|Linda & Mike with Their Grandchildren, Plus Cade & Clementine|
Back in the beginning of the PCC Care Team as I know it, we experimented with a team system, and Linda Boggs was one of nine or ten people on my team. She was unable to attend a team luncheon in Jim's and my log cabin, but--after many e-mail exchanges--I wanted very much to meet her in person and invited her and her husband Mike over for dinner. Jim and I fell in love with Linda and Mike right away, and I'm laughing because I tried to title this "Linda and the Gift of Family," which sounds better, but it's impossible to write about Linda without writing about Mike. And, as I think about it, that statement is very much a testament to their marriage and how they operate: you don't get one without the other, and, in fact, you really don't get both of them without being pulled into their whole, warm and wonderful family, which goes to my very point.
If you've ever met Linda Boggs, you know she's a petite, blond force of nature, and I could easily incorporate words like "velocity" and "momentum" into a description of her, because she talks and moves ninety miles a minute. She loves to throw a party, and I've never known another hostess like her, because she can easily connect with fifty-two people in one hour while simultaneously reheating food and tidying her kitchen. I'm convinced she owns a bottomless iced-tea jug and an endless roll of toilet paper, among other things, because I've never heard anyone ask for anything at the Boggs' house, and I've been there enough to meet many of their siblings, cousins, nieces, and nephews, and to know Linda's and Mike's sons, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren quite well.
Linda doesn't tend to entertain sadness, and--when things go wrong for her or anyone she knows--she prays and keeps right on truckin'. I believe her to be one of the most faithful and powerful prayer warriors I know and have many times thought (and sometimes said aloud): it will be ok, because Linda is praying. She's great at drive-by encouragement, too, and will often say just the right thing to get me through a rough patch. One time, she looked at me, laughed, and said: "Brandee, all you need is faith the size of a mustard seed, and yours is as big as a state-fair pumpkin, so everything will be ok." I carried those words with me for the better part of a year (all the while knowing Linda was praying for me), and one morning I woke up to find she had been right: in the end, everything worked out just fine.
I think it also worth mentioning that Sharon (about whom I blogged recently) and Linda have been close friends for a very long time. I learned this after connecting separately (and significantly) with each of them and was amazed that--out of a huge church--I'd managed to give my heart to best friends. I still think, often, about their friendship and am glad two such deserving women have one another.
Mike moves and speaks at a slower pace than Linda but is quite the talker, himself, and he particularly loves to tell a story. He is the twinkly-eyed earth; she is the animated, laughing sun around whom he revolves. Sometimes--in the course of a conversation--they get in one another's way, but they are crazy in love, and they work seamlessly as a team. They had their own, special method for raising boys (involving Jesus, a swimming pool, and a basketball goal), and they have their own, special method for keeping hamburgers warm in their buns.
They're the bomb.
I am a better spouse and parent just for watching Linda and Mike. And here's my very favorite thing about them: they invite me to watch them very often. They found the place in my heart that aches in missing my family, and they decided to do something about it. They have stopped by on Christmas Eve; come over for dinner; met both of the girls shortly after birth (Charleigh while still in the hospital); attended Clementine's first birthday party; included Jim, the children, and me in their family's Easter, fall, and many other celebrations; and the list goes on and on. One warm, summer evening, I watched Linda's and Mike's grown sons play baseball with Cade in the yard, and I thought: if I were with my relatives, it would be just the same as this.
What an amazing thing it is to hear someone say to you, in essence: here is what I have borne, supported, raised, taught, and loved. Here is my family: the best, most beautiful thing I have. I will gladly share them with you. There is room for you at our table, and in our hearts. Family--even when (and perhaps especially when) it is not the one into which you were born--is a rare and precious gift, indeed.