A Sense of Wonder

Author: Kate Franken

Hours before walking across the stage to receive my high school diploma, my mother presented me with a heartfelt gift that I’ve treasured in the years since. While I sat on my floral bedspread in my downstairs bedroom, she walked in and put a CD into my black boom box. She let the words of Leanne Womack’s song “I Hope You Dance” speak of her hopes for me and the uncertain future. It was a CD I wore out easily in the years to come. The  frequent replay of the song reminded me of my mother’s love and expressed so many desires I had for myself.

These lines have not grown faint as years have passed:

“I hope you never lose your sense of wonder.”

“I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean.”

“Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance.”

These words resonate deep within my soul. They speak to the yearning I have for something more, something outside of myself. They draw my eyes to the author of wonder. And at Him, they urge me to stare.

Carve the sky wonderWonder ignites our faith. It invites us to look beyond the things of this world. It opens our eyes wide to the greatness of our God. Who performs wonders that cannot be fathomed. Like a moth to a fire, I am drawn in, craving to know this God of Wonder.

I often wander down a winding dirt trail on a hike up a tree-covered mountain, or drive the back roads to marvel at the wonder of His creation. He never ceases to capture my heart with the beauty of the sun, with its rising and setting.

“So that those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs. You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy.” -Psalm 65:8

Innately, I’m drawn to how God carves the Earth and paints the sky. His work falls nothing short of a masterpiece.

As I sit in awe of His creation, my heart swells with joy, for the beauty that surrounds me speaks of His love. He created this beauty for our eyes to witness. His love lacking in nothing.  His love is not broken. It is complete.

He loves us so much; He wants a relationship with us. And through the wonder of His creation, He reveals Himself.

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork.”-Psalm 19:1

Wonder stareGreat is His glory. His strength is mighty. He sustains all things. He is faithful. He is peaceful. He is worthy of all worship. He is incomparable. He is without equal. He alone reigns.

I didn’t quite know what a sense of wonder would yield, as I put on that blue graduation gown. Now, a decade out, I am grateful. To know the riches of that wonder, feeds this strong, ever-deepening relationship I have with my Creator. There is nothing that compares.


Readers, What do you do to keep your sense of wonder alive?

kate-squareKate Franken is a 4th grade teacher and a volunteer coordinator at her church in Oregon. She enjoys indulging in raw conversation whilst savoring a cup or more of coffee. Her hunt for good books and podcasts is endless. She finds refuge surrounded by trees, on hiking trails, with her two dogs in tow. She is especially fond of mountaintop views, wit, “best teacher ever” love letters, breakfast, a painted sky, and Jesus. She has a heart for connecting people to His church and encouraging others into relationship with Him.

Advertisements

Dangerous Wonder: Our April Book Recommendation

Years ago, when I served on the staff of my church’s youth group, I had the privilege of attending a training with Mike Yaconelli. He was the Co-Founder of Youth Specialties (among many other wild undertakings), and had an infectious joy that drew in others. At that conference I met Chris Tomlin, worship was led by  Switchfoot and David Crowder, and I listened to Louie Giglio boldly proclaim the gospel, but it was Mike Yaconelli who impacted my spiritual growth the most.

Yaconelli gave permission to those around him to love Jesus passionately even in the midst of their mess. This month at Anchored Voices we have spent time discussing how wonder works out in our daily lives, so for April’s book recommendation I couldn’t help but tell you about Yaconelli’s book “Dangerous Wonder.” It is almost 20 years old, but I reach for it often. I pull in off my shelf when I need to be reminded of the freedom of living with childlike faith, or when I need to tell my soul, “open your eyes to the beauty around you.”

With chapter titles like: Risky Curiosity, Wide-eyed Listening, and Happy Terror, Yaconelli constantly causes the reader to examine the assumptions they operate from daily. He does push some theological ideas to the edges of my personal comfort, but it is done as a challenge. He encourages the reader to engage with the biblical text on their own and dive into the mysteries of the Bible.

Dangerous Wonder

Yaconelli embodied a person of wonder, and lived out the truths found in his book. He reminds us:

“The nice, nonthreatening God needs to be replaced by the God whose very presence smashes our egos into dust, burns our sin into ashes, and strips us naked to reveal the real person within. A healthy, childlike fear should make us more in awe of God than we are of our government, our problems, our beliefs about abortion, our doctrines and agendas, or any of our other earthly concerns. Our God is perfectly capable of both calming the storm and putting us in the middle of one.” (p.111)

Mike Yaconelli died in 2003 in a car crash, but his books are still available and his legacy of following Christ with wild abandon lives on. I will always be thankful for the inspiration he was to me as a young believer.

