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January 7
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How I Hear

People often ask me what I hear in the quiet of my world. How does a woman who is deaf function in a world that cannot fathom soundlessness? When I tell them about the cochlear implant and that I hear via a tiny computer in my head, they want to know if I hear normal now. Or do everyday noises sound different?

I get good questions from good people who care, people who want to know so they can know me.

The truth is, I don’t remember what normal sounds like. Though I’m certain I do not hear what everyone else hears; I rarely get the punch line of jokes, though I automatically laugh with everyone else (why is that?).  The worship music our church is known for sounds more like a rhythmic clamoring of pots and pans than the beauty I’m sure must be coming to everyone else’s ears. I need help to interpret my 3-year-old grand girl’s cuteness. And I use my eyes to navigate my way in public places lest I miss something important.

The fact that I can hear at all astounds me every day. The gift of the cochlear implant is a miracle of epic proportions. When I “unplug” from the shear exhaustion of listening, I hear nothing. Nothing at all.

Listening to God is a lot like being a deaf woman who hears through a computer. We hear imperfectly, missing punch lines and often misunderstanding what we thought we heard Him say. Whenever I hear someone proclaim with astonishing confidence that they know that God told them they were on their way to success and riches, or they are sure they know what is wrong with someone struggling because God gave them a word… something inside me questions. Really?

What I hear in my spirit sounds different than promises of success or solutions to other people’s dilemmas.

Take this morning…

I got up early as I usually do, padded out to the kitchen to make my pot of tea, fed the dog, then made my way through the dark to my little cabin in the back. I stood in front of the heater, shivering and worrying about the fact that I’ve taken so much time away from my desk lately and all the things I really should be accomplishing and doing and planning and finishing…

Then heard that sweet shushing I have come to know as the Father’s way of reminding me to quiet those sounds of shame. To allow Him to lead me beside quiet waters where He waits to refresh my soul.

Ah, yes Lord! I’m coming.

Curling up in my big chair by the windows that overlook the woods, I pour my first cup of steaming tea.

Good morning, Father, here I am. Foolishly worried again, I confess the wrongness of my thinking. As if my own effort, that striving to work harder and longer and more… could accomplish anything of Kingdom value. I know better, yet here I am again.

I sense His presence as we talk, that quiet calm that settles somewhere deeper than my fretting, that sets me free from striving. Trust relaxes my tense shoulders as I breathe Him in.

I open my Bible to the place I’ve been reading all week, asking for His words, leaning in to listen— not for direction so much as for what I may be missing in my blundering obliviousness to His Spirit. The words on the page fairly hum with Him, my Lord and Lover. A reference of a phrase that catches my attention leads me off on a rabbit trail to Genesis, then I Samuel, back to Exodus.

“God remembered Noah…” (Genesis 8v1)

Hannah, “deeply troubled”, “pouring out my soul to the Lord”, begs God to remember her… (I Samuel 1)

“God heard their groaning and He remembered… God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.”(Exodus 2v25)

Concerned. God is concerned for His people.

My heart awakens. Excited now, I flip back and forth to every reference I can find. Why have I never noticed this?

I know God cares, but in this moment I know His care. He is concerned and His concern changes everything.

In the still dark morning, I worship.

God remembers

The Creator of this beautiful world is concerned…

In the midst of that moment of worship, I “hear” God’s concern for a woman I know and love. She’s one of those gracious women who would never, ever tell me that life is rough right now. I’m not sure she’s even capable of the whining and complaining that most of us weave into every day conversation. All I know is that her husband is laid up at home recovering from surgery and that her daughter is in the hospital with pneumonia.

I sense God asking me to show this friend His concern for her, to remind her that He remembers. And even though I know she knows… sometimes it’s hard to really know when exhaustion and worry muddle our minds and beeping machines drown out His voice.

In the midst of those moments of awe-filled wonder at who He is, the strangest thing happens inside of me— all my worries and stresses don’t matter anymore. My heart is filled with the delight of a task assigned to me by the God who remembers, who is concerned—who is asking me to show His concern to one of His hurting ones.

Now when I move to my desk to plan my day and the week ahead, instead of pressure, I feel energized.

Listening to God is an adventure of discovery. Of being led, of being the skin of God to someone who needs His touch.

