Soul Care Institute News - July 2018

Just as Potter’s Inn has seen some changes in recent days, the Institute is going through some changes as well. We would like to officially welcome Anne Broyles to our team! Anne is a graduate of Cohort two who has a heart for retreat ministry – and especially the Institute. Anne is going to be stepping into the position of Assistant Program Director. She will be helping getting retreats organized, staying in touch with alum, acting as liaison between professors, students and retreat centers and oh-so-much more that comes along with running a retreat.

Part of the reason Anne is stepping in is that in a few months time, I (Lindsey), will be stepping away – at least for awhile. As most of you know, we have two adopted kiddos. We will be adding #3 to the mix in November. As of the beginning of July, I am about halfway through my pregnancy. So far, it has been a healthy and somewhat uneventful pregnancy. I would love it if you would pray for us when you think of it, though! After the baby arrives and we all get settled in, we will reevaluate the needs of the Institute to see where I will best fit at that time.

Our cohorts are growing as well. Cohorts 3 and 4 continue to grow in depth. They are learning and being transformed with each retreat. Cohort 3 will be attending their fifth retreat in September and Cohort 4 will have their fourth in October. Cohorts 5 & 6 continue to grow in size as we accept more students into them every day (help spread the word!). Additionally, we are hoping to launch Cohort 7 in 2019. Joe and June will be traveling to the Great Lakes region this summer to scout out potential retreat centers. We will continue to keep you updated on that!

We would love to hear what is new with you as well, and to add it into our future newsletters for other alum to follow. Feel free to email us anytime to let us know what is new with you!

Recommended Resources

Book Review: The Magnificent Story – Uncovering a Gospel of Beauty, Goodness & Truth
Tom Benson

I’ve been searching for books that are useful in facilitating small group discussions and came across James Bryan Smith’s book “The Magnificent Story – Uncovering a Gospel of Beauty, Goodness & Truth.”  This book was published in 2017 and is the first of three volumes.  The 2nd scheduled for the Fall of 2018 is called “The Magnificent Journey: Living Deep in the Kingdom and the 3rd scheduled for the Fall of 2019 called “The Magnificent Mission:  Called and Sent by the Storyteller.”  James has also authored the three volume Apprentice Series “The Good and Beautiful God; Life; Community.”

The back cover of “The Magnificent Story” asks “What story have you been told about the gospel?  About Jesus? About the Christian Life?  About yourself?  Your answers to these questions will form a story that will determine how your life will go.  The answers reveal your ability to trust, to love, to hope – and even your capacity for joy.  Uncover the true story of beauty, goodness, and truth that will satisfy the ultimate longings of your heart.”

I knew I found a book I could share with others when I came across this passage from page 75: 

TRUE NARRATIVE

“The true narrative says, ‘We are made in God’s image, with original goodness, which cannot be marred by sin.  But we are also made in God’s likeness, which we distort every time we choose to sin’… The Bible says of humans, ‘God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good’ (Genesis 1:31).  This was said right after the last act of creation.  The first thing we learn about humans is that we are good—very good.  Instead of starting with original sin, we ought to start with our original goodness.”

For me, this frames my own creation as I was formed in the womb.  Smith goes on to say (pg. 76) referencing Genesis 1:26, “This means that we are—in our essence—beautiful, good, and true.  That original image cannot be distorted or marred or vandalized by our sin.“  This gives me hope that there is a pathway to becoming my true-self, the original essence that God intended.  That Spiritual Formation can be the pathway to my original essence as I become more aware of my false-self and open to God’s transforming love and return to my original essence of “beautiful, good and true.” 

There are several aspects that I like about the construction of this book including frequent questions listed on the side of the text related to the content, a “Soul Training Exercise” at the end of each chapter and a “Study Guide” at the end of the book for each Chapter.  The Study Guide provides a format for small groups which includes the following headings: Gathering, Exploring, Engaging, Reflecting and Closing.  There are 9 chapters so this book could run 9 consecutive weeks and will be my Fall Growth Series offering.

