Tag Archives: practicing God’s presence

For the Kids: Never, Ever Alone

My book Faith-Filled Moments is a collection of all sorts of ways parents can use games, recipes, outdoor experiences, crafts, science experiments, and more to help your child connect with God and love him more.

Faith-Filled.Moments.coverSo in the spirit of our theme be presentI want to share an idea you can do with your kids that’s similar to the activities in Faith-Filled Moments. (If you like this, you’ll love the 80+ unique moments that you’ll only find in the book!)

Never, Ever Alone

Use the card game Old Maid to help your child understand that she always has a partner in life: God.

Supplies: children’s deck of Old Maid playing cards

Experience

The classic card game Old Maid can be played by kids as young as 3 or 4 years old…and it’s lots of fun! The basic idea of the game is to find a matching partner for each of your cards; there will always be one card left over at the end of the game—the Old Maid—and she doesn’t have a partner. (See the printed rules on your card deck for specific play instructions.)

Connection

In this game, each card has a partner, but the Old Maid is left alone. A very simple an obvious spiritual point can be made using this game: We are never like the Old Maid…we are never, ever alone! Share with your children the crucial truth that, when we have a relationship with Jesus, he is always with us. We are never alone in life; we always have a partner. You might say something like, “Even during times when you may feel lonely, you actually aren’t alone. God is with you!” You may want to share Jesus’ promise in Matthew 28:20, “Surely I am with you always.”

Also, take the opportunity to make this real to your child by calling attention to the present moment. Continue reading

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(More) On How

In response to my post “Ever Present,” my friend Renee asked a critical question: How?  How can we live each moment attentive to God’s presence? Last week I shared 22 ideas with you for being more present in life and more present to God (find ’em here). But this week we’ll look at some deeper, theological and spiritual answers that come from a book I treasure.

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red poppyThe Practice of the Presence of God is a tiny little book with a great, big, walloping impact. It explores a seemingly simple idea . . . that revolutionizes every moment. It’s the record of some of the conversations and letters of Brother Lawrence, a French monk from the 1600s. Rather than summarize his ideas in my own words, here’s a short sampling:

Brother Lawrence taught:

• “That we might accustom ourselves to a continual conversation with [God], with freedom and in simplicity. That we need only to recognize God intimately present with us, to address ourselves to Him in every moment.”

• “That it was a great delusion to think that the times of prayer ought to differ from other times.”

 In letters, Brother Lawrence explained:

• “I make it my business only to persevere in His holy presence, wherein I keep myself by a simple attention, and a general fond regard toward God . . . an habitual, silent, and secret conversation of the soul with God, which often causes me joys and raptures inwardly.”

• “[W]e must accustom ourselves to a familiar, humble, affectionate conversation with Him. We must hinder our spirits’ wandering from Him upon any occasion.”

[**All quotes in the Public Domain]

What’s your reaction to this idea? What would a continual conversation with God look like in your life, in your heart? A relationship of freedom and simplicity? Addressing yourself to God in every moment?

Consider and pray . . . How might God want you to practice—make a habit of—tuning in to his presence?

* * * * *

Now a bit more on Brother Lawrence. He was a monk who found he best connected with God during his daily duties – kitchen work. He experienced intimacy with God more in the context of his normal life than even the times set aside for prayer and devotions in the monks’ cells. His encouragement for believers to maintain a continual conversation of the heart with God can help us transform any – every! – moment into a sacred one!

But, let’s be honest.

stained glass prayerHe was a MONK.

He had NO KIDS!

He worked in a MONASTERY!

So how in the world can his advice fit within the context of real life? Because, let me tell you, it seems a LOT harder to have this kind of continual conversation with God in modern life than it probably was for him – at least in terms of the many distractions that assail us.

Yet Brother Lawrence offers us some insights that can yet help us navigate all that draws our attention from God. Continue reading

Ever Present

As we explore what it can look like for each of us to be present rather than just exist, I want to share a dream I have. It’s a dream I wrote about for my friend Holley Gerth‘s blog as part of her “God-Sized Dream” series. And without further ado . . . 

dandelionEver-Present

At first-blush, the phrase “God-sized” makes me think big. Really big. Ginormous. I go straight to the idea of God’s grandness.

