Archive for October, 2010

Bo Loves Joe

Posted: October 30, 2010 in Uncategorized

I’ve recently received some questions from curious folks about my login name here on WordPress, “bolovesjoe”.  It doesn’t seem like a very appropriate nickname for Steve, does it?  It’s actually my son, Josiah, who I almost always call Joe even though he never calls himself that.  When the day came to change my email address, I tried every reasonable variation on bo stern with no luck.  Since Joe was standing beside me at the time, he strongly encouraged me to incorporate his name as well.  The rest is history.

I didn’t know that it would show up as my name on my comment responses and I’m certain there’s an easy way to change it, but the thing is:  I  like it.  Josiah Stern is strong and kind and funny and happy-almost-all-the-time and a fast runner and a fun guy to cook with and great at video games and building forts and throwing a baseball and about a million other things. He also the subject of one of my favorite posts I’ve ever scribbled out on this little blog.   So really, when you know a guy like that, why not tell the world that you absolutely do love him?

Behold:  My only begotten son.  I really, really love him.

So, still on the bridge. But I’m okay here. Tired, yes, but doing well. My friend, Chris, left a comment on my first post about the bridge (“Betwixt and Between” – I’m too lazy to link it) and it’s brilliant and exactly how I feel about my current location. If I felt like being bossy, I would suggest that you read it, but I’m loathe to be bossy.

You know, life is funny. It is filled with joy because of the blessings that it holds. And it’s also filled with pain and fear because there’s so much to lose. I think sometimes – maybe even more than sometimes – I’ve let fear of losing the blessings keep me from enjoying them fully. This needs to change. Regardless of what’s on the other side of any bridge, I want to enjoy loving more. I’m starting to understand, finally, that the white-knuckled grip I use to protect the things and people I love, actually squeezes some of the happy out of my life (and probably their lives as well, but they’re too nice to mention it). Trusting God with my husband’s health and future has been the biggest challenge of my 45 years, but through it I’m beginning to grasp this one, big truth treasure: my job and my privilege is to love what He’s given and His job and privilege is…everything else. When I try to shoulder the responsibility that only He is built to handle, my joy, freedom and relationships suffer.

Behold: love. I’m still learning, but I’m hoping to get really good at it one day.

Behold: Hope

Posted: October 27, 2010 in Uncategorized

Sometimes someone else just says (and sings)  it so much better than I ever could.  I’m pretty sure I agree that no song makes me cry like this one does and I love the line in his post that says, “One thing is certain: When He  comes for His own, He will have no trouble recognizing me… because my banner will be clear.”  It just gets me right in the gut every time.

Behold:  The God in whom hope is always, always found.

P.S.  Thanks to my friend, Annie, for posting this on facebook so I could cry and re-post and re-cry.  Check out her awesome blog, Sweet Annie’s Kitchen.

Tow Truck

Posted: October 26, 2010 in Uncategorized

Sometimes, it happens.

Sometimes, you wake up feeling shaky or sad or insecure.  It’s not a huge pit you’re in, but rather a smallish kind of ditch….or just a place that dips lower than the main road but you know if you gun your engine, your wheels will spin into the dirt and you could easily just get stuck there all day or even longer.  You can’t always muscle your way out of a ditch, you know?  Sometimes, you need a tow truck and a sturdy rope.

Today I woke up in a just a bit of a dip.  Coffee didn’t pull me out and neither did the sunrise and those are usually my go-to friends for morning rescue operations.  What actually did show up – and just in the nick of time – was the beautiful and overwhelming Psalm 34.  Here it is.  If you’re alone, I suggest you take a minute to read this one out loud and let it come and find whatever part of your heart that may need rescuing:

1 [a] I will extol the LORD at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.

2 My soul will boast in the LORD;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.

3 Glorify the LORD with me;
let us exalt his name together.

4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.

5 Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.

6 This poor man called, and the LORD heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.

7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them.

8 Taste and see that the LORD is good;
blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.

9 Fear the LORD, you his saints,
for those who fear him lack nothing.

10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.

11 Come, my children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.

12 Whoever of you loves life
and desires to see many good days,

13 keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking lies.

14 Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.

15 The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their cry;

16 the face of the LORD is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.

17 The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles.

18 The LORD is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

19 A righteous man may have many troubles,
but the LORD delivers him from them all;

20 he protects all his bones,
not one of them will be broken.

21 Evil will slay the wicked;
the foes of the righteous will be condemned.

22 The LORD redeems his servants;
no one will be condemned who takes refuge in him.

Behold:  Superhero scriptures that bust into my morning and save my day.  The Word of God in all of it’s living and active power is one of the most beautiful things I have ever known.

Behold, again

Posted: October 25, 2010 in Uncategorized

On the first day of this year, I found this quote in a commentary on Ecclesiastes and it was simply love at first sight:

“A man must render an account before God for all the good things he beheld, but didn’t enjoy.” – Jerusalem Talmud

 

When I posted it, I also said that this year I was committed to really beholding and enjoying the good gifts of God in my life.  I purposed that I would intentionally behold something every day.  And I actually have.  I haven’t posted every day, but I have stopped and looked and absorbed the beauty of something every day.  Not only has it been a good exercise in gratitude, I think that in some of my recent dark days, it has made the difference between hope and despair.

