West Virginia Morning: Light Comes Earlier

The light comes earlier each morning. We wait for it—lift our faces to the sun like prayer. When I take Bonnie out this morning, the blue light of night still lingers. The stars still haven’t shut their eyes and I wave at Orion as we wind around the house. At the edge of the dome, light striations are only just beginning. To me, they look like layers of phyllo, layers of light, and the goodness of the earth’s rotation rouses a slight lift in my spirit.

The days grow longer and I still I miss my slow mornings: reading poetry out loud to God and Bonnie, sipping my coffee and underlining words. Yesterday, the sun warmed the winterstruck and Jeff and I sat out on the deck long into the night. The robins were singing their sweet-sad song and I could smell new grass, the earth melting from the outside in. I felt a holy whisper in my ear, grow, it seemed to purr.

Time. I’m always telling my patients that some things just take time. I don’t know why I’m so slow to adjust. Things linger inside my heart, resisting motion. But the way the light spills slowly into the days these mornings—this is teaching me. I’m learning how to pay attention in the midst of the busy—how to notice the kairos in the chronos.

I think it will be a life-long lesson. And I’m ok with that.

Holy Ghost

rhododendron scales

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This morning when I go to fetch the paper and take Bonnie around the house, I notice our front porch is covered in bud scales from the rhododendron. The bush is bursting with pink, heavy from last night’s rain. I bend in to study the emerging flowers and marvel that I’ve never noticed how they shed an outer skin as they open to the sun. The pasty yellow-green scales overlap like shingles, providing protection for the sleeping bud. When petals begin to unfold, fanlike, the shingles drop away, making room for light and bumblebees to have their way.

All around my yard, color succumbs to time. The irises flop over on their sides, surrendering to the exertion of holding up heavy, bearded heads. The peony cascades like a fountain, splitting down its leafy middle. The lilac bush already fades to brown at her tips, rustling like paper in the breeze.

Spring is tired.

Time greens on nearby hills and I am stalled, lost in a deep inhale. In a couple hours, we will make the long drive to pick up our boy for the summer—his first year of college already a memory. This morning I gather up a few words, trying to slow down the moments, trying to let the breath escape slowly between my lips.

I’ve asked it over and over through the years: How do I slow down time?

It’s the same old cliché, same old fate we all fall into. The more I am trapped by the busy, the less I see the holy in each ticking second. To slow down time, I must be present, right where I am.

Sunday is Pentecost and I have sown that missing button on the one red blouse hanging in the closet. It’s the day we celebrate God sending the Holy Spirit down to us—we call it the birthday of the church. There will be balloons and streamers, probably birthday cake. But this week, as I have contemplated that old story of the tongues of flame falling from heaven, I have been more gentle with myself. I don’t mind singing Happy Birthday in church, it’s fun, to be sure. But as I contemplate this truth, that God lives inside of me, I wonder why my life doesn’t look … different.

Once again I make a promise to myself and to God: I will do better. It’s a lesson in seeing; a lesson in being. When I tune my senses to my immediate surroundings, I am aware of the temple I inhabit—I feel the Spirit stir inside me. Jesus said that a grain of wheat must fall to the ground and die before it grows. This must be how the dying feels.

I bend again and look at the scales from the rhododendron’s bloom pod. And I wonder anew at the beauty that can come from this kind of slow surrender.

A Winsome Giveaway

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Each morning when I drive through these ancient hills on my way to work, the sun is higher in the sky. I wander out into a wide awake world and daylight becomes the early bird. Time has a slippery way about it, and these days, I notice how quickly the seasons come and go. So when I get the chance to slow down—to change the scenery and open eyes wide to each moment, it feels like a celebration. That’s what the Winsome Retreat did for me last weekend—spoke kairos time into my chronos. I met so many amazing sisters, made new friends and caught up with old. I wanted to share a few of my new friends with you so you might celebrate with me also.

Jenn Hand is the executive director of Coming Alive Ministries and she is amazing. Jenn is a missionary with a heart for all God’s children. Did I mention she is hilarious? We laughed so hard when she gave her talk that my cheeks hurt after. And she is just the same at the dinner table as she is behind the podium. A genuine, generous, all-in-for-Jesus kind of gal. She tells the best stories and they always lead her listeners back to the heart of God.

