He Speaks in the Silence Finding Intimacy with God by Learning to Listen
He Speaks in the Silence is the story of Diane Comer’s search for the kind of intimacy with God every woman longs for. It is a story of trying to be a good girl, of following the rules, of longing for a satisfaction that eludes us.
Using vivid parallels between her deafness and every woman’s struggle to hear God, this book reveals how Diane learned to listen to God, finding intimacy with her Savior and the soul deep satisfaction she longs for.
Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.
The kind of life I want is a kingdom kind of life.
I want to live free of fussing and worry and angst and tense shoulders. To so trust the Father that every day is new and fresh. I want to wake up every morning with a smile of delight on my face because I know He has good things planned for my day.
I want to live free of fear, not because there’s nothing to be afraid of, but because I know His pleasure in me. I want to know with a knowing that permeates my being that His thoughts towards me are generous and grace-filled, that He sees the truest part of me.
I want to please Him and therefore be able to take both the threat and the reality of displeasing other people in stride. To know that it is only His favor that matters, and that if I do that, He can handle everyone else.
I want to live, not as a perfectionist-performer people-pleaser, but as a worshipper-listener-delight-filled God-pleaser.
I want to have a plan to order my projects, but to be free to step away from the plan when the Father taps me on the shoulder and says, “I need you to do something different today- to be My hands and feet and presence to one who needs Me.”
I want to live free of all the should’s that bind me tight, and relish, instead, a life of get-too’s.
I want to be sent out by Jesus like the seventy He told about in Luke 10, and return as they did: “with joy” and in awe of what God can and will and does do when we set out on the assignments given us by God.
I want to dream big dreams that are all about Jesus and not at all about me.
I want to so thoroughly grasp kingdom truth that I do no measure my success by accolades and bank accounts, but by the uncanny reality that the God of the universe is with me every moment of every day. And that He actually, really, truly… adores me.
I want to see and know and feel that every day is a gift, that my hours belong to Him, that there is a great crowd of people who are counting the days until I slip from this earth and into the presence of the One I live for. That they’re excited for me to get there because they love me and like me and want me to experience what they already know and I still barely grasp.
I want time.
Time to work and time to rest and time to interrupt it all to enter into my people’s joys and sorrows. Time to write poetry, to craft stories, to spill words from my life. I want time to sing and bake cookies and plant a garden and go on long walks.
And I want my story to count, because it’s God’s story.
I long for people to know…
what He does even when we don’t deserve it,
how He cares even when we can’t quite bring ourselves to believe it,
how He speaks even when we can’t or don’t or won’t hear.
It is this kingdom kind of life my deepest soul and truest self longs for, and it is this kingdom kind of life my Father is pleased to let me live.
May you, dear ones, enter in to this kingdom— this place of indescribable beauty, unshakeable peace, and unending delight.
May this place be your home.
From my heart,
P.S. My book, He Speaks In The Silence is now available for pre-order. This is where I tell my whole story, more than I’d ever thought I would.
Today I would have called him, and we would have talked. Not long— between his deafness and mine we would have strained to hear each other. Despite all that, he wanted to hear me, to connect, to be part of my life— and so he would have asked me to talk slower, to say it again.
My dad would have asked about me and about my book, then about my kids and what they’re doing. Because that is what my dad did, he listened, wanting to know about me— wanting to know me, to share in what mattered to me.
I would have told him that my book is finished and it’s more than I thought I could write. That I run my hands over the cover of my pre-release copy and can’t help but cry. If I was feeling really brave I would have told him that people I care about read it and wrote such soul-thrilling reviews that I barely recognized myself in their words. He would have told me he’s proud of me, that he knew all along that I had it in me.
I would have changed the subject then because of the tears threatening to burst like a dam, flooding me with more loved-ness than I know how to contain. To have a dad who believed in me even when I couldn’t believe in myself is the greatest treasure.
I would have told my dad that my kids are thriving and they’re more than I dared think they would be. He would have asked why. I would have stumbled over words in reply: how can I construct a frame of words around this family I get to be part of?
I would have told Dad about John Mark and the way he has become a man I admire, how I love the way he thinks and writes and preaches. But even more, how my firstborn son chooses, everyday to follow Jesus fearlessly and love people purposefully. I’m sure he would have read John Mark’s book by now and he would have loved it! My dad was all about work and calling and setting out every day to make a difference.
I would have told him about Matthew, the baby— now a man. About how he claims he has the best job in the world. We would have laughed together, my dad and I. Two overly serious introverts chuckling over my son, his grandson— and his love for middle-schoolers and late night kid-parties and Jesus.
