Posted
March 30
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LOVE

HOLY WEEK

I woke up this morning haunted by my own inadequacy.

All the things I should have done, ought to do, want to accomplish— and haven’t.

Curled up in the corner of my oversized chair I stared into the still-dark woods sipping tea and swallowing poison words.

Words like…

I am not enough

not good enough,

not capable enough,

not motivated enough,

not organized enough. 

True words… and yet not the whole story.  

These are the echoes of the Accuser’s truth-that-is-not-the-whole-truth. The one who writes a convincing biography of me and all my less-than’s.

The one who wants me to believe the lies that resonate somewhere deep in the hidden, hurting depths because if I do believe he wins.

And you hear it too.

I know you do. You’re a subscriber, just like me, to that hellish library where all your mistakes are categorized and catalogued, footnoted and never forgotten.

This morning just as the sun’s emergence began to dissipate the dark, my Savior began to dissipate the lies-that-sound-so-true.

You are who I created you to be. Not like her… nor him.  I did not craft you into the kind of person who is lauded and applauded in today’s version of heroics.

I made you different because I like different. I like you. 

And these words I think you, too, need to hear:

I need you… as you are

because… without you

My Kingdom would be a little less… beautiful.

On the last days of His life, Jesus looked into the faces of His people and He saw their beauty. He saw your beauty. And mine.

And He shuddered at the enemy’s plan to forever uglify us, His created ones. The overarching plan of the one who wants me— and you— to believe that our not-enoughness disqualifies us from usefulness.

And this morning as I wrestled— without even knowing I was— with that enemy whose version of my story shrivels my soul… the Father whispered words of worth to me.

Why?  because…

He sees your beauty.

And mine.

Shocking, isn’t it? And yet it’s true— the truest truth.  The truth that led Him all the way to the Cross.

For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father,

from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name,

that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man:

so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love,

may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,

and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3v14-19

NASB

Praying that you… and I… would experience the love of Christ in real life this week.

From my heart,

Diane

(image by Bethany Small)

Posted
March 26
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desk

THE BEAUTY HE BRINGS

Dear girls,

I’m back at my desk after a month of mourning. Not that I’m done with sadness, but I’m sensing the invitation from the Spirit to get back to my calling to write. And so I sit, this morning, at the desk my dad made in this cabin tucked under the scented boughs of an enormous redwood tree. This spot is my refuge, a safe place where I hear God clearer than any place else.

The glimmering candle on my desk reminds me of the beauty of the friend who gave it as a gift of love. My new daughter-in-law’s mother, Natalia, is one of those rare treasures who sparkles with joy in the midst of a story she didn’t want. I am reminded of her as I do the final edits on my own story. Of how the Redeemer we follow weaves texture and color and loveliness into our lives in spite of— or perhaps because of— difficulties.

He is the Beauty-Maker and as He draws us close, we become like Him.

Beautiful.

This morning I thought I’d bring you into my cabin to peer over my shoulder as I smooth and polish and pray and ponder over the words that will soon be put to print.

This is a glimpse of the me-I-was just before I was diagnosed with a progressive hearing loss that would eventually lead to total deafness. I was 26, enveloped in the world of babies and toddlers, homeschooling a first grader who gulped up knowledge like a starving lion.

I loved my life. But something left me empty and longing for more…

I wasn’t happy, not really. And I knew it.

And so I began to do the only thing I knew to do, the only thing a good Christian girl could do—I prayed. Every day, I asked God to do something, anything to change my heart. I prayed when I woke up, while jogging, while shopping, while cooking yet another family meal on yet another day of doing right.

I didn’t pray once. Or even twice. I prayed every chance I got, as if by begging God, I’d get Him to hear me and He’d have to give me what I craved.

I needed more. I wanted more. I had to have more!

God knew I would need all of Him to face the days ahead. He also knew that in order for Him to answer my cries for more, I would first need to let go of the pervasively self-serving idea of my own goodness.

The journey that lay ahead of me was going to be more arduous than all my rule abiding good-girl-ness would be able to handle.

I would face dark days, days of discovering that I was not as good as I’d thought, that my façade wouldn’t hold up under the pressures of life gone wrong, that a desperately “bad” girl lurked in my soul. 

That I was a woman who didn’t know her true colors until she didn’t get her way.

