Posts in Features

My love for books is legendary.

Phil sighs every month as he goes through the list of Amazon purchases. My bookshelves groan and I need more so I can liberate my boxes of books from the stuffy attic.

When I open the pages of a new book something happens inside me, a yearning to push myself into a front row seat, to learn and gather and grow.

Not surprisingly, then, as I spend this month sharing what I have learned and am learning about bringing ORDER to my oft times messy mind, I turn to the books that have earned space on the table next to my great big white chair. This is where I read and study and get lost in another’s story.


The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst

The president of Proverbs 31 Ministries, Lysa writes like a woman who knows how hard it is to clear the cluttered counters of our lives so that we can do that One Thing that matters. She writes about the aching of our souls when exhaustion becomes normal and rushing takes the place of achieving.

And then she gets practical. She asks questions I felt compelled to answer- so much so that about half way through I ordered the Study Guide. More questions. The kind that I couldn’t answer right away. The kind I had to take on long walks so I could think and pray and wait for true answers.

This book would be so fun to work through with friends. And really, it’s designed that way. The study guide has 6 sections- about the perfect length for a sit-around-the-table group of friends.

Organizing for the Creative Person by Dorothy Lehmkuhl & Delores Lamping

This book is changing the way I do life. Of all the organizing books I’ve read, this is the one that makes sense to me. This book explains how right-brain dominated people can choose to adopt left-brain tactics to bring order to their creative dreams. If you start things but don’t finish… if you have a gazillion ideas but can’t seem to follow through… if you face a project with dread because you don’t know what to do first, and second, until it’s done… this is your book. I will be rereading this often.

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

This is a business book. I am not a businesswoman. I am a woman with a passion to live my life fully and only as a follower after Jesus. I want to make a difference. Which is why I think everyone should read this book. God gives us purpose by assigning us tasks to do that only we can do. This author has made a career of studying how to do that one thing well rather than what he calls “the undisciplined pursuit of more”.

I’ve put this on my yearly must read stack.

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

Who hasn’t heard about this book?! The premise of the book is that all the clutter we live with is drowning us, chasing peace and a sense of calm right out of our lives. Marie Kondo gives readers a delightful way of deciding whether to keep it or give it away. I won’t spoil the surprise by telling you here- but this is the method I will use in a couple of weeks when I go to switch my closet to fall/winter clothes. And this is the question I bring with me when I go into a store lest I walk out with a bag full of clutter I thought I needed.


If you are trying, as I am, to order your world in order to do the dreams God is calling you to, will you send me titles of books and links to websites that are helping you? I’ll gather them up and post them later this month.

From a heart yearning to learn,


Learning to bring order to my messy mind

 Teach me to order my days

 that I may present to You a heart of wisdom.

Psalm 90v12 NASB

For far too long I have been confused and conflicted about the messiness of the daily, weekly, and monthly doing of my life. I crave order, spending most of my spare moments tidying up, making sure my home is neat, my world uncluttered, a place for everything and everything in it’s place.

People who know me just a little live with the false assumption that I am organized.

I’m not. Not even close. And it bothers me. Not because I want to be someone I’m not but because I have things I long to accomplish. All too often I feel like a hassled hamster running as fast as I can to nowhere.

The truth is…

I work relentlessly to keep everything neat and tidy because of the disorder that wrecks havoc inside my head.

For years and years I thought something was just wrong with me. My parents are two of the most organized, efficient people I know. Not once did either of them moan about having to clean out the closet or the garage or anything, really. They never had to because they somehow managed to always keep things tidy. Both my parents seemed to walk through their days without the chaotic juggling that too often marks my way.

Why couldn’t I be like them?

On my visits home I'd watch closely to see if I could learn their secrets. When I asked about how they stay so organized they just looked at me with all that left brained logic and said, "Well, we just do it."

After much trial and error (and a crazy but effective book entitled Side Tracked Home Executives)

I did mostly manage to stick to some semblance of a routine when the kids were little. Four children will do that to you, especially if you decide, as did I, to homeschool. I made extensive chore lists for all of us, filled out every square of the monthly teacher’s organizing binder, and probably managed to actually cross off about half of what I thought I should be doing.

As one-by-one, each of my children grew up and left my neat and tidy but inwardly disorderly nest, the structure that had worked sufficiently well for organizing my home and family failed me. I dreamed of writing books, of teaching women, of studying and learning, and finally getting that degree that I wish I’d finished.

But how?

I’ve tried sheer willpower. Raised in a home that valued work, I know how to put my nose to the plow and power through. Some months it seemed that’s all I did: work, work, work.

And yet, it seemed to me that all that busy working wasn’t leading me any closer to accomplishing my dreams— those things I felt God had made me for, that He was asking me to do.

I studied Michael Hyatt’s weekly flow chart but never could figure out how to make my computer obey my wishes. So after a few frustrating attempts, I quit.

I tried reading the New York Times best-seller, Getting Things DoneI underlined and took notes and when I finally came up for air I was more confused than ever— and hadn’t gotten anything done.

Then one day as deadlines threatened to be my undoing and the confusion of my self-made chaos sank me closer to despair, I cried out to God:

What is wrong with me, Father? Why can’t I seem to keep up? Why can’t I get done  what I know You’ve called me to do?

 And I heard the gentlest truth dance across my despair:

Di, I made you just how I wanted. You’re beautiful, just right. I made you as My masterpiece for My purposes. Delight in Me as I delight in you.

 And slowly, step-by-step I have been learning that…

When I fully embrace

how He made me to be,

God enables me to accomplish

what He has assigned me to do.

I am not the logical, left-brained achiever that my parents and so many people I love and admire are. Those who, according to experts, handle the daily decisions first by analysis, then by action, followed finally by the emotions that come with a job well done.  Like this: Analysis—Action—Feelings 

A great way to get things done! But, sigh... not my way.

My way looks more like this: Feelings—Action—Analysis. A typical right-brain way of getting things done that doesn't actually result in a lot of consistent getting things done.

Can you relate? Are you one of those...? You live in your head, you thrive on passion, you drop too many balls that you meant to do but you either forgot or lost steam or just got distracted by a more compelling idea.

Passion awakens us, happiness fuels us, delight drives us to do- 

not because we should or someone said we ought to, but because we must and we want to and we will!

The action I take is always, always, always preceded by the conviction that what I am to do must be done. Now. Only after it is done can I tell you why I had to do it, and if I could have done it better, and how I’ll do it next time.

I dare to think that a whole lot of you are right-brainers like me. (I much prefer the term “creative thinkers”.) And I believe that many of you are as frustrated with your messy way of doing your days and accomplishing your dreams as I am. And maybe you’ve suffered the shame that goes with being different, of approaching love and life and dreams in a way that makes little sense even to you.

With the One who created you I want to tell you that:

God likes you just as you are. He made you that way— on purpose, for a purpose.

He made you for His purposes—all those tasks He made for you alone to do, just as He wrote in Ephesians 2v10:

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.

For the month of October I am going to be sharing with you some of the things I have learned and am learning about ordering my days— about doing and being the me He made, on purpose. I am spending this month ordering my days, not so I can please or impress anyone, but so that my world works more smoothly and my days reap the purpose I am made for.

I’ll also be writing for mothers with insight into how to develop your own child’s sense of rightness and the way of order that is unique to them. Can you imagine the gift this could be to a child? To understand and appreciate the way they are wired before they try to stuff themselves into a mold that won’t fit?

And because my way tends leans more toward the random than the regular, may I suggest that you allow me to alert you via email when I post? (simply subscribe below) That way you won’t miss the conversation and the comments as we learn together.

From a heart learning to please Him just as I am,


P.S. Can you share with us the One Thing that helps you more than any other to free you to efficiency and that lovely rightness that comes from actually doing what you’ve dreamed?

We learn best when we learn together and I crave what I learn in your comments.


Many of you know and love my daughter, Elizabeth. It has been her artistry that has crafted the design of this blog from the very beginning. And it is Elizabeth who has encouraged me more than any other to keep writing, to risk, to be raw and honest and completely me. 

I could not and would not have begun this blog without Elizabeth.

So you can imagine my dismay when she told me that she would be moving to L.A. I vacillated between aching with the loss and thrill for what I knew was the faith adventure of a lifetime for their family. 

I know she is just where she belongs. And yet I miss her every day.

