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

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

Etcdiane
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?

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

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

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?

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

A Sabbatical of Silence

Hello! I’m finally back!

I had thought to take a break from this blog space for just a few weeks while my creative friend, Allie, updated and redesigned the website.

Before I knew what hit me,  the reality of my unacknowledged soul-exhaustion came crashing home and I knew I needed a good, long sabbatical of silence. Time to rest and remember, to take long walks and listen— to just be for a while.

These are the words from the Word that reached into my heart and led me to rest:

He makes me lie down in green pastures,

He leads me beside quiet waters,

He refreshes my soul.

 He guides me along the right paths for His name’s sake.

Psalm 23v2,3

 In these months away I have, in some mysterious and life-giving way, reconnected with myself. With Me. With my own soul.

Isn’t this the most amazing and beautiful way of God? He invites us into seasons of restoring, often before we even know we’re in need.

And now I am back: a renewed and wiser me. A quieted me. Sensing that release of the Spirit to write again, to scribble in this space what I am learning.

At the same time, Allie Rice has been doing her magic, taking my blog and making it more… me. A better reflection of who I am now.

Isn’t it beautiful?

I can hardly wait to get “talking” to you again! I’ve filled journals full of lessones learned about wearing out, and hope. I want to explore with you...

what to do about all this striving that seems to be driving so many of us into wearily distorted caricatures of ourselves.

I want to tell you about my family and my new granddaughter.  I've been learning so much about our need to celebrate with food and beauty and friendships rather than constantly setting impossible goals to achieve more.

More than anything else, I hope to keep writing about living and learning and delighting in the beauty of God and the ways He sprinkles our lives with His surprising, sparkly goodness… if we will only open our souls wide enough to receive.

My plan is to post just once a week. Maybe more if I have something I must tell you about RIGHT NOW.

And because I want to keep our conversation intimate— between friends, for friends, and to friends who in turn share with their friends— I am not going to spray an endless stream of words into social media. That's one of the things that wore me out, an invasion of the quiet that created too much noise for my soul to keep up with.

Instead, I hope that many of you will sign up to receive an alert to new posts via e-mail.

From my rested heart,

Diane

Away For A While

 

I will guide you along the best pathways for your life.

I will advise you and watch over you.

Psalm 32v8 NLT

Dear girls~

I nestle into the comfort of my cabin in the woods, savoring a pot of tea, staring out the window as trees emerge like silent sentinels from the dripping darkness of an early Northwest morning. A hint of the soon coming Spring in the midst of sodden green. Moss brightening trees. The faintest buds on climbing hydrangeas assuring me of life, of promise, of renewal.

Winter is waning and I listen to the rhythm of the seasons. If winter is a season of less: less sunlight, less activity, less gardening— it is also a season of more. More sleep, more scented candles and soft blankets, more fires crackling.

In the flurry of Christmas, the festivity of the book release, the study and speaking and planning and doing, I seem to have missed the quiet of these darkening months. All those joy-filled happenings have left me craving quiet. Rest.

Without realizing why, I have been running at a pace that isn’t sustainable for me to thrive and create and feel good about my life. All that doing what needed to be done, while writing about slowing down to listen, to create beauty, to hear God. Hmm.

At the same time, new beginnings are coming, people and callings that need space to flourish.

The most important one is a baby girl named Beatrice. I’ll be leaving in just a few weeks to await her arrival alongside Elizabeth and Brook, Duke and Scarlet. Staying in L.A. until she emerges into a world made ready for her story. While there I want to play with Duke and pretend with Scarlet, get a pedicure with my daughters, go to the beach and savor the days.

I want to be undividedly present in moments I will remember forever.

By the time I get back to Firwood Cottage, Phil and I will be launching the website for Intentional Parents— a place for parents to learn and be reminded that our first and highest calling is to create in our children a heart that beats for God. I’ll be writing a weekly post to moms who need what I needed thirty years ago: practical help in real stories from the Scriptures and from life. Eventually I dream of a place where many writers— experts in their fields— weigh in with wisdom about the how’s and why’s and what-if’s of guiding and growing the next generation of passionate, all-in Jesus followers and people lovers.

Which is why I need to quiet my voice on this space for a while, lest I fall into the trap of just adding more on top of more because something inside  says I must and should.

I’ll be back, of that I am certain. I plan to begin again in May… or early June, whenever I just can’t stand it anymore and need a place to spill my heart.

In the meanwhile it’s time for some redesign, some prettying up; implementing some of the features that appeal to my writerly love of words. Going forward I want to recapture the intimacy of this space, once again writing as a means of sharing beauty, of bringing my girls into my story, of listening together to the riches in the silence. Most of all, it is on my heart to practice the art of listening to God in the midst of real life.

If that sounds like something you’re craving too, may I suggest that you subscribe to this space? I’ll post no more than once a week, just a fresh invitation of what it looks like to love God with passion and to love people on purpose.

I’ll be sneaking frequent peeks into the comments and I’d love to hear from you. Drop me a note— I’ll be missing you!

From my heart,

Diane

The Deaf Shall Hear

In those days the word of the LORD was rare… 

Then the LORD called Samuel.

