Posts tagged deafness

 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Romans 8v28

He who has ears to hear let him hear.

Matthew 11v15

When I first learned I would likely lose all of my hearing— that horrifying diagnosis of progressive sensorial neural hearing loss— well-meaning people looked me in the eye with that intensity that comes from an inner compulsion to convince.

“God will use this to help so many people…”

Those words made my insides churn, feeding the maw of roiling anger in the pit of my soul. I spewed the words back at God:

How could a good God, as You claim to be, make me go deaf so that others can learn?

 I looked at my young children, John Mark was 5, Rebekah an adorable toddler, Elizabeth a babe in arms. Matthew just a distant dream.

I would never, ever even consider hurting one of mine to teach lessons to the others! How could You?

And there’s a whole story there  of how this good God of mine rescued me from that terrible and terrifying place of seething rebellion. An ugly story that is part of who I am, making me worship in deepest wonder at the One who loved me, even then.

 And now… a new chapter. Another hard part.

Last week I flew to L.A. to surprise that baby, Elizabeth for her 30th birthday.

Joy! Laughter! Hugs and hilarity that we pulled it off!

I stayed a few days extra so that I could go with my girl to a dreaded appointment for her son, Duke. And I cry as I write the words I’d hoped would never be true:

My grand-boy is loosing his hearing.

Six years old and full of bright hope. He’s strong like his name, analytical and logical like his Uncle Johnny. A unique and magnificent representation of a part of God, made in His image, purposed to bring His likeness to a world of hoping, needing people.

Those horrible words again: progressive hearing loss

I grieve deeply for the loss I know too well. For all the memories of sounds and songs he will never hear:

The dance of rain on the rooftop.

The song of birds, all those trills, squawks, whistles, warnings.

The crackle and hiss of fire in the fireplace.

The lap of water against the seashore.

Whispers. Wind.

I’ve cried and prayed and breathed deep through the crush in my chest. And all the while, Elizabeth feels no fear, none. Her words to the family:

“I was reminded this morning that God watched His own son suffer and He knows the grief we feel. Duke is His child too and He knows the greater redemption being worked out in this ugly and painful thing. We have peace as we grieve but there is deep sadness too…”

And now— finally—I know exactly what those kind-hearted, less-than-ideally-worded phrases were meant to convey.

Now that I have heard God speak into my silence…

Now that I have embraced what I didn’t want…

Now that I know that God takes what the enemy of our souls tries to steal and He turns it into something good, something beautiful…

 All of it is worth it… if I get to forge the way for one of my own to follow so he wouldn’t have to be first.

 All of it is worth it… if Elizabeth won’t have to live in fear of the future because she’s seen my worst nightmare come true and now she knows it’s okay, doable, hard, but not tragic.

All of it is worth it… if this family of mine knows that even this— even DEAFNESS— becomes mysteriously beautiful and good in the hands of the Father. 

All of it is worth it if my pain has paved a path that will lead my grand-boy to the heart of the Father.

I see the kindness of God now, how He allowed my sons and daughters to watch my story. Elizabeth saw my brokenness. She lived with the embarrassment of not understanding. She felt the weight of my deafness… and yet somehow the Spirit is breathing courage into her soul as she helps her own son adapt to a world with fading sounds.

Every missed melody, every frustrating conversation, every embarrassing, feeling-stupid moment is worth it.  For the Savior… for the women who read my words carved out of silence and know that I know what their pain feels like too… and now for Duke.

From a heart that is humbled and in awe of a God who weaves magic in the midst of sorrow,


P.S. I would be so honored to pray for you who are trying to find your way through the often hazardous grieving of hard things. You know I’d love to know the story, but if you’re not there yet, just your name will let me know to pray.

P.S.S For an incredibly wise, dangerously heart-wrenching sermon on the why of suffering, listen to Dominic Done’s message  (the teaching pastor at our church)



Let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God…

Hebrews 13:15

Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.