I was about to embark on a journey of facing the worst about myself and finding God in the rubble. In that place of desperation, I would discover that what God wanted more than all of my exhausting efforts to be good was me, just as I am. 

The real me.

And though I would flounder and fail, though I would shake my fist in His face, He couldn’t wait to gather me in close to show me what I’d been wanting all along.

As I edit these words I am praying for all of you who know the hunger that haunted me then. That emptiness, the sense that having everything I ever wanted was not enough.

I am praying that you will hear and know and experience the love of God down deep in the marrow of your bones.

That you will crave Him, longing for the beauty He alone brings. And that you won’t stop seeking until you’ve found all He has for you.

From my heart,

Diane

(image by Abi Porter)

Posted
March 16
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tulips

HOW HOPE PROTECTS MY HEAD

With my dad so recently residing in the presence of God, I’ve been thinking a lot about heaven. Trying to figure out what it means, this “going away” or “falling asleep” or “departing”.

All of a sudden I want to know:

What is he doing?

Can he see me?

Who else is there?

What would he say to me if he could?

And then this morning my time set apart for listening in God’s Word took me from Colossians 1v1-6 to I Thessalonians 5v8.

Paul is commending his Colossian friends for their faith in God and for their obvious love for “all God’s people everywhere”. Which, he says, “spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven”…

The words strike me.

Faith springs from hope?  Hope in heaven?

Truth is, my faith seems so shaky as I worry my way through everyday life.

Do we have enough savings? Can I write the Intentional Parents book adequately or will I fail? Do I have time for everything I think I need to do? Is Mom going to be okay? How can I help her? How in the world am I going to find a home for their dog, Barney?!

And my love for “all God’s people everywhere” is more like a love for a few of God’s people right here as long as they’re nice to me.

How, I ask Him, did these people become people of great faith and generous love?

And how can I?

And how does hope in heaven have anything to do with my todays?

I stumble on the answer found tucked at the end of a sentence in I Thessalonians 5v8:

“… let us put on… the hope of salvation as a helmet.”

It dawns on me suddenly, this helmet metaphor: A helmet protects my head.

By purposely putting on hope- not just any hope, but hope in salvation, in forever, in what all of life is leading up to—I actually protect my mind from wrong thinking that leads to worry.

Wrong thinking which creates fertile ground for  fretting and frustration when all of life isn’t neat and tidy, just the way I like it.

Wrong thinking that convinces me God owes me more… more money, more time, more ease.

Wrong thinking that makes me self-protective and prickly with people who poke at me, or who express their disapproval of the way I do life.

I need this helmet! 

Because without one I wind up with a sort of spiritual concussion, with ringing in my ears that drowns out the sound of God in my soul.

And so this morning I purposely put on my helmet of hope.

I imagine the way life will be when a new earth replaces this one and God invites me to take part in life as He meant it to be.

I think beyond the deadline that weighs heavily on my day, to the coming day when my life begins again.

I choose to remember what I’m really about: Jesus and His kingdom, His work, His will, His way.

And suddenly everything changes. Hope fuses me with energy to complete the tasks assigned to this day, to do what needs doing while I look for signs of His coming— for signs of Him.

Those blossoms on the tulip tree out back remind me that He is unfolding this day and that beauty comes not from striving but from resting in His working.

Hope rises to turn my tasks into joyous work, to infuse my day with purpose. It won’t always be this hard, Someday is coming.

And in the meantime I’d better scurry because He’s called me to things that will last forever. And I’d better look closely at my lists lest I waste time on things that don’t matter in light of that Someday.

He beckons me towards giving and serving and worshipping and listening close to His words to me. He invites me to protect my mind by keeping Someday in sight.

And my dad is there. He’s stepped into the Someday that lasts forever.

See you there, Dad! Someday.

From my heart,

Diane

P.S. I’ll resume my letters to Matt and Simona about OUR HOUSE soon. For now I’m just letting you in on my mourning. Thank you for your beautiful messages of condolence to me. Your kindness soothes my soul.

 


Posted
March 10
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beach

WHEN SADNESS SOUNDS LIKE GOD

For a week now, I have been swimming in the fitful waters of mourning.

Sadness surrounds me. Loss weighs so heavily sometimes I find it hard to breathe.

I have been pulled up short—surprised by this unpredictable ebb and flow of tears.

