Friday, January 29, 2010

Recovering Your Inner Child

?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, *
Wannabe (Better) Writers: Registration Deadline is Jan 31st! Email us at to register. More info at
Read "What's Behind Your Kitchen Stove?" by Karen Mains and sign-up for Soulish Food, eNewsletter for the Hungry Souls

Friday, January 22, 2010

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 planning to offer two 3-Day Retreats of Silence in 2010.

Retreat of Silence One.
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 women’s retreat.

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.

Retreat of Silence Two.
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 early.

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 play!

What is at hand out of this list for you to do? Are you going to DO IT?

Karen Mains is beginning an eight-month, twice-a-month writer’s mentoring program in Personal Memoir Writing. We will be using teleconferencing as our distance learning tool. The program begins Thursday, February 18 at 7:00 Central Standard Time. For details, curriculum and cost go to Find the writer’s mentoring announcement and click on the link provided. The sign-up deadline is January 31. To register contact

Thursday, January 21, 2010

New Post: Falling Up: The tangle of computer cords under my desk kept grabbing at my foot when I left ..

Thursday, January 14, 2010

New Post: Red Bird on Snow: We have been snowbound here in the Chicago area for the last three months,..

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Last day of registration for the Wannabe Better Writers is on Jan 15, join now!

Wanna Be a Wannabe?

Barbara Henry leaned across the coffee and scones at the breakfast table of Legacy House, the B&B where we were lodging at Stratford for this past summer's Shakespeare Festival. Hearing remarkable stories has been one of the great gifts David and I have received in nearly five decades of ministry. Barb's certainly was one of them.

At age 41, Barb decided she would like to take up the clarinet lessons she had abandoned as a child. She remembered that in the fifth grade one of her music teachers encouraged what he felt was a natural talent. But was she too old to start music lessons again? Was this a silly whim?

Just as she was wrestling with this decision, Barb told how she happened to be listening to a call-in program on a local Christian radio station. Two well-known counselors took the call of another woman with a similar dilemma. This woman's son had said, "Mom, you're too old to get a master's degree."

"How old are you?" asked one of the men.

"Oh, I'm 56."

"Well, there's only one thing I can think of to tell you. You're going to turn 60 no matter what. Do you want to turn 60 with a degree or without one?"

Barbara said that question just stuck with her. She was going to turn 50 one way or the other. Did she want to become 50 having gained nine years of instrumental proficiency or none?

Barb phoned the local public school's music director, and he recommended a clarinet instructor. But on contacting him, she learned that he was retiring and not available to give lessons. Calling the music director back, she informed him of this roadblock. "I guess my second choice of instrument would be the bassoon." He gave her the name of a bassoon teacher and told her that she could rent a school instrument for the rest of the summer for $5.00.

This teacher said to her, "You know, Barb, the only way to really play a band instrument is to be part a band." Upon the start of that school year, Barb's daughter was in the sixth grade, playing clarinet in a local Christian school. So Mrs. Henry, age 41, joined the sixth grade band and played with that class through junior high until they graduated to go into high school. At this point, she felt ready to join an adult band.

This is the story of how Barbara Henry learned to play the bassoon. She turned 50, as she knew she would, with nine years of developed proficiency behind her. Today, Barb is 55, and she plays professionally with the Midland Concert Band, in Midland, Michigan, in addition to other musical venues. "I even get paid for what I do!" she laughed. And now Barb has students of her own.

I've found myself asking this question of myself. You know, in six years you will turn 70. Nothing but death can prevent that from happening. Do you want to turn 70 with a novel written or do you want to turn 70 without a novel written? Do you want to turn 70 still 15 pounds heavier than your weight goal and weakening from lack of physical exercise, or do you want to turn 70 a svelte 145 pounds and as healthy as possible?

The Hungry Souls Advent Retreat committee is building this year's Retreat of Silence around the Scripture from Ephesians 1:11, "Moreover, because of what Christ has done we have become gifts to God that he delights in." Do you know that joyful feeling you receive when a child or student develops some proficiency? "Hey, look at me!" they shout, riding that two-wheeler alone for the first time. "Hey! I got an A in math!" You feel joy in their joy-filled accomplishments. God takes that same delight in you when you, "through Christ's help," as Barb emphasizes, also begin to shout, "Hey, look at me! I got that master's degree." Or,"I learned to play the bassoon!"

This is pretty terrific stuff. Don't just wanna be a wannabe. Name a goal--a wannabe dream that with persistence, determination and the help of God you can achieve. (Yes, you can.) Put your information in the following blanks. I will be _____ on my next decade birthday. This is going to happen, barring some life-ending disaster. Do I want to turn _____ having _______________, or do I want to turn _____ without having _______________?

"What would you have missed if you hadn't paid attention to this inner desire?" I asked Barb. "Oh," she sighed. "So much. So much." She went on to tell me about the little girl at a camp for severely abused and deprived children. "Some of these little girls had never even worn dresses, and we gave them a fancy dress-up 'princess' banquet. A friend and I played Bach's Third Cello Suite, A Movement from Bourrée (bassoons can play cello parts). This one little girl came up to me and with dreamy eyes said, 'No one has ever done anything like this for me.'"

"You know," Barb continued, "Christ always asks you to do things that are bigger than what you can do. I've not only learned to play the bassoon, but now, before performing, I've gone from terror-nervous to nervous-nervous! That is progress—and it's all with His help!"

Take a little time to think: What remarkable nativity, some accomplishment that is bigger than what you can do, is pressing against your inner soul? Will God be delighted if you develop this proficiency?

Karen Mains