Alumni Connections

Those in my Cohort know some of my story that brought me to seek soul care and how God led me to Potter’s Inn and various soul care experiences including the two-year institute.   In 2014 facing anxieties and deep concerns related to family and my work/ministry, I burned out.  Having walked with Christ for many years, I thought I knew what to do.   I really did not.  Little did I realize a lack of understanding of who I really am in Christ was the answer I needed.   Now, after the experience with the Cohort, it is interesting and still challenging, and sometimes painful, that matters with family and work/ministry still exist in various forms.   However, I continually cling to the truth that I am beloved by the God of the universe, and the deeper sense of relationship I have with Him through Jesus Christ not only sustains me daily, but has deepened my faith to be able to wait for the Lord’s ultimate will in these issues to be revealed.  
- Frank Drinkard, Cohort 2

Since my final cohort retreat I’ve been establishing a ministry called The Center for Contemplative Living centerforcontemplativeliving.org.  The vision for the ministry came from my experience with SCI, which not only transformed my life, but motivated me to share with others this new-found life in Contemplative Living that began by reading “Centering Prayer and Inner Awakenings.”  I have since become a Contemplative Outreach Chapter Coordinator for Central North Carolina and I’m in process of becoming a “Commissioned Presenter.”  I recently completed my 3rd of 5 Residencies with LTi’s Selah-Spiritual Direction Training Program.  I have offered the “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality” course and will be facilitating a Growth Series Group using “Mirror for the Soul:  A Christian Guide to the Enneagram” beginning July 5th for 6 weeks.   My SCI listening group is now meeting monthly via “Zoom” calls to keep in touch, support and continue growing together.
- Tom Benson, Cohort 1

Life after SCI:  Soul Care Incredible!
I'm still in a physical rhythm of getting ready for CO, but that's OK, because our first grandchild will be born soon in Denver! Road Trips!
My ministry at NessDoor (the cottage next door to us in Midland) is in full swing, doing day retreats with an art expression component. I’m entertaining taking retreats on the road. (Check out website:  beadnbottlecaps.com) Jody and I have led Soul Care 101 at church. I've added a NessDoor Facebook page, (let me know if you want to join) where I repost significant quotes and thoughts on caring for the soul, including links to dealing with grief.  In the last 5 years we have had our share of loss, so sharing what I'm learning about great grief seems appropriate.
Along with great loss we will soon have this great JOY:  a precious granddaughter to behold!!!!  
Miss you all!!
-Jenness Giles, Cohort 2

 

Embracing Belovedness

I have had several encouraging conversations with many of you, the alumni of the Soul Care Institute.  What a deep blessing it is to hear about the ongoing path of transformation you are on.  Our prayer is that you would not just learn what it means to care for your soul, but you would be living this, as best as you can, day to day.

We all would agree that the one thing that seems to keep getting in the way of caring for our soul is…..life!  Right?  Steve Smith, in a recent Potter’s Inn article, shared a brief quote from “The Confessions of St. Augustine,” (I’m sure you remember that book and the stick-to-it-ivness that it took to wade through this great work).  There really are so many insightful nuggets buried in this epic writing of St. Augustine.  Here is one that I would like to remind you of:

“Late have I loved you, o Beauty ever old, ever new, late have I loved you. You were within me, and I was outside myself and it was there that I sought you and, myself disfigured, I rushed upon the beautiful things you have made. You were with me but I was not with you. They held me far from you, those things which would not exist if they did not exist in you. You called, you cried out and you broke through my deafness, you shone out, cast your radiance and put my blindness to flight, you shed your fragrance and I drew breath and pine for you, I tasted you and so I hunger and thirst for you, you touched me and I burn with love of your peace.” (Confessions 10.27.38)

Augustine has described in beautiful prose the battle we fight.  All that is life outside of us; work, career, ministry, family, relatives, relationships, etc seem to pull us away from the life that is inside of us.  All good and wonderful.  Thanks be to God that we have families, spouses, meaningful ministries, and careers.  As Augustine says they are “the beautiful things that you have made”.  But they can “hold us far from you”. 

So how do we live in this dynamic tension of life inside and life outside?  It seems Augustine is encouraging us to do two things: listen and pay attention.  Listen for his voice, the voice of love that calls and cries to you, breaking through your deafness.  Along with listening for his voice, pay attention to his presence in your midst.  His presence and his voice cast his radiance upon us and puts our blindness to flight.  We smell the fragrant aroma of him and we pine for more.  Friends, may this be true for us.  May we not be like Augustine who seems to say he waited too long to embrace his belovedness.