I have time, plenty of time, for His plans for me. What was it that I was so uptight about?

What I hear in this quest to listen to God are real words that catch me up into real purpose— words that incite wonder and amazement, words that elicit a joy that overcomes my tendency to uptight, worry-filled fretting.

I’ve never once heard assurances that success waits right around the corner if only I’ll try harder and do more, set goals and make them happen. I’ve yet to hear grand prophesies or proclaimations.

In the quiet of listening, I hear what matters to God— and somehow He makes it matter to me.

From a heart still learning to listen and loving it,

Diane

P.S. I love to take your name with me as I walk through the woods and talk to the Father who remembers and is concerned for you. If you’d leave a message comments section, it would be my honor to pray with you and for you.

Posted
January 5
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When God Speaks

It is cold and dark as I boil water for tea— my favorite tea— the one I save for special occasions but cannot bring myself to purchase because it’s ridiculously expensive— the tea Matt and Simona gave me for Christmas even though it’s ridiculously expensive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The path to my cabin in the back is layered in ice that crunches underfoot. I wonder, Does crunchy ice make noise? It feels like it must, each careful step creating a crevice of pebbles and ice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The frozen rain that is inundating the Northwest pelts my face. By the time I open the door to my cold cabin, turn the wall heater to high, light a cinnamon scented candle, and settle into the big white chair by the window, my flip flop clad feet are numb. I tuck them into the heating pad and sigh.

In the quiet I sense His presence. A presence I love. A sense that God is near, that His gift of Immanuel, God with us, is not confined to Christmas. I am not alone. I am not isolated by the soundlessness of deafened ears, as I feared all those years ago.

The silence of my world is sacred— a trust from the heart of a good God. An extravagant gift that came to me unbidden, unwanted.

How I wish I had not worried and fretted and raged all those years ago. I wish I had known that He speaks—

I wish I had known how beautiful God’s voice would sound in the silence.

Today my book launches— the book that tells my story of learning to recognize and know and love that Voice. The book that tells the whole story that I didn’t want.

On Christmas morning I gave my book to each of my four children, even tried to make a sort of speech about this gift from my heart, then gave up on words and gave in to tears.

The sad truth is, my deafness hurt my children. And facing that truth as I wrote hurt me. What mama wants her children to learn hard things by watching her stumble through hard things?

But the bigger truth is, my deafness helped each one of them to grow up clinging to the Father. They watched and they listened as God took my anger and turned it into joy. They saw my struggles, were embarrassed and dismayed at a mother who couldn’t hear. And every one of them— John Mark, Rebekah, Elizabeth, and Matt— chose to follow this One who rescued me from despair.

And that, my dear friends, is simply grace.

From a heart reveling in God’s inexplicable goodness,

Diane

P.S. An excerpt from He Speaks In The Silence is posting today on the Proverbs 31 Ministry devotional. And another here, on Zondervan’s website.

Posted
December 23
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For The Men In Our Lives: WHAT EVERY WOMAN REALLY WANTS FOR CHRISTMAS

Dear Husbands, Fiancees, Boyfriends, and “Just Friends”, 

The women you love want you to know what it is they really want– more than beautiful clothes or sparkling jewelry, more than fancy dates or exotic vacations. These are real things every man can give… if only he will. 

I posted this two years ago. We haven’t changed, this is still what every woman really wants for Christmas:

 

We’ve browsed through magazines, linked onto websites, and made our wish lists. Clothing sizes, shoe preferences, colors and particulars. Everything we think our men need to know in order to give us a Christmas to remember.

Now, armed with ideas, men are heading to the mall, determined to get that one thing they hope will make a woman happy.

And so, I have a list of my own to give the men who love the women I care about. It won’t break the bank or your back, but it will give her exactly what she really wants from you this Christmas.

Ten Things To Give The Woman You Love For Christmas:

1.  Your Attention– full and undivided.

Uninterrupted by cell phone rings and texting dings. She knows you can’t give it all the tim e, but for Christmas won’t you try? Do it on purpose.

2. Your Eyes- it’s the stuff of romance.

When a man looks into a woman’s eyes she knows he sees her. But it doesn’t have to be Hollywood mush. Just a moment of linking up, of homing in on the window to her soul. Dive deep. There’s a person of unique value in there. Look for what she cannot say.