I’ve asked her to share with us some of the lessons she has been learning in the midst of living on mission to the city of Los Angeles.


Do I really believe that God is faithful? Faithful to me?

If there is one thing I have learned and experienced this past year and a half, it is that God is faithful. Everyday.

I had heard stories growing up of God asking people to take huge leaps of faith, I'd witnessed lives changes by those acts of faith... but I had never really lived one of those stories.

I'd had a pretty safe and comfortable life and walked with Jesus from a young age. And yet both my husband and I felt there was a stirring for something more and a calling we had yet to hear. We prayed for several years that God would show us what He was leading us to and what He was preparing us for. Wondering why God kept bringing California to our hearts.

Then we waited. And waited. And waited.

I will never forget the day I knew God was moving us to Los Angeles. It was the day before Thanksgiving in 2013. Brook, got off the phone with the lead pastor at Reality LA in Hollywood and he called me to tell me about their conversation. As soon as I heard his voice, I knew something had been ignited in him. I heard hope, vision, joy... I heard things I hadn't heard in him for several years. I knew deep down that God had answered our prayers and had shown us the next step. I had no idea how or why but I knew we were going.

I was both excited and terrified. LA is a city that is very big, very dirty, very fast, and very broken. I grew up in the suburbs of Portland. A city that is very clean, a comfortable pace and most of the people I knew followed Jesus. My husband had been a pastor at an amazing church for 8 years and I got to stay home with our two little kids like I'd always hoped I could.

But there is nothing worse then being comfortable, yet not being where God has called you.

Brook interviewed with Reality LA for several months and we grew more and more passionate about the church and called to what they were doing and to how they were impacting Los Angeles for the Gospel. At the end of those few months we got the call from the Church letting us know that they loved us, wanted to hire Brook, yet simply didn't have a pastoral position available at the time. There was hope of a job in the future but no promise.

Yet the calling we felt to the people of LA and to the church was something we couldn't just ignore. It was time to have faith. Our new phrase we quoted to each other daily was "Where God leads, God provides". A phrase that proved to be true, over and over and over again.

In April of last year, my husband and I hugged our families goodbye, loaded up a U-haul and headed south with our two little kids, Duke and Scarlet.

We started out in a one bedroom apartment while Brook worked 4 random jobs to provide for us. We lived off food stamps and learned to live with a whole lot less. We felt more settled than we had in years. We were doing exactly what we knew God had asked us to.

We had to trust Him more than a paycheck. Him more than a good job. Him more than our community of family and friends. Him more than a secure future.

It was hard. It was exhausting. And it was worth it.

A few months after we moved Brook was hired to do pre-martial counseling at the church for 10 hours a week, 6 months later he was hired as the Community Group Director and was able to quit his other jobs and almost a year after we moved he was hired as a pastor and elder at Reality LA.

That year was stretching to say the least but we are so thankful for the way God wrote our story.

We are changed. We now know what it means to rely on God for everyday needs, for friends, for food, for clothing, for joy, for future. We were shown the true meaning of generosity as we experienced people help us and support us in anyway they could.

We don't just know that God is faithful... we have experienced that faithfulness firsthand.

Doing what God has asked you to do doesn't mean that the road will be beautifully paved with ease and comforts. It most likely will be the opposite. But it does mean that you will gain a whole new understanding of who God is and that the purpose of our lives is not ourselves, but His glory.

Los Angeles is anything but comfortable and nothing like what you see in the movies. It is rough, broken and a hard place to live. Yet God has allowed us to see beauty, to love these people like they are family and given us strength in Him to live out His call for us.

God has been faithful and God is faithful.

More next week on everyday life in LA and a few lessons I've learned along the way...


PS: is there something God is asking you to do that seems so far out of reach? Are you at the edge and not sure if the next step is "jump"? I'd love to hear and would love to be praying for you!

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,


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?


Every once in a while I like to give you a peek into the everyday doings of life and love, work and play at Firwood Cottage. And so, as summer winds down and crisp mornings hint at things ahead, here’s a glimpse into my life: 

What’s new at Firwood Cottage?

We’ve cleared the piles of pine needles, uprooted weeds, shooed away moles… and planted the beginnings of a lovely garden. My favorite is the apple tree I planted right outside the windows of my Writer’s Cabin in the back. Check out my Pinterest board (For My Back Porch, A Garden To Create) (Diane Comer) to see who I hope this garden grows.

What I’m learning: 

To pay bills! Seriously, my husband loves all that financial, budget, balancing, bill paying part of life. But once my mom moved to the Northwest and after my dad passed away, I’ve been designated mom’s Bill Pay-er. It’s actually kind of fun when it’s not my money and there are no worries attached!

What I’m loving: 

My clothes-line. I’ve wanted one for so long but in our previous house it would have been right in our neighbors line of sight. Now, at Firwood Cottage, no one sees but me. There is a primitive joy in hanging sheets to dry in the warm Northwest breezes— and in falling asleep to the scent of the forest on my pillow.

What I’m reading:

I discovered Parker Palmer this summer and I’ve devoured his little book, Let Your Life Speak. Beautiful, transparent writing from the heart of a poet, a dreamer.

His words set me on a quest to narrow my doings down to only what is mine to do, which then led to a whole stack of books I’m reading right now:

The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst (so good!)

Thrive by Arianna Huffington (interesting)

Essentialism by Greg McKeon (just started)

Organizing for the Creative Person by Dorothy Lehmkuhl, Dolores Lamping (absolutely excellent for my messy mind!)

And, because my favorite before-bed reading is stories, especially the magical, mystical, fairy tale type, I’ve been delving in to Michael Sullivan’s Riyria Chronicles. Elves and dwarves, secret underground cities, a few scary monsters… delicious!

What I’m listening to:

Music is one of the things I miss most about hearing. I see how music speaks to the deepest part of people and I wish I could experience that. But I do have what audiologists call “auditory memory”, which means that my brain perks up and sings along with the melody of songs I listened to years ago before I went deaf. So… Phil bought a couple of albums to play in the car and then he printed off the words so I could read along. So fun!

So far I’ve been smiling with the Beach Boys, crying with Carole King, and singing along (in my 2-tone deaf girl singing voice!) with Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. Watch out Nashville, here I come!

What I’m writing:

I finished my first book, He Speaks In The Silence: finding intimacy with God by learning to listen. Loved every moment of the whole process: writing my story, editing under the guidance of a master, editing some more, editing more… and now I’m in the part the scares me most, marketing. This is the grown up version of the girl who quit Girl Scouts because selling Girl Scout cookies terrified me! More about that in a couple weeks…

I’ve just begun to write the proposal for a book that I’ve wanted to write, but couldn’t, when my children were young. Intentional: Raising Passionate Jesus Followers. It is the written version of what Phil and I teach in the conferences we have taken all over the world, plus all the files we tucked away because of time constraints.

Writing the proposal is not fun for me. I have to somehow convince a board of editors that this book is worth pouring money into, that they’ll be glad they did because thousands of parents will be clamoring for this book. Ugh. Girl Scout cookies all over again.

Where I am right now:

By the time you read this I will be in the High Sierras, camping with Phil. Yep, in a tent, a little tent. We’ll be overlooking Lake Alpine— our favorite place in the world, and I’ll have my books and files and papers spread out on the picnic table. I have all week to write and hike and think and mull and kayak and cook on a camp stove and sit by a roaring fire. No internet, no electricity, no cell service, no traffic.

Just breathtaking beauty.

Every few days we’ll drive down the mountain to the booming town of Arnold for groceries and a few minutes of cell service so we can check on the kids (who are not, by any means kids anymore, but you know that thing? Once a mom, always a mom…)

I’ve been posting pictures of God’s astounding creativity on Instagram (@dianewcomer).

What I’m learning:

That I have an assigned task to complete; that God actually designed me different on purpose. That my head-in-the-clouds dreaming is part of His design, not a flaw to overcome.

Tears well up as I write the words for you to see. I am just grasping this, finally believing the truth He says about me. I have pardoned and apologized my way through most of my life, thinking I was less-than because I’m lost in my head instead of efficiently organizing my to-do list.


I can’t wait to begin sharing what I am hearing from God about His craftsmanship in creating us the way we are… on purpose. I want you to learn alongside me, so please, stay tuned.

