Dear Ones,

I hear that it is absolutely gorgeous outside, although I have to take the word of others, since I have been inside all day. I’m taking a little lunch break here at work and pining away for the sunshine. Yesterday was so beautiful in Teays Valley. It was difficult to remember the good April Fool’s mother nature gave us on Palm Sunday: the sky was sunny and bright one minute and dark and angry the next. But not yesterday, Mr. Sunshine was showing off! I went for a run in the afternoon and was captivated by the way the breeze blew the pear tree blossoms all around me. I felt like a grand lady in all of that fragrant confetti. The blossoms coated the concrete streets and my every stride fell onto a beautiful white luminescent carpet. Ah, I love the spring!

It is the most special of all weeks, leading to the most special of all days on our Christian calendar. The older I get, the more Easter means to me. When I was younger, meditating on the sacrifice made on the cross was always so disturbing to me. It wasn’t until a few short years ago that I could bring myself to even own such a symbol of (what I perceived as) sorrow. Couldn’t there have been a better way? Indeed, the depth of this love is difficult to explain to my children. They don’t want to think about the death of our Savior. I tell them anyway. I tell them gently and with awe. Because I know that one day they will understand, and this time is laying the foundation for that understanding. The cross that I used to see with sorrow, I now see with new eyes. I know the victory that it proclaims.

Happy Holy Week, Dear Ones! May yours be joyous and filled with wonder.

http://lauraboggess.com/2007/04/1427.html

Of Birthdays and Palms

Hello, Dears! I have been negligent in my blogging, I fear. It’s been a busy couple of weeks. I’m another year older, for one thing. Joy. Now, I’m not one of these people who dreads birthdays. In fact, the older I get, the more comfortable I am feeling in this saggy ‘ol skin. I’m thankful for every day that I have. It’s just that, as the years creep up on me, I’m reminded of something that Beth Moore said when I went to see her in Lexington a few years ago. Beth reminded us that even as our physical bodies are fading away, our hearts are becoming stronger and wiser. When God created us, He created us for eternity. He gave us hearts and minds that increase in beauty with each passing season as we mature in our faith and love. After the original sin, our bodies became subject to death. And we begin to slowly die, bit by tiny bit, as soon as we are born. Beth pointed out that because we were created for eternity, it’s only natural that we yearn for a body that is the same. So there, we can stop feeling guilty for missing the body of our youth. God wanted us to stay that way! Well, maybe not exactly that way, but certainly not this way. So learning to love my aging body can be a challenge at times. Especially on days when I spend hours outside weeding my flowers, like today. This did not used to cause the soreness that I am now experiencing. But, as they say, there is only one alternative to getting older, and I am just not ready for that one yet.

So anyway, my wonderful husband surprised me with a new laptop for my birthday. It has been such a lovely toy, but I am still in the process of recovering/transferring email information and precious data that my old baby so faithfully stored for several years. (This is meant to be the excuse for not blogging these past two weeks). I am still finding my way around Windows Vista, which so far has not impressed me much. But I am a creature of habit who has great difficulty adjusting to change. In some ways, it has been an adventure, in others a nightmare. But I won’t bore you with my software challenges. Suffice it to say, we are now up and running and hope to be more regular with our blogging from here on out.

To change the subject a little: can you believe tomorrow is Palm Sunday? Holy week is upon us and I feel like Lent has just begun. We are having church at the funeral home again tomorrow. For those of you who do not know, we had a fire in our church and the clean up has been a very laborious prospect. Mostly, smoke damage is the concern, thank the Lord. We have been out of our church for three Sundays now, and are diligently praying to be back home on Easter Sunday. Would you please pray for the same? It will give the resurrection day even more light for us. So one of our local funeral homes has been so kind to let us use their facility. Of course, there were a lot of jokes at first, but it really has not been bad at all. It always amazes me how God works things out. I could say more, but maybe later. I’m fading fast this evening.

Anyway, dear ones, time for bed for this old lady.

Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.

of Saints and Legacies

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Dear Ones!

Did you know that the good Saint really did not rid Ireland of all of those nasty snakes? I was crushed to discover this fallacy. I was on Slate.com and discovered this little gem by a gentleman named Dave Plotz:

“The Irish have celebrated their patron saint with a quiet religious holiday for centuries, perhaps more than 1,000 years. It took the United States to turn St. Patrick’s Day into a boozy spectacle. Irish immigrants first celebrated it in Boston in 1737 and first paraded in New York in 1762. By the late 19th century, the St. Patrick’s Day parade had become a way for Irish-Americans to flaunt their numerical and political might. It retains this role today. he facts about St. Patrick are few. Most derive from the two documents he probably wrote, the autobiographical Confession and the indignant Letter to a slave-taking marauder named Coroticus. Patrick was born in Britain, probably in Wales, around 385 A.D. His father was a Roman official. When Patrick was 16, seafaring raiders captured him, carried him to Ireland, and sold him into slavery. The Christian Patrick spent six lonely years herding sheep and, according to him, praying 100 times a day. In a dream, God told him to escape. He returned home, where he had another vision in which the Irish people begged him to return and minister to them: “We ask thee, boy, come and walk among us once more,” he recalls in the Confession. He studied for the priesthood in France, then made his way back to Ireland.