 Again the LORD called, “Samuel!”

 A third time the Lord called,"Samuel!” 

The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”

I Samuel 3v1,4,6,8,10

Samuel’s first hint at hearing God’s voice was a call. A beckoning. An invitation to come close and listen.

But he didn’t know that at the time. He heard something but he didn’t know who was calling let alone what he was saying. And so he answered with the simple wisdom of a child,

Here I am.

When the same confusing urging called again, Samuel repeated the only response he could think of:

Here I am.

Again and again. Simple words of acceptance, of availability, of acknowledgement.

Here I am.

When Moses first heard that urgent calling, “Moses! Moses!” he responded the same way:

Here I am.

Isaiah said the same words when He heard God calling, searching for someone who would be willing to do His bidding:

Here I am.

For those of us who are learning to listen to the Voice of God in our lives, the first words we hear sound like an invitation. With Samuel and Moses and Isaiah, we sense a strange stirring, a beckoning  to come close.

Our hearts yearn to know and be known by Someone whose love we cannot possibly grasp, but whose Voice we long to hear.

There comes an alertness to something more, to something we need, to something we are willing to go after if only we can learn how.

In the early mornings as I light sweet smelling candles and arrange my tea on the table beside my chair, I tune my silent ears to that Voice.

Here I am, Lord.

I stand shivering before the heater, wrapped in the warmth of a shawl, my mind slowly untangling as my heart hears… something. Someone.

Here I am, Lord, here I am.

Often, the first words I sense are my name. Just as God called Moses, and little Samuel, and the great Isaiah, by name…

He whispers my name, and yours.

Di, come close. Listen.

And sometimes it’s just a feeling. A sensing in my slowly awakening spirit. A pulling of my heart that draws me into His presence.

Here I am— Lord, I’m here!

I curl into the corner of my big chair, open the only Word we know without doubt is His— that Word that is sharp enough to discern what I cannot.

And He pulls me into His heart as I read the stories, as I imagine Moses all alone, little Samuel longing for his mom, Isaiah, so afraid of what he cannot understand.

I read and I listen.

I pause to stare out the window, to sip tea, to ponder.

More than any other way, I am convinced that He speaks in and through and with His written Word. A poet/writer paints a picture of a-

“thin place through which the presence of God breaks into this world and bursts with unpredictable consequences into our lives.”

The Fire of the Word, Chris Webb

Yes! Yes!

I have seen that thin place— sensed His presence, His speaking in these Scriptures. I have entered in to see and know and feel and hear Him in the depths of holy silence that encases this Book.

Are you there yet? Being pulled into a place of listening? Sensing somewhere in your soul that Someone is calling you into intimacy?This is His invitation to come. To settle in with the Scriptures open, to read with ears wide open.

That stirring you sense is a beckoning to lean in and listen— not for solutions so much as for Him.

I am here, Lord! Speak, please speak! Your servant is listening.

From that quiet place where even the deaf can hear,

Diane

P.S. Are you hearing His beckoning in your spirit? Can you tell us what that sounds like for you? And if you’re longing to hear but can’t seem to— will you leave your name and I will pray? I’d love to take a whole list of you on my walk today.



[1] The Fire of the Word, Chris Webb

How I Hear
h.jpg

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.

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.

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?

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

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 3x5 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.

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.

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!

DAY 7

“Don’t act thoughtlessly

  but try to understand what the Lord wants you to do...

let the Holy Spirit fill you and control you.

Then you will sing…

 and you will always give thanks for everything

to God the Father

in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Ephesians 5:17-20 (selected)

 

Yesterday was day 6 of learning to be a woman who delights in God. I woke up this morning realizing I hadn’t posted anything for that day. And immediately, before I could so much as say Good Morning, I felt shamed.

Gosh, doesn’t the enemy ever sleep in?

It took a full pot of tea and an hour of listening in the Word to understand that my self-imposed write-every-day-this-month is my plan. Neat and tidy and, if I’m not alert and listening, distressingly performance driven.

That very real enemy, who Jesus called, the Accuser, is the ultimate slayer of delight— and of everything beautiful and good.

Does that finger-in-your-face voice ride on your shoulder whispering in your ear?

Do you feel yourself longing for delight but dragging in drudgery and defeat?

Do you sag under the weight of feeling you are never enough and too much all at the same time?

This is what the Father reminded me this morning:

  1. Our battle is not against flesh and blood or busy schedules or naughty children or not-very-nice people.
  2. A war is raging in unseen places with a powerful enemy whose primary objective is to separate you and me and our children and everyone we love from the throbbing heart of God.
  3. If that enemy can defeat us by self-shame and condemnation and feelings of inadequacy, he wins. Even if those feelings are about self-imposed, not-all-that-important-tasks we assign ourselves.

And this beautiful truth:

4.  God’s value for me is not based on how well I perform or how hard I work or how disciplined I am. He looks at you and me with the love of a Father who is pleased with what He sees in us.  And what does He see? The Father looks at you and at me and instead of seeing our failures and our mess-ups, our inconsistencies and our twisted hypocrisies, He sees Jesus. He sees His son emerging beautifully in us and through us and for us.