If you haven’t already, sign up to have posts delivered straight to your in-box. I don’t want you to miss what’s ahead… I dare to think that what I’m hearing is for you too.

From my heart,


P.S. Tell me, what is your favorite place in the world? Better yet, send me a picture via Instagram (@dianewcomer) with the hashtag #myfavoriteplaceintheworld.




This is a page of my journal from twenty years ago. A glimpse into who we were then and a revelation of who we have become.  Us:

A husband and a wife.

Four children, including two teenagers, one pre-adolescent, and one toddler.

Two cats. One totally disobedient dog. And two horses.

This is the make-up of our family.

Needless to say, with all our comings and goings, individual personalities, and distinct wills, ours is not always a peaceful place. There is plenty of teasing and laughter…and fun. And if I'm honest, quite a few thunderclaps of conflict as well.

And I love it.

Oh, I don’t always like it. I am, after all, a woman who thrives on solitude, order, calm, quiet, and peace (rare qualities in this busy household). Yet I love the richness, the ever-changing variety, the heart-stopping intimacy of shared thoughts. I find such safety in the “kindred spirits” I have found in each of my family members.

I know what they like…

They know what I like…

We know what we like together.

There is something soul-satisfying about a shared beauty; a favorite song on the radio, a breath-taking sunset, or better yet, the groggy-eyed wonder of an early morning sunrise. When I see a brilliant rainbow with my family, it takes on a deeper beauty because we gasp in wonder together.

This family of mine is nothing like the still-life portrait I once imagined it would be. For goodness sake, we can’t even get a quick snapshot of all six of us smiling with all 12 eyes open at once!

I am learning, ever so slowly, that if I let go and stop trying to get everybody to be quiet and still and orderly, I enjoy this crazy crowd a whole lot more.

Though I treasure order, they do not.

Though I love quiet, I have never known one of them to leave our noisy family circle to seek solitude for the sake of silence. They prefer noise, and lots of it.

And while neatness seems essential to my peace of mind, not a one of the rest of them care a whit if the house is in perfect order before they go to bed, or when they get up, or anytime in between!

I’m finally getting it.

That family peace consists more in letting go and accepting each other than in trying frantically to keep everybody calm, quiet, and tidy. I am learning that conflict is sometimes okay (will I ever really believe that?) and that closeness comes not by obliterating conflict, but by living with it comfortably.

We do not always agree. In fact, we rarely all agree. And that’s okay. It is when we graciously respect each other’s differing opinions and ways of doing things that friendship sprouts like well-watered weeds all over the relationships in this family.

So I am learning painstakingly slowly to let go and enjoy this crew of six. I am daily resisting the hundreds of urges to control and corral them into my version of the Happy Family.

They are they…

and I am me…

and together we are us.


Then there were six of us. Now there are fifteen.

In the midst of living real life we have grown and changed, wept and danced, learned, grieved, become real friends.

We are still Us, still in love with Jesus, still learning how to follow in His footsteps. And, perhaps most real of all, still in awe of the incomprehensible truth that He loves us just as we are.

May you delight in the truth of His love this week.

From my heart,


P.S. I am away this week, road tripping and camping high in the Sierra mountains I love, with the man I have loved for well over 37 years. I'll keep checking in so we can pray, together, for those whose hearts need a touch from God. Leave your name- or not. As we hike and explore the beauty of the Creator, we would love to bring your hopes to Him who hears our cries.


 As I've watched the school buses go by this week, I've been thinking about all those mamas who are feeling the loss as their little ones don backpack and lunch sack to step into a whole new world.  I'm sure you've shed some tears, as did I, mixed with the thrill of knowing your child will soon be experiencing the great, life-long joy of learning.  I loved those years of being mom to two little boys and two little girls. Loved the fresh school books and cute haircuts, the untucked shirts and lopsided ponytails. I miss so much about those years. My children are all grown now, with children of their own. And too soon yours will be too.  

These are the words that spilled out of my heart nearly 20 years ago when my son, Matthew started school. May you share the same immense joy that I have in watching your sons and daughters grow into men and women whose hearts beat for God. 


Today my little boy went off to school.

He was afraid.  I was afraid.

He was excited. So was I.

He was brave.  I cried.

We chattered cheerfully in the van on the way to school.  He looked so fresh and grownup in his new haircut, plaid shirt tucked neatly in, appropriately cool baggy pants and black suede tennis shoes.  I took pictures in front of the flagpole.

He smiled.

Walking into the classroom, he gripped my hand in sweaty palm and sat oh-so-quietly at his pint-sized desk.

“Don’t leave yet Mom.  Wait ‘til all the other parents go…”

I rubbed his back and labeled his supplies.  Crayons, scissors, lots of glue, a binder covered in G. I. Joe stickers.  I took a picture of my little boy at his desk.

No smile.

Time for Mom to leave.  One last squeeze of his shoulder.  One last kiss on his cheek, and out the door.

That’s when the tears betrayed me.  Unbidden, they pushed against my eyes, threatening to embarrass me completely.  Gulping them back, I waved with false cheer at a neighbor and drove in my empty van to my empty house.

So quiet.

No chaos, no arguments, no laughter, no messes.

I have looked forward to this day.  I have plans.  For years I have said, “When my children all go to school…”

Yet today I can do nothing. I grieve an end of an era.  An era I have loved, filled with memories I cherish.

I did my share of complaining to be sure.  “Can’t I even go to the bathroom alone?!”  But I loved the unrushed mornings cuddling with blankie and bear and my squirmy little boy.

I loved the Lego creations and the storybooks and Wee Sing tapes.  I loved sidewalk chalk and popsicles dribbling down dimpled chins.  Rainy days spent building forts in the family room with blankets anchored with encyclopedias.

Most of all, I have loved the absolute trust in his eyes.  He knows I am here for him to protect him, to be proud, to understand.

For I am Mom.  Matthew’s mom.  The Best-Mom-in-the-Whole-World.

That is who I was yesterday when I held him as a babe in my arms.  It is who I am today as I leave him at his desk at school.  And tomorrow, when he is a man, I will still be…


From my heart,


P.S. Who feels the same? That bittersweet, confusing mix of relief and sadness? I'd love to pray for you this week. And if any of you have children you're especially worried about, let me know and I'll pray as I did for my own.


 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)

THE POWER OF MOMS… to change a culture of criticism

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths,

but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs,

that it may benefit those who listen.

Ephesian 4v29


I sat at my desk in my cabin under the Redwood tree, a month or so ago, with a plate of cookies fresh out of the oven, a pot of tea steaming, a lovely book by Sally Clarkson feeding my soul with truth.

She writes truth so full of grace, with infinite understanding. By the end of the book I’m sure we’re old friends. She mentors me across the miles in her hope-filled way of talking about life and relationships and disciplines and following Jesus fearlessly. She admonishes me to, “Own Your Life” and I want to, I will, I rise to her belief in me, and in all the women who read her words.

I want to read more, so I look her up in Goodreads. She’s written a long list of books about family and being and the value of motherhood. I’m intrigued. Why haven’t I ever heard of her before now?

I scroll down to the comments— reader’s takes on specific books. Someone named Traci was less than impressed and wants us to know why:

I found myself…. skeptical that all the things that come up in family relationships and child-rearing could be solved with a cup of tea and a heart-to-heart, as seems to be suggested throughout the compounding list of what being a wholehearted mother entails.”

More words like “formulaic”, “overwhelmed”, “not relevant”, “insular”, “too much to swallow” convince me to steer clear. I don’t buy the book.

And then, this morning, with another pot of tea at my elbow, chocolate chip cookies hot out of the oven swiped from the plate I’m taking to Matt and Simona’s house this afternoon, I pick up her book again.

I like this woman, this writer of wisdom. Once again I look up more books by Sally (she doesn’t know me but I know her and she’s one of my dearest friends!)

This time, the reader’s comment simply saddens me. Maybe it’s because I just read these words by another writer I like:

“… I think we’re in danger of thinking that constantly evaluating and rating things is an innocuous practice. And I don’t think it is. I think that mindset is corrosive and dangerous over time.

I think it’s worth asking about what happens over time to your insides when you decide to be a hater… crusading for something or other.”

