A Prayer for Wonder (& Penguins)

A Prayer for Wonder (& Penguins)
Welcome to the 9th post in "our" trusting God series. I say "our" because your comments inspire me. Your comments to my recent post "When you trust enough to play" inspired this prayer post. Thank you for being part of the conversation. It keeps it interesting. I added "Trust Series" as a category on my sidebar to make it easier for you to find all the posts in one place. Photo used with permission of Patricia Hunter A Prayer for Wonder: Dear God, When the leaves on our neighbor's tree blaze orange, crimson and gold, please help me to pause and thank you for painting a sunset on a tree. When the leaves fall down and blanket the sidewalk, let me remember when our daughter was young and she squealed with delight as we jumped on the leaves. How they crackled. The wonder she modeled for me. Please open my heart to receive the wonder You place all around me. The hydrangeas still blooming. The crunch of a cucumber in a salad. A smile in my beloved's eyes. Photo used with permission by Flickr User: Max Mallett Please remove any sin or hardness of heart that blocks me from receiving your good gifts. Forgive me when I compare instead of count blessings. Forgive me when I doubt your love after You gave your all and your best in Christ. Let me never lose the wonder that You chose me - imperfect me - to be your beloved child. Let me never lose the wonder of Your unconditional love. A love not tethered to my performance. A love freely given as a gift: a costly gift. What wonder: when I confess wrongs, you don't wave them in my face but forgive me. Completely. What a wonder when I know I struggle to forgive as you have forgiven me. Let me never lose the wonder of how You long to be with me. Let me never lose the wonder at how you invite me to share my thoughts and feelings with you. How many people ask and then really listen to my meandering verbal processing? It is a wonder how you want to hear from each of your children. Let me never lose the wonder of Your words of love and wisdom in the Bible. Let me never lose the wonder at how infinite You loves finite me. Please recreate a pure and childlike trust in my heart. In Jesus's name, Amen. Soul Stops Moment: What has inspired wonder for you recently? How are you opening yourself up to wonder today? Links to inspire wonder: Nature's Episode 1 on Penguins viewed via "50 animatronic cameras disguised as realistic life-size penguins, eggs and rocks" that "infiltrate penguin colonies." These black and white dressed birds made me smile and my eyes widen.  Visit the 33 Most Surreal Places in the World without paying for airfare. Linking with Laura of Playdates with God and Kelli of Unforced Rhythms

When you trust enough to play (& Book Review)

When you trust enough to play (& Book Review)
My four year old sister and five year old me ride a bright red tricycle. I peddle while she stands on the ledge between the two rear wheels. We circle the tiny living area in our one bedroom apartment to put on a "show" for our grey-haired neighbors.  They smiled and clapped as we performed. We took turns. Whoever stood on the back ledge, stuck one leg out, like an ice skater while the tricycle twirled. Laura Boggess would have been proud. We trusted our audience would smile. **** Photo used with permission of Flickr CC User: Steven Depolo Remember how I said I write "our" trust series because your comments inspire me. In response to my post "Come Cuddle Close," blogger Amber's comment ("I resonate with...these different ways, often not pragmatic, of being with God,") combined with Laura Boggess's book, Playdates with God: Having a Childlike Faith in a Grown-up World to create the eighth post in our trust series. Amber's word "pragmatic," coincided with Playdates with God because playing with God as a spiritual practice doesn't seem pragmatic. God-incidence, perhaps? Our culture often says to be pragmatic about our time but play, love and trust are not pragmatic issues. "When Jesus said, 'Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it,' (Mark 10:15)...we need to practice expansion of belief."- Laura Boggess, Playdates with God, 59 As children, my sister and I believed "our show" was worth doing for the joy it gave us and our smiling neighbors. Our belief expands so we embrace faith in an invisible God who gave His only Son to die on a cross for our sins and then rose on the third day. Can our belief expand further to believe God delights in our presence when we invite Him into our day? "Isn't this the way of a little child? To open the mind wide enough that the huge presence of the impossible can fit inside?" Laura Boggess, (59) What if we believed God's promise (James 4:8) to come near to us when we come near to Him? Laura invites us to trust God enough to invite Him to a playdate. In her book, Laura reminds us that "the best way to grow in relationship is to spend time together." Research shows play is one way we can keep a relationship fresh. The same reasoning applies to our relationship with God. What does Laura mean when she says play with God? "We [God and Laura] might take in a mid-afternoon concert at the library or peruse an art exhibit. Sometimes we run together, paint, create, or just curl up with a book under a shade tree." (35) "But it is when I am out of doors that I feel his constancy in sharp relief to my short memory and waning attention." (35) Each person's playdate with God will be as unique as that person. Laura admits we can never know all about our infinite God but we can grow our relationship with God. In another chapter, Laura invites us to see or ordinary with new eyes as we invite God to be with us as we fold socks, wash dishes and go to work. She reminds us to see our loved ones and the people we rub shoulders with daily through God's eyes. "When I forget to honor my brothers and sisters as the image bearers of God...I might be missing out on seeing him do great things...even miracles." (140) Hmm, the child who sasses you... the clerk ringing up your groceries...the person you wake up next to each day...all bear God's image. "I wonder what great work we are missing out on because we refuse to see God in our ordinary." - Laura Boggess (140)   Subscribers, click; here to view the trailer for Laura's book, Playdates with God.  I am almost done reading Laura Boggess's book; it resonates deeply with my heart's cry to be with God. She writes with poetry about her life, Scripture and the latest research on what makes a relationship last. Her book invites me to trust God will smile when I invite Him to a playdate. Last fall, I met Laura in person and her sweet spirit was a delight. Congratulations to Laura as her book launches today! Visit her site here. You can also connect with Laura on Facebook and find images related to her book here on Pinterest. Soul Stops Moment: What resonated with your heart as you read Laura's words? What step of trust can you take today to invite God into your day? How have you experienced play as a spiritual practice? Congratulations to Shelly and Kelly! Scott picked you both as the winners of his book giveaway, Hooked in the Heart: Appreciating the Artistry of God in Everyday Life. He will contact you. Thanks to everyone who participated. I'm linking with these encouraging friends: Holley Gerth, Jennifer Dukes Lee,and Lyli Dunbar of Thought-Provoking Thursdays.  

