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Special End-of-Summer News and Updates Episode

Here’s a picture of me “at the office” as I write this post. I love creating episodes and posts for you, and it’s especially nice to do it outdoors…but I’m going to need a hoodie…more on that later.

hammock offic


This short Sunday episode contains news and info.

I’m debuting my new microphone for you to hear. Tell me if you can hear the difference!

A few Episodes are already in the queue, but after those air, you will hear a much richer and higher quality sound demonstrated in this short episode! Many thanks for your kind response to my need for financial support. I still need to buy more monthly space at the audio hosting site, but it is a landmark accomplishment to upgrade my mic and I had to share my joy, gratitude, (and the new and improved sound) with you!




In September, I will launch a Slack Community just for us!

Slack allows you to connect and collaborate much like Facebook but without all the ads and baloney.

At the Spark for Creatives community, we will be able to share, talk about the podcast topic of the week, connect, collaborate, communication, trade notes, and encourage each other in our communication and creative endeavors.

If you’re calling involves creating or communicating, welcome to your tribe!

(If you feel like reading political, religious, or societal rants, seeing posts from only about 12 people, being inundating with horrible news stories, seeing animated GIFs, playing Pet Saga, or looking at adverts from the places you just visited online, you will still have Facebook to turn to.)

• You must be subscribed to my email update list to get the application to join.

• You can join this community for free if you start as a charter member. In the future there will be a few special access areas, education options, and premium groups options that will be paid add-ons or features, too.


Subscribe to the mailing list for the chance to apply (and you also get the latest audio episode links delivered to you, 2-3 times per month.)

* indicates required

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It’s getting chilly. Time for a cozy hoodie (ends SEPT 7th! These are on sale to finance the show and ordering ends soon: SEPTEMBER 14th.

Click to see all the color and style options, including t-shirts if you like to layer! I hope you stay all snuggly warm as you listen to the shows I’m making for you!


How-To Start and End your day well (VIDEO REPLAY!)

Enjoy this LIVE STREAM replay I did on Periscope.

(Library of my LIVE STREAMS)


The first one I did was awful so I had to delete it. I’m still learning this streaming stuff and the camera works was an “F-“. My how screwing up keeps me humble! I have so many chances each day.

Enjoy this resource. It’s a great way to start Autumn with greater awareness, gratitude, and transformation!



ESP 23 The hidden “family rules” that have shaped you (and still impact your life)

ESP 23 The hidden “family rules” that have shaped you (and still impact your life)

familyfightDid this ever happen to you? You think the way your family (of origin) does something is normal, and then, suddenly, you find out it isn’t?

Usually, this happens when you form close relationships outside your family of origin. Fireworks can ensue!

How your family dealt with conflicts, problems, shame, secrets, and tragedies shaped you and learning relational and loyalty dynamics from the previous generations in your family can bring relational repair, health, and hope.


That’s what today’s show is about. I’m glad you can listen, today.


Today’s guest is graduate school professor and marriage and family therapist in private clinical practice, Janet Stauffer, Ph.D.



Dean of Students, Evangelical Seminary

Professor of Marriage and Family Therapy

In addition to her work at the seminary and her clinical practice, Janet is vice president of the Board of Directors at Philhaven Behavioral Healthcare facility. She has led retreats, presented at professional conferences, and published articles in a number of journals. She is a licensed marriage and family therapist and approved supervisor and clinical member of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. She also holds membership in the Christian Association for Psychological Studies. Her research interests include genuine meeting through dialogical engagement, loyalty dynamics between and across the generations of the family, and the intersection of faith and therapy.





Each person is born with an inherent longing to connect.


Early childhood experiences shape who we are and how we relate to others.

Our ancestors deliver ways of being to us across generations:


What can be done if the early years weren’t filled with dysfunction and problems?


How relationship can alter the wiring and re-patterning of the brain.


Jim Coen, UVA – The Hand holding experiment.


In close relationships, we end up feeling–not only are you here with me–but somehow you are me. Somehow we are here together.


