Posted
February 15
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A LOVE THAT LASTS A LIFETIME

I was 19 when I married Phil. Nineteen! Polished and responsible on the outside, idealistic and immature on the inside.

Phil was my knight in shining armor, promising to sweep me into a happily-ever-after life of romance and passion, castles and crowns. For the rest of my days I would be loved, feel loved, overflow with loved-ness.

We would be different than my parents— or his. Or anyone else we knew for that matter. Fight? Argue? Bicker? Grow apart? Not a chance! We were better than that; we loved each other better than that. Our love would set a new precedent, we would be the ones to lead the way for others to follow.

Ha! My resolve lasted all the way till the first time he hurt my feelings. The moment he alluded to the idea that maybe I had some growing up to do.

The first time I didn’t quite measure up to his mom. 

He never said those words. But I knew— I knew he was thinking it. Ruth Comer was gentle, submissive, hard working, kind. She cooked a delicious dinner every night—every single night— without fail. She never cried or sulked or argued or needed. Ever.

I, on the other hand, could hardly get a decent batch of food on the table.  I cried at Hallmark commercials, at off-hand comments that sounded like criticisms, at things he said and things he didn’t say.

Lurking just beneath the surface of my try-hard-to-be-the-perfect-wife façade was a little girl who couldn’t quite measure up to her own ideals. No matter how hard I tried. I wanted to be better than I was, different, the Perfect Woman: productive, efficient, organized, logical.

At the tender age of nineteen I didn’t know I had hurts inside that needed healing. I didn’t know that my husband couldn’t fix my brokenness— that he wasn’t supposed to.

Somehow I thought his love would cure all that was wrong with me.

All I knew for sure was that I needed more love than he could give, and I assumed that meant we were doomed.
Doomed to disappointment. Doomed to failure. Doomed to late night sessions trying to “resolve” hurts that didn’t make sense.

On a sure track towards everything I didn’t want my marriage to become.

What I didn’t know, couldn’t yet grasp, was the truth I know now. The truth that romance novels and movies and little girls’ dreams are not made of. The truth that has given us over 38 years of real love…

A love that lasts a lifetime involves two imperfect, flawed, deeply broken people finding all their voracious need for intimacy not in each other, but in the with-ness of God. 

When both of us press in to God in such a way that we sense that He is present, He is working, redeeming all those broken pieces that create havoc on our insides.

When all that love and respect and satisfaction and romance we want from each other isn’t enough and we let go of expecting what our spouses will never be able to give us— that’s when true love grows and thrives and becomes something beautiful.

True love doesn’t fit neatly on the inside of a pink card. Real romance looks more like two people with gnarled hands and lined faces who’ve learned to receive love from the One who loves them like no other and then found ways to pour that love on each other.

And that kind of love lasts a lifetime.

From my heart,

Diane

P.S. As I write these words, Phil and I are on our way to Scotland. We’ll be teaching an Intentional: Raising Passionate Jesus Followers conference in Glasgow this weekend. On Sunday, Phil will be preaching on marriage at RE:Hope, Glasgow. Then we travel to the Lake District in England for a little romance, relaxation, and time to dream about the days ahead. I’ll also be sharing my story at a women’s event while we’re there in Windemere, England.

Follow us on Instagram if you’d like to follow our fun!

@dianewcomer

@philmcomer

@intentional_parents

Posted
October 8
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The Fragrance of Trust

Dear Friends,

Our family is in the midst of an achingly tense time; a time so full of fear and clinging and faith and worry that I’m not sure from one moment to the next exactly what I am feeling.

A time when the presence of God is so near as to be the truest of all truths.

A few days ago, our little six-month-old granddaughter, Beatrice was admitted to the hospital with strange symptoms. She’d had a cold, so Elizabeth thought perhaps her fussiness was an indication of an ear infection. When the doctor looked at her, he sent her straight to the hospital and she called all of us to pray.

