Shaping a Woman's Soul

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We are a generation of women bent on running. Hurry here. Scurry there. Sprint to the office. Hustle the kids. . . . God invites us to run to him and then stop running.'
- Judith Couchman As we rush to fulfill our roles as organizers, caretakers, and nurturers, we increasingly discover that it's time to slow down and consider the needs of our inner, spiritual self. It's time to develop our soul.
Shaping A Woman's Soul encourages us to take a ...

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Overview

We are a generation of women bent on running. Hurry here. Scurry there. Sprint to the office. Hustle the kids. . . . God invites us to run to him and then stop running.'
- Judith Couchman As we rush to fulfill our roles as organizers, caretakers, and nurturers, we increasingly discover that it's time to slow down and consider the needs of our inner, spiritual self. It's time to develop our soul.
Shaping A Woman's Soul encourages us to take a spiritual retreat with sixty beautifully written devotionals. Drawing from the wisdom of the Psalms, Judith Couchman invites our spirits to welcome God's loving caress, which molds us, forms us, and shapes us into women of inner strength and beauty-the women we were created to be.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780310205173
  • Publisher: Zondervan
  • Publication date: 11/1/1996
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.34 (w) x 8.01 (h) x 0.61 (d)

Meet the Author

Judith Couchman is the owner of Judith and Company, a business devoted to writing, speaking, and editing. The author/compiler of numerous books, including Shaping a Woman's Soul, Designing a Woman's Life, and several other Women of Faith Bible studies, she makes her home in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Judith Couchman es la duena de Judith compania, un negocio dedicado a escribir, hablar, y dirigir. La escritora y compiladora de numerosos libros incluyendo. Formando el Alma de las Mujeres, Disenando la vida de mujeres y muchos mas. Mujer de Fe- Estudios Biblicos. Ella hace su casa en Colorado Springs, Colorado.

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Read an Excerpt

TURNING INSIDE OUT

Rediscovering That Soul Matters

To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul;

in you I trust, O my God....

Show me your ways, O LORD,

teach me your paths;

guide me in your truth and teach me,

for you are God my Savior,

and my hope is in you all day long....

Search me, O God, and know my heart;

test me and know my anxious thoughts.

See if there is any offensive way in me,

and lead me in the way everlasting.

--Psalm 25: 1-2, 4-5; 139: 23-24

As a young man, the famous photographer Ansel Adams played the piano quite well. However, once at a party Adams performed Chopin's F Major Nocturne in a less-than-glowing manner.

"In some strange way my right hand started off in F-sharp major and my left hand behaved well in F major," he recalled. "I could not bring them together. I went through the entire nocturne with my hands separated by a half-step."

The next day, another guest complimented him: "You never missed a wrong note!"

If we feel as though we're playing wrong notes, if no matter how hard we try, we're internally askew, it's time to ask, "What have I done for my soul lately?" Most likely the answer will be, "Not much."

When we neglect the soul, it devises ways to tell us. We feel restless and disconnected. Nothing satisfies and we ache inside. We try working, shopping, eating, cleaning, creating, lovemaking, or socializing, but these don't quell the inner throb. We run to whatever provides a quick fix, whatever keeps us busy, forgetting the remedy is spiritual, not physical, and only a half-step away into the soul.

Psychologist Larry Crabb says, "An aching soul is evidence not of neurosis or spiritual immaturity, but of realism." And reality dictates that if we don't care for the soul, growing and shaping it in God's image, life turns unceasingly flat. We wind up like King Solomon, who complained, "I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind."

But how, exactly, do we grow and shape the soul?

There are various methods--many are described in this book--but each way leads to the same destination. Soul development means periodically slowing down, hiding away, and replenishing the person within. It clears the mind, opens the heart, molds the will, revives the spirit. But most of all, soul time teaches us to live from the inside out rather than on the surface. It centers and transforms us, equipping us to live fully and graciously. It hands us the gift of meaning.

For Christians, soul work wraps itself in a relationship with God: loving, following, and obeying him. In turn it rewards us with the fruit of his Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Yet these aren't qualities designed just to make us feel good. Christ asks us to lavish them on the world--loving, giving, and serving as he did two thousand years ago.

So how do we begin?

By quieting ourselves before God. We can pray with the psalmist, "To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. Show me your ways, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth," and he will help us rediscover that soul matters.

Lord, my heart cries out, "Life is meaningless!" I ache inside and long to fill the emptiness with something that lasts. I realize you are the only one who can truly satisfy me. Please show me your path to growing and shaping my soul.

THE STRONG TOWER

Where to Run Away from It All

The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;

my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.

He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold....

Therefore I will praise you among the nations, O LORD;

I will sing praises to your name....

For you have been my refuge,

a strong tower against the foe.

--Psalm 18: 2, 49; 61: 3

Alice never could quite make out, in thinking it over afterwards, how it was that they began. All she remembers is, that they were running hand in hand, and the Queen went so fast that it was all she could do to keep up with her.

"And still the Queen kept crying, 'Faster! Faster!' but Alice felt she could not go faster, though she had no breath left to say so. The most curious part of the thing was, that the trees and the other things round them never changed their places at all. However fast they went, they never seemed to pass anything.

"Just as Alice was getting quite exhausted, they stopped. [She] looked around her in great surprise. 'Why, I do believe we've been under this tree the whole time! Everything's just as it was!'

"'Of course it is,' said the Queen. 'It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run twice as fast as that!'"

