The first seed catalog arrived in the mail last week—Jackson & Perkins—with its promise of spring and tantalizing photos of lush roses and flowering plants. “Always & Forever” is the 2011 Rose of the Year, the copy announces. The catalog reads:
The truth is this: Spring growing seasons always begin in the middle of winter. When the world is most frozen, when dark days outnumber sunny ones, when sunrise doesn’t occur until after 7 o’clock in the morning, and when day end rolls down the shade around 4:30. We northerners have no idea what is greening up under the snow, what root is spiraling down, what fresh, hardy, obstinate, insistent life is making its place in the earth.
My daughter gave me the recipe for mojitos, which required fresh mint to be pureed in a blender. We had one amazing 24-hour period last week where the Chicago temperature soared to 56 degrees—everything melted—the snow, the ice on the driveway on the north side of our house—and lo and behold, during the last days of December 2010 our yard looked and felt like spring. Narcissus spears were spiking, the leaves of spring plants were verdant—and lo and behold! the mint plants by the back yard were sending out shoots. I clipped enough to juice about ¼ cup of mint extract.
In my office, above my desk, Danielle Crilly’s painting Growing Season greets me each time I sit at the computer. It is vibrant with color, abstract so that I am not hit with representational figures, and I can rest my eyes from the monitor at which I work for hours at a time.
Growing Season by Danielle Crilly
I also have been thinking a lot about growing spaces, those places in our lives, often transitional in their nature, that force us to change, stretch, become, and send shoots upward and roots below. Often it is in the winter of our lives that much unseen growth occurs.
Hungry Souls has been in existence for ten years—our goal in beginning this branch of Mainstay Ministries was to create a mentoring website for people hungering for God in ways that cannot be satisfied by their present spiritual environment. This year we will begin to make the Hungry Souls website more interactive; my husband David and I are planning a weekly podcast and we will team more on Hungry Souls than we have done in the past.
Hopefully this means that I will be able to concentrate on writing out the remarkable lessons that have been learned in the past nine years—thanks to many of you who have so eagerly participated with us in these laboratory growth events.
Here are the growth opportunities that are ahead.
A Hospitality Emphasis
Sometime this last year, I found myself praying, “Oh, Lord, give me a chance with what life is left to me to take a shot at helping to create truly hospitable churches!” I wasn’t surprised (but I was thrilled) when a large church nearby asked me to come teach on “the theology of hospitality.” I counter-offered (embarrassed myself by begging, really) and asked them to take up the challenge of determining what a hospitable church would do and look like, and to let me work alongside the staff and their lay teams for as long as it took to determine the answer to this. They were thrilled. I was thrilled. And we’ll see what God does. This focus, consequently, will be part of the “growing season” for Hungry Souls.
I am passionate about this spiritual gift and extremely concerned by the fact that the church is apparently losing its edge with this powerful tool.
Listening Groups Start in February—last call
I am in the process of gathering material to put together a book on Listening Groups and would love to journey for eight months this year, from February through September, with people who wish training as Listening Group leaders. This will keep my mind in the Listening Group mode and in dialogue with people who feel strongly about this spiritual exercise.
My covenant is to have the first draft of the book written by September 2011, and I will hand out the book chapter by chapter (one a month) to members of these current listening groups for their input, until we run out of months.
As usual, the groups will consist of 3-4 members; we will meet once a month at my home in West Chicago, IL. The meetings will last 2.5 hours but will include training, hands-on activity with each participant taking turns leading the group. I am a small-group specialist, certified by the RIVA Training Institute as a focus-group moderator. We will be using the PLA (Participatory Learning in Action) approach for adult learners.
The fee for this 8-month journey is $125. If you are interested, contact me at Mainstay Ministries at email@example.com.
Healing-Prayer Training (last minute notice)
One of the fascinating studies I’ve made through the years of my life is inner healing prayer. Margaret Webb, a long-term friend and a clinical counselor in the western Chicago suburbs, and a long term friend, has also taken training in the most current thinking on this concept. This is an e-mail Margaret sent to me to notify us of this training:
Here are the details (but you are going to have to act ASAP to see if there is still room).
This is a Partnership Initiative. In the future, Hungry Souls will be collaborating with various groups who hold to similar missions.
My blog, Thoughts by Karen Mains, is being loaded with all kinds of material from the book, Open Heart Open Home. Dean Wilson, our colleague in Erie, PA is patiently building the blog archives to that all-but-magical number, 200, when the search engines start kicking in and noticing your blog activity.
