Deane's Blog

Open The Door

Deane Watters6 Comments

Have you chosen your word for this year? I’m a bit late but I’ve finally decided on mine. I’ll tell you all about it but first, let me open the door so you can peek into my life for the past month.

My husband is off adventuring with his brother and will be gone for twenty-seven days. It is highly unusual for us to be apart for so long! So to make sure I would not be too lonely, I invited people over. Some came for tea/ coffee and conversation. Others arrived in groups for meetings. In fact I just counted them up and I am amazed! During his absence, I will have opened the door of our house to fifty-four people! Granted, thirty-five of them came in response to my invitation to a women’s brunch. But still that is a lot of people!

In looking at these numbers, I am confirmed that the word I picked for 2019 is the very best one for me. In fact, it is the same as last year because I loved it so much and I feel it has more for me in the coming year. On one hand it refers to opening myself to people. On the other it refers to my relationship with God.

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My word/phrase open the door.

Revelation 3:20 is a verse that has come to mean much to me. In it, Jesus says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” (NIV)

Closing my eyes I realize Christ is right here with me and I sit silently leaning in and resting in His presence. He is the bread. I take Him in realizing His great love. He offers me His truth as I open His Word and listen for what He wants me to know. The time is sweet and I realize that I need no other nod, no other approval, no other yes. He has already given me everything I need to feel loved, accepted, and cherished. In turn I have love for others and especially for Him.

A few weeks ago, I came across an Instagram post from @gracelaced where she wrote about how her husband gets up early to spend time with God. As he is quietly reading his Bible and praying, one of their boys comes downstairs to join him. As her husband stands and fully embraces his son, @gracelaced realized that what he was doing is a picture of what it is to meet with the Lord each day.

She writes: “We meet with Him, go to the Word, linger in its pages, pour out our hearts to Him in praise and pleading…not to merely be more knowledgable…but to enter into our Father’s embrace of intimacy, freedom, trust, dependency - all of which we can’t know apart from KNOWING HIM and spending time with Him. Relationship will always be a greater motivator than ritual... God’s Word is a love letter and a hearty meal at your Father’s table…”

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My early morning verse this year will be from Matthew 22. When asked which was the greatest commandment in the Law, Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it. Love your neighbor as yourself.” It is a commandment but I hear it as an invitation to the heart of God. He lets me love Him. He allows me to have something to give others. He has opened my eyes to how much He loves me and how I can love me too.

I believe my WORD, open the door, encompasses all three reminding me to open the door to love Jesus, other people, and myself. I plan to come to the table in His presence ready for talk-that-matters and to build relationships with others that are rich in conversation, honest and full of life.

I have friends and family who have told me their 2019 WORD, and I often pray for them using their word. Joel picked “rooted”, Hannah chose “freedom”, Kerstin is embracing “give” and my friend, Beth, wants to be “unhindered”. I love each of these words because I know the people and I love their desire to have a focus and to be free to follow Christ in the way in which He is calling them.

Do you have a WORD? What are you doing to keep it in front of you? Have you added a verse to help bind it to your daily practice? Here in mid-February, is your WORD already opening you up to more of what God has for you?

I’d love for you to type your WORD in the comments because, as you know, I’ll pray for you using that word, if you like.

True You, A Book Review

Deane Watters2 Comments
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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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