Wonder

Summertime

Posted by on Jul 4, 2014 in Freedom, Play, Summer, Wonder | 28 comments

for summertime

 

Summertime is the sweetheart of the seasons.

Children wait all year for its arrival. Anticipated and well planned vacations finally squeeze into its slim perimeters. Even fruit trees spend the year preparing for the grand finale. Summer comes with high expectations and crescendos with lazy relief.

Familiar scents usually lure us out of hiding into the glorious arms of the season. Cut grass, star jasmine, foggy air – even the tangy stench of sunscreen lathers the senses with intoxicating images.

Every soul needs summertime. Dreamy days, warm nights, less clothing and conversations that linger.

Children aren’t the only ones who gain from the decompression, we all do. Summer takes us away from our usual. Whether geographical or internal – we benefit from the slowing down. Our sun starved skin drinks in the extra Vitamin D while our minds unwind and soul feasts on the fruit of uncluttered moments.

Somehow reading a book by a river’s edge or at a packed pool for hours isn’t perceived as a waste of time. Summer both redeems and invests.

Layers of clothing along with accumulated concerns seem to drop off as the weeks linger on – exposing our kindred lumps, bumps, hopes and fears. Our feet can breathe – dreams swell as we lay in the grass or sand or unfamiliar turf.

We know summer is fleeting and we’ll soon be inching toward winter once again through the subtle door of fall – so we dance with our sweetheart – grasping what she offers and storing up till her next visit.

Take walks.

Befriend a stranger.

Read a book by a new author.

Watch a mother play with her child.

Listen for baby birds, look for new life around you.

Stay outside till the moon comes up and count the stars.

Pick fresh fruit from a vine and let its juices rest on your tongue before swallowing.

 winter is coming – this is the place we gather material for dreams and peace in our future.

Summertime.

 

 

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Amazing Sight

Posted by on Feb 27, 2014 in God Speaks, Wonder | 16 comments

spider web 2

 

Allowing myself to look beyond what I see is a constant challenge.

I say I want eyes to see and ears to hear, but my lethargic disregard sometimes suggests otherwise. I obviously choose to be shortsighted and blind. I wear filtered glasses – becoming too self focused to look outward or up.

Today I begged to see. I grieved my loss of sight.

I craved time with my Lord. I needed to see him and hear from him.

 

After a dim and tearful walk I headed home carrying my comfortable glasses – when suddenly I witnessed the most amazing thing.

Before me hung delicate gossamer art, hovering effortlessly like synchronized parachutes against a perfect sky. At least fifty of these spectacular designs stretched between the modest limbs of a Mulberry tree. They seemed to be suspended in space inhaling breezes and showcasing architectural genius. One of the creations was still under construction as a tiny engineer worked to connect his meticulous spirals, one inch at a time – one row at a time.

Displayed before me was a maze of wonder – brilliantly featured by spotlights of sun-rays. From every angle I could see harmony and order, precision and strength. Its inexplicable beauty paralyzed me.

Each carefully sewn circle somehow missed the other million sticky strings next to it. With limited strands to connect to the outside perimeter, they each managed to navigate their way to a secure place to cling. Some of the circles were four inches in diameter, others up to a foot wide. A few even arched out to miss the neighboring nets.

 

Speechless – I pondered.

How can I doubt the author of such detail – such genius? Who am I to feel separated, worthless or discouraged?

He spins intricate webs of situations into our lives – everyday – with purpose and for his good pleasure.

He gives us what we need in order to accomplish what he desires – for the greater good.

Whether we see him or not, he works. He watches. He spins order. He details interlinking circumstances within our greater community and his plans – for his pleasure and for our good.

He gives the blind, sight. This I know.

 

Tears have rinsed my tired eyes today – God spoke hope and life to me through the masterful efforts of tiny eight-legged creatures. Go figure.

He is immense. He is infinite in detail. He is near. He speaks and makes himself known.

I love him.

 

“Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom, YOU are exalted as head over ALL.” 1 Chronicles 29:11

 

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Summoned to Retreat

Posted by on Jan 18, 2014 in Divine Appointments, Wonder | 17 comments

Amy with address

 

For some people, the thought of attending a church retreat is out of the question. Many women think they’re downright scary. Past experiences might dredge up memories of too many tears spilled and excessive vulnerability. Men’s retreats would probably have different variables but often end with the same result – “Glad I went, but probably won’t go again next year”.

