Thank you for your kind messages and emails in response to Sometimes Less Is Enough. I’m working on a post for Wednesday to let you know what’s up for the next few weeks.

But today let’s talk books, OK?

You know I’m the leader of the Book Club at Velvet Ashes. This week we are starting a new book: An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor. The following is an adaptation of what I wrote for her first practice: Waking Up to God.


I appreciated in the introduction when Barbara Brown Taylor explained why she is looking at spiritual practices: “Each helps me live with my longing for More. Each trust that doing something is at least as valuable as reading books about it, thinking about it, or sitting around and talking about it. Who wants to study a menu when you can eat a meal?” And later on the same page: “In a world where faith is often construed as a way of thinking, bodily practice remind the willing that faith is a way of life.”

Reminds the willing. I want to be counted with them, don’t you? This first practice is a good place to start because it starts small.

Waking Up to God.

When I read “In my experience, every place has its own spirit, its own character and depth. If I had grown up in the Arizona desert, I would be a different person than the one who drew up in a leafy suburb of Atlanta.” I had to laugh. We know the truth of which she speaks, don’t we? I grew up in Colorado in the U.S., and went to college in Kansas. When I’d tell people where I was going to school, sadly, many Coloradans wondered why I’d go THERE?

And after five years in south-central China in a place known for a slow paced life, tea drinking and Mahjong playing when I moved to Beijing, people felt sorry for me because the spirit of the places are so different!

How does where you come from and where you are now help you wake up to God? I am probably far more taken with blue skies coming from Colorado and living in a cloudy city for years and then moving to a polluted city. I also notice I am comfortable in urban and suburban areas. I like nature, but have no need to live in it. So, it’s easier for me to see God at work in the city than it is for some who grew up in more remote areas.

So, I ask again, How does where you come from and where you are now help you wake up to God?

I liked how Barbara played with the idea of waking up, a concept most often associated with sleep and morning times. Barbara invites us to see waking up to God to be about more than a few moments early in the day. Instead, she wants us to wake up and see him at work throughout the day.

I love having a camera on my phone because it helps me to capture (so called) random moments that foster waking up.


When I see an item out of place, I’m trying to train myself to think of how the Good Shepherd leaves the 99 and goes to look for the one. He cares about all of this sheep. Sometimes I feel as out of place as this cart, but God will still come and hunt for us.

Tea pot

Like you, I’ve eaten food that seemed weird to me. Some of it was humorous weird, and some of it was “Amy, you are going to have to die to yourself RIGHT NOW and make sure your face isn’t making a rude look.” In times of doubt it’s easy to think this is what we have to do with God. But he says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” A teapot and scone help me taste and see that the Lord is good.

Under contruction

The church is always under construction because the church is not a building. So, when my co-workers or local believers annoy me, this picture helps me to wake up to God at work in their lives. And more often than I’d like, they need this picture for me too!


And you knew there had to be one of sky, didn’t you?! Blue sky wakes me up to God in ways that remind me of who I really am — I don’t know why the sky is such a portal for me to God, but it is. I’d love to read (and see) what helps you wake up to who you were truly meant to be before you became a broken version of yourself (or another way of saying it, who you will be forever!).

As I am practicing waking up to God, I am in awe He is I look. My phone has helped me wake up to God. What’s helped you this week? What would you like to try as you practice waking up to God?

Disclosure : Amazon Affiliate links included in this post.  If you click through to Amazon, any purchase you make supports Velvet Ashes

Categories: Book, Faith



Leave A Comment

  1. Aashdoda October 6, 2014 at 11:50 pm - Reply

    Amy: Like you, I grew up in Colorado just 70 miles south of where you are so I see not only blue skies but the first winter cap on Pikes Peak. I knew that it was about to snow when I woke up with arthritis doing the nasty painful dance when all I wanted to do was create something new in my writing. I stood in my front window with cup of hot tea and knew He simply had a different plan for my day, far better than I had planned. I was sad because a Denver doctor told me with good reason I have to have a knee replacement. Knowing it was coming didn’t soften the blow. I’ve been worrying about the details but woke up literally and figuratively to see God painted a glorious picture on the mountains without a single cloud in the sky. I knew He’s got my knee well in hand and I don’t have to worry.