To this day I am challenged by the questions he dares his readers to ask, so I leave you some of my favorite as you embark on your own journey of wonder.

“Shouldn’t followers of Christ also be dangerous? Shouldn’t everyone be awed and dazzled by Christians? Shouldn’t Christians be known by the fire in their souls, the wild-eyed gratitude in their faces, the twinkle in their eyes, and a holy mischief in their demeanors? Shouldn’t Christianity be considered dangerous–unpredictable, threatening to the status quo, living outside the lines, uncontrollable, fearless wild, beyond categorization, or definition? Shouldn’t those who call themselves Christians be filled with awe, astonishment, and amazement?” (p.31)


Readers, Do you have book recommendations for exploring awe and wonder? We would love to hear them! Tell us in the comments.

chara-donahue-head-shotChara Donahue enjoys freelance writing, biblical counseling, and speaking to women when her four kids are out playing with dad. She holds a MSEd from Corban University and is passionate about seeing people set free through God’s truths. She is a regular contributor at Portland Moms Blog and her words have appeared at (in)courage, Patheos, and The Huffington Post. She longs to be a voice that says, “Hey we are in this together, and there is room for us all.” You can find more from Chara at One Anchored Voice, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

The Story of Wonder

 

I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old.”-Psalm 77:11

There is an upside-down topsy-turvy nature to the story that God is writing. The pages of the Bible take its readers through an unexpected storyline. It’s a lot less #blessed, and a lot more figuring out grace, belief, faith, and trust in the middle of mundane endeavors. The place where God shows up time and time again isn’t when everything is clean, or when life is easy, but right in the middle of pain, confusion, and a sink full of dishes. This life with God is more about being withless about doing. It’s more about following when we cannot seeless about striving after the perfect plan.

I’ve often missed the gift of wonder by not noticing what God has done, because I am so busy trying to stay away from the mess. The truth is, we cannot understand the gravity of the wonders of this God who is utterly outside all our paradigms unless we see the mess he entered into. It is easy to take things that are true, but strip them down to a sanitized version that can fit on a mug wreathed in trendy watercolor flowers.

“Look among the nations, and see;

 wonder and be astounded.

For I am doing a work in your days

 that you would not believe if told.” Habakkuk 1:5

People wonderYes, wonder. Yes, be astounded. Yes, believe that God is doing something amazing that you don’t even see yet. All that is true, but keep reading. Go back a few verses, read about how fed up the author is with injustice and how he cried out to God. The answer he received: This is not going to go the way you want it to. You’re going to lose. There will be pain. Yet somehow, this predicament was the work of God. His response, even though it’s going to be awful:

“…yet I will rejoice in the Lord;

 I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

God, the Lord, is my strength;

 he makes my feet like the deer’s;

 he makes me tread on my high places.”

-Habakkuk 3:18-19

I want faith like this. It is faith that astounds. A faith that makes the world wonder, because it raises the question, “Is that person crazy, or is this Jesus is real?”

  • When people cling to God despite a dangerous diagnosis. Not because God will automatically heal them, or make life good again (though he could, and sometimes does), but because He is their strength.
  • Joy in the midst of struggle, be it financial uncertainty, difficult relationships, or loss.
  • Declarations of the goodness of God despite the current state of affairs.

Looking into the lives of my brothers and sisters in Christ, gives flesh to the ways God is working even in incredibly hard times. Without vulnerability and close connection within a community of believers I would be tempted to view their lives out of context in the same way I cherry picked verses for so many years.

Look at that great promotion, the cute Instagram picture, the orderly children who said the cutest thing today, and so on and so on. We must let people into the struggle, or they won’t know the goodness of God in the midst of it.

Stories of wonderThe wonder that a couple made it to their next anniversary isn’t there, if you don’t know how desperately they prayed to be able to forgive one another. Again. The wonder of the college student graduating isn’t there, if you don’t know that they were taken from their parents for their own safety and bounced from foster home to foster home all through grade school. The wonder of God in the person limping past you, is lost when you don’t know that only a year ago they couldn’t walk.