I sit at the desk my dad made for me with his own hands. For a man of few words, the eloquence of his handcrafted message was just the affirmation I needed to gather up courage to write. He approved, and I bask in both the affirmation and approval even as I grieve the fact that he will never run his hands over the cover of my book as I run my hands over the surface of this desk.

Somehow I had convinced myself that I wouldn’t really grieve Dad’s death. After all, he’d been diagnosed with this terrible terminal disease of the lungs four years ago. I’d watched the devastation, prayed for his release, begged God to take him home.

“I’m grieving with Dad,” I’d said, “so that when he’s gone I’ll just be happy for him.”

Mmh.

I’ve heard of people who have a definite sense of their loved one’s presence even after death, but I only feel his gone-ness. He isn’t here, hasn’t been since I held him in my arms frantically searching for signs of life.

I know where he is. I know without even a hint of doubt. But as assuring as that is, I am still reeling with the realization of the separation.

And so I mourn honestly— not the man who was so terribly weak and struggling for air— but the J.H. Waterman who gave me life, whose love never wavered, the man whose steadfast faithfulness informed my view of God.

It is His presence I sense so near in these hours of sadness. As if the Father is nearer or clearer, as if He pulls me closer in my longing for Dad. As if I hear my Father better because my dad is with Him.

There is a strange sweetness in this place of mourning, a deep rest. A togetherness with God.

Because I think He is sad too, that He weeps with me. It wasn’t supposed to be this way and that’s why we mourn.

That’s why tears redden my eyes and sighs escape unbidden. Why grieving and loss of any kind cannot be stuffed into a nice clean package and tied with a tidy bow. Why life screeches to a halt and only resumes at half speed.

Why we dread death.

Life was supposed to be a grand celebration in His presence, a great cooperation with God. Life was planned as an endlessly eternal connection with the One who made us in His image, for His delight.

And Someday it will be again. Because of Jesus. Because He chose to die to make it all right.

While we wait for that Someday, sadness is part of our stories. We cannot will it or wish it away. We dare not pretend or push it from sight.

But we can invite Him in to mourn with us; we can sit in the quiet of loss and hear Him speak. And we can listen to His words in the silence and let Him pour oil on the raw hurt.

I’m listening now, finding joy in the midst of sadness. Relishing His presence here.

From my heart,

Diane

Have you heard Him in the silence of sadness? Have you seen Him at work even when life stops suddenly? Can you tell us how? Remind us what to listen for as we navigate our own stories?

 

(image by Bethany Small)

Posted
February 24
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A GOOD DAD


He will wipe every tear from their eyes.

There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain,

for the old order of things has passed away.

Revelation 21v4

My dad died yesterday.

And today I am sad. Not despairing, not grief-stricken, not angry that life isn’t what I wish it was. Just sad.

And I feel a little spoiled in my sadness because I am fully aware that what I lost is so much more than most of you have ever had. 

And mind you, I have not lost my father. Because in the early 70’s at a church in California, my dad changed the course of our lives by becoming a follower of Jesus. And now he’s followed Him right up close into His presence, the place I’ll go someday too.

No, I haven’t lost Dad, but I have lost his presence with me.

He’s not here this morning having coffee with cream and two scoops of sugar, talking about what I want to talk about: because that’s what good dad’s do.

And I wish, oh how I wish, that each of you had a dad like mine.

I grieve for you with the Father because He wishes that too. And if you’ll indulge me just a bit, can I tell you about good dads?

Here’s a list:

1.  Good dads fix things. My dad fixed my broken hair dryer, my flat tire, my inadequate study habits, my teenage drama with my mom. He made life right for me when I couldn’t turn myself right side up. And even though I told him over and over, I don’t think he ever thought any of that was a big deal. Just dad stuff.

2.  Good dads get it. My dad certainly did. He got that I was different, would always be different, and that difference was okay by him. A contemplative feeler, ponderer, thinker, reader in a family of highly competitive task oriented doers. He normalized me to my “lets-get-to-it!” mom and paved the way for us to become friends. Because of him we grieve together without tension.

3.  Good dads are present.My father was a brainiac nuclear engineer. Yet he bought cowboy boots when he helped me achieve my dream of having a horse. He learned the lingo: palominos, bits and tie downs, dressage and hoof rot. And I don’t think he actually ever did like that whole equine world, but the truth is, wild horses couldn’t have pulled him from being part of it with me.

