Masthead header

All Creatures Great And Small

I have not spoken out about the immigration issue so far and I know so many people are urging/pushing spiritual leaders to step up and take a stand. I’ve written at least five different posts. I’ve read so many articles, watched so many videos. I’ve been scouring scripture for direction in terms of wording and wisdom. But all I can say is I haven’t yet felt okay about pushing that ‘post’ button.

 

Not because I’m afraid of people unfriending me, but because I feel like this issue has too many tentacles to reduce into a paragraph, written by a pastor with a teaspoonful of information and a truckload of passion.

 

I don’t want to add to the noise unless it will be helpful and it seems like most of the online arguments I’m reading only serve to further entrench people in their already-held opinion.

 

But the other night, as I was snuggled up with my grandsons on the couch (they were watching Captain Underpants, which is slightly inappropriate but hilarious and I hope I’m not in trouble with their parents), I ran into the audio of kids crying for their parents.   I’ve been a mom long enough to recognize the sounds of terror-through-tears.

 

You recognize it, too, even if you’ve never been a mom.

 

I kept looking at my little guys, imagining the unimaginable. How our hearts would break. How their lives and mindsets and worldview would be impacted by that ONE moment. It made me wish that EVERY one of those kids could be sitting on a sofa with someone who loves them; someone they know would fight for them, die for them.  How truly, terribly fortunate my sweethearts are to have been born on this soil, breathing freedom as a birthright (and please don’t correct me here to the word “blessed”, which would imply that Jesus loves Finn and Greyson more than He loves the kids with no couch to call home.)

 

It astounds me that this is not happening in the outer reaches of countries I can’t find on the map; it’s happening here in the land that I love. The home of the free is putting children in cages? That can’t be right.

 

And then I read the arguments from people defending President Trump (because I haven’t heard anyone defend the practice, just the President’s role in it.) Many said it’s not his fault – W started this; Obama continued it. Many said this is just a conspiracy to turn people against him. Many said those kids have it better in our cages than they do in their homes. Some argued that “kids in cages” is inflammatory and inaccurate – they are “detention cells.”

 

One said: America is a nation of laws and we don’t get to follow the laws we like and change the ones we don’t. (Note: America is a nation of PEOPLE and we certainly DO get to change the laws we don’t like if enough of us don’t like them. That’s precisely why women get to vote and rich people can’t own poor people.)

 

Most said this situation isn’t perfect, but what else are we going to do? The parents brought it on themselves, and their littles by extension.

 

All those arguments have points of interest. But I don’t care about them. In fact, I think those arguments are some of the most dangerous threats to our humanity, because they give us the semblance of a cause and it takes precious mental, emotional and physical energy to defend our causes – even the unworthy ones. Especially the unworthy ones.

 

I’d like to suggest that by the time we’re arguing over the definition of a “cage”, we’ve well and truly lost sight of the point.  And when we make this primarily a referendum against our president, we’ve equally missed the point.

 

The more energy we invest in blaming someone or defending someone else or throwing our hands up in despair because this problem is just TOO BIG for us, the less energy we’ll throw  where we need to throw it – indeed, the ONLY place our energy can flow that I think honors God: finding a solution.

 

We, the nation that sent men to the moon, can certainly find a way to send children to sofas where they can be safe, be loved, be children.

 

We must.

 

We must stop barking and blaming and start thinking and giving and loving.

 

We must invest at least the amount of creative heat to making the world a better place for children that we invest in making memes for Instagram. Even if our constitution doesn’t demand it, our Bible does.

 

So, what I think we need right now is hope.  Hope and a holy agitation to turn this friction into traction.  Hope that we can be a part of something new and beautiful and exciting and generational.

 

I started by giving to www.togetherrising.org.  100% of their donations are going to secure lawyers for unrepresented children, with a goal of reunifying them with their parents.  I’m asking Jesus for more ideas to help bring hope and change. If you have them I’d sure love to hear them.  I don’t really want to hear your arguments…but I absolutely DO want to hear any plan – no matter how crazy it may seem – for helping these beautiful kids find a voice in all of this noise.  Does it seem impossible?  Perfect.   America was built on the fight for impossible freedom.

 

We were made for this.

 

June 21, 2018 - 1:12 pm

Lori Greenstone - Yes to all of that. I love how you ground your argument and set in on a couch.

June 21, 2018 - 4:30 pm

Flor Nuñez - Dear Bo,

Thank you for taking your time and your thoughts, for displaying them in such a graceful and clear way. Thank for being bold, for being wise. Thank you for letting Jesus use you to encourage His people to do the right thing. I completely agree with you.

June 22, 2018 - 10:16 am

Gail Orr - Amen and amen!! Couldn’t be more right on! Stop the blame/defending, protect the defenseless above all!!