3.  Your Touch- purposeful and affectionate.

A way of showing her you connect with her. Women crave those brushes of love against their skin. To run your fingers across her heart, you’ll need to step into her space and bring her into yours.

4.  Your Stories- give her a memory, a picture in your mind that you’ve tucked away somewhere of her being who she is and you loving that part of her. Tell it well and she’ll know for a moment that you really do know her.

5.  Your Hope- she sees everything not right with the world she’s trying to create for those she loves.  Tell her it’s okay, that perfection isn’t perfect, that love is messy and so is real life and you love her no matter what.

6.  Your Honor- What is the thing she does remarkably well? Have you told her? Have you told her in front of others? It’s not a woman’s way to brag about herself. Can you be her trumpeter?

7.  Your Depths- Give her those hidden hopes and dreams and thoughts and observations that will never be part of a quick phone call. She wants to know you way deep down inside.

8.  Your Help- Christmas can be overwhelming for a woman. So much to do and so many glossy pictures of others doing it better. Get up and help her. Lend a hand. Make life a little easier for her so she can be who she really is. And jump in before she gets crabby about all the work, she hates herself for being like that.

9.  Your Generosity- Can you choose in the midst of the pressures of real life to give a little more extravagantly than anyone would expect? Add a flourish. Make her coffee and cover it with whipped cream. Buy her something she doesn’t need. Bless her.

10.  Your Love- That’s what she really wants.

Every woman I know wants to be loved. To be considered better than average in a world that measures our success by means we’ll never attain.

To be  held in a place so uniquely special to you that you’re willing to give your attention, your eyes, your touch, your stories, your hope and honor and depths and help and generosity just to be sure she knows how much you love her.

We want to feel loved.

You have it in your power to give that kind of love this Christmas to your wife or your girlfriend, your good friend, your mom.

Will you?

From my heart,

Diane

P.S. Women, do you have anything to add to this list?

Posted
December 18
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DAY EIGHTEEN

When Plans Change Will I Still Delight?

“The mind of man plans his way but the Lord directs His steps.”

 Proverbs 16:9

NASB

I think I’ve learned this lesson a million times and I still don’t fully grasp it. I make plans, envision how life ought to be, then stress and worry and fret when something not-planed inserts itself into my ideal.

This December has included lots of re-directed steps. And do you know what?

The delight I feel every single day is just as strong as when my planner looked neat and tidy and like a shoe-in for the Perfect Christmas.

Here we are, one week ahead of the Big Day. My floors are grungy from all the times I’ve invited my adorable granddog to play at my house while Matt and Simo are working.

I haven’t done hardly any of the gazillion we-do-this-every-Christmas tasks.

Our tiny guest room looks like a robber’s den of stashed loot: Fed Ex and UPS boxes, and a crazy assortment of gifts that are not going to get wrapped creativitively. Nope, this year it’s going to be a brown bag year. Quick and easy.

And all that behind-edness has me smiling instead of my go-to response of worry.

Why?

Because I’m learning few things. Slowly… but honestly, these truths are sinking into my soul enough that God’s redirecting is feeling fun and right.

  1. I’m learning that what my kids want is me. They want me happy and hope-filled more than they want Pinterest-worthy packages.
  2. I’m learning that my husband wants me happy.  That he lights up when I walk around our cottage with a smile on my face. That’s what he really wants. More than my home-made fudge sauce or those delectable peanut-butter balls or the lopsided ginger bread house no one wants to eat unless they’re on a midnight sugar binge.
  3. I’m learning that playfulness is important to joy. Even when I’m not caught up on all the things I thought I really out to do. Even when I don’t have time to dog sit my granddog ‘cuz I should be cleaning and getting it together. That pup is fun. He insists I play and my whole soul is lighter when I do.
  4. I’m learning that people love me even when I don’t perform as I thought I should. That my friends couldn’t care less that I haven’t made a hand crafted present in decades. Those I love, love me back— whether I’m “amazing” or not. Especially when I’m not.
  5. I’m learning that worry is a waste of energy. That when I fret about what needs doing I lose my passion for people. People who don’t care about the pretty packages or homemade fudge sauce. People who do care if I’m joy-filled, fun, all-in, and interested.