I’ve truly been amazed by the steadfast love of God when I see his story both on pages and in the lives of his children in context. I find wonder in listening. By asking another the question, “What is God doing in your life?” You will find more of God revealed. I’ve also been listening through the Bible in large chunks at a time. It was supposed to take 90 days- which would put me in Revelation by now, but I’m a bit behind and through 2 Samuel instead.

Listening to the stories of these characters, their  relationships, and God’s story of redemption has opened up the scriptures to men in a new way. The lives of the people known to be “heroes” of the faith are just as messy as the lives of those who surround me today, if not more so. Their story isn’t written so that I can try to measure up, but to give a picture of a person following God through all the ups and downs.
They, like me, needed to see the goodness and graciousness of God in response to their flaws. I need mercy. I get stuck. I find my identity in all sorts of things that cannot satisfy. Even when I know only Jesus does. These stories. Your story. My story. We are living pictures filled with wonder, not because we have lived perfectly, but because we have lived with faith.


Readers, What causes you to be amazed by Got? What causes you to be struck by someone’s story?

holly-squareHolly is a wife of 6 years as well as mom to a teenager (by adoption) and a child she’ll meet in heaven. She’s been foster mom to 10 kids in the last 3 years, and works part time as a church bookkeeper. She loves interacting with people who are hungry for change and ready to see God at work in their lives. She studied Intercultural Studies at Corban University and loves to build bridges between cultures and people. She writes to tell the stories of what God has done, especially through her experiences of infertility, foster care, and adoption. These days you’ll find her catching up on housework while listening to a podcast, trying not to have dinner be a Pinterest fail,  and sipping coffee while teaching her daughter to drive.

Free Anchored Printable: April

April showers have been raining down and we are happy to bring you a hope-filled free printable of our theme verse designed by Sarah Dohman.

“We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf.” Hebrews 6:19-20

 Hope. Some might be unmoved by the word hope. It can be thought of as theologically soft, or seen as a foolish ideology. Hope isn’t frilly, passive, or weak, but it is fierce, active, and central to everything Christians believe, but we often need to be reminded of its strength. That God has given us the hope that He has conquered sin and death and made a way back to Him through His son Jesus Christ as the anchor for our soul.  We love our readers and pray this month’s printable be a reminder of that.

April Printable Preview 563x750px

Click here to get your free printable!

This Side of Wonderland

Author: Kimberley Mulder

When I was younger I lived off of Wonderland Road. It’s a long boundary road on the west side of London, Ontario, that unassumingly enters from corn fields in the north. It rolls down the best bike coasting hill, through countless intersections, over the River Thames, past gaping parking lots until again it trundles back out to the cornfields. There is nothing deeply wonderful about it, and London is a long way from Wonderland, but it’s there that my wondering began. 

God can take our wonderings, even our worryings, and use them to draw us close to Him.It is here that I grappled with the wonderings of youth: “Do they like me? Does he like me? Will she be okay? Why did they have to die? Who is God? Is He good? What should I do with my life?” I had moved to this beautiful old subdivision off Wonderland Road at age nine, but the map to identity seemed like it was hidden in Wonderland itself. 

This was as it needed to be, so that I could discover Wonder Himself. I took my questions everywhere and found answers at church, not at school. When I reeled in shock at the sudden deaths of friends in a tragic accident, I wondered “How could this happen?” My comfort came not in knowing why or how, but in knowing Him.

These words of the Heidelberg Catechism sprang to life from their deaths: “What is your only comfort in life and death? That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.” Into this assurance I dug deeper, wondering anew at each discovery and finding a new wondering underneath, until I found that the process of wondering and discovering produced true Wonder in my heart.

K Mulder WonderThat place of Wonder became homebase, became my rock to stand on, became the soil for my roots, became the “I” for my identity. Wonder welcomed me on this side of Wonderland. It is beautiful how God can take our wonderings, even our worryings, and use them to draw us close enough to Him that we stop wondering and simply sit in Wonder. Gone is the need to know and be in control,  what comes is peace in the unknowing as the Wonder of our hearts holds us close.

Had Jesus answered every question quickly and definitively (which is what I wanted), I would not have discovered the wonder of being with Him. Sure, I would have had answers but no relationship. A text book faith.