New & Exciting Things 1, 2 & 3

 

Heyo, friends of mine!  So many of you have kindly mentioned to me that the blogging has not so much been happening since I got back from Italy.  I know.  I have been MIA recently and there are reasons but none of them are particularly interesting or exciting so please pretend that I listed the reasons out here and you were all “ooohhh…”   “ahhhhh….”  “I get it, now…”

 

But for real, one of the reasons I haven’t been blogging much is because I have been working on building some NEW and EXCITING and WONDERFUL things that will be launching SO SO SOON (please note: these all caps are intentional and not because I’m aging rapidly and cannot see things close up) (but also: I am aging rapidly and cannot see things close up.)

 

New & Exciting Thing #1:

For years, I’ve had a desire to put real energy and mind-muscle into helping women learn to become better communicators of both the Word of God and words in general.

I believe every woman has a story to tell that can change the world – but often lacks the confidence, skill and resources to get that story out on the stage or on the page.

 

My deep passion is to help women use words effectively and beautifully. That is what I love and, therefore, that is what I shall do (because doing what we love is the best kind of magical.)

 

I want to help women understand their place in the world of words, men, lexicons and lecterns. Let’s get after this, ladies!  There are stories to tell and the big, brilliant gospel to share!

 

This adventure will take the shape of conferences and consulting wherein I get bossy about the things of which I am certain and honest about the ways I’ve failed in the past twenty years while standing behind a podium or sitting at a keyboard.  It’s going to be a good time!

 

New & Exciting Thing #2:

Another passion of mine is to help women who feel stuck.  After twenty years of speaking at just less than 1 BILLION women’s events (number is approximate), I am deeply concerned about the State of Affairs among the women of the world.  I’ve met very few who are passionate, determined, happy and fulfilled.

 

The rest are….waiting.

  • Waiting for their real lives to begin.
  • Waiting for sorrow or disappointment or disillusionament to stop controlling them.
  • Waiting for permission to be seen and heard.
  • Waiting to feel qualified.
  • Waiting for the chance to truly make a difference with their beautiful lives.

 

Sisters, this ought not be!  Of all the people on the planet, women who love and follow the ways and words of Jesus, should be the most wonderfully wild and free and should say the most exuberant “YES!” to His purpose(s) for each day they’re given.  I have been building a  seven-hour intensive – the Wild & Free Conference –  around this one issue.  Created out of the beauty I found on the battlefield and the strategy I used while re-starting my life during my first year of widowhood, it is four hours of teaching + three hours of personal coursework + thirty days followup assignments and journaling.  Not gonna lie, it is intense.  It is deep. It is challenging. But I think women are ready for exactly this kind of adventure.  If you feel too young to settle for the life you have now, but too old to try anything new, this will be the event for you. 

New & Exciting (and bittersweet) Thing #3:

This one has to do with #1 & #2.  I will be launching a new website!  My current blog has been my baby since 2007.  It has seen me through sickness, health, grand babies, career changes and death.  It holds my thoughts through the deepest valleys of heartache, the green pastures of peace and the harrowing highways of the Shadowlands.  It will always be dear and important to me, but it is time for a new Yes.  The new blog is not the “yes” – but it is the room where we can all hang out and talk about the yes’s we are saying and living and dreaming.  I’m so excited to announce that the new living room for my thoughts and adventures will be called SHEology.  It will have everything from study tips to speaker tricks to lipstick recommendations and book reviews.  It will also contain a lot of resources for surviving tragedy, loss and pain, because that’s my lane and I try to stay in it.  Mostly, it will be a place that gives you permission to be your very best and very worst and very truest self.

 

 

So, those are the things and I am bursting at the seams to share all the new  with you!  I’ll keep posting updates as we go – here on this website and on my facebook and instagram.  I’ll also share the old, steady things as well:  I still love my job at Westside, I love my people, I love my city and I’m happier than I’ve been in a very long time. It’s the blend of old and new that makes life so beautiful, don’t you think?

 

Can’t wait to meet you out on the edge of the wild!

 

With hope,

 

Bo

 

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

May 2, 2018 - 9:29 am

Kristen - A million times YES to ALL of this. (and also to leaving an actual blog comment because who even does that anymore?) Go get it, girl!

May 2, 2018 - 4:31 pm

Lori Greenstone - Yes, I’m in- bring on SHEology!

May 2, 2018 - 5:08 pm

Laura Wilson - Sign me up!! I’m so excited about all you have in store, and I’m so on board!!

May 2, 2018 - 7:53 pm

Katie Moore - Am so excited about all 3 of these but especially # 2. This is something I am passionate about too. I wasted too much of my life in the until then my life will start…and I see too many women struggle with this.

