Surrendered Heart: Living Captivated

Surrendered Heart is the next step in the Captivating Heart Retreat Series. Stripped down, focused and intimate, this retreat is a weekend away with other women seeking deep healing and deep communion with God. Taught by Marilyn Hodgin, Judy Turner of Christview Ministries and Strings Attached’s own Cari Kaufman, we are incredibly excited about what God is inviting us to. Surrendered Heart takes place at St Scholastica Retreat Center in Ft Smith, Arkansas, May 13-15, 2016. For more information go to  This event is designed for those ladies who have attended Captivating Heart or a similar Captivating based retreat or who have been through the Captivating:Heart to Heart DVD series.

Just A Little Redemption Story: Reflections from Advanced Captivating

Redemption- the act of purchasing back something previously sold; the recovery of an item previously mortgaged or traded.

“When the Bible tells us that Christ came to “redeem mankind” it offers a whole lot more than forgiveness. To simply forgive a broken man is like telling someone running a marathon, ‘It’s okay that you’ve broken your leg. I won’t hold it against you. Now finish the race.’ That would be cruel, to leave him disabled that way. No, there is so much more to our redemption. The core of Christ’s mission is foretold in Isaiah 61:

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners, – (v 1)

The Messiah will come, he says, to bind up and heal, to release and set free. What? Your heart.” –John Eldredge, Wild at Heart

I’ve heard this over and over.  I believe it wholeheartedly.  Christ came to heal the brokenhearted, to set the captives free, to release from darkness the prisoners. I believe He came for me.

To heal MY broken heart,

to proclaim MY freedom and

to release ME from darkness.


I think I always believed that redemption was something Christ was about in the big things in life.  I think I always believed that He wanted to heal the big scars on my heart, the ones that affected my daily life and everyday relationships. I believed He was about healing, even about my healing, but I guess I underestimated what He thought was important enough to recover….to redeem.

Something beautiful happened at Ransomed Heart’s Advanced Captivating Retreat….God set about redeeming all sorts of memories from my past.  Some of them difficult, some of them challenging, some of them were just tiny little pin pricks in my heart- scars I was never aware of until God set about His healing work.  Most of them linked straight back to the spirit of fear in my life.  God set about smashing fears left and right…

 Fear of Heights:

The Screamer, Frontier Life Ranch, Buena Vista, Colorado


Fear of new relationships (yep, I said it…the covenant relationship ‘guru’ is afraid to reach out to new people…interesting, huh…I promise to tell this story soon!):

Allison and Ashley…new and very dear friends.

 And probably most significantly a fear of horses (clearly a work in progress-:)

My new friend, Amigo

This fear, the fear of riding, is something I’ve battled for years. When I was fourteen, I spent the weekend at a friend’s farm.  I had always loved to watch horses (but had never been around them), and my friend offered to go riding with me.

Long story short, I was thrown from the horse, was spectacularly banged up, and it set in play a series of events that wounded me deeply. I have struggled with a fear of horses since.  I never really understood it all until God pushed me to sign up for a 2 hour trail ride during this trip. I obeyed.  I leaned into trust that God was working. I leaned into new friendships and prayer. I leaned into a beautiful bay named Amigo who was awesome.

Honestly, it was hard to start.  I was terrified in the beginning (mostly when we were waiting, and it was up to me to keep my horse from doing things he wasn’t supposed to). Ashley and Allison prayed- over our time, over our horses, over our hearts—and I felt peace start to seep in.

As we rode out onto the trail, through the aspens and over streams…I was transported…God’s presence was so real in those moments.  I could sense God’s healing touch like soothing balm to wounds that I had lived with so long I didn’t remember I had.  Wounds that didn’t seem like a big deal, that didn’t seem like something so important that God would go about healing, wounds I had discounted.

Why did’nt He?

Because Christ is about healing my heart….all of it.


This song….oh, man this song, has been such an encouragement to me during the “re-entry” process (you know- the coming home from an awesome, real time experience with God to the busyness and craziness of our daily lives?). This song so reminds me…I am more than these ashes say….I am the rose…I am the Bride…

Remind Me Who I Am: Reflections from Advanced Captivating

Two beautiful new friends from Advanced Captivating.

“When I lose my way, and I forget my name, remind me who I am.”

Twelve years ago I fell and hit my head.  Hard.

I wish I could tell you I was doing something really cool at the time, but I wasn’t.  I was just getting ready for work (I was in the army at the time), and I passed out and hit my head….on the toilet.  I know, glamorous, right?

I woke up completely blank. Like someone had taken a Magic Eraser to my brain. Full blown amnesia.

It. Was. Terrifying.

I knew nothing. Not my name, not where I was, what I was doing there. Nothing. I was paralyzed with fear. Climbed onto a couch that I didn’t recognize, with a blanket I had never seen before, curled up into a ball and began to cry.

My Battery Commander called my husband (who traveled out of state for work at the time) because I had not shown up for work and was several hours late.

As soon as I picked up the phone, he knew something was very wrong. My commander sent my platoon sergeant and my motor sergeant to pick me up. I did not know them.  I followed them out of fear and sheer obedience to the man on the other end of the phone who seemed to know me.

I was in a military hospital for three weeks with close to full blown amnesia.  It was one of the most frightening times of my life. A time made bearable only by the constant presence of my faithful husband…he stayed day and night. He talked slow and introduced people….people like my commander, my best friend, my sister…people like my mom.

