Posts tagged listening to God
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?

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

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 To Hear God Though The Clamor Of Me.

On Faery Tears and Pity Parties…

 Just a few days ago I woke up from a cold and restless sleep, emerging from our tiny tent to find our camping gear drenched, skies leaden, and snow forecast for the High Sierras.

Our two week nostalgia tour wrecked.

The plan had been to road trip our way through the mountains, landing at Lake Alpine for an extended time.  From there we would hike and fish and I would spend time writing while tucked away from the craziness that had kept me from finishing work on a proposal long overdue.

As I heated water for my tea over the camp stove, I mumbled and groaned under my breath about everything going wrong that could go wrong.

Just two days before, the little device that enables me to hear (called a cochlear processor) had inexplicably quit working. In the middle of nowhere, so remote I couldn't find a town near enough to warrant a weather report on my IPhone, how would I get it fixed? What would I do? Must I submit to this turn of events that had, thrown me into involuntary silence?

I couldn’t hear the rain pouring on the tent, couldn’t tell if I was talking too loud or too soft because I couldn’t hear my own voice, couldn’t hear Phil. All I heard was just silence—

A silence that felt isolating, frustrating, and in truth, for a while sort of menacing.

Phil built a fire with the wood we’d stacked under the table the night before, trying to cheer us up with a campfire to warm our shivering selves. I huddled as close to the fire as I could get, a mug of tea in my hands, feeling cold, forlorn, and… forsaken.

That’s when the lie whispered insidiously in my soul:

You needed this time away… you’re tired… weakened… you needed refreshing and rest… and look at this—

God sure isn’t taking very good care of you… hiss, hiss, hiss.

 And the lie felt true.

Truer than anything else. All the work to get here, the long drive, the sadness that my parents no longer lived just twenty minutes down the mountain, that dad wouldn’t be there to rescue me…

 And God couldn’t keep one storm at bay after four years of drought? hiss hiss

I stayed in my self-pity styled funk as the sun broke through, flooding the world with a freshness that can only be seen in the aerie heights of the Northern Sierras.

Beauty sparkling like crystal ornaments on tall pines, dripping faery tears on my pity-party.

My soul responded with that leap of joy I have come to know as God drawing near just when I need Him.

I know better than to blame God when life doesn’t line up according to my wishes. Lessons learned from my long ago dance with despair over my encroaching deafness came flooding back. I heard words from the One who calls Himself The Word:

Don’t go there, Di. It is your dangerous place, beyond your power to crawl out of.

 For the rest of the day I pondered God’s message to my spirit as we put away wet gear and packed up what we’d need for a dry night at a motel down the mountain.

 How had I come so close to blaming God… again?

 Why do I feel entitled to a perfectly pleasing vacation? Am I really that tired?

 I was beginning to suspect that my attitude of I need, I need, I need was wearing me out far more than the reality of my circumstances.

Before long, I began to thank Him for:

… the blessing of good health (so many of my friends suffer)

… happy relationships with each of my children (so many women I know walk on eggshells, feeling alienated and judged by the ones they love the most)

… restful friendship and vibrant connection with my husband (how many women do I know who can say that after 37 years?)

…all the things we take for granted until they’re taken away.

My own entitled expectations began to sound spoiled.

Did God really have to give me sunny skies and a perfectly served up vacation in the mountains in order for me to feel blessed?

Geez Louise, get over it Di! Go out and have a fun adventure in this storm!

And so I did. We did.

The rest of the day was filled with wonder and delight at the swiftly changing sky. We watched an eagle— a bald eagle— circle and swoop and dive to the surface of the lake, emerging triumphantly with a fish in it’s beak.

Later that afternoon we drove a ways down the mountain to pick up the package from Cochlear that had been Fed Ex’d to the small town hardware store. A quick change out of the misfiring cord and…

Voila! Sound rushed back into my world.

This morning I am relishing clean sheets, fluffy pillows (we forgot to bring pillows camping!), a couple of hours just to myself while Phil goes fishing… and then back to camp. Blue skies are expected for the rest of the week, but we’ve been duly warned that weather in these high Sierras is unpredictable.

And I’ve been warned in that beautifully restorative way of the Spirit of God, to…

 Cling to Me even when you do not understand.

 From a heart that is still learning to cling after all these years,

Diane

P.S. Is there something you are moaning and groaning about that is keeping

      you from seeing and hearing the beauty of God’s presence in your life?

      The surest way back to joy is the relief that comes with confession.

      My go-to sin is self-pity, what is yours?

LISTENING TO GOD IN EVERYDAY ARAMAIC
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In Acts 26 Paul is talking to a man who has shown very little interest in God, and yet there is this sense in the narrative that the man (King Agrippa) leans forward as Paul tells his story. He begins with a little background, then jumps right in to the best part:

One day…

a light from heaven brighter than the sun shown down on me and my companions. We all fell down, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic,

Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?

It is hard for you to fight against my will.”

(Acts 26:12-14 NLT)

Out of nowhere came a flash of the brightest light he’d ever seen. It was so brilliant and so powerful he couldn’t help but fall to the ground in terror. He was so traumatized by the light he couldn’t see, and refused to eat or drink for three days. (see the whole story in Acts 9)

That’s one way to hear God.

Not exactly the most intimate and comfortable, I doubt Paul asked for more of the same. In fact, I’d surmise that Paul never fully lost his fear of God’s power after that encounter in the middle of the road to Damascus. If listening to God’s voice made him blind and unable to eat or drink for several days, he may have been just a bit gun shy about hoping to hear again.

But what strikes me in his retelling of his story is side note that the words God spoke to him were in Aramaic.

Not in Hebrew, the language of religion.

Not in Greek, the language of literature.

Just in the everyday language of Paul’s life.

Normal stuff.

And that is still how God speaks. In the everydayness of our lives.

Sometimes (but not very often) He speaks loud. Booming, attention getting commands. But those are once in a lifetime messages. A last resort to get our attention or save us from ourselves.

Usually He just speaks normal.

One morning just a little while ago, on a day we’d set aside for Sabbath rest, He spoke to me like this:

Di, don’t make this day about you. Be friendly— a fun, light hearted, laughing, encouraging companion to Phil. Lighten up! This is the day I have made—

ENJOY IT!

And my heart responded, Yes! I get it.

After too many hard to make decisions, my husband needed me to help him just have fun. And since fun is not exactly my middle name, God needed to speak those words to me lest I sabotage his rest by hijacking the day with more heavy stuff.

Simple, everyday Aramaic.

And so very wise and right.

All day long those words resonated in my mind. Over and over I made myself steer the conversation to fun, encouraging words. It felt as if God and I were in cahoots together to brighten Phil’s day.

We rode bikes around Sauvie Island, brought home heaps of fresh fruit and veggies, laughed and admired the beauty God was displaying that day just for us.

Are you learning to listen to those simple, everyday words He’s speaking to you? With your Bible open in your lap, your pen poised to write it down, what is He saying?

From my heart,

Diane