He spent his last 30 years there, baptizing pagans, ordaining priests, and founding churches and monasteries. His persuasive powers must have been astounding: Ireland fully converted to Christianity within 200 years and was the only country in Europe to Christianize peacefully. Patrick’s Christian conversion ended slavery, human sacrifice, and most intertribal warfare in Ireland. (He did not banish the snakes: Ireland never had any. Scholars now consider snakes a metaphor for the serpent of paganism. Nor did he invent the Shamrock Trinity. That was an 18th-century fabrication.)”

Fascinating, huh? Now I have just cause to revere the lad. I wonder why the least noble of all rumors hang around these saints when they do things like convert an entire country. Truly, we all should leave such a lovely legacy.

Have you ever wondered what kind of legacy you will leave behind?

There was a time when I was obsessed with this very issue. I come from a broken home. My parents don’t particularly like to recall the past. My mom was 16 when she and dad married. He was 18. They struggled. And their lives before each other were no picnic either.

I grew up starved to hear their stories. I think this was one reason that I became a bookworm. I needed someone’s stories if I was to have none of my own.

Occasionally, I tried to take matters into my own hands. My paternal grandfather lived to be 100 years old. After his death, I interviewed his children and put together a book of their memories of him. My father was the only one of nine siblings who refused to contribute. Some people just don’t talk. This must be respected, I suppose. But I was still one of those children who grew up convinced that I had been adopted.

I remember a party that Jeff and I attended early in our marriage. The hostess was showing me around her house. On one of her walls she had a beautiful quilt proudly displayed. As she told me the story of her quilt, the love in her voice set a tiny ache inside of me. My admiration must have been obvious, because she then made the observation: “Things mean a lot to you, don’t they?”

I was dumfounded. I hadn’t anything to hold that statement up against. No family heirlooms, no cheap sentimental objects, not even a story handed down through the generations. Well, not a happy story anyway.

It must seem silly to you that I would mourn a past that I never had. But I did. For a time anyway. And then I had children of my own and I began to focus on creating stories for them.

Then, during a church function, I had a wonderful talk with one of our senior members. This gentlewoman turned out to be the wife of the founder of our church. She relayed the story of how our church was born, with such joy, that I felt blessed by the telling. How special to hear the history of the building in which my children were learning to love Jesus.

Then I was shown some pictures of the groundbreaking for an addition to the original building. I had looked at these pictures a million times but had never really seen them. Familiar faces were pointed out to me. Faces that sing in our choir and still sit in our pews. Faces that are now framed by glorious crowns of white hair.

As I looked at the images of joy filled faces in the pictures, a familiar ache began to gnaw inside of me. I wanted to sit at the feet of these precious people and hear them tell how it felt to be there. What were they thinking? What were their dreams for our church?

I reached out and gingerly touched a face in the picture. That’s when it hit me: This was my heritage! These were my family members. These stories belonged to me as well. I can’t explain the wonder that I felt at that realization. At that moment, another truth was revealed to me in a way I had never experienced it before: I have an incredibly rich heritage. One that begins with my heavenly Father. And, wow, does He have some stories to tell!

Today, when I read Bible stories to my boys, I am sharing with them part of my history. These stories are the beginning of my story. They belong to me. And they belong to you. They are a part of us, dear ones.

I grew up believing that to look back was a waste of time. But, oh, God wants us to remember! He wants us to remember the good times and the difficult times. And what’s more, He wants us to share these stories so that they will not be forgotten.

When I look back in faith, I see clearly the rich heritage I have to offer my sons. It’s a heritage of loving the Lord. It’s a heritage of His faithfulness even in the darkest of times. When I look back in faith, I see His hand guiding me every step of the way. Even stories of sorrow have become valuable to me, because in them His glory is revealed .

Every trial in my life I stand up before Him like a stone. And I remember.

We are called to a rich heritage, my friend. Let us tell our children about His faithfulness in our lives. He is faithful, Beloved. Let us never forget that.

“…In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”—Joshua 4:6-7

Tender moments

Dear Friends,

Today I am still basking in the glow of our contemporary praise and worship service, held last night. Since we only have the service once a month, I try to hold onto this feeling as long as I can. I still love a traditional service, but somehow, singing my worship feels more personal. It seems a more active way to offer my heart up to God. It is a precious gift.

