Weather Forecast (a poem)

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this will be remembered
as the Christmas of sixty degrees
when we went walking in shorts
and wore flip-flops as we sat
on the patio in the fading light
of day

the trees adorned with flashing
wings; morning drips from gray
branches; the meadow covered
in white mist

I have two sets of eyes, two sets
of ears; my skin holds the memory
of life hoped for, taken, healed

I am a sponge, filled with the water
of dreams, your voice strong
inside me, like the north wind,
all my worth measured by
the light in your eyes

beauty is a wild thing I stalk,
gathering fog by the armfuls and
heaping it onto yesterday

the lights on the Christmas tree
glisten, winking in reflection on
naked branches outside the window

the weatherman calls for rain.

Playdates with God: Image-bearers

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The night before last, I had a dream that I had Alzheimer’s Disease. I was in a strange town, had parked my minivan along the street somewhere, and couldn’t remember where I’d left it. Nothing looked familiar and IT WAS TERRIFYING.

Last night, Jeff and I went to Mountain Stage to see one of our new favorite singer/songwriters—it’s one of the best playdates, seeing live music—and Mountain Stage always introduces us to amazing new artists (AWE-MAZING!), anyway, on the way home, I was telling him about my dream.

“For that little bit of time,” I said, “I knew what it felt like to have dementia. When I awakened, I had so much compassion for anyone dealing with that illness. I was terribly frightened.”

Ever since, I can’t stop thinking about it. This train of thought leads me to try to inhabit the many sorrows people deal with every day. Sometimes, the holiday season must feel like just another day to get through. The world is a broken place. We can still see the beauty through God’s common grace, but being human means living with frailty.

This time of year, we all get bombarded by charities. From the bellringers at the grocery store to the woman standing at the intersection with a sign, everywhere I turn there is a hand out. It would be easy to let my heart turn to stone and look the other way. But I hope I never do. We are the only creatures formed in God’s image. Yet many times I fail to see the holiness in the faces I meet every day. Here are some of our favorite organizations that remind me to open my eyes and see anew.

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World Vision

We’ve been sponsoring three children through this organization for many years now. I’m amazed at all the good work they do. One of our favorite gifts is to give something from their gift catalog in the name of a special friend.

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Family Health Ministries

This is the organization I went to Haiti with last summer. I witnessed first hand the many ways they are changing the lives of the people they serve.

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Read Aloud West Virginia

One of my passions. Helping children fall in love with reading will change the future of the world.

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College Summit

I believe education is one of the keys to helping many of the problems our world faces. College Summit is dedicated to helping make sure every child has an opportunity for higher education.

Some other organizations I haven’t worked with but read wonderful things about:

Help One Now
Mercy House Kenya
Compassion International
Pure Charity

And one more we may add to our giving list this year:

Alzheimer’s Association

What are some of your favorite ways to give back?

I’m going to take a break from the Playdates linkup for the remaining Mondays in December. Have a wonderful Advent Season, beloveds. You are all gifts to me. I’ll see you back here in January.

Every Monday I share one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find God and know joy. Click on the button below to add your link. I try to visit a few of your stories every week, so if you are a new visitor, be sure to let me know in the comments so I can welcome you. Grab my button at the bottom of the page and join us.

Laura Boggess

West Virginia Morning: Doxology

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I awaken before the sun touches the meadow, drift out onto the frozen grass, breathe deep of glory. John Calvin believed theology must begin and end with praise and this morning I cannot disagree. All the world is kissed in white. Except the red of the cardinals at my feeder—crimson flashes on the edge of vision. They chip-chip at me from hiding places as I trespass into their doxology.

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I hop the fence, briefly thinking of Christmas cards and boxed up nativities and how only one side of the lights out front are working. When did life become a race? I want to amble slowly to the manger, savor each step, let my senses delight in scent of straw and flicker of candlelight. Calvin said the world is a theater for God’s glory but lately, I keep forgetting my lines. My eyes are hungry, my soul thin. I don’t know what I am looking for in this ice-meadow, shivering through my robe, standing beneath a roof of lacy gossamer. Delicate crystals of ice rim the memory of autumn and the beauty of the Uncreated One shines before me. I feel the wonder of advent settle into my skin.

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We wait amidst glory upon glory, this beauty dropped into our lives as gift. “The world was founded for this purpose,” said Calvin, “that it should be the sphere of divine glory.”

Overhead, a red-tailed hawk soars on the waking wind and, I, below, lift my small voice and sing the doxology.

