Christian Women’s Retreat

Please join us at our biannual women’s retreat in beautiful Silverton Oregon.

Theme: Created to be UNSHAKABLE – Standing with, on, and like the Rock in the face of stress, anxiety, abuse, and inherited family trauma.

Dates: October 21-23, 2022

Venu: Christian Renewal Center

Cost: $185 (early bird special) covers teaching sessions, activities, accommodations and 6 incredible meals.

Registrater today at http://furtherthefaith.com/retreat/

I dialed 911 on accident

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I was home alone and thought I heard a thump across the house this morning. Then silence. As I was settling back into my task, I heard another thump followed by a crash. That will make your heart stop. I punched in 911 and headed for the kitchen, aforementioned heart beating audibly in my ears.

I was ready for a bad guy, if you know what I mean. I walked boldly into the kitchen to find my cat staring wide-eyed from the counter. This cat has developed a taste for bread. She has taken that taste to the next level by opening cupboards in pursuit of potato bread. “Rose!” I said. “Why?”

I suppose that if she could talk she would say it’s for the same reason that we like potato bread. It’s amazing stuff. I slipped my phone in my pocket and shooed her away. As I assessed the mauled loaf, I was startled by a shrill sound. I grabbed my phone and realized that as I put it in my pocket, I’d dialed 911. I wonder why it has to make that horrid sound. It reminds me of the annoying sound when you call a fax line. That seems completely out of place.

A recording of a male voice informed me what I had indeed reached 911. A female voice translated for him into Spanish. I fumbled for the phone and swiftly did what any panicked false dialer would do. I hung up.

Then I thought, “That was the wrong thing to do, you dingbat. Now they’ll surely come. What do I do?”

I consulted Aunty Google who said that if you call 911 on accident, don’t hang up. Wait for the dispatcher and let them know it was an accident, otherwise they’ll send an officer out. I was a little late for that. So, I called myself a dingbat again as I sometimes do and called back. It can be a long wait when you call 911. A live person finally came on and I explained that I was just calling to say have a nice day. She was very understanding.

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But that got me onto 2 thoughts. One, what if it was an emergency? The shrill noise would surely give me away to an intruder. Two, what if there was an intruder and they made me call back to avert a response? The whole time I would be in trouble and the police weren’t coming. What if…?

Ancient Anti-Woman Code Cracked

I live on a gorgeous piece of property and love working in the yard. There’s so much to keep up that in seven years, I haven’t gotten on top of it. Never mind that I keep planting more amazingness, but that’s beside the point. The point of this post is to disclose a momentous discovery.

Historically, my dearest has stepped up willingly to hook me up with tools that claim to make my yard work easier. Take for example the weed-whacker. Holding it like a flagger with a stop sign, he teaches me the basics. I have a lot of questions but I’m trying to keep-up with the directives. I figure it’ll come to me once I start working. Friends, it doesn’t.

He sets it on the ground and yanks on the starter cord by powerfully pulling back with his long arms. It sputters to life and he plops massive earmuffs over my head. I know exactly how David felt when King Saul put his armor on the lad. But I’m more determined than he was to get those Goliath weeds. As he walked away, I thought I saw a smile.

No sooner does he round the bend than the darned thing dies. He walks back and this time, I swear I see him roll his eyes. “Pull on this,” he instructs, pointing to the cord. I pull with all my hundred pounds. It is not impressed, and it rolls its eyes. “Pull again.” I do. Nothing. He sighs and applies his two-hundred pounds to the cord. It promptly snaps to attention and goes to work. That makes me mad.

“Don’t turn it off,” are his parting words.

I start to lunge for him with the roaring beast, but the top-heavy, gangly body starts swirling. I feel like a drunk giraffe with an anvil for a head. I move this way and that to stabilize it but the oversized earmuffs, swimming in the opposite direction are now covering my eyes. I try to use my shoulder to move them but in so doing the anvil whacks against a tree which, irritated, bends in the same direction I was going, then catapults me to the ground.

Lights out.

I lie there for a minute, my hands neatly placed on top of each other as though I’m in a coffin. The weapon of my death straddles me, its engine is laughing so hard that it rolls over and dies. I remember thinking that this is not quite how I had envisioned dying. I’d hoped for something more dignified.