God blessed me with the wondrous opportunity to sing a song with my husband last night. I have sung with the praise team on other occasions, but this time, my heart was taken captive by the words as it hasn’t before. It was very intimate. The song we sang was for the musical offering and was entitled “Befriended”, by Matt Redell. I have mentioned before how moving it is for me to sing praise with my brothers and sisters in Christ, but to lift my voice to God in unison with my lifemate; this is beyond tender.

Last night, as Jeff and I reflected on the evening, I was reminded of a certain incident that happened early in our marriage. I was still a blushing bride in many ways, in love with the idea of happily ever after. We had two bathrooms in our first home, and for the sake of convenience, Jeff used one and I the other. On this particular morning that comes to mind, however, we had to get ready for the day in the same bathroom. I don’t know if the other shower was being recaulked, or if something was wrong with the toilet, but there we were, side by side at the sink. I remember turning to him as he started shaving, lather all over his face. Time seemed to stand still, and that moment is forever frozen in my mind. A wave of tenderness fell over me that was so tangible; I was immobilized. Something about sharing that space; that time of personal grooming, was so intimate, so completely vulnerable, that my heart almost broke.

That was how it felt last night. I wish I could explain to you the empty years of waiting I’ve had. Worshiping God is the tenderest, the most vulnerable of all places. But it is also the strongest and most powerful place that we could ever choose to be. I’ve waited so long to share this place with my husband.

Lift your hearts up to the Lord in thanks with me, Dear Ones! My husband now belongs to God! No matter how much time goes by, I will always marvel at the wisdom and perfection of God’s timing in this, the waiting.

Beyond everything we could ever ask or imagine, Dear Ones. Beyond everything. I am so blessed.

ZZZZZZZ

Losing an hour of sleep does not agree with me. I’ve been dreading the annual “spring forward” this year. But I must admit, I didn’t realize the jump was coming early this year. That is, until I just hopped online and read this:

“Americans’ clocks will spring forward three weeks earlier this year (2 a.m. Sunday, March 11), but more than half of Americans (54%) say they’re relaxed and haven’t really thought about the change, a new MSN/Zogby Poll shows.

But one in four (23%) say they’re excited about this year’s early time change – they’re looking forward to the longer daylight and a chance to conserve energy. Those living in the Eastern U.S. are more likely (27%) than those living in other regions to be excited about this year’s early time change.”

Err–excuse me? “…a chance to conserve energy”? Since when has longer daylight hours conserved anyone’s energy? Now that sunup and sundown are farther apart, we can pack even more activity into life. Just what I need.

I don’t mean to be so negative. I really do enjoy getting up in the morning to daylight. Somehow, it makes the songbirds more audible. The morning seems kinder. The eyes open with ease. Okay, so not exactly, but it’s a little less painful waking up.

I actually used to be a morning person. I still love to be up before dawn. There is something so precious about being awake when most of the world is still sleeping. It heightens the senses and awards a sense of quiet at the same time. Yes, I love predawn, it’s the waking up that I have a problem with. Well, that and that fact that once I am awake I am just too tired to enjoy it. In fact, it seems I’m tired all the time these days. But I’ve been taking a multi-vitamin and drinking green tea, which has helped. A lot. Seriously.

But I’m still tired a lot. Which takes us back to the issue of packing as much into a day as humanly possible.

Face it. We do too much.

There are a lot of things about my childhood that I grieve, but having leisure time is not one of them. I mean, when I was a kid, we played. Free, imaginative, creative play. Not the kind of play that has to be officiated. I worry about the children growing up today. I try desperately to give my boys the kind of freedom that I had growing up. But the very fact that I have to try so hard changes the nature of the play in itself. We live in a different world.

My grown up life has it’s own demands. Work, exercise, professional interests, personal interests, church life, social life, yadda, yadda, yadda. Throw in a couple of birthday parties or evening meetings and my head is spinning. Welcome to middle America.

It is not easy to resist society’s drive in this direction. It’s been a stressful week here in the Boggess household. But this kind of week is the exception, not the rule. I’ve been out of balance and haven’t been myself. But it’s only temporary. My heart goes out to those who choose to live a week like this every week. They just don’t know what they are missing.

I know that I ramble, but this time change just has me considering how I spend my time. A good friend said to me once, “I don’t know anyone who ever said, when looking back, ‘I just wish I had spent more time at work’.”

There’s a great song by the band Switchfoot that questions, “This is your life, are you who you want to be?”

Are you?

Make it count today. Not tomorrow. Not next year. This is your life.