~Shauna Neiquist, in Savor

I grieve over a culture so intent on being heard that graciousness is lost in the facade of truth. A woman sitting at home, sure and certain that a writer she’s never met must be wrong because she doesn’t connect with metaphors that seem simplistic to her. And so she types out cutting words that sum up a message the author spent hundreds of hours crafting... as irrelevant. An entire book boiled down to “everything solved with a cup of tea and a heart-to-heart”.

What has happened to us? The Church, God’s people, the ones for whom Jesus prayed with such agony,

“I have given them the glory You gave Me,

 that they may be one as We are one

—  I in them, and You in Me—

so that they may be brought to complete unity.

Then the world will know that You sent Me

and have loved them even as You have loved Me.”

John 17v22,23


I grieve an emerging culture of criticism. With the advent of the Internet, what used to be whispered behind people’s backs (bad enough!) is now broadcast in bold print. Via blogs and tweets, podcasts and even sermons, Jesus’ followers are feeling unabashed freedom to blast each other mercilessly.

I grieve, not only for us, but for our children, who will grow up thinking such rabid critique is normal. I want to shake these free-speech exploiting criticizers by the shoulders and tell them what my little Matthew used to say to his older, arguing siblings:

Do’na be mean!

Instead of joining the lambasting with more of my own, I choose to believe in the power mothers have to change their worlds-- to change our world… one potential criticizer at a time.

Some thoughts…

1. The culture of the grace has to start in our homes.

When building up is practiced daily and tearing down is disciplined persistently, we create a culture in which truth and mercy blend into a safe place where children grow into adults who will lead their own generation with grace.

2. A culture of humility starts with mom.

When a mother learns to apologize sincerely for her own outburst instead of blaming her kids and husband for pushing her to the point of craziness, the whole family learns to accept responsibility for their own crabbiness—

Voila! Lessons learned by example are lessons learned for a lifetime.

3. A culture of mercy begins towards mom.

When mom turns mean because she’s frustrated and overworked and over worried and just plain exhausted… children have a chance to learn how to give mercy. Instead of rolling their eyes and muttering more meanness, children can learn how kindness and sweet words replenish even the most harried among us. Mothers aren't perfect. There are lessons to learn even in the midst of a mama-meltdown.

4. A culture of niceness-no-matter-what is best taught in the midst of real life.

There is power in a mama who ferociously guards her children from decimating each other with their words. A mother who disallows sarcasm and who doesn’t permit herself or her children to poke each other’s soft spots is raising a generation of leaders who will think twice before sending off a nasty email.

5. A culture of big-picture truth rather than jabbing pettiness can best be taught by moms.

Moms have a way of knowing their children and do well to help their children know and understand each other. Is it any wonder that the book of Proverbs so often pairs wisdom with understanding? A wise mama puts her child’s behavior in context to the brothers and sisters who are most bothered by it. In doing so, she has an influence on the way her children will grow up to handle people they don’t agree with. Nicely.

 Isn’t it a radical thought that a band of determined Jesus following moms might have a chance to influence the next generation of leaders, talkers, bloggers, opinion makers— even politicians?!

Wouldn’t it be amazing if, indeed, Sally Clarkson is right? That a hot cup of tea and an understanding chat just might solve all most the problems of our world?

From a heart longing for a culture of kindness,


P. S. Okay moms, please speak up! I am loving hearing from mothers who are taking their roles seriously and changing the culture of their homes. Tell us how you’re managing meanness in your home. What words are working?


Before I had kids I made a vow to myself: I will never, under any circumstances yell at my kids. Ever.

I broke that vow.

A lot.

Way more than I hope they remember.

Looking back, most of my mad had to do with messes.

Our big home on the hill overflowed with messes every day. Every. Single. Day.

Four kids + two cats + two dogs+ two horses + a spontaneously fun husband = MESSY!

I am a woman who craves order. I make my bed every day. Hang my towels perfectly even. Organize my spice drawer alphabetically. The only thing I don’t like about traveling is that it feels messy.

I get a rush from walking into a perfectly clean kitchen, from opening the garage door and seeing matching boxes perfectly labeled, lined up evenly on orderly shelves.

For me, neatness is like a drug, a high. It makes me happy, frees my mind to think.

It has taken me years— decades— to learn these few must-do’s that make my often-messy life a little more realistic. These are things I wish I’d known during all those messy summers when my kids were home. Summers I cannot relive.

1.  Nothing of value gets done without making some messes. People who get a lot done— people who invent and learn and try new things, inevitably have to wade through some messiness. Okay, a lot of messiness.

 2.  Neatness is nice. Everyone functions better when their space is tidy. Teaching my children how to put their things in order could have been fun if I had allowed it to be my gift to them instead of being so uptight about it.

3.  There is a vast difference between neat enough and perfect. To indulge in my propensity for perfectionism will make me weird. And crabby. And mad at a world that cannot ever be perfect.

4.   Consumerism is the enemy of neat. I have spent hundreds of hard earned dollars on plastic containers. What a waste! When I finally learned to keep only a few things in my cupboards, my few things stayed naturally neat. It’s better to have less stuff than to organize more stuff. 

5.   Slow down to order your life. More than anything else, I have found that my pace of life perfectly parallels my sense of order. By adding in one more meeting, one more adventure, one more trip to the store, one more project, one more item on my to-do list… I create a world in which messes reign.

I cannot do it all.

Living now in this cottage in the woods, I relish a degree of neatness that simply wasn’t possible with kids at home. When the Grands come to visit, their messes don’t worry me at all. My whole world stops and I delight in their creativity. I see a bigger picture now and that picture is filled with beauty. How I wish I’d know, all those messy years ago, that…

God creates beauty out of messiness.

From my heart,


P.S. Can you give us your best, most workable tips for keeping your place neat? Any mamas want to tell us how you teach your kids to be tidy?



Some people make cutting remarks,

But the words of the wise bring healing.

Proverbs 12v18 NLT

…an encouraging word cheers a person up.

Proverbs 12 v25 NLT

I followed a car in bumper-to-bumper traffic, inching forward while lanes merged on a too-busy afternoon. A sticker on the back seemed to echo words to me over and over as I pondered how to respond to someone whose unkind words had cut deep: Believe in nice!

At first it seemed like one of those ridiculous slogans that sound sweet but say nothing. Believe in nice?! Like believing in Santa Clause or the Tooth Fairy or a Fairy God-mother whose magic wand works miracles.

I couldn’t get those words out of my mind. Over and over, to the rhythm of the slow going road, like a mantra I heard them:

Believe in nice. Believe in nice. Believe in nice.

My mind wandered from my worry about how to respond to this someone who seemed so antagonistic, to these believe-in-nice words that made no sense.

Lord, is this You?

Believe, Di, believe in the power of nice.

My breath caught. I know what the word believe means. I know that in God’s Word, to believe in God means to entrust oneself to God.

As in completely, entirely.

As in being willing to so entrust myself to Him that I do the hard thing, the impossible thing, the thing I don’t want to do but must if I’m to please Him and stay close to Him. He was telling me…

To believe that His power is in the nice.

And then a verse we’d memorized over and over again as a family joined the believe-in-nice mantra:

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths,

but only what is helpful for building people up

according to their needs,

that it may benefit those who listen.

Ephesians 4:29 NIV

Okay, Lord. I believe, I entrust myself to You. Instead of responding with all the venom that keeps coming to my still-to-be-completely, really redeemed mind, I will be nice.

I believe in the power You bring when I choose nice.

I looked to my left, still stuck in traffic, I stare into a mini-van driven by a tired looking mama. Kids in the back, obviously harassing each other. Arms flailing, mouths spewing, faces skewed into ugliness by the hurt and anger and not-niceness of their siblings— and their momentarily not-nice selves.

Believe in nice.

The look on that mama’s face about broke my heart. She didn’t know what to do with her herd of rampaging buffalo in the back. So she did what she’d been taught: nothing. Just let them work it out themselves. Don’t interfere.

When that didn’t work (okay, I was staring, but what else is there to do during a stalled rush hour?) Mama whipped around, opened her mouth wide and… saw me staring.

I smiled sympathetically. She smiled back. A moment of knowing.

I wanted to get out of my car and climb into hers and tell her what I know now, now that my kids are grown and my car is empty of arguers:

I wanted to tell her… that there is power in being nice.

That encouraging words give courage to kids whose feelings are hurt and tempers are short. That her own niceness to both the wounded and the wound-er can bring hope and healing.