So does this mean my dreams must be enormous?

To be honest, they’re not huge dreams, really. See, lately I’ve been viewing my dreams—all of my life—through a different angle.

God’s size? God is omnipresent—every place in the universe, and also present in every single moment. God’s presence defies size, defies time, defies our finite limits. God’s size isn’t just bigger than the gigantic scope of the universe; God is also present in the beauty of the tiniest crocus bloom and, zoom even smaller, in the miracle of the tiniest buzzing electron.

And God’s presence? God’s there in those awe-inspiring beautiful, truly amazing moments of our lives . . . but God’s also faithfully right there in the “small,” hum-drum, normal ones. And this is where my dreaming lives. Continue reading

Be Present

Be.woman laughing

Who will you be?

How will you be?

What does it mean to live, not just exist?

To flourish, not just surive?

Starting this month, we’ll do a month-by-month BE series, exploring the choices, attitudes, and practices we embrace that help make us who we are—that help shape our identify and carve out a way of life that aligns with our most deeply-held values.

And for March, we will be present.

What does it mean to live fully present? And, undergirding our own mindful living, is an even more essential question: What does it mean to live in communion with the God who is present? Always present. In-every-moment-of-your-life present?

Join me in this journey.

Be.

Be present.

Be with God.

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A Big/Small Dream

“My dream is to live rich moments rather than have life scamper by . . .” 

Have you ever dreamed a God-sized dream? I explore God-sized dreams and the presence of God over at my friend Holley Gerth’s site. You can read more by clicking here.

 

Present . . . in Pain?

Is God present in heartache? In sadness? In times of fear and doubt?

woman praying:cryingSometimes, no matter how hard we try, we cannot seem to “find” God. We may be seeking God out, trying to connect, praying, singing, desperately crying out, and . . .

nothing.

 Is God present even in these periods – these “dark nights of the soul”? Scripture honestly acknowledges experiences like these. Consider Psalm 88 – a discouraging, heart-wrenching statement of utter desolation. It ends without hope. Yet it gives me hope. . .  because it shows God’s Word honestly acknowledging this common experience in the journey of faith. If you are in a dark period, take heart! And also read this article, “Growing in the Dark,” from my friend Lesa Engelthaler.

Is God present when we face fear – when we get the answer, the news, the diagnosis that tells us our worse nightmare is coming true? How can we experience God’s presence even in totally scary experiences? Check out this post I wrote several years ago about a scary time our family went through and a practice that can help us experience God’s nearness in the face of looming bad news.

Also, stay tuned to this blog because next week my friend Charity Singleton Craig — a writer and courageous cancer survivor — will stop in to share about her own experiences of God’s faithful presence.

Practice: Nature

One of the best ways we can practice the presence of God is intentionally choosing to spend time in nature. A three-hour hike can be an AMAZING way to gain soul perspective . . . God is with me.

woman walking aloneBut ya know what? Taking 30-seconds to look up at the clouds (or the stars) can ALSO make a big difference in our perspective. In our awareness: God is with me.

Pausing to smell the roses. To look at the bugs. To take a deep breath of fresh air and exhale a prayer of thanks. Choosing time in nature, from camping to walking to gardening to a brief pause outdoors, is a powerful way to practice the presence of God.

 Click here to explore more about how you can experience God through his created world.

Invite Kids Into God’s Presence

children playingYour kids can connect with God and experience his faithful presence in their life. My passion to help you facilitate this kind of connection is what motivated me to write Faith-Filled Moments: Helping Kids See God in Everyday Life. This book is packed full of tons of fun, unique, active, imaginative, hands-on ways you can help your children practice God’s Presence.

Here’s one idea from the book — and you can click here to find several more hands-on, creative ways to help your kids encounter God!

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Faith-Filled.Moments.coverConnected

Magnetize nails and paper clips to discover how being connected to Jesus changes us.  