May 2, 2018 - 9:42 pm

Edie - Very excited to hear more Bo! I do feel too old to try anything new, but I have a feeling you could convince me I’m wrong. I’m listening!

May 3, 2018 - 12:33 pm

Cynthia Fox - I’m so excited to hear all thsee things. I would be very interested in your Wild and Free training seminar.

May 5, 2018 - 9:19 am

Donna Hajj - I’d love to bring myself and both of my college-aged daughters to your first Wild & Free conference. Waiting expectantly for what God has for you and for me!

May 6, 2018 - 11:06 am

Karon Davis - Wonderful and beautifully expressed , as always ..
A NEW THING !
Love it !!

May 15, 2018 - 1:49 pm

Krystal Bell - Excited for you!

May 21, 2018 - 11:30 am

Debbie George - Our family attended Westside in 2005-2007. Our sons were in your youth group, and we met with Steve several times! I love reading what you have to say, your journey and the way you capture the thoughts of your heart and put them into written words. You bless me. If it’s not too late, I’d love to be a part!

What To Do With Loneliness

 

 

I married Steve when I was 19, having lived with my sister before that and a bunch of college women before that and my parents before that.  I was steeped in the tea of togetherness for as long as I could remember.  If there was one thing I really craved for most of my life,  it wasn’t more people but more solitude.

 

When Steve got sick in 2011 and then died in 2015, I was worried about a lot of things, like  finances and kids and decisions about our house – but I wasn’t overly worried about being lonely.  I knew I would miss him, but I really felt that I was the kind of person who could handle long stretches of aloneness.  Other than a specific, recurring nightmare that I had to spend Christmas alone (I know – it’s weird what our brain conjures up, isn’t it?) I felt like I was well equipped and prepared to face my new life without a spouse.  And it went pretty well for the first year.  I don’t have much more to say about it than that – maybe I didn’t have time to focus on it while trying to rebuild a life for my family, but I don’t remember it being a pressing issue.

 

Recently, though, especially since returning from Italy, I have discovered the dark, quiet of a lonely life in ways I had never imagined before.  I can’t say exactly why it’s happening or why it’s so hard now, I can only say with certainty that it is.  And yeah, I have kids living here (though they aren’t here much) and I have a great man just three hours away and friends and family who love me.  Yet, often when I wander through my empty house, the silence and solitude feel crushing, suffocating.  I run into it in the wee hours, when I wake up alone in my bed, alone in my room – and I gasp to get air, to get hope into my lungs and I clutch the covers tightly and try to hang on until morning. Sometimes I decide that 4:00 a.m. is close enough to morning and I get up, make coffee and run to the refuge of my couch, waiting for the sun to shine beams through the window and remind me that a new day = new mercy.

 

Let me be clear: this is not a desperate cry for help.  My friends and family care for me SO well.  My kids are unfailingly kind and thoughtful.  My boyfriend works hard to make sure we connect every day and to be available when I need him.  I am the luckiest girl in all the land to have such amazing people in my life.

 

And yet, there’s something about being single that is weary and wearing.  Coming home to an empty house often, going to bed alone every night, facing each day on my own, even just sitting down to pay the bills alone…these things create the ethos of my existence.  They are unchanging and sometimes unrelenting in their gnawing, empty consistency.  Is Jesus in this season?  Without a doubt – I feel Him more present than ever before.  Is He precious and good and true to His word?  Absolutely.  But sometimes my heart still feels overwhelmed by all this quiet.

 

So, what to do with loneliness?  I think my best and worst answer is: I don’t know yet.  I thought I knew a year ago, but turns out it just wasn’t really an issue then.  And I know what I should say: Read your Bible, play worship music, lean into Jesus – fine ideas, all.  But they ring a bit hollow for those who are longing to feel the warmth and camaraderie of a skin-and-bones human, or ache to feel circled by the kind of always-available friendship you don’t have to work up or work for.

 

Here’s where I want to give you a principle or three.  I want to wrap it all up in hope and five steps to happiness.  But the only hope I have to give the lonely today is this:  I’m here, too.  Lots of us live right here in the quiet wild.  Just because you love Him, doesn’t mean you don’t feel it and just because you feel it, doesn’t mean you’re doing life wrong. It just means you’re doing life.  And I’m proud of you and cheering you on from the cheap seats.  Please know it.  (And leave a comment if you’ve got a great idea for the rest of us!)

 

With hope,

 

Bo

January 29, 2018 - 11:06 pm

Edie - Well said as always Bo. I’ve never experienced this, so I have zero words of wisdom for you. But, I’m certain that you’ve expressed what many of your readers wished they had the words to say. And in doing so, you give them comfort and hope. Keep on sharing, we need you.