Hooked in the Heart (& Giveaway)

Hooked in the Heart (& Giveaway)
We're taking a little break from our trust series. Thank you because one of your comments to my last post "Come Cuddle Close" inspired an upcoming post. ****** It is an honor to have my friend Scott Grant share from his book, Hooked in the Heart: Appreciating the Artistry of God in Everyday Life. I was privileged to go through the two year Intern Program under his leadership. I have also appreciated his tender heart toward God and others. He is giving away two copies of his book, Hooked in the Heart: one in Kindle format and one in paperback. Here's an excerpt: Another chance       It could have been a nice moment, but I missed it.               My wife Karen and I were driving to church Sunday in separate cars because of our different schedules. She arrived first and parked her car. By the time I arrived, she was standing beside her car, waiting for me. When I pulled into the parking lot, she smiled at me and pointed to an open parking space next to her. But I parked in my usual spot, several spaces away from her.               “Didn’t you see me?” Karen asked. Well, yes, I saw her, but I had already made up my mind where I was going to park, and I was preoccupied with my responsibilities for the morning. It wasn’t until I had almost stopped my car that I realized she was inviting me to park next to her.               Two days later, as I shared coffee with a friend, I told him the story. He told me that a few days earlier, he came home from work at dinnertime with a burrito. His wife had prepared a pot of soup and offered it to him, but he ate his burrito. He regretted his actions at home, just as I regretted mine in the parking lot.               I told him, “I hope we learn to be more observant.”               That afternoon Karen and I each had appointments with the same dentist. Hers was at 2:00 p.m. and mine was at 3:00 p.m. When I pulled into the parking lot, she was standing next to her car. Her appointment was over with, but she was waiting for me to arrive.               She smiled at me and pointed to an open parking spot next to her. This time, I smiled back and thought to myself, “Isn’t God good? He’s giving me another chance.” I parked next to her, got out of the car, and gave her a hug.               It was a nice moment, and it was impossible to miss.               The Scriptures say that God goes before us (Isaiah 45:2, Matthew 26:32). I wonder: when we get to where we’re going, does God sometimes stand in front of us, smile at us, and gesture for us to come near? I think he does. We don’t see the invitation with our eyes; we sense it in our hearts. But we don’t respond. We have our own ideas about where we’re going to park and what needs to get done.             I hope we learn to be more observant. Scott is generously giving away two copies of his book: one in Kindle format and one as a paperback. (The paperback winner must have a U.S. address.) To enter, leave a comment saying why you would like a copy of his book and Scott will pick the two winners by Tuesday, October 7, 2014 at 8 p.m. PST. Please leave your e-mail in the Disqus comment form so we can contact you if you win. Your e-mail will remain private. Soul Stops Moment: What spoke to you from Scott's story? When have you experienced a second chance? What helps you to be observant to God's invitations to you?   Scott C. Grant’s experience both as a journalist and a pastor gives him a unique vantage point from which to explore the spiritual life. As a pastor at Peninsula Bible Church in Palo Alto, he teaches, writes, counsels, and leads the Intern Program, which trains men and women for ministry. He enjoys looking for God everywhere, especially in the vicinity of trout streams and golf courses. He lives with his wife and two daughters in Sunnyvale. Find Scott on Facebook and on his blog, Hooked in the Heart. Also linking with encouraging friends: Kelli of Unforced Rhythms and Laura Boggess and Playdates with God.

