Archive for November, 2010

A Really Good Story

Posted: November 30, 2010 in Uncategorized

This is a great, great story and I hope I can tell it well.

I’ve told you some of what my husband has been dealing with physically and I hope I’ve given equal time to the amazing things that our generous God has been teaching and doing in us during the process.  Well, last month, we were sent to a specialist in Portland to see if she could give us a definitive diagnosis.  I probably didn’t mention it –  because I don’t enjoy this part of the story – but the doctor we were sent to is the director of the ALS center at Providence Hospital.  As nice as she is, I never imagined we would have a reason meet her.  I just never, ever imagined.

I don’t want over dramatize but I’m telling you, if I live to be 1oo years old, I will never be able to articulate what the trip over the mountain was like on that rainy, gray October day with my husband driving and our oldest girl in the back, just like it used to be when she was little and yet…nothing at all like it used to be.  Feelings, thoughts and prayers swirled through my head and heart in a hurricane of fear and hope and sorrow and peace and pain.  Sometimes I think they made their way to some heavenly vault, where they are being stored until I can look at them again because right now that trip is just not easy to remember.

My sister and brother-in-law met us at the clinic for support and they stayed with Whitney in the waiting room while Steve and I went to check in.  I can’t say enough about the staff at The Oregon Clinic.  They deal with such deeply hurting people every day and they do it with genuine care and compassion.  At no time did I feel like Steve was a number to them  or – worse – a patient so sick that they had already determined to maintain a crisp, emotional distance.  They’re good people there.  And yet…it was so scary.

After filling out some paperwork, we went to take seats and wait and that’s when something amazing happened.  It’s a moment that I have replayed on a tiny movie screen in my mind a thousand times since, just to remind myself that it was real.  As we went to sit down, a lady came from the back office and approached me and I thought for a minute that she was the doctor.  She came to me and smiled and said, “Hi Bo, you probably don’t remember me, but I heard you speak this summer.  I’ve been reading your blog and then I saw your husband’s name come through on our schedule and I just want you to know – you’re being prayed for behind the scenes here.”

Maybe it sounds small or insignificant compared to the size of other miracles or compared to the miracle we’ve been praying for,  but I still cry every time I tell the story – and tears are rolling now as I type it out.  For me, on that day, it meant everything.  Jesus had shown up in the form of Lisa.  He used her to remind me that even though the furnace felt hot, we weren’t alone in there.  It was a magical and miraculous moment that I will never forget and never stop telling, because it was what I needed on that dreadful day and I would never had known to ask Him for it.

So, thank you Lisa, for praying and encouraging and showing up for work that day.  Never underestimate the work that God has called you to, even on the days when it seems less than divinely driven.  On October 28, you helped us find the holy in the grit and grime of the fight.

And thank you, Jesus, for continuing to astound me with the bigness of Your presence and the depths of Your kindness.  I remain overwhelmed and undeserving on every level, and yet You keep showing up.

And to you – whoever and wherever you are – I pray that you will catch a glimpse of Him hovering around your situation; not just out in the waiting room, but right in the middle of it – guiding and holding your shaky heart.  You are not alone.

Thankful,

Bo

P.S.  We didn’t get a diagnosis that day, but we did get some encouraging news and are still waiting on answers.  This is the last I’ll write about this til we know more.  Thanks for praying and caring.

Thankfully Thanking Thanksgiving

Posted: November 29, 2010 in Uncategorized

Thanksgiving is definitely one of my favorite holidays, though I’m really not much of a holiday snob.  If it has good food and time off, I’m in.   But  I do love the meaning and tradition of Thanksgiving and most of all I think I love how it comes first in the lineup of the holiday trifecta of Thanksgiving, Christmas & New Year.  Seriously, they’re all so close together and then it’s all minor league celebrations after that.

Anyway, Tess documented a few of our Thanksgiving moments and here they are, in no particular order and also with no particular significance:

I think I’ve mentioned a time or seven how important it is to me that my son learns to cook.  Well, this year he made the Bourbon Pecan Pear Stuffing (dressing) nearly by himself.  Please do not alert the authorities; I poured the bourbon.  But he did everything else and it was seriously the best stuffing (dressing!) we’ve ever had.  This stuffing (dressing)-making skill may not get him on the high school football team, but I’m certain it will impress some girl’s family some day.

Know who else killed it in the kitchen this year?  This girl!  She made a caramel pecan pie, transported it over snowy mountain roads all the way to my house and we nearly cried when we tasted that wonderful dessert I tell you.  Doesn’t she look so cute and proud of her pie?  That’s exactly my face about her.