I remember the first women’s retreat I attended. I think I knew ten women out of the three hundred there. The program was well planned and perfectly thematic. Even though the theme was meant to teach me life isn’t perfect, everything I saw suggested otherwise – from the welcome note on my bed to the extravagant centerpieces. The women leading the event were also pretty perfect – at least they seemed so to me. Even their stories, which were tactically peppered with confessions of personal imperfections, left me feeling “less than” and envious. It seemed the only participants who really benefited from the event were the party planners themselves.

In fairness, I’ve also attended some very deep and meaningful retreats which were well planned and thematic. But, whether they are polished, planned or spontaneous – I believe spiritual retreats are necessary for the health of the human soul.

Retreat is a separation from and a leaning into. It’s a summons of sorts, a drawing to a place where we can meet with God.

Feelings of restlessness, dissatisfaction, agitation – even overeating or cynicism can be indicators for me that it’s time to remove myself from my path of ordinary and visit his extraordinary – time for retreat.

I realize not everyone has the luxury of planning lengthy getaways or even taking a weekend off for that matter – but everyone can benefit from seeking out a personal place for spiritual refreshment.

Retreat can be Brief

Don’t you love reading stories of persecuted followers who found connection with God in the most precarious places? I do. Their retreat took place on the floor of a prison cell or concentration camp. Certainly we can find time within our busy day to retreat. Sometimes just a few moments away from the noise of life, the workplace, even family, can usher us right into his open arms. He promises us that in Duet 4:29, Pro 8:17, James 4:8 to name a few.

Retreat Can Take Place Alone

Some of my most meaningful retreats have occurred alone while in transit on my way to attend an event – either on a plane or in my ‘holy car’. They were planned. Days prior I prayed for my retreat – I knew I was leaving my usual routine and would be carving out uninterrupted space for my Savior to join me. Anticipation was heightened like a child on Christmas Eve. Scripture supports this principle in Luke 5:16, Luke 6:12, Psalms 46:10 and many other places.

Retreat Can be Shared

Soul care comes in many packages. The benefit of doing a corporate retreat has its own unique advantages. Obviously sharing the experience brings personality, diverse perspectives – and hopefully fun to a retreat. Play is as essential to the health of our soul as challenging our set theologies. Corporate retreats stretch me to get outside myself – to lighten up, which I have to admit isn’t all that easy for me. Eccl. 5:18, Pro. 17:22, I Tim 6:17

Retreat Can be Spontaneous

The control freak in me hates spontaneity – maybe that’s why God continually calls me to it. Retreats can erupt within an unplanned event. As I write this post a well loved speaker/missionary/pastor known to our community is sitting in prison in the Philippines on false charges. He is having an encounter with God while sharing space with other men who are also locked up. No doubt his retreat is spontaneous but he had to choose to participate. He also has chosen to make it a shared experience. The lasting fruit of nearness to God and new believers is in direct proportion to his answer to the call of spontaneity. I’m personally envious.

How do you respond to his summon to retreat? Please share your thoughts with the rest of us here.

 

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Beyond the Glass

Posted by on Sep 17, 2013 in God Speaks, Wonder | 8 comments

 

 

The transformation from sand to glass is remarkable and the finished product, a thing of beauty.

Glass gathers light, magnifies and replicates. Glass can be tamed and transformed into an image-bearing mirror or cut to reflect multiple hues through a prism. I have to admit, I love clear glass. And not just artistic forms of glass, I love windows.

A carefully placed window can become a work of art in our home. It allows the changing environment of the outdoors to grace our static indoor world. Behind its safe barrier we’re able to witness the wild. Bees, birds and harsh weather can be experienced without consequence. From our couch we’re able to watch waves crash or icicles form – wild animals eating or hummingbirds dance.

Although beautiful, there is danger in window glass.

The danger is more than its shattering. The danger is missing the world beyond.

When we venture outside, past the pane of glass, we risk. But we also move toward delight and even an encounter with God himself. The Bible clearly tells us he speaks through our surroundings. We hear his greatness when we sit still listening to the soft whir of bird’s wings or rustling leaves.

We are challenged to trust him when brave enough to sit quietly on an ocean cliff dampened by salty droplets. Life is imparted when we’re in an open clearing deep in the woods feeling sunrays on our back, listening and waiting.

Smells, sounds, sensations and sights are intensified when experienced in unison. His presence is tangible.

It’s no wonder Christ left the crowds and could often be found alone, outside. He was sand. He submitted to experiential fire and became the perfect reflection of, and window pane to – his father.

We risk only partially knowing him when we remain in the safety of our own little houses – observing. We miss the full encounter when we fail to take the risk of venturing outside. Not outside our houses, but outside of ourselves and through partial exposure. We experience him through his Word and in church, but not exclusively. He is all consuming and everywhere.

