Posted
September 29
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CharmingLuggage

OUR HOUSE

(image by hillary kupish)

Our house is a very, very, very fine house

With two cats in the yard,

Life used to be so hard,

Now everything is easy cause of you…

I’ll light the fire,

You place the flowers in the vase that you bought today.[1]

(still my favorite love song…)

 Dear Matt and Simona,

Saturday was your wedding day. A beautiful, romantic day you have both dreamed of for many months. Today the two of you are flying across oceans and mountains, glaciers and jungles… to a place just for the two of you. Alone.

And I sit here in my tiny cottage in the woods trying to condense all that I want to say into these few words on a screen. I type and I delete. I walk around the block and think of too many things I want to say. I try again.

And there is only this:

A love that lasts a lifetime doesn’t happen by accident.

It is not a romantic ending to a good story. It is not in the stars, not because you found the One. The kind of love you hope for isn’t because of good luck or good personalities or good timing. It does not wear out or go away. No one falls out of this kind of love.

A love that lasts a lifetime is a love that is lived on purpose.

It is a love that is gone after. A love that is done daily. A love that is thought about, sacrificed for, worked towards.

Even on bad days. Especially on bad days.

Yes, love is a gift. But perhaps more, real love, the kind of love that all of us long for, is a skill. A vocation. A calling.

And that is why I am writing these letters. Because I dare to believe that this is a kind of love that is possible. I believe that you two and anyone else can have a love that lasts for a lifetime. I believe that any of us— all of us— can become excellent lovers.

And more, I believe we are called to do this kind of love.

Everyday.

For the rest of forever.

That is what these letters will be about. The doing of real love. The craft, the skill, the expertise it takes to navigate real life and cultivate true love. I want to pass on what I am learning about how to “walk in the way of love” (Ephesians 5:2) so that when you are both old… with all the inherent greying and sagging and wrinkling and slowing that old age brings… you will still be in love.

Because I believe it’s possible, this whole-life love. Maybe not normal, but possible. And I don’t believe it has much to do with luck, though no doubt about it, some people have an easier time at it than others. And though I may have started off life as a dreamer, a romantic, a head-in-the-clouds innocent… I now have three plus decades of church ministry under my belt and all the inherent sad, tragic, disgusting, horrifying real-life-marriage stories to off-set my fairy tale take on life.

And I believe more than ever in the theory of redemption:  that our God is a fixer of broken things. That your mess-ups and mistakes do not define you.

Nor is all that messiness a predilection for future failure. I read it in God’s Word and I see it in real life.

I have seen people tuck their broken, repentant, honest selves right into Jesus. I have seen Him exchange their sorry state with His glory, with His beauty. I have seen—close up—two people collide and fall on their faces and call out to God. I have seen the beauty He brings out of the ashes of fire-ravaged lives. How He melds two people into one.

And I am one of those: broken, selfish, spoiled, self-indulgent, and… redeemed. And so is your dad. You know that.

God doesn’t automatically make repentant, dependent people good, instead He fills them with God. With Himself. And then He slowly begins that painstaking process of smoothing off the ugliness. Something like the way He used glaciers to craft great swaths of smooth tundra, so slowly the movement is almost imperceptible.

The key, I have come to see, is patience. Patience with each other first, but also patience with yourself. We learn to love well. God Himself trains us in the way of love. Scripture is filled with wisdom to get us started and then to stretch us further until His way becomes, if not natural, at least a whole lot easier.

So, before the letters even officially begin, let me leave you with just a couple of things to tuck away.

  1. A love that lasts a lifetime is possible.
  2. A love that lasts a lifetime is not natural or easy or automatic.
  3. A love that lasts a lifetime requires the humility of daily brokenness before God.
  4. A love that lasts a lifetime involves skills that can be learned.
  5. A love that lasts a lifetime takes a lifetime.

And this…

A love that lasts a lifetime is worth it.

From my heart,

Mom

P.S. While I am writing these letters to my son and new daughter, they have agreed to let you read along. What I am hoping, is that you will bring your stories and wisdom and questions and comments with you. I get tired of talking all by myself. So please, let the conversation begin.