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Then I see a bright light. At the time I thought it was the light at the end of the tunnel ushering me to the heavenlies, but no. It is enlightenment that sends me back to earth to reveal to my fellow women that we have been wronged all along. Why is it that it takes him five minutes to tame the yard with this beast, but it takes me an hour to stabilize myself under it? Why? Because, the twenty-pound, twelve-foot, murderous, gas- guzzling barbarian was not made for a hundred-pound, five-foot woman. That’s why!

And those snide statements: “Just pull here,” “be careful,” “don’t kill it,”… Those, my warrior friends, are part of the ancient code that has kept us hobbled for millennia. But we are shackled no more.

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Ryobi to the rescue!

I picked myself up a three-pound, four-foot, electric weed-whacker. That baby rises when I walk up to it and salutes me like an eager recruit. Friends, I have since dominated acres of weeds, slain unruly lawn edges, and tamed defiant bushes.

Moreover, there is no need to earmuffs as my doll purrs in my arms. No choking fumes. No insolent pull-cord. No leaking gas. No snide comments. No anvil-giraffe hybrid. This, women, is what we were made for! This is power. I have to go!

In the name of all that is good, your wrath upon this world is over.”

Wonder Woman

What on Earth is your Soul?

By Hannah Thuku Kolehmainen, Ph.D.

“Jesus saved my soul,” we claim. “Bless your soul,” they say.  “He’s a wretched soul,” we might accuse. 

What on earth is a soul, anyway? The basic understanding of it is a life, for example, we might read that ten souls perished in the inferno. Beyond that is a deeper, seemingly mysterious definition. Asking many Christians what their soul is leaves them stammering for answers and scratching their heads. Welcome to a clear and concise description of it. In this article I will define the soul scripturally, I will unfold the premise of the soul,  and then tackle our calling to align it with God.

Understanding your soul can dramatically transform you and how God works in your life. We must grasp it so as to comprehend what we are in essence. Numerous Bible passages refer to the soul. 1 Peter 1:9 claims that the outcome of our faith is the salvation of our souls. Peter refers to Jesus as the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls in 1 Peter 2:25. Jesus admonished, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell,” (Matthew 10:28.)

To understand the soul, let’s pan out to the greatest commandment, upon which all others hinge, based on Deuteronomy 6:5. 

When asked, “Teacher, which commandment is the greatest in the Law?” Jesus declared, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  

Matthew 22:37-40. 

Defining the Soul

Western culture views the heart as the center of emotions, the soul as entirely fuzzy and best sidestepped, and the mind as the brain. How does Scripture define these terms? Review God’s greatest command. To love Him is our top calling. We are to do so with 3 aspects of our being: the whole heart, the whole soul, and the whole mind. Unraveling these concepts is a feast! Let’s use Strong’s Bible Dictionary to guide us.

  • The heart, kardia, is the center of all physical and spiritual life; the fountain and seat of the passions, desires, appetites, affections, purposes, and endeavors. It is the faculty and seat of intelligence, the will, and character. It encompasses our emotions. 
  • The soul, psuche, is the breeze or breath of life that animates men and animals. Furthermore, it is the seat of feelings, desires, affections. It is the heart. It is a moral being designed for everlasting life and is not dissolved upon death. 
  • The mind, dianoia, is the faculty of thinking, understanding, imagining, feeling, and desiring. 

Note how tightly woven this trifecta is. Just as God started the greatest commandment in Deuteronomy 6:4, “Hear O Israel, the LORD your God is one,” the heart, soul, and mind are one and the same thing at their core. This is where the mic drops! It is so simple. It is so deep.

The scriptural outlook is much meatier than our western view. Heart, soul, and mind are synonymous with each other. We can define any one of them as the will, the intellect, and the emotions. I use the simple acronym W.I.E. to remember them. Are you ready for the second mic drop? God has a soul too. He has a will, an intellect, and emotions. Animals also have a soul and it is easy to see these three aspects of the soul in various animals, especially those higher up in the animal kingdom.

Unfolding the Soul

In this section, we will explore the three aspects of the soul – the will, the intellect, and the emotions. View the article titled The Senses as the Gateway to the Soul.

  1. The will.

The Google dictionary defines the will as the faculty by which a person decides on and initiates action. Other words to describe it include resolve, determination, purpose, motivation, and drive. 

  1. The Intellect

In this context, I refer to the intellect as executive brain function. Click here for my list of the various intellectual elements. Can you think of any that I missed? Please email them to me or note them in the comments section. As you reflect on these, you see that God also has an intellect, as do many animals.


