2017: Sue Reeve’s One-Year ‘Soul Care’ Discovery Journey…

Discovery #11

‘Soul Care’ – I want to live carefully and wisely every one of my numbered days…

     If you’ve read many of my Listening on the Journey… blog posts, you realize living life with intentionality and purpose is a high priority for me. One of the ways in which I do that is to choose prayerfully a theme each new year to guide the upcoming 12 months.

     I’ve found this method works much better for me than making New Year resolutions or even setting specific goals. Generally, the theme is dropped into my heart in late October to mid-November.

     In October 2016, I heard John Ortberg speak at a fundraiser event and was captivated by his style and message. The same night I heard him, I ordered his book Soul Keeping, and it became one of the most important I’ve ever read. Midway through the book, I knew my theme for 2017 was going to be ‘Discovering Soul Care.’ The past nearly 11 months have been ones of many pleasant discoveries.

     As has been the case with so many previous year-long themes, what I’ve learned this year hasn’t been earth shattering. The 2017 theme has—as have ones in the past—provided sweet moments of profound awareness and gentle nudges in never-before-considered God directions.


     During the past two weeks, while attending memorial services celebrating the lives of two lovely ladies, my ‘soul’ was reminded once again that my days are numbered, and I have no idea what the number of those days will be.

     The first lady, Jen, passed away at 92, the result of age-related complications. The second was only 64 years old when she died. Cancer was the culprit claiming Cathy’s life.

     In both women’s services, the ‘still small’ voice of the Spirit reinforced this truth: each day, if I am intentional, I can make healthy ‘soul care’ choices

     willingly,

          wisely, and

               in light of eternity.

     Concerning willingness, a hymn I’d never heard was sung at Jen’s Service, “Here I Am, Lord (I, the Lord of Sea and Sky).” [1] The lyrics of the refrain reached deep into my soul reminding me that even though I am willing to do the work God created me to do, my insecurity often causes me to question whether I’m qualified or even if I’m on the right track.

Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart.

     I loved the wisdom in these words Cathy’s husband, Stephen, spoke at his precious wife’s service. “We’re not humans having a spiritual experience; we’re actually spiritual beings having a human experience.” Stephen’s words reinforce the focus of ‘soul care.’ In the past few months, I’ve come to believe that while God is in and over ALL of me, God has given me the privilege of being the steward of ALL I am, which encompasses my will, body, intellect, emotions, relationships, and spirit.

     Finally, life is a whole lot more than whatever earthly days we travel. No one, I believe, illustrated that more beautifully than Cathy. Even though she suffered from a ‘terminal’ disease that would cause her earthly life to cease, Cathy declared, “I’m not terminal. I’m eternal.”

     I’d like to close today’s post with a prayer for you and for me as we learn to number our days carefully.

Lord, thank you for these recent reminders that each of us is allotted a certain “number of days,” and in some mysterious way, you have determined—or, at least, you know— that number. I don’t understand this mystery, but I pray you will empower me and my reader friends to live every single day willing to say, “yes,” to you, diligent to seek wisdom from you, and remembering always this earthly life isn’t the end, but only a prelude to eternity. Amen

Sue Reeve

  1. Doing some on-line research about the song following the service, I learned it is a Contemporary Catholic liturgical hymn written by Daniel Schutte, a Jesuit priest, in 1981. https://www.flashlyrics.com/lyrics/dan-schutte/here-i-am-lord-42

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Choosing a Path of Spiritual Direction…

     A few weeks ago, I met with my personal coach for our final session (at least for now). I mentioned to Jodi I’d been having vague thoughts that seemed bigger than my own imagination nudging me in a direction I wasn’t able to pinpoint. Jodi suggested working for a season with a spiritual director and gave me a name to contact.

     This recommendation has begun a new level of spiritual exploration for me. It just so happened (Coincidence? I think not!) the spiritual director lives in Springfield, Missouri, and Ron and I had a vacation scheduled to that very region. My husband and I enjoyed a great getaway to the beautiful Ozark region, and I was privileged to meet in person with Dr. Debbie, a spiritual director.

     I’m excited for this new segment in ‘listening on my journey…’ In addition to working with Debbie, I plan to join a group she’s leading on a spiritual pilgrimage study tour and prayer retreat to Spain in March, 2018.

     While in Spain, we’ll be visiting places significant in the lives of three influential 16th Century Christians: St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross and St. Ignatius of Loyola. We’ll also spend four days in a guided retreat on contemplative prayer.

