December 20, 2012

Prepare Him Room


My heart has been cluttered.  I don’t know about you, but when my desk or kitchen counter is cluttered, I feel like I cannot be productive until it has been stripped clean and organized. And that has been my heart lately.

This holiday season, I have really been struggling to ‘get in the Christmas spirit.’  Yes, our home is decorated, the presents wrapped, and the Christmas classics are played on repeat.  But, this year has just been a little off for me.  So many times, I've felt like I am just going through the motions; and I have had little motivation to even decorate Christmas cookies and an unusual apathy for all things in general.  There have been days when I have actually wondered aloud, “Where is my JOY?”

I haven’t been able to put my finger on it.  This empty feeling, this foreign sense of apathy, this lack of joy.

Then, it hit me.  Hard.  Like a ginormous semi-truck to my heart.

We were standing in church on Sunday, singing an all-too-familiar Christmas carol when the truck hit.

“Joy to the world, the Lord is come; Let Earth receive her King!
Let ev’ry heart prepare Him room….”

How many times have I sung those lyrics mindlessly?  (I might have even breathed a sigh of disappointment that the music team had chosen this carol, when the song first began. Couldn't we have sung one of my favorites like, “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” or something?)

And then I sang, “…let every heart prepare Him room…”  Wham. I stopped singing, my voice caught in my throat. Let every heart prepare Him room... ... ... Isn't this what Advent is for: making room, preparing hearts?  What have I been doing these last few weeks?

I’d prepared my home.  I’d prepared my fridge.  I’d prepared my gifts. Heck, I’d even prepared my nativity.  But, my heart?  No room in the inn.

I have allowed the urgent to crowd out the Important. Rather, I have forgotten what is truly important in the first place. I have cluttered my proverbial workspace with trivial things in such a way that my “productivity” has come to a complete halt.  And, in turn, I have developed my own definition of “productivity.”  I have been so busy cleaning out the barn that I have overlooked the child in its manger.  I've forgotten The Joy.  And I'm tired of it.

I want to be stripped bare.  I don’t want my heart to have to “prepare Him room;” I just want my heart to be all Jesus in the first place.  He rules the world with truth and grace.  The truth is, I've been struggling; the Grace is, He's helping me to strip bare my workspace, prepare Him room, and He's settling in.

I don't want to wrap this up with a shiny bow and sparkles, however, because it's not over.  This is, and will be, a daily, messy battle.  A daily purging and cleaning.  A daily choice for more of Him and less of me.  A daily letting go and holding on.   A daily shoving aside of those things that scream for stake of my heart in order to preserve Him room.  My hope in sharing this is that this proves, by His grace, the glories of His righteousness and the wonders of His love.

I hope you all have a wonderful, Christ-filled Christmas!


December 15, 2012

The Grace of Brokenness

From my reading of late:

"...Yet, it is a kindness when He strips us of self-reliance, because it is there, in our emptiness and brokenness, that we experience the privilege of His sustaining grace. It is only when we arrive at that dreaded place of weakness that we discover the surpassing power of Christ.  It is only when we are finally freed from those oh-so-constricting straight jackets of self-righteousness that we are able to experience the true comfort and warmth of the robes of His righteousness."

       -Elyse Fitzpatrick, "Give Them Grace"


November 9, 2012

1000 Gifts: 401-440

**The 21st and 22nd Installments of 1000 Gifts**

401.  A surprise visit from my brother- and sister-in-law
402.  Portland in the fall.
403.  Palo Alto
404.  When he calls me while I'm in flight just so I'll have a voicemail from him when I land.
405.  Microwave Popcorn.
406.  Seeing Brian in San Francisco.
407.  A rental car with guts.
408.  Online Sermons.
409.  Texting.
410.  Skype.
411.  Running into B&K in Seattle!
412.  A trip home to look forward to.
413.  Good attendance at a high school visit.
414.  A good book.
415.  Dark chocolate.
416.  Growth. Painful, but worth it.
417.  When you have a good eyelash day.  It's a thing.
418.  Fridays.
419.  When he makes breakfast for us.
420.  Sunday Morning Football  (who AM I?)
421.  Perfectly-sized hotel pillows
422.  A full night's sleep
423.  Free WiFi
424.  When I have a good turnout at the high school
425.  When Journey comes on the radio
426.  When God's faithfulness is undeniable
427.  NPR
428.  Blackout curtains.
429.  Flying into Oakland with the Golden Gate and Bay bridges all lit up
430.  Getting a seat on the west side of the plane = incredible sunset view.
431.  Fridays.
432.  Being bumped to an earlier flight at no charge!
433.  PTAs that make good food.
434.  When you make it back to your car 3 minutes before the meter expires
435.  When you camp out at Starbucks all afternoon and discover a table near an outlet.
436.  When the flight attendant remembers your name...
438.  Spokane.
439.  Airport restaurants.
440.  A house full of people to feed (!!!)