Elements of Executive Brain Function

Arousal/alertness

Attention

Planning

Organizing (short, mid, and long term)

Orientation

Initiating a task

Maintaining a task

Terminating a task

Logic or reasoning

Multitasking

Verbal fluency

Learning – processing and comprehension 

Creativity

Imagination

Memory – storing, and/or retrieving information 

Mood regulation

Inhibition and the capacity to resist temptation

Humor

Culturally specific social appropriateness

Empathy for people and animals/bonding

Motivation (anticipation, desire, drive)

Judgment – hindsight, insight, and foresight

Abstract concepts (the ability to make the leap from the symbolic to the real world)

Understanding different points of view

Mathematical calculation

Considering

Deduction

Organizing – categorizing, generalizing, discriminating, grouping

  1. The Emotions

Emotions refer to feelings or sentiments. They are a natural instinctive state of mind based on one’s circumstances. Numerous emotions wheels have been developed. Click here for one of my favorites: Emotions Wheel : Glenn Trigg. You can also download one for yourself from that site.

Aligning the soul with God

Our goal then becomes to align your soul with God’s soul. He is as the docking station my Roomba vacuum cleaner docks itself to when it is done cleaning. Better yet, he is our true North to which we are to orient ourselves moment by moment. Consider your will. How driven are you? What motivates you? How does that align with God? He desires for us to live passionately driven lives for his purposes. What is your purpose? What are you pouring your short life into (and it is short even if you live to be 130 years old)?

Next, peruse the intellectual functions again. Pick five and compare them in your life to the same function in God’s life. What am I constantly focusing on? Am I paying attention to what he is paying attention to? Is my humor aligned with his? Am I submitting my plans to his plans as disclosed in Scripture? Is my imagination pleasing him? Are my priorities in line with his? How am I faring in the area of judgment?

Now behold the emotions. Do I respond emotionally as he does? Am I happy and celebrating what makes him happy and celebrate? Does what makes him angry make me angry? Again, pick five items off the emotions wheel to study. Ask him to reveal how yours line up with his. Are you filled with his joy and peace?

In closing, look again at the greatest commandment to love him with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. Consider that to “love is to welcome.” From this regard, welcome his will and bend yours to fit his. Welcome his intellect and mold yours to his. Welcome his emotions and yield yours to his. What a fantastic and grand calling. To do so is to be holy as he is holy (Leviticus 20:26; 1 Peter 1:16) – truly sanctified meaning, set apart. Then we can say with John, “herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as he is, so are we in this world!” 1 John 4:17.

“Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 

1 Thessalonians 5:23

I’d love your feedback on this material. Is this new information or where you familiar with it? Please share this article with a friend or with your pastor. Blessings!

How You Can Shape the Future Today

Does your spiritual life feel limp today? Could you use a blast to power and lift your life and that of others? Today I am enthralled by the power I hold in my hands as I unfold E. M. Bounds’ article Putting God to Work. This is one of those works that has the capacity to revolutionize your spiritual walk. In it, he explores the potential horsepower we have with the heavenlies, with our world, and with ourselves through prayer. Meditatively contemplate the points I outline below. Each point is a burner firing up the hot air balloon of your life. Be transported. Be transformed. Shape the future.

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10 Prayer Afterburners

  1. prayer is a specific divine appointment, an ordinance of heaven, whereby God purposes to carry out his gracious designs on earth and to execute and make efficient the plan of salvation
  2. Prayer puts God’s work in his hands and keeps it here. It looks to him constantly and depends on him implicitly to further his own cause. Prayer is but faith resting in, acting with, leaning on, and obeying God. This is why God loves it so well, why he puts all power into its hands, and why he so highly esteems men of prayer
  3. the denial of prayer is a denial of God himself, for God and prayer are so inseparable that they can never be divorced
  4. prayer puts God, angels, and man to work. “What a wonderful reach there is in prayer!” It brings into play the forces of heaven and earth. God, angels, and men are subjects of this wonderful law of prayer
  5. the work of God stays or advances as prayer puts forth its strength. Prophets and apostles have urged the utility, force, and necessity of prayer
  6. God has placed himself under the law of prayer
  7. prayer puts God to work on earth and therefore prayerlessness rules God out of the world’s affairs and prevents him from working… leaving man [believers and non-believers] on earth the mere creature of circumstances, at the mercy of blind fate, or without help from God
  8. God says, “whatever you need for my cause, ask me and I will do it. Shape the future by your prayers. God says, “It is my work which you are doing. It concerns my causes. Be prompt and full in praying. Do not abate your asking, and I will not wince nor abate in my giving…” As an example, God stayed and answered as long as Abraham stayed and asked. He will do the same with you
  9. by leaving prayer out of the catalogue of religious duties, we leave God out, and his work cannot progress without him
  10. the fishes of the sea (Jonah,) the birds of the air (Moses,) the very climate on earth (Elijah) are all brought into subjection to this same law