Speaking of tears…this is the resulting mess from the Rugelach making expedition.  Rugelach are simply the best cookies in the universe, and Tess does an awesome job making them…but her last statement upon cleaning up this mess and taking the last batch from the oven was, “I remember why we only make them once a year.”  Yes and amen, wise red-headed girl.  Yes and amen.

Yes, it’s true.  That’s a turkey balloon.  And it still resides near our ceiling where it will undoubtedly linger til someone stabs it with a scissors, sometime around St. Patrick’s Day.

Black Friday found us coffee’d up and ready to roll at the crack of 9:30.  Black Friday, I have decided, is not named for the day that retailers finally make it into the black financially, but rather for the color of the souls of those in the parking lots and aisles.  Our experience involved 2 stores, 0 available shopping carts, 1,296 invitations to open a Kohl’s account and one blissfully long and relaxing lunch at Johnny Carino’s with my three favorite women in the world.

These two.

And that one.

Please note that this photo of Whit & I is a re-take.  The first one was evaluated and deemed unacceptable because – and I’m quoting a daughter here – “You look annoyed at the Kohl’s employees in this picture, mom.”

All in all, it was a truly beautiful holiday.

Counting down til Christmas,

Bo

Jumping the Gun on Goodness

Posted: November 27, 2010 in Uncategorized

Psalm 31:19  How great is Your goodness that You have stored up for those who fear You, and accomplished in the sight of everyone.

“Great” = “rab” = abundant, in quality, size, age, number or rank

“Goodness”  = “good, as in the widest sense, superlatively concrete: best.”

“stored up” = to hide, hoard or reserve, to lurk.

This verse intrigues me and always has.  It’s a verse I’ve written in countless notes to struggling friends and it has sustained me through many long, dark nights.  Working to the roots of it only intensifies and personalizes its meaning for me.

I think I’ve spent so much of my life fighting for my right to “good”.  I want good things, fun things, happy things, successful things.  I want them and I often think that I can live in a way that makes me even deserve them so it confounds me when it seems that good won’t come.  And the thing about good things is that I can pretty clearly identify and quantify them.  We all can.  We can see that a promotion at work is good or a clean diagnosis is good or receiving an inheritance and paying all the bills…really good.  But this verse has two words that blow the doors off my understanding, my expectations and the way that I pray for good.

Glance back up at the Hebrew definition for “goodness” at the top.  It turns out that God is not a storer up of “good”. He’s a storer up of BEST.  Apparently, His good is superlatively better than my good.  What makes it better than my good?  Well, a look at the definition of “great” tells us that it’s rab, which means it’s abundant in quality, size, age, number or rank.  Ha!  How rad is rab?  His best outranks, outweighs and outshines my good every time.

Now, if His goodness is so abundant and big and beautiful – what keeps me from longing and believing for it?  Well, it seems that it’s maybe a bit hard to see from my angle here on earth.  It’s temporarily hidden; and not just hidden for safekeeping, but stored and protected for safe timing.   I love that reference to “age” in the definition of rab.  At first I didn’t love it.  I thought the rest of those words made sense – abundant in quality (yes!), quantity (woo!), rank (power!) and age (huh?!).  But now it’s making sense to me.  The bestness of God is stored up for me and is unveiled and delivered at just the right age of maturity.  A baby delivered too soon is in danger of dying too soon.  A baby delivered at the point of maturity, however, is very likely to grow into a tumbling toddler, a licensed driver, a college graduate and a productive adult.  Part of what makes God’s goodness better than mine is that He holds it until I am mature enough to receive and keep and multiply it into something great for His kingdom and my world.

Can you imagine how it would change our prayer lives and our fear issues if we could always clearly see God’s unseen-but-super-abundant BEST, lurking around the edges of our humdrum, longing-for-a-pay-raise lives?   It helps me understand this season in my life so much more clearly.  I see that while it seems (and legitimately is) so hard, and I have offered God a million “good” ideas…this temporary trial is going to give way to the stored-up greatness of God.  I can feel it deep in my bones.  He has something superlatively beautiful gestating right now and when the time comes for it to be revealed:  life.  Beautiful, eternal life.

Behold:  A storage shed, bursting at the seams with good and perfect gifts.  And your name is on the door.  Pretty cool, huh?

Believing for best,

Bo

Bounty

Posted: November 25, 2010 in Uncategorized

“To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever  watchful providence of Almighty God.” – Abraham Lincoln, Thanksgiving Proclamation 1863

Today, I am mindfully thankful for these bounties in my life:

  • My husband, whose strength of spirit amazes me.
  • My children, whose very existence reminds me that  He. Is. Faithful.
  • My friends, who have gone above and beyond the call of duty and all good sense to help me face a big fight by lending me their great faith.
  • Health…and the health that is coming.
  • Safe water, plenty of food, freedom to worship and all other manner of abundance that comes from living in this great country.
  • And considering that first Thanksgiving feast, I am also grateful for electricity, my Kitchen Aid and my dearly beloved DISHWASHER which is already running this morning).