November 6, 2012

Amnesia

I did it again.  I forgot.  Now, I know that forgetfulness comes with age, but I'm not ready to claim that as an excuse just yet.  Somehow, I forgot that I don't have to keep trying, I don't have to keep forging ahead on my own, I don't have to lay awake at night worrying in a fruitless effort to control my circumstances.  

He is good.  He is always good.  And He is extraordinarily faithful, even when I am exposed as completely faithless. 

In two specific circumstances this week, we received favorable outcomes to situations about which I had been *somewhat* concerned. (Ha! Understatement.) In both situations, I breathed a sigh of relief and simultaneously marveled at God's goodness and faithfulness to us. 

Then it hit me.  It happened again.  And I realized that my interpretation of that which is good and that which evidences God's faithfulness is incredibly skewed.  So often I view God's goodness as that which answers my prayers as I had hoped or meets a desire or need in the way I wanted.    (Of course, this is only after I'd been worked up with worry, failing to rest and trust.) And, when those good things happen?  Well, sure, I'll happily marvel at the way that, yet again, God has been good to us.  It's pretty easy, actually.  

But when things get hard?  Well, that's when I have a tendency to look to the one person I just know will never fail me.  Me.   And I try harder, and work longer, and worry stronger, and worry stronger.  Oh, don't get me wrong, I may cry out in prayer begging that circumstances change - all along hoping for that favorable outcome that could finally signal that God has not forgotten about me.  But all too often, what I fail to see is that, yes, even in the *seemingly* unanswered prayers and the unfavorable outcomes, God is still good and God is still faithful and God is still El Roi, the God who sees, and I am still a child sinfully whining to get her way, even if 'her way' may lead to destruction.

It amazes me how quickly I forget His past provision.  It's embarrassing how easily I write off trials or frustrations as such, and not as "His Ultimate Good."  So, what do I do now?  Well, I promise to try harder to remember, I resolve not to overlook His workings in my life, I try... I try.... I try... and, there, I've done it again.

And all I can do is repent and pray for the humility to recognize His ongoing faithfulness and goodness in all things.  All things.  And rest in the Grace.  Rest, not work.  Rest and remember.

All is Grace.


October 21, 2012

1000 Gifts: 341-400

Well, you'll have to forgive my absence. But this is one ginormous catch-up gift post.  So thankful.