After hours of tests and consultations and more tests, a Pediatric Neurologist broke the news: little Birdie has developed Infantile Spasms (IS), a rare epileptic syndrome that causes nearly continuous spasms in her brain. It is a dismal diagnosis fraught with what-if’s that are too frightening to contemplate.

For the first few days all we heard was bad news, followed by worse news. How could a simple cold turn into a life-altering, dreadful diagnosis so quickly?

But our family is not new to the world of broken bodies, of out-of-the-blue bad news. So we alerted friends to pray. Who in turn alerted their friends to pray. And word has spread, with hundreds, maybe thousands, letting us know that they have been awakened by the Spirit to battle in prayer for our little Birdie.

Right from the first word, I had that sense that this was to be a battle. That the enemy who invented disease was using this to test our faith and to shut down the beautiful voice of a little girl who is destined to grow up to be a woman this world needs.

And isn’t that what all illness is really about? An in-your-face challenge for us to blame God for something sin allowed? An attempt by all that is evil to shut out the beauty of a life created in the image of God?

So we have battled in prayer.

And suddenly the news started getting (a little) better. The MRI showed no damage to her brain so far, which means that they caught it really early. We all sighed with relief.

Brilliant specialists were consulted and a plan of action settled on. A plan that requires Birdie’s body to be flooded with massive amounts of steroids to stop the seizures before her brain suffers irreversible damage. The protocol is dangerous, but doing nothing is not an option.

So here we are: suffering.

Sometimes my prayers have sounded more like moans. Oh God…. please! Please don’t let the evil one steal our joy, our delight, our Birdie. Please!

At other times my prayers have been fierce and full of faith: No! Leave our girl alone! Not with our girl, you don’t! As if somehow I can redirect the disease in my direction, a warrior doing battle.

And through it all, I know my Father is weeping with me, with us. I feel His sorrow. My eyes soak in His Word and my heart leaps at His speaking.

Right away my soul stopped at the story in Mark 9. A little boy brought to Jesus by his helpless father. Remember that dad? He’s the one who said, “I do believe, help my unbelief.” At which Jesus immediately held out his hand to the child and not only stopped the seizures but restored his ability to speak.

I know now what that father felt. He watched his little boy convulse and then regress into an inability to express himself. And I cry out for mercy on our little one to find her voice and be who she is— and for all the world to wonder… to worship the One who made her as she is.

And then I think of the mamas I know whose babies have not been healed. I learn from their beauty, from the softness that comes in suffering. I learn from the wisdom won in the midst of dark days and endless nights.

And I read my own words, tested and tried and proven true through it all:

I choose to believe that God is good even though He didn’t heal me. That when life goes wrong and I suffer, He is with me. To join with the prophet to sing “He deal wondrously with us!” even when the wonderful life I expected doesn’t turn out the way I’d hoped. (from He Speaks In The Silence)

So I will pray and wait and hope for healing. I will do all I can to alleviate— or at least lessen— the intensity of the pressures my dear girl Elizabeth is enduring. I will cling close to the Savior, my Redeemer, the One who is coming soon to turn our tears into the purest perfume, a fragrance found only in deep trust. I will see the truth— that even in the midst of this, He is dealing wondrously with me… and Elizabeth and Brook and Duke and Scarlet… and little Beatrice.

From a heart that knows He is right here, right now,

Diane

Posted
September 19
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The Way Of Beauty

I woke to the crisp cold of an almost-fall morning,

blind to beauty,

barely aware of a day full of promise.

 

I trudged— yes, that’s the right word— to my cabin in the back,

oblivious to the setting of the moon,

to the lingering stars,

to the sweet scent of dew lacing the dawn.

 

I did what I always do: lit the candle, poured my tea,

wrapped myself in the comfort of solitude,

invited Him in.

 

And again— again!

He met me there.

 

While He opened my mind to my heart

and listened…

as I moaned- again- about too many to-do’s.

