31 August 2014

A Prayer for Second Innocence

Lord, we know that when we were babies you met our needs. We did nothing for your care, absolutely nothing. In love, you gave us everything we needed.

As we grew older, we learned you gave us freedom and we turned our backs on you. But, in love, you still gave us everything we needed.

Grant us a second innocence—the innocence of infancy with the freedom of childhood—so we may know you not in ignorance but in thoughtful wonder.  

Make us mindful that everything we have comes from your hand and may we be thankful to return to you that which you have given to us—our whole lives.

As we give, help us be still in dependence like infants and, as your children, may we know through worship that you are God and there is no other.

In Jesus’ Name,

30 August 2014


There are some great articles by Johan Christoph Arnold over at plough.com. Included are excerpts from his forthcoming book Their Name is Today: Reclaiming Childhood in a Hostile World.

Here’s an excerpt from an article entitled “A Child’s Right to Play”.

Friedrich Froebel, who created the concept of the kindergarten, was a nineteenth-century German educator whose greatest gift was his ability to view life through a child’s eyes. That is why, almost two hundred years later, his educational philosophy makes sense to anyone who loves children. When he coined the name “kindergarten,” he meant it literally – “a garden of children” – where each child is nurtured with the same love and care given to a seedling. He knew that humans are essentially creative and compassionate beings, and that education must involve the development of these traits.

Froebel often spoke of the importance of children’s play: “A child who plays thoroughly and perseveringly, until physical fatigue forbids, will be a determined adult, capable of self-sacrifice both for his own welfare and that of others.”

Read the rest of this article here.

And keep playing! PlayFull believes that a healthy life is a playful life—and that includes adults, too.

Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to stay abreast of hopeful thoughts. Thank you for reading.

27 August 2014

Horse Tornado and other curiosities

PlayFull friend Victoria Davis highlighted this the other day. If you didn't know what something was called and you had to give it a name what would you name it?

Kids would be good at this game,wouldn't they?

Here are a few favorites...

And now...for a friendly competition. One dollar (Wow! That's a lot of money!) will be awarded to the person who thinks of the best name for this one:

Leave your answer in the comments, or email it here, or leave it on our Twitter profile or leave it on our Facebook page. We will announce the winner tomorrow morning and will be in touch with you to arrange delivery of your prize. Kids can play, too! If they have an entry, let us know who it is so we make sure they get the prize. :)

Hump Day is humor day at PlayFull. Thanks for reading and keep smiling!


26 August 2014

Psalm 23 from a Japanese Translation

In the mid-1960s a Japanese woman named Taki Miyashina wrote a striking version of Psalm 23. We know the original well; it is frequently quoted in funerals: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…”

Her translation of this familiar Scripture was fitting for a world caught up in busyness. And it suits our world today, too. On 4 May, 1965 the Reverend Eric Frost broadcast this unique translation from London. Let the words speak to you.

With thanks to Paul DeNeui for reading this at Grace Covenant Church in Chicago last Sunday….

Psalm 23 from a Japanese Translation

The Lord is my Pace-setter, I shall not rush,
He makes me stop and rest for quiet intervals.

He provides me with images of stillness, which restore my serenity.
He leads me in ways of efficiency through calmness of mind,
And His guidance is peace.

Even though I have a great many things to accomplish each day,
I will not fret for His presence is here.
His timelessness, His all importance will keep me in balance.

He prepares refreshment and renewal in the midst of my activity.
By anointing my mind with His oils of tranquility;
My cup of joyous energy overflows.

Surely harmony and effectiveness shall be the fruits of my hours.
For I shall walk in the pace of my Lord and dwell in His house forever.


Play from the inside-out. Thank you for reading. If you’re encouraged by what you see here, we invite you to like us on Facebook or followus on Twitter.

24 August 2014

Give It A Rest

Sabbath is that special time when we come to the end of ourselves. It is a time when we realize we are not the master of our own fate. We are limited, finite, contingent. We cannot make a perfect world. We cannot acquire the perfect life. We are dependent on something outside ourselves. So, God invites us to enter into a place where we give all our doing—including all our attempts to make things just right—a rest.

That is what the word Sabbath literally means: quit, stop, take a break. The paradox of Sabbath is that we do not practice it by more doing; we only experience it by not doing. That is a hard truth for modern day American Christians to apply.