I would have told him that Elizabeth is glowing and growing with his seventh great grandchild growing in her belly. That she is creating beauty in her corner of ugly, dirty east L.A.
Then I would have told him about our Bekah and he would have been smiling. That little one who tried her best to boss him around when he was building a swing just for her. And now she runs a business, using all that charm and drive to make it work. I would have told him that she is on her way to Japan, a country he loved. I would have told him that her husband cherishes the tools he passed on before he left us. He would have loved that.
Gosh I miss him. I miss the way he loved me— us— so quietly and so well.
And even as I ache with the loss of my dad, I hurt for those who will never mourn for what they didn’t have. All those little girls, now women, who didn’t have a dad to cherish them like my dad cherished me. And all those little boys, now men, whose dads didn’t know them as my dad knew my sons.
And all day I will be watching, hoping, waiting for that Someday when every little girl and every grown woman and every boy and every man will know the love of the Father. That Day when there will be no more tears, no more mourning, no more fear or loneliness or sadness or not-enoughness. All because of Him.
That is why this day brings joy through my tears, why I celebrate the day my dad was born— because my dad showed me the Father.
From a heart longing for everyone to know what it feels like to be loved and known,
P.S. If you ache to know what it is like to be so loved, will you let me know who you are and how I can pray? Because I cannot think of a better way to celebrate my dad’s birthday than to pray for those who have not known the kind of love I lost.
I sit, right at this moment, in the living room of my daughter, Elizabeth. Duke is playing legos at my feet while Scarlet takes a much-needed nap. We share this moment of quiet as only two hearing impaired people can grasp. Their little apartment in the heart of L.A. is flooded with golden sunshine while storms rage back home in the Northwest. I know I’m supposed to love all this sun and warm weather, but geez– in November?
Over the weekend Phil and I were in Long Beach speaking to a group of all-in, passionate-about-Jesus parents. What an honor to get to pour into this generation of parents as they pour into their children! At one point of the conference, as I was telling a bit of my story, I just couldn’t go on. They began crying right along with me as I recounted how close I came to throwing it all away in vicious anger at God. Then afterwards, women began telling me their own stories and I started crying all over again. Because God is still rescuing people, still picking broken women up out of the pits they have dug themselves into.
One young woman told me that a friend had sent her a link to my blog while she was in rebellion against God. Growing up in a pastor’s home, she’d walked away from Jesus when He didn’t heal her of the epileptic seizures that have created havoc for her since she was three years old. When she read about the Beautiful No in my story, her anger turned into worship. She’s been walking with Him in love ever since. I couldn’t stop hugging her! I know that on that Day we will dance together in full abandon in the presence of the One whose grace set us free.
Tonight I’ll go to my other daughter’s home. I’ll soak her in, filling my heart full to the brim with talk about books and stories and writing and reading and all the endlessly fascinating things I love about Bekah. I’ll hear about their upcoming trip to Japan and be fascinated by their life that is so different than mine. A life of creative entrepeneurism, interesting friends, and a fresh take on culture that always leaves me with things to think about that I rarely encounter in my cozy cabin in the woods.
You know that saying: My cup runneth over? Well, that’s exactly how I feel. Like a way over-sized cup that is overflowing with refreshing goodness.
Let me pass on a blessing I read this morning:
The LORD bless you and keep you;
the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”
Years and years ago we lived in a big yellow house on a hill, with a 5 acre horse stable right behind it. With two girls already madly in love with horses, this was a dream location! Every window on the back of our house overlooked our neighbor’s barn and an arena where our daughters spent every free moment.
When we moved there Matthew was one, Elizabeth eight, Rebekah eleven, and John Mark thirteen. We luxuriated in all the space this new home afforded, with storage closets tucked under the eaves and twice as may kitchen cupboards as our previous home.
And somehow, somewhere along the way, we started storing stuff in all those closets and cupboards. Lots of stuff.
I went to garage sales and found stuff, then to the dollar store, where I stocked up on stuff. I bought books for the kids at the grocery store for $3.99— such a deal!
Cheap stuff, unnecessary stuff, too much stuff.
At Christmas we filled stockings with stuff, grandparents sent stuff, friends stopped by with stuff. And before long all that stuff started to back up into our living space like a clogged drain choked with excess… stuff!
Between buying organizers to store all that stuff, then clearing up clutter and putting stuff away, my days had become one long chasing after the chaos all that stuff created.
You know what I’m talking about? Does that describe your home?