Supplies: 1 or more strong magnets (a bar or ring magnet is preferred); 1 or more iron nails; 15 or more metal paper clips; a few other metal objects like coins and piece of jewelry

Experience

Enjoy some magnet play with your child by trying these various experiments:

1. See what your magnet can pick up. Nails? Paper clips? Coins? Jewelry? Now see what a plain old nail or a paper clip can pick up just by touching it. (The answer? Nothing.)

2. Make a magnetized paper clip chain. As she holds the magnet up high, have your child gently connect one paper clip to your magnet. Prompt her to then gently touch another paper clip to the one already hanging; it should attach. Continue to carefully add paper clips to the magnet, seeing how long of a chain you can create. Next separate the very top clip from the magnet to see what happens. (All the paper clips will fall down.)

3. Turn a nail or paper clip into a magnet. If you’ve got a bar magnet, have your child stroke the paper clip or nail in the same direction along one half (one pole) of the bar 100 or more times. If you have a ring magnet, have your child rub the paper clip or nail around the ring in 100 circles in the same direction. Your nail or clip should now be a temporary magnet. Attempt to pick up other nails and paper clips together. (Be careful not to flip over or turn the nail or paper clip over during the magnetization process and don’t to drop or strike your new magnet.)

Connection

We can learn a lot from magnetization! In the first experiment, it quickly becomes obvious that only the magnet has the power to attract and pick up objects; the nails and paper clips are powerless. Invite your child to imagine that the magnet is God—only God is all-powerful, and we are not.

In the second experiment, the paper clips become temporary magnets as the power of the true magnet flows through them. What a picture of the essence of Christian spirituality! Talk about this experiment and say something like, “Just as the paper clips acted like magnets, when we are connected to God, we become more like him.” Invite your child to share ideas about how people can be connected with God as well as ways people can become godly.

In the last experiment, the same point is made even more clear. With every stroke on the magnet, your nail or paper clip becomes even more powerfully magnetized. Similarly, the more we spend time in contact with God, the more like him we become.

There are many ways we can be connected with God, but with your child be sure to zero in on spiritual growth practices that she can do, such as talking to God (prayer), singing to God (worship), learning Bible stories (listening to Scripture), and learning Bible verses and thinking about them (memorization and meditation). Help your child to see that these ways of being connected to God that actually change her in amazing ways.

Exploration

You may want to ask your child questions like…

  • What do you think about the way your nail (or paper clip) changed? Were you surprised? Why or why not?
  • What are some ways we can “connect” with God?
  • How do you think God may be changing you to be more like him?
(Excerpted from Faith-Filled Moments, copyright Kelli B. Trujillo, Wesleyan Publishing House)

 

The Busy-Mom Life . . .

Connecting with God can be difficult in many stages of life, but I must say, the stage of young kids is an uber-tough one! Gone are the long times of quiet prayer . . . replaced by utter, blessed, beloved, mind-numbing family chaos!

And yet, through it all, courses a deep desire: For real intimacy with God. For meaningful connection . . . somehow!

Busy Mom's Guide coverWhat happens when the spiritual ideals of Brother Lawrence collide with the realities of mom-of-young-kids-life? Consider this excerpt from my book The Busy Mom’s Guide to Spiritual Survival.

 * * * * *

Picture for a moment what it might be like to live as a “Mother Lawrence.” Constant communion with God through diapers, wiping runny noses, cleaning toys, disciplining, dealing with continual interruptions—could it be possible?

Yes.

This isn’t about doing anything outwardly; it’s simply a re-focusing of our inner perspective. My friend Amie describes her mind-set shift this way: “I can’t count the number of times in the past six months that I have sat down to read a passage from Scripture or to pray or to enjoy a quiet moment when the cries of my son have broken in.