Ignite your burners, church. Pray, men and women of God. Pray, believers. Pray, fathers. Pray, mothers. Pray, children. I pray that you would pray. In so doing, you fire up the very pulse of God, his roaring heartbeat. In praying your unleash his heart and unfold his hands. With this new mindset, pray and shape the future.

  • which of these 10 points most resonates with you?
  • which is a burner you haven’t fired up before?
  • who can you pray for today and participate in their transformation?
  • who can you share this and shape their future?

Mummy Blue – from Musing to Amusing

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It all started with me laughing out loud.

I’m sitting at home alone this morning holding a cup of tea and contemplating the weekend. I’m trying a new creamer – a blend of cashew and almond. It’s wonderfully creamy, packs 10g of protein, and has a decent taste. I just can’t look in my cup. It looks like it’s curdled, but just a little shake and all is back to normal. It’s the wierdest thing to have to get past the initial reaction to dump the whole cup. I’m over that now. Just don’t look in the cup, Hannah.

It’s misting steadily outside though I can tell the sun is trying to poke through the clouds. Boy those windows could use cleaning. I never notice dirty windows. I don’t know why anyone would notice dirty windows. Don’t look at the dirt, look past it. It’s so much better to look past the dirty windows than at them. The sheep are lying down in the pasture. Imagine wearing a heavy wool coat and lying down on wet grass in the misty rain. Then again, I imagine that sheep don’t imagine much.

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I watch the traffic in the distance. It transports me to sitting with dad on the front porch, God rest his soul. We’d sit there and wonder where that car was going. And that one? Well maybe they’re not going somewhere, maybe they’re coming from somewhere. True but that doesn’t make sense; just because you’re coming from somewhere does not mean you’re not going anywhere. That is true. That’s a big truck, what do you think it’s carrying? I don’t know but I like how they come in waves and then the highway is quiet.

I miss that guy. I haven’t mused with him for a year and half now. Sigh. We will again. Last time we talked he was in the hospital fighting Covid. We didn’t know it would be the last time. At least I didn’t. Did you know, dad? He was having trouble getting a deep breath, so we didn’t talk for long. He told he was just resting and that he was going to be alright. To be good. He called me Mummy Blue. I didn’t say much. I was crying and didn’t want him to know. I love you Mummy Blue. I lost it. I love you Daddy Blue. Rest.

Within a day he was gone. The damage to his heart and lungs was extensive. He died on the operating table. Rest Daddy Blue. I’m so sorry, said Dr. Ngunga. Thank you for your efforts, doctor. Yes, he was an amazing man.

Death sucks! Grief is a bear…

Next thing I know I’m watching myself reading a eulogy virtually. I don’t want to be here. I want to be there. What am I doing here?

Well, right now I’m sitting here sobbing as I write this. But I can tell it won’t be a long sob. Just deep and intense heaving. I dreamt of him the other day. He was walking. That was so great. He was walking really fast which isn’t like him. He generally strides. Majestically. He had a limp in the dream. And he walked fast. But it was him. I really need to start on that book about him. But I need to finish this other one first…

The reason I grabbed my computer to blog in the first place was because I had just finished laughing out loud. And that made me think I hadn’t blogged in too long. I really should replace the missing button in my shirt. But not now. I was watching birds in the pond across the field and enjoying the clouds gliding across the sky. Sometimes they move really fast, those clouds. This time they were. I wonder where they’re going.

All of a sudden, I saw my bald eagle. He did a swoop towards the water, but it was a gradual swoop, not a fast one like he was catching something. I lean forward quickly to see what he’s doing, and I catch the funniest sight I’ve seen all morning. A tiny bird is chasing him off. This bird is smaller than his massive white head and he’s doing everything he can to get away from it.