Before we can help others, we have to be open to ourselves and our own healing. Our wounds can remain as vulnerabilities and our greatest resource.


“I because who I am through my relationships with other people, so that more of me gets called forth as I respond to others in my world around me.”


The still face experiment:


“Foo-Poo” (FOO = Family of Origin) influences our current relationships.


The interconnectedness and “loyalty dynamics” between and across the generations and how during all our interactions we are holding something that has been passed down across generations and in the larger cultural dynamics.


Example from life (Janet, her husband and the Ford Fiesta). Naming the truth in our interactions and being curious about what we hold from generations before us.


Janet explored what anger was like for her mother and grandmother and discovered not just a family secret and the shame that was carried on, but also a a family norm relating to how pain is dealt with.


Family secrets and ways of interacting waiting like land mines that can sabotage our other relationships.


We can also end up carrying or holding visibly or invisibly things that our spouse (or other close relationships) hold as well.


There are options for growth and healing if we can be open, aware, curious and can find courage to turn and face [the other] and remember where our weakness are and admit them.


The power of naming what is happening for us emotionally.


“Honoring my personal truth, personal awareness, my being, and made a claim for myself has a profound impact in my own knowing.”


“Every one of us experiences terror at the thought of finding the courage to turn and face the other in a painful situation at some point in our life.”


A defend or fight mode should be superseded by the prevailing message “You and I are on the team team ultimately. We have a reason to connect and I long for you. But it’s been hard between and here’s something of how it’s been for me… and I want to know what it’s like for you.”


Yet, we cannot think what we say will always help because we cannot guarantee the other person’s response. So there is vulnerability in saying the truth.


Being calm, curious and compassionate even in the face of wounds and vulnerability.


Emotionally self-regulating and contending with emotional triggers.


(In marriage or close relationships) Learning self and other in a whole new way…in a kind of sacred space to grow through the most tender places that we hold.


Telling the other what would help in what feels like an unsafe place emotionally.


Learning to soothe one another.


On core lies we can believe about ourselves.


Honoring when emotional safety is just as important as physical safety.


What to do when it’s not safe to have important conversations.


Martin Buber-We live with an armor around us and bands around our heart and being closed off and unaware and unaddressed.


Asking questions of ourselves to create more awareness and realizing our thoughts and memories are not us.


We limit our imagination about the capacity each of us holds to respond the other, the world around us and ourself.


We can test our assumptions and plant seeds that bring new possibilities for ourself and others.


When we can’t yet name or isolate our feelings.


Giving permission and a soft demand to know what is going on with someone else and helping them find their voice.


The biblical tradition of the garden where God says “Where art thou?” a story about hiding. God’s longing for humankind.


King David in the psalms is modeling openness and receptivity…asking “What is in my heart?” “Who am I?” “What do I hold?”


Being open and still safe. Giving yourself warm, regard, and leaving the self-judgment out.

“Judgment limits the knowing.”


Being present to and growing in recognition of “here’s what I hold” or “here’s what freezes me” etc and asking “how can I be more free?” and then exploring new pathways and practices that go somewhere.


On the spiritual practices and things can people do to move forward.


These ways of understanding what it is to connect, grow and be human are universal and offer hope to those with varied religious tradition and no religious affiliation too.


The spiritual and the Other when it is not defined as “God”.


“God doesn’t limit God’s self to the church or the synagogue or the mosque and we can never fully describe God because God cannot be contained and is always more than what I can fathom or grasp”


Asking, “How do I understand the call before me and how do I invite others and find the place where they are experiencing call and longing and where is this work happening within them. What is being invited forth?”


How we can pass down the best of our generational dynamics and loyalties to our children.


On the invisible family rule of perfectionism and how it made Janet think she could be the perfect parent and how that idea was shattered.


How she approached her son after that point to understand what he was experiencing and being surprised by his reply.


We can never get it all right, but we can be willing to go to our child and ask them about their experience.


Inviting others to know themselves in whatever capacity to do that they can and hold what they say with care and honor.