Come Cuddle Close (& Tips)

Come Cuddle Close (& Tips)
Welcome to the seventh post in our trust series. I use "our" because I learn from your comments. Thank you. I write as someone who prays, "I believe Lord, please help my unbelief." **** After Sunday dinner, our girl says she wants to talk and cuddle. A nice surprise. When she stands, her head is by my cheeks. Tweens can be a little like toddlers in how they push away to explore the world, then return to mom for security before launching out again. I leave the dirty dishes like wobbly guards at time's gate. Photo used with permission of Flickr User: Amanda Michelle Bindhammer (Sorry, I don't have an actual photo of us cuddling...so here's a mama with her pup.) We snuggle under a plush blue blanket while her head rests on my chest. Her hair tickles my nose. My arms enfold her shoulders. Sniffle: I remember when I could cradle her whole body in my arms. She groans whenever I get nostalgic. I sigh as contentment wraps around both of us. A cocoon of tender love surrounds us. Later I wonder about how God enjoys my presence when I cuddle close enough to hear His heartbeat and just be. For too much of my adult life, I mistakenly thought God wanted me to do more before He could really love me. It was an unconscious (and unrecognized) driving force in my life. The truth is: I've done nothing and can do nothing to earn God's love (Romans 5:8) because it is a love gift. It's been a hard concept for my heart to fully embrace despite my head knowledge. My heart needs to receive God's words of unconditional love until they soak like rain into my parched heart's soil. My heart needs to listen long enough so God can plant seeds of truth into my heart's soil. Yes, my heart needs to listen long enough for those tender green seedlings of trust to push past darkness. Yes, we pull weeds (aka confess & repent of sin) and water with God's Word, but we trust all true growth comes from God. Yes, we serve as a grateful response to God's love. and not as an item on our to do list. But let's first cuddle close to God's heart. Here are some suggestions for coming close to God: (Please don't put pressure on yourself for your time with God to look, feel or sound a certain way. Relax. It is all good.) Remember, God promises when we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us. Go for a walk/run and ask God to help you to see and hear Him. Listening to music that helps you to focus on God. Create art. Journal in response to Scripture, a poem or a song. Read God's Word or listen to it being read (a favorite: Max McLean reading Romans 8). Retreat: maybe, you carve out 10 minutes or an hour of your day, or attend a retreat (where the focus is connecting with God). Recently, I've been watching this video on God's love letter to you over and over (which also includes link for a printable PDF). Invite a trusted friend in Christ to share how s/he observes God's love in your life. After you've drawn close to God, ask how you can serve another in love...pray? send a note? call? bring a meal? give a gift anonymously? Soul Stops Moment: What helps you to trust God really wants you to cuddle close to Him? What helps you to come close to God? Linking with sweet friend Laura Boggess...Her book, Playdates with God invites us to experience God's love more intimately and releases in one week. Can't wait. I saw The High Calling's Link-up via my friend Monica's great post...so I'm linking up with THC's "Pursuing God" link-up here. Also linking with encouraging friends: Kelli of Unforced Rhythms and Jennifer Dukes Lee's Tell His Story,and Lyli Dunbar of Thought-Provoking Thursdays. And the super-encouraging Holley Gerth    

Sometimes trust is a tender green seedling

Sometimes trust is a tender green seedling
Welcome to the sixth post in our trust series. I use "our" because I learn from your comments. Thank you.   Photo used with permission of Flickr CC User: Robert Payne Sometimes trust isn't shiny like polished silver. Sometimes trust is like a tender green seedling pushing out of dark earth. Sometimes trust looks like a person teetering at a cliff, gripping a rope held by a friend. And that friend is God. Sometimes trust looks like a prayer to God - just one's raw heart. I read Kelly's trust-full and beautiful poem  and her words exemplified trust in God. Here is the last stanza of Kelly's poem: "Teach me to love, tenderly, the cool darkness, to prize it along with the light."   - Kelly Chripczuk It's not unusual to ask God, "Why?" during dark times. Asking God "Why" with an open hand and honest tears is different than asking God with a closed fist. After I read Kelly's poem and Betty's comment to my "Prayer for Trust", I wonder how our response to dark times, or our view of God, hinders us from trusting God. Dear wounded one, please know I am not minimizing your heartache or hurts. To recover from a wound inflicted by broken trust is difficult. I know it's messy and takes much longer than we would like. But our recovery takes a tender step of trust like Kelly does in her poem. She implicitly trusts God has something good for her, even in the dark. I wonder if she is claiming promises such as Romans 8:28-29 or James 1:2-4. In my own life, I cling to God and to His promises the tightest in the dark. Kelly's words remind me of the psalmist's words: If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,    and the light about me be night,”12 even the darkness is not dark to you;    the night is bright as the day,    for darkness is as light with you. -Psalm 139: 11-12 ESV God is with us in the darkness and He is not overwhelmed.  May we be like that tender green seedling reaching past the dark toward the Light, trusting the darkness is not the end. Light and new life will come out of the darkness. This song "Be Still My Soul" by Kari Jobe embodies trusting God (Subscribers link here to hear song with lyrics.) One of my favorite lines: "In every change, He faithful will remain."      Soul Stops Moment: Where are you in your trust journey with God? How have you trusted God in the dark and found Him to be faithful? I hope you're recording those times so they can be a memorial to encourage you when dark times come again. Maybe you can pray along with Kelly in the last stanza of her poem? Or with David in Psalm 139? Or using the lyrics from Kari Jobe's song? My previous post was about Brennan Manning's biggest obstacle to trust and how he overcame it. I'm linking with these encouraging friends: Charity Singleton Craig, Jennifer Dukes Lee's Tell His Story,and Lyli Dunbar of Thought-Provoking Thursdays.