I wanted to tell her it’s her job to enforce niceness.

That if she doesn’t the meanest one will win. The quiet child will sink, letting the words wreak havoc. The not-nice one will keep being not-nice because anger is an incredibly effective way to control people.

I wanted to tell her to soften her words.

To respond to the car full of chaos with soothing gentleness. That if she doesn’t, she’ll regret it at the end of the day, feeling as ugly as she sounds. 

I wanted to tell her about the tremendous power of nice.

That wise words are like medicine, that gentleness turns away anger. That she has the power, for just a few years, to teach her children that truth and nice go hand-in-hand.

I wanted to tell her that entrusting yourself to God means choosing to be nice no matter what.

Even in traffic. Even on hard, hot days with not-nice kids spewing not-niceness on each other.

I wanted to tell that mama that He knows how hard it is to be nice.

That He managed, even on the Cross, with blood running down in sticky rivulets, with a crowd of jeering mockers, with their spittle on his face— even then to be kind, forgiving…

To believe in nice.

The traffic cleared. We passed a wreck on the side of the road. Glass shattered, the bumper crunched, a car seat in the back. People had been hurt.

And I prayed…

… for the child in the wrecked car who may have been hurt.

… for the children in that angry mini-van who were hurting each other—and themselves.

… for the mamas in both cars, that they would believe in the power of God to be nice, no matter what.

… for myself to believe in the power God gives to be nice when all I feel is mean.

From a heart still struggling to believe in the power of nice,


P.S. And you?

Can you tell us how you teach your children the power of nice?

Can you tell us what has helped you to believe in the power of nice?

Or who?



It’s Not Your Fault

“the sound of a gentle whisper…”

I Kings 19:12

This morning I woke up to worry— again.

As per my usual pattern, all my worry was about me: what I need to do, what I should have done, how inadequate and undone I am. Should have’s, ought to’s…

But on this morning, as I padded out to my place of refuge with my pot of tea, my plain white china cup, my fluffy blanket, I heard something strange and…beautiful in the middle of my self-shaming tirade. Words so soft, like a gentle whisper.

Shhh… hush Di! You are Mine and I love you. Shhh! 

All those discouragements, the conflict and criticisms— those are on Me. 

My breath caught, from You, Lord? 

From Me.

In that one phrase all my angst swooshed out and relief lifted a load from my tense shoulders I hadn’t known I carried. I felt lifted, like those silken hot air balloons, launched into the quiet sky, far above the fray.

From Him. The One who loves me just for me, all the way through— always. My hard days and sleepless nights weren’t simply because I am inadequate. Nor were they because someone else is. The truth is, He used those disruptions to do something wild and wonderful in me, for me.

And, dear ones who read my words, He does the same for you. I think He wants me to tell you that:

It’s not your fault.

That people will blame you, that your enemy stands ready with those fiery darts to afflict you, that shame and heaviness will weigh you down and keep you from soaring, but…

It’s not your fault.

And we’re laughing now, my Father and me, chuckling together in shared joy. Because He knows these words are for me too, for me and every other woman who wallows in blame.

He loves you! He isn’t blaming you— that’s not Him.

And get this: He even…likes you.

I sense His arm around me as I sit curled up in my cushy chair in the corner of my cabin in the woods. We watch— together— as branches bounce in a haphazard dance as one of His creatures— a squirrel? a chipmunk? It’s moving too fast to see— leaps from limb to limb setting the forest asway.

It’s not your fault.

I’m grinning big, seeing His hand in the unexpected, knowing now that He knew what was ahead. He knew and let it be. Not because He’s mean or distant or giving me my just dues, but because He knows I need Him. That only tucked in tight to Him can I do what He needs me to do. And that, more than any other way, it is those hard days, those difficult weeks, those just lousy moments— that cause me to scurry in close, to abide.

I don’t know why or if your weeks are hard. Maybe your kids are squabbling their way through these hot summer days. Maybe you’re the one squabbling. Maybe you’ve stubbed your toe one too many times and the soreness is causing you to limp. I don’t know.

I do know that He wants me to say it again and again:

It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault.  Even when it is.

I think He wants to remind you— and me!— that He has taken our burden and placed it on His back. That He’s got your back. That He loves you and He likes you and that’s really, honestly, the only thing that matters.

Soaring now, way up high in the summer sky where everything looks… beautiful.

From my heart,


P.S. Do you blame yourself for every troubled day? Feel as if you must work harder, do more, be better, in order to earn God’s favor?  Are these words: It’s not your fault! for you?




One week ago everyone went home. Camp Comer was long over, but we’d extended with visits from Elizabeth with Duke and little Scarlet, and then the unexpected delight of our other daughter, Rebekah, coming for a long weekend.

While they were here I relished the moments, ignoring e-mails and messages and responsibilities and deadlines (and cleaning!) to fully pour myself into relationships that will be mine for a lifetime.

I cuddled with Duke when too much play with too many friends and cousins left him exhausted. We lay on my cushy feather bed, his head resting on my heart, imagining castles and knights and maybe could we make a fort in the attic space above the bedroom?

I issued yes’s for all the times I’d no’d my own kids.

Yes you can help yourself to the gum in the top drawer. Yes, you can have a bit of unhealthy whipped-cream-from-the-can on your vegan hot chocolate. Yes, we’ll build forts and find nooks where imaginations can fly us to other worlds.

They’re all gone now and my little cottage in the fir woods is neat and clean once again. Handprints on the windows lingered long enough to remind me why I’m spending my summer writing words for parents— words I’d longed for when I was the mama with little ones.

And then this morning I read a passage in God’s word I’ve read a million times and somehow this time it lit up the page like the marquees in Times Square:

Here is a trustworthy saying:  Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be:

…above reproach

…faithful to his wife


… self-controlled



…able to teach

…not given to drunkenness

…not violent but gentle

…not quarrelsome

…not a lover of money

And even while I cringe at the realization of how I fall short, it dawns on me that this is God’s matrix for the kind of spiritual leaders He is looking for. A list of character qualities that He values.

A list for parents in the thick of raising the next generation of men and women who will shape the Church and will bring the Kingdom of God into their world.

I’m excited now and fully awake to the riches hidden in plain sight!

This is why Phil and I have changed course after years and decades of pastoring in the local church. Why we are risking security and ease and saying no to retirement and a gazillion things that take up time. Why I am packing my suitcase to trek to un-touristy places like Haiti and Uganda and Albania instead of staying ensconced in my cozy little cottage in the woods.

God has tapped us on the shoulder and beckoned us to come alongside parents who are raising the next leaders and elders and deacons and teachers and entrepreneurs and engineers. His invitation to us is to teach and encourage and train and point out the wisdom pieces in God’s Word that lay waiting to be discovered.

Treasures like Proverbs 24:3,4:

By wisdom a house is built,

And through understanding it is established;

Through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.

There’s a metaphor to inspire parents! To build and then establish a spiritual house where rare and beautiful treasures are the norm. A calling to wisdom and understanding.

I read that list in 1Timothy knowing it was the Apostle Paul’s inspired-by-God list for choosing leaders in Timothy’s church. And at the same time I read it sensing that Paul’s list is also a parent’s list.

Because, what every counselor or teacher knows is:

… that faithfulness and self-control and gentleness instead of violence are best taught early before a child is hardened into hard-to-change ways of dealing with conflict.

… that being quarrelsome can be nipped in the bud when parents encourage humility and teach their children ways to listen and understand instead of allowing them to succeed by demanding control over their siblings.

…that being hospitable is best taught by throwing open the doors of our homes and lives to people who need the refuge we offer.

… and being not a lover of money is ingrained in a child who is taught and shown how to be grateful and generous.

And so I sit at my desk this summer, reaching for words to explain truths in the Scriptures that work in real life. Writing and rewriting and studying and pondering— asking God to make His wisdoms easier to find, to gift me— and all the parents who want to raise followers of Jesus— with a depth of understanding that will enable us to raise children who will become the next generation of leaders.

I’ll be spilling over onto the pages of this place, of course. Some things just can’t wait the months needed to create a whole book. And I’d love to hear from you— young moms, hope-to-be-someday moms, empty-nest moms and those who were raised in the ways of wisdom—

What is it you know about the spiritual training of children that you’re sensing is a rare and beautiful treasure?

What is it that you know now, that you wish you’d known then?