4.  Good dads stay faithful. My dad did. In good times and bad, he chose to love my mom and to eschew the “grass is greener” temptation to find happiness elsewhere. As long as I can remember, Dad did his level best to love mom well. Dad would have been appalled at any suggestion otherwise.

5.  Good dads take care of their own. When he married my mom he was a 19 year old with one goal: to never be poor again. With that in mind he put himself through college, poured himself into his career, lived beneath his income always so that he could give us what we needed. At the same time, his aversion to the risk of credit and the flash of status spending kept all of us grounded in fiscal reality. He bought his jeans at Walmart and his cars used even when he could have afforded much more. He was fiddling with his finances the day before he died, just to be sure mom would be well cared for.

6.  Good dads provide safety. My sister’s words to me this morning: “We had a great dad. He made me feel safe…” He did. And I’m not even sure how he did it, though I’m going to think long and hard about that. But mostly I think he was just good and a good man becomes a safe place for his family.

There’s more of course, but this day demands my attention and so I’ll end here for now. Somehow just writing these words helps me to understand why I’m sad today and why that’s okay.

I miss my dad already. I’ll miss him for the rest of my life. And then… my real Father will wipe away every tear and I’ll join my dad in spending the rest of forever in awe of Him.

Waiting with honest eagerness for that Day…

From my heart,

Diane

P.S. Thank you to the many of you who have already emailed and texted your heart-felt condolences. I’m relishing every word, drinking in your kindness.

 

 

Posted
February 19
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MY DAD

Dear girls,

As you read this I am on my way to California.

I’ll leave my cozy cottage nestled in the woods and spend a few days at my sister’s house in the sunshine.

And since she’s about the best decorator/home creator I know, I will no doubt spend every spare minute oohing and ahhing over beauty. I’ll take pictures and make notes and go home full of ideas for creating loveliness. We’ll stay up too late and she’ll get up too early to go to her job that is really a calling. (remind me to tell you that story some day— for all of you who work hard to help people. But for now, follow her on Pinterest for design inspiration! @darcyscott)

But that’s now why I’m going.

My dad— the one I’ve written stories about is sick. Very sick.

While his brilliant engineer mind is still working at full throttle, his once strong, always-up-for-a-challenge body is failing. And so he is saying good-bye to his beloved Sierra mountains and moving to the Northwest.

A bittersweet journey.

I’ll tuck my parents into their sweet red Lexus (another story about love I’ll need to be sure to tell you soon), load in their luggage and their dog and Dad’s great big oxygen concentrator, and we’ll head north. I’ve got John Mark’s podcasts on heaven loaded and ready for listening. 

And I’ve got myself ready too- for remembering and reminding and reminiscing.

I’ll remember all those stories still vivid in my mind…

Of Dad at the wheel of our Opel sedan, setting off to discover strange and intriguing ands while we lived in Germany. How a poor farm boy choose to succeed by hard work and loyalty. How my mom made every adventure seem magical, green Bedecker guide books always open as she rooted our imaginations in history.

We’ll reminisce about those days of discovering Jesus for the first time. When a traffic jam made us want to go to that church causing the long wait. Why, we wondered, were so many people headed to that warehouse? And how, over the next months, one by one, the five of us each walked down the aisle with “Just As I Am” playing softly in the background. We’ll talk about how Jesus changed everything. How the best stories started then.

I’ll remind them what they know, but need to know again, that Dad is not really dying, though his body will soon. That eternal life is just that- eternal, forever, uninterrupted, ceaseless. That he will step into the presence of the One who changed our lives by His own death. That One we love because He loved us first— that One whose love made it possible for us to love each other even in all the ups and downs of our own brokenness.

And I want to talk and imagine and dream about what life will be like when Jesus comes back to redeem all of creation once again.

Because hope for what’s really ahead brings hope for the hard steps before we get there.

And those hard steps are getting closer now. We won’t have Dad much longer. While we do I want to drink him in, to make more stories, to bring my grandboys and grandgirls to sit by his side as I did as a little girl. I want them to feel the safety of who he is. I want them to know that they belong to him, that his faithful love courses through their veins, giving them a bent towards courage and greatness.

I want my children to remember the kind of man who is their heritage so that when life gets hard they know to put one foot in front of the other just like Papa and then to just keep giving and loving and taking care of their own.

Like Dad.