And every four hours, when a nurse’s assistant would poke her head around the curtain and ask, “Lieutenant Kaufman?” I would look at my dear, dear Charlie and he would nod.

He would remind me who I am.

Photo by Melton Microfilms

Six times a day (sometimes more) for 18 days–such an intense act of love–he would remind me who I am. Dear God, I love that man.

(There is so much more to this story, but the rest of the tale is for another day.)

I went to Advanced Captivating last month with just a little touch of spiritual amnesia.  Do you get this?  Do you ever forget, in the hustle and bustle of life who you are in Christ? That you are Co-heir to the Kingdom of God? Knight and Warrior Princess?

That you are




I traveled to the heart of the Rocky Mountains…to the wonder of creation….and there, through the ministry of Ransomed Heart, through the beautiful, captivating women who traveled there seeking refreshment as well, through the ministering of the Holy Spirit,  God took me by the heart reminded me who I am–such an intense act of love–to remind me who I am.

“If I’m your beloved, can you help me believe it?”

Another song from the retreat…this song obviously resonated with me.  You, too?

Advanced Captivating

It seems like a surreal lifetime ago, but it has only been a short month since I boarded a plan to Buena Vista, Colorado to take part in Ransomed Heart’s first Advanced Captivating Retreat.  I attended my first Captivating Retreat in April of 2010, and it rocked my world.  When I learned of the opportunity to enroll in the lottery for this retreat, I didn’t hesitate….ok, maybe I hesitated for a minute thinking about the expense, the time away from family, the difficulty on my husband and- oh yeah, how far behind I would be on the laundry when I returned after 4 days in the Rockies, but that was literally only for a minute.  I was elated when I was accepted.

I had no idea what to expect coming into the retreat.  What I experienced was far beyond anything I could have imagined.  I suppose if I had to choose a word that summed up the long weekend it would be redemption. God was about redeeming memories and breaking bondage in a big way.

I learned so much about God’s true nature, about who I had shaped God to be and about what I needed to do to line those two images up that it is still, even weeks later, difficult to put into words- and the reason that I have struggled to post of late.  So over the next several weeks, I will try to share what I experienced, some of the music that has traveled with me home and other bits of insight I picked up along the way.


An update, a book review (and giveaway!), and some other lame excuses…

Ummmm…wow….so long time, no post! I feel a bit like I’ve run across a friend  I promised I would call last month in the freezer section of the grocery store.  I’m sorry seems a little lame. I missed you seems disingenuous (even if it’s true.) I’ve been a little busy is a terrible understatement, but I am sure you have been too, so it feels a lot like an excuse. Anyway you cut it, I feel a bit shameful for not having written in several weeks…so, well, I bring you presents! Presents make things all better right?

Ok…so let’s dig in….

I’ve been busy:

Photo courtesy of Old Hat Studios

We have finally wrapped on Stage 1’s Fall Production of Alice in Wonderland.  Cardsman #4 and Flower/Lobster/Cardsman both did amazing jobs in their roles. My dear hubby and I ran the sound for the show (woo…that was no easy feat) .

The following week zoomed by and by Thursday I was headed to Ransomed Heart’s Advanced Captivating Retreat in Buena Vista, Colorado. The weather was beautiful and the setting absolutely stunning.  There was so much wonder and love to be had and shared there. I promise there are posts coming with what I learned, what God shared and how amazing an experience it was (but I am trying to get to the presents part :)!

But now to the nitty gritty….during this awesome experience in Colorado, I got to meet two of my favorite authors: John and Stasi Eldredge.

(I wish I had a photo with Stasi, but I forgot to bring my camera the day I chatted with her.)

John has written a new book and I was lucky enough to get a preview copy to review….and even luckier to get an opportunity to hear him speak a bit about this amazing work.  Ya’ll this is one of his bests…a book that promises to help set the Christian heart free…and delivers.

Here is the review I wrote for Amazon:

Beautiful. Scandalous. Disruptive.

This book will change your view of Jesus. John Eldredge has written a book meant to set the hearts of Christians held captive to the religiousity free. Beautiful Outlaw walks us through the gospels, the scriptural stories of Jesus’ life and instills personality, motive and heart to each one. Seeing Jesus in this way has made me fall in love with him all over again. Seeing Jesus as truly human who experienced hunger, compassion, thirst, love, fatigue, and anger helped me to come to terms with my own human experiences.

Looking at the gospels through the lens of shaping a picture of a personality has helped me understand the man more thoroughly and in so doing, understand God more thoroughly. His playfulness and sense of humor, His gentleness and compassion, His cunning and disdain for the religious spirit of the age are presented in a way that is easy and quickly understood.

This is one of John Eldredge’s best books to date.  If you are looking for the story of the real Jesus…not some “creepy, religious” version of Jesus, this book is for you.  If you are looking to set your heart free from religiousity and legalism, this book is for you. If you just want to learn more about the man and love more about our Savior, this book is for you. Read it….more than once….you won’t be sorry!

What is so cool about this book and it’s message is how generous Ransomed Heart has been with it.  They are making available an 18 video DVD series FREE by download or live stream as well as the companion study guide.  There are also opportunities to take part in a live simulcast and a small live tour this fall.  HOW COOL IS THAT? For more info go to

So, in the spirit of generosity that the Ransomed Heart team has started, I am giving away a copy of Beautiful Outlaw to one lucky reader….here’s how to enter:  Watch the video trailer for the book below and leave a comment with your thoughts about the trailer before midnight on Oct 19th 2011.