[1] Published and recorded in 1970, by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. I’ve been whistling this one under my breathe for longer than you’ve been alive!

Posted
September 25
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Children, Features, Glimpses
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glimpses-baby feet

I WISH SHE COULD SEE

(source)

 Be careful! Never forget what you have seen the LORD do for you. Do not let these things escape from your mind as long as you live! And be sure to pass them on to your children and grandchildren.

Deuteronomy 4:9

NLT

Yesterday I got a note from a young mother who reads my words in the early morning hours as she is nursing her baby. She had carved out time to write me in one of those rare moments when her two-year-old was napping and her six-month-old was playing contentedly.

And I felt as if I’d been given a treasured gift. As if this woman somehow knew I needed something only she could give… and she weighed the repercussions, thought about what it would cost her… and gave away her time wrapped in loving words, courage giving words.

I found myself thinking about her early this morning, praying that God would give back to her one hundred times what she gave to me. Because she’s one of my girls now, though we have never met, and I see her as I write.

If you give, you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full measure,

Pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over.

Whatever measure you use in giving— large or small— it will be used to measure what is given back to you.

Luke 6:38

NLT

She just let me know that my life is making a difference. That my words have helped. That her life is better now because of me. That my stories, all of them about “what I have seen the LORD do…” have helped her to notice the same.

I see her in my mind… toys strewn around the room, dishes piled in the sink, a dishwasher needing emptying. I see the diapers bought in bulk and I wonder how many hours of her week are spent in front of the changing table, wiping bottoms, soothing fussy babies, trying to get the toddler to hold still.

And I wonder if she could have possibly known this time was coming.  When she was studying for an exam at a university far away, dreaming great dreams, trying on her wedding dress amidst giggling friends. She couldn’t see these days.

And then I see her later.

Still beautiful, but with that kind of worn-in beauty now.

You know what I mean: crinkles along her eyes, but her cheeks are smooth, her smile welcoming. She’s a woman comfortable in her never-perfect skin.

The kind who looks elegant because she wants to— first thing in the morning while she’s sharing a cup of coffee with her husband, and then later as she’s doing something— something significant, something important that requires the skills of a capable woman who has lived well and wisely.

And I wish she could see what I see.

I wish she could know that someday she’ll have hours and hours to write notes and give courage. That younger women will need her stories then, that she will be the one with “more life-giving encouraging words” from “lessons learned” as she so beautifully wrote.

I wish I could hold her when the storms come, when the doubts and worries and grief keep her awake at night. I wish I could point her to the words God has used to feed me full in the early morning hours when it’s just Him and I.

I wish I could bring her with me this week as I prepare to entrust my baby boy— the one grown tall and strong now— into the capable hands of a woman who will commit the rest of her life to him.

I wish she could see me as I pick up my once-babies at the airport, as we hug long and close, as we cry and laugh and empty our words all over each other.

I wish she could see how all those hours were worth it.

That out of the loneliness comes an intimacy that cannot be bought or achieved or had in any other way than what she’s doing now. That the babies whose bottoms I wiped are now my best friends, my stalwart loyalists.

I wish she could see that my baby boys, those toddlers who didn’t nap when I wanted them to, who worried me every day for too many years— how they grew up and they married the best of women. I wish she could see how those girls are now my girls. Women who love me too, just because of all those lonely hours when all I did was work and nurse and rock and take care of the boys who would become their men.

I wish she could see the future while she’s in her present because the future turns the present into the best days of her life.

Not the easiest— never that— but the most valuable, the most effective, the most investment-worthy.

I am like a wealthy man who looks back and sees the brilliance of the risk he took early on when the company whose stocks he went without extras to buy, went world-wide and made him richer than he ever could have imagined.

Because I am richer than I ever could have imagined. And this is one of those weeks when I am counting the gold. And someday she will too. But she won’t have enough time to count it all because her kids will be calling her to come, to talk, to see, to be a part of the beautiful times of their lives. Because she’s mom. Because she did what she needed to do, and then did more. And then did it again.