Playdates with God: First Monday of Advent

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The first Sunday of Advent found us on the road, returning our son to his scholastic nest after a week of giving thanks. We traveled for a total of nine hours yesterday, watching the sun-chariot of Helios arc across the sky through the windshield. We missed the lighting of the first candle with our church family, the candle of hope, but as day dwindled into night and we drove away from our son, I felt the flame of hope kindled in my heart.

He is growing into his own person and this week felt like meeting him anew in many ways. Every smile was an answer to prayer. Today, it feels right to step from gratitude into hope. It has been a long year. We live into decisions made of sacrifice, uncertainty marks our steps. There have been disappointments and new beginnings, but the light of this season reminds us this story we are living is only part of the tale.

Advent always stirs that deep longing, fills with expectation. I strain my neck to see the manger, but also look inward to find Christ in me. I look ahead to the day when all will be made new in this tired world. Sometimes, it’s hard to let that work begin with me, let my fingers slip from the tight grip with which I hold it all.

John Calvin said that the world is a theater of God’s glory, that he is “inclined to allure us to himself by gentle and loving means.” In his book Ravished by Beauty, theologian Belden C. Lane says, “[P]raise is a matter of studying in minute detail the footprints of God in the world.” He is referring to nature, but I have followed God’s footprints through the ways he is working in the lives of those I love of late. I step into Advent with wonder and awe, cradling tiny flames of light.

Hope. How it does light the way. May your week be filled with light, Beloveds.

Every Monday I share one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find God and know joy. Click on the button below to add your link. I try to visit a few of your stories every week, so if you are a new visitor, be sure to let me know in the comments so I can welcome you. Grab my button at the bottom of the page and join us.

Laura Boggess

West Virginia Morning: Christmas Eve

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On Christmas Eve’s eve we sat together on the couch and watched some of our favorite holiday classics. There was The Grinch, and Rudolph, and Charlie Brown to keep us company. We’ve done this since the boys were small, usually earlier in the season to build the excitement. But every year the showing comes later and later, seeming to stretch out with each inch added to their height. As boys grow, so do their personal calendars and family time becomes a rare gift to be savored.

But I kept falling asleep in my place on the edge of the couch. There is a lot of flu going around here and I worried perhaps I was coming down with something. So I went to bed early without kissing anyone and Bonnie joined me and we snuggled in deep for a long winter’s nap.

So, on Christmas Eve’s morn, what do I do? I rise early, with nothing more than a slight morning sniffle, to get more work done, creep out of bed in the dark and sit with some last minute editing to meet a deadline. And I don’t mind it, really, I don’t. This lover of words could drown in a sea of them and be happy. But when I’ve done all I can do, I pick up that book on Sabbath I’ve been reading on the lonely mornings, the one that has become my favorite. And Wayne Muller says this, “Sabbath requires surrender. If we only stop when we are finished with all our work, we will never stop—because our work is never completely done. … If we refuse to rest until we are finished, we will never rest until we die. Sabbath dissolves the artificial urgency of our days, because it liberates us from our need to be finished.”

I sat there fingering that page, aware of all the work that is undone, and felt a loneliness so deep. Such a longing welled up inside of me for something unknown. I wanted rest, I wanted beauty, I wanted hands on my body and poetry in my ears. I wanted paradise and wholeness and the love that never fails.

So I did what I always do when eternity woos me this way, I went outside. The earth was just waking up to birdsong, her thirst quenched by the showers that passed through last night; everything gray and damp and dripping with baubles of light. It smelled like spring, like new life and I marveled at the ways of creation once again. The newspaper tells me we might break the record today for warm temperatures on Christmas Eve. The record temperature for this day is 73 degrees, set in 1964—before I was even born. I stand outside with only a light jacket, breathing in new life and it hits me.

This is the season of new life. Isn’t this Christmas? Hope took on flesh and suckled at the breast of a woman. Hope came in the most impossible of all ways, in the helpless form of a babe. And isn’t it God’s way to come in the most unusual of ways, the most unexpected? Isn’t this what I believe when I light the Christmas tree, when I sing the carol, when I open the gift?

God came down. It’s impossible to grasp and I will never convince my unbelieving friends of this story that is next to lunacy. Because love rarely makes sense, love rarely comes in the ways we expect it to, Love cannot be explained in words.

And so this lover of words sets them aside for a time this morning. She gives herself fully to the surrender. And for a brief moment, one tiny millisecond, eternity floods her heart and that loneliness is filled.

And it is enough. It is enough for now.