Enacting moments and accumulating themes and transactions and happenings and asking “Is their a burden they carry or an injury of disregard or diminishment that was not theirs to carry?” which deserve address and caring and honor.


On having a commit to “I will be there for you, and I will be here for me, and I invite you to be here for me,” is a profound act that helps us for the long run.


Despite our efforts, outcomes are not guaranteed and each person has an opportunity to respond uniquely.

RESOURCES for further discovery:

Please subscribe to the Spark My Muse newsletter (HERE) to know about upcoming shows and new things in the works!

Think anyone else might appreciate the show? Please share it with that special someone! :)


Episode 18 – Nicole Unice is “Brave Enough” AND so are you!

Episode 18 – Nicole Unice is “Brave Enough” AND so are you!

Nicole Unice

Nicole Unice is on staff at Hope Church in Richmond, Virginia, and the author of the breakout book: “She’s Got Issues” which she wrote from her counseling and ministry experiences. The book produced and encouraged a refreshing and radical honesty that she’s built on in her new book “Brave Enough”.

Enjoy the Shownotes and links below and please share this with friends that you know CAN be “Brave Enough“. Thanks for listening!




P.S. Would you like to get a special, cozy Spark My Muse t-shirt?

Let me know HERE.



Get  Brave Enough or find out more here:

Like to listen instead of reading? Get the AUDIO book here.

Shownotes – Episode 18 Nicole Unice is honest, enthusiastic, and “Brave Enough”, so you can be too.


MIN 1:10

Nicole on staff at Hope Church

on the Richmond VA place and new midtown location.



Nicole’s podcasting experience (the Becoming Podcast) doing hundreds of episodes with her pastor doing 15 minutes shows for commuters.

Lisa asks: Is “campus” a Christian code word for mega church?


How she grew with Hope Church for 18 years, as they started out small in an elementary school “cafetorium”.


The “Youth Lodge” plans and the unique setting with wetlands and hills.


On the importance of Beauty, Setting, and Art in architecture and church building planning to evoke the imagination, inspire awe, and connect with the heart.


Collaborative workspace, and place where kids can do their homework and where people can enjoy the time away in a beautiful setting.


“artist come through the side door of the soul and preachers come through the front door.”


The history of the church and Christian tradition is one where the Church is source of beauty, wonder and connected to art because God is a the Creator.


Her first book: She’s Got Issues

6 main issues women (and men) face that can be a hinderance.

A rich relationship with God can come to a dead end as the ways we do life stop working.


How was it received? The #1 thing Nicole heard was, “You’re so honest.”

Why would honesty be such a revolution in Christianity?


She leaned into that for her next book “Brave Enough”


The story of how she got the title for the book:

To the question, “Do you think you can be brave?” Lucy Pevensie in the Chronicles of Narnia says, “I think I can be brave enough.”


Few women will self-identify as brave. [and not many men will either]

“After we identify the hinderances, what does it look like to walk forward in freedom?”


Brave Enough is about Grace and its effects, inside and in action.


Nicole answering the question: Do men have the same problems in this area?


“Women hearing teaching from women is like hearing in your first language.”


Ways Nicole leads and teaches men.


on how women have to translate teaching from men into their “language” and context.


On how, similarly, Brené Brown was challenged (by a man) to include men in her writing and teaching. (Lisa)


How men and women have similar vulnerabilities though they might deal with them differently.


“up speak” tones in language in women and men revealing different insecurities. (Lisa)


Nuggets from the Brave Enough book:

How the ingredients mixed into something she didn’t expect. It follows a narrative “arch of the heart”. How we can be full and free and confident in life.


on why (inner) freedom is illusive for men and women.

On “Fake Grace” in our head. (the excuses we make or how we blame others). Inviting God/Jesus into those places.


We all (default) and go back to rules and laws and how to short circuit that pattern.

It’s about resetting the heart with a new spiritual reality.


Radical honesty about our ugly parts inside the heart.


Nicole’s Parable: The violently stopping of the elevator door…(and how it relates to our soul).