**The 18th, 19th, and 20th Installment of 1,000 Gifts**


341.
Laughing with him
342.
A day at the batting cages with my love
343.
Timbers game
344.
A Monday off.
345.
Remembering
346.
Staying up far too late laughing together
347.
That feeling when you finally fall into bed after a long day
348.
Redbox Rentals
349.
Homemade lasagna
350.
Happy Hour with Beth
351.
A productive night of packing
352.
Feta cheese and merlot
353.
Free rounds of Golf
354.
McDonald's breakfasts
355.
Dinner with a bestie
356.
Mom and Dad's Anniversary  (28 Years!)
357.
Seeing God's faithfulness in small *chance* meetings
358.
Lunch with the ladies
359.
A 14 month-old's handprint on my pantleg
360.
Coming home
361.
Floorplan designing with the husband
362.
The Mentalist - together
363.
A dishwasher
364.
Pink Roses
365.
McDonald's Sweet Iced Tea
366.
Clean laundry
367.
A phone date with my little sister
368.
Home videos
369.
Hood Canal with old friends
370.
Fresh clams for my man
371.
My lobster
372.
Labor Day Weekend
373.
Chicken Isabella
374.
Postcards
375.
Fresh pillowcases
376.
On-Time Flights
377.
When the AC unit in the hotel provides enough white noise to drown out the neighbors
378.
Cinnamon -Raisin Bagels
379.
Panera Bread
380.
Travel Safety
381.
Earplugs
382.
The love, grace, and forgiveness of an incredible husband
383.
When the hotel towels are actually soft
384.
California Sunrises
385.
When I get to go home!
386.
Friday nights
387.
Mexico
388.
When the breakfast bagels aren't stale
389.
Lime tree
390.
Full rainbows
391.
When the campus map is accurate
392.
When there is a parking spot open right outside the office when you're running late
393.
Laguna Beach
394.
When my mother-in-law prays for me everyday.
395.
When you have exact change for the toll.
396.
When they serve Jamba Juice at the college fair
397.
When the water pressure at the hotel is perfect.
398.
When I choose the right lane of traffic
399.
When you can go to the front of the line thanks to Enterprise Plus.
400.
The fact that there are a number of other people on my late night and otherwise 
creepy shuttle.


October 18, 2012

Trust Issues

It's been quiet around these parts - and that completely belies the pace of our lives. For the past 5 weeks, I have been in and out of town on the road for work.  It's been a challenging 5 weeks, and we're only just halfway through.  This season has certainly given us a greater appreciation for each other and a greater appreciation for our military families who endure much harder and much longer absences than this.  Either way, it's been tough.

I've sat down to write often, but have never really been able to put my feelings to words.  Then, once I was able to, I didn't like hearing the negativity that poured forth.  You see, these last five weeks have been riddled with loneliness and anxiety; and, lest you think we have it altogether (ha!), I'm afraid that this place would have been a broken record of the two.  

But He is faithful. 

And in the exact moment I needed it, He was there. And in the moments when I was sinfully unaware of my need, He was there too.  Encouraging sermons, edifying books, and sweet Scripture have buoyed those days that are particularly dark.  And then, as if that's not enough, He paints skies like these:
I've been reading through Lydia Brownback's book, Trust; and, I came across a quote that has been a lifeline of sorts as I strive to unbuckle this burden of anxiety and lay it at the foot of the Cross.

"Real faith isn't the belief that God will do a particular thing; real faith is the conviction that God is good, no matter what He does and however He chooses to answer our prayers."  - Lydia Brownback, Trust.

All is Grace.  How quickly I forget.

September 24, 2012

Accustomed

Two months into marriage, I wondered if I'd ever have a full night's sleep again.  Not having lived together before we got married, both of us had an adjustment period of sorts as we learned to live - and, yes, sleep - with one another.  At some point nearly every night I was awakened by either a slumberous slap or elbow to the head.  If it wasn't that, it was his tossing and turning or the way he breathed in his sleep that kept my sleep at bay.  While every sleepless moment was completely worth it just to lay beside him, my sanity was beginning to wane.

***

I got exactly 2.33 hours of sleep last night.  I know, because I was completely unsuccessful in avoiding eye contact with the mocking clock - ticking off the moments until I had to wake and face an already-full day.  Suddenly, alone in my sterile hotel room, I was painfully aware of the absence of that familiar cadence of his breathing that lulls me to sleep each night.  The cold, still, empty left side of the bed was suddenly cavernously obvious.   I tossed and turned fitfully, willing sleep to come.  The only answer I got was the beep of the clock, reminding me that I was now one hour closer to dawn.

***

One night those newlywed sleepless nights ended.  I don't know when, for it certainly didn't announce itself; but one day I simply woke up and realized it had been a restful night, then a week of restful nights. And now, it seems, I just can't sleep without him.


September 16, 2012

1000 Gifts: 321-340

-The Seventeenth Installment of 1000 Gifts-

321.  Hawaii
322.  Cinnamon Rolls with Ty
323.  Spokane Placement
324.  Flavored water
325.  Instagram
326.  A night at home
327.  Free food
328.  Youth Group
329.  Morning Coffee
330.  Cranberry Juice mixed with Orange Juice.  Try it. You're welcome.
331.  Potato rolls
332.  Closing the office early
333.  The Olympic Theme Song.  Anyone else?
334.  Patriotism
335.  Family willing to drive long distances for a visit
336.  An evening walk with Cole
337.  Homemade bread
338.  Beach Volleyball
339.  S'mores with the small group
340.  The Olympics

What are you thankful for this week?


