Archive for January, 2009

Accountability and Why I NEED it

Posted: January 30, 2009 in Uncategorized

Friday is my day off. It’s a delicious day where I tend to spend a lot of time doing a lot of…um…nothing. I really absolutely cannot afford that aberrant behavior right now, so here’s my to do list and I’m authorizing you – any and all of you – to hold me accountable.

1) Laundry. Piles and piles of laundry. Which leads me to…

2) BUY laundry soap.

3) I have a significant number of projects stacked up and waiting and hoping that someday, someone will care about them. Mostly writing projects that aren’t as fun as blogging and also cleaning projects that aren’t as fun as oral surgery, but must be done. So, it’s time to knuckle under, sit up straight,  mind my p’s & q’s (shout-out, Tori!) and make some progress ASAP!

4) The lovely Taylor is getting married to the handsome Jesse tonight and those people need a wedding gift! I’m thinking a heart-shaped waffle iron, yes?

5) Families deserve a good dinner on a chilly Friday, don’t they? I’m pretty sure that’s somewhere in the constitution or the city charter or something. I currently have NO earthly idea what that this “good dinner” may consist of, but now that the idea of waffles is planted in my brain, it’s going to be a tough one to break.

You know what I need? I need this:
tatt-1630

But since I don’t have that, I’m going to just tattoo my list right here on my blog for the world to see and know and harass me about in the future.

Thanks for your support,

Bo

P.S.   I’d feel better if  I wasn’t the only one forsaking the pursuit of nothingness.  What’s on your list today?

Spinning a Preposition

Posted: January 29, 2009 in Uncategorized

For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.

Romans 11:36

Not a lot of words today, just a tiny scripture with a huge punch.

Of Him…

Through Him…

To Him…

I’d sure love my life to look a lot like that.

Blessed beyond,

Bo

An Action List for Altitude

Posted: January 28, 2009 in christian growth, Joy
Tags:

Psalm 63:1 O God, You are my God, earnestly will I seek You; my inner self thirsts for You, my flesh longs and is faint for You, in a dry and weary land where no water is. 5 My whole being shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.

Here we find David, a thirsty man in a thirsty land. Anointed king, but running from Saul. Rightful owner of the palace, but living like a homeless guy in the wilderness. He is in the uncomfortable in-between. The miserable middle.  Searching for joy.

When I talk to people about joy right now, they say: “But how? Give me action steps!” And I understand because I’m also a list-loving girl. So, it’s cool because David totally does that – he gives us a list of exactly what to do to find wells of joy in the middle of a wilderness. Notice that all of these things require action on his part; action and movement in order to get some altitude in his thinking. He can’t just keep shouting at God to come to his frustration…he has to go to where God is. His thoughts have to pack their bags and get up off of the desert floor and move into the miracle-working, manifest presence of his Father. Here’s the route they take (from verses 1-8):

• Earnestly I will seek You
• My inner self will thirst for You (other thirsts have to bow to this one)
• My flesh will long for You (and not just an escape from the wilderness)
• I will go to the sanctuary and look at You
• My lips shall praise You (words have the power of life and death…words of worship produce life in us, even when they feel like a sacrifice)
• I will bless You (there’s no demand to make God prove Himself. “Didn’t You say I would be king? Why am I out here hiding in the wilderness?”)
• I will lift up my hands (Altitude! Hebrews 12:12&13)
• My whole being will be satisfied (oh – that’s a tough one, to choose to be satisfied? Wow. John 15:11)
• My mouth will joyfully praise You
• I will remember You when I’m falling asleep (at times of rest, when busyness is done, it’s sometimes hard to keep our thoughts close to His.)
• I will meditate on You all through the night (in dark or fearful times)
• I will be happy in the shadow of Your wings (the result of a life spent right up next to Him)
• I will follow hard after You
• I will cling closely to You (no lagging or wandering or “low-ness”)

Hmmm…I’m gonna print this list and keep it where I can see it.  I can’t wait to get started!