Open ourselves to God’s Presence and healing.


(Lisa) God uses what bothers us about other people is a mirror of what we don’t like in ourselves.


How our baggage works to impede our progress.

Brave Enough includes major parts on forgiveness


God’s breathing on us and giving us the mission of forgiveness, first.

(Click to read the reference John 20:19-23)


When we keep living out of a wounded place.


How we continue categorizing our experiences to support our false and faulty premises and hypothesis about ourselves.


Questioning what is really true about ourselves (and the mental “tapes” we play).


God gives us opportunities to practices forgiveness every single day, often in small ways in the relationships and event of regular life.


If we can’t be gracious to ourselves we can’t be gracious with others.


The economy of our heart: if we forgive little then we love little.


(Nicole asks Lisa) “What have you learned in doing podcasting?”


We have the chance to never stop growing and transforming and God never gives up on us.


Brave Enough is also an AUDIO book. Find it here.


Did you like the show?

Please share it or otherwise support Spark My Muse!

Want to extend the good times and answer the question of the day?

What “bad/negative tape” do you have playing in your head most often?


Episode 17 Shane Claiborne on the hunger for community

Episode 17 Shane Claiborne on the hunger for community

I hope you enjoy the show!
You can help Spark My Muse by sharing the show with others or donating some legal tender.

Both = Love.
To donate (any amount at all is awesome)
click the button in the left sidebar and thank you for that, and for listening.



Evangelical Seminary is proud to host Shane’s talk. Click the image and learn more about a school that teaches and promotes incarnational servant leadership at a core level.

Shane’s Bio:

Shane Claiborne graduated from Eastern University and did graduate work at Princeton Seminary. In 2010, he received an Honorary Doctorate from Eastern. His adventures have taken him from the streets of Calcutta where he worked with Mother Teresa to the wealthy suburbs of Chicago where he served at the influential mega-church Willow Creek. As a peacemaker, his journeys have taken him to some of the most troubled regions of the world – from Rwanda to the West Bank – and he’s been on peace delegations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Shane is a founder and board member of The Simple Way, a faith community in inner city Philadelphia that has helped birth and connect radical faith communities around the world. He is married to Katie Jo, a North Carolina girl who also fell in love with the city (and with Shane). They were wed in St. Edwards church, the formerly abandoned cathedral into which homeless families relocated in 1995, launching the beginning of the Simple Way community and a new phase of faith-based justice making.

Shane writes and travels extensively speaking about peacemaking, social justice, and Jesus. Shane’s books include Jesus for PresidentRed Letter RevolutionCommon PrayerFollow Me to FreedomJesus, Bombs and Ice CreamBecoming the Answer to Our Prayers – and his classic The Irresistible Revolution. He has been featured in a number of films including “Another World Is Possible” and “Ordinary Radicals.” His books are translated into more than a dozen languages. Shane speaks over 100 times a year, nationally and internationally.

His work has appeared in Esquire, SPIN, Christianity Today, and The Wall Street Journal, and he has been on everything from Fox News and Al Jazeera to CNN and NPR. He’s given academic lectures at Harvard, Princeton, Brown, Liberty, Duke, and Notre Dame. Shane speaks regularly at denominational gatherings, festivals, and conferences around the globe. Follow him online at:

Facebook: ShaneClaiborne
Twitter: @ShaneClaiborne


Shownotes (with links) from my conversation with Shane Claiborne

MIN 4:00

About 15 years ago Shane Claiborne and a few friends founded The Simple Way in the poorest section of Philadelphia where drug and sex trafficking became the main “industries” when the factories closed. Ever since then, he and his friends have been living in a communally within the neighborhood and serving the residents there in many ways.

I ask Shane, How have they sustained their communal lifestyle for so long?

Shane shares some things that have helped:

1. We are not attached what it should look like in expression or form as much as we have chosen to love each other and Jesus well and allow community to flow out of that.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“If you are in love with your vision for community you will actually destroy it.”

2. Allowing it to change over the years, from a house with 12 people sleeping all over the place in one house with one bathroom to a village of 10 or 20 houses all in the same neighborhood.

