Playdates with God: Peace be With You

peony-002

I’d been meaning to move those peonies for years. They were getting too big to grow under that pear tree. It was on my list of things to do, move those peonies where they could get more sun. But each time I thought of it, it was too late in the season. And here they are again—just about ready to bloom open with those full, fragrant flowers when a wind storm splits the pear tree right through its heart.

There is no hope for the tree, so the crew comes at eight in the morning. The supervisor goes over the procedure with me, has me sign the invoice. Then he raises his eyebrows and says, “You’re going to lose those flowers. No way around it.”

My sister-in-law gave me that peony bush. She and my mother-in-law have parts of the same root. They came from her grandmother’s garden. I love imagining that woman from another century with a clutch of my peonies on her table. Should be no big deal, I tell myself. But it’s one of those things that connects us in this world. Trees and flowers—these growing things—they do this for me. Give this rootless woman something to anchor to.

I’m sharing the rest of this story over at The High Calling today, Friends. Will you join me there and celebrate the Resurrection moments with me?

Every Monday I’ll be sharing 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 Him. Be with Him. Grab my button at the bottom of the page and join us:

Laura Boggess

Playdates with God: The Answer to Anxiety


The day rises up to meet the sun, dancing wisps of white reluctant to let go of the earth. In the morning, I am visited by a skinny fawn—alone in her wanderings. “Where is your mamma,” I ask, with my face pressed up against the window. She munches on the apples that are rotting in the red wagon. She cannot figure out how to jump over the fence back into the safety of the meadow grasses. I watch as she lingers under the plum tree—bedding down behind my butterfly bush. 
I wonder about her mother, and it makes me think of a young patient we have had on our unit recently. My heart stays there a while, and—like those white wisps of fog that tendril up from the earth—has trouble letting go. 
I’ve had trouble letting go of worry lately. 
There is too much to do and I am caught in this web of busy. My mind will not rest. So I think about the things I tell my patients when they are anxious and I wage a war in my mind. I practice the deep breathing and I work on progressive muscle relaxation and I visualize the happy place in detail. All of these things help. For a while. 
The little fawn wanders back and forth along the fence line, pacing between my yard and my neighbor’s. As I watch her frantic steps I feel my heart quicken. This is how I am feeling. Trapped. 
So I go where I always go when I am longing for peace: Philippians 4. I flood my mind with whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—the excellent, the praiseworthy…I think on these things. 
And it is good medicine. 
See, this is the difference between the ways of man and the ways of God. Peace is a Person and when I seek that Presence he comes and sits with me. 
I listened to a Tim Keller sermon once in which he said the answer to anxiety is to ask the big questions: What is the meaning of life? What is life all about? Why are we here? 
Man goes to techniques, he said: thought control, relaxation, imagery. Isn’t this what I tell my patients? But if I am a Christian, I must think “big picture”; meditate on what I know—God is in control. God has the answer. God is working everything together for the good of those who love him. 
Keller said that the perfect example of the big picture is the crucifixion. On the day that Christ died, he said, all of his followers were devastated. They couldn’t believe this could happen. It was terrible, they were overwhelmed with sorrow. 
And yet, they were looking at the greatest thing God has ever done for mankind. 
When I think small, I live small. I let the anxieties of everyday overwhelm me and I forget what I believe. 
While I’ve been working this out the fawn has worked some things out too. She stares at me from the other side of the fence now.
Then she disappears into the underbrush.

Over at The High Calling today, we are continuing our discussion of Life after Art by Matt Appling. Will you join us?

How do you embrace the God-joy? Every Monday I’ll be sharing 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 Him. Be with Him. Grab my button at the bottom of the page and join us:

The Playdates button:

