Morphing the Blog

Gwen and I have decided, together, to morph this blog. We’re going to be doing some significant changes in upcoming days and weeks. And the most important is that we’re going to enter entries together. Both of us will be writing on this blog and the focus of our writing and musings will be our own interaction with the topic and themes in my new book, The Jesus Life: Eight Ways to Re-discover Authentic Christianity.”

Why are we doing this? We’re doing this for three main reasons. Both of us want to desperately live–The Jesus Life. We’re tired of the church life, the busy life, the American life and more. In the book I explore how to return to the life Jesus described and offered–the abundant life. That’s the life we want. Second, Gwen’s gotten so much favorable feedback from her writing on her Caringbridge.org site, (her recovery from major back surgery) that we felt this would be a great outlet and spiritual practice to just write, share our thoughts and encourage our on-line village of friends and companions to journey with us into The Jesus Life. Third, we’re doing this because we want to invite you into the life we are leaning into. We want to discuss, dialogue and divulge our heart with you as we interact with the most important and some of the most neglected themes of our times. In The Jesus Life, we’re going to explore some of the content of the book; give you excerpts BEFORE the book is published and ideas on how to integrate what is shared. It will be personal. It will be real. It will be heart-felt. And it will be from both of our perspectives–male and female; husband and wife, father and mother, son and daughter of God and fellow pilgrims on this long arduous journey home.

So, after some significant changes to our blog in the new week, we’ll be up and running. I hope you’ll spread the word!

We hope you’ll “subscribe” to the blog and share this with your friends. We hope you’ll consider journeying with us together as we embark on this new chapter of our life, marriage, work and family!

Blessings,

Steve

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The State of My Soul In Helping Others With Their Souls

A medical confession…. A soul confession… a pilgrim’s plea for help.

In about an hour, Gwen and I are going for an appointment with a psychiatrist that we have come to know; trust; and open our own hearts to. It’s one of the ways we’ve found to get perspective; feedback and evaluate our own work with others in the care of the soul work we do. Why are we doing this? Sometimes, the work we do gets dark; confusing and makes us throw up our hands and say, “What do we know about all of this anyway? We’re not medical doctors. We’re not shrinks. We’re just two people who want to love people into health, real life and spiritual transformation.”

One of the other reasons we are doing this is to compare notes. I simply need to process with someone who is in the know about such things that I am not. This will not be the first time we are choosing to do this. We’ve done it when we’ve been so perplexed; so dumbfounded; so confused and so weary ourselves from simply trying to help. It’s really about our care; our souls seeking solace; our doubts being addressed; our lies being de-bunked that we come to believe about ourselves when we hit a wall.

So, in about an hour, we’ll be going to the shrink! I’m kind of looking forward to it more than I can really express here.

I have come to the conclusion that the Christian church is in the dark about mental illness. We sweep under the carpet the bruises, nicks and wounds that have simply messed up our lives. We are afraid to talk about depression; mood swings, manic living and confusing thoughts that bombard us in the night or even when we try to be quiet and get silent before God–before one another. We push people to the Bible but sometimes not into the light. In the dark, these wounds fester and grow like dragons seeking to flame us out of the life we most want to live. Most of us know so little and we excuse behavior and actions by folks around us by a number of different reasons when actually, the reason why some of us act so weird and bizarre is that we could just be a little bit sick in the head as well as sick in the heart. I simply do not want to be in that number. I want to know more. I want the truth to set me free, don’t you? Problem is, some of us simply cannot find the truth for ourselves because we have believed the lies for too long.

It actually feels good to have established a relationship with our “shrink” to help us work better; know more and understand our own boundaries in offering soul care. To be honest, some of us are pretty wounded. We have neglected our wounds for so long that for some of us, the disease and “dis-ease” has gone systemic and infected every relationship around us. We are robbed of joy. We are falling into a victim status thinking that “there’s nothing I can really do to get myself out of this mess.’ We are settling for a life that is so much less than the ‘abundant life’ promised to us by Jesus.

The last time I went for an appointment like this, we walked out with our heads feeling clear; our hearts feeling humbled to be called into the sacred work of soul care and our cadence a bit restored from having the wind knocked out of us.

I’m Going To Look for Jesus… in the wilderness

I’ve been outside each morning for the past five mornings up at our retreat. This image shows what I’ve been able to sit in. The Aspens are turning gold. The sun has been shining bright. The air has been warm. One could not ask for a better fall here in Colorado.

Yet, like the leaves, I feel something inside of me is changing. Something feels like it is dying. As I reflect back on this past year, it’s been a hard press. I have written a book (Soul Custody); been focused on the entire transformation of the barn to morph into becoming a 14 year long vision of having an “Inn” for people to come who are worn out, tired and burned out on religion. I’ve led several dozen retreats and met with scores of people. It’s time for me to take a break. Take a break to look for Jesus. Go into the wilderness so that I might find him.

But these golden Aspens reveal a deeper secret I have within me. As much as I have tried to advocate for; be passionate about and help others to experience–I have to admit, I’m wrestling inside about some things that are just plain, making me tired.

The scared bark of our beloved Aspens show the wounds where elk, deer and other critters have come to rub themselves against this precious bark. The bark, like my soul has grown weary with a few wounds to prove it.

I am going on a respite. It’s much deserved but as this day of departure looms for me to pack my bags and go into the wilderness for a three week journey, I feel everything inside of me saying: “Don’t go. You have too much to do. It’s  not the right time.”  And I listen for a while to those old voices which I know all too well and I know that they are speaking to me lies. Lies to make me sign up again; stay for another card in the game and go for one more ride around the ring.  When I feel tired…life and almost everyone and everything looks tired also.

I read the lyrics to an old Black gospel song which simply says, “If you want to find Jesus, you gotta go into the wilderness.” I’ve sat with that song now for about a month since discovering it. I’ve realized how true the song really is when friends fail you; church seems like nothing but a programming machine and the idea of ‘community’ has never seemed farther away. I need to go into the wilderness. It’s time.

For three weeks, Gwen and I will be in Alaska. I’ve never been–but always wanted to go. I am going into the wilderness. I’m not going on a cruise. I’m not going with a tour. It’s just me and my companion now of 30 years. Together, we are going to fly in; rent a car and get as lost as we can get for three weeks.

At the end of these three weeks, I’ll be with 20 pastors and spouses up in the tundra of Alaska…in a place so remote that the only access is to be flown in on a plane. There’s no electricity. There are few cars. And I just heard that the daily diet of most of the folks I’ll be working with is whale blubber. I’ve never eaten whale blubber. It doesn’t sound too good right now. They are living in the wilderness and I wonder here if they might know something I need to know…about Jesus and the wilderness. I’ll be anxious to find out.

I’m taking a few books. A pair of binoculars. Some rain gear and we’re off. I’m going into the wilderness. I’m going into beauty–about the last sacred thing on earth that can revive a person’s soul I think. I’m going into the wilderness to look for Jesus.

SWS

Download Chapter One – Soul Custody

We’re in trouble.  We need help. The once upon a time American Dream has turned into an all too real nightmare that sears our minds as we try and sleep. Life is not working as we think it should

Look around you.  Listen.  You can feel it.  It’s the violence.

News updates inform us every single day that our world is in trouble. Domestic violence is up; gang violence is out of control in many communities; sexual abuse against children is rising; drug abuse and prescription abuse are rampan…

Read the entire first chapter here.
Order the book here.