That made me so happy I jumped to my feet to see how it would end. They dip behind the trees and I’m left to my imagination…

That was good. So here I am alone at home. Laughing. Crying. It’s going to be a good day.

Contemplating Intermittent Fasting?

I started I.F. because I realized that I was having breakfast in the morning, though I wasn’t even hungry.

htk

A different eating pattern: Most people do not eat through the night. In the morning they therefore eat a meal called ‘break-fast.’

Fasting is reputed to have numerous benefits but can be daunting for most people. I.F can be quickly integrated into most people’s lifestyles. I started I.F. a few months ago because I realized that I was having breakfast in the morning, though I wasn’t even hungry. I had been trained to believe that breakfast was the most important meal of the day so I stuffed more food into the pipeline. Many people eat mindlessly or are emotional eaters. For spiritual reasons, I desired to gain control over food in my life and decided that I.F. would be a practical way to do that for health and spiritual reasons.

There are different types of I.F. I chose the most popular one which involves fasting for about 16 hours every day, also called the Leangains protocol. This prolongs the time between dinner and breakfast the next morning. It entails eating 2 meals instead of the regular 3 or more. The two meals are consumed within about 8 hours.

How long can I go without food? As a hospice worker, I marvel at how long the human body can sustain life without food. Did you know the body can go 8-21 days without food and water? It can go up to 2 months without food if it has water.

The human body can go 8-21 days without food and water

The 4 Soci0-emotional reasons for eating: We have more socio-emotional reasons for eating than we do physical ones.

  1. We eat because it’s associated with socializing and having a good time.
  2. We eat when we are bored, sad, angry, lonely, frustrated, and for so many other emotions.
  3. Institutionally, we are trained to eat at set times. As I mentioned before, we frequently eat when we are not hungry, just because it’s “time to eat.”
  4. We eat to nurture. From working with hundreds of dying individuals, one of the toughest struggles family members face is stopping feeding for their loved one at the end of life. They don’t want them “to starve to death.” But feeding and digestion can actually be painful and detrimental to a digestive system that is shutting down in the dying process. Chocking is a very high risk. The body sees to this by diminished appetite and reduced wakefulness.

What are the 9 benefits of fasting?  Many people fast for spiritual and health reasons and it has numerous benefits.

  1. Fasting is a common practice in Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism. These religions have mandates to fast to sharpen one’s spiritual acuity and to gain power over situations that can’t be overcome in other ways.

2. Many people cite weight loss as a benefit of regular fasting as well as of I.F.

  • The idea of I.F. is to consume fewer calories per day, not to stuff one’s regular eating quotient into a shorter period of time.
  • Insulin levels drop and Human Growth Hormone levels rise dramatically, which bode well for burning fat and building muscle to facilitate weight loss.
  • Noradrenaline or norepinephrine which aids in the burning of fat is increased when we fast.
  • Fasting enhances the body’s stress response and increases metabolism.

3. Fasting can alter your genes and help you live longer.

4. Fasting lowers blood sugar and reduces insulin resistance combatting type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes.

5. Fasting may combat cancer as cancer cells depend on a regular intake, especially of sugar.

6. Digestion takes up a lot of the body’s resources. When we take a break from digesting by fasting, we trigger cellular restoration, including brain cells. Tattered cells are carted off and new ones are created faster than when coupled with the digestion process.

7. Fasting reduces belly fat which is associated with numerous disease processes. It reduces bad cholesterol (LDL.)

8. Fasting reduces inflammation throughout body systems.

9. Fasting simplifies our lives and rewards us with time and money otherwise spent on food prep.

In a future article I will outline how I have integrated intermittent fasting into my life and both positive and negative effects I’ve experienced. Fasting is not for everyone. Always consult your medical healthcare provider before engaging in significant life changes such as fasting.

There’s Something About Fire

There’s something about fire

Holy Spirit’s fabulous attire.

Flames flickering hither and yon.

There’s something about fire.

Familiar to us all,

Yet formidable, indomitable.

Evoking danger, invoking desire.

There’s something about fire.

It warms our frames and cooks our food,

Fuels tall tales as we gather around it, mesmerized, hypnotized.

It purges forest floors, – the ultimate purifier.

Freeing seeds that wouldn’t otherwise crack from their pods,

New life to acquire.

There’s something about fire.

And at life’s end, to watch a pyre,

Licking flames flying higher, higher,

Like the crescendo of a choir.

There’s just something about fire.