January 29, 2018 - 11:28 pm

Christina Chamberlin - Bo, I so enjoy your writings. I didn’t really think about being alone vs being lonely. I guess it is all in how you define it. So very well said. I was both alone and lonely when my son was killed. Then not sure how I felt after divorce. If I had to speak now, I guess it would be relief and devastation.
Now I am going through life alone. I will be stronger!

January 30, 2018 - 12:28 am

Debra - Oh my goodness!!! Yes! I so agree with this. Thank you for saying what probably many feel.

January 30, 2018 - 6:19 am

Karla - Wow! This one hit home! I was alone for the first time, after my divorce. I would carry my Bible around my apartment for comfort and it worked pretty well. Then I remarried and it was glorious! However, I married someone who works away from home during the week. I come home to my 2 pals, Ruffus and Libby, but there’s still the echo of no other voice in the house. No warmth on the other side of the bed. No one to talk to during dinner. I will pray for you during this time, Bo. I haven’t quite got it figured out, but reading God’s word and sometimes watching kind, good shows like Fixer Upper fill the space until sleep. Skyping with grandkids in Dallas is another warmth until sleep. Love you and feel for you… Michigan cousin

January 30, 2018 - 6:49 am

Jane Lellman - There is just something about being on a path with your beloved, then being on that path alone that is unbalancing in a way I never imagined. Even when you build new paths with others, or add new things to the path. Still, there is that empty spot, that empty togetherness. I am surely grateful to the bone that God blessed me with walking that path.

January 30, 2018 - 7:11 am

kathy halley - I know this place to well. For many years. If it was not for our savior, our Father, and my good close councler, teacher, comforter and so much more Holy Spirit. It would be much harder. And i have great loving christian family and it kepts growing. And i have my grown children as well. You touched my heart Sunday Bo. You amaze me. I love you. “We are not alone”. And it is such a great comfort to know that.
Hugs.

January 30, 2018 - 9:01 am

Cynthia - Again, I am so THANK FL for your honesty. We have such cliche comments for people who walk through times that are hard. Do this, that and one more thing and you will feel better…when the truth is just as you say…that feeling still exists. Job was in that place…you don’t understand, and yet your faith is not broken. Job had the greatest confidence that God was good and great and worthy of praise…and yet he was honest with the paradox before him. He was faithful.

Your article makes me think of others around us. The ones that are going through loneliness without the hope of God’s love, without a good support system, without someone to live them. How incredibly sad and overwhelming it must be. Your writing reminds me to “look”, with open eyes, for them. A kind word, an encouraging smile, a hug…something that shows I see them.

You educate us to be more aware of those around us, and your writings expand God’s love to others. Thank you so much.

I’m sorry for this spot in your journey…and I’m so glad you are brave enough to trust God with it. You are loved.

January 30, 2018 - 11:09 am

kim - Bo…First, I must say….I love, love, love your writings! But, on this entry I think you are missing the mark about loneliness. Please don’t take this response as critical…but maybe as a friend from the South that feels compelled to give her two cents on this subject. I live and have currently lived alone for 7 years after a divorce. (I was married 23 yrs). So, I’m gonna claim a little experience in the art of living alone.

You have just returned from Italy from one of those once in a lifetime kind of trips that sounded fabulous and filled with great adventures and accompanied with visits from treasured loved ones…. I always think after much planning, waiting, and anticipation of a big trip that there is somewhat of a let down feeling when I return home. I have many times felt that kind of sinking feeling of loneliness. But, thankfully that feeling passes pretty quickly.

You also just faced a health scare. That’s a Big deal and facing that without a husband…. Well I applaud you!!(Not to take anything away from your sweetie and his support) I did the same a few years ago with a health scare and its tough!!

In addition, it’s wintertime and I know many of us suffer from the winter blues. Lack of sunlight and short days are enough to cause a little sadness in the soul. I live completely alone…no children. So I understand the alone feelings that you have so described. But, there were times even with a spouse that I felt alone at moments…… I just wonder if you are truly looking at loneliness in the right perspective?

It sounds like you live a life surrounded by a wonderful army of people and you are blessed to love and be loved by these special people and you love Jesus and you know that he is with you in this season and always. I am also blessed with a army of my own and I’m so thankful for each and every one of them.

So my question is… In the middle of the night are you really lonely or do you just miss the life that once existed in the walls of that home?? The youth of your children and there constant needs and the warmth and support of your husband?? It sounds to me that you miss the life that once existed there. That you are not really lonely but you just miss the people and the life that once abounded there….