 

And then He spoke. Softly, kindly,  firm:

 All I have is Yours,

and all You have is mine.

 

Yes! Yes— I know those words, this truth underlined and asterisked.

I know what it means; know how it lives,

how I live when these words ring true.

 

And His words change everything~

This day, made by Him, for me; lived by me, for Him.

Beautiful.

 

And now I see, I hear, I sense Him as the morning dawns.

His hand at my back, guiding me, leading me, showing me

a better way for this almost-fall day.

 

A way of beauty.

 

From my heart,

Diane

P.S.  If you’re finding a too long to-do list blinding you to beauty, will you leave your name so I can pray for you as I go on my walks in these hue-changing woods?

Posted
August 16
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A Work-Out Plan For The Soul

You do not realize now what I am doing,

but later you will understand.

John 13v7

Sometimes life is so beautiful and right and perfect, it takes your breath away.

I’ve been relishing a lot of days like that lately. My Grands skipping over to my house on the pretext of an errand, really just wanting to check in on us. Duke with his curiosity and Scarlet with that Cheshire grin that seems to ask,

How could Amma and Pops possibly fill their time without us around?

My life is rich and good, filled with relationships I treasure and work I love.

Yet there are other times in each of our lives when the bad of real life pollutes our days, socking us with ugliness— days when the summer sky is obscured by a dirty grim haze.

We don’t take pictures or post bright and cheery quotes surrounded by flowers on those days. No emoticons sprinkled through that part of the story. Smiley faces just don’t cut it; we don’t parade bad days on Instagram.

Instead, we ask questions no one wants to answer.

We whine— some of us on the inside where no one sees; hidden grief at the not okay-ness of today.

Others are all out-loud about what irks them; spitting up sour milk like my little grand-girl, Birdie, who heaves and spits and dribbles, leaving a trail of goo behind.

I have heard the questions— posed many of my own. I’ve tossed those queries into conversations and heard the sputtering response; listened as someone who cares tries, and fails, to answer.

Why? Why is this happening to me? How come life is so hard?

 And the worst question of all, the one that signals a soul suffering the onslaught of an enemy’s arrows;

Why did God let this happen?

 Right now, in the midst of my very-good-days reality, I am watching two women suffer. Women I know well. Honest women who do not pretend that all is fine when all is most certainly not fine. Theirs is genuine hardship, real hurt.

When I’m with one of these women, I get splattered with spit up. She can’t seem to help it any more than my little Birdie can help regurgitating all over anyone who dares comes near. She wants someone to rescue her, to make it better, to bring back the good days. She hurts. She lashes out, not even knowing she’s hurting others in the process.

The other woman is handling her hurt with dignity and calm, a restful presence even as she struggles with injustice. She stops herself when her heart inevitably circles back to the yuck, knowing, believing, holding to the words of Jesus:

“… later you will understand”

And I watch and I listen and I wonder, what would I do? How would I respond? How will I be when real life isn’t all hunky-dory, as it is right now? When the pressure builds and it’s all I can do to swallow hard. Which choice will I make?

The way of grace or the way of goo?

Two women, two responses. I want to be the gracious woman. Of course I do, and so do you. But how?

Is it possible to prepare for ugly days? To ready ourselves for those times when we cannot see the sky and we wonder with an urgency that borders on obsession if we can possibly endure even this—

I think the answer is yes. In fact, I know it is. And so I’m making myself a list.

Not a do-this-and-you’ll-be-fine kind of list, but more of a work-out plan for my soul. A way to strengthen myself in God.

