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One way I connect with God is through nature by joining the local arboretum and botanical garden. I haven't always experienced God's presence in nature but have learned that God whispers to me in a quiet garden setting. Because I have responded to His nature invitations, He in turn gives me moments of deep peace and rest. For example, on a summer trip to Virginia, I was able to visit the local Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden for free. I arrived, after long days of ministry, to a peaceful setting. It was the end of the day. No one was around. I found a quiet spot on a bench next to a lake. Behind me, wind chimes swung from a willow tree. I sat with my eyes transfixed on the sparkling lake for a longtime. I soon realized that the wind chimes were playing a soft, rhythmic, twinkling sound. The tunes perfectly matched the sparkling movements of the waves as the wind hit the top of the water. The moment was so unusual and rare; I could sense God ministering to my heart. It was an encounter when God was restoring my soul. If I didn't give God that space and time, I would have missed this summer moment of my soul. This memory is etched into my mind for all time.
For you, rejuvenation may come differently. You may have another way of deeply connecting with God. Mindy Caliguire, founder of Soul Care, a spiritual formation ministry, identifies activities that are a foundation to soul care: prayer, spiritual friendship, Scripture, solitude/silence, soul searching and simplicity. Consider picking one of these activities that connects you most closely to God and proactively schedule a "date with God."
Invite someone into your moments with God. We were made for community. As Jesus said, "For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst" Matthew 18:20. Long summer walks are a perfect method for me to enjoy time with my husband, children and friends. Pointing out unusual leaves, delicate flowers and striking sunsets connects me to God and to others. I love saying, "Didn't God do a nice job with the sunset tonight?"
Praising God by acknowledging His magnificent creation truly puts my life and circumstances in perspective.
Make an effort to be bold. Invite a friend to see God's world through your eyes. Yes, summer can be a time that meets all expectations. For this to happen, we need to:
- Make spiritual self-care a priority
- Purposefully connect with God
- Invite someone into our moments with God.
When we experience summer as a time of refreshment, we can then go into another ministry season fully charged and ready to serve our children's ministries with joy.
I truly am looking forward to another refreshing summer. I hope you are, too!
Marie Guthrie is Senior Director of Ministry Communications at Awana. She serves on the prayer team at Willow Creek Community Church. Most of all, she loves her husband, Mark, children Leah and Grant, dog Riley and friends.