Sabbath is not something that we master by tweaking the way we hold church services. You don’t get Sabbath by having a perfectly decorated sanctuary space. You don’t get it by sermons that are just the right length. You don’t get it by a band of musicians playing a balanced complement of instruments, mixed well by a sound technician.

Sabbath is not something we practice by doing better at our usual doings. It is the time when we come to admit the futility of our usual doings, a time for being still to let God show us that God is God and we are not. Sabbath says, “You don’t meet me by more doing. I am only met by being received.”

Sabbath is like grace which Frederick Buechner describes as saying,

There is nothing you have to do.
There is nothing you have to do.
There is nothing you have to do.
There is nothing you have to do.

God desires that each person would have a unique, personal experience of Sabbath. Sabbath cannot be received by insisting that the world conform to our liking. Sabbath says, “Just give it a rest. Reality will not be refashioned in your image.”

So, the beauty of Sabbath is that she meets us in our uniqueness. That is why Sabbath for you may be different than Sabbath for me. We do not all receive Sabbath the same way. And that is okay. The question that’s put before each of us is: “How does Sabbath appear to me?” That is a question I cannot answer for you and it is a question you cannot answer for me. If you don’t find her in the same place I find her, where do you encounter her? My hope is that each of us will have a sense of where and how we meet Sabbath.  

Sabbath reminds us that there is a God who made all things so wonderful that even his making was restful. Because God is the maker and we are those whom God made, we are dependent on him. Sabbath is that special time when we come to the end of ourselves. What do you need to lay down to rest?

PlayFull is on Facebook and Twitter, too. Play from the inside-out. Thank you for reading. 

23 August 2014

a letter to a friend in a dark place

It is wonderful you reached out to us, friend. The best thing in the world. You are not alone.

I loved the words you wrote, by the way. What a great prayer you prayed and a wonderful thing to desire!

Sometimes we go through places where God is only met in the desire for God. He himself will not show up, but he will give you the desire for him.

That is what you have: desire for God.

Somehow, God hides himself in that desire. I hope that is a comfort, however small. And, know this:

This entire prayer you’ve written was placed in you by God. It is a prayer that assures you of his hidden closeness. It is a guiding prayer.

But what to do with these feelings, then? It feels to you like God is far away...

Pretend with me that you are in the valley of the shadow of death. A comforting thought, right? J

While you are in this place, you have a memory, a vague recollection of times when you were assured of the good shepherd’s leading in green pastures and beside refreshing water. You remember those times of feeding, joy, brilliant sunlight. Happiness seemed to bubble over. You could not stop smiling, singing. Your heart was dancing, dancing in glorious freedom.

You could rest. Indeed, even when you were doing work, it felt like rest. Everything felt restful, peaceful, happy.

He led you to good water, refreshing water. Oh, that water tasted so good! Everywhere you turned there seemed to be water and you didn’t have to work for it. It was there, ready for the taking.

When you looked in a pool of still, good water you could see a reflection there. It was the face of the good shepherd standing right beside you. There he was, both over you and under you. You could also see your own face clearly, but that didn’t matter because you could not take your eyes off the shepherd’s beauty.

Now you are in the dark place. There is no light here. You seem surrounded by enemies. And, where is the shepherd? You cannot see him.

Wait. You see his staff. There is no shepherd, but that is his staff. You know it well because you remember it from before.

A good sign: his staff is not laying on the ground or leaning against some rock. If it were, you would know the shepherd left it there and walked away. No, someone is holding onto the staff.

You remember him telling you that this is his staff and no one else’s. He will not yield his authority to another, especially in this place. So, you know it is the shepherd holding onto his staff. Well, then, why is he just standing there, far away? You want to see him, not just his staff.

“Doesn’t he know I’m afraid?” you think. “Can’t he hear me bleating, crying out? WHY DOESN’T HE DO SOMETHING and come over here?”

When you were a baby, he would have been near. He was your mother and you suckled on her breast. But now you are grown up—still a child, but grown up.

The shepherd is making you stronger.

But you feel on your last legs. Tired. You can’t take anymore. You feel weaker, not stronger. After a while, the muscles of faith need a break. But he seems to keep pushing you. Why?  

