Posted
May 20
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THE QUIET: the most important work

A man was attacked by robbers, stripped, beaten, left half dead by the side of the road.

A priest passed by on the other side of the road. A Levite passed by on the other side.

But a Samaritan saw him, came where the man was, took pity on him, went to him, bandaged his wounds and took care of him.

Taken from Luke 10v30-36

Sometimes, in real life, we get beat up.

Stripped bare. Left by the side of a lonely road.

All our dreams and work and wishes lay scattered around us, mocking the hope we once held so lightly.

We blame others, we blame ourselves, we blame God.

Where were You?

In that place of brokenness, He comes quietly. In fact, in that hurting place, our groanings outshout His whispers. We cannot hear Him and so we think He is isn’t speaking, that He’s left us wounded and alone, that God is silent in our suffering.

And yet… somewhere in the quiet of our souls we know He is there, He must be there. There in our mess and in our mixed-upness, He waits.

And He sends Samaritans. Not the uber-holy, super successful, got-it-all-together saints. Just the plain ones. The ones who’ve been hurt and wondered why. The ones who’ve blown it and failed and been put back together. The ones without answers.

They come with their oil and wine, the medicine of welcome. They see us. They change course for us, coming to where we are. They tenderly bandage the wounds we cannot bring ourselves to look at lest we faint from the hurt.

They take care of us, for God.

 In the quiet this morning, I hear God telling me that this— more than anything else I might do— is Kingdom work. This is worth wearing myself out for, this being Jesus to one left wounded by the side of the road.

I hear Him whispering that bringing wine to refresh and oil to soothe is my calling.

Why me? Why can’t I be one of the priests, all holy and righteous, a shining example of perfectness? Why can’t I be one of those set aside Levites whose calling is all about order and doing things right and telling everyone how to be good?

He smiles.

I see the twinkle in His eye as He looks at me, and this is what I hear:

Your story, Di, is your beauty. The hurt, the brokenness, your failure, these are the tools I am using to carve you into who I want you to be— who I need you to be.

I know it’s true— the truest truth. That…

I am most useful to the Master when I am all His and all about Him.

Not when I am good.

Not when I excel.

Not when I am anything worth lauding or applauding.

I know, but I know, but I know that the Father needs a whole army of people who will speak for Him in the kindness of coming and seeing and feeling and bandaging and taking care of His broken ones.

Hmm.

Could that be your calling too? Might you, as you travel about your day, keep your eye scanning the side of the road just in case He’s wanting you to take care of one of His wounded ones for a while?

In the quiet of this morning, I say yes. I leave space on my list, a little extra room just in case. I tidy my home in anticipation of who might need the safety of this cottage in the woods. A friend? A stranger? A child?

I tell Him it’s okay to use my not-so-nice story even though I wish I’d been a better woman so I could say, “Just do life the way I do and you’ll be happy too.”

But I didn’t, so I can’t, and so I give Him who I am right now to use any way He wishes.

I wonder if your story is just the one He needs for someone laying beaten and robbed on the side of the road?

And I wonder what would happen if we all said, Okay, God, show me who and I’ll be there with bandages and hope.

From a willing heart,

Diane

P.S. Has someone taken care of you… for God? Or has God used your not-so-nice story to bring hope to a wounded one? I would love to hear how He is working.

Posted
May 13
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A QUIET LIFE

… make it your ambition to lead a quiet life.

I Thessalonians 4v11

Several days ago my heart caught on this phrase and grabbed hold of someplace deep in my being. A place that longs for a quiet life.

I read the words over and over, looking for context, searching for clues. Like a blinking marquis, I cannot tear my thoughts away from what I know are words meant for me. I am convinced that the Spirit is whispering these words to me, that the longing I feel is His allure.

Not so much a command, as an invitation.

I sense a beckoning. A tantalizing summons into a life freed from this seemingly incessant pattern I keep falling into— of stress and conflict and fret-filled worry. Of angst and uptightness and all the confusion that comes from that feeling that, as busy as I am, I am doing nothing well.

