LifeLetter Cafe LifeWriter Laura Boggess
is a morning person who loves the sound of the wind in the trees.
Jesus is her first love and after many years of the try-hard life
she is finally learning to accept that He loves her too.
She has a passion for sharing stories that draw others closer to Him.
A recovering list-maker left empty from trying to earn grace,
lately she has been stepping into Christ’s invitation to come to Him like a little child –
with open hands, surrendered to the Greatest Love.
She lives in a little valley in West Virginia with her family.
Being a mama is her favorite thing and has taught her a lot about how God loves us.
The Cafe is excited to introduce Playdates With God: Having a Childlike Faith in a Grownup World,
a story of rediscovering passion in her own God-life which first released in October of 2014.
Find a more detailed overview of Playdates With God here in Laura’s own words,
Do you remember when you first fell in love?
When you fell in love with Jesus, was it much the same?
Did you spend countless hours poring over Scripture?
Did sleep suddenly seem mundane as you rose at pre-dawn each day to meet with him?
Was every sunset an expression of his love and did every sermon hold a secret message just for you?
Isn’t this the place we all long to return to within our spiritual lives?
Playdates with God is the story of how, when we step out of our ordinary grown-up lives
and set aside time for wonder, we open our hearts to be wooed back to our first love –
to the excitement we felt when we first fell in love with Jesus.
But this is more than a story about falling in love. It’s about staying in love.
So LifeLetter Cafe is excited to share this recent interview with Laura Boggess
to dive deeper into the story behind Playdates With God.
Enjoy her answers below in the latest 7 Questions Sunday!
Today’s 7 Questions
LifeLetter Cafe: Since the release of Playdates with God almost two years ago, what are some of the more memorable examples of how God has used the book to encourage readers?
Laura Boggess: I still get emails every day from people who tell me how Playdates with God fed their spirit and encouraged them in their walk with God. This is one of the joys of a smaller platform—the freedom to engage in deep conversations with those who have been encouraged to step out of their comfort zones and run after God in new ways. Right now, I have a dear friend leading an art journaling workshop who is using Playdates to inspire her attendees. A local book club read through the book together this spring and one of my favorite experiences was visiting with these folks and doing a reading with them.
It’s such a gift to see a person’s eyes light up when discussing how the book has impacted them. Personal, one-on-one encounters fill me with gratitude that God chose to use me in this way and humble me immensely.
LifeLetter Cafe: When was your first “I am not enough” moment? When did you come to a crisis of longing to connect personally with God again?
Laura Boggess: In the book I talk about how this feeling of “not enough” has always been a part of me.
“I was born the third child of four to a working class family and tired parents. My birth order allotted no privileges. The firstborn—my brother—would be doted on and favored his whole life. The second—my sister—had the particularity of being the first girl. And my little brother? Well, he was the baby. Number three seemed … invisible. Nothing special for sure. At least it felt that way to a blue-eyed, freckle-faced girl who would spend most of her young life trying to be seen—searching for more than being just the invisible number three.” –Playdates with God, pp. 16
C.S. Lewis loved to use the word sehnsucht to describe this feeling of longing. It’s a German word that has no English equivalent. My dictionary simply defines it as “yearning.” Pascal and Augustine also spoke of the “God-shaped hole” inside of us. God has written inside each one of us the knowledge that there is more to this world than what our eyes can see. With our limited human eyes, however, we often mistake this longing as a desire for things of this world. As a young woman I wandered down many shadowy paths seeking to fulfill this longing, only to return emptier than before. By the grace of God, I stumbled into His path when I was a young mother and finally recognized this longing as a call to move closer to God.
LifeLetter Cafe: How do we lose a grip on child-like wonder, imagination and become predictably sophisticated religious adults?
Laura Boggess: That is a very good question. In the book I talk about psychologist Jean Piaget’s theory of cognitive development. Piaget says that around age seven or eight children move from the preoperational stage of thought—which is characterized by the development of symbolic thinking and rich imagination—into the concrete operational stage, characterized by logic and concrete reasoning. From this point on, we develop more and more sophisticated ways of thinking that are rooted in facts. But to commune with the Mystery that is our good God, we must be able to see deeper than our human eyes can see. We must let intuition open our hearts so that we might hear the voice of the Holy Spirit more clearly.