When we explore the everywhere-ness of him rather than merely watching from a distance, the sand of our soul is swept up into the hand of God. He chooses the furnace we need to be placed within – adjusts the fire just so and we are formed.

A grain of sand, part of an eternal plan – more than a glimpse and beyond the glass.

 

(Please hit READ MORE for the Comment Box to share your thoughts. We’d love to hear from you)

 

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Sand Castles, Dreams and Chatter

Posted by on Jun 10, 2013 in Children, Play, Wonder | 2 comments

Sand Castles, Dreams and Chatter

Visit any playground where four year olds gather and you’ll most likely see busy little girls huddled together in the sandbox, planning their play.

 

Ninety percent of their time together will be spent discussing what they hope to do.

 

They plan where they’ll live, what they’ll wear, and who will do what. Their created world is being linked together through imagination and conversation. The chatter is persuasive and rich – the volume high as each campaigns their piece of the plan.

 

“I’m the princess, my dress is blue and I ride a white pony”, says one, while another chimes in, “But, but, but, I want the blue one, you wear the red cape – my castle has five ponies, black and white”.

 

It’s hard to know when we lose this seemingly senseless art of enjoyment building sandcastles that never become.

 

Perhaps without visible outcome it seems futile to the mature mind.

 

Is it the sense of time wasted that causes us to leave the sandbox, or the feeling of non-productivity? Where is the worth in mere conversation just for the sake of conversing, or in sharing dreams or pointless planning?

 

Could it be that God lives within such a sandbox?

 

Does He wait patiently to be central to our greatest longings or does he even seem to care about our plans? Does our communal Father walk away from his time spent with us completely satisfied? Do we walk away satisfied with listening and sharing – minus an outcome?

 

When the girls disband from their time together on the playground they rarely look back to see what was accomplished.

 

They’re not disappointed the castle was never built.

 

They never actually changed their names or clothing. Most of the time, the shovels and buckets lying beside them are unused. Often they haven’t moved from their place of planning.

 

But, they leave fulfilled.

 

After all, they spent time together. Their vocabulary is richer, their dreams crisper, their friendship anchored in shared conversation. Each one leaves with a small piece of the others mind, and if they’re lucky – a little sand in their pockets to remember the encounter.

 

 

 

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When was the last time you enjoyed God’s companionship in your sandbox?

Did you sense his enjoyment in the time spent with you? Grab a bucket, shovel and ear of a trusted friend. Hit the sandbox and share your story.

Please share, I’d love to hear about it!

“God, the one and only— I’ll wait as long as he says. Everything I hope for comes from him? He’s the solid rock under my feet, breathing room for my soul, an impregnable castle: I’m set for life” Psalms 62:5 MSG

 

 

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Just Because

Posted by on Apr 16, 2013 in Children, God Speaks, Play, Wonder | 2 comments

“The true object of all human life is play” G. K. Chesterton
“If we maintain the open-mindedness of children, we challenge fixed ideas and established structures, including our own” Brennan Manning

 

Do you ever wonder why the Bible encourages us to be like children? What possible behaviors could Jesus be referring to when he tells us to be like them? Seriously, are we to be like immature, fully dependent, somewhat self-centered little people? Or are we to simply be children, just because?

 

Why do they jump in mud puddles? Why do they fixate on the simplest, seemingly insignificant little thing? And why do they do it right when we’re trying to teach them our big important thing? Our adult moments are usually deliberate and delegated. We hope our time is filled with pertinence and productivity. Children embrace what’s directly in front of their eyes or in their mind – right now – just because.

 

 Could we for just a moment assume our intentional, all-powerful, creative and constructive God also lives in the just because? Why did he create so many shades of blue when any one of them is jaw-dropping by itself? Why do we have more varieties of tree bark within one species than we can imagine or why did he spend so much time on the detail of desert flowers rarely seen or appreciated by human beings? Could it be – just because?
 The gulf between Almighty God and our understanding doesn’t seem quite so large when we lay aside our need to know, our assumptions, even our theologies to experience communion of delight within the wonder-filled world of just because. Why not embrace rebellious foolishness, simple pleasures, and curious exploration. Maybe it’s where we’ll find Him.

In reflection I ponder this verse and wonder how I might receive the childlikeness myself today – just because. I ponder play and hope to understand my creator more fully today.

 

“Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom. What’s more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it’s the same as receiving me” Matthew 18:3 The Message

 

 Linking with #TellHisStory

 

 

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