That’s why all those re-directed paths have seemed more like delight-filled opportunities this year. Because they are.

And that’s why I am praying for a long list of women who’ve asked. Because I know His heart is with those whose burdens are a lot more than smudged floors and long to-do lists.

Delighting in this day,

Diane

Posted
December 14
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When Dreams Come True

DAY 14 of A Delight Filled December

 

“Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story—

 those He redeemed from the hand of the foe.”

Psalm 71v2 NIV

 

When I was a little girl I often hid under the covers with a flashlight and a book long after my mom and dad had kissed me goodnight.  Later, when I first heard of the love of God and began to learn how to follow Him, I set aside money from my job at Frontier Village Amusement Park for book buying. And every Christmas I have a list of books I want at the very top of my list.

I love learning. I love stories. I love reading.  I LOVE BOOKS.

But I never, ever thought I would write a book. That honor is for writers— for AUTHORS— not for a simple, ordinary woman like me.

Then God did something amazing and magnificent for me. In the midst of my rebellion— my spoiled, entitled temper-fit— He rescued me.  As in, picked me up from the muddy ditch I had dug myself into and set my feet on the Solid Rock of Jesus, giving me all I ever really longed for but didn’t know I needed in the process.

Timidly at first, I started telling people my story. But only if they asked. And only if I was absolutely sure they were safe people who wouldn’t think less of me for having been so…. so awful. (pride!) And even then I kept it brief, barely touching on that ugly underside of the unabridged version.

Then God gave me a dream and with that dream a sense that this was more than a silly girl’s hope-for-what-she-can-never-attain kind of dream.  This dream wasn’t for me at all-

This dream for all the women who need to know that what He did for me and what He keeps doing for me He longs to do for them too.  Every single one of them.

That got me thinking and writing excerpts and filling files of notes for the if, maybe, someday I might write what I came to call: The Whole Story.

Then God gave me another great gift: my granddaughter, Sunday. She came from an orphanage in Uganda just shy of her third birthday.  And something happened as I first saw her picture. I cannot put adequate words to it except to say, I fell in love with her.

A love not brought by anything she did or said or any way she acted.  A love given by the Father. The One who rescues little girls and grown women. The One who rescued me.

So I wrote my story. The Whole Story.

 

 

And as I wrote I pictured Sunday. Sunday as a teenager, then as a young woman.  Sunday as a mother with her own children.

Because someday my grand-girl will need to grapple with her own story.  And when she does I want her to   know mine.

I want her heart to be prepared for hard things, for distressing stories— things that God never meant for any of us. Things that happen in real life— things like deafness and death, abandonment and hunger.

That story, my book, is coming in 22 days! I can hardly believe it.  A dream come true.

I wrote my story for Sunday and for every woman who wants more— needs more— than this life can actually offer.

If that strikes a chord with you…

if you want your friend or daughter or mother to read a story of rescue— a story of longings met— a bad story with a happy ending…

Then might I suggest you pre-order it as a Christmas gift?

If you do pre-order my book (via Amazon) I will gladly send you this: A 3×5 card made up by Zondervan with a description of the book on the back.

 

That way you have something to wrap for your Someone-Who-Needs-This-Story. Or for yourself.

I’m kind of embarrassed asking. But then I think of all the women I love who really need to know what I learned  the hard way. Women I love. Women so loved by the Father.  And suddenly I find myself not embarrassed at all.

 This is God’s story and it’s just so good, so… amazing that I want the whole world to know who  He is and how He loves and what He offers to every single one of us— and maybe especially to    those of us who don’t deserve it all.

Leave your name and address in the comments this week and I’ll send you as many of the book-cards pictured    above as you’d like so you can wrap your gift for Christmas. Or let me know at diane@ajesuschurch.org.

From a heart more amazed than ever at the goodness of God,

Diane

P.S. I read recently that Sarah Young, author of Jesus Calling, prays every day for those who are reading her devotional. I would love to do that for you too- so if you’d let me know you’ve ordered the book or who you’ve ordered it for, I’ll pray that God will use my story to bring you closer to His heart.