    I prayed years ago to be ‘as good as new if not better than that’ and slowly my prayer was being answered. Now I’m down to the last few surgeries. The count is around 50 now. This one just got me in the gut in a way I can’t begin to explain. In truth long ago I learned to start my day looking to the hills from whence comes my help and count the many blessing I see, hear, smell, and feel. I don’t feel alone so much as blessed to be alive, and wild at heart (more than in action for the time being).

    Tonight it was a simple phone call I made that changed my world once more to be as bright as sunshine on the Colorado Rockies. God doesn’t just have my knee and me, He’s fixing my truck with tires, clothing my feet with shoes, buying food and toiletries in advance so in December when I come home everything will be ready to just heal and be for a while.

    I see God’s hands in the neighbors reaching out to help me take care of my dogs, and in their happy tails oblivious to where I’ll be for a few days. And I felt the change in the doctor’s way of looking at taking very gentle good care of me along with many others that will help me be able to hike, and walk the mountains again bringing me ever closer to being better than new.

    I feel moved to read your posts along with others you’ve met and set in my path. Thank you! I see God’s smile in the friends I make online, until I can leave the house just because I can when I want to. I listen to the changes He’s making in me by connecting to people I never dreamt I’d meet and using me to bless them as much as they bless me.

    Every day I get the honor to see God face to face in my dogs knowing they bear God’s name spelled backwards because He wanted me to save them from their sad lives and teach them to be new again by living a really great dog’s life while keeping me in smiles. Oh yes, they are happy to be spoiled with love yet mannerly so people can love on them wherever we go.

    I’ve always seen God everywhere and in everyone yet each day stands alone with mystery in the manner He chooses to weave the tapestry of my life. I feel so blessed to watch Him work and to be part of His work when He uses me. I’ve been wide awake living consciously for each day of my life but every day just keeps being more special somehow. The tougher life is the more fun God has painting a beautiful whole picture just for me yet I’m only one piece of the puzzle that makes all of us, we the community of like souls that live and breathe the love inside of us.

    Blessings on an Awesome post, Aashdoda

    • Avatar photo
      Amy October 7, 2014 at 3:17 pm - Reply

      Aashoda, thanks for sharing such a piece of yourself! I’d like to type more … but you understand :)!

  2. Diane DiLuzio October 12, 2014 at 8:55 am - Reply

    Thanks for bringing this book to my attention and for the great photos taken with your ‘phone’ I need a new phone soon so I am thinking of going more hi-tech for just the reason you shared these ‘ramdom’ images that can remind us of GOD in the world.

    I agree with you that we need more exercises such as these to remind us of Who is in charge. Yet, I feel like something is missing. A sense of the relational GOD that came down to us …to meet us where we are … Jesus. Waking up to GOD, for me, is recognizing GOD in the people we interact with each day…especially the less likely candidates: Poor families waiting to checkout their months groceries while dodging judging eyes in the check-out line; talking to a loved one though 6 inch glass panel unable to wipe away a tear of shame and regret; trying to help a family learn how to ‘fish’ in the world instead of just handing them the fish; trusting GOD in war-torn places because there are people there who care even though there seem to be even more people who there who don’t care. Yet, the presence of a compassionate heart in these situations is an image that calls us to wake up to GOD so that we can roue others from their spiritual naps resting on individualism and personal piety.

    Thank you, again, Amy, for this wake-up call about the many images in our everyday that can remind us of the extraordinary GOD that works through the ordinary My favorite was the stranded grocery cart!. I might have to use it in a sermon someday! Peace & grace, Diane

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