Learning the Trees [SSL174]

Today, I’m featuring excerpts from an article found in Nautilus magazine online. It’s by Khriseten Bellows called “Death & Rebirth in Forests: On the Lives of Trees”.
🚩Get access to my notes and the link to the original article at the support page here: https://www.patreon.com/posts/44815763 Featured music on the episode is by Chad Crouch and is called “Song Sparrow” (CC) Listen now with the AUDIO PLAYER:
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REPLAY of the LIVE class (on Periscope)! with notes!

I was a sweaty, nervous wreck on my first periscope.

It’s comical…did anyone ever see Broadcast News (the movie)?
I needed two tissues for my sympathetic nervous system.

(Some technical difficulties threw me just before broadcast and I talked SO VERY fast.)

If you didn’t get to see it here you go!
(Twitter pulled the plug on this feature – sorry everyone)




THE #1 Myth about the SOUL…

is that we have one.

But first….we should get on the same page…


(what are we talking about?)

This is how I’m describing it:


In the Old Testament the Hebrew word for soul is nephesh. We might use it this way, “1,517 souls were lost in the Titanic disaster.”

SOUL ≠ dead BUGS BUNNY …like a floating ghost and that sort of stuff.

Not a faint rendering of bugs bunny leaving his body to play a harp on a cloud with Porky Pig. Not something that is ghosty and haunting a house or helping Demi Moore on a Pottery Wheel. (Patrick Swayze-style..google it, young people.)


Ancients thought of the mind and heart differently (the will and the emotions)…

Maybe these verses come to mind…but you’ve been thinking about them in your own context instead of the ancient context from which they were written.


Remember this one?

The heart is deceitful and wicked above all things JER 17:9

(Guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life)

or Proverbs 4:23 

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

….The writers of these scriptures were not talking about emotions and feelings when they said “heart” (like we associate the heart today…they were talking about the HEART as one’s will and control center of a person…(the thing we now associate with the mind.)

For them, the emotions (the heart for us in our context) were associated, instead, with the bowels. Perhaps a bit gross..but there is some

MEDICAL TRUTH/correlation : anxiety and stress are closely associated with disease and problem that happen in the intestines…like….ulcerated colon, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (bloating, constipation, gas, and other fun things), digestion issues, food sensitivities and problems in that part of the body. These are extremely related to one’s emotions and levels of stress.

The GEM MODEL of the Soul (my version)


Think of the SOUL as a gem and the facets are ways to see the soul.

You can go as far as saying other things beyond these are facets:

family of origin, social economic situation, skin color (if that has been a defining factor in your life)

education, the country you live in,

Even Christianity is a facet. A worldview is a facet that we can gain a kind of look at who we are.

Grace is central to Christianity, for instance. We can look at our soul through the facet of grace.

When light is added to a stone you can see its flaws and imperfections and you can see its quality (color, cut, clarity, caret)

UGLY soul? Is that possible? what do you think?

In his book Care of Souls, David Benner writes, “We can define soul care as the support and restoration of the well-being of persons in their depth and totality, with particular concern for their inner life. Soul care is done in the context of community.”

The vantage point of Soul Care views struggle or failings not as fatal flaws or illness to be “cured”. Not therapy or self-help. 

It’s a sustaining endeavor for our interior lives and our relationships, like water and food is for the body. Incidentally, caring for the body falls within the bounds of Soul Care.

Ten Signs that You Need the Renewal of Soul Care 

1. Fruitlessness. Are there observable deficits in the enacted your Fruit of the Spirit? That means, is there any lack or slack in the


areas of love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, and self-control? (If not, I think E.T. went home without you. Phone again. You might want to text, and retweet as well.)

2. You find yourself perceiving things others say as personally offensive, or as direct attacks. 

3. You are “venting” more in person or online.
4. You feel unloved.
5.You feel increased frustration, restlessness, or desolation.

6.Your fears and anxiety are more prevalent.

7.You have increased tension in relationships.

8. You struggle with one or more of the “seven deadly 

sins”: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony. 