“I used to think that God wanted us to pencil him in—that he was as linear and Western-minded as myself and that he was really much more pleased when I had ‘prayer time’ and ‘Scripture-reading time’ and had my life sufficiently organized so that as long as he occupied a certain percentage of my day planner he was appeased and all was well. But he breaks in like a crying child. He is in the interruption. He shows me that he is always there—on the subway, while I am changing a diaper, in the supermarket, behind the window where the widow sits alone. And whether I choose to acknowledge him or not is up to me.”

Amie has zeroed in on the foundational idea of practicing God’s presence: simply recognizing the truth that as a result of our salvation, God’s presence is continually with us. We just need to attentively focus on this truth and not lose sight of it even in the midst of interruptions and distractions. Though outward demands of work or home can draw our minds away from God, “It is the heart…whose attention we must carefully focus on God.” Developing this type of mind-set (maybe “heart-set” would be a better term) requires some effort on our part as we constantly remind ourselves: God is here. God sees my life. God hears my heart. God knows my needs.

God doesn’t require that our prayers be “deep,” well-formulated, or profound; God doesn’t mind if on some days 99% of our conversation with him is made up of S.O.S. prayers: “God, help!” In the presence of our loving God, we can just be real. Our conversation with God can be as simple as speaking phrases to God like…

“I feel stressed right now. God, please help me to calm down”

or “Thanks for my son, God. He’s so adorable”

or even “Potty training drives me crazy! God, show me how to help my child learn this!”

* * * * * 

Consider reading, praying through, and trying out more of the ideas in my book The Busy Mom’s Guide to Spiritual Survival. You CAN connect with God and experience his presence during this stage! It just may look quite a bit different than other stages of life.

Sounds Great, But . . .

In my last post I shared a few quotes from Brother Lawrence’s The Practice of the Presence of God. Brother Lawrence was a monk who found he best connected with God during his daily duties – kitchen work. He experienced intimacy with God more in the context of his normal life than even the times set aside for prayer and devotions in the monks’ cells. His encouragement for believers to maintain a continual conversation of the heart with God can help us transform any – every! – moment into a sacred one!

But, let’s be honest.

stained glass prayerHe was a MONK.

He had NO KIDS!

He worked in a MONASTERY!

So how in the world can his advice fit within the context of real life? Because, let me tell you, it seems a LOT harder to have this kind of continual conversation with God in modern life than it probably was for him – at least in terms of the many distractions that assail us.

Yet Brother Lawrence offers us some insights that can yet help us navigate all that draws our attention from God.

• A conversation of the heart with God need not necessarily always be with our “mind” – with words. It can be an inner sense, in our heart, of being at peace in God’s presence. It is a state of contentment and intimacy with God deep down inside.

• When we have a task before us that requires our full attention, we can consider this advice from Brother Lawrence: “Before beginning any task I would say to God, with childlike trust: ‘O God, since Thou art with me, and it is Thy will that I must now apply myself to these outward duties, I beseech Thee, assist me with Thy grace that I may continue in Thy Presence; and to this end, O Lord, be with me in this work, accept the labor of my hands, and dwell within my heart with all Thy Fullness.”

• And, ultimately, this isn’t about feeling guilty or like we’re failing when we aren’t doing “enough” to connect with God. Brother Lawrence advises a completely different perspective: one of joy, lightness, and delight in God! Consider this encouragement from one of his letters: “[God] requires no great matters of us: a little remembrance of him from time to time; a little adoration; sometimes to pray for His grace, sometimes to offer Him your sufferings, and sometimes to return Him thanks for the favors He has given you, and still gives you. . . . He is nearer to us than we are aware of. We can make an oratory of our heart wherein to retire from time to time to converse with him in meekness, humility, and love.”

[**All quotes Public Domain.]

I personally find it discouraging to set the bar too high – to aim to connect with God in every single moment, as Brother Lawrence advises. But what DOES encourage me is to simply aim for more. To tune in to God’s presence more. To pause more to remind myself that God is with me. To be more grateful, at peace, in joy in the light of this reality. To be more focused on the unchanging reality that God is with me.

How can you remind yourself more often of God’s presence? How can you experience more of God’s near, faithful companionship in your life?

In every moment, you are there.