Stories of growth through spiritual direction

A pastor's journey
Coming home
Hearing God's still small voice
Soul friend through the valley
Beyond unworthiness
Knowledge activated for life's circumstances
Online no hindrance
Woman of honor
A lifeline in troubled times
Loved and accepted

A pastor's journey

I began meeting with Elizabeth during a particularly turbulent time in my ministry as a pastor. Elizabeth’s guidance was invaluable and helped me to keep focused on God’s presence in the midst of conflict and upheaval. Since then I have transitioned into another ministry context and my discussions with Elizabeth (via Skype) have helped me process well and be aware of God’s work in the midst of transition.

Especially for leaders in ministry I would recommend Elizabeth wholeheartedly as a Spiritual Director. I think she has a keen understanding of the challenges of pastoral work and a gentle focus on God’s presence in the midst of the frenetic activity of ministry that is extremely helpful. It is unfortunate that for leaders in ministry one of the first things we overlook is listening to God’s still small voice. Meeting with Elizabeth has allowed God space to meet with me during a crucial time in my life and ministry and helped me to find grace in the midst of the struggle. Thank you Elizabeth!!

Chris, New York City
January 2014

Coming home

I knew it wouldn't be easy, returning home after living and working more than 2 years in an underdeveloped country. I decided to seek spiritual guidance for my re-entry and I signed up for a guided silent retreat with Elizabeth.

Living back home I encountered a sense of desolation, as Elizabeth called it. Despite a warm welcome and much love, I felt lost, as if God had disappeared from my life. I felt this wealthy country to be godless and empty. Once on the retreat, in the peaceful environment of the abbey, I was able to express my loss and frustration, not in words but on paper and in clay. Through meditation and contemplation I truly arrived home and I found comfort again in God's presence. I was also gently reminded of who I am, someone in need of a lot of work, a work that God had started years ago and will continue.

I am grateful for Elizabeth's guidance throughout this process, it was valuable to be reminded that many have gone before and many will follow. When I returned from the retreat I received a request to work abroad again, supporting the disaster relief response after Haiyan's destruction. It's a wonderful paradox, as soon as I was at home with self and with God, I was ready to go once more.

Anna Denise
November 2013

Hearing God's still small voice

Whenever Elizabeth welcomes me and she closes the door behind us, my anxiety and restlessness somehow stay outside and I feel a sense of peace coming over me. I sit down and, during this hour with Elizabeth and the Lord, something happens. No matter how we start or what I share, I feel accepted. Elizabeth is not only listening to me, but she is listening to the Lord at the same time. She is not giving me an answer or any advice, but she asks questions. And somewhere between the question and my search for an answer I am finding the answer deep within myself. Where my spirit is in touch with God's Spirit. As if Elizabeth is a mere 'spectator' in my conversation with God at that very moment. Somehow during this time I find a way of quieting the outside voices and the voice in my head and I hear the still small voice of God deep within me.

Elizabeth graciously helps me grow in my relationship with my Heavenly Father and helps me see how much I am loved by Him. She encourages me to spend time in His Word each day and to keep a journal so I can discover how the Lord is speaking to me. I always leave feeling lighter and with a deeper longing to seek relentlessly after the Lover of my soul.

The lyrics of the song Restless capture exactly what happens during this time:

Speak now, for my soul is listening
Say that You have saved me; whisper in the dark
'Cause I know You're more than my salvation
Without You I am hopeless, tell me who You are
You are the keeper of my heart
Still my heart, hold me close, let me hear a still small voice
let it grow, let it rise into a shout, into a cry
I am restless 'til I rest in You…. (by Audrey Assad)

Joke, Amstelveen
October 2012

Soul friend through the valley

I needed a companion to walk with me through the valley. I needed a soul friend, whose understanding of spiritual direction needed no teaching or explanation, a natural synergy, effortless, and blessed by God. With some shame and no exaggeration, I confess I needed a chaperone to attend to my meetings with Jesus, when I had convinced myself he stood on the side of the judger, the condemning ones, those misunderstanding the misunderstood.

Gently, with skill and gifting, Elizabeth showed me; Jesus stood instead with me, the disappointed, the heartbroken, the let down, the betrayed. We have journeyed from that place through others to a new understanding that God is waiting for me to return to his church, that I need not have it all figured out, that there is grace enough for this season. Elizabeth has helped me articulate where I am authentically at, and the unfathomable depth of God's love for me. His devotion to me is deeper than I could possible comprehend.

Lorraine, England
January 2012

Beyond unworthiness

I contacted Elizabeth by chance, half expecting not even to receive a reply. My own anxiety was quickly calmed when this wonderful woman, in another country, listened, encouraged and supported me at a very fragile time in my life. From the very beginning she accepted me where I was, encouraged and supported me, as I took baby steps to find my faith. I trusted her with my story, her insight allowing me to let go of long held feelings of unworthiness.