September 10, 2012

Embracing the "Be"

As I get older, I'm finding (rather, I'm becoming more aware of a tendency that's always been there) that I don't particularly love times of "in-between."  I've written here often of my struggle with contentment in this stage of life, and - I fear - based on my track record, this will be an ongoing struggle in all stages of life.

There are often different titles assigned to people in transitory stages of life: college-graduate-to-be, bride-to-be, mother-to-be, etc.  And, without formally noting it, such titles accompany most stages of life: homeowner-to-be, mother-of-a-kindergartener-to-be, wife-of-a-doctor-to-be, grandmother-to-be.  All implying a waiting of sorts.

When I was a bride-to-be, I often found myself thinking more on the days of my life as Mrs. Cole Boboth, rather than my present-day state of Mrs-Cole-Boboth-to-be. How would I decorate our first home together?  What would I cook for his dinner every night?  What would our weekend plans be?  Our engagement lasted six months.  So, I had six months to plan a wedding and *happily* kiss my single life goodbye. Six months that I was still a student, still on committees, still keeping up friendships, still having so much to contribute as bride-to-be before becoming a bride.... yet much of my time was spent wishing away that time.  Wishing desperately for the day when I could drop the "to-be" in my title.

Someday, Lord willing, I will be a mother-to-be.  Based on extensive scientific study and my keen sense of observation, I'm quite certain that there will be times when I wish away that "to-be" as well. Yet, those nine months are not for naught, not to be wished away.

Slowly, I am learning to embrace the "be" in whatever stage of life in which I've been placed, learning to embrace the tension that exists in the almost-but-not-yet.  There are still days when I look at the calendar and mentally count down the days until the next "to-be" is dropped from my title. Still, sometimes I wistfully look at others who've long since dropped their "to-be"s and wonder what it might be like on their side.  Yet, it can be tiresome to be always living waiting for the next season to get here already.  Not only tiresome, but it completely robs the joy from the "to-be" season.

I don't want to waste this time, or any time, wishing for something else.

That's all.  I'm just learning to embrace the be.


September 4, 2012

Inhale, Exhale

*Written 8-22. I forgot to hit 'Submit'  Quite standard these days.*

Drink deep the blessings.

Today, it was back to the grind after 8 blissful days off. After that much time off, I always feel the need to heartily brace myself for the coming upheaval.  Returning to reality is no small task. We spent time with my family, we spent time with his family, we spent time with just the two of us.  And, let me tell you, it was exactly what the doctor ordered.

I wish I had pictures to show you what we did, but - alas - we were having too much fun doing it to stop and record, so you're stuck with lousy phone-photos.  We spent a few days in Pendleton using a free night's stay and a few free rounds of golf.  Boy, did we have fun!  Even though we were the youngest ones there, we had a phenomenal time just being together.                                              
                
From there, we went to Spokane and enjoyed an all-too-brief stay with my folks, comprised of dinner with my grandparents, an afternoon on the boat, dinner with old friends, and a nice, long walk with one of my besties - my mom.

Our trip ended with a stay with Cole's folks in Sunnyside.  Two whole days with his family - so sweet. While we didn't have anything in particular planned, it was so wonderful to spend time with family - and the sweetest niece you'll ever meet.

Though life inevitably returns to its all-too-breathless pace, this week was such a wonderful blessing to be able to stop, breathe, and drink deep.  And my anthem continues: what a wonderful gift this family is.  Such outrageous Grace.


August 27, 2012

Last First Day

Growing up, I loved the first day of school. The night before, I would lay out the outfit that had been carefully selected weeks in advance, I would triple-check my alarm to make sure I was leaving myself enough time to get ready, then I would lay in bed restlessly in anticipation of what the next day, and year, would bring.

Every year, my mom made a big deal of the first day of school: cooking a special breakfast and then posing us on our front porch with backpacks and lunch boxes for the annual picture.  That whole picture part, we kids could have done without, but it was all for tradition.  Alas, the older I get, I realize more and more that I am - happily - turning into my mother.  And, so, the first day of school picture tradition continues with our family.