For a long time now I have sensed this summons into life that isn’t about catching up or getting ahead or striving for better. A life of rest, of peace that comes from keeping to a pace that works for me.

It is a life of beauty that I crave.

Of not needing to apologize every few moments for bumbling and fumbling awkwardly once again. For being me. I want to go to bed at night satisfied with the way my day unfolded and what I accomplished… and what I didn’t cross off my self-imposed to-do list.

I want to know that every part of my day mattered, that I stuck to the path laid out for me by God, the One who says:

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go:

I will counsel you with My loving eye upon you.

Psalm 32v8

and

The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in Him;

Though he may stumble, he will not fall,

For the LORD upholds him with His hand.

Psalm 37v23,24

Sometimes I know that quiet. Early every morning when I cozy up in my chair by the window, as I watch the sun peak tentatively through the woods, with steaming tea and my bible open… that is for me a quiet place.

It is there that I realize how un-quiet I march through the rest of my day.

Especially if something or someone interrupts my list. Or if I cannot manage to do all I think I should. Or if I am not as there  for someone who needs me because I am working hard to be present in my work.

What I long for is a consistent sense of rightness about my days, and my weeks, and my months and seasons and years.

A life of sweet balance between achieving and loving well.

My bookshelf tells the story:

A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L’Engle,

Keep A Quiet Heart by Elizabeth Elliot,

The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan,

Choosing Rest by Sally Breedlove.

These are books I relish, reading the words over and over, barely scratching the surface of what I know I want… and what I know I do not yet own in my every days.

I dare think that my own longing is yours as well.

I do not have pat answers for living this Quiet Life. No ten steps guaranteeing that I’ll never get upright again. But I have picked up some treasures as I’ve tried, as I’ve brought my longings to this One who promises to direct my steps just because I delight in Him. I want to share some of those jewels with you in the coming weeks in the hopes that some of the wisdom I’ve gleaned from others will make sense to you.

And I invite you to speak into my life the wisdom you have acquired in yours. I want to learn and I think you do too. And I am not so naïve as to believe that there is one magic formula, which, when followed, produces bliss. Or peace. Or rest or quiet or calm in the crevices of my soul.

I hope that you will share some of your wisdom with me.

For now, let me leave you with this:

“If God works all things together for good for those who love Him and are called to His purposes… you can relax.

If He doesn’t… start worrying.

If God can take any mess, any mishap, any wastage, any wreckage, any anything, and choreograph beauty and meaning from it, then you can take a day off.

If He can’t, get busy. Either God is good and in control, or it all depends on you.”     

From The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan

 

From a heart yearning to stay in the Quiet,

Diane

Posted
May 8
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A SECRET I WISH I KNEW

For mothers, moms, and mamas:

A SECRET

… I wish I’d known

 “For all who enter God’s rest will find rest from their labors…”

Hebrews 4v10

‘Come to Me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens,

and I will give you rest…”

Matthew 11v28

“let Me teach you.”

Matthew 11v29

I sit, this morning, in my snug cabin in the woods. It is early, the day just arising—still crisp and cool. I am alone in the quiet, welcoming the day in the presence of the One who bids me come.

I flip the pages of my bible to these words, given me long ago when neither alarm clocks nor discipline were enough to pull me from my bed:

… He awakens me morning by morning,

wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed…

Is 50v4

Here in the silence I quiet my mind and still my soul. I lean in to listen, to wait with the intensity of another seeker from long ago,

I waited intently for the Lord, and He inclined to me, and heard my cry…

David, in Psalm 40v1

And I remember how I got to this place of craving Him so much that neither discipline nor alarm clocks are necessary anymore. How I slipped in the muck of my own ugliness, how I couldn’t find my way out, how I raged and wept bitter tears of despair at the unfairness of life, of my life.