I wish she could see…

From my heart,

Diane

P.S. If you are one of those who “needs to see that the future turns the present into the best of days”, will you let me know? I would be honored to pray for you even as I relish my present-future.

Posted
September 22
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Diamond.Glimpses

LIVING IN THE NOW

(source)

Jesus Christ is the same

yesterday

today

forever

Hebrews 13:8

 

Today is the first day of Wedding Week at my house.

WW has been the endpoint on our to-do list for months. Actually, that’s not completely true— WW has been the focal point of my to-do list. Even with all my hints and reminders and notes and suggestions, it has not entered Phil’s head that Wedding Week is the deadline when everything Must. Get. Done.

And maybe that’s why he’s positioned to have fun this week and I’m up ridiculously early, uptight and anxious because of all the to-do’s not crossed off The List.

I know that if I stay up late tonight and get up early tomorrow and work like a crazy woman I can still do it. The garage that resembles the aftermath of an earthquake, the books still in boxes that crowd my creative space, the guest room comforter that I haven’t replaced with that charming crisp comforter I saw in the catalogue— that catalogue that followed me to Firwood Cottage as if to say,

“Uh, Di… you really need newer, better, brighter, nicer stuff… let us help you! And we’ll offer you a discount so you can feel like you got a deal! Then you can put the old one that’s too-good-for-Goodwill in the garage…”

In just a few days everyone will see my not-doneness.

My sister, who is the best decorator in the world—the one whose Pinterest page I copy shamelessly, whose garage has never, ever been messy.

My daughter who been hearing stories about our new/old, way smaller, and more charming home but still hasn’t seen it and probably imagines it is nicer than it is.

And the rest of my kids whose eyes grew round with incredulity as they watched the process of turning what was a stinky, ugly 1969 ranch into a home their perfectionist mom can find rest in… and still cannot quite believe that I’ve really adopted the minimalist mentality they embrace.

And oh— I need to wash my windows! Add that to my list of not-dones.

Or… not.

Maybe the garage will wait for a day when I have time to dawdle through memories before I give the rest away. Maybe the rain is coming in a couple of days to wash the dust off the windows. And maybe I like those little hand prints silhouetted on the door to the patio— because when baby Scarlet comes this week she’ll see those markings of her last visit and feel right at home, right welcome at Amma and Pop’s house.

Maybe my list needn’t drive me. Maybe I am more than the sum total of what I haven’t got done. Maybe clean windows don’t define my worth as a woman.

Maybe.

And maybe it’s time I do what I’ve been learning. Because starting last spring and all this summer I’ve heard the wind of the Spirit whispering rest to my striving. I’ve been in a sort of remedial school of the Spirit— hearing, feeling, sensing an invitation into a new way of experiencing His love.

Of living fully in the present, of listening to Him in the moment— this moment.

A way of being that unchains me from my self-imposed obligations, setting me free to be aware of His speaking to me now, not later, not when my list is done, not when I have time.

All summer I’ve been going on worship walks. Not to be confused with power walks or prayer walks or the-dog-needs-walking walks. These are more like rambles, strolls through the woods near my house. No watch, no phone, just me.

And I notice.

How the wind cleans the firs and cedars of excess needles, blanketing the ground with pungent softness. The freshness of the sky, the pokiness of blackberry bushes, the spinning of spiders.

Mostly I notice Him; the maker of beauty, redeemer of wrecked things; this One whose specialty is bringing order to chaos and beauty to brokenness.

And on these rambling forays He has been teaching me to notice the now. What He is doing now, what He is saying now, who He is wanting me to love on right now.

Now is so entirely unnatural for me. I am a dreamer; a woman who lives in her head, who thinks up ideas and possibilities and plans. I live by lists, all those things I want to do in the hopes that I can capture that elusive sense of completion. Of dreams achieved.

I live, not in the now, but in the when.

When the children grow up, when the cottage is finished, the bills are paid, the book written, the garage organized…I’ll be done: happy, complete, and at peace.