9. You have problems sleeping or bad dreams.

10. You’re in a creative slump. 


THE #1 myth about the soul is that…. you have one. You don’t have a soul you are a Soul. You have a body. George MacDonald, in 1892 (C.S. Lewis quotes him and the quote is mistakenly attributed to him sometimes)

Think of the Soul as “the real you” the essence of you. contained in a body, yes, but made up of everything about you in a pure sense.

Some might say the soul gets extinguished or goes to paradise or gets absorbed into the great Life Force (God) …but in terms of what you need…you always need Soul Care, because you are a soul and that include both the visible and the invisible.

All this more and much more is available in my book. Shame-filled plug.

On Preparing for the “Other Shoe to Drop”

Screen Shot 2013-06-16 at 10.35.49 PMMaybe it’s happened to you before too…

You look at your child who may sleeping, or being themselves, or doing something they love …and your heart fills with a rush of joy and good pleasure. This is quickly followed by dread.

“Maybe it’ll all be taken away,” you think.

Maybe something terrible is about to happen. Maybe things won’t work out. Fear.

Or perhaps this sort of dread will surface right after a big personal victory or good news.

It’s like that perfect moment of happiness has a gremlin that pops up and spits on it. For many of us, especially if we endured a bit of pain or disappointment, our Joy is followed by foreboding.

This strange death grip on joy is quite common. With a self-protection machete we slash down joy or happiness with contingency plans and preparation for the worst. Upcoming disappointment won’t catch us on our heals, we think.

It’s all about avoiding feeling vulnerable according to Brené Brown who talks about this in her book Daring Greatly. She’s done the research and says that those who’ve done regular preparation to avoid pain still aren’t prepared when disaster strikes. Instead they are devastated, just like the rest of us. But sadly, they have mortgaged away their joyful moments in on-the-spot while bracing for potential disappointment and pain.

So what can inoculate us from from short selling our joy?

It’s simple: In-the-moment gratitude.

Instead of waiting for the other shoe to drop, push aside the tormenting doubt, dread, or mistrust. Sideline the foreboding that steals that moment and latch onto to gratitude. Hold on with both hands. Gratitude sustains joy. It’s like a Defense Against the Dark Arts skill, says Brown. She’s right. It works.

It might go something like this, “Oh, my, we’re all picnicking and enjoying a wonderful time outside. No one’s fighting and everyone’s happy to be here. Yes, it might not last, but my how grateful I am in this very moment, this perfect beautiful moment. I’m going to let it soak into my bones. I’m breathing it in.”

Stay with it as long as you can. There is a guiding light in gratitude… and gremlins, as we know, are afraid of light.

The truth is that joy and sorrow are linked. They do a dance our whole lives, really. But, hope and resilience can win the day. That’s an important bit of useful knowledge to give our children, too. With some intention, we can live in the Joy.

Oh, and when the other shoe drops, use it as a planter.

(photo source)

Thank you for reading today. If you’d pass this article along to someone who needs it or out on the inter webs, I’d be grateful. You can  feature it on your blog too. Just click on the Permissions Policy for details to stay legit.

I hope you’ll sign up for future posts in the sidebar! Have a joyful day sustained by gratitude today, friend.

Just a Narrow Strip

Tarns Hows, Lake Cumbria, UK


When I used the picture you see here in the header section of this blog, it seemed like such a shame to crop it down to fit the format. The expanse of the photograph and the beauty of the scene is diminished when most of it is hacked out. Obviously.

I felt I had to give this scene of Cumbria Lake full exposure. So, here you are.


This limited view concept makes sense on a larger scale too. Our default view is only a partial view. How easy it is to forget that.

We don’t know much about what lies off our perspective. We only know (or think we know), what we can visualize and grasp. Even just that bit may be mysterious or confusing.

An ugly scene or situation is only seen, in part. Our past is hindsight, at best, and our future is unknown. Unseen. What we have before us is a mere strip of the whole picture. The Big Picture.