An Epiphany: Picture for the Year

The tired Christmas lights wink at us on our way out the door and I understand. The boys are grumpy because it’s their first day back to school in a week and it’s 14 degrees outside. I’m a little grumpy too.
“Why does school have to be so early?” Jeffrey moans from the back seat. He is counting the vices of our educational system.
“It rips families apart,” he says dramatically. “It wakes us up unnaturally. And it kills trees. See? Something must be done.”
I nod sympathetically into my coffee cup as I maneuver through morning traffic–think again of some of the warmer advantages of homeschooling…
But we soldier on.
After the boys are dropped and I’m alone in the car I start to talk to God, wonder aloud about how things might have been. On mornings like this I feel all the ache of the lost opportunities.
“I wish, Lord, I wish…”
But I don’t know what to wish for; I don’t know what to say. So I turn the music up and get lost in the local scene.
And I think about it now and I know that I have too many wishes to express. I wish I’d started out different, discovered this love for words earlier and fostered it. I wish I’d gone to seminary or studied theology. I wish I could share faith talk with my mom and dad and brothers and sisters—wish they knew this deep love in me. I wish my husband had been saved sooner and we had raised the boys rooted in faith together instead of all that struggling I did alone in the early years. I wish…I wish it felt whole to be right where I am.
 I wish…
And right in the middle of the wish-fest, from right where I’m sitting, I catch sight of one of those wise men. He’s peeking out at me from behind a berry wreath on the table and the sight of him stops me cold. 
It’s a game we play with the nativity in our house and I shared about it in my sermon on Sunday. It’s tradition in our home to hide those wise guys from our nativity set throughout the house during our Christmas waiting. Whoever finds one—well, it’s his or her duty to hide him again. The trick to the game is to find a clever spot, one in which the wise man will be discovered in a surprising way—sort of a hiding in plain sight. Imagine the surprise when one goes to don a shoe and finds a wise man inside. Or, when turning in for the night, noticing there is a hard lumpy magi under the pillow. The goal, you see, is for the wise men to be found; it wouldn’t do for them to stay hidden. They’re on a journey—looking for the Christ-child. 
The game goes on after Christmas—the wise men wander on for the 12 days of Christmas—which start on Christmas day and end at Epiphany, or January 6. Epiphany is the day we celebrate the Magi’s discovery and worship of the Christ. Last Sunday–when I delivered my first sermon–was Epiphany Sunday. So I preached on this very thing.
The point of my sermon was that this whole faith thing is a long journey. We wander, just like the magi. And the long journey is part of the gift we give him.
So. I’m sitting here in the middle of the wish-fest and I start to consider my journey. Which is not a bad thing to do at the start of a new year, I guess. And I start to feel a little more “at home” in my humanity.
Mine hasn’t been the prettiest of journeys. But neither was the journey to the Cross. And there is something oh, so beautiful—more beautiful than my mind can conceive—in that.
In this post, Mary DeMuth opened my mind to finding a picture that might be a glimpse for me of the new year. As I ponder the journey that has brought me this far, there is no one word that names it. But a picture? Just maybe. Here is the one that has been singing into me.
It’s one of the photos I took when our family was at the sea for Thanksgiving. Every morning, I was up before the sun. What a wonderful gift to celebrate the first ray of light to fall into the ocean. I’ve never felt such peace–such joy to be in my own skin. And yet…the sound of the wave crashing on the shore reminded me that I am not alone; that there is a Power in heaven so great and awe-inspiring. There is such freedom in that. 
I’m going to be carrying this image of God with me throughout the year. And because I am on this great journey, I needn’t worry if it’s enough. I needn’t wish a different path that brought me thus far…
I’m not there yet.
With my sweet friend Jennifer today:
and with the amazing Jen:

We, the Beneficiaries

Heavy white hushes the hum of living. Footfalls sink silently into deep and breath becomes vapor. The heavens, a mirror, and my reflection lost in falling bits of pallid sky. The earth has been given a new robe, and we–the beneficiaries.
Yesterday, it all worked against me.
Yesterday, still is in my mind. There is the snow-buried car. The slow-moving traffic. The hour it takes to drive twenty-five miles to and from work. The patients with their faces pressed against the glass. The new one who broke my heart. Yes, she has the voice of an angel. And the snow keeps falling, falling.
Looks like you’re staying here with us tonight.
The patients joke and tease. We laugh and watch accumulation grow deep from within the warm walls of the hospital. I leave a little early, to the envy of the others. Ah, the joys of being a consultant with no benefits. I help a dear lady dig her car out in the lot and she tells me that she’s heard the interstate is impassable around Cross Lanes.
I make my way west and head to the boulevard. I want to escape the big trucks and ruts of slushy snow that keep pulling me into their clutches.  I drive along the river. That glassy womb holds flows of ice and small sternwheelers are docked at her edge. I imagine the moon in her belly, giving this iridescent light, pulling the sky into her depths.
Yesterday brought this today. Today, there is quiet. Peace.
I have promised the boys we will go sledding some time today. I see the light of Christmas shine on their sleepy faces. This coming week we will give Penny to her new home and I try not to cry when I think about it. I watch the diamonds that are hidden in the snow. The trees are heavy-laden and wear lace shawls. There is no sound but a quiet dripping.
Heavy white hushes the sound of the living. But there is this—this whisper of creation. The earth has been given a new robe and we, the beneficiaries.

Snow Embrace

The snow birds are back this morning–enjoying a frolic in that white stuff that magically appeared overnight. A trio of them perch in naked forsythia bush; feathery baubles fluffed out against the cold.

I sit with morning coffee and watch ornitho-antics. Gravity does not deter their play…they flit to and fro with sudden graceful movements as if dangled from invisible wire–an infant’s mobile orchestrated by invisible puppeteer.

I am that infant.

I watch, bedazzled as this scene plays out against winter-white.

I am thinking about seasons. This surprise-snow reminds me of my Father. How He likes to astonish, fill me with wonder. The seasons He orchestrates for me are not predictable. They do not come with a mark on the calendar. They are sprinkled down from heaven in the dark of night like this dusting before my eyes this morning.

The local weathermen changed the forecast three times yesterday. When we went to bed there was no sign of snow–just a whisper in the wind.

When I opened my eyes to morning light I heard the snow in the silence. The world unspeaking, muted by insulating mantle of purity.

It is the way of God–to silence the corrupt by the chaste.

And so, I am quieted.

There is no shame in this silence, only a gentle hand cupping my face. I am still as the coverlet falls over me. There is only relief. No striving, no pushing, no struggle against injustice.

Just blessed peace.

I’m resting today, Beloveds. Happy Saturday to you all.