Finally, I’m thankful for the temporary nature of most of these blessings because they point us to the permanent world that is waiting.  I don’t know what heaven will be like, but I do think I’ll have a blog and I’m excited to see what my Thanksgiving list will look like then and there.

May your day be filled with the great gifts of God and the time to enjoy them,

Bo

Because I love you and because it’s Thanksgiving Wednesday (a time-honored pre-holiday if ever there was one!), I’m giving you gifts to enhance your celebration:

  • Gluttony pants. You know you want ’em.
  • This amazing story, which reminded me that  life can change in a split second, but attitude is everything.
  • A handy list of Thanksgiving jokes.  My personal favorite:  What do you call a gobbler who thinks he knows everything?  A smirky turkey!
  • Finally a battle-scarred Black Friday shopper myself, I loved Saturday Night Live’s take on the sale after Thanksgiving:

Happy Wedsgiving!

Bo

For those who Fight

Posted: November 22, 2010 in Uncategorized

A dear friend and I are both going through our own interesting, unique and difficult seasons.  The things we are facing have produced nearly opposite effects in our day-to-day lives.  For me, I have been surrounded by love and support and friends.  For her, the phone has stopped ringing and she is facing her fight with the support of her husband and precious few others.  Different situations, yes, but the very same level of exhaustion, frustration and pain.

I wrote to her early one morning last week with the words that were spilling over in my heart and then she said that I should move those words to my blog because surely we’re not the only two women in the world who are in combat right now.  I agree.  So, here’s the gist of it.  I hope it applies to you, wherever you are.

Dear friend,

This is a season in our lives – yours and mine – where we go to sleep on the battlefield and we wake up on the battlefield.  But whatever is going on behind enemy lines, I’m convinced  it is playing right into the big and brilliant plan of Jesus.  Jesus, who knows us, is working His will into us in the depths…not just into the “things we talk about at parties” (oh, how I LOVE A Few Good Men), but into the absolute depths.  He’s going to the places we would never go on our own because who in their right mind would?   I’m slowly and finally believing that He is not picking fights with or for me, but He is using these battles for something eternal and far weightier than I ever knew I wanted.

Honestly, I’m still not sure I want it.

Sometimes I’d like to stay little and sort of Bo Lite.  But that’s not one of the options.  The options, as I see them are as follows:

1)  Face the fight with Jesus and let it make me stronger and more in love with Him then I have ever been.

2)  Lay down and be trampled by horses hooves and soldiers feet.

I keep looking for the “none of the above” option or the “wake up and realize you were just dreaming and go back to your old life” option, but those are not available and the reason they are not is because somewhere at sometime  I said “yes” to whatever His heart held for me.  I know that sometimes I’ve said it as a response to emotion or a well-worded plea by someone with a microphone.  But occasionally – and I can remember many of these moments distinctly – I’ve said it when I was alone in the dark and just wanted to look like Him more than I wanted anything in my life.  Sometimes, I’ve said it in the rush of gratitude that overwhelms me when I see my children and realize how much I have that I do not deserve.  Bottom line, I said yes to Him and meant it and He knows it and now He’s saying yes to me.

And He’s saying yes to you.

In this yucky, noisy, messed up season of life – He is doing something really beautiful in us. I love you.

————————————————

I hope that no matter the size or strategy of the battle you are facing today, you hear the resounding Yes of Jesus through all the other noise.  He is for you.  With you.  Always.

Bo

OH, glory!  How I love Thanksgiving!  It’s “warmth” personified.  This year’s menu will again be a study in American culinary excess and I, for one, could not be more excited!  Our dinner is looking like this:

Always on the agenda for pre-meal activities is:  get a newspaper early in the morning and go through the Black Friday ads,  watch football, and sing this song before we eat.  It’s an old musical prayer from my Mennonite heritage and I love it more than words can say:

We thank Thee, Lord, for this our food

God is love, God is love

But more because of Jesus’ blood

God is love, God is love

These mercies bless, and grant that we

May eat and drink and live with Thee

May eat and drink and live with Thee

God is love, God is love

I can promise that more than any year ever, hearing my family sing this song will make me cry in all the right sorts of way.

Behold: Fantastic food, amazing friends and family and a day set aside just to enjoy it.

And, of course I always want to know:  what’s on your menu this year?