Well, then you are Not Alone Sister!! Welcome to the club!!! There are millions and millions of us that mourn a life and a story that no longer exist. I think people from the elderly, widowers, empty nesters, divorcees, children that lose parents, parents that lose children and the list goes on and on…. people struggling daily with a chapter that closed and life that no longer looks or feels anything like the life that they once lived . But, the good news… is that God has your life and each of us that allow him in his hands. I don’t have to tell you that!

But, life just like your trip to Italy which has ended is going to be filled will many more brilliant and exciting trips to plan. And if loneliness creeps in your soul in the middle of the night….shake that off quickly and know you are the farthest thing from being alone or lonely!! My mother has always said humans are creatures of habit. And many of us really struggle with change. Change can wonderful but it can also be tough and down right heart breaking! You are in a new chapter of your book and you are turning the pages daily which comes with its own struggles and joys along the way and of course… many changes. But, as each night passes and each day brings into view a better perspective of this new life that God has planned for you, me , and everyone else that finds the courage to press on into another new day we are blessed to see this beautiful journey continue…..

Love and blessings! Kim

January 30, 2018 - 2:06 pm

bo - Hi Kim, Thanks for the comment! As to your question, “Are you really lonely or do you just miss the life you once had?” my answer is :Yes. I do miss the life I once had (but love the life I have now) AND I am often very lonely. I’m not sure how that idea misses the mark on loneliness, but those are my true feelings and I’m learning to acknowledge them and trust God with them, knowing that His constant presence is a great gift, yes, but doesn’t eliminate my internal longing to be near people as well, or the ache that occurs when I feel alone for too long.

January 30, 2018 - 3:17 pm

Kim - Bo, You hit the nail right on the head. It’s been 2 1/2 years since my Dad passed from ALS and 1 1/2 years since my mom passed from Pancreatic Cancer. Once again I feel that we are experiencing similar life challenges! I have felt so lonely the last few months. I have a great family and friends support team but there’s just some things you can’t duplicate. I felt guilty for awhile because I know very well that God has not left my side! Yet, I am so lonely. I try to read the Word and it
I just find my eyes reading but my brain isn’t comprehending. I pray and try to talk to God but I don’t hear Him. It’s so frustrating! No words of wisdom here except to tell you, I’m with you and I too am just doing life. Hoping that this fog will lift and I will find some sort of breakthrough… SOON!

January 30, 2018 - 3:27 pm

Nicole Provo - I love your words and honesty Bo, and as I read 1 Peter 4:12-13 in The Message just now, I think your heart aligns beautifully with the Truth of His Word: “Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.”

Peter acknowledges that life WILL get really difficult (he says “when”, not “if”!) and yet, like you, he reminds us to cling to the truth that although it is tough, we are IN PROCESS… and glory is “just around the corner”! Phew!

I’ve got my own difficulties today, maybe not as much loneliness as other battles, but I’m grateful not to be the only one who feels the challenges deeply… (darn 4am!) Nonetheless, I too choose to feel deeply, and surrender fully, knowing that His Truth will guide my emotions, and His plan has me in the middle of this crazy refining process we call LIFE.

Thank you for sharing!

January 30, 2018 - 5:03 pm

Miss Marie - Hi Sweet Friend…. Your long-time reader, first-time commenter :)! You know that I simply adore you. Allow me to respond to this post b/c I often feel compelled with a bit of gruff when I read of loneliness from those who have had full fellowship. Nothing personal against you of course … of course… but sometimes, when I read of those who have experienced deep daily relationship, I too ask, as Kim above, do folks feel lonelier because of loss, than I who never had? I wrote quite an extensive manuscript about alone vs loneliness years ago, but it would do more harm than good for me to revisit those pages. In all honesty, not to one-up anyone on “loneliness” but sometimes I do feel that I’ve got the corner on this issue.

I’ve lived alone my entire adult life, now in my 40s, never married, no kids, no pets, never dated anyone seriously for more than a month. ( and yes, I’ve tried all kinds of dating, but some kind of God-ordained red flag puts the kibosh on even the best of beginnings, oy!) And up until recently, I worked from home, alone, for more than a decade. Moved cross country and lived in 5 major cities, alone. Visited more than 20 countries, alone. Movies, alone. Concerts, alone. Lots of friends and caring family, but I’ve never enjoyed dreaming with someone nor even sharing anything with someone where there was a mutual stake in my decisions. Never once have I consistently shared my day with someone. And let’s face it, there’s quite a difference of having enjoyed living in the same space, knowing others and being known in 3-day old pj’s, unwashed dishes, headaches, neg bank balance, drank-too-much, or drank-too-little kind of way. :).

