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.

Captivating Heart was awesome!



There were 31 of us….women from all walks of life….beautiful women who came for rest…who came for restoration…who came for redemption.

And after a year of planning and  and working….the weekend was amazing!


We had adventure..

We had friendship….Join us for the rest at

Oh so many things to tell….

Where to begin….there are loads happening around here (with me…and with the ministry!)

So I will sum up the goings on!

First, Captivating Heart is coming to life!

Captivating Heart is a retreat ministry based on the bestselling book, Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge.  Captivating is based on the message that there are core desires of woman’s heart- to be romanced, to play an irreplaceable role in a great adventure, and to be the beauty of the story- and that unlocking and understanding these desires are the secret to the feminine heart.  The core message of Captivating is this:

Your heart matters more than anything else in all creation.  The desires that you had as a little girl and the longings you still feel as a woman are telling you of the life God created you to live.  ~ Captivating

I have felt a strong desire for several years to bring this message to my community in a way that is affordable and accessible to women locally, so a team of twelve other faithful ladies and I have been working diligently to provide just that…and it’s coming together! I am so excited! AND I so want you to join us!  There are tons of ways to register:

1) You can go to the events page and click on the “register now” button under Captivating Heart…


2) Check out our online home at  You can find out all the information and register right there online! Special shout out to Madwire Media for donating design hours to create our site!

We’re hosting our first fundraising event!

To raise funds for Captivating Heart and provide scholarships to those who could not otherwise afford the retreat we are hosting a Garden Party on June 9 from 10-12.  We would love for ya’ll to come out….you can purchase your ticket to attend and find out more about the event here:

Fundraising has begun in earnest! 

So if you can’t make our awesome ladies tea (I’m super excited to wear my new garden hat!) and you want to donate to our cause (please, please, please consider it!) then, we have a way for you to do that as well through our totally secure fundly site…We’d love to partner with you to help make this happen!

Hmmmm…I think that those are all the exciting updates I can think of right now, but the truth is I’m super tired and I need to rest up for a brain scan tomorrow….beauty sleep for pictures, you know? (beneath this false bravado is a girl secretly asking for your prayers…I really detest having someone inject radioactive dye into my head, strap my head into a cage and stick me into a really noisy, very tight-quartered tunnel.) Thank you so much in advance for your prayers and love! Hopefully, I will have more to share this weekend!

Grace and Peace,


Haunting Ache

“The ways we find to numb our aches, our longings, and our pain are not benign. They are malignant. They entangle themselves in our souls like a cancer and, once attached, become addictions that are both cruel and relentless. Though we seek them out for a little relief from the sorrows of life, addictions turn on us and imprison us in chains that separate us from the heart of God and others as well. It is a lonely prison of our own making. Each chain forged in the fire of  our own indulgent choice. Yet, “Our lovers have so intertwined themselves our identity that to give them up feels like personal death… We wonder if it is possible to live without them.” (the Sacred Romance.) Yes, we are, each of us, to greater and lesser degress still in bondage. But the good news is that “God has not  deserted us in our bondage.” (Ezra 9:9)

We need not be ashamed that our hearts ache; that we need and thirst for much more. All of our hearts ache. All of our hearts are at some level unsatisfied and longing. It is our insatiable need for more that drives us to our God. What we need to see is that all our controlling and our hiding, all our indulging actually serves to separate us from our hearts. We lose touch with those longings that make us women. And the substitutes never, ever resolve the deeper issue of our souls.”– Captivating, John and Stasi Eldredge

To understand addiction of any kind, we must accept that all of us have vices….”other lovers” we turn to; to hide, to indulge, to control our lives; “other lovers” who are not God. This realization can helps us return to the heart of God….this ache, this longing is designed to drive us exactly there….to God–the only one who can fill the void.

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?

Awakening: Reflections from Advanced Captivating

I wanted to share this song with you….oh man, this song…this song truly moves me.

This is one of the first songs we heard at Adv Captivating. It totally captured the heart of what I came to the retreat hungry and thirsty for.  I came for awakening.  I came for revival. I came to hear God’s voice fresh and new in my life.

I was not disappointed.

“Like the rising sun that shines
From the darkness comes a light
I hear Your voice say
This is my awakening!”

Jesus, come.  Holy Spirit, we desire- awakening!

Digging for Living Water: Reflections from Advanced Captivating

 Frontier Life Ranch,Buena Vista,Colorado

 My first morning at Adv Captivating dawned clear and chilly. Sleep had not visited me much in the night, and I was reluctant to brave the pitch dark of our 12-woman bunk room to climb down from my (top) bunk and prepare for the day ahead.

God was insistent.  Calling gently, “come walk with me. Greet the sun with me.” So I (grumbling) rousted myself from the bunk and got dressed for the day ahead.

Much of the material of Advanced Captivating focused on establishing conversational intimacy with God. This wasn’t a subject new to me. I have heard the voice of God clearly for most of my life, but for the several months leading up to this event, that voice was



Far away.


Jesus and I just hadn’t been talking like we used to.  Blame it on the busy season of life and my squeezing out his voice with activity and noise. Blame it on the seminary studies and my squeezing out his voice with the voices of classic theologians. Blame it on the dry, desert-like conditions of my heart at the time.  Blame it on me….because God didn’t change. He was still there. Maybe I was the one gone….

I was terrified during the first session of the retreat when Stasi encouraged us to take time to chat with God. To ask questions. To start small with questions we knew the answer to, questions that we weren’t too invested in. I was afraid that no matter the size of the question, He would not speak. But I decided I would listen for Him any way, and start small.

When I felt His invitation to walk early Friday morning, I was elated.  I knew exactly where He would take me. A beautiful overlook just up from our bunkhouse offered breathtaking views of the sun rising over the mountains….it would be there….we would sit, I would breathe in creation and the wonder of the Creator and we would be renewed together. I packed my camera to record the moment…and set off….

As an act of obedience, I told God I would follow only where he led on our walk. Turn by turn.  (Knowing exactly where we were going…of course…) I smiled as he led me up the stairs toward the overlook. I looked ahead to choose the rock I would curl up on. As an afterthought, I remembered my promise….

“Left or right here, God?”


“Are you sure? The overlook is to the right.”

I know. Turn left.


I continued to follow his directions down a small path behind the gym that led past dumpsters and the dining hall. The path led into the woods and was not well lit. The sun wasn’t up yet and the way was difficult to see. I breathed deep and trusted, and made my way up the narrow, windy way.

Not far up the hill I heard a bubbling brook.  The sound of water rushing was clear and calming.  A few steps more I found a foot bridge.

This is your place.  Stop here. Sit and meet the sun.

I sat on the cold wooden planks of the bridge. Sat listening to the water flow. Sat waiting for the sun to rise. Sat praying through my daily prayers.

The white bark of the aspens reflected the light as it began creeping into the wood, illuminating the scene.  I looked down at the bubbling brook beneath my feet….

and was stunned to see a dry creek bed.

The bubbling brook was completely underground.

This is your heart, Cari. See, the Living Water is still there…bubbling to the surface here and there, but, mostly, buried.  To expose the water, you will have to dig. I’m ready to uncover it…Are you?

I sat and wept that morning.  Broken hearted that I had buried His life so far beneath mine, but relieved to know that He still dwelled within me. I asked Him to show me how to dig.  He did. He is.

And God is so so good because at the same time…

He also made it rain….

As part of this series of reflections, I’ll be sharing with you some of the music from Advanced Captivating….Ransomed Heart did such an amazing job of creating rich worship experiences I want to share a little taste of that with you.

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.