I’ve written plenty recently about the struggles we are facing in my family.  I’d like to take a few days and return to the beauty of beholding His good gifts.  Because His good gifts do exist all around us and they deserve at least as much attention as the stuff that isn’t as pretty to look at.

For a long, lovely moment today I got lost inside the beauty of white snowflakes set against the fiery orange leaves of fall.  Seasons are beautiful to me and that small moment gave me hope that one can be beginning as another one is ending…but both are just brilliantly beautiful. I so want to be someone who lives every day fully and looks with eager anticipation to whatever is around the next turn.  I’m realizing that every change brings new opportunities to discover something more about the heart of the One who created life and love and the color orange.

Behold: The God who sets the seasons in motion.  He is unimaginably good.

Betwixt and Between

Posted: October 21, 2010 in Uncategorized

I have been living on a bridge. Not under one – that would be a different situation – but right in the middle of one.

My husband has been struggling with some shoulder/neck issues for about a year that were wrongly diagnosed as arthritis. When his condition kept getting worse, he was sent to a neurologist and after much testing, diagnosed with something decidedly more frightening than arthritis: Progressive Muscle Atrophy. The cause has not yet been determined, but I assure you this is the biggest thing we’ve ever faced. Throughout the process, there have been moments when we thought a diagnosis would come or that the most frightening of possibilities would be eliminated but at this point, we’re still living suspended between yes and no, life and death, joy and sorrow. I keep telling the people closest to me, “I’m so tired of living on this bridge. I want to either go back to the way it used to be or go forward to the way it will be, but I don’t want to live here anymore. Even if what we have to face is really rotten, I don’t want to live here in the middle.” So, we have an appointment with a specialist next week, and I have set that as my new target: the day I pack up my stuff and move off of this dumb bridge.

This morning, however, I think I felt a little whisper that said, “Not so fast, cookie.” Uh oh. Adjustment. I’m in no mood for adjustment…but He spoke it anyway. Bottom line, I feel like God is telling me that answers may not come immediately and that’s okay. He’s reminding me that no matter where I find myself, we can set up a sanctuary there. Already, I feel like my heart has changed so dramatically during this season that I barely recognize myself. Here are a few of the treasures I’ve discovered on the bridge that I wouldn’t have found in a more secure, sturdy place:

1. I’ve always feared the other shoe dropping in my life and wondered if He would still be there for me and enough for me if the worst happened. At this stage of this journey, I can say with absolute, 100% confidence: Yes. He is here. He is real. He is true. He is MORE than enough. I’m not gonna lie, there are certainly moments every day when I feel like I’m suffocating in fear, but I’m learning it’s not the absence of those emotions that makes Him real, it’s the fact that He shows up during those emotions and takes the weight of my world on His shoulder so I can stand again.

2. I found this truth on the bridge.

3. I found friends on the bridge who are more wonderful and more lovely than I could possibly have known before this. I suspected it, yes, but now I know it.

4. I found Steve on the bridge. I’ve had him a long time, but I found new and beautiful things about him that I treasure. He is – at the core – a man of peace and faith. There is no one on earth I’d rather face the battle with.

5. I found my foundation on the bridge – and these declarations have been sustaining me every morning, noon and night. I read them constantly – even when I can’t see through tears, I make myself return to the truth and every time it sets me free.

And probably the biggest thing I found on the bridge is…everyone else. It seems that at some level, we’re all living suspended between this and that, here and there, history and eternity. So life goes on. We break and we build, we hurt and we heal…and God shows Himself strong and good and able. I am unspeakably thankful.

From my middle to your middle,

Bo

16,462

Posted: October 16, 2010 in Uncategorized

That’s my age in days. It doesn’t feel liked I’ve plowed through almost sixteen and a half thousand days, but the Day of Your Life Calculator does not lie.

On this, Day #16,462 – at about hour #9, I made a decision and I thought it would be wise to share it with you so you can remind me when I forget. Because let’s just face it: in spite of all my best intentions, I will forget. Part of that is because of the number of days I’ve got under my belt (my memory is bad), and part of it is because I’m made of flesh and blood and dust and am therefore prone to abandoning decisions even when keeping them would be a much better idea.

My decision, then, is this: God knows the number of my days and He knows what each day holds. He has plans, not just for my whole life, but for each day of my life. Those plans take on a lot of different flavors and shapes, but they share one common purpose: to bring me closer than ever to His heart, His character and His appearance.

Closer than ever.

This means that all, all, ALL His plans for me are good. 100%, utterly, awesomely, undeniably GOOD. They may not feel good in the moment, but He is producing in me something that goes way beyond feelings and moves into the beautiful mystery known as an “eternal weight of glory”. Do I know what that means exactly? Nope. Not exactly. But I’ll tell you what, I’ve experienced just a tiny bit of the weight of His glory in this small, fallen and foggy world and it is…breathtaking. Intoxicating. It is beautiful multiplied by beautiful. And it leaves me with a healthy fear of choosing temporary comfort over eternal anything.

I’ll be honest: it’s not an easy season for me to do this. This is a season that screams at me to panic and run from His purpose. It pushes me toward the suspicion that maybe my plans are better constructed for the moment than His eternal, weighty ones. However, I am old enough to know that’s never true.

And so on day 16,462, I decided that I would live with day 16,356,203,209,011 in mind. I determined to get really good at setting my mind on the invisible-but-heavy gifts of God and trust Him to get my heart safely through each day in the process.

That’s my decision.

Remind me,

Bo