Colossians 3:16

Sing to Me.

I heard the words as if they were whispered in my dormant ear.

Me? Sing? But I can’t sing, can’t hear the tune to match my voice along the sounds that make a song. You know I’m not a singer, Lord. Deaf girls don’t sing.


I’d been asking the Father why my walk with Him seemed dry and just a little off lately. I’d sensed a distance, a disconnect. By now I’ve delighted In His nearness for so many years that the nagging sense that my heart was growing tepid worried me.

What was wrong?

After turning the searchlight of His Word onto my daily life and asking Him to show me anywhere I might be messing up, drifting from His ways, I came up with a handful of not-so-obvious sins to confess: a little selfishness here, a critical tendency there, a good bit of laziness, my usual sin of self-indulgence.

Still the silence rang loud.

Until this morning, when I asked again.

Lord, what is up? What is wrong? I need You, need that closeness, that joy, that hope that rallies me out of my warm bed on a cold morning to meet You in that place I crave.

And that’s when I heard Him say it once more.

Sing to Me.

But Lord, please. I can’t sing.

At church I mostly fake it, or hide under the loudness and face away from anyone near. Sometimes I just stop and watch and pray and sing deep where no one hears. I raise my hands while those around me raise their voices.

Sing to Me, Di.

But Phil might hear. What would he think? I’ve tried singing on my walks but that’s embarrassing too. What must the neighbors think? A woman and her dog walking down the street singing hymns that sound like two-tone, out of tune meanderings of a mad woman. Please!

Just sing to Me, Di, I love when you sing. I love that sound of tuneless worship. Like Mary’s broken box of sweet perfume spilled on My feet, wiped with her mass of tangled hair.

Sing in the beauty of your brokenness, Di, and delight Me. Forget about anyone and everyone else.

Sing to Me.

And so I pulled on thick, warm socks, grabbed the green hymnal off the bookshelf—  the one I’d  learned so long ago to worship with— and headed down two flights of stairs to the basement. Huddled by the heater, wrapped in my favorite blanket, I opened to an old favorite.

Are ye able, said the Master,

To be crucified with Me?

Yea, the conquering Christians answered,

To the death we follow Thee.

And then that second verse, asking if I am able to remember the thief who lifted his face to Jesus to find his soul pardoned and invited into His presence.

And all I can remember is that one I cannot seem to thoroughly forgive. The one who doesn’t seem sorry enough for all the wounded  left in the wake of a selfish pursuit of  happiness.

Oh Father, forgive me for the stinginess of my grace. Who am I to hold a sin against someone when You do not?

I found myself singing it again and again, louder each time, more free and full than I’d felt in a long, long time.

Lord, we are able, our spirits are Thine,

Remold them, make us like Thee, divine…

Another hymn, louder.

Again and again, with increasing confidence.

Yes! This is what I want because this is what He wants.

My gift to Him. My off-kilter, broken, not-very-lovely gift is the one He cherishes most.

And suddenly it dawned on me, how Mary must have been embarrassed when she huddled at His feet, wiping them with her tears. How the misunderstanding of unmerciful men must have weighed heavy on her unwrapped head. Were her tears like mine?

The humiliation of obedience?

The spilling of what she’d held too tight?

The relief of letting go?

And what about David when he danced before God? Had God whispered to him like He did to me?

Strip off your royal robes, David, down to the plain tunic that hides nothing. Fling off your dignity and dance for Me.

I don’t know, but I do know that this hour I’ve spent singing has released something somewhere in my insides.

And I know I’ll be back.

Back to the basement, the old green hymnal open on my lap, singing my heart out.

What about you, my dear ones?

Is He asking something of you?

Something  surprising?

Something hard?

Something so laughably easy that you’re certain it couldn’t be all He wants?

Will you listen?

Will you sing?

From my heart, filled to overflowing,


repost: march 2013



Just a little while ago I boarded the first of several flights to get home.