Today was Cole's last first day of school. Last last last.  Ever. Yes, technically, he has another year before he graduates, but that last year will be all clinical and this is the last day that he goes to class for the first time and so I'm allowed to be sentimental, okay?  (Following me, here?)  This is his 20th and final first day of school.  It is hard to believe that we're over halfway through his grad school career.

Today, as I headed out the door for work, I forgot to snap that traditional first day picture.  (much to his relief, no doubt)  But, I can assure you, he was the most handsome guy I've ever seen sporting that White Coat. (Or any coat, for that matter.)

So, Cole, on your last first day, know that I am so incredibly proud of you and of all that you have and will accomplish.  You are an incredible student, an amazing husband, and will be the most wonderful doctor.  You have met every challenge with a grace that blows my mind; and you balance your roles as student and husband impeccably.  I love you, I love you, I love you.

Here's to another great year!

August 23, 2012

1000 Gifts: 321-340

-The Seventeenth Installment of 1000 Gifts-

321.  Hawaii
322.  Cinnamon Rolls with Ty
323.  Spokane Placement
324.  Flavored water
325.  Instagram
326.  A night at home
327.  Free food
328.  Youth Group
329.  Morning Coffee
330.  Cranberry Juice mixed with Orange Juice.  Try it. You're welcome.
331.  Potato rolls
332.  Closing the office early
333.  The Olympic Theme Song.  Anyone else?
334.  Patriotism
335.  Family willing to drive long distances for a visit
336.  An evening walk with Cole
337.  Homemade bread
338.  Beach Volleyball
339.  S'mores with the small group
340.  The Olympics



August 13, 2012

Safe Place

It's him.  And it's Him.

If there's one thing I've learned, it is that life never ceases its crazed pace.  We continue running until we're worn through, then we strap on new shoes and run all the more. Stress finds fertile soil and drives its roots down deep.  Its early buds begin to peak out in the quiet of the night, when the mind seeks hibernation and then the sleepless nights string together in a blur.

And yet, at the end of a long day, when it seems that my mind will not cease its spinning, he is there. And everything else disappears. And it is us, again. The rest of the world fades away. The frustrations, stresses and fears evaporate with the sound of his laugh, the smell of his shirt; and I am at peace.  The sound of his voice slows my heart and quickens its pace all the same.  The strength of his arms and the words of his prayers tell me I am untouchable. 

And, in that moment, he leads me to the Safe Place. And he lays me at the foot of the Cross and he lifts me up and he holds me tight and I am safe.

And I know, my heart has found its home.


August 11, 2012

Note to Self

I could use this reminder every day...

"Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.  If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else,  for each one should carry their own load."

-Galatians 6:2-5



August 9, 2012

48 Hours

It wasn't long.  Not long at all.  In fact, it went by all too fast for my taste.  This last weekend was incredible, friends.  Seriously.  My feeble attempt to recount the weekend will - in no way - do justice to the thrill, excitement, and sheer bliss that it was.  Ladies and Gentlemen, this weekend was nothing short of epic.

This past weekend, we celebrated our second anniversary.  Yes, it was nearly a month late, but perhaps that is a true testament of the pace of our lives these days.   Anywho, Cole had just finished his finals for Summer Term so we had double the reason to celebrate; and celebrate we did.  (and we checked a LOT off of our Forest Grove Bucket List!!)

We had the entire weekend planned.  Saturday dawned bright and warm, and found us on our way to Tree-to-Tree Adventure Park.  Okay, guys, this place is amazing!  It is a multi-level high ropes course, and we've been wanting to visit since we moved here.  We spent over four hours there, traversing the various elements and courses.  It was so. much. fun.  (and, coincidentally, an incredible core workout!  We're still sore!)

