Deane's Blog

True You, A Book Review

Deane Watters1 Comment
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What am I hiding from? Does God really see and know me? Does he love me? What does my busyness keep me from facing? What makes me scramble for affirmation? Who do I think I am? Who does God say I am? What is my true identity?

Have you ever considered such compelling questions? I have.

Author, Michelle DeRusha, explains in her book, True You, that in the midst of a quiet practice, she encountered a similar question that came softly from within.

“Why do you have trouble with intimacy?”

This question at first surprised her but then led her on a journey that enabled her to find her true self, not the one who showed up with her many lists of things to do. Being a type 3 Enneagram personality she described herself as an achiever, a performer, and a get-er-done kind of girl. Affirmation, attention, and admiration motivated her and she judged her day according to how much she got done. Her personality often got in the way of her relationship with God because he often became just another item to be to checked off her list. Realizing how intense activity drove her, she wrote that she “hadn’t offered my brain a Sabbath in years.”

So, by opening herself up to being quiet, she found that God took the opportunity to meet her, expose her, devastate her and then beautifully rescue her. She writes: “…I let God see me, to look upon me in my lowliness, brokenness, and despair, and in doing so, I began to see myself not as I always had, as a producer and a striver and an achiever, but in a new way, as a new creation. Ever so slowly … I began to see and know myself as beloved.”

Michelle uses a gardening technique called “pruning open” to illustrate how God got to the depths of her unbelief concerning His deep and true love for her. She writes, “The truth is, God does not wish for us to stand stubborn like the autumn oak tree, cloaked in a facade of protection, our truest, most authentic selves obscured beneath a tangled bramble of false security….God yearns for us to live wholeheartedly and truthfully as the unique, beautiful, beloved individuals he created us to be…God yearns for us to live in the spacious, light-filled freedom of Christ and to know ourselves through him, and with him.”

I enjoyed this book, so full of scripture, personal experience, quotes and references. Michelle even offers the reader the opportunity to consider, at the end of each chapter, questions that reflect on ideas presented in that section. She encourages us to sit for regular periods of directed rest so that these answers can come quietly.

I have read about the spiritual practice of silence many times, but have found myself unable to understand why to do it, how to do it, when to do it, how long to do it, etc. Michelle, through the sharing of her experience, gently led me to some answers. I am now starting my morning quiet time with a Psalm followed by a time of silence, opening the door and inviting God in before asking anything from him. I envision him standing and waiting as in Revelation 3:20. Look! I have been standing at the door, and am constantly knocking. If anyone hears me calling him and opens the door, I will come in and fellowship with him and he with me. (TLB)

I believe that to be fellowship of the sweetest kind!

This is a lovely book. I highly recommend that you take a look at it. You can find it at Barnes and Noble or Amazon.

What about you? Have you developed a practice of quietly sitting with God, listening and waiting for him? If so, I’d love to read about it in the comments. Or if you have questions about the practice or the topic, I’d be honored to address them as well.

More about Our Words

Deane WattersComment

Last week I admitted that I had spoken some unkind and unnecessary words about someone I know. From the response I got from you I found that I am not alone in, at times, giving in to the seduction of speaking hurtful words. Whispering about others was a common stumbling block when we were little girls and continues to invite us in as we grow older unless we make a conscious decision to do otherwise.

You left comments, wrote emails and/or talked to me about how hard this problem has been for you. You told me how painful it is to be the “object” of unkind words. You told me of the struggle to forgive after mean words have been aimed at you or at someone you love. You confessed that you have to be careful because it is difficult to not participate in careless talk.

I am sorry that you have had to suffer from someone else’s or your own hurtful words.

I have not forgotten an experience that I had with some heartless words many years ago.

I was sitting in a car with several other college girls while our driver ran into the grocery store for a minute. We looked up and three boys were strutting across the street, headed our way. I was a shy one, sitting in the front seat and as they approached I turned my head away, not knowing what to do. The lead “cool dude” said to me, “I don’t care about you anyway, Sweat Hog. There are cuter girls in the back seat.” These cruel words cut me to the core and led me down a bad path of insecurity and body shame that I really didn’t need any encouragement to follow. These words were spoken carelessly. And they still sit in my memory.

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Let’s be determined to stop words that hurt. It doesn’t matter how angry we are. Let’s stop.

It doesn’t matter how true those thoughtless words feel. Let’s stop.

It doesn’t matter how vehemently we feel about what we are saying. Let’s stop.

It doesn’t matter how good it makes us feel to speak them out. Let’s stop.

But it does matter that every person is worthy of respect whether we agree with them or not. Every person will judge me by the words that come out of my mouth especially if I carry the name, Christian. I represent a beautiful Father and cruel words do not reflect the truth of Him either. If I have an anger problem perhaps its time to get help to deal with the deeper issues that cause me to lash out or to say mean things…whispering, shouting or typing…

As I was reading in Matthew 10 this morning, I found that Jesus had instructions for the disciples as they went out into the villages to heal and minister among the people of Israel. He told them many things but these four instructions stand out to me today:

  • Be on your guard.

  • You’ll be given what to say.

  • Don’t be afraid.

  • You are worth more than many sparrows.

I found comfort in these instructions. May we be on our guard against the one who entices us to hurt others with our words. The Holy Spirit is ever near, giving us the words that will build up and edify. We need not be afraid in the journey because He is with us and finds us worth more than we can ever imagine.