What are the areas you need help in this task of raising children whose hearts burn to know God? Members of the tribe who A.W.Tozer called “children of the burning hearts”?

And books! Don’t forget to send me the names of books that have fueled your quest for wisdom and understanding.  I would love to gather your questions and treasures as I write.

From my heart,




How To Survive Thrive This Summer …for moms

Part I

Then Jesus said to the centurion:

“Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.”

And his servant was healed in that moment.

Matthew 8v13

Dear Mothers-Who-Dread-Summer,

The ranting of disappointed, disillusioned moms who dread the long weeks ahead have already begun broadcasting all over cyberspace. And every time I read those words my heart hurts. Because I heard those words too.

Listening in to those conversations between mothers, I knew that it was me who would mess up my mom’s world in the weeks ahead, and me who would instigate and perpetuate those arguments.

It was me who would be in the way.

Somehow I failed to see the smiles beneath the words. I didn’t know she didn’t mean it. Had no clue that this is just the talk of moms in the trenches, a sort of bravado between friends.

And every chance I got I skipped down the path, scampering as fast as my awkwardness would carry me to Caroline’s house. And there, in that house by the edge of the woods, I reveled in my best friend’s mom’s welcome.

Anita Joslyn saw summers so differently than any others that I still warm with the memories of being loved by her “a cuppa tea solves everything, luv” kindness.

Anita Joslyn full on cried through the last week of summer! She lamented our going back to school. That last week before school resumed was a mournful celebration of every good memory she’d made for us over the summer months.

She took us to have cake at her favorite bakery. She painted our toe-nails stylish yellow, made us toast spread with Nutella. She took us for rides in her forest green Jaguar, held a sleep over to get every last drop of fun out of our last days.

Gosh, I loved her.

Somehow, I think Anita Joslyn knew something most mothers seem to miss. She believed that her children were a gift to be cherished.  And she chose to embrace one longing-to-be-cherished best friend as well.

And so, for these first weeks of summer break, I want to imagine with you how summers might be a time for thriving. Of cherishing your children.

I am asking the Father to show us how create a summer in which you and your children can thrive. A summer so sweet that maybe you’ll create a life long memory for your kids… and a friend in need.

For today, here are two essentials:

1.     Take time to readjust your thinking about motherhood. 

Most of us once longed to be mothers. We cried over Hallmark commercials and couldn’t wait to be the center of the celebration on Mother’s Day.

What we didn’t do was count the cost. In our idealistic dreams we imagined our pink-cheeked cherubs sweetly crowning us with daisy chains, drifting off to sleep while we bustled about creating the perfect home.

The truth is, motherhood and family and nurturing children is relentlessly hard work. Managing two or three people while actually getting something done takes effort and focus and planning and goal setting. And yet we know that everything worth doing well is worth doing right, and that includes raising our children.

What if we reimagined summer as an important project to manage? Using our skills and energy and imagination to purposefully pour into our children, to create those kinds of I-am-cherished memories that I relish from my friend’s mom? What if we set goals? What if we planned each day on purpose— even the ones where nothing gets done?

What if we started this summer by going to God and asking Him to “heal” us and our children from the selfishness that pervades our homes?

I dare think He might say, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” 

2.   Practice the discipline of thanksgiving.

Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts has opened a generation of women to the heart transforming power of giving thanks.

She writes: “Anxiety can wear anger’s mask. Fear of failing, of falling, of falling behind, it can make us fierce. The answer to anxiety is the adoration of Christ.”

Then in a piece of raw honesty this week  she wrote of her own angry meltdown and I ached at the memories of doing much the same and all the shame that is so hard to remember is forgiven.

She urges us to change our hearts and our minds by choosing to write thanks in lists. And she tells her story of how those lists changed her heart by setting her free.

Here’s what I hope every mama will do: Run out and get a notebook for each of your children—a simple moleskin will do. Write their name on the front. Then proceed to fill the pages with what you love about your child. Do it every day. On going-good-I’ve-got-this-days… and on those awful days you’ll someday wish you could forget.

1. The feel of his soft warmth as he snuggles you first thing in the morning.

2. Her lingering lisp that turns every sentence into sweetness. 

Include triumphs of that day:

1.    A moment of peace, a shared joke between siblings.

2.   That time when she cleaned the toothpaste off the sink and hung the towel on it’s hook— without being asked.

DO NOT turn that notebook into a performance review. This is not a tool for manipulation, but a means of seeing and hearing Truth— the Truth that God sees and we too often miss in the midst of crazy, real, ordinary summer days.

This post is already too long and I’ve just gotten started on all my Thriving Summer thoughts. I’ll save the rest for next week and maybe many weeks ahead. But while I wait to jot down more, can you fill in the comments with your own ideas of How To Thrive This Summer? Let’s fill the summer with His goodness and pour it on each other and on our children.

From my heart,



The Family I Always Wanted

We all need a small group of people who will echo God’s love for us and His belief in us.

In an ideal universe, these are the people closest to us, our immediate families.

But this is not the case for so many people.

The wounds so many people carry are not from the opinions of strangers

but from the opinions of the people they love.

Savor~ by Shauna Niequist

I read these words this morning knowing I have what everyone wants and needs and so few experience— a loving, affirming family who actually like each other.

I cry mama-tears as I remember the years and years of hoping for this, despairing that my children would ever get along, that maybe this ideal is unrealistic, impossible. How I wondered if they would grow up to hate me for all those broken edges that poked and hurt and sometimes (oh how I wish it wasn’t true!) – wounded.

The truth is, ours is not and never was the Ideal Family.

We are too willful, too wordy, too opinionated to avoid hurting each other.  But somehow the Spirit of God heard those not-possible prayers from all those years and did something impossible.

He created a family of us, for us, in spite of us.

And tomorrow my family will begin gathering in Southern California for a week of being us. Camp Comer officially begins Monday at Disneyland. Fifteen of us: Pops, John Mark, Tam, Beks, Steve, Beets, Brook, Matt-man, Simo along with the 5 Grands: Judester, Mo-man, Sunday-Love, Dukester, and baby Scar.

And me.

I’ll be there grinning, taking terrible pictures and being teased for it, heart so full I won’t know whether to laugh at the impossibility of us as we are or weep because of the impossibility of what we have become.

We are a family.

We belong, every one of us— those born into us and those married into us. We will be there for each other in times that include Disneyland and in times of tragedy or shame or loss or failure. We, better than anyone else, know each other’s worth. And each other’s less-than’s.

There is something incredibly safe about being all-together.

As if we are our own small democracy, a tribe of people who will defend each other’s well-being at all costs.

When, just this last week, we got the bad news about 5 year old Duke’s severe hearing loss in one ear, his need to get fitted for a hearing aid before he starts school this fall, the email thread thrummed with our collective grief— and with hope as well. That watching Mom go deaf has taken some of the terror out of what may lie ahead for this boy we all know has worlds to conquer. And who knows who else in our clan.

In the front pages of John Mark’s book is a real-deal endorsement from his little brother, written a year or so before John Mark stood in front of Matt and his bride to laugh and tease and preach just a little hell fire and brimstone at his wedding before declaring Matthew and Simona husband and wife.

All week Elizabeth will love us by cooking. Beks will bring books and stories, Steve will excite us about design, Simo will inspire us with her gentle elegance, Brook will have us laughing, Tam will understand, Matt will bring joy and balance, John Mark will get us thinking about things we didn’t know mattered, and Pops— he will make it all work.

And me? I will be filling up with this “small group of people who echo God’s love for us and His belief in us”.

I can’t help but think of all the young parents who are right in the thick of the part that feels impossible.

Moms who will get up this morning to another day of the same, wondering if all this work is worth it. Dads who had no idea how hard all this would be. May I just give you a peek into your future?

Fathers, don’t run away.

You stand to lose so much more than you can comprehend. Be faithful, be present, be loving, say loving things. Apologize when you blow it. Get help when you need it. Love on your wife like your future depends on it. Because it does.

Mothers, don’t be mean.

Be friendly to that man of yours even when you’re overwhelmed and think he could be, should be better. Love on those children even when you’ve reached your limit. Apologize when you blow it so they grow up knowing your frustration wasn’t their fault— because it isn’t. And please, watch your words.

Because someday, by God’s grace and a miracle or two, you will be planning your own version of Camp Comer.

And the fun starts now.