He knows: no pain, no gain. Yes, it hurts, but…

“…we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.” (2 Cor. 4:7-10)

With the pain, we have an assurance of gain. Again:

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us…For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” (Romans 8:18, 24-27)

While we wait for deliverance patiently, we are reminded:

“…neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38)

But in this dark place, the shepherd is far away. You believe he is there but you have no proof it is the shepherd holding onto the staff (other than his words that he yields his authority to no one). So, you are dependent on faith. That is all.

You lower your head in sadness. Oh, for those days of song and dance and food and light and laughter! The shepherd held me in love, he kissed me and we laughed together. But that is gone, so you just weep, head bowed low.

When you are all cried out, you look up and see you are sitting at a table, here in this place of enemies. The table has some food on it. So, why haven’t you seen this before?

You have not seen it because the dark place is a confusing place and you spent all your time looking for the shepherd himself (not his food) because the shepherd is all that matters to you. That is natural.

Now what seems strange to you is that you see the food there—you know it is good and given to you by the shepherd—but you have no desire to eat. “Why bother? If I can’t have the shepherd, the food does not matter. People do not live on bread alone.”

So, the food gives little comfort. But the shepherd put it there because he knows you might be here in this training ground awhile and you will need it from time to time.

Right now you don’t feel like eating it and he lets you refrain from eating it. He figures you will reach for it when you need it, but he also keeps an eye on you so that if you utterly forget yourself he will find a way to get some food into you so you don’t die of starvation.

So, you just keep an eye on that staff. Waiting for it to move closer to you or move further from you. You just want it to move somewhere. “Just stop standing still, for heaven’s sake!”

If you see the staff beginning to move away from you, I suppose you’ll follow it. Likely, it will move further away sooner than it will move closer. That’s because, here in the middle of this dark place, the light place is further from you than closer to you. Strangely, to move you into the light, the shepherd will, in his mercy, move further away from you in hopes of enticing you to follow him. If you fall, he will double-back, pick you up, carry you on his shoulders and kiss you well. But, he thinks you have it in you to follow. So, he won’t do that just yet.

So, with body weakened but faith strengthened, you resolve that when he moves you’ll move. Because there is no one else you’d rather be near than that good shepherd.

Yes, I know you’ll follow when he moves. But that time has not yet come. So, you wait, wait, wait at the table he’s made for you in the presence of enemies.

Friend, I will pray God delivers you and that through this you will be stronger, stronger than ever. I know you are tired, but when we exercise those muscles of faith it will be tiring. I pray he will give you strength. Strength to carry on, one day at a time. I pray that somehow in this dark place there will be music to suit the time.

Keep talking to us. You don’t need to hide anything. We’ve been in dark places, too. We love you and are with you in spirit.

15 August 2014

A Prayer for Strength

A Prayer for Strength
by Richard Langford

                Help us to know Your love and the love of each other. Set us free to become our true selves because we are loved, and to free others because we love.

                Give us enough tests to make us strong,
enough vision and endurance to follow Your way,
enough patience to persist when the going is difficult,
enough of reality to know our weaknesses,
and enough humility to know these gifts come from You.

Go before us to prepare the way;
walk behind us to be our protection;
and walk beside us to be our companion,
                                                through Christ our Lord, Amen.

From Hymns for the Family of God. Published by Paragon Associates, Inc. (Nashville, 1976)

14 August 2014

Thursday Thought:: Ann Lamott on Laughter

A great image! Here's to joy...

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13 August 2014

Robin Williams (1951-2014)

Remembering a life who brought so much laughter into countless lives: Robin Williams. Here's a short clip of what many feel he did best: comedic improv. Say a prayer for all who were close to him...

09 August 2014

The Way It Is With Children

A special thanks to PlayFull board member Doreen Olson for sharing this beautiful poem by Rainer Maria Rilke. 


I believe in all that has never yet been spoken.
I want to free what waits within me
so that what no one has dared to wish for
may for once spring clear
without my contriving.

If this is arrogant, God, forgive me,
but this is what I need to say.
May what I do flow from me like a river,
no forcing and no holding back,
the way it is with children.

Then in these swelling and ebbing currents,
these deepening tides moving out, returning,
I will sing you as no one ever has,
streaming through widening channels
into the open sea.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

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07 August 2014

Befriending Uncertainty

Lord, thank you
that I don’t have to have it all figured out.

In the daytime, Uncertainty waits
up the road on the corner.
He waits for night to come.

A few hours after I go to bed, he strolls to my house.
He knows this place well.
He’s been here before.