I believe the justice and goodness of God will one day bring all things into better view. If we judge Reality by only what we’ve experienced, and seen first hand, we settle for just a small strip, and not the panorama. the panorama awaits. Hang on. It gets better.

Have you realized the smallness of your vantage point?
What things, in your circumstances or life, are likely much bigger than can be seen right now?

Of Bullies & 5 Clues that Your Dictatorship is Ending

The face that could launch a thousand mirrors into pieces.

I have to be very honest with all of you today. I’m REALLY struggling.

I’m reeling from some awful news about a man who’s been going to our church. The article is here, but be aware, it makes for horrid reading if you’re a parent, or have a heart for children.

Everyone is heartily nauseated by this series of events, and plenty of people hope he dies, or is tortured, etc. As sick as this makes me, I continue to wonder where redemption and restoration can be found for all involved. What would God have us do? My heart feels broken.

I ask you to stop, right now, and pray for all involved.

Abuses of authority rank at the top of things I loathe, and I’ve seen it in many varieties that I won’t go into right now. I just cannot seem to get a handle on this situation, right now. I couldn’t sleep last night, and I’ve been wondering just how many young people have been hurt by this person, or those like him.

Sadly, the statics are so high, it’s likely there are more abusers that just haven’t been caught, within our fellowship and community–but I pray not. The trouble is, like rape, child molestation is one of the most underreported crimes. The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin states that only 1-10% are ever disclosed. Please, read that again, and let it sink in.

Kids like my disabled son, and shy children, are prime targets. And hearing about it all, so close to home, makes my blood run cold, and prompts me to action to defend and protect the innocent.

A FEW FAST FACTS that you should know:
• 96% of these types of abusers are male, and the average pedophile knows the victim, and molests 260 victims during their lifetime.

(I’m not trying to condemn a gender, but seriously…what the heck?!)

• All have a fascination with pornography. Please! Read that again. Now, think: how easy is it to get a hold of that, and feed the monster? Rates of abuse are skyrocketing, with no end in site. If you struggle with this issue, and pornography is in your life. Get. help. now.

Pornography is a gateway poison, that leads to a diseased mind and criminality. We need to come forward, and be honest about just how detrimental it is for all sectors of our society.

• The behavior is highly repetitive, to the point of compulsion, rather than resulting from a lack of judgment.

Um. wow.
And here the other fast facts from that source.

For now,

I’m going to channel my energies in this post to opposing and satirizing Dictators, because that’s about all I can do without crying, at the moment. Bullies come in all shapes, sizes, and varieties, but they have the same basic qualities.

My choice today is Muammar Muhammad al-Gaddafi, who’s a bit dim witted. Bullies thrive with creating fear, dictators especially so. When the fear is diminished, hope flourishes; and many will struggle to the death to gain freedom.

Here are 5 Clues Gaddafi could use to extend his life. But, I really hope he never reads this.

1. Realize the importance of shoes. Sure, women, for millennia, have valued shoes, but in the middle east, the bottom of one’s shoe is considered vile. If posters of you are getting whacked with shoes, your time is running out. You are considered lower than dirt, and probably for good reason.

2. Calling Yourself a Martyr Doesn’t seem to hold any sway. When Gaddafi said, “I cannot leave my country, I will die a martyr,” it probably told his opposition he really just “didn’t get it”, right? Or, maybe martyr in Arabic means “fool”.

3. Your Fancy Hats Cease to Charm People. Nothing says coo-coo like a stupid hat worn by a sociopath. This has never been more true. You folks from Reedsville know just what I mean.

4. Your Putting on of Aires is Lamentable. If you pretend you are Lawrence of Arabia and try to imitate his wardrobe, disaster is probably in your future. Really Gaddafi is decades overdue.

5. If your best friends are dictators, the signs look bad. Palling around with other known dictators isn’t just in poor taste, it shows to your “subjects” that you root for the bad guys, which includes yourself. Try to not be retarded, if possible.

Thank you for hanging on with me, and reading this today.

I’m sorry it’s bizarre. Too many sad things all at once I suppose.