From an overflowing heart,


P.S. Do you have hopes for your family? Can you tell us?



THE QUIET: time management 101

… He dismissed the crowd.

Matthew 14v22

In my quest to learn the Quiet Life— that daily living tucked into God’s presence, being who I am made to be, doing what I am directed to do— I am mulling over the ever popular topic of Time Management. 

For years now, God has been opening my eyes to the way He uses time to His purposes. Maybe someday I’ll gather all those pieces in one place and post them here where everything going in me seems to eventually come out. But this morning, these words about Jesus won’t leave me alone:

He dismissed the crowd.

These were people He cared about. People who were hungry for His story, desperately thirsty to know the Father. They were not nuisances, time wasters, hangers-on. These people were His mission.

And yet He left them. He demanded that they leave. He dismissed them.

Sometimes— often— we must dismiss the crowd. Just like Jesus.

If you are a mother (dare I say it?) that may mean your children. I shudder when a mother proudly boasts that she’s never left her kids overnight. Really? As if that is a badge of honor for Most-Needed Mama. It’s also a citation for a much-neglected marriage.

Sometimes, for the sake of sanity, a mother needs to dismiss the crowd.

If you are well on your way to win the most successful employee of the year award at your work, you may well need to dismiss the List Of One More Thing To Do. One more call to make, one more evening spent organizing for productivity, one more schmooze after work with the boss.

To work and work and work makes for some twisted brokenness in any of us. Nobody is as impressed as we wish they were by our constant pushing of ourselves. Especially when it leaves us prickly and crabby and hinting that if only everyone else would work this hard then we wouldn’t have to.

Sometimes, for wholeness, hard working do-ers need to dismiss the crowd and (gulp!) do less.

If you are, like me, driven by the compulsion to keep everyone happy, you may need to do exactly what I need to do. I need to dismiss the expectations. I need to face the fact that the cost of pleasing everyone will bankrupt me. That I’ll have nothing more to give if I’ve turned myself inside out to try to be more than I am.

Sometimes, people-pleasers need to have the courage to dismiss the crowd.

The other night, Phil found the movie Chariots of Fire on Netflix. He insisted that we watch it together because he had a point to make. It’s in a scene where Eric Liddell is explaining to his sister that he cannot yet go to China where he is going to spend the rest of his life as a missionary. She’s disappointed in him and clearly disapproves (my worst nightmare!). This is what he says: “I believe that God made me for a purpose--for China-- but He also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure."

Because after writing a post about The Rhythm of Slow, my husband affectionately twisted that memorable line to encourage me to say,

 I believe God made me for a purpose... but He also made me slow. And when I mull and think and read and learn and write, I feel His pleasure.

He was reminding me with all that charisma that makes him able to say hard things well, that I am best when I am who I am. That when I try to be like someone I admire or someone I think I should be, when I hurry at a pace that is theirs and not mine, I inevitably stumble.

But when I’m me— when I dismiss the crowd of unrealistic expectations— when I plod at my own pace, that’s when I am the me I am meant to be. 

I don’t know who or what is your crowd to dismiss. Who you need to get away from in order to come back and love them more and better. What you may need to turn off in order to be content with who you are. (hint, hint, your iPhone!)

What I do know is that Jesus dismissed His crowd to be alone with the Father for a while. He needed to reconnect, to remember, to think and pray and rest in His presence.

After He had dismissed them,

He went up on a mountainside by Himself to pray.

Matthew 14v23

I think that’s what He is whispering to me today. That managing my time means going at my own pace and being okay with slow. Dismissing my own expectations of me. And being okay with those who aren’t okay with that.

He is showing me the way to freedom to do what I need to do. And He is giving me permission to do what it takes to be more with Him, so that I can be more who He wants me to be— more at rest in the quiet.

From my heart,


P.S. Is the Father whispering in your ear? Is there a crowd to dismiss? I would love to know that I’m not alone in this…




THE QUIET: the rhythm of slow

I had big plans this morning.

A long list of to-do’s on a project I want finished in the next few days. To get it done I’ve been up extra early every morning, focusing on what needs doing, falling in bed at the end of the day so tired all I feel is numb.

I thought I needed to work this relentlessly… for God… for my husband… for the ministry to parents we lead together.

I’ve pushed away Phil’s hints that maybe it can wait, that I’m trying too hard, that this pushing isn’t worth what it does to me.

Surely, I thought, God wants this now. He needs this book to inspire parents. All these interruptions just need to be managed better, I need to be more organized, move faster, push myself just a little harder to eek out a little more.

Then this morning something changed.

A friend had sent a homemade candle in a canning jar along with a bag full of fresh greens from his garden. This friend is under real pressure, the kind that only a single dad with a heart full of love for his children can understand.

Me, I’m under pressure because I chose it.

As I lit that little candle and watched it flicker in the shadows of my cabin in the woods— its fragrance reminding me of lemons and verbena and salads fresh from the earth—I couldn’t help but wonder how he’d found the time to make something beautiful for his friends.

A song of my childhood sounded like the tinkle of a music box to my ears that hear nothing,

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine…

let it shine, let it shine, let it shine. 

And then His words filtered through the lingering melody and I heard,

In Him was life and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it… those who were His own did not receive Him…

John 1v 4,5,11

His own had missed His coming into their world.

And for just a moment so had I. Caught up in serving Him, I’d somehow forgotten.

I’d pushed myself past my God-tuned rhythm and tried to be better, faster, more disciplined and committed and… I’d become tense and uptight and too tired to be who He made me to be.

I am not a super-achiever. I am not a multi-tasking, amazing spinner of many plates at the same time. When I try, I leave a trail of broken china and love-deprived people behind.

God made me slow. A ponderer. A delighter in beauty. A relisher of words. A tidier of cupboards who finds wonder in small things.

That’s who He wants me to be— the true me.

When I rush and manage and go faster than I can, I deprive Him—

and my people— of me. The one He likes just as I am.

I stare outside my window and see the glistening of silk strands in the spruce tree. A spider’s trail.

My dog lies waiting for his walk, his limpid eyes letting me know he’s willing whenever I am. Soon the day will radiate the heat of the almost—summer sun and neither of us will want to go.

Could my list wait? Might He bring inspiration on a platter of trust? Might slowing down to the rhythm of God-in-me be just the way to what He wants… for me, for mine, for the work He’s assigned for me to do?

Everything changes with that love-made candle. Such a simple thing. I am righted once again, smiling, listening.

Maybe I won’t get my project done on my self-imposed timeline. Maybe it will take longer and end up better just because I listened to the tune of His song for me.

Maybe I’ll go on a walk right now and listen just a little more.

From my heart,


P.S. What are you learning about your own pace? Are you slow like me or a sprinter who loves the feeling of rushing between rests? I’d love to hear.




THE QUIET: the most important work

A man was attacked by robbers, stripped, beaten, left half dead by the side of the road.

A priest passed by on the other side of the road. A Levite passed by on the other side.

But a Samaritan saw him, came where the man was, took pity on him, went to him, bandaged his wounds and took care of him.

Taken from Luke 10v30-36

Sometimes, in real life, we get beat up.

Stripped bare. Left by the side of a lonely road.

All our dreams and work and wishes lay scattered around us, mocking the hope we once held so lightly.

We blame others, we blame ourselves, we blame God.

Where were You?

In that place of brokenness, He comes quietly. In fact, in that hurting place, our groanings outshout His whispers. We cannot hear Him and so we think He is isn’t speaking, that He’s left us wounded and alone, that God is silent in our suffering.

And yet… somewhere in the quiet of our souls we know He is there, He must be there. There in our mess and in our mixed-upness, He waits.

And He sends Samaritans. Not the uber-holy, super successful, got-it-all-together saints. Just the plain ones. The ones who’ve been hurt and wondered why. The ones who’ve blown it and failed and been put back together. The ones without answers.

They come with their oil and wine, the medicine of welcome. They see us. They change course for us, coming to where we are. They tenderly bandage the wounds we cannot bring ourselves to look at lest we faint from the hurt.

They take care of us, for God.

 In the quiet this morning, I hear God telling me that this— more than anything else I might do— is Kingdom work. This is worth wearing myself out for, this being Jesus to one left wounded by the side of the road.

I hear Him whispering that bringing wine to refresh and oil to soothe is my calling.