I do get that one can be lonely in a crowd or surrounded by loved ones, but as we’ve discussed privately, and I will share here, I often question now even if I am even *capable* of sharing myself… not that I fear it, it’s just that I wonder if I even the constitution to live in the silence of shared space. (Please don’t cue the violins, the overall trend-line is one of joy in my solitude.) I often soul search and ask myself if subconsciously, I’ve created my own cocoon that, at best, does not attract, or at worst, repels, opportunities for deep, daily, life-sharing. Lately, it seems like Sunday afternoons/evenings are the loneliest days of the year. Not that I don’t have social opportunities, but even then, I just rather say no and resign to the ritual my own company. A 94 yr old friend passed away this Christmas, and while not lucid, he was surrounded by family and friends, one of whom he’s known since 3rd grade. It made me sad to think that b/c I am introverted and can go weeks w/o really connecting with others, I may die alone w/o anyone knowing. “Have I created my own prison of solitude?” I now ask myself.

Now, it’s not depression, but just wistfulness, I guess. I could on and on about the eternity of years it seems that I’ve dealt with loneliness. To be honest, I think that the fact that I’m less “emotional/sentimental/ maternal,” than many of my peers is the only reason, I’ve not lost my mind, or all hope (as ref above regarding my internal constitution). I do find that my interests keep me very busy and allow me to shut out the echoes of loneliness. But it seems to me, while earthed on this planet, that there’s really no cure, other than to face it and deal with it, as you have indicated — waiting for a new day, new grace, new mercy…. LOVE that!

And not gonna lie, sometimes my “dealing” with includes my fav adult beverage and netflix … and when I have cash, a new travel adventure! There’s a song that soothes me on ‘those’ days… it’s called Tomorrow Morning. Lyrics are:

“This may not last until tomorrow. So look at all the love you borrow.
And time will tell us all. We could be laughing. We could be married.
Tomorrow morning.

And love alone won’t be your savior. And pretty soon you’ll find it’s over.
And time has left you there.
We could be singing. Could be together.
Tomorrow morning.”

All said, I grieve with you in the loneliness. Knowing from experience that it comes in waves, sometimes rushing, sometimes gentle, sometimes low, sometimes high. But, and here’s the Big But… I, moreover, rejoice with you in the private reflection, gratitude, and celebration that can only come from loneliness. Those times when it’s only you, and you, and you. And Him who knows and enjoys every inch your beautiful soul.

January 30, 2018 - 6:13 pm

bo - Dear Marie – I adore you as well…and your words are beautiful and painful and honest and brave. Please let’s share an adult beverage soon (or, if we must, another cappuccino in Piazza della Signoria.) I love you.

January 30, 2018 - 7:58 pm

Debbie - Just lost my husband, Steve, to ALS (diagnosed 2011) three weeks ago. Admittedly, fearful of the “lonely”. I’ve appreciated your writings when I was on the “other side” of this journey…think I will now even more as you are just steps ahead of me. Lead on.

January 30, 2018 - 8:17 pm

Vickie - Bo – Thank you for your honesty in your feelings. My husband passed away Dec. 2016 after a battle with cancer. I too married young and we raised 4 children. Our life was always full and busy with lots of activity. 14 months into this new life of mine, I suddenly have had difficulty with the loneliness that seems to creep in on a consistent basis. It is comforting to know that I am not the only one who experiences this. I have a wonderful support group of friends and family. But I am still lonely, I wonder if it will ever subside.

January 31, 2018 - 5:40 am

Michael Nyberg - No magic words from me, Just a Thanks for being honest so others know their struggles are real (and ok) and our faith and trust in Jesus is enough.

January 31, 2018 - 9:03 am

Donna - I am so grateful for your honesty and authenticity! As my husband continues to struggle with ALS, and my youngest child is in the midst of choosing a university (potentially away from home), “empty nest” has a whole new meaning. Thank you for discussing loneliness as I fear this will be something I will encounter in the not too distant future. Lead on, Bo, I am reading with hope in Jesus.

January 31, 2018 - 9:32 am

Kim - Bo..Thanks for taking the time to respond to my post. This post hits home for so many that have experienced loss and those like Marie that have truly livde a life alone. It’s a great topic and one that can be viewed by so many vantage points….. Bo, I pray for your journey of healing and that your feelings of loneliness will lessen in time. I stayed busy, busy, busy after my separation and constantly on the go. I know now I was just running from the hurt, pain, grief, sadness, etc. But those feelings moved quicker than me and they found me in a split second . I surrendered knowing I would have to feel my way through the pain. I guess for me… I never truly experienced loneliness, I mainly experienced grief, sadness, and emptiness for a marriage and a life that no longer existed. No matter how many warm loving friends or family that I ran to visit it just couldn’t quite fill that void completely. Maybe, we can all agree…. that each of us are made so uniquely and how we feel and process grief, loss, pain, emptiness, loneliness, and heart break is so different. And for me, my healing took time and some more time. It took 6 years to really feel complete again. And, I still have my moments…but I find that they pass pretty quickly. It has been a tough,tough journey one that I found horribly strange, painful, exhausting, and still filled with happiness, hope, joy, and love from those that encouraged me along the way. Maybe, we are all just wounded warriors by life’s events and unfortunately, we add new members daily. So, for the ones of us that have patched our wounds.. we must return to the battle as soon as possible to help others that are hit and wounded by life’s tragic events with love, kindness, and compassion. It’s exactly why God placed us in community with each other… And that’s the real blessing!!