Even if we forget. Especially when we forget.

From a heart becoming aware of what keeps me from delight,

Diane

P.S.  As soon as the rain lets up a little, I am going on a walk to pray for those women I know who are being assaulted by the condemnation of the enemy. I would love to pray for you- if you'll just write your name in the comments I'll "take you with me" on my walk.

DAY 5

On my quest to learn what it means to be a woman who delights in God, I am finding that I must purpose to be careful what story I am telling myself.

There are always multiple takes on a scene and if I allow myself to pick the negative, poor-me stance I end up barring myself from the Way of Delight.  And worse, I stumble into the soul filth of pride and judgment.

Today as I wove my car through Christmas shopping gridlock, I had to practice this newly discovered idea. At one point I inadvertently went ahead of someone, not realizing she had the right of way. The driver pinched her face in anger and pulled right up close to my car as if she was going to ram me. I could see her mouth moving a million miles an hour as I sheepishly pulled aside to let her pass.

My first thought was Geesh! What a crabby lady!  Immediately this truth God has been patiently trying to teach me interrupted my not-very-nice internal dialogue. The truth is I have no idea what her world looks like right now. Or why she flared in anger. Instead of judging her (crabby lady!), I sensed God inviting me to pray for her, to ask for His healing grace to wash over her.

And then I couldn’t help it, I started counting all the ways my life is really good right now: A family who loves me, a husband at home eagerly waiting for me to get there. An adorable, cozy cottage to come home to. Meaningful work. A church where I am fed rich food from the Word every single week. The Sistas and other friends who have my back. Even my dog likes me!

And best of all, a Father who watches over me, teaching me, leading me, loving me. A Savior who came to be present with us— with me. The Spirit who heals and brings hope.

About as fast as the snap of my fingers, the Spirit transformed my judgment to compassion.

I’m home now, tucked into my cottage that is aglow with cheer. I’ve had enough of the mall to last me a good long time! As I sit curled up on the sofa, I realize that I am learning something crucial:

When I choose the Way of Delight, all those irritating annoyances become windows in which I catch a glimpse of God come near-- I see Him and hear Him and feel Him. I know Him.

Gosh. This is life changing!

Delighting in Him today,

Diane

DAY 4

  This day has been chock full of delight. Overflowing with one thing— rest. Sweet, luxurious, delight filled rest.

The delight of this day did not happen because my list is all crossed off, nor due to an accidental twist of fate. In fact, unfinished chores are tucked behind closet doors and relegated to a tidy pile on my desk.

Today is our Sabbath.

I know, I know, it’s Friday. And Sabbath is traditionally either on Saturday (for Jewish observers) or Sunday (for Christians). Or not at all.

For us, the ancient practice of Sabbath is brand new. Pastors work harder and longer on Sunday than on any other day of the week. And as two people who came to faith during the anti-traditional days of the Jesus Movement of the ‘70’s, we grew into our faith believing that the Sabbath was a law that didn’t apply to us. Somehow we’d been taught that of all the Ten Commandments, that was the one we were allowed to skip.

Fast forward to this day.

I woke up early as I always do, but instead of getting out of bed, I allowed myself to burrow under the down comforter for another hour.

It’s Sabbath-- bliss.

When I finally felt wide awake and ready to face the cold, I sauntered into the kitchen, switching on all the sparkling strings of lights, and made tea. I wrapped myself in a thick shawl and carried my tea tray out to my cabin where I spent as long as I wanted curled up in my big white chair reading and listening and writing and learning.

It’s Sabbath— bliss.

No rush. No hurry. No chores or work or lists or worries.

By late morning we were getting antsy to do something so we drove a couple of miles to a delightful Scandinavian café where we relished rich coffee and baked eggs with a griddle cake topped with linden berries and crème fraiche.

It’s Sabbath— bliss.

We talked, we laughed, we planned Comer Christmas surprises, we caught up on conversations cut short during the work week. By mid-afternoon all that delightful resting made us sleepy so Phil dozed in his chair by the fire while I read a really good story. It’s Sabbath— bliss. 

We went on a walk just as the sun dipped below the horizon, rambling in our dark, forested neighborhood past cottages brightened by Christmas lights. The night is cold and wintery, mysterious and quiet. Stars in the sky reminding us of that first Christmas when Shepherds first heard the news we celebrate.

Now we’re rummaging around the kitchen heating up left overs, getting ready to watch a Christmas movie. Cinnamon candles lend softness to the inside of our cozy home.

For one whole day we have stopped. We have rested. We have worshipped and consciously chosen not to indulge in worry or work or anything that might take away the wonder of this day.

It’s Sabbath. One day in seven for worship and for rest. For bliss.

From a heart quieted by the delight of Sabbath,

Diane

P.S. Have you yet responded to the invitation to Sabbath? If you want to know more, I highly recommend my son’s book, Garden City: Work, Rest, and the Art of Being Human. He details his family’s Sabbath rhythm as well as unpacking what the Scriptures teach.