Posted
December 12
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DAY 12

I will also give that person a white stone with

a new name written on it,

known only to the one who receives it. 

Revelations 2v17 niv

And you will be given a new name by the LORD’s own mouth. 

Isaiah 62v2 nlt

Yesterday was our Sabbath— the day Phil and I stop all work and reflect on God’s goodness… all day long. A day set aside specifically to delight.

Sabbath is a day to place our lists and our pressures, our unsolved problems and our stressors in God’s hands.  To just be with Him in gratitude and wonder. To rest.  To remember.

To remember whose we are.

We who have chosen to believe in Jesus belong to Him. He gives us His name and He knows us by name. And someday we will get a new name— one that He will place on each of us like a crown of knowing. Not just any name, but a name that signifies who we really are.

I can imagine Him presenting you with your name as all of us watch in wonder.

This is my child, (your new name here).  I love this one dearly. Welcome her home!

And then we’ll all crowd around you in unfiltered delight! I think maybe we’ll join hands and form a circle of dance around you, kicking up our feet in spontaneous hilarity.

You’ll be laughing and blushing and beaming with happiness.

For each of you who feel harried and hurt today, may you take just a moment to dream about that Day.

Imagine yourself with Him, tucked under His arm. Imagine how much all of us, each of usmillions of us–will love you. We’ll be proud of you. We’ll see you, not with eyes of judgment, but eyes of understanding and admiration.

We’ll see your worth.

From a heart delighting in a love that I can hardly grasp,

Diane

P.S. My list of names to bring on my walking, praying treks through these Pacific Northwest storms is growing. I am having a increasing sense of the importance of these soggy walks. If you’d like to add your name please tell me in the comments.

Posted
December 10
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DAY 10

Dear Ones,

Over the last few days, I have taken your names with me on my walks in the storms that hover over the Pacific Northwest. With my rain jacket, my battered umbrella, and my Bogs rubber boots I am trekking through puddles and delighting in the strength of these storms.

~Delighting in the One who delights in showing us His strength in the midst of storms.

As I have walked, I have felt the weight of your sorrows. I believe that your cries for the Father to free you of burdens too great to bear have been heard. From the mother whose children won’t stop bickering, to the silent ones who cannot say why, and everyone who has written to me asking that I bring them with me on my talking-to-the Father walks.

Your longing to come with me on this Way of Delight is a giant step towards taking hold of “the life that is truly life” (I Timothy 6v19), that life of abundance (John 10v10) Jesus holds out to each of us.

These words are for you~

“I will… fear no evil… for You are with me.”

Psalm 23v4

 

I will. 

I will choose to let go of fear, to push off shame, to run free.

I will choose to fill my soul with delight.

I will choose the way of love even when I feel unloved and unlovable. Even when I don’t want to and think I can’t.

I will choose with my will fully surrendered, not allowing my wild and untamable emotions to choose for me.

I will choose. Every day. All day. This day.

I will.

I will fear no evil.

Because perfect love casts out fear— all fear.   

Fear of what people might think, fear of what someone might do, fear of rejection. Fear of failure, fear of shame, fear of aloneness. Fear of not-enoughness, fear of too-muchness, fear of powerlessness.

With my will I will choose not to fear even when my heart is beating and my hands are shaking and my body betrays me. Even then I will choose not to fear. I will be wise, alert, discerning and assertive— and free of fear. By choice.

I will fear no evil.

 

I will fear no evil for You are with me.

Always. Even when I cannot feel You or see You or hear You. Even to the end, especially at the end.

I will make room for Your presence to sink deep within me, breathing deeply of Your Spirit. I will make space for You in my every days so that I recognize You and turn to You on the days when evils stalk and temptation lures. I will open my eyes so I may see You. I will tune my ears so I can hear You. I will draw close so I can feel you.

And when I fail and fall back to fear, I will come to You in sorrow.  I will sit with You there, confident in Your love, without fear of condemnation, assured that Your love is greater than my fears.

I will fear no evil, for You are with me.

 

From a heart filled with faith in a Father whose love will never let you go,

Diane

P.S. For everyone who asks in the comments, I will add your name to my growing list of people to bring along on my walks with the Father. This brings me unbelievable delight!