At that point, sometime mid-April, I will begin starting a blog emphasizing The God Hunt, the spiritual game David and I developed to teach our grade-school-age children how to find God in the everyday. We will be inviting readers to record their God Hunt Sightings so this will be an interactive witness to the ways God intervenes in our lives.
For those who have not established this discipline, or who care to develop it more, or who wish to introduce their children to the concept, we can offer copies of my book, The God Hunt, at $10 each (autographed, of course) plus postage and handling. This hard-cover book retails at $14.95.
In addition, the delightful children’s illustrated companion, I Spy God: A God Hunt Book for Kids (grade 3-6), retails for $7.00 but we are happy to make the available for your kids or grandkids for $3.00 each plus postage and handling. These are great for family devotions, for a Sunday School class. The kids’ soft-cover books are not available through any outlet other than Mainstay Ministries.
I Spy God: A God Hunt Book for Kids
Nothing is more growth-provoking than travel. Hungry Souls is partnering with Doug and Melissa Timberlake of the Growth Edge Group to design a learning pilgrimage to Africa. We will be visiting Kenya, meeting with the leaders of the Global Bag Project, visiting with many of our colleagues in their homes, staying in the Guest House at Africa International University where the GBP has its offices and rents the sewing center. Yes, we will take a safari and camp in tents at the safari resort Kichwa Tembo, boat among the hippopotami on Lake Naivashai, watch sunrise over the savanna, eat under the stars. We will meet folk in displaced person camps. But most of all we consider the questions that the remarkable contrasts between the two cultures impose. This will be a mixed group of men and women, some faith-based and others not. We guarantee that your journey to Africa will be intriguing, challenging, disquieting, stretching and thrilling. You will fall in love with the continent—and its people.
Dates are July 31—August 7. Want to see what you don’t want to miss? Click here for this video link which will then take you to the Growth Edge Group Web site for more details, pricing, payment schedules, and on-line registration. Click here to follow this link.
This is a Partnership Initiative.
Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada, July 11-16.
Growth Edge Group will also be partnering with Hungry Souls in order to sponsor the annual trek to the Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada. The Mains family has been traveling to this exquisite cultural experience for the last 37 years. Think of one of the loveliest moments you have ever seen in a movie theatre; combine that with a musical event so beautiful you were brought to tears; think of a time when you said to yourself, Oh, thank God that I was here, in this place, at this very moment. Remember when you had such a stretching discussion you kept thinking about it for days. Recollect a time when you laughed and you cried, you sang and you danced.
This is the Stratford Festival—one of life’s “must-do” moments. We promise you will not be disappointed. Details, prices, schedule, and registration are on the Growth Edge Group link. Please click here to follow this link.
This is a Partnership Initiative.
The Soulish Food e-mails are being 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.
“Hungry Souls has been in existence for ten years—our goal in beginning this branch of Mainstay Ministries was to create a mentoring website for people hungering for God in ways that cannot be satisfied by their present spiritual environment. This year we will begin to make the Hungry Souls website more interactive; my husband David and I are planning a weekly podcast and we will team more on Hungry Souls than we have done in the past. ”
The God Hunt
The God Hunt: The Delightful Chase and the Wonder of Being Found.
If you are going to walk with Karen, beginning in April, as she blogs about her God Hunt Sightings, and if you have any grade-school kids you want to take along, you will want to have copies of the books, The God Hunt and I Spy God: A God Hunt Book for Kids.
John Ortberg writes: “I just had the pleasure of getting to read the manuscript of The God Hunt. It is fabulous—thoughtful, literate, well-informed, practical, and carefully expressed. It will have a great ministry. Thanks for the chance to read it.”
Finding God incognito in the world … is delight. It is joy. It is wonder. It is a childlike, wiggling anticipation that somewhere, any moment, just around the next corner, when you least expect it, the Divine is going to jump out … and you are going to respond, “GOTCHA!”
Join Karen Mains on the God Hunt—a playful and profound way to seek and find those seemingly ordinary moments when God intervenes in your life with guidance, care and help. You’ll find such moments happen more often than you think! And you’ll be drawn into deeper communion with God as you tune in to the many ways he answers prayer, shows evidence of his love, helps you do his work in the world and “works all things together for good.”
If you order a copy (paperback) from Hungry Souls for $10.00 plus $3.95 shipping and handling, Karen will gladly autograph your copy.
You may make your check payable to “Hungry Souls” and mail it to:
Or, you may send your order and contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org.