complain of that to me about this
book.” And in that comment lies the clue to differing worldviews.