MY LIST

  • Learn to thank God for both the good and the not-so-good. Because sometimes when I am grateful for good days, I fail to acknowledge that no one, least of all God, promises that everyday will always be good.
  • Learn the limitations of sympathy. Because no one can make it better and all the spilling of our souls onto another only makes us sick of ourselves.
  • Learn who can handle my rawness. Because not everyone can, and not everyone should. Honesty is beautiful, but hard times bring out the parts of ourselves that are hidden and real and really stinky.
  • Learn to grieve with God. Because really, He is the Comforter. No one else comes close, no one can fix it, no one should. But when I bring Him into my mess, He carries me close and I feel the calm, sweet relief only He can give.
  • Learn to curate what I say to myself. Because seeing life through Spirit-eyes, hearing hardship through Spirit-ears, changes everything.
  • Learn to ask the right questions. Because the wrong questions just sink me deeper into messy muck. Instead of, why me? How about trying, Father, what is this about? What are You asking from me? Please, Lord, will You show me Your beauty even in this?
  • Learn to sink yourself into the stories in Scripture. Because they are given for our instruction, written down for us to see, and learn, and know how God works in the middle of our messes.
  • Learn to see beauty every day. Because it’s there, these glimpses of God’s magnificence. And the relishing of His sweetness lingers long after I’ve passed by. Breathe it in deep enough to permeate your soul.

Two women. Two ways to deal with the invasion of hardship.

One whose soul glows, growing more and more beautiful as she finds once again that her hope is in God. That He is real in the midst of hardship, that He is close and present even when He doesn’t make it all better.

The other, stuck and struggling, seemingly immune to the Spirit’s whispers. Hurting people because she’s hurting. Unhelp-able because the only help to be had isn’t enough to make the hurt go away.

And me: watching and learning. Knowing I am prone to obsessive spit-up. Purposing to learn and practice and be alert now so that later, when every day isn’t all sunshine and sweetness, I will know how to be strong in God.

Can you add to my list?

Because I think we need to learn from each other how to be people permeated by beauty even when life isn’t beautiful.

From my heart,

Diane

Posted
August 8
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Glimpses
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RICHES

This morning I am reveling in God’s goodness to me.

I am rich, wealthier than I ever thought possible.

Though I have yet to engage in the lovely practice of “counting gifts” in a journal of gratitude, my heart can’t help but keep track of God’s goodness to me.

I remember once, when I was in Bible College, a crusty old professor who seemed to delight in crushing the exuberance of incoming students, stated that, “the Cross is the gift, not these every day things we give thanks for.”

He was right of course. And wrong too.

The Cross is the gift, yet out of the ultimate sacrifice, a love grew and grows and spills over into our every-days. The joy we were meant to experience in the Garden shows up in bits and snatches of beauty on our way back into the kingdom in the here and now.

I think that cantankerous professor knows that now that he’s in the presence of the Giver of gifts. And I’ll bet he glows with the joy of it, instead of glowering as he once did.

Wanna know why I’m feeling so rich this morning?

 It’s cuz I have a secret I’ve been longing to tell you about and I finally can!

If you’ve been following my blog for long, you know that I started it with the help of my daughter, Elizabeth. She wrote The Kitchen portion of the blog as a way of helping us to see the value and beauty in food and feeding and glorifying God with and in our bodies. Before she and her family moved to L.A. she also held my hand as I learned how to do all the techie stuff.

Well, girls, she’s back in Portland. As in, living here. Right here… across the street and down two houses…

Brook and Elizabeth and Duke and Scarlet and Beatrice moved into a darling little house sixty steps from Firwood Cottage.

Can you believe it?

All the while I knew it might be happening I didn’t dare believe it would. (Why do we do that to ourselves?!) But it did! Too many “coincidences” to ever think this is anything but a great, big, beautifully wrapped gift from God.

I’m the wealthiest woman in the world!

 My pantry is filled with healthy, mom-approved snacks for all the moments in my day when the Grands come to check in on me— which they do, all through-out the day! Little Birdie breaks into the gentlest smile every time she sees me— and I can’t wipe the silly grin off my face when she does. How is it that a 5 month old can validate my entire life with one smile? I don’t know, but she does!