Are you ready to exchange all that for a sense of order and cleanliness that doesn’t come at the cost of your relationship with your kids? Unfortunately, I too often sacrificed niceness on the alter of perfection. I wish I could say I was always patient and kind, but if my kids read this they’ll call me out! And though I struggled and too often failed, I’ve learned some things along the way I wish I’d known at the start. Here are…
10 Ways To Teach Your Kids (And Yourself!) How To Bring Order Out Of Chaos.
#1. Reduce the amount of stuff
Where does this strange compulsion to accumulate and collect come from? Is it from the Spirit of God? I don’t think so. Is it from my flesh? Yes! that greedy, grasping, heedless part of me that craves stuff. So why do we keep it? Why spend money on plastic bins and organizers and shelves and systems to store all that stuff? Why indoctrinate our children in our greedy inclination to gather more stuff?
#2. Set a limit on stuff
You’ve helped your kids edit their possessions down to just what they love, what they pull out several times a week, what they actually use. Now it’s time to be clear that if they get something new, and they want to keep it, something old has to be given away.
In other words: this much and no more!
#3. Give your kids responsibility for their stuff
Instead of being the chief keeper and cleaner and put away-er of your children’s stuff, give them that job title. Make each person over the age of three responsible to clean it up and pick it up and put it away where it belongs.
#4. Incorporate ‘Once-Throughs’ into your daily routine.
When my kids were little, every night before bed the whole crew made sure every thing was picked up and put away. School papers, shoes, toys, every odd bit and piece had to be put away. Then, after breakfast, another once-through that included beds made and clothes picked up. One more once-through before dinner enabled our home to stay reasonably tidy.
Whenever I failed to keep this routine running, I inevitably defaulted into that annoyed, unfriendly my-kids-are-driving-me-bonkers mode.
#5. Train your kids to focus and notice stuff.
The child who can stand on the edges of his mess and evaluate what needs to happen in what order, is already way ahead in management skills! But most kids do not learn this automatically— they need to be patiently taken through the process of a quick and thorough clean up of toys and clothes and towels and last week’s lunch.
#6. Give your kids daily chores.
By training your children to have a daily work routine, you are preparing them for real life. In the real world no one steps in to do our job for us when we don’t feel like it. In real life something not-good happens to us when we drop the ball on one of our responsibilities.
#7. Institute periodic family workdays.
Something about cleaning out your closet while mom is cleaning out hers just takes away some of your child’s reluctance. We’re in this together! Or getting the whole family to chip in for a spring yard clean up, or window washing, or tidying up the garage. Teach your children that we work as a team, everyone contributing, everyone sticking with it until the job is completed.
#8. Whistle while you work!
This, of course, starts with mom. No barking orders (gosh, my kids hated that!), or getting mad (after all, it’s your job to stay on top of it by wise management), or grumbling (I can’t believe this mess!). Instead, teach yourself and everyone in your family to enjoy the sense of achievement that a clean up or a project can bring. Make sure they step back and admire their work- and that you step up to cheer them on.
This, for me, was a big fail. If I had it to do over again…
#9 Work before play
It’s a whole lot easier to get your kids to clean up and do their chores before they get involved in playing than it is to interrupt their creative play. But I still use this phrase to motivate me when I’m just not feeling in the mood to get something done.
After I work on this project for 2 hours, I can enjoy a break for tea and read a book for a while…
#10 Teach your kids how to break big projects into small steps
Some of us are not born knowing instinctively how to tackle projects. We don’t see those logical steps that lead to the finish line. Which may be why your child doesn’t even try.
If you’ll come alongside and do it with them, teaching and training them how to make lists, how to start, how to backtrack a timeline so they get it done on time… you will save them so much angst in our extremely project-oriented world.
My home is empty of children now, just the two of us in this small space. And I still find myself defaulting back to clean-it-up-only-when-it-drives-me-crazy mode! Back to those once-through’s for me…
From a heart craving a life of order,
P.S. Okay moms— this is your clue. What are you doing to bring order out of the typical chaos that seems to cling to children? How are you managing all that stuff? Send us the ideas in the comments so we can all learn from each other!
Today’s guest post was written by Allie Rice, our resident web designer and consultant.
In You’ve Got Mail, Kathleen Kelley (Meg Ryan) is writing an email to Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) in which she talks about how her life is valuable but small. She then goes on to ask: Do I live this way because I like it or because I haven’t been brave?
I would actually argue that living a small life is very brave.