Why me? Why can’t I be one of the priests, all holy and righteous, a shining example of perfectness? Why can’t I be one of those set aside Levites whose calling is all about order and doing things right and telling everyone how to be good?

He smiles.

I see the twinkle in His eye as He looks at me, and this is what I hear:

Your story, Di, is your beauty. The hurt, the brokenness, your failure, these are the tools I am using to carve you into who I want you to be— who I need you to be.

I know it’s true— the truest truth. That…

I am most useful to the Master when I am all His and all about Him.

Not when I am good.

Not when I excel.

Not when I am anything worth lauding or applauding.

I know, but I know, but I know that the Father needs a whole army of people who will speak for Him in the kindness of coming and seeing and feeling and bandaging and taking care of His broken ones.


Could that be your calling too? Might you, as you travel about your day, keep your eye scanning the side of the road just in case He’s wanting you to take care of one of His wounded ones for a while?

In the quiet of this morning, I say yes. I leave space on my list, a little extra room just in case. I tidy my home in anticipation of who might need the safety of this cottage in the woods. A friend? A stranger? A child?

I tell Him it’s okay to use my not-so-nice story even though I wish I’d been a better woman so I could say, “Just do life the way I do and you’ll be happy too.”

But I didn’t, so I can’t, and so I give Him who I am right now to use any way He wishes.

I wonder if your story is just the one He needs for someone laying beaten and robbed on the side of the road?

And I wonder what would happen if we all said, Okay, God, show me who and I’ll be there with bandages and hope.

From a willing heart,


P.S. Has someone taken care of you… for God? Or has God used your not-so-nice story to bring hope to a wounded one? I would love to hear how He is working.


… make it your ambition to lead a quiet life.

I Thessalonians 4v11

Several days ago my heart caught on this phrase and grabbed hold of someplace deep in my being. A place that longs for a quiet life.

I read the words over and over, looking for context, searching for clues. Like a blinking marquis, I cannot tear my thoughts away from what I know are words meant for me. I am convinced that the Spirit is whispering these words to me, that the longing I feel is His allure.

Not so much a command, as an invitation.

I sense a beckoning. A tantalizing summons into a life freed from this seemingly incessant pattern I keep falling into— of stress and conflict and fret-filled worry. Of angst and uptightness and all the confusion that comes from that feeling that, as busy as I am, I am doing nothing well.

For a long time now I have sensed this summons into life that isn’t about catching up or getting ahead or striving for better. A life of rest, of peace that comes from keeping to a pace that works for me.

It is a life of beauty that I crave.

Of not needing to apologize every few moments for bumbling and fumbling awkwardly once again. For being me. I want to go to bed at night satisfied with the way my day unfolded and what I accomplished… and what I didn’t cross off my self-imposed to-do list.

I want to know that every part of my day mattered, that I stuck to the path laid out for me by God, the One who says:

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go:

I will counsel you with My loving eye upon you.

Psalm 32v8


The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in Him;

Though he may stumble, he will not fall,

For the LORD upholds him with His hand.

Psalm 37v23,24

Sometimes I know that quiet. Early every morning when I cozy up in my chair by the window, as I watch the sun peak tentatively through the woods, with steaming tea and my bible open… that is for me a quiet place.

It is there that I realize how un-quiet I march through the rest of my day.

Especially if something or someone interrupts my list. Or if I cannot manage to do all I think I should. Or if I am not as there  for someone who needs me because I am working hard to be present in my work.

What I long for is a consistent sense of rightness about my days, and my weeks, and my months and seasons and years.

A life of sweet balance between achieving and loving well.

My bookshelf tells the story:

A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L’Engle,

Keep A Quiet Heart by Elizabeth Elliot,

The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan,

Choosing Rest by Sally Breedlove.

These are books I relish, reading the words over and over, barely scratching the surface of what I know I want… and what I know I do not yet own in my every days.

I dare think that my own longing is yours as well.

I do not have pat answers for living this Quiet Life. No ten steps guaranteeing that I’ll never get upright again. But I have picked up some treasures as I’ve tried, as I’ve brought my longings to this One who promises to direct my steps just because I delight in Him. I want to share some of those jewels with you in the coming weeks in the hopes that some of the wisdom I’ve gleaned from others will make sense to you.

And I invite you to speak into my life the wisdom you have acquired in yours. I want to learn and I think you do too. And I am not so naïve as to believe that there is one magic formula, which, when followed, produces bliss. Or peace. Or rest or quiet or calm in the crevices of my soul.

I hope that you will share some of your wisdom with me.

For now, let me leave you with this:

“If God works all things together for good for those who love Him and are called to His purposes… you can relax.

If He doesn’t… start worrying.

If God can take any mess, any mishap, any wastage, any wreckage, any anything, and choreograph beauty and meaning from it, then you can take a day off.

If He can’t, get busy. Either God is good and in control, or it all depends on you.”     

From The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan


From a heart yearning to stay in the Quiet,



For mothers, moms, and mamas:


… I wish I’d known

 “For all who enter God’s rest will find rest from their labors…”

Hebrews 4v10

‘Come to Me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens,

and I will give you rest…”

Matthew 11v28

“let Me teach you.”

Matthew 11v29

I sit, this morning, in my snug cabin in the woods. It is early, the day just arising—still crisp and cool. I am alone in the quiet, welcoming the day in the presence of the One who bids me come.

I flip the pages of my bible to these words, given me long ago when neither alarm clocks nor discipline were enough to pull me from my bed:

… He awakens me morning by morning,

wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed…

Is 50v4

Here in the silence I quiet my mind and still my soul. I lean in to listen, to wait with the intensity of another seeker from long ago,

I waited intently for the Lord, and He inclined to me, and heard my cry…

David, in Psalm 40v1

And I remember how I got to this place of craving Him so much that neither discipline nor alarm clocks are necessary anymore. How I slipped in the muck of my own ugliness, how I couldn’t find my way out, how I raged and wept bitter tears of despair at the unfairness of life, of my life.

And then I remember how He rescued me, setting my feet on solid rock, washing me clean, inviting me into this place I love. A place of surrender, of satisfaction, of genuine, all-the-way-through-to-my-heart happiness.

This place of Rest. 

I wish I had known about this place when I was a mother of little ones.

I wish I had known how to hide from the chaos and the neediness and the incessant conflict that sucks the life out of a young mama’s world.

But I didn’t. Instead, I tried. All the time, every day, I tried.

I tried to be patient… and failed.

I tried to be happy… and wasn’t.

I tried to be good and kind… and ended up irritated and mad—

and tired, just so tired.

I wanted so badly to be a good mama—the best—but I couldn’t be who I thought I should and wished I would be.

And this, my dear tired out mamas, is what I wish I had known then:

That trying harder is not the solution to your inadequacies and ineptitudes.

That the way to be the woman, the wife, the mother you wish you were is not found in books or podcasts or seminars or blog posts—but in Rest.

His Rest— God’s.

I wish I had understood that discipline is not what gets me there. That I will never deserve it… or Him… or any of His benefits. That being better and trying harder just managed to entangle me hopelessly in great knots of uptightness. And anger, and impatience, and self-pity and… shame.

I wish I had known that the Father is so madly in love with us— with me and with you just-as-you-are-right-now-in-this-flaw-filled moment— that He stands at the door and invites us to enter this place we all crave.

This place of Rest.

The key to this place? Not trying, not striving, not ten steps to a better you, but simply…

Belief.[1] Which is trust, entrusting yourself entirely and without reservation to God.

Entrusting your children to Him.

Entrusting your worries to Him.

Entrusting your failings, your past, your future, your wishes and dreams and happiness— to Him.

And then doing it again. And again. Over and over every day, every hour until your head begins to believe what your soul tells you is the truest truth:

That God is trustworthy… that He is good… that He is able… that He is beautiful and He brings beauty and He makes you—and your children— beautiful.

Just because He loves you that much.

And so my one wish for you this Mother’s Day is this:

That you would cease striving and know… Rest. 

I’ve offered no solutions here, no formulas. Because I have come to see that every single one of us has a different story… a story that urges us inevitably towards this place of rest.

I cannot tell you how (exactly) to get there, but I can and will pray for you if you will leave me a hint of who you are, of what you want and need from Him.

From my heart,


[1] For more, read Hebrews, the end of chapter 3 and all of chapter 4