[god in the yard] rules: the way

Written by laura boggess

Laura lives in the hills of West Virginia with her husband and two sons. She is a psychologist by day, but spends her free time dreaming out loud--crafting stories that share the rich lessons a life of deep faith teaches. You can read more about her at the Wellspring (http://lauraboggess.blogspot.com), where she blogs about life and faith.

May 16, 2011


Welcome to the world, he says, when I carefully part the branches for him to see.

There are only three and so we know. One of the hatchlings did not make it. But this somber knowledge gives way to joy as the babies detect our presence and, mistaking us for mother, open mouths wide for a snack.

We laugh and stand, gawking through the tree limbs at new life.

So fragile. So fresh.

I make room for these balls of fuzz today…scoot over to let in wonder. It’s good to let awe break up the day—interrupt the usual.

I don’t always.

I live a disciplined life. There are the chores, the husband, the children, the dogs, the running…I read my Bible and have prayer time. I do what I am supposed to do.

I have always done what I am supposed to do.

But to soar?

There is never enough time.

Does discipline allow it? When every minute is scheduled and planned? Will I fly if I keep regular spiritual practices?

My pastor used to say, We like to be prepared. But we like to leave room for the Holy Spirit to move too.

I ponder these things at 5 a.m. as I sit at the kitchen table.

Julia Cameron tells me that I should “grab” time to write. Take advantage of the pauses in life to put down words. But isn’t this how I live? I grab time to read, I grab time to write. I grab time to do laundry, grab time to clean, grab time to run, to visit, to…live. I’m just a constant grab bag of life.

We all know what’s in those grab bags. All the stuff too junky to sell out in plain sight.

I’m feeling all jumbled up. Covered over by this brown bag that’s supposed to liberate me.

I am up at 5 am this morning, determined to do those blasted morning pages. I pull myself from the bed, let the dogs out and settle at the kitchen table. Outside the window is dark and my tired eyes get lost in the lightness of mist lifting through the morning hues before shifting to the page.

I am tired.

I scribble for a time in this journal, eyes heavy, heart limp.

Why is it so hard?

I am tired. Weary to the bone of feeling pulled apart sinew by sinew–stretched thin by what is needed and what I desire. I end up on the couch after half an hour—my notes are incoherent any way. As I drift I am aware of that sinking feeling. I have failed again. I tell Him about it. Ask Him to take the tired away.

He doesn’t quite. But He nudges me to remember. And these words speak:

…if there is any rule at all, it is listen. But the direction and the path can change…My job is not so much to practice a rigid set of disciplines as to pay attention…On a practical level, this means that though I’ll take time to read and learn about spiritual practices of various kinds, I decide not to be married to particular ones as The Only Path. Instead, I’ll see what comes….

(L.L. Barkat in God in the Yard)

So I wait. And I listen. And I feel the air catch under me as this attempt to fly ends up on the couch.

If I could decide my own spiritual program I would rise when my body tells me to. I would spend as much time as I wanted, lingering over scripture. Then I would take it to Him and we would chat long and loose about all the stories my eyes took in. I would share some poetry with Him. And then we would run. I wouldn’t worry about work, or laundry, or if there is enough food in the cupboard for dinner. I would put on music and we would dance…there would be no concept of time and no one in my life to interrupt my prayer and meditation.

But there is. I have this family. And these dogs. And there is much that needs doing to keep things in order. There is work to do and food to prepare. There are bodies to maintain and floors to sweep.

This is my life.

So I jump. Time and time again…only to feel my wings too weak—fuzzy and impotent. The flight is aborted.

But I won’t worry about that anymore. See…I have this built in Parachute. When I start to fall, He catches me—whips up with just a tiny breath.

And I land soft. I land safe.

Safe for another try.

This was written in response to week 2 of L.L. Barkat’s book God in the Yard: spiritual practice for the rest of us. Won’t you join us in the journey? Leave a comment here and then visit me at The Wellspring to let me know you did so for a chance to win a copy of this wonderful book.


  1. Nancy Franson

    Holy mackerel, girl, if this is the kind of writing that comes out of your grab bag!

    The rules. You know, I have so much legalistic baggage that when I started reading this book I thought, “I can’t do this. What am I going to do if it rains?  L.L. Barkat sat outside every day for an hour, and there’s no way I’m going to go out and sit outside in the rain. And then I won’t be doing this  right.” Which is, precisely, why I think people like me need this book.

    • Laraj

      Oh, Nancy, you tickle me! Believe it or not, I am a big rule follower too. I admit, I was a little anxious when I stepped into God in the Yard, but…I found it absolutely liberating! This is what Jesus did for us. Imagine those poor Israelites (remember that old Dunkin’ donuts commercial where the guys says–at all hours in in monotone: Time to make the donuts? That’s how I imagine these poor people: Time to make the sacrifice…) He came to set us free. This is what I love about L.L.’s writing. She reminds me of this truth oh, so eloquently.  

  2. Simply Darlene

     I cannot get over how big the baby bird mouths are. They are so hungry for nourishment, as we all are, I reckon. As usual you share some good words with us and make that parachute tangible through the screen. Thank you.

    I read LL’s book on the share-the-book program that started last year. I was the second reader. To have my own copy would be a grand blessing, but to have read it once is enough too. I find bits of it scattered throughout my life, as if LL ripped pages and tossed them in the pasture, in the lilacs, and in places like this.