love and blessings… Kim

January 31, 2018 - 9:48 am

Kay - Bo, as always you write what I need to read. I’ve been reading your emails & blog for years now. My husband died in late September after a short, hard battle with cancer. It was a long marriage (almost 38 years) but not without difficulties. More than I’ll go into here, but the point is his choices made that time harder than it already would have been. I’d been lonely a long time before his death but it is a different loneliness now.

I’m so very thankful for the Lord’s constant faithfulness and care, I know it is how I’ve endured everything and am still somewhat sane 😉 I also know without Him I don’t know what I’d have done. He truly has carried me when I couldn’t carry myself through these hard months.

I tend to be a person who enjoys solitude also, and I think that has been helpful but I agree there are times it’s just hard no matter that there is family, friends and always the Lord.

My husband wasn’t the best companion, but he was here some of the time and while I’m so thankful for the peace & calm in my home rather than the chaos that was always around him, it still at times is hard. I was hit hard with the flu right after Christmas (2 weeks in bed & I don’t go to bed for much other than multiple surgeries,) and it was so difficult being on my own, having to drag out of bed & take my dog out no matter how sick I was> I guess that’s when it really hit me how ‘on my own’ I am in some ways.

Thanks for the encouragement today and for your wise words always. Hugs.

January 31, 2018 - 2:04 pm

Julia Heasley - This post was sent to me by a friend. I can relate to everything but the boyfriend! Perhaps he just had t found me yet! I also find singleness to be wearying and wearing.
My hubby of 48 yrs died in 2014 after 4 years of heart failure. My first year as a widow was filled with learning new skills, finding helpful people and fear of doing something wrong or forgetting to do something. Also unpredictable times of tears and sorrow. I felt invisible much of the time and badly off balance!
The second year was when the loneliness you speak of moved in. Too much quiet. No one to share meals with. No one to go to a movie or concert with. Daily solitary walks when I talk to God and rejoice in my strong body.
The third year felt more balanced. I took a trip with Walking Adventures Intl to Northern France with another widow! It was wonderful! This is the bright side of single: flexibility!
I too have great kids and a good church, but there are still lonely times when everyone else has a mate… but that is in Gods hands. I joined a walking group, have a great Bible study and little by little I am finding my feet! In May I will travel with a tour to Israel. My roommate is also single. I am excited to see how God leads me this year! Thanks for your encouragement! Julia Heasley

February 7, 2018 - 5:45 pm

Jewl Westphalen - Lonliness. It’s real. Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, who never married until age 57 wrote, “Anything that makes me need God is ultimately a blessing.” Lonliness feels like being alone in a deep well. And in that sorrow comes an opportunity to accept Jesus pulling each of us harder to Himself. Yes, He’s invisible, but He’s soo much sweeter than the many other things and people I look to to satisfy.

The Only Door Out

 

 

I’ve been sitting long and quiet this morning, trying to figure out whether or not to share something out loud. It feels extra vulnerable, which is why it’s a fight to wrap it into words, but also why I need to.

 

For months, I have been dealing with suffocating anxiety over a health issue in my life.  Health stuff is a powerful trigger for me. My friends and sweetheart have extended endless kindness, compassion and patience as I’ve cried my way through sleepless nights, but also refused to get actual answers to the issue I was facing. All the worry finally culminated in a trip to Portland to see a friend of mine who is a doctor, who ordered the tests I had been avoiding since September.  He ended our visit with one powerful sentence that keeps reverberating in my head:  “The one and only question we need to answer today, Bo, is: Do you trust God with your whole life?”  The night before the tests, I tossed and turned in my bed, writing a story in my head of the disaster that awaited inside those results.  Just as I considered the idea of canceling the appointment in the morning, I heard a tiny voice in my spirit say, “That test is the only door out of the life you’re living now.”  And I knew the voice was right. I loathe living in fear and taking a hard run at that door was the only way out, even if I faced something difficult on the other side.  I had to reluctantly agree that any reality was a better option than living in the unknown, because real grace meets us in our real stories.

 

Results: I had the tests and I am healthy and fine. I’m trying not to focus on the many minutes  and months I lost to anxiety, but it’s tough  – because the door was there the whole time and I was afraid to use it.  I wasted so much energy and sacrificed so much peace.