We walked across balance beams suspended, swung across rope swings, jumped from platform to platform, teetered across tight ropes... all while 40+ feet in the air.  And, the highlight for me, there was zipline after zipline at the end of each element.  So. Much. Fun.  We haven't laughed so hard in a long time.
Obviously, after the 'workout' we were more than ready for a good meal.  So we stopped off at Famous Dave's for some solid barbecue fare.
After eating more than our fill of ribs and pulled chicken sandwiches, we headed to the batting cages to hit around.  It was so much fun to see Cole doing what he loves.  He was clearly in his happy place.  And I, in mine by his side, was content to swing away at the *slower* softball pitches. 
After the busy, hot morning, we were ready to get cleaned up.  We had rented a hotel room in downtown Portland for the night for our little get-away.  We cleaned up, caught a few Olympics highlights and headed out for dinner....  we decided to take a detour through the Rose Gardens.  Cole was wonderfully patient as I played around with settings on my camera and clicked away at all the beautiful flowers.   We had barely set foot in the Gardens when we heard music.  After following the sound, we happened upon an opera in the park!!!  So. Cool.  Seriously.    So we had a soundtrack to our evening walk through the gardens.  Stroll, Click, Aria.  It was heavenly.





Perhaps the most wonderful thing to me was the proximity of these gardens to downtown.  We were literally in the middle of downtown, yet we felt as though we were miles away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Still not hungry (after our ginormous lunch BBQ feast), we headed to Henry's for appetizers and drinks.  Now, friends, I'm not sure what it is about Henry's, but we had the most fabulous time there.  We talked for nearly 3 hours... and talked and talked and talked.  After a crazy-busy summer, this reconnect was, perhaps, the highlight of my weekend.  But the Gorgonzola fries were a close second.
Sunday morning was spent lazily enjoying every minute of quiet that we could.  Then, we headed out to conquer more of our Bucket List and finally partake in the Portland ritual that is Voodoo Donuts.  We spent nearly 45 minutes in line (in 90+ degree heat, no less) to procure the famous donuts.  (I'll let you in on a little secret that may very well disqualify me from being a true Portland-er:  we didn't think they were all that great.)  Well, at least, not worth the long wait in the scorching heat.  ;)  But, for me, it was worth it to check another thing off the List.
 By this point, I was becoming painfully aware of how food-centric our weekend had become.  But can you blame us?  Portland is a hotbed for all kinds of incredible culinary delights!  And, considering how shamefully rarely we get into town, we had to capitalize on this opportunity!  So, for lunch, we grabbed a burger at Little Big Burger.  And, guys,  if you're ever in Portland, eat here.  It's fabulous. And fresh.  And their fries are fried in truffle oil, so you can feel sophisticated.
 So, the big shebang of the weekend was the Timbers game on Sunday.  I had bought Cole tickets for an anniversary gift, and we were SO excited to finally experience our first MLS game.  And it certainly did not disappoint.  While I could have done without the 101⁰ weather and the near-heat stroke, it was so much fun.  


Like I said, words nor pictures can do justice to this weekend.  But for those family and friends far away, I felt like I should document. :)  This weekend was truly a breath of fresh air and a sweet reminder of how much we love being together. 

I couldn't be more thankful for this man with whom I have been blessed.  He truly knows me better than anyone else and continues to be a student of my heart.  I know that I certainly finished the weekend feeling more known and more loved.  What a blessing indeed - far beyond anything I could deserve.  What boundless Grace.  

What an incredible 48 hours, what an incredible lifetime ahead!



July 18, 2012

1000 Gifts: 301-320

                                       
       -The Sixteenth Installment of 1000 Gifts-

301.  Roadtrips with my Love
302.  A local grocery store, familiar and known
303.  New running shoes
304.  Karaoke
305.  Chex Mix
306.  Brown Sugar'd Cinnamon Rolls
307.  The Beach
308.  Summer weather long-awaited
309.  Free wine-tastings
311.  A husband who prays with me
312.  Neoprene Band
313.  A beautiful hike
314.  A deep-cleaned bathroom
316.  Reminders of my weakness
318.  Chicken Fajitas
319.  A night off from the kitchen
320.  "My Utmost for His Highest"




Just Us

We will also remind you that this is just a BLOG…just the highlights. We don’t sit around happily smiling for pictures all day long. Our life is far from perfect: we are imperfect people serving a perfect God. We do strive to glorify God, but we fail miserably and find comfort in knowing that our debts have been paid and we have been set free.

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