Neither smiling nor frowning,
with a wad of detached facts in his pockets,
he knocks on my door.

When I first hear the sound,
I know it isn’t you, Lord—
because your knock is whimsical, friendly,
warm and neighborly.
When you knock that time of night
I know you’re standing at the door
with drinks, a good story, a genesis idea or
a reminder you’re thinking of me.

This knock is not that knock,
so I try to ignore it, turn over
and go back to sleep.

Uncertainty won’t stop, though.
He’s figured out a way
to reposition some light—
so I open my eyes.
The knock on the door  
sounds louder.
There’s nothing for it but to answer the door.

Uncertainty’s morbidly happy to step in,
shuffling in the entryway.
He tends to whisper and mumble.
He doesn’t want to be too specific.
He’s talking in general terms
about people I know by heart.
He manages to sit down.
Now he has many questions
accompanied by proposed solutions.
He changes his mind and proposes alternatives.
“There must be a way,” he says. “Let’s keep
talking and thinking till we figure this out.”

I can’t summon my voice to say,
“No. Stop talking and get out.”

Thankfully, you come to my rescue, Lord.
It’s that rhythmical sound again on my door.
I know it’s you.

You have a box of donut holes.
You smile and say, “I brought something
to fill up the hole in your life.”
I can’t help but laugh, relieved.

“Scram,” you say to my visitor.

Without a word, Mumbles leaves.
And I find my breath again.

You sit down and remind me of some simple things:
you’re my shepherd;
you won’t humiliate me;
I won’t be disgraced;
you anoint my head with oil;
I’ll go out with joy and be led forth with peace;
surely goodness and love will follow me;
I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever;
I don’t have to have it all figured out.
You’re God and I’m not.
I don’t have to have it all figured out.

“Amen, so be it,” I pray—
as I lay down to rest again
and you turn out the lights,
a friend in darkness,
the best certain uncertainty I know,
always true and good.

Befriending Uncertainty
a poem by Troy Cady

02 August 2014

Ann Boyd: Finding Rest in Everyday Activities...Like Cooking!

In my work with children, I have the privilege of serving alongside lots of great people. Ann Boyd is a wife, mom to two kids, homeschooler, editor of an online magazine, musician and…a wonderful cook.

Every time we have a meeting at her house, she always offers us something delicious. Heck, any time we have a meeting any place, I ask her to bring a yummy treat.

In the midst of the many hats she wears, Ann and her family have made a conscious effort to observe a time of Sabbath every week. I imagine this must be particularly difficult to do since we live in a world that, for the most part, does not practice being slow very often. Often, even our rest is rushed.

To pursue this kind of meaningful slowness, Ann makes it a point to release Sabbath from its Sunday cage. She knows that the true spirit of rest is not something that is just reserved for the weekend; rather, our weekday activities can be infused with restfulness as well. The key to finding this kind of rest every day is to eliminate hurry as much as possible as we go about our normal activities.

Last Sunday in church, Ann shared about this in a memorable way. She brought a watermelon, some mint, and some lime juice and made—you guessed it—a delicious watermelon salad while she shared with us some practical ways we can nurture restfulness in the midst of everyday chores (especially cooking).

I asked Ann if I could share her helpful tips on playfull.org and she graciously agreed. I slightly adapted a few of her words so as to make a little card you can print out, if you like.  I hope it helps. (Please note: this is copyrighted material. Do Ann a favor: don’t steal this or use it without asking her permission.)

I encourage you to read a brief explanation of each tip on her interesting (and food-inspired!) blog. She’s a great writer, by the way. 

I especially appreciate that Ann mentions she does not always practice all these tips with 100 percent success. Rather, the art of being unhurried will always be a work-in-progress. We will never be “perfect” at it. Still, to remind herself that it is good for us, she has these tips printed and posted in her kitchen. Whenever she cooks, she wants to try doing it in an unhurried way as much as possible.

I encourage you to take some time right now to reflect for a few minutes in an unhurried way. Ask yourself: “How hurried is my life? Are there things I can change so I can eliminate hurry from my life as much as possible?” Take a few minutes now to consider how you can, as Eugene Peterson writes, “learn the unforced rhythms of grace.” (The Message)


Thank you for reading. PlayFull exists to help people play from the inside-out and we believe that the fullest kind of play is unrushed. To stay abreast of helpful (and light-hearted!) content, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.