 

I share this only because I have run into so many people this week who are dealing with the very same issue, packaged up in different circumstances.  Sometimes a situation seems so complex that everything looks like a house of mirrors, but I believe there is always a door.  It may not be the final door to freedom, but it is the next door in the process.  If you’re locked up in a life filled with fear or doubt or confusion, the one and only question you need to answer immediately is: Do you trust God with your whole life?  And the only thing you need to do is take a real hard run at that door.

 

With hope and courage,

 

Bo

 

January 26, 2018 - 10:25 am

lindy hiebert - Thank You~!

January 26, 2018 - 10:44 am

Lori Morgon - The biggest lesson I learned from my cancer was that the hidden things belong to God, and He can be trusted. He never let me down. Not even once. I felt his presence in a way that has forever changed me. Faith, hope, trust, love. So much love, so many blessings

January 26, 2018 - 12:44 pm

Karen elliott - This will be the next book.

January 26, 2018 - 2:39 pm

wendy - Have been a follower for a few years and for whatever reason you crossed my mind just yesterday and I wondered when I’d see another post from you… and here it is. Thank you for sharing; your words bless me ever,time. Hugs from Texas.

January 26, 2018 - 4:32 pm

Marnette Sprouse - Your courage to share this..something so deeply vulnerable. Thank you.
Taking a “…good hard run at that door….”!!

January 27, 2018 - 5:27 pm

Barbara Pade - ❤️ Blessings to you, Bo!

January 29, 2018 - 11:56 am

Julie Peacock - I can’t possibly articulate how desperately I needed to hear this. I’m so thankful that your health scare was just a scare. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Saturday I was lost in such darkness over feeling hopeless in my current situation I wanted to run out on my life. I know you are right and I need to embrace that truth and trust Him to bring me to the next place in my process without drowning in fear.

What I’m Bringing Home from Italy

 

The Italians I met while in Florence have one thing in common: they are content with their lives and feel lucky to be living them.  Most of them have spent time in America – usually more than a year – and they perceive the American way as being quite difficult and angsty.  They feel we are obsessed with having the best of everything and in achieving notoriety.   My new friend, Daniel, said, “Americans have to find the best coffee, the best place to eat – here, we can just sit in a piazza that’s really nothing special and drink coffee without worrying if it’s the best or if we’re seen having the best. We just enjoy sitting and living in the beauty of that one moment.”  He mentioned that in America, he felt he couldn’t take a break just to live – it had to be consumed with work or striving or getting more.

 

 

Another man runs a beautiful leather shop around the corner from my apartment.  At the end of our shopping trip, enamored by his knowledge and customer service skills, one of us said, “Paolo, you’re going to be famous!”  He smiled and shook his head like we had offered him a shot glass full of rat poison.  “Oh, no.  I don’t want fame.  I only want to love what I do. Fame is not good for people.”  He expounded a little, and I don’t remember all that he said, but his implication was clear: Americans love fame, Italians understand that fame is too much work.

 
 

 
 

I want to agree with them, while adding a personal disclaimer for my own lifestyle.  Yeah, that’s how Americans are, but not me.  Poor, poor Americans. However, I can’t deny it’s a part of me as I wander the streets looking for the best restaurants and the best shops and the best things to bring home – and in the way I feel I’ve wasted a moment if I haven’t captured it in photos or words on a page.  I see it in myself as I enjoy the most beautiful wine country landscape I’ve ever laid eyes on, while fighting a driving impatience to get to the next vineyard and see if it’s better. I miss entire moments of my life – wide swaths of time and experience, in fact – because I’m so busy processing whether or not that experience  does or does not live up to my expectations.

 
 


 

 

And this is what I want to bring home – not from Italy, but from Italians.  I want their deep love of family and hospitality, yes, but more than that – their deep love of living in exactly the moment they’re in with exactly the things that they have.   I want to live a life that is able to sink deep roots into the rich soil of the right-here, right-now beauty I’ve been given.  I want to refuse the endless, aching longing for attention, admiration and just “more and better” that swallows the wonder of a million little ordinary blessings whole. It will be hard because I’ve been this way a long time; but contentment + gratitude = peace; and that is the goal I’m bringing home.

 

With hope and great gratitude to the people in Florence who have shared their lives with me,

 

Bo

 

October 24, 2017 - 9:01 am

Cindi - Suzanne M says it best…”Be Present”…for me it’s always my goal..& a constant learning curve

October 24, 2017 - 4:10 pm

Marnette - Ah this…thank you, dear Bo.
…living in the exact moment I am in, with the exact things that I have…
Grateful, here!

October 24, 2017 - 5:58 pm

edie - Contentment + gratitude = peace. That’s a keeper.