Have you found times where you were alert and open to the Spirit’s guidance? This should be our norm. I’d love to hear your stories of God’s grace to help you find kind and edifying words when you were tempted to speak differently.

Many years have passed since my college years when that boy’s words carelessly tossed me aside, looking for a prettier girl. His name-calling no longer makes me feel ashamed, but it reminds me to be ever aware of the power of words - the ones spoken to or spoken about. I would be wise to heed this counsel and be determined to never again use my words in ways that have the potential to inflict pain.

Thanks for sharing your stories with me.

Ugly Words

Deane Watters6 Comments

I was so excited to be meeting my friend for lunch. Talking one-on-one is my best way to connect with people and this friend especially loves to share her journey of faith with me, something I totally enjoy.

We met at a small local restaurant, hugged our hellos, got our food and started right in. It was so fun! We talked on a wide range of topics ranging from a study we’re both in to God’s work in us, family issues and much more. You know the way good talk flows. I’m always thrilled to find someone who will engage with me in this way.

Time went by, the snow was falling outside and soon we needed to get ourselves safely home. Hugs and goodbyes and smiles were genuine and I went away having relished our time together.

But as I was driving away from that satisfying time, I felt a “nudge” in my spirit, giving me an “icky” feeling about some of the talk that had come out of my mouth. I had spoken some words about someone that were not edifying, not necessary, and not even kind.

In Matthew 12:34 Jesus said, “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” What’s worse is, just before that, Jesus calls the ones who speak this way, a brood of vipers! I know he was talking to the Pharisees, but at that moment, I felt like they were my closest companions. I was standing there with them believing that Jesus was not enough.

In my Sunday school class at church we have been talking about what it means to grow in our faith. I wonder how many times I have said, “God does for us what we cannot do for ourselves.” In that moment, as I drove my little red Prius toward home, I felt incredibly inadequate to make this right. One of the things I have preached long and hard about - loving God and loving our neighbor as ourselves - I had been unable to find the self-control to actually do.

So, I prayed and asked forgiveness from God and I talked to my friend and asked for her forgiveness as well.

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When I woke this morning and found the beautiful white covering of freshly fallen snow, I remembered the promise of God in Isaiah where, when he was mad at the Israelites, he told them to “stop doing wrong!” And then he went on to assure them that if they were willing and obedient, their red sins would be made as clean and white as snow. Which means he would not hold those sins against them.

Some of you might be thinking, Oh, Deane, quit being so hard on yourself! We all do a little of that, it’s not so bad! There are many worse things you could be doing.

Exactly. I’ve actually thought that so many times. But how does that hold up next to a holy God? I’m not reflecting much holiness while actively doing something I know is wrong. I’m doing just the opposite.

I want to say I have learned my lesson and that the next time I am tempted to speak against someone, I will willingly and knowingly decline to open my mouth. But I know I’ll need to stop and ask for God’s help. This week I demonstrated my own inability.

Next time I really, really want to say something negative about someone, I plan to:

  • Stop and recognize what I’m about to say.

  • Immediately ask God to be my strength.

  • Be resolved to respect him and reflect him.

  • When we mess up, let’s rest in the power of confession and the beauty of the clean white snow of forgiveness.

How about you? Have you found yourself speaking words that are not good, kind or necessary? If so, let’s be resolved to stop. If you have found victory over this, what helps you to stop? I’d love to read about it in the comments.

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It's a New Year!

Deane Watters2 Comments

It’s a beautiful day here in Iowa as I look from my warm writing room window out to the fluffy white snow and brilliant blue sky. Winter took its time this year and mid-January is letting out a sigh as it welcomes bone chilling temps, normal for this time of year. I love beautiful winter days almost as much as I love the new start January offers. But like winter, my normal January is also arriving a bit late.

To explain, I need to go back a few months. Our son and family came home for 8 weeks, early November through the first week in January. Their time was divided between our city and the town they lived in before moving to Costa Rica. Visiting with supporters and family kept them busy, requiring them to make the two-hour drive several times. Our big old house has plenty of space to share so when they were in town, we enjoyed eating together, playing games, reading stories, shopping and working on fun projects. Sweet memories fill every corner of this house, now that it is empty.

Brian and I, along with our five from Costa Rica, five more from Germany, one from Minnesota, three from a few blocks away, one more from Costa Rica, along with two dogs, made for much lively activity at our house. They weren’t all here at the same time but I served many meals for 15 throughout the weeks. Early preparation and a basement freezer enabled me to serve many delicious home-made meals. It was great fun getting that food on the table and then being able to eat it together.

Illness hit around Christmas and things became complicated and somewhat stressful.

So as you can understand, writing was not a priority or even possible for me during the last several months. But like all priorities, when other, more important things present themselves, the lesser steps back. I was touched in many ways and stories will come out of those days in my future writing.

But for now, here I am in the middle of January, feeling like I’m at the beginning. My husband and I are resting up and settling into this new year. Much of my personal ministry involves leading women in our church and women I’ve come to know through House of Hope. These also waited for several months while I served my family. Time with them is also beginning in this New Year and I’m figuring out the best way to get back into my “normal” life and to welcome my writing self back, giving it the priority I long for it to have.

Expect me, once again, to offer you my thoughts and ideas on a more regular basis from here on in.

Thank you, as always, for reading my blog and for not giving up on me.

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