The airport in Manado, Indonesia is quaint and provincial with a steeply soaring red metal roof. Small propeller planes park haphazardly along a runway lined with a thick forest of coconut trees. Volcanic peeks rise precipitously on either side forcing the plane into a steep right bank to avoid their jungled cliffs. Just the sort of thing you’d expect to see in a movie— lush and intense and strange enough to feel vaguely foreboding.

In the week we’ve been here I’ve fallen in love with this land. It is a place of mystery, romance, poverty, laughter, and pageantry. It is at times frightful and so entirely foreign to the ways I understand—and it is full of the most resilient and delightful people I have ever known.

Just for fun, I thought I’d interview myself… asking the questions I thought you might have as to why in the world we’ve traveled around the world to come to this land.

Why Indonesia?


We came at the invitation of Andrew Palau, an international evangelist who goes to decidedly unglamorous places in order to partner with the Church to bring the message of the Cross to people who need to hear.

Why you?

Our role here was to speak to the pastors and leaders, to build relationships, to get to know who they are and what they need. We came to teach at a conference for pastors— Phil taught two sessions and we taught one together. Because Andrew works thru the church, it just makes sense to bring in a pastor who understands the burdens and unique challenges every pastor faces.

What else?

Phil also spoke at a press conference, a dinner for community leaders, and at three church services. We had dinners and lunches with leaders from all over town. At one luncheon with an influential government official, we were entertained by an internationally acclaimed choir of university students. The a cappella performance was astounding.

What didn’t you like?


The smells. I have this unfortunately over-active nose and Indonesia has a plethora of unfortunately ripe odors. Fish and mold and urine and strange spices mixed with that peculiar smell of a people whose skin is seeped in humidity.

What about the people?


My absolutely favorite thing about these folks is their unending sense of humor. They giggle— a lot. And they tease— a lot. Their lives are full of serious challenges and yet they approach those problems with that gentle delight of a people with very little need to control. I loved that.

Who did you meet?

Tante Allie is a 78 year-old pastor of one of the largest churches on the island of Sulawesi. Her husband founded the church years and years ago and since he passed away last year, she has carried the leadership. Her approach is decidedly motherly, with that calmly assuring way of speaking that makes everything all right.

The tiny woman (she can’t be more than 5 feet tall) is revered by her people, and yet it is her servant’s heart that is so remarkable.

She handed me her paper fan during a particularly sweltering evening service, insisting that I keep it. I will treasure that small gift as a memory of meeting a great woman of God.

What about the food?

We ate rice and fish for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They aren’t afraid to see what they’re eating like we are in America. Squid has all the tentacles still attached. Fish eyes are savored. Pigs are roasted whole with the snout proudly propped open. They were kind enough to shield us from some of their personal favorites, like bat and snake and dog.

What are you craving from home?

A nice fresh, crispy salad. My friend, Echo Zelinksi, posted pictures of her trip to the Portland Farmer’s Market on Instagram and I’ve been salivating ever since.

How about the weather?

Most days were 90 degrees, dripping with sauna-like humidity. The nights cooled down to 85 degrees. But every day at some point the sky filled with fierce storm clouds and dumped buckets of rain on everything, cleaning the air and the streets and the trees to a sparkling beauty.

Do you love to travel?

I think God must have a great sense of humor in sending me to some of these far away places. I’m basically a homebody, content to curl up by my fire, with nary an adventurous bone in my body. Yet in the past 12 months I’ve traveled to Albania and Italy and Haiti and Indonesia.

The only thing that keeps me packing my bags is the people. On these trips I get to know some of the Greats in our world. Men and women who have willingly suffered and purposely denied themselves in order to follow Jesus with abandon. It is printed on their faces— a certain strength and joy that brings compelling beauty.

What do you miss when you’re gone?

My kids! My grandkids!