My faith would have been as boring and expected as the asphalt strip of Wonderland that bounds London. I think I would not have ventured far in faith or life (and what is the difference between these?), I would not have become glad in the humble place of not knowing. I would not have clung to Him but rather to the road. Jesus is the Way, but he is not a road. Do not cling to the path you are on, cling to Him – and He will lead you in all ways wonderful!


 Readers, How can you incorporate more wonder into your day? Take a moment to marvel at the greatness of our God.
2016-11-02 13.10.06Kimberley Mulder is a contemplative at heart who deeply enjoys the company of Jesus in the day-to-day of caring for her family of 5 (plus a dog and a cat), teaching English to immigrants, growing her garden, and writing. Though trained as a bassoonist for her undergraduate degree, she expresses her creativity now in gardening, cooking and writing.  Traveling to new places is a joy for her, including the challenge of learning a new language and trying whatever the local food is – even roast guinea pig and horse meat! And wherever she is, she spends as much time outside as she can. Currently, her walk with Jesus is taking her more deeply into writing as she leads a spiritual formation group at her church, and records the reflections and connections Jesus gives her to share with others.  She treasures the truth that God’s Word does not go back to him without accomplishing the purpose for which he sent it, and that that Word is embodied in our lives. (Isaiah 55:11)

Behold! Stand In Awe and Be Amazed

A few months back, I signed myself up for Spotify Premium. I tend to buy at least one musical album a month, and by forgoing purchasing the actual album and choosing to stream the music instead, I save money and precious storage space on my two-generations old iPhone.

Behold Sarah dohmanOne album I listen to repeatedly is Hillsong Worship’s ‘Let There Be Light’. It’s beautiful, ethereal and evokes my soul to praise God. At the end of the album, Brian Houston, Hillsong Church’s main pastor, speaks on the word ‘behold’. Most of the time I flip back to the beginning of the album or start streaming some other tunes. But on one particular instance, I listened all the way through the message. He begins by declaring, “I love the word behold. You know it actually means, ‘Wow‘? Behold means stand in awe and be amazed.”

The Bible demonstrates a poignant ‘behold’ moment in Matthew verses 23-27:

And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.  And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”

In the middle of the Sea of Galilee, a small fisherman’s boat is being tossed back and forth by the waves. BEHOLD, we are told. BEHOLD. Matthew puts us on high alert, here comes a ‘stand in awe and be amazed’ moment. We read it and we wonder what it would have been like to see, experience,  and bear witness to a moment so powerful, so divine. We also recognize this same God is at work within us.

It’s almost like Matthew wanted to say, “Wait for this guys and girls! Be amazed! This boat is filled with disciples of Jesus, and a good handful of them are professional fisherman. And they are freaking out. The waves are lashing the boat, filling it with water. And sure enough, there is Jesus-peacefully slumbering.” The poor disciples act out of desperation and wake up Jesus. He scolds them (knowing their professional background and to whom they belong) and then promptly calms the winds and the sea. The disciples are in awe and wonder-struck, thinking,”Who is this man who can calm the waves and calm the fear in our hearts?”

Amazed Easter Sarah dohmanHow often have I forgotten to stand in wonder and behold the power and might of our God? I am the first one to admit how quickly I join the ranks of the fearful disciples when my life is filled with unknowns. I neglect to place my trust in the One who calms the seas, and who calms my fears and anxieties. Thankfully, God knows these insecurities and goes about his work anyway. Because He is God, and He is good.

We are currently entering into the last couple weeks of the Lenten season. As we near Easter, let us be challenged to behold the One who was born, lived and loved on this earth, experienced death by crucifixion, and who rose again! Let us be amazed at the power and might of God. Let us set aside some time to stop in our tracks, be still, and allow ourselves to be filled with wonderment at God’s goodness and faithfulness.


Readers, This month our theme is wonder and we invite you to tell us what has made you stop and behold in the comments. We would love to hear from you. Thanks for reading!

sarah-dohman-squareSarah Dohman is a nurse, kayak enthusiast, coffee addict, microbrew lover, globe trotter, adorer of friends and family. She has a weakness for donuts, runs in 5k races, and cannot get enough tea and books. She loves writing more than talking (and she talks a lot), can be seen at Target frequently, and is loving life in her thirties. She believes God has called her to this space to bring joy and encouragement through words to friends and family, near and far. You can find more from Sarah at her blog or on Twitter.