And I want to tell every young mom who is struggling this morning with the relentless exhaustion of being a meeter-of-needs to babies and toddlers and pre-schoolers:

What you are doing today is going to make you rich someday!

 You can’t see it now. I wish you could. I wish I had.

Every time you wipe that messy face, every time you cuddle that child close, every minute you put into that little one is an investment that will yield riches.

 I am counting my blessings over here in my cabin in the back… and every one of them have names. And I am praying for all you mamas who need to know it’s worth it.

May God give you the strength to believe that what you do today matters.

 From a heart bursting with the joy of it,

Diane

Posted
July 28
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Glimpses
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A Day To Play

David was dancing before the LORD with all his might…

2 Samuel 6:14

I got up this morning intent to work, to work hard and long in order to make up for whiling away my vacation days, accomplishing nothing.

Nothing at all.

You see, last week our family met in Lake Tahoe at a cabin of a friend— not everyone, but all who could get away for our last minute trip. I went with a list of things I could work on in case I got bored. As if the thought of long, languid days might make my hard-working ancestors turn over in their graves in shame.

I didn’t get bored.

In fact, every single minute seemed filled with something much more important than my list. Every morning I got up early, heaping blankets on the lounge chair facing a pinhole glimpse of the lake, and breathed in the beauty of the high Sierras.

Within moments, no matter how carefully I tip-toed, one or two of my Grands managed to crawl under the mound of furry throws, their wiggly bodies and sharp elbows tucking in tight. I couldn’t hear what they were giggling about but my hand on their chests felt the rumble of words. My resolve to never “plug in” my cochlear until I’m fully caffeinated didn’t last long— my six Grands are entirely unable to comprehend the thought of their Amma not hearing what they have to say.

I’m one of the gang, after all, the designated Chief Story-Teller among a tribe of avid make-believers.

Not one bored moment.

We drove home Sunday, starting in on the mounds of laundry, restocking the fridge, doing what needed doing. This week would be my catch up week. I’d get to every email, wash the windows, get all my prep for a conference done, get ahead in my writing project. I’d be orderly and organized and productive!

Which is why, early this morning, I couldn’t believe my ears. Not my deaf ears, nor my plugged in cochlear ears, but that listening-to-God part of me that senses— at least sometimes— what He is saying.

“Make this a play day!”

 No, no, no! I have work to do, catching up to accomplish. Windows to wash and words to write.

“Come! Come play in my Presence. Let Me— not your chore list— guide this day.”

 Really? Are You sure? Isn’t this just me being lazy? I have too much to do, what if I don’t get it all done?

On and on I argued into the silence. I pattered into the house to make more tea and saw those spider-webbed windows, thought about that conference next week and worried. Berated my mind for playing tricks on me. Surely I’d heard wrong.

On my way down the path to my cabin in the back I heard it again:

Come play!

I’m inviting you to dance and delight in this day. I want you, not the driven-because-you-should-be-responsible you. I want the Real You. The one I made for delight, that girl who marvels at the sight of wild blackberries hanging over the water, who relishes the smell of the lake like treasured perfume.

Come, dear one, come.”

 And so I am. I’m coming.

I’m scrunching my hair into a pony-tail, slathering my skin with suntan lotion, and heading to the lake. I’ll take my kayak out  and pick those wild blackberries that surely must taste uniquely delicious after hanging over the water that smells like moss and forest and fish. I’m going to play.

Because He asked. And I want to. And maybe He’ll send some rain to wash my windows for me and if not, I’ll simply enjoy the sparkle of spider-spun lace on the glass.

And next week I’ll tell the women to listen, to lean in close and hear His beckonings to play, to delight, to leave their lists and relish the One who wishes we’d be just like His children.

I think my Grands may have taught me a thing or two about that last week.

From a heart learning to play and delight the day away,

Diane

P.S. And you? When was the last time you let yourself play? Have you taken time to delight in the One who thought up summer? Might you take a moment to tell us how you played or what you wish you’d played?