When I think of a small life, I think of Paul’s exhortation to the Thessalonians to live quietly. There are many good reasons to live quietly, but for me, it’s because I don’t want to miss the things that only surface in the spacious quiet. For me, like Elijah, the voice of the Lord isn’t in the gale and it isn’t in the earthquake and it isn’t in the fire; it’s the still small voice (1 Kings 19).
But living a small but valuable life — living quietly — is hard. Sometimes, our lives feel too big — too many people, too many engagements, too many text messages, too many to-dos. Other times, our lives feel too insignificant — too many mundane tasks, too many obligations, too many hours on Pinterest, too many dishes and diapers. Still other times, our lives feel too noisy — too many Instagrams, too many lifestyle blogs, too many screaming toddlers, too many expectations.
And often times, our lives feel too big and too insignificant and too noisy — too much and not enough, all at the same time.
We’re running all day and yet getting nothing done. We’re giving all of ourselves and yet feel the crushing weight of inadequacy. We’re never alone and yet we’re lonely.
I’ve run up against this too much and not enough for many years, and managed it with varying degrees of success. But since becoming a mama, it has become louder and sharper. I’ve become messy and disappointing. My desires — to create things, to love people well, to check my checkboxes and plan my plans and do life on purpose — haven’t changed, but my life certainly has.
If I want to keep living intentionally and getting things done and fighting against a big, noisy, insignificant life, there are some things I have to do.
I have to say no to good things.
The truth is that there are too many good things and not nearly enough time for all of them. I tend to have a default setting of yes. But that was never sustainable or wise, and now it’s impossible and foolish. Just because something is good doesn’t mean that it’s something God has for me, and I have to discern the difference.
How I make it happen:
I constantly ask, “Has God given me grace for this?” This is not a question of what he has given someone else grace for (or, more accurately, what I perceive that he’s given them grace for). He may have given someone else grace to make homemade goldfish crackers and candy corn, but he hasn’t given that grace to me.
I love giant expanses of time where I can really dig in and make substantial progress. I like to finish things the day I start them. But life with a baby who doesn’t sleep (and now a toddler who doesn’t sleep) doesn’t yield expanses of time. Instead of having three hours to write a blog post on a Tuesday, I have to invest 20 minutes a day for a few weeks. Instead of doing all the house cleaning on Saturday afternoons, I have to clean my house for 15 minutes a day (and, let’s be honest, have a slightly dirtier house). I have to remember that one big achievement is the sum of many small faithfulnesses. Or as Van Gogh put it, “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”
I make this happen through time blocking:
When we ask the question, “What am I going to do today?” it’s likely that we’ll feel overwhelmed by all the things or end up discouraged because we were derailed halfway through a project. Instead, I ask, “What am I going to do in [area] for the next [minutes]?”
Set a timer for a limited amount of time (usually 20 or 30 minutes) and use that time to do something specific. When you go into it knowing you only have 30 minutes, you’re likely to pick tasks that actually need doing and that you’re actually going to finish in 30 minutes.
And if you don’t finish the task, don’t despair — you can set aside another 30 minute block tomorrow to wrap it up. Instead of feeling like your tasks are “now or never,” you’ll know they’re “now or soon.”
I have to redefine accomplishment.
If I only feel accomplished when I complete a project, I’m going to have a lot of disappointing days. I have to count every one of those small faithfulnesses as accomplishments. Some days, my only accomplishments are brushing my teeth and keeping the toddler from eating rocks. That’s enough.
How I make it happen:
If you’ve attended a liturgical church or read the Book of Common Prayer, you’re probably familiar with the daily office: prayer and scripture for times of day. I’ve started thinking of the responsibilities of my days as another kind of daily office: Bags to be packed in the morning, snacks to be prepared in the afternoon, bottles to be washed in the evening. It would be ideal to complete several tasks or an entire project every day, just as it would be ideal to spend an hour or more reading the scriptures every morning and evening. But some days — and some seasons of life — aren’t conducive to these things. Instead, I do my daily office — I read my few verses and attend to my personal litany of daily duties — and have faith that, when it’s possible, the Lord will entrust me with more (Luke 16).
If something requires more than one step to be completed, it’s a project, not a task. This is why laundry sits on my to-do list for three days before I get to check it off. I try to avoid these projects masquerading as tasks whenever possible. Breaking things into their smallest possible pieces makes your tasks attainable, simple, rewarding, and transparent.
I’m a big fan of the priority triangle — the idea that, at any given time, you should have fewer big things than small things on your plate. The problem is that my triangle is too big. There have been times in my life when having 20 small things, 12 medium things, and 5 big things on my agenda was doable. That time is not now. Three small things, two medium things, and one big thing is probably where I should cap out in this season of my life. Know your limits. Draw a smaller triangle.