Emily Dean is the founder/director of Varity Vareé, a multi-media business that takes everyday women and tells their story in a beautiful and new way. Each woman they feature participates in two photoshoots and an extensive interview. I asked Emily what gave her the idea for such a unique business. “I was doing a lot of modeling, “she said, “and I realized that when I did that work I felt like a canvas for the beauty other people wanted to project.” She wondered what would happen if every woman was given that opportunity to be in the spotlight. Varity Vareé was born out of her ability to see the beauty in every woman. She wanted to share those stories and lift them up as beautiful.  Our conversation got interrupted by Emily’s wee one—the tiny eight-week old infant she had with her at the retreat. She also sang with the worship team all weekend. A woman of many talents and much beauty.

Hilary Hyland is a photographer, artist, singer, and musician. She designed the Enough print that retreat attendees were gifted with. When I told Hilary how much her voice captivated me, she smiled and told me she had been hoarse the past few days! She said God was really using that to stretch her. But believe me, God made it work. Her earnest vocals pulled us right into the holy. Check out some of Hilary’s photography work here.

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Kim Hyland, founder of Winsome (mother to Emily and mother-in-law to Hilary) gave the opening keynote Friday night and she talked about how, as the body of Christ, we need each other and the unique gifts we all bring into this world. Winsome was a living, breathing example of that—each person there made the weekend lovelier and lovelier.

I’m still processing all the sweetness of the kairos time we had together. Because joy multiplies when shared, I want to give away a little bundle of books to one reader. Included: A signed copy of Jenn Hand’s 31 Days to Coming Alive and a copy of Deidra Riggs’s Every Little Thing (plus a couple extras). Deidra gave the keynote Saturday night and her message was Spirit-led and beautiful (just like her).

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Leave a comment by Thursday 4/21 for a chance to win. I’ll announce the winner next Friday.

Playdates with God: Supermarket Poetry

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At the supermarket the other day, minding my own business. Little cutie and mom wander into my shopping space. She couldn’t have been more than three.

“Mommy,” she says, “I have a poem I want to tell you.”

Mom is distracted. Looking at cans, putting things in the cart. She doesn’t respond.

“Is that ok? Just a little poem?”

Mom says something nondescript. Still no eye contact. We moms have a lot on our minds.

I pause. Pretend to read the label a moment longer.

“I smell the flower, it smells sweetie sweet.
The birdie sounds tweety tweet.
Berries are my favorite tweet.” (She actually said tweet instead of treat. Cute, or what?)

There was more, but mom was walking away and taking the poem with her.

I stood in the aisle, lonely now, repeating the brilliant words of this poem in my head.They made me smile. How sad, thought I, that the mom missed this precious moment.And then:How many moments like this have I missed? Too many.

Life is crazy, and sometimes … sometimes I just don’t have enough to give.

But here is what God has been working in my heart for several years now: Every moment is sacred.

Life goes too fast. To slow down and actually be there in each moment; this is what true living is all about. Instead of impatience, always thinking of the next moment and not appreciating the present; instead, to see my world with eyes of love … this is what Jesus wants me to do.

To be present in each moment. It sounds so simple. Yet … I know I will fail. Over and over again. I do so many times.

But I must try. Because I want to smell the flowers, sweetie sweet. And hear the birds, tweety tweet. But most of all, when this life is over, I want to know that I let love lead me through it. Not time. Or fear. Or shame. Not money, or things. Just love.

Every moment is sacred. I want to live like I believe this.

Because I do.

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

Playdates with God: Time Bandit

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Call me thief, the way I rob time—pick the locks of the moments and steal the treasure inside. Busy is a disease, a dis-ease, more skilled at thievery than I. Saturday, we took Teddy back to school and that morning my laptop crashed, another heist. Although I have my data on backup, finding and re-creating it all has been costly. Passwords, documents, setting up the accounts … I’m on a temporary iPad, thanks to my mother-in-law, and this necessitates finding new ways to do the old familiar. My old brain is tired. When we left Teddy in front of his dorm my heart felt as dry as dust.

I’ve been asking God a lot of questions. Working every day at the hospital, writing, doing ministry, tending the family, taking care of my health … So many good and beautiful things in my life. Out of necessity I’ve shifted focus to the small, trying not to ask too much of each day. In the night, I am depleted, and lean heavily on the Spirit for refreshment.
I remind myself about seasons, as I watch the moon lift her swelling belly into a sea of darkness each night. And I remember what I used to tell my boys when they were younger. “It’s how we handle the hard times that determines our true character.”

So I watch the wind sway the pines on the hills, I feel the current of air underneath a thousand wings ascending into the sky, I study the underside of a moth alight on my window.

Every day, every moment, every second committing a beautiful larceny. This type of robbery is not so difficult. My only weapon is my eyes.

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