I look forward, with gratitude, to our times together. How blessed am I to have such a beautiful soul listen, guide and sometimes challenge me. I don't know what the future holds, but Elizabeth has helped me face that with faith and hope. I trust the Lord to show me the way, and with Elizabeth's help, how can I fail to grow? She inspires my heart and I love her dearly.

Samantha, London
January 2012

Knowledge activated for life's circumstances

To me, Elizabeth is the ‘therapist’ with a different book and a radically graceful approach. She truly listens – I mean really listens, not just head nodding with glazed eyes - and does not allow my ramblings to take us away from the issue at hand. Elizabeth asks thought-provoking questions about my relationship with God and how everyday events impact on and are impacted by that relationship. She also offers practical advice that is related to aligning my life with Jesus.

I have headed to meet with Elizabeth feeling defeated by life’s circumstances and departed with a sense of victory and knowing that ‘I can do all things in Christ that strengthens me’. It is one thing for us to know the timeless truths of the Bible in our head, but applying them to everyday situations and rooting these truths in our heart is another challenge altogether. Elizabeth helps direct this vital process in a way that is non-religious, non-judgemental and above all else gentle.

Andrew, Amsterdam
November 2009

Online no hindrance

My sessions with Elizabeth are invaluable. In each conversation Elizabeth and I are able to reach to the core issues of my heart, allowing me to understand and draw into them with care, touched by the Loving Presence of our God. Though they are conducted remotely (via Skype) this has no way hindered the effectiveness of our meet-ups.

I highly recommend it for anyone wanting to draw nearer to God, no matter where your relationship is with Him.

Alvina, Netherlands
September 2010

Woman of honor

Once a young African girl comes of age, she chooses an older woman from within the tribe as a mentor, a so-called 'woman of honor'. One who has a character trait, a skill or a discipline the girl wants to master herself. The girl positions herself in the shadow of this ‘woman of honor’, simply observing….

Eager for spiritual growth, I approached Elizabeth somewhere in 2004 to ask if she would consider being a ‘woman of honor’ to me. Since then our path together has included women’s small groups, her Drawing Near course, After Alpha groups and a visit to the Holy Land. I have observed intently, learning about leadership, stewardship and, most importantly, how to grow in intimacy with the Almighty.

But it is our one-on-ones, our dialogues together, which have been profoundly formative for me. The Father, always on mission to reconcile our hearts fully to Him, uses Elizabeth in my life. As the Spirit reveals things unaware, time is made to tend to wounds, battles are fought to face the fear, pressure is applied to break free. Elizabeth cheers me on, assists in the necessary re-programming, challenges & enlightens. She believes in me, believes in the work of His hands. It’s not an easy path but one that is oh so very worth it!

Ank, Velsen-Zuid
January 2010

A lifeline in troubled times

Where would I be without Elizabeth? Possibly I’d be sitting in a corner, drinking and smoking, complaining out of anger which would eat up my life and that of my daughter. It was my best girlfriend who sent me to Elizabeth, seeing my helplessness and agony after my husband had left us for another woman. Elizabeth was available for me on the day after I called. She embraced me with warmth and kindness and listened compassionately to my story. Not many people have understood so deeply and clearly what I was going through at that time.

This was only the starting point from where Elizabeth helped me back into life. With her support I found Jesus, the most significant and meaningful link that was missing in my spiritual life. And I can truly testify that this has saved my life! Moreover Elizabeth has taught me how to take all my emotions and problems to God and His Son, how to give them into their hands and have them lead my way. She has helped me to find the way to pray positively, even regarding my husband and his nasty influence on me and his child.

Now that I've returned to Germany, Elizabeth and I meet via Skype every couple of weeks. She takes time for me to help me take time for God during the exhaustingly busy time of settling back here on my own. I really feel that I would have been lost without this connection. The care package she gave me before I left, including music, sermon downloads and books to guide me, was one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received. She simply made sure that I would be safe until I found my way in our new hometown. Her presence in my life is absolutely priceless! She is one of the rare Most Important People in my life.

Heike, Dresden
December 2009

Loved and accepted

I came to Elizabeth thinking that I was unworthy of God’s love and that God would not want to love someone like me. I was stuck in my faith and even though I loved the Lord I couldn’t get over myself to accept His love. Elizabeth helped reconnect me to the truth that God accepts me, Michael, just as I am and since then I've tried to live from that position, one day at a time.

I really like the fact that Elizabeth does not come to our sessions armed with a pre-planned agenda or Christian rhetoric. She meets me where I am, we reflect on God’s truths revealed in my circumstance and then she shows me a possible path to take in moving forward.

I know of no other journey as exciting as the one I have embarked upon with the help of Elizabeth.

Michael, Hoofddorp
November 2009

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Quote of the Week
"Somebody was telling me this week that nobody can make a violin speak the last depths of human longing until that soul has been made tender by some great anguish. I do not say it is the only way to the heart of God..."

Frank Laubach
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