And some of you live in the then. The happy days of how it used to be. You fill your moments with memories of a time that seemed less stressful, better, fuller, more satisfying and safe. You’re thankful… for the past, for what used to be.

When your belly didn’t bulge, when children didn’t bicker, when you were being pursued. You mourn days lost, a way of life you will never have again.

You live, not in the now, but in the then.

I think God is all for memories, and certainly all for dreams. But those are places to visit- occasionally. Take a vacation into the past. Go on an adventure into future possibilities. But…

Live in the now.

And so, I tuck The List away this week. I file it under “later”, close the drawer, and look up. I catch His grin and smile back.

He is here and He’s been here all along. He loves this family of mine, loves the way they laugh and tease and shed tears so easily and have to apologize so frequently. He loves their passion and their personalities, relishes their genuine, rare, flawed-but-faithful love for each other. And so do I.

I am drinking it in, great gulps of now.

Will you join me?

From my heart,

Diane

P.S. I am loving your comments! I felt welcomed back all week as I read your words and heard your hearts once again. Thank you. I feel richer when we’re talking.

P.S.S. If you want peeks at my week, I’ll be posting pictures shamelessly on Instagram. @dianewcomer is my moniker there, a fun place to notice the now. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

still trying to reconcile my list with my reality

 

the one whose minimalist message has tugged at my too-much sensibilities long enough to convince me to learn to live simply.

Posted
September 18
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Features, Glimpses
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Glimpses-beach

I’M BACK

(source)

Dear Girls,

I have been, for the past several months, cocooned in quiet. No new posts, no fresh thoughts, rarely peeking my head out into this big wide world of the web.

I didn’t plan on this; didn’t intend to take a Sabbatical from blog writing. I just lost steam. Too many items on my to-do list that weren’t getting done but that needed doing— combined with a subtle shift in my motivations that I hadn’t detected… and I found myself with nothing to say.

A strange condition for a woman who often has to purposely shush the onslaught of words in order to clear her head.

And yet, even in my silence, God has been speaking: soothing, convicting, teaching, revealing things that needed uprooting down deep. I’ve filled journals with lessons learned, with Scriptures He has etched into my soul, with warnings to myself, and with tidbits of His grace.

And I’ve been writing my book. The rough draft is done and now I’m in the process of following the wisdom of my editor. It’s a slow process but I am learning so much and having more fun with it than I ever thought possible.

Sometime about mid-summer I started to ask God if He still wants me to write via the blog. Assuming nothing, I felt the need of a mandate once again. What a terrible waste of time if I just keep doing what I’ve done without His power— and so, borrowing Moses’ plea, I cried, “If You don’t go with me, I’m not going!”

I heard nothing for a long time.

Yet I felt that tension too— like a weighted pause. As if He wasn’t speaking because I hadn’t been listening, not really listening. You know, like a mama who throws out questions but doesn’t stop long enough to hear the answer?

Eventually His silence got my attention.

As I carved out time to really listen, leaning in and waiting, I heard the words of Jesus to poor, conflicted, feeling-so-sorry-for-himself Peter: Feed My sheep. 

And as He often does, I heard Him whisper with the gentlest answer…

“Di, do you love Me more than these?

Yes, Lord, You know I do.

Feed My lambs… take care of My sheep… feed My sheep.” (read John 21- so rich!)

And sometimes I think we need to hear that… both the challenge and the clear direction. Because it takes a love more than these to keep doing what we’re called to do day after day after day. It’s true for the mother of little ones, for the woman who works to provide, for the student and the caretaker and the teacher and the business owner and… the blog writer.

My more than these includes all the pressures I put on myself to live perfect. Perfect order, perfect balance, perfect words. To love Him more than these means to live at rest with imperfection so I can serve Him in this messy, mixed up world of ideas and relationships.

Will I ever really figure it out? All I know is that…

I feel as though I have so much to say that I’m going to burst if I don’t start writing it down! 

Lessons about prioritizing, about doing less, about living in the moment instead of always fussing about the next thing… as well as good books I’ve been reading that I’m wanting to recommend to anyone who loves to read and longs to learn.