Posted
July 6
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God Has Things He Wants To Say To You

“I still have many things to say to you…”

John 16:13

Di, I have many things to say to you.

The words jump off the page of my Bible and straight into my heart. His words take my breath away.

Me? You have many things to say to me?

I burrow deeper into my big white chair, curling my legs under me. I pour a cup of tea, I’m listening now. On my lap my journal jockeys for position with my Bible. I hold a pen, poised and ready. If God actually has many things to say to me isn’t it best that I write down what He says?

And then I go back and read the whole of what John wrote. I want to know exactly what Jesus said. I want to make sure that His words are for me, for us, for every one of His followers. And I want to make sure I’m listening to Him—for what He has to say, not for what I want to hear. I need His words this morning, not my own, not anyone else’s— His.

I have the audacity to believe God speaks to those who lean in to listen.

I still have many things to say to you,

But you cannot bear them now.

When the Spirit of truth comes He will guide you into all truth;

For He will speak whatever He hears, and He will declare it to you.

All that the Father has is Mine.

For this reason I said that He will take what is Mine and declare it to you.

John 16:13-15

I’ve been reading the words penned by John for months now; both John’s Gospel and his letters. Every time I sink my soul into his stories about Jesus and his long, rambling tangents (commentators call these discourses), something seems to stir inside me.

His words stir a longing, delight, awe.

I’m smitten, enamored by the picture John paints of Jesus. And just a little envious too. How did John come to be full of such confidence that Jesus not only loved him passionately, but actually liked him too? How is it that he referred to himself with such convincing conviction as the apostle Jesus loved? Not once or twice, but again, and again, and again as if he really believed it.

For years, decades, I have known the astounding truth that God loves me. And every year that I walk in His steps, learning to follow as close as I can, I have known that love a little more.

But to call myself “the one Jesus loved”— as in specifically? As in, Jesus loves the me-that-I-am? The possibity that Jesus not only loves me because He loves the whole world, but also because He loves me specifically, especially, particularly?

I’m afraid to let myself believe that God’s love for me is specific to me.

That kind of love is a little too personal. Not at all like what I’ve absorbed from the depravity-of-man preachers who want to make sure I know I’m unworthy of God’s love. And I know they’re right, but this?

The idea that maybe Jesus’ love for me is not just general, but personal? That’s harder to swallow. Because I know me. I’m well acquainted with the depravity part. And, like everyone else, I’ve had plenty of people point out those parts of me that Jesus cannot possibly fail to see.

And if I do believe that He loves me like that, then I have to also believe that He talks to me, that He has things He wants to say to me, His girl, Di.

Selah. Pause and think about that.

That’s what I did this morning. I paused and thought long and wondrously about these words in John. That He still has many things He wants to say to me. That He knows there are things I’m not yet ready to hear and that doesn’t annoy Him. He’s okay with going at my pace. He’s more than okay, He’s adapting the pace of His speaking, guiding, declaring because He knows me, loves me, and wants me to hear. In fact, He left His Spirit when He returned to the Father for the express purpose of speaking truth to me.

And that’s all I’m going to say because it’s enough for today.

Now it’s time for me to go on my walk with Him. Time to silence myself so that I can hear the whispers of truth He wants me to know. Time for me to listen to the real, actual, touchable and feel-able love He has for me. As in the me He likes. The me that is becoming, in His presence, the me He had in mind when He made me.

But before I go, I would like to invite you to leave your name in the comments— with anything you want to add about why God loving you is something you’re struggling to grasp. Or even just your initials if you’re not ready for anyone else to know why Jesus’ love is so hard for you to actually feel. I’ll take you with me on my walks and I’ll talk to Jesus about your need to know, to experience His love— specifically.

And I’ll be back next week to write more of what I am discovering about this One who speaks, who guides, who loves the way He made you.

From a heart so full I just had to write it down,

Diane