And then I remember how He rescued me, setting my feet on solid rock, washing me clean, inviting me into this place I love. A place of surrender, of satisfaction, of genuine, all-the-way-through-to-my-heart happiness.

This place of Rest. 

I wish I had known about this place when I was a mother of little ones.

I wish I had known how to hide from the chaos and the neediness and the incessant conflict that sucks the life out of a young mama’s world.

But I didn’t. Instead, I tried. All the time, every day, I tried.

I tried to be patient… and failed.

I tried to be happy… and wasn’t.

I tried to be good and kind… and ended up irritated and mad—

and tired, just so tired.

I wanted so badly to be a good mama—the best—but I couldn’t be who I thought I should and wished I would be.

And this, my dear tired out mamas, is what I wish I had known then:

That trying harder is not the solution to your inadequacies and ineptitudes.

That the way to be the woman, the wife, the mother you wish you were is not found in books or podcasts or seminars or blog posts—but in Rest.

His Rest— God’s.

I wish I had understood that discipline is not what gets me there. That I will never deserve it… or Him… or any of His benefits. That being better and trying harder just managed to entangle me hopelessly in great knots of uptightness. And anger, and impatience, and self-pity and… shame.

I wish I had known that the Father is so madly in love with us— with me and with you just-as-you-are-right-now-in-this-flaw-filled moment— that He stands at the door and invites us to enter this place we all crave.

This place of Rest.

The key to this place? Not trying, not striving, not ten steps to a better you, but simply…

Belief.[1] Which is trust, entrusting yourself entirely and without reservation to God.

Entrusting your children to Him.

Entrusting your worries to Him.

Entrusting your failings, your past, your future, your wishes and dreams and happiness— to Him.

And then doing it again. And again. Over and over every day, every hour until your head begins to believe what your soul tells you is the truest truth:

That God is trustworthy… that He is good… that He is able… that He is beautiful and He brings beauty and He makes you—and your children— beautiful.

Just because He loves you that much.

And so my one wish for you this Mother’s Day is this:

That you would cease striving and know… Rest. 

I’ve offered no solutions here, no formulas. Because I have come to see that every single one of us has a different story… a story that urges us inevitably towards this place of rest.

I cannot tell you how (exactly) to get there, but I can and will pray for you if you will leave me a hint of who you are, of what you want and need from Him.

From my heart,

Diane


[1] For more, read Hebrews, the end of chapter 3 and all of chapter 4

Posted
May 6
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TOO BIG DREAMS AND OUR GREAT BIG GOD

But you are

a chosen people,

a royal priesthood,

a holy nation,

God’s special possession,

That you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness

into His wonderful light.

I Peter 2v9

I am just now emerging from that fog called jet lag. We arrived home from Albania in the wee hours of last Tuesday filled to the brim with thanksgiving for what God did in our midst.

Phil and I had been invited to come to Albania to teach the Intentional Parents: raising passionate Jesus followers conference to a group of leaders who would determine if our material would effectively cross the barriers of culture, making it applicable to the Church in Albania.

On the last night of the conference, one of the leaders who invited us asked people to come to the front and tell us how our teaching had impacted their lives.

We listened in awe, humbled and energized by their words. What we heard made all the work of preparation and study and speaking through translators and jet lag and fatigue… worth it.

Over and over we saw mothers and fathers who caught the vision of intentionally passing on their faith to the next generation.

Parents who now see their children as the hope for Albania- and as bearers of the Gospel to a side of the world that needs Jesus desperately.

Albania is a nominally Muslim country with open doors and friendly relations with nations that are closed to most westerners. Turkey loves Albanians, Syria welcomes them with open arms. They have the support and sympathy of nearly every Muslim country in the world— countries closed to Americans and most Europeans.

Because of that, we realized together that-

If this generation of Jesus following Albanian parents

make disciples of their own children,

they can quite possibly change our world!

Which is why I am already looking forward to going back next year. Their plan is to have us come back with a team (more about that later) and put on the Intentional Parents conference in the capital, Tirana, and then for a gathering of churches in southern in Albania.