And so here I am, heading into a fresh season of writing for this blog, excited about where He is leading and what He is saying.

We will be posting on a schedule (for those among us who want to know all about order and structure and what to expect!) that goes something like this:

MondaysOur House

For those of you who followed Letters To My Son, these letters are a continuation of the story. Matt and Simona are getting married on September 27th and I will begin posting a week later on October 6th.

For the better part of the first year of their marriage I will write letters filled with lessons I have learned… things I wish I’d known… advice… and encouragement.

Some letters will be directed to Matthew- and men in general. As an older woman— a mom— I have some things I want to say that I hope will help men know how women think and process and what we need in order to thrive.

Other letters will deal with women, written to Simona— and all my girls.

And many of the letters will be to the both of them— to men and women who want to understand a better way of loving well, who want to learn how to…

“walk in the way of love,

just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us

 as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Ephesian 5:2

And as an added bonus, Hillary has agreed to illustrate these posts in her beautifully creative and often symbolic expression of truth.

Wednesday or Thursday: Glimpses

These are short (well, at least in theory) spill-overs from my times of listening to God in His Word. My chance to open up my heart to you and let you know what I am learning and how He is speaking into my very real, ordinary life.

I’ll also review books I am loving. As a voracious reader, I’m dying to connect you with authors whose words are making a difference in my life.

On Some Fridays: The Kitchen

That’s right! Elizabeth is cooking up a storm in her tiny vintage kitchen in the heart of L.A. And maybe, if we’re especially lucky, she’ll post a few video clips of her trusty sous chef, aka Scarlet. There will also be several guest foodies contributing recipes and instructions from time to time.

As always, I crave your comments. Your words open up a conversation so that I know who I am writing to.

With a heart rested and ready,

Diane

P.S. Do you have a particular need you’d like me to address? A question that’s been bugging you? Please leave it in the comments and I’ll do my best to listen well.

P.S.S. If you haven’t already subscribed via e-mail, might I suggest you do so now? And follow me on Instagram (@dianewcomer) if you’d like to see pictures of the wedding and all the fun that surrounds it.

 

 

Posted
July 28
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P86A0678

ISH: husband

(source)

“I will make you my wife forever,

showing you righteousness and justice,

unfailing love and compassion.

I will be faithful to you and make you mine,

And you will finally know Me as LORD.”

Hosea 2:19,20

NLT

The Meaning of the Name:

All through out Scripture, God uses the marriage metaphor to give us the sense of the relationship He wants with each of us.

In the book of Ruth, Boaz is a captivating picture of Jesus the Redeemer, coming to rescue us and sweep us away with His love.

In the Song of Solomon, we are invited to peer into the private moments of a couple in love.  The poetry poured onto those pages cannot help but point us to a relationship with God that is far more intimate than anything we have ever before experienced.

Then Hosea is ordered by God to marry an unfaithful, unworthy woman—just so He can demonstrate in tangible story how much He longs for us regardless of our filthy history.

In the book of Ephesians, Paul uses the same symbolism to capture God’s heart for the Church.  He speaks of nourishing and cherishing us, of washing us, of presenting us as lovely brides to the One who waits to draw us close.

Do you know Him in that way? 

Can you shed your stiff image of a God waiting to pounce on you at the slightest provocation?  Do you understand how deep His love runs for you?  That He is crazy for you?

He is the only One who is always faithful.

He is the only One who will never leave you or disappoint you. 

He is really the only One who loves you just the way you are. 

After all, He is… your Husband.

Ephesian 5:25-27

Isaiah 54:5-8

Hosea

Isaiah 62:4,5

 

Posted
July 21
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P86A5313

ELOHLM: Mighty Creator God

(source)

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

“So God created people in his own image,

God patterned them after Himself;

male and female He created them.”