I miss date night with the whole crew and Scarlet’s cuddles and Jude’s lengthy, impassioned explanations. I miss Sunday’s softly affectionate caresses and Duke and Mo’s wild silliness. As soon as I get home I’m heading over to Tammy’s house for a manicure (I know, I’m spoiled!) and then I’ll meet Elizabeth for a cup of tea and a good long chat. Matt will be the one to pick us up from the airport so he can fill us in on all his doings during these last days of college.

I’m really just a mom who loves being a mom and a grandma with a delightfully wiggly fan club.

Anything else?

Just this— I couldn’t have and wouldn’t have planned this rich story all those years ago when we first started on this adventure of living first and foremost for Jesus. Yet God, in His kindness has dished out more delight than I ever thought possible.

I have a really, really good life.

And the part I don’t like— being deaf? It plays a part too. Because when I go to a poor country like Indonesia or an oppressed place like Haiti, the first thing the women see is a wealthy American with minimal troubles and laughable worries. But as soon as I tell them my story… I become one of them. They get it and they know I do too. I am welcomed into the fraternity of fellow sufferers with a warmth that takes my breath away.

I wish I had known that during those dark days when I was sure my life was headed for bleak aloneness. I wish I had understood this “fellowship of suffering” for those who enter in with Jesus and hold tight to Him in the midst of trouble. It’s actually one of those crazy surprises that has made my life rich.

What next? 


From my heart,




I am an introvert.

I like to be alone. A lot.

My idea of being friendly to strangers is to nod my head when I walk by.

My idea of a great vacation is to read all day long every day. Then to take a walk and think about what I just read.

I am married to a man who actually talks to strangers. As in, engages in conversations. He admires their dog, asks the dog’s name, wants to know where they’re from, then tells them where we’re from and where we used to live and why he’s enjoying the sunshine and missing his dog.

So when my blog team suggested I write more about myself, be more personal and knowable, I just stared at these delightful girls sitting at my dining room table and said nothing.

But as all introverts know, just because I don’t talk a lot certainly doesn’t mean I suffer a deficit of words. Introverts actually do talk - we just talk internally. I am a chatterbox really. I just talk inside, long running dialogues about everything I see and smell and hear and feel and think and wonder.

Here, my dear friends are some of those ramblings:

Where I am right now: staying in a nice little condo right across from the beach in California for a week

Why? To soak our pasty-white skin in sunshine… and to make some progress on the spiritual parenting seminar we’re working on… to see our daughter who lives in L.A.

What I miss from home: The rain (don't tell Phil), my dog, my kids, my grandkids.

Where I would live if I could live anywhere in the world: Portland, Oregon

What I’m reading right now: The Hobbit (I know, I know, you thought I was going to mention something super-spiritual!)

What I’m dreaming of doing someday: Writing a lovely fantastical tale for my grandkids— stocked full of fierce dragons and elusive unicorns and mystical creatures.

What I’m actually writing right now: My story. The whole sordid tale of my failure to accept my deafness with grace and then God’s shocking sufficiency and His beautiful way of speaking in my silence.

How it’s coming: S.L.O.W.

Why: Because I’m dabbling. And doing too much other stuff at the same time.

What other stuff? Preparing a new series for the blog, writing the spiritual parenting seminar Phil and I plan to teach Memorial Day weekend, plus all the other stuff that takes up space in a full life.

What I’m learning:  To listen. To stop striving and just be still. To receive, not passively but actively. And that sometimes I don’t get done what I want to get done because I don’t have a plan of how and when I’m going to get it done.

What haunts me: My need for people’s approval.

What I’d love to do someday: Take the whole family to Disneyland and stay in a hotel together and eat and laugh and talk and tease and take pictures and just play for a week.

What I’m enjoying: Instagram. I’m addicted. I love the pictures of babies and the off-beat humor and those brief glimpses into people’s real lives.

Okay, enough about me.

What about you?

Where are you right now? What are you enjoying? What haunts you?

If I can do it so can you…

From my heart,