On the long flight home, all I could think about was this idea of God giving us dreams that are too big for us.

How…

He takes our barely there dreams—

the ones we hardly dare voice out loud,

the dreams we know we don’t have what it takes to do—

and He infuses us with more than we are, and does more than we dare dream.

Why aren’t we talking about this every day of our lives?

This great thing, this magnificent work of God… in us and thru us and for us and to us.

I have absolutely loved hearing about your dreams. Not one of them has sounded outlandishly impossible to me… and yet so many of you are just like me… sort of apologetic about the dreams you harbor.

Why is that?

I think it’s because we are afraid: of failure, of mediocrity, of standing out from the crowd, of looking foolish, of our not-enoughness.

We are afraid because we think these God-inspired sparks of compelling desire are our own responsibility… and we know we are not up for the task.

Look at me: A shy introvert who quakes at the very thought of people turning to look at me. A back row kind of girl. Super serious and introverted, born without a funny bone, who rarely grasps the punch line of a joke. Who doesn’t actually like to travel. And on top of all that? Deaf.

That woman— the me that I am in real life— went to Albania, spoke in front of a room full of leaders… who laughed at my unplanned jokes… and learned from my raw stories.

If I can dream, just think what God might do with you?

From a heart still tired but immensely satisfied,

Diane

P.S. Okay, please, I am craving a few more honest, hope-filled possibilities of how you dare dream God may use you and your story. 

Your courage just  might light a fire of desire in those of us who are held back by fears.  

Posted
April 24
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FAR FROM HOME

This morning I woke up far away from my cottage in the woods of the Pacific Northwest. Instead of the pungent smells of pine and cedar, I drink in the scent of the sea. And instead of my pot of steaming tea, I sip slowly from a foamy bowl filled with cappuccino served with a spoon.

In just a few hours a group of hand-picked parents will make their way from Albania’s capital city, Tirana, to the coastal town of Durres, on the edge of the Adriatic Sea.

 

These are leaders— in business, in government, in NGO’s, in churches. They are followers of Jesus in a country that is nominally Muslim and predominately atheistic.

And they have kids. Children they love who are being raised in a culture that goes against everything they believe.

Sound familiar?

In just a few hours Phil and I will tell our story. How we met and married with high hopes. And how, when pregnant with our first child, we realized we had no idea how to raise children who want Jesus. And how that scared us.

And I’ll look into the eyes of the mothers and I’ll see that same fear. We’ll know each other in that long look. The camaraderie that comes from a shared passion.

Every parent there wants what we wanted: children who grow into people who are passionate, all-in, wise, fruitful, faithful followers of Jesus.

We will spend hours talking and listening and teaching and delving into the Scriptures and praying and sharing stories and laughing at the ridiculousness of our dreams for our children.

And God will be here, bending down to listen.

I will tell these parents, so like us when we were young, about how we prayed, over and over again, for wisdom. How we held hands and cried out to the Father for what He promised in James 1v5:

If any of you lacks wisdom,

 let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach,

and it will be given to him. 

And then we’ll share with them the treasures He gave with so much generosity that we’re overwhelmed and overflowing. I’ll watch in wonder as they scramble to write it down, filling the notebooks with letters I cannot read.

And I’ll tell them that He’ll do the same for them, here, on the other side of the world. With Macedonia’s snow capped mountains off in the distance and Greece right behind us, Phil and I will pour ourselves into a new generation of parents in the hope that they will pour into a new generation of Albanians who will, in turn, raise up a new generation of leaders who will bring Jesus to a country that desperately needs Him.

Will you pray for these people? These parents? This generation?

And will you pray for me? For us?

I have relished praying for those of you who dare to dream with God. Keep telling me those stories and I will keep hoping with you and praying for you.

From my heart far from home,

Diane

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted
April 21
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WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH A MILLION DOLLARS?