Taking off,

Bo

Joy: Extreme Thought Makeover

Posted: January 27, 2009 in christian growth, Joy
Tags:

For My thoughts are not your thoughts neither are your ways My ways says the Lord.  for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.  Isaiah 55:8-9

I love this scripture and I’ve heard it quoted a lot when people don’t understand something going on in their lives.  In fact, I’ve often heard it used as a rock-solid biblical excuse for spiritual paralysis or intellectual laziness.  The attitude is a little like: “Well God’s ways aren’t our ways, you know.  His ways are big and high and our ways are small and low – we’ll never figure out His will in a million years, so we might as well just do what we want to do and let Him fix the mess later.”    Yeah, it would be great to have a scripture that enables me to just stay in the shallow end of the kiddie pool; me and my cute, low-ness, just splashing around in my own humanity.

The problem with this scripture, however, is that the preceding sentences make it clear that God is not pointing out this Thoughts & Ways discrepancy to console the people of Israel, but to confront them.  Check out this not-that-friendly verse:

“Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts and let him return to the Lord and He will have love, pity and mercy on him, and to our God, for He will multiply to him abundant pardon.” Isaiah 55:7

God is clearly saying:  change your ways!  He is uncomfortable with the distance between our thoughts and His thoughts and we ought to be as well.

To “forsake” means to “loosen, relinquish or refuse.”  I know a lot of people who are scared to death of the economy right now – or totally buried under discouragement and depression.  The situation in our country is a reality; it’s part of the fallout of our fallen planet and there’s no question that it’s  a daunting season.  Repressing those thoughts won’t help much – but allowing them to take over is a bad idea too.  We need an answer, friends, and this verse has it!

Isaiah is shouting to us to loosen our grip on the temporary and move our eyes (and hearts) to things eternal and significant (things that are “beautiful in elevation”).  Sometimes I feel like worry is a virtue, but God says, “Nope, Bo, it’s low.”  It’s also really tempting to build easy escapes from difficult problems, but that will keep us tied to the low ways of terra firma and we’ll find our hope, joy and perspective held hostage by our circumstances.

Colossians 3:1 If you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…

I’ve found that my thinking doesn’t change overnight, but rather by a thought-by-thought by thought renewing (which means “renovation” in the Greek).  As I continually remind myself of His position – His “above-ness” – I am able to deal with a thought of fear or discouragement or hopelessness and replace it with thankfulness and eternal perspective and peace.  Recently, I was dealing with the heavy weight of a negative situation and I felt the Holy Spirit say, “If this situation has become bigger in your thoughts than the resurrection of Jesus, then you need to change your mind about a lot of things, sister.”  Ouch.  And true.

Sometimes, I really just want joy to “fall”.    But joy must be pursued and it often isn’t found at ground level.  In order to know true, lasting, powerful joy, I have to be willing to get up out of the muck, push my eyes up above the swirling storm and find a safe place in His shelter, high above my enemies.

Loving Thoughts that Lead to Joy,

Bo

Altitude of Joy

Posted: January 25, 2009 in christian growth, Joy

Great is the Lord and highly to be praised in the city of our God! His holy mountain, fair and beautiful in elevation, is the joy of all the earth – Mount Zion, the city of the Great King! God has made Himself known in her palaces as a Refuge (a High Tower and a Stronghold).  Psalm 48:1-3

The elevation of Jerusalem was a big deal. At 2500 feet, it towered above the landscape and made it very difficult for invaders to enter. Turns out, an arduous climb is a pretty good defense (I know it would keep me out!) This verse reminds us that the positioning of Jerusalem is a beautiful thing – high above her enemies. Altitude is one feature that earns Jerusalem the title “City of God: Joy of the Whole Earth.”

It’s easy for me in my daily life to treat God like my cell phone. I put it in my purse or a drawer and then start a frantic search when I hear it ringing or need to make a call. While it’s amazing that the arrival of the Holy Spirit made God so present and active in our lives, I wonder sometimes: have I brought Him down to my altitude to such a degree that He’s become an accessory to my life rather than the Author and Finisher of it? He doesn’t come into my coat pocket, I come into His city…His great and beautiful and elevated city. I move His direction. I run to His refuge – even though sometimes it feels like quite a climb to leave the “low” stuff behind –  and He takes me in and makes me new.