Like Alice and the Red Queen in Through the Looking-Glass, we are a generation of women bent on running. Hurry here. Scurry there. Sprint to the office. Hustle the kids. Run by the neighbor's. Dash through the store. So much running, yet it seems we're getting nowhere. So much running, we feel like running away.

Where did we learn that relentless running is a virtue? Certainly we have responsibilities; certainly we must keep them. But how much is too much? How long can we run before we implode? Often "too much" arrives sooner than expected, and without time off we can burn out on short notice.

But I have good news. It's all right, even necessary, to run away from it all.

God invites us to run to him and then stop running, to hide out in his strong tower away from the clamoring world. The psalmist remembered, "In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.... He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters."

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments 11
Introduction 13
Pt. 1 Hiding: Pulling Away and Within 17
Pt. 2 Resting: Leaning on Everlasting Arms 33
Pt. 3 Cleansing: Restoring the Inner Person 51
Pt. 4 Surrendering: Giving All to a Generous God 67
Pt. 5 Seeking: Meeting God in Prayer 85
Pt. 6 Hearing: Listening to His Voice 103
Pt. 7 Reflecting: Developing a Discerning Mind 125
Pt. 8 Seeing: Looking Past the Physical World 141
Pt. 9 Being: Placing the Value on Character 159
Pt. 10 Loving: Sharing the Soul with Others 177
Pt. 11 Serving: Doing What Grows the Soul 197
Pt. 12 Celebrating: Rejoicing in Each Day 215
Notes 233
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First Chapter

TURNING INSIDE OUT Rediscovering That Soul Matters

To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul;
in you I trust, O my God....
Show me your ways, O LORD,
teach me your paths;
guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long....
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
—Psalm 25:1—2, 4—5; 139:23—24

As a young man, the famous photographer Ansel Adams played the piano quite well. However, once at a party Adams performed Chopin's F Major Nocturne in a less-than-glowing manner.
'In some strange way my right hand started off in F-sharp major and my left hand behaved well in F major,' he recalled. 'I could not bring them together. I went through the entire nocturne with my hands separated by a half-step.'
The next day, another guest complimented him: 'You never missed a wrong note!'
If we feel as though we're playing wrong notes, if no matter how hard we try, we're internally askew, it's time to ask, 'What have I done for my soul lately?' Most likely the answer will be, 'Not much.'
When we neglect the soul, it devises ways to tell us. We feel restless and disconnected. Nothing satisfies and we ache inside. We try working, shopping, eating, cleaning, creating, lovemaking, or socializing, but these don't quell the inner throb. We run to whatever provides a quick fix, whatever keeps us busy, forgetting the remedy is spiritual, not physical, and only a half-step away into the soul.
Psychologist Larry Crabb says, 'An aching soul is evidence not of neurosis or spiritual immaturity, but of realism.' And reality dictates that if we don't care for the soul, growing and shaping it in God's image, life turns unceasingly flat. We wind up like King Solomon, who complained, 'I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.'
But how, exactly, do we grow and shape the soul?
There are various methods—many are described in this book—but each way leads to the same destination. Soul development means periodically slowing down, hiding away, and replenishing the person within. It clears the mind, opens the heart, molds the will, revives the spirit. But most of all, soul time teaches us to live from the inside out rather than on the surface. It centers and transforms us, equipping us to live fully and graciously. It hands us the gift of meaning.
For Christians, soul work wraps itself in a relationship with God: loving, following, and obeying him. In turn it rewards us with the fruit of his Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Yet these aren't qualities designed just to make us feel good. Christ asks us to lavish them on the world—loving, giving, and serving as he did two thousand years ago.
So how do we begin?
By quieting ourselves before God. We can pray with the psalmist, 'To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. Show me your ways, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth,' and he will help us rediscover that soul matters.

Lord, my heart cries out, 'Life is meaningless!' I ache inside and long to fill the emptiness with something that lasts. I realize you are the only one who can truly satisfy me. Please show me your path to growing and shaping my soul.

THE STRONG TOWER Where to Run Away from It All The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.
He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold....
Therefore I will praise you among the nations, O LORD;
I will sing praises to your name....
For you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the foe.
—Psalm 18:2, 49; 61:3
Alice never could quite make out, in thinking it over afterwards, how it was that they began. All she remembers is, that they were running hand in hand, and the Queen went so fast that it was all she could do to keep up with her.
'And still the Queen kept crying, 'Faster! Faster!' but Alice felt she could not go faster, though she had no breath left to say so. The most curious part of the thing was, that the trees and the other things round them never changed their places at all. However fast they went, they never seemed to pass anything.
'Just as Alice was getting quite exhausted, they stopped. [She] looked around her in great surprise. 'Why, I do believe we've been under this tree the whole time! Everything's just as it was!'
''Of course it is,' said the Queen. 'It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run twice as fast as that!''
Like Alice and the Red Queen in Through the Looking-Glass, we are a generation of women bent on running. Hurry here. Scurry there. Sprint to the office. Hustle the kids. Run by the neighbor's. Dash through the store. So much running, yet it seems we're getting nowhere. So much running, we feel like running away.
Where did we learn that relentless running is a virtue? Certainly we have responsibilities; certainly we must keep them. But how much is too much? How long can we run before we implode? Often 'too much' arrives sooner than expected, and without time off we can burn out on short notice.
But I have good news. It's all right, even necessary, to run away from it all.
God invites us to run to him and then stop running, to hide out in his strong tower away from the clamoring world. The psalmist remembered, 'In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.... He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.'

Read More Show Less

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