     This opportunity amazes me! I can say truly, I never even imagined the possibility of such an experience! I’ll travel with my husband’s blessing but also with trepidation. I’m kind of short and not so strong, and wonder if I’m going to be able to hoist my bags into the plane’s overhead bin without the help of my strong, tall man!

     Prior to the pilgrimage, I’m reading different books in preparation. Today’s post includes photos Ron took while we enjoyed visiting in the heart of the Ozarks. Along with several photos are quotes I’ve read from St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross and St. Ignatius.

My favorite travel buddy! Ron and I shared many special moments in Missouri, including time in a pristine nature preserve, Dogwood Canyon. Recently, I read this quote about marriage: Our marriage isn’t perfect, but it’s ours. That fits for us! Ron and I are two imperfect people committed to a relational journey that’s “ours!” This tall guy and our marriage are among God’s very best gifts to me.

“Act as if everything depends on you; trust as if everything depended on God.” …

~ St. Ignatius of Loyola

Contemplation is nothing else but a secret, peaceful, and loving infusion of God, which, if admitted will set the soul on fire with the Spirit of love.

~ St. John of the Cross


“May today there be peace within. May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith. May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content knowing you are a child of God. Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us.”

~ St. Teresa of Avila

God leads every soul by a separate path.

~ St. John of the Cross

Accustom yourself continually to make many acts of love, for they

enkindle and melt the soul.

~St. Teresa of Avila

Suscipe

St. Ignatius of Loyola

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.

You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.

Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.

Debbie introduced me to this prayer of Ignatius. Suscipe is a Latin word meaning “Receive.” I’ve been praying the Suscipe daily and have also listened several times to a beautifully sung version. If you’re interested, check out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UrX_T5QLBXQ

I expect greater spiritual understanding as I enter through this new gate. I’m certain I’ll share aspects of my journey with you. My hope and prayer are that the Divine Spirit will use any word I write to bring glory to God and encourage you to pursue the special path on which God has chosen your soul to travel. I love to hear, and always honor, stories concerning your spiritual direction.

Sue Reeve

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2017: Sue Reeve’s One-Year ‘Soul Care’ Discovery Journey…

Discovery #10

‘Soul Care’ – Spiritual Maturity includes Childlike Faith

     I had a hankering for Yakisoba noodles recently.

     Since my tummy was beginning to growl after my dental appointment the other day, I decided to stop by a local restaurant and treat myself. (A treat following a visit to the dentist seemed quite appropriate!)

     Sitting in the car in the restaurant parking lot, enjoying my ‘to-go’ chicken noodle bowl, I tuned the radio to a Christian station and listened to an interview with singer/songwriter, Fernando Ortega, whose music I appreciate. During the interview, he talked about a song he recently wrote entitled Mildred Madalyn Johnson[1]. He sang the whimsical tune, which celebrates the life of an older woman who sounded a bit quirky—a bit childlike—and a whole lot delightful!

     Ortega rented a room in Mildred Madalyn Johnson’s home when he was a young man starting out in his career, and she was an older woman engaged in passionate service to God by diligent service to others. The song honors the profound impact an elderly lady—a woman who loved driving a big red car even though she couldn’t see over the hood very far—had on a young man’s faith journey. His tribute warmed my heart.

     The story of Mildred reminded me I’ve been aware my faith seems to be growing simpler—filled with more childlike trust—even though I believe I’ve grown in spiritual maturity since beginning my ‘soul-care’ discovery quest in January 2017.

     Childlike simplicity in one’s faith journey, I believe, is a good thing!

     Not childish—like the impetuous, demanding three-year-old. Childish faith insists God answer every request, and if God doesn’t show up according to an expectation, then, the petulant, spiritually-childish believer’s faith seems not worth the effort.

     No, childlike faith isn’t childish insistence, but rather simple belief—like the youngster who has no doubt her daddy will catch her when she jumps.

     Childlike faith is curious, asking questions—lots of questions.

          Childlike faith persists, assured God has her best interest in mind.

               Childlike faith is filled with wonder and expectancy.

                    Childlike faith not only believes, but trusts.

     I think most would agree Albert Einstein was indeed a brilliant man. Perhaps it’s his great intelligence that makes these words he spoke seem especially significant:

Do not grow old, no matter how long you live.
Never cease to stand like curious children before
The Great Mystery into which we were born.

     As one who is a Christ-follower, Jesus is the “Great Mystery” into which I was born, and these words of Jesus seem even more powerful than those of Einstein:

Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”

(Luke 18:16)

For you, my reader friend, who like me, longs to have a healthier soul, I’m praying each of us will mature in our discovery, even as we become more childlike in our faith…

Sue Reeve

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0rfli-blhs – to listen to Ortega’s tribute