One day, a while back, I asked a group of friends this question:

If someone gave you a million dollars, and told you that you must spend it on yourself within one year or you’d have to give it back… what would you do with it? 

I didn’t leave them much time to think about it lest everyone get too lyrical and logical about the idea. I was after visceral reactions. I wanted to hear dreams.

One by one we went around the circle of fifteen, each woman dream-spending one million dollars on themselves. What the solid majority of my friends (young and old[er}) wanted was….

To travel.

I was stunned. Really? Because, you see, I grew up traveling all over Europe with my family. When we came home from our time of living overseas I was in high school and I promised myself that I would never travel again. Ever.

I am perfectly happy staying in my cute little cottage with occasional forays to the mountains or the seaside.

If I had a million dollars that I just had to spend on me… I’d find a vintage A-frame cabin on a lake and fix it up just so, then host Comer family and friend vacations as often as possible. And sometimes I’d go alone, all that introverted side of me flourishing in the silence.

When I told my daughter, Bekah, (who absolutely loves to travel whenever and wherever possible) about my surprise at my friends’ dreams, she couldn’t stop laughing. “Mom, everyone wants to travel!”

And though she didn’t say it, I could hear her thinking just what you’re thinking now: that I am really, really weird… or odd… or something along those lines.

Do you want to know where I am right now?

On a plane bound for Albania.

I know, I know, I don’t deserve this. Or the two days we’ll explore the rich history in Thessalonica, Greece. And certainly not the weekend we’ll stay in Donnes, an Albanian resort town on the Adriatic Sea.

And I’m asking myself the same question you’re asking: Why me?

In the past couple of years I have traveled to Uganda, Brussels, Haiti, Hawaii, Germany, Austria, Italy, Indonesia and Albania. Plus, on the home front, I’ve spent time in Santa Cruz, L.A., Palm Desert, San Francisco, Vancouver, Eugene, and Newport.

And I don’t (or at least I didn’t) like to travel!

Here’s what I know:

God is a giver of dreams… and God is bigger than our dreams.

Which is why I am drinking coffee at 30,000 feet.

My secret dream was born over thirty years ago when I began to ask God for wisdom I didn’t have. A fairly new follower of Jesus with our first baby in my arms, my asking was pretty desperate.

What do I do? How do I do this? Help! 

I had no idea how to raise children to follow Jesus— I hardly knew how to follow Him myself! And so I prayed and then I introduced myself to the mother of the godliest teenagers I knew and asked if she’d teach me. Laurie Keyes was everything I wanted to be: wise, godly, consistent, joyful, so full of passion for Jesus that just to be in conversation with her was like being at a retreat. And she was (and still is!) strikingly beautiful, with that kind of glow that all the fancy clothes and cosmetics in the world cannot create.

I listened and I learned and wrote notes and read every book I could get my hands on that had anything to do with the spiritual nurturing of children. For decades!

And somewhere in there I started to want to find a way to pass on all this richness to others who, like me, don’t have a clue. 

The wanting led to dreaming. The dreaming led to praying. The praying led to a whole lot of work. The work led to… a dream come true.

This morning as I hustled about tidying up my cottage (because everyone knows that you’ve just got to leave your house absolutely perfectly clean when going on a trip! Which, surprise, surprise, Phil thinks it utter nonsense!!), something dawned on me… something profound… something it’s taking me far too many words to tell you…

God knows the me that I am.

I thought I wanted to stay in my cottage in the woods, to live simple and quiet.

And that is, indeed, a part of who I am. But there’s more, and I didn’t know it. Now I know…

I was made for this.

I love this adventure. I love packing my bags, reading ahead about where we’re going, saving up frequent flyer miles so I can take my now-grown kids with me someday.

I love meeting new people, making new friends, finding soul-sisters all over the world. I relish tasting new foods (Albanian food is the best! All feta cheese and fresh peppers), I love learning how people around the world do life.