Genesis 1:1, 27

NLT


The meaning of the Name:

In the first hours of time, God took upon Himself the work of creating a world of life.  Out of “a waste and emptiness”[1], He moved and spoke and painted beauty.  With His fingers, the Psalmist tells us, He created sunsets andstorms and hummingbirds and lightning. His creation reflects His very nature, shouting out His “invisible attributes”[2] to a world empty without Him.

And He created us.  Each of us, made in His image, a uniquely faceted aspect of who He is.[3]

Elohim has been creating since He first opened the pages of His story and He is creating still. 

He made you and He is still making you, writing your story as a part of His own. With intricate skill He carves His face into your life, smoothing roughened edges, correcting crooked angles, shaping His beauty into who you are.

Do you sense His artistry?  Are you soft and pliable, yielding to His touch?  Or are you oblivious to His creativity—dashing helter skelter through your days irregardless of His grace?

Pause a moment and think.

God began a good work in you before you were born[4] and He hasn’t quit.  In fact, He is perfecting and polishing His work in you today and every day.[5]Are you impeding His progress?  Resisting His touch?  Dragging your heals at what you know He wants you to do? Could it be that you think you know better than Elohim what your life ought to look like?

Are you trying to control God?

If your soul confirms the conviction that what you really long for is His creative hand in your life and circumstances, then tell Him that right now.  Let Him do what He has been doing since the beginning of time.

After all, He is…Elohim.

From My Heart,

Diane

Genesis 1

Philippians 1:6

Isaiah 40:28,29

Isaiah 65:17-66:2

Jeremiah 18:1-6


[1]Genesis 1:2 NASB Open Bible

[2] Romans 1:20

[3] Genesis 2:26,27: 9:6

[4] Psalm 139

[5] Philippians 1:6

 

Posted
July 14
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P86A5643

IMMANUEL

  (source)

The beauty of this name of God is unsurpassed.

Literally rendered, with us is God, the name echoes both the longing of God’s heart towards us and our aching emptiness without Him.

One of Satan’s most effective ploys seems to be to make use feel isolated— like nobody knows what’s going on with us, nobody understands, nobody really cares.

Alone.

Jacob’s solitary flight from his raging brother took him away from all that was safe and familiar. After several days of traveling along the ridge road through the hill country, watching his back in fear of Esau, Jacob fell exhausted to the ground near the town of Luz. Finding no shelter, he lay down to sleep with a stone for a pillow. There he slept the sleep of one exhausted from anxiety, tormented by regrets and feelings of failure. He had sinned, and that sin left him alone and afraid, his future uncertain.

Sometime during the night, Jacob had a dream. He saw a stairway between heaven and the earth he lay on. Coming up and down through that portal, Jacob saw angels busy about their task of bringing messages to the sons of men and help to the people of God.

And that’s when he heard this astonishing news that God was with him.

“I will be with you and will protect you wherever you go.

I will someday bring you safely back to this land.

I will be with you constantly until

I have finished giving you everything I have promised.”

(Gen.28:15)

Jacob woke with a start! Could it be? Had he heard right? Was God really promising to be with him no matter what? In spite of his mistakes, regardless of his failures?

The very idea scared him to death! For him to realize that God was with him changed everything.  “Surely”, Jacob remonstrated, “God is in this place and I wasn’t even aware of it.”

From the beginning of Creation, God has made His presence known to His people.  With Adam and Eve as they strolled together through the garden during the cool morning hours, with Abraham as he dreamed of a better life, even with Paul as he fiercely fought against His plan.

God was with each of them.  And God is with you.

Do you believe that?  Really?  Do you believe that God is with you in the good times and the bad, no matter what?  It’s easy to believe that God is with us when we’re surrounded by raised hands, swaying to the sounds of worship.  But what about when you’re afraid? Or alone?  Or ashamed?

Hold on to the hope of His presence. 

Cling to Him when you’ve sinned and when you’ve failed. 

Run to Him when no one else understands.

He is… God with us.

From My Heart,

Diane

Isaiah 7:14

Matthew 1:22,23

Genesis 28:15

Matthew 28:20

Psalm 139

Joshua 1:5

Joshua 1:9

John 14:3

Hebrews 13:5

Isaiah 43:2-5