From my heart,

Diane

P.S. I am hoping that some of you who live near me can meet my dad before he goes there. I long to share him with some of the young men I know who’ve never seen his kind of faithfulness up close and I want young women to know the kind of man who loves for a lifetime. I want you to see why I wish everyone had a dad like mine.

 

(photo by Bethany Small)

Posted
February 16
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diamondring

SEXUALITY AND PURITY IN REAL LIFE

OUR HOUSE: The Bedroom

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children

and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us

and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.

Ephesian 5v1-3

NIV

Dear Matthew and Simona,

I sit in my tiny cabin in the woods and I wonder what you’re thinking as I write these words about intimacy and sexuality. Are you understanding the depth and beauty of intimacy? Do you get the need for purity?

You’ve both been so patient… and encouraging as I’ve stumbled my way through writing about The Bedroom. These are words I want to say, words I know need saying— but still… it feels awkward and just a little uncomfortable.

Matt, with your wide-open way of guileless transparency, you invited me into the fringes of your conversations with your dad about every man’s struggle. Listening to the two of you talk only increased my respect for you— for both of you.

I got to listen as you and your dad talked about…

why to stay pure and…

how to keep yourself pure and…

when that commitment to purity got hard and …

what to do then.

I think sometime last year when you and Simo were engaged we started talking about purity beyond virginity. About staying pure when you’re married and actively invited into a full expression of sexuality. I remember the look on your face that meant, What in the world are you talking about, Mom?

Somehow we get the idea stuck in our heads that purity and virginity are one and the same. That marriage solves the struggle. Not true.

Not even close.

In fact, I would argue that the giving away of one’s virginity opens the door to a life long struggle for purity. Because sex is just so great, so satisfying, so right and good and… okay, you know what I mean. And because of that something in us always wants more.

Yet God’s design for sexuality always requires intimacy. And intimacy takes work.

Intimacy is inconvenient.

Intimacy begs for humility and consideration and an extra shower and…

More effort than sometimes you’re up for.

And in creeps the temptation to take a short cut. To forego intimacy in favor of pornography… and masturbation… or fantasy… or to be in some subtle way less available to each other because all the giving implicit in the intimacy part of sexuality just seems exhausting sometimes.

What then?

What do you do when you want sex, need sex, crave sex… but things aren’t working for the two of you and you’ve not enough energy to solve it all right now.

That’s real life. Normal life. Less-than-ideal-life.

Here’s my list of…

What To Do When Real Life Interrupts Real Sex:

1.  Surrender your body to God, allowing Him full control over your sexuality— whether that means you want more from your spouse or you’d prefer less.

2.  Be careful not to hold back on sex as a sort of barometer of your relationship. In other words, be willing and warm even when the other is being a little… unlovable.

3.  Make a covenant with each other to be committed to fully meeting each other’s sexual needs. Which means masturbation is out. You’ve got each other for that now. Don’t be embarrassed— you love each other.

4.  Talk about that. Be honest. Be kind. Be welcoming. Laugh a little. It’s not the loving thing to do to be silent or subtle about your need and then try to meet it yourself.

5.  Be creative in sexually loving each other when real life makes real sex challenging or impossible. This is your way of honoring each other’s genuine need for sexual expression within the safety of just the two of you.

6.  Never, ever, ever, look at pornography. Ever. That’s not real. It will sicken your appetite for satisfying sexuality. It will destroy your confidence in each other’s ability to delight and satisfy.[1]

7.  Stay faithful. Don’t even let your mind go there— banish lustful imagination or fantasy. If you’re attracted to someone else, avoid them like the plague. Focus on each other. Flirt only with each other. Keep wooing and wanting and watching out for each other.

You both want that rare and beautiful treasure: a lifetime of love. Never give up on that. Do what it takes. Stay faithful.

Give and give and give and then give just a little more.

Keeping your selves pure and your bedroom vibrant is an investment in the future of your relationship, in the future of your family, in the writing of your story.

From a heart that wants so much for you,

Mom

P.S. For those who are reading:

What can your husband do to open up this area of your lives for an honest clearing of the air?

What can your wife do to show you she means it when she says she “wants all of you”?

 


[1] If you do get caught in that hard to avoid web of porn, get help. Seriously, don’t try to undo it on your own. At our church and at many others there are groups of men— and women, who meet together for accountability and freedom over the death lock of pornography. Be brave enough to join them.

 

(image by Hillary Kupish)