Most of all, I love doing this with Phil, whose love of travel and willingness to lead the way makes him the best companion imaginable. (Plus, he gets up every morning no matter where we are and finds the absolutely best coffee to be had and brings it to me so I can drink it in bed. How’s that for the real deal kind of love?)

Today we fly across the world to teach parents in Durres, Albania how to raise children who are passionate followers of Jesus. They are the first generation of Believers in a country that was officially atheist until just over 20 years ago. They don’t know what they’re doing any more than I did. And they want to learn, just like I did.

I can hardly wait to get there! Me, the woman who made that ridiculous promise to myself. Do you think God may have been chuckling?

Do you have a dream? 

Because I think— no, I know— that…

God has tasks for you that combine all of who you are with all of who He is in a dream big enough to change the world. 

There’s probably risk involved and you’ll undoubtedly be way out of your comfort zone at times. You may have to try some things you don’t think you like, and you’ll certainly have to work hard and long.

And oh, the joy! Because…

There is nothing, absolutely nothing, so fun as doing the dreams God has for you.

From my heart, high in the sky,

Diane

P.S. Okay, here’s your open door:

Will you dare to dream right here in black and white? Write it down for all to see, this dream you barely dare. I, for one, will pray for each and every one of you. For courage, for hope, for help— for joy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted
April 15
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TOO WEAK

The Quiet Series: Too Weak 

“… They were all trying to frighten us, thinking,

“Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.”

But I prayed,

Now strengthen my hands.”

Nehemiah 6v9

Now… strengthen my hands.

God has given me work to do, of that I have no doubt. That work gets me up early every morning, eager to get to it. It is a vocation that I love, but it’s still work. And sometimes the work wears me out.

Yesterday was one of those worn out days.

And so I slept in, drug myself sluggishly to my cabin in the back where most of my work is done, dinked around, wasted time. I started things, then abandoned them at the slightest hint of resistance, leaving a trail of messes along the path of my day.

It happens to me sometimes. More often than it should.

Yesterday’s malaise had nothing to do with my work… and everything to do with me. Sure, I was tired. I didn’t feel good, hadn’t slept well, needed a bit of rest.

More than anything else, I just lost steam… why is that? 

And so I got up this morning, asking my Father. I came to Him needing to hear, wanting to know so that this day would be different. I asked timidly, like a naughty school-girl expecting a finger in my face.

Instead of reprimand, I heard compassion, grace. I sensed His heart, so much nicer towards me than my own heart is.

I heard Him say… that He knows how that thick wall of opposition sometimes slows us down… to a crawl.

While I was lambasting myself for being lazy… He was seeing the unseen.

He knows what I didn’t even notice— those enemies of my soul, disguised and hidden— who, behind a smokescreen of silence— threaten, defeat, frighten, and discourage me.

And you.

Nehemiah knew them as strength stealers. Paul knew them as conflict conspirators.

Sometimes, as in Nehemiah’s story, the strength-stealers come in the form of a letter… and e-mail… a phone call.

At other times, those joy-zappers come wrapped in guilt. Or comparison. The fiery darts that defeat us before we even begin.

Mamas know those enemies too. The ones that keep you up at night, wrapped in worry.

The voices that scream inadequate! with every mistake you make.

But here’s what woke up my morning: all Nehemiah did, when he realized what was really going on was this—He prayed a simple prayer, with simple words:

Now, strengthen my hands. 

And so as this new day beckons with new lists, new worries, new challenges, I bring these simple words to the Father.

Now, strengthen my hands.

And then I come again and bring these words for you, all the wearied ones, the ones I know and love, whose work sometimes wears them out:

Now, Father, right now, will you strengthen her hands?

From my heart,

Diane

P.S. May I pray for you? If you will let me know in the comments, it would be my honor to bring this simple prayer to the Father who hears.

P.S.S.  Read Nehemiah’s story in Nehemiah 6, and Paul’s story in Acts 9:19-29 because what He did for these men, He offers to you— and me.

 

(Image by Abi Porter)