    Blessings. (and thanks mister King for having Laura over)

    • Laura Boggess

       Hi, Darlene! You make a very good observation about those birdie beaks. I, for one, have had to grow in to my mouth on more than one occasion :). Thanks for stopping by the Wellspring too. I’ll enter your name twice for that!

      That goes for all the comments. You don’t have to go over to The Wellspring and comment, but if you do, I’ll enter your name in the drawing twice. Leave your comment here by noon on Friday, 5/20 for a chance to win a copy of God in the Yard. I’ll announce the winner over at the Wellspring on Friday afternoon.

      I know, I know. I should have said all that in the post. What can I say? Details are not my thing.

  3. Megan Willome

    Your ideal spiritual program sounds a lot like mine, except I’d run first.

    Mind if I add an “Amen!” at the end of each of your paragraphs?

    • Laraj

      Amen and amen, Megan! One day, I would love to go for a run with you, lady! But…since I’m still working my way back, I”m afraid you would leave me in the dust. I made it four miles this morning–huffing and puffing all the way. Would you slow down for me? We would get some good cardio just trying to talk while we run…:) 

  4. Crystal Rowe

     I LOVE this! Thank you!!

    I’m SUCH a huge rules girl. In fact, I think it shines through in everything I do. I want to know the best way to read the Bible, the best way to pray, the best way to hear God …

    This chapter helped me really grasp that sometimes I have to just let God happen to me … meet me in the open spaces in my life. That it’s more about being open and aware of God’s presence … no matter where I am.

    I love love love love the image of the parachute. All we really have to do is jump – and trust the parachute to do its thing 🙂

    • Laraj

      This was a freeing chapter for me too, Crystal (can you tell?). Being open to God…yes. If you’ve read much of L.L.’s writing, you can see how she practices what she preaches. This year, she has been on a beauty mission. I don’t know about you, but beauty makes me feel God as close as breath. I’ve been jumping a lot more since reading God in the Yard…I hope you do too! 

  5. Sharon O

    Oh to be still… and just pause and listen to the quiet.
    Your writing is always so inspiring. 

    • Laraj

      Thank you, Sharon. I think GIY is an inspiring book. My journey through really took me to deep places. Thank you for stopping by! 

  6. Melissa Campbell

    I loved it Laura.  And I can so relate.  I wrote about birds today too, and taking notice of things unseen.  I have missed your writing, and look forward to catching up.  You may describe it as taking little jumps, but in my eyes, you soar!  Blessings, friend!

    • Laraj

      Ah, Melissa, that is such a sweet thing to say! I have missed you too. I will have to stop by your place and catch up. Taking notice of things unseen…very rebellious :). The rules are rarely clear for that. 

  7. S Etole

    The parachute … the life saver! This book is one that can’t be hastily devoured. 

    • Laraj

      You are right about that, Susan! But well worth savoring :). One of my favorites now.  

  8. Amy

     “It’s good to let awe break up the day—interrupt the usual.” I enjoyed reading all of your words here, but this quote was especially appropriate coming from you since your words awaken a sense of awe when I read them. I have God in the Yard. . . and since I’m catching up on books thanks to the Lenten library fast. . . it seems it could help awaken some awe as well.

    • Laraj

       Awakening awe is always good. 🙂 And maybe now you’ll win a spare copy to share with friends…

  9. Deidra

     “…those blasted morning pages…” I laughed out loud at that.

    I’m sitting in my yard, reading this on my laptop, squinting because of the son…and now you’ve got me squinting in the Son. So glad for this freedom you and L.L. write about. And you know me…I’m all about the jumping!

    • Laraj

      Oh, Deidra! Let’s go tandem…It’s always funner to jump into Him with a friend :). Love you, lady. 

  10. Melissa Brotherton

     I am a rule follower. And I know that grab bag. I feel like my life has been hidden in that grab bag for the past seven years. I love your idea of what spiritual practices would be like if you could order them. Unfortunately I don’t take advantage of the time I do have. I waste it on the meaningless, thinking it will refresh me when only He will. You write beautifully!

  11. Cindee Snider Re

    “I’m just a constant grab bag of life.”  Yet isn’t that where we learn what it means to live?  Where we learn to taste and see that God is good, to reach out and embrace every still, quiet moment relishing it, savoring it, tasting the joy sewn into it by the Hand of our Heavenly Father?  Isn’t longing for something more, something deeper part of the journey, the passion of our souls, the words we write to share this life with fellow travelers heading Home?  Your words were just that for my weary soul today — a coming-alongside as we travel this journey through life.  Thank you! 

  12. Diana Trautwein

     Lovely, as always, Laura.  Thank you.

  13. Elaina

    We’re from the same bolt my dear…do we love those rules because we perceive they may keep us safe?
    Your divine dreamy description is what I would wonder Heaven to be…
    And that weariness between want and desire is why I sometimes try to drink my weight in hot coffee…that’s only 1/2 strength.
    “Bodies to maintain and floors to sweep” – WOW..don’t you have a way of writing my heart.
    On the sofa at 5a.m.? You’re awesome. Consciousness isn’t possible for me at that hour…unless 1 of those bodies I maintain cries for help. Let alone drafting such beautiful thoughts…for which I am always blessed from reading.

  14. Anonymous

    Enter me, Laura, enter me! I’d love to read this book! Love the sight of those hungry little birds up there. What a photo. 

  15. Llbarkat

     Oh, Laura. You know I love this, right? 🙂 To sail on the wind, and to stop worrying about always trying to BE the wind… that’s freedom, isn’t it? 


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[god in the yard] rules: the way

by laura boggess time to read: 4 min