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Because Valentine’s Day

It was Valentines Day 1984 when I found a red-enveloped card in my mailbox at Portland Bible College (which I shared with Bob Metcalf and Mami Masaka and Elisa Morelli and all my other M buddies). Steve and I had been flirting with flirting…dancing around the edges of dating, without really taking the plunge into the dangerous, “do you really wanna?” conversation. I had hinted with him that I felt not-quite-ready for a romantic relationship. Maybe I needed more time to grow up, to discover myself, to consider other options instead of racing in to date the boy from Illinois. In my heart was a desire to focus on my last semester of school and a stubborn determination to defy the Bible college Ring By Spring stereotype.

 

But then, this card. It was sweet and kind and tender. It was not at all cheesy or Hallmarky, but it ended on a fairly dramatic note and it was this: I will wait as long as it takes.

 

We didn’t go on a date that day or any day for another month. No kiss. No commitments. And yet, that Valentine’s Day changed the course of my life in the most remarkable way.

 

We got married on February 2 so Valentine’s Day has never been a huge deal for us. We’ve acknowledged it, but have focused more on making it fun for our kids. So, I really thought this year wouldn’t be weird for me. Given the magnitude of everything else in our lives right now, bemoaning not being able to go on a date on Valentine’s Day seems beyond silly, right?

 

And yet…

 

Here I am, up against this milestone of a memory and stuck beneath the weight of present suffering and wishing for all the world that I could relive just one Valentine’s Day. I love that everyone posts pictures of their fun dates and flowers on Facebook (I really do – we should always celebrate love!) but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t sting just a little. Truth-be-told, it’s been a hard week. Sadness has been pushing in around me like a flood and all the sandbagging in the world can’t keep it from seeping in a little.

 

Maybe next year I’ll have the energy to quiet the sadness and turn up the beauty. Maybe I’ll sink my teeth into doing something for people more sad than I. Perhaps I’ll write a blog post that answers all the questions about how to gracefully navigate the loving-and-losing dance.  Next year, I’m pretty sure I’ll have the answers to all of life’s problems (ha!), but this year is this year. My plan is to go for a run and thank God that I can. I have legs that work and a caregiver who takes wonderful care of Steve for a few hours on Saturdays. I will paint a bathroom and read a book and just generally keep…going. Because sometimes that’s what you’ve got. Sometimes, it’s the only plan. And if that’s the plan you’re living on this holiday-of-love, know that you’re not alone.

 

But as I keep on keeping on, I will be mindful that I am loved and have been for a very long, very beautiful time. And that’s what counts.

 

With hope,

 

Bo

February 14, 2015 - 10:33 am

Cheryl Hammond - Thank you for being so “real” Bo. I pray God will give you an extra measure of peace today.

February 14, 2015 - 10:46 am

Molly - Yes, Bo, you are a good example of NOT living by FEELINGS……and that is ALOT of what this holiday is about…the Hollywood idea of love and what it means….but you are living out the true meaning of love….making this holiday look much too cheap for the rest of us. We love you and keep admiring that deep love,an inspiration to us all. Keep fighting the good fight. Gods grace to the finish line.

February 14, 2015 - 9:49 pm

Cathy - Dear Bo,

I love you. You and Steve, both separately and together, have been the goodness of God in the land of the living, running the race set before you with such determined faith…for those of us privileged to be your surrounding cloud of witnesses. You have kept on keeping on, even in the teariest hardest moments.
In the middle of the night darkness is when I pray for you, knowing our Daddy God is holding you both so tenderly in his arms of love. And holding you up when the weariness comes. Keep holding on…

Tori’s mom

February 21, 2015 - 9:22 am

Liz - Dear Bo,
My heart hurts for you right now. I am so sorry that you are sad. I am praying that God will invade your heart with love and the endurance to keep going.

I discovered your blog and books after you spoke on Focus on the Family. My husband was diagnosed with ALS a few years ago. It has been tough as you know. My husband believes in Jesus, but his faith is nonexistent. We have been unable to walk through this battle together in faith. It makes me so sad, but God is working and I trust in him.

Daily I am confused, torn, and at His mercy. When this all started I ran to God because it was the only thing I knew to do. He has been so faithful through this whole situation. God has put people in my path to guide and encourage me along the way. I do at times look around at others and wonder why doesn’t he give us what they have. At those times I have to remember his purposes for my life are eternal. I hold on for the eternity that HE has promised us.

I love the story about Steve’s missionary parents in your most recent book. Having an 11 year old girl and a 14 year old boy, this story gives me hope. I pray that through this they will see me hold onto God for dear life. If they learn that one thing, to trust God in all things, this battle will have been worth it.

Thank you for your gift of writing. Your book is making me feel more normal. It is helping me to see God’s purposes and love for me and my family.

Praying for your family daily.

Much love,
Liz