Waking Up to God {Book Club}

Here we are at week one of An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown TaylorI’m excited!

I appreciated in the introduction when she 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? In this week when we are exploring doubt and what it means to doubt –at times a little, at times a lot –and be a person of faith, 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?

Upload a photo where you woke up to God this week! Or share how where you’ve come from and were you live have influenced you. Or both! See you in the comments.


OH and next week we’ve got something up our sleeves so Book Club may or may not meet next week. If it doesn’t we resume with The Practice of Paying Attention on October 28th.

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

Photo Credit : Jake Givens via Unsplash


  1. Brittany October 7, 2014

    I’m from Texas where there are KILLER sunsets.  I miss the majesty of a blast of color on the horizon as a reminder that no matter how much my day may have sucked, there is beauty even in the mess.  Sometimes, here, it’s really hard for me to see the beauty in the mess.  I see lots of messy.  I miss those sunsets so much!  Right now, I live smack in the center of the city and I don’t get a chance to see how spectacular the sunsets might be here.  But we are about to move to the outskirts of the city, in a much better location, and I’m hoping to sneak peaks at the sunsets regularly!

    Honestly, I really need to wake up to God around me.  My mind is definitely not trained to it!  So…I’m praying that He opens my eyes to see His fingerprints and His character and attributes in everyday things around me.  I’ve had a really rough morning with my kiddos and I’m thinking, God I desperately need you and I’m not seeing you anywhere around me this morning.  And then the Spirit gave me this:

    These are bones.  I asked for beef bones, but they seem to be pig bones instead…  Anyway, this animal was broken with the purpose of feeding people.  I use the bones to make a nutrient dense broth that helps keep my family well and feeds our bellies.  (Bare with me here)  Where this wakes me up to God is that in my suffering, God is allowing the breaking for a purpose.  He’s using it, not only for my own good, but for purposes beyond me.  Like the broken bones, God is using the brokenness in me to feed His Church, to encourage the saints, to nurture His Bride.

    I’m praying that I have many more moments, practices, like this in the coming days.  God, wake me up to Who you are in the mundane and even exhausting parts of my day!

    1. Amy Young October 7, 2014

      Brittany, I forget that skies don’t just turn pretty colors, they can host sunsets! Beautiful sunsets are things of pictures for me :). I love being reminded of other parts of the world.

      And those bones! When I was reading your comment I had the strongest sense of Ezekiel and the dry bones that will come to life. Here you are with pig bones bringing life to your family! And I love the way you tied even brokenness into waking up to God. As usual, so enjoyed your thoughts Brittany.

  2. Brittany October 7, 2014

    Well, the picture didn’t go where I wanted it to, but you get the idea.  😉

  3. Marie October 7, 2014

    Every morning I wake up to this majestic scenery and it reminds me of Psalm 61:2 …”lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” It reminds me, that is my source of strength and joy

    1. Amy Young October 7, 2014

      Wow Marie! That view would be a great one to wake up to!

  4. Marie October 7, 2014

    * that should say God is my source of strength and joy.

  5. Michelle October 7, 2014

    I am reminded that we can do so much with our bodies and our bodies are meant to move and bend. This picture is of a great friend totally trusting in her partner to catch her as she throws herself in the air.

    1. Amy Young October 8, 2014

      Love this picture Michelle! One of the things I look forward to in heaven is enjoying perfected bodies … maybe then I’ll every now and then be the dancer I am in my mind :). 

  6. Laura C October 7, 2014

    I’ve been waking up to God in the sound of the waves this past week.  Although the top picture is only a 25 minute drive from my home, and the bottom a 5 minute walk, i rarely take the time to pause and take in all of His beauty and strength present in the ocean.  This past week we intentionally forced ourselves to take time to do so.  Both times were the most refreshing moments I’ve had with Jesus in quiet some time.  Although I know I can encounter Him anywhere, in anything, I feel Him drawing me out of my routine and teaching me just to be still before Him, in His beauty, that is right in front of me.

    1. Amy Young October 8, 2014

      Laura, it’s been said by others before, but there is just something about water that is good for the soul! Thaks for feeding ours. I appreciate what you said about getting out of routine and through that, creating space to wake up to God 🙂

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