So part of it is developmental, but a large part of that loss of wonder is cultural as well. Art and creativity played a critical role in the early history of the Church—paintings and sculptures and music and the like were used to evoke longing and enhance worship for many years. All we need do is visit an ancient cathedral to see evidence of this. However, the Protestant Reformation in the 16th Century and the Enlightenment in the 17th and 18th centuries led to suspicion of emotional and sensual experiences. During this time the Church came to associate art with idolatry and irrational thinking and thus distanced itself from most forms of artistic expression. In doing so, we lost a powerful means of transformation. We have been seeking to recover art for the Kingdom ever since.
I’m using “art” synonymously with “wonder” because I believe, as image-bearers of God, we were created not only to create, but to enjoy creation—just as God did when He reflected on his creation and called it “good.” As I’ve travelled and shared the message of Playdates with God, many people have responded, “But I’m not a creative person. I’m just not artistic.” But when we look deeper into that person’s life, we see many ways he or she is creating. Perfectly mowing and trimming the lawn, organizing a task with a spreadsheet, delighting in clean sheets and a perfectly made bed … these simple tasks all reflect a creativity that reflects our Creator. The happiest people I know are the ones who embrace this creative quality in their person—even if that doesn’t look like what we traditionally think of as creative. I’ll stop here because I can go on all day on this issue.
LifeLetter Cafe: What is one of your favorite portions/stories from the book?
Laura Boggess: I think my favorite story is the one I give in the opening chapter. It’s the story of the time when I sneaked into my neighbor’s yard to jump on her trampoline. This is the story that birthed my weekly playdates with God. I experienced such a sense of freedom and joy as I bounded up and down on that trampoline. Each time my feet took to the air it felt unpredictable and dangerous, but so much fun. I made a promise to God that day that I would not forget that feeling of wild joy. That I would seek out opportunities to meet with God that way on a weekly basis. Scheduling weekly playdates with God has changed my life.
LifeLetter Cafe: For many Christ-followers, the phrase “in love with God” is almost too threatening – like a level of unguardedness beyond our control – how do we get past the lies of the enemy (“God is not that interested in you”) and find “that place” again?
Laura Boggess: I think the answer to this question is different for everyone, and often changes throughout a lifetime. For me, scheduling weekly dates with God, a time to meet with Him in unexpected places that celebrate the wonder of creation—both that of God and that of men and women—brought me into God’s embrace in ways I’ve never experienced before. Others tell me they feel close to God in nature, when they run, when they write or take photographs, through birdsong, or music. I don’t believe there is one right way to find “that place”. And we must remember, no matter what we do, God is God. He doesn’t require us to do anything to be in his presence. This is why He sent Jesus—the curtain in the temple was torn and we are free to approach his throne directly. But because I am an imperfect vessel, I need physical reminders of God’s constant presence. If I do not make time to read the Word of God and meet with Him regularly, it’s not long before I feel very far away from Him.
LifeLetter Cafe: What are some ways readers can slow down again and find God “in the moment’?
Laura Boggess: When I schedule my playdates, I try to go to new places—even a place I might be nervous to attend alone. This has a way of forcing me to depend on God for courage and keeps a constant conversation of prayer going in my mind. I’ve attended plays alone, art exhibits, guided wildflower walks, concerts, and too many other things to name. I go alone—with God—and thus it becomes an intimate experience, a time of mutual wonder.
I’m not talking about high-adrenaline, risk-taking kind of things, my life is not that exciting. But through being deliberate in the planning of the time, and being deliberate in inviting God to be my sole companion, I become so sensitive to His presence, to His voice in my ear. There are days when I have simply sat under a tree on a blanket in the back yard, studying the way the breeze moves through the Maple tree leaves. Again, I think the answer to this question may be different for everyone.
LifeLetter Cafe: When will you embark on your next writing adventure – what is God putting on your heart?
Laura Boggess: Currently, God has me in a quiet place with my writing voice. I’m working on some fiction with my writer’s group, but mostly I’m listening, waiting for God to lead me. This can be a hard place at times, but I am choosing to see this season as another playdate—inviting God into those moments of quiet waiting.
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