3. Helpful wisdom from the outside from others who’ve been doing communal living for a long time (The Benedictine order, for instance: 1,600 years)


What is “new monasticism” anyway? Shane explains.


“Folks are really hungry for community.”


“In Western culture we’ve lost the art of community.”

In other parts of the world this is how people have survived.


Economically impoverished communities can be community-rich (places) because they need each other.


“It’s no coincidence that in some of the richest places in the world we have the highest rates of loneliness..and depression, and suicide.”


“We are made to love and be loved.”


Even the mega-churches put in a lot of effort into making small groups work well (because that’s how you find community).


New Monasticism (as lived out in the U.S. or other wealthy Western countries) connects us with an ancient practice that continues on (and is “life as normal”) in many places in the world.


What communal living in Christian communities looks like in different contexts…

“Sometimes it’s about renouncing materialism and the Kardashians.”


What happens when people pilgrimage to The Simple Way to learn what it’s about.

Click for resources from The Simple Way


On the romantic notions of The Simple Way…

Mother Teresa said, “Calcuttas are everywhere if we only have eyes to see. Find your Calcutta.”


There is a wisdom in learning from other communities. Shane and others set up a network called the community of communities on the web which lists other communities like his. Example: Reba Place Chicago.


This way can get rid of the romanticism and allow people to experience communal living first-hand.

Monthly open houses at A Simple Way are on ramps (to learn about community).


It’s about not just believing the doctrinal statements but about living differently and finding out what that looks like.


We are called to not be conformed to this world. God wants us to use our gifts and talents.

“Non conformity doesn’t mean uniformity.”


On the 2007 fire that destroyed his home and many other homes–leaving about 100 families with nowhere to sleep and live. Shane was left in need within the community he helped.

The very surprising statement the Red Cross relief worker told him.


There are 700 abandon factories and 20,00 abandon houses nearby.


Their community has built a park, a greenhouse, green spaces for gardens. See photos at


How the neighborhood pulled together after the devastating fire of 2007.


As Jesus said, “Don’t worry about tomorrow. Don’t stock up your treasure that moths… and fires… can burn up and destroy.”


Ministry is mutual and if we don’t have needs we can’t be blessed. (Lisa)


One of Shane’s favorite quotes:

“If you’ve just come to help me, you’re wasting your time. But, if you’ve come because your survival and mine are bound up together, then let’s hold hands and we’ll work together.”


This quote comes in and corrects the posture by which we’ve often come on a mission to help people and thinking with a wrong perspective.


His friend says, “We are born on third base, but we think we’ve hit a triple.”


We don’t need has much as we think we do.


On Shane’s take of the story of “the rich young ruler”:
He wants to inherit the kingdom (entitlement thinking).

(QUICK LINK: Read the short Bible story HERE.)


“For folks that are independent and self-sustaining it’s hard for us to know that we need God and other people.”


Independence is not a gospel value. We need interdependence. It’s good to need other people and to need God.”


Besides people wondering what happened to his dreadlocks, people ask Shane this question the most.


Sometimes we have to challenge our location. (The places) where we (live) end up or are built around (that which) counters (opposes) gospel values. Like “suburban sprawl” which was created to get away from the urban problems (we should work to fix) and keep us from doing good for others who need it most.

It’s about living a life, not where we do great things, but where we do small things with great love (Mother Teresa). It’s not how much we do, but how much love we put into every act (of serving God).


We must ask:

What are my skills and passions and how might they connect to this world’s pain and injustice?

Whether it’s being a doctor, lawyer, plumber, or whatever, simply do your part.


What REALLY happens to the “dreds”.


Thank you, Shane! Blessings to you and your work. May we find our place to do good too.

I’d like to find out who’s listening to the show. Please help out and take this short audience survey.
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AND Thanks for listening to the show!

Want to answer the Question of the Day?

QOTD: What is the “Calcutta” near you and what gift might you bring to it ?

(okay, that WAS technically two questions.)

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