I have to find my value in my identity, not my role.
When I have more capacity, I can find much of my value in what I do. But when I have little time and zero margin, I’m forced to find my value in who I’m created to be. This is actually a profound gift.
I’m so quick to slip into striving, to pursue every cliche of so-called biblical womanhood, to try to be a Proverbs 31 woman (whatever that means). Yet when my life feels too big and too insignificant and too noisy, I can only be one thing: beloved daughter of the King. And the only way I can make that happen is by leaning into Jesus.
“…the wise of heart will know the proper time and procedure.”
For as long as I can remember I have fought the feeling that I have too much to do. Too many errands, too many deadlines, too long a to-do list. Too many things I should have done but didn’t because I had too much to do.
And often— too often— that too-much-to-do feeling has turned me anxious, fretful, and inevitably crabby.
Do you know what I mean? Is that your story too?
Or are you like all the women I put up on a pedestal— cool, efficient, and AMAZING? You know who I’m talking about:
They post pictures of their four-year-old’s Princess Party on Pinterest. Gauze and glitter, crowns on every child (and DIY directions on how you can make them for under a dollar!). The birthday girl looks overwhelmingly happy, not a tear or a temper tantrum in sight.
The women who manage to keep their house perfectly clean, their clothes perfectly stylish, and their lives perfectly managed. Women who never lose anything, never run out of anything, and are never, ever late.
Oh! And whose Christmas gifts are wrapped in perfectly coordinated paper— of course.
I am not one of those.
And if you’re not either, I’d like to share with you some things I’m learning about what to do when that feeling of too-much-to-do begins to choke your joy. And how not to let your LIST chase your dreams right out to the rubbish heap where dreams go to die.
1. Rejoice by choice.
I know that sounds hokey but it’s a phrase that has stuck in my head and keeps coming back to me whenever I’m running helter-skelter to get more done than I am capable of doing.
The apostle Paul was stuck in prison and couldn’t do or accomplish anything! Instead of going crazy and complaining, he chose to “continue to rejoice”, dictating a letter to a group of Jesus followers for whom it had “been granted on behalf of Christ… to suffer for Him” the “same struggle” as Paul was enduring.
Here’s Paul’s motto: “Rejoice in the LORD always. I will say it again, Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all.”
Rejoicing by choice replaces stressfulness with gentleness.
2. Hide and Abide
Once, years ago, I was hiking high in the Alps with Phil and some friends. All of a sudden I was overwhelmed with a sense of panic— the drop on either side of the path was dizzyingly steep. I froze. The only way I could get down that peak was by putting my hands on Phil’s back as he led me step by step down the mountain. I think of that often when I remind myself to hide my face in the One who loves me like no other.
By hiding in, and abiding with Jesus, we can make it step by step down any mountain we face.
3. Get your Assignments from God
When I wake up every morning early enough to spend a luxurious amount of time listening to the Father, He directs the paths of my day. Which is why I make my list after I’ve spent time in the Word.
I get my list from God by knowing who I am and who I’m not, lest I try to be superwoman. Or someone else: my best friend, that woman I admire, or the pretend person I follow like a puppy dog, wishing I were her.
I cannot do everything but I can do the all-things God has assigned just for me.
4. Know your Big Thing
The same man who rejoiced by choice, had purposefully cleared his life of anything that wasn’t about his God-given purpose. That specific, clarified purpose gave him the power in Christ to “strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.”  It was Paul’s Big Thing.
Your Big Thing is that one thing that, if you found out your death was imminent, you would regret you hadn’t done.
5. Turn your Dreams into Goals
What do you dream about doing and being? What do you wish for in those quiet moments when you can listen to the longing in your heart?
I’m not talking about dreaming of cruises and castles and becoming a super star. I mean those God-given dreams, the things He has equipped you for but life keeps getting in the way and you’re afraid you’ll never do what you know God has called you to do.
Rather than spend your life simply wishing, what if you laid it all out before God and under His guidance dared to turn your dreams into actual, bona fide goals?
Goals are dreams purposely put on the calendar.
What a difference might it make if instead of forging ahead, list in hand, working harder, smarter, better, and more, we chose instead…
to tuck ourselves in close to the Father,
to get our assignments only and always from God,
to ask Him what is our Big Thing, and then
to confidently put His dreams for me onto my calendar?
From a heart learning wisdom,
P.S. How are you learning to tame your to-do list? I’d love to know.