If I am lacking in joy, perhaps it’s because I’m asking God to squeeze Himself into my tiny, fragile world, rather than taking the big leap into His infinite kingdom…into His joyful presence (Psalm 16:11) which is so much bigger and higher than my temporary problems.

Tomorrow: more on this cool (and essential) concept of altitude and joy and how our thoughts – like our hearing on an airplane – are affected by the change.

Moving on up,

Bo

Read the title of this post one more time because it’s the new slogan for Office Max. When I walked in today, I had to actually stop and think about it for a second. Then the automatic doors started to close and that was the end of my contemplation.

I have had countless “life is beautiful” moments. The birth of my kids, a great sale at Macy’s (don’t judge me), the moment I wake up on Friday morning and realize it’s my day off, stepping off a plane and into Nairobi . And I have also had a lot of “work is beautiful” moments. Probably a disproportionate amount, in fact, because for the past 7 years my career and my calling have lined up pretty perfectly. I will agree to be acutely aware of how lucky I am if you will agree to not argue when I say that even MY work occasionally does not feel particularly…you know…beautiful. Sometimes I don’t feel like I’m changing the world or advancing the kingdom or doing anything significant at all and that’s just the truth of it. Some days my work feels suspiciously like work. And I know that yours does as well.

So, the Office Max sign made me really curious and I decided to race home and ask these two important questions:

1) Do you often/rarely/always/never feel that “work is beautiful”?  (not just the concept of work, but the work that you do)

2) If you could do anything – and I mean anything – and earn a good, solid income, what would you do?

I’ll understand if you want to post anonymously since jobs are scarce and I’m pretty sure your boss reads my blog. Hee. I consistently crack myself up on my day off.

That’s all.

Fridays are definitely beautiful,

Bo

P.S.  Just in case you’re wondering – here’s the most recent list of  Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For and believe it or not, most of them are hiring!

P.P.S.  Did you know that before the economy tanked employees of Google enjoyed afternoon tea and an annual ski trip as a standard perk?  I am convinced that afternoon tea is just a brilliant idea…every person on the planet ought to stop for a warm beverage at 3:00.

siblings-edited_edited-1One thing I would like people to know about me is that I have LOVED being a mom.  I mean, it took me a long time to get there – but when I did, I fell pretty hard.

I was really young when Whit was born…young enough to not really understand what I had signed up for into until it was way too late.  A good, solid eight weeks after she arrived, I was still resenting her projectile vomiting and 3 am neediness.  Finally frustrated with my own wretched whining, I went to my room and cried out to God to change my heart.  “You made me a mom,” I sobbed, “please help me enjoy it.”  And I don’t know all that God heard from the heart of a desperate 21-year-old, but I do know what He did.  Within 24 hours, I was hopelessly and utterly in love with that little girl.  Truth be told, I’m still pretty crazy about that girl.

Three more came after Whitney and each one was beautiful – dare I say – perfect?  I really just cherish what I remember about being the mom of  little, tiny Victoria (she was only 5 pounds when she was born – Steve was afraid to hold her for fear of breaking something), red-headed Tess (everyone said “Oh, that hair will change to blonde…you just wait.”  They were dead wrong and I’m SO glad) and amazingly handsome Josiah (whose very appearance on the planet was nothing short of miraculous).  Seriously, I loved those years, but I have one significant regret and it’s that I didn’t document them.  We broke and lost cameras…or we forgot to get them out and actually take pictures of vacations and birthdays and first days of school.  My journaling about their events and acheivements was hit-and-miss…I got too caught up in the “doing” of everyday life and I forgot to record the moments.  I just didn’t realize that some day each one of those toothless smiles and mismatched outfits and spaghetti sauced faces would mean so much to me.

So, today, I was doing the blog rounds and ran into this idea by my niece-in-law, Jess Stern.  She lives in St. Louis and is a fantastic mom with amazingly creative ideas on capturing and maintaining the big and little moments of her girls’ lives.   Her idea for this year is unique and beautiful – but more than that, it’s just wise and responsible.  She’s taking the gold that God has given her in these little women and keeping it in a safe place, so she can see it and remember how good He’s been. Check it out here and let me know what you’re doing to steward the memories of your family’s milestones.

Thankful for kids, cameras and smart relatives,

Bo