Deane's Blog

Have You Been Offended Lately?

FaithDeane WattersComment

If you come to this little blog site to find a "warm and safe place in which to rest your soul" I welcome you today. It is always good to find a place that is comfortable and kind, a place where you feel known and cared about. This is the place!

But today I want us to consider something that isn't particularly warm or safe.

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Feeling offended seems to be a common ailment in our society, our homes, our churches and unfortunately, in our own hearts. 

Recently someone close to me said, "I was so offended when ..." I've heard it at church. I've read it in the newspaper. I see it in the news. 

It usually starts with , "Can you believe he or she said that?" It goes on to explain why the feeling is justified.

How many times have I, myself, said those words, so quick to take offense? More than I want to count. And yet, I know better. I know I walk on dangerous ground when I hear, receive, and harbor resentment. 

                                                                  Proverbs 19:11  

A person's wisdom yields patience, it is to one's glory to overlook an offense.

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I want to be known as a wise person...no, I want to be a wise person and this verse tells me that patience is one of the crops yielded from a heart of wisdom.

In Matthew 24:10-12 Jesus says, as he is warning about signs of the end days, "Then shall many be offended and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another, and because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold."

When I read the words "betray", "hate", "abounding iniquity" and "love waxing cold" I want nothing to do with them. They sound like deadly venom to a soul, to a family, and to a body of believers.

So what are we to do?

Francis Frangipane has written extensively about this problem.  When offended,  he first tries to listen and consider what he's being told. What might be true about what is being said?

He writes, "Humility listens even to a harshly spoken word and without reacting, rescues the truth within the criticism. The result is that we discover an area we had not seen and instead of being offended, we become more Christlike."

We can get offended by more than just direct criticism. We can be offended by what someone tells us that someone else said. We can be offended by what someone says, even if it is not directed right at us. Sometimes we are offended by what people don't say! But our reaction can be the same.

First, pray. Then ask, "What can I learn from this?" We can use this as an opportunity to grow in love like Christ who, as He died, prayed, "Father forgive them."

The Bible tells us in Matthew 18:15 that we can go to the person and talk with them. Take a friend and gently explain how you feel. Sometimes the person will explain or apologize. Other times they will refuse to acknowledge that they have hurt you. Either way, you have done what is right.

What we are NOT to do, is to tell everyone we talk to how this person has hurt and offended us. We would do well to NOT rehearse what was said and why we have every right to be insulted.

We should also pray, asking God for the willingness to do the work that releases the person from the chains we have put them in...the binding requirement to pay for what they have done/said/thought.. 

I had two aunts who supposedly never talked for years after one said something hurtful about the other's husband. Think of it. Sisters who had a lifetime of no communication even though they lived close. They let unkind words move them into a stubborn stance that led to a lifetime of fences and walls. That's the danger, I think. One might have been right and the other wrong, but someone should have either apologized or forgiven before the years stretched into decades.

But I don't have to look back those many years to find examples of offense. I just need to look into the mirror and realize that it is hard to give things up that hurt me. It is easier to lay down in the softness of feeling like I am right, justified in my lack of forgiveness. But that softness soon turns to spikes as we realize the true consequences for staying "offended."

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  • loss of relationship with that person
  • lack of honesty with God 
  • negative outlook
  • lack of thankfulness
  • a continuing of my brokenness
  • a broken unity
  • letting sin get a foothold
  • losing our capacity to love
  • unforgiveness given free reign

I encourage us all to examine our hearts and ask God to help us choose to stop taking offense. If there is a specific situation, He will help us resolve it quickly and quietly, so we can bring honor to him and be able to move on in freedom.

 

 

 

 

Opening the Door Again

Recipes, Word of the YearDeane Watters1 Comment

Throughout our marriage, my husband and I have been pretty hospitable people. In our thirty-eight years, we have hosted three high school exchange students and two college students, each living with us for nine to ten months. These lovely individuals have been a rich addition to the color and depth of our lives and our awareness and appreciation of the bigger world has been expanded as a result. We care deeply for our past students (now adults) and continue to be in touch with them in a variety of ways.

I love to cook and bake. So having people over for a meal has been another part of our bent toward hospitality. We have often hosted our small group from church on Sunday afternoons. Every Christmas we have hosted a big meal that can stir up enough memories to fill the whole house. There have been showers and parties and meetings and end of the year school gatherings throughout the years and week-end guests for us to serve and enjoy.

The past several years, though, we feel like we have done less asking, less inviting. People are busy. With families growing and grandchildren coming along there just isn’t as much time or energy to put into having people over. 

But I miss good conversation around the table. Not just any go-where-it-will chit chat. I mean rich connecting discussions that leave you with plenty to think about the next day. I absolutely love this kind of give and take. And yet, I find that not everyone wants to engage in this way. Or they don’t quite know how. Or perhaps it is becoming a lost art. There is definitely an intentional skill to being curious, asking good questions, listening and offering your own thoughts and ideas back.

Shauna Niequist writes it beautifully in Bread and Wine,  “What’s becoming clearer and clearer to me is that the most sacred moments, the ones in which I feel God’s presence most profoundly, when I feel the goodness of the world most arrestingly, takes place at the table.”

Shauna is more eloquent than I but I agree that time around the table is where God enables great relationships get their start and where they continue to grow, for those who are willing to give of themselves in such a way.

Shauna goes on to write, ”It’s not, actually, strictly, about food for me. It’s about what happens when we come together, slow down, open our homes, look into one another’s faces, listen to one another’s stories.”

I agree with her because as much as I love to cook food and feed it to people, the conversation is worth so much more. Food is just the way to get people to the table so this kind of exchange can take place.

 

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This year my word is OPEN THE DOOR. I explained here in a past post what that means to me spiritually. Today I share what else it means to me. It means coming back to inviting and opening the door of our house to people we want to get to know better. To offer ways to deepen relationships through the telling of stories and laughing together. To not staying too busy to host a gathering in our living room just for fun. To taking some risks and seeing if there are others wanting such fellowship.

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Last week we invited some folks over! It was a last minute invitation because I felt good after 2 weeks of not-so-good and I was eager to fill the house with people. I whipped up a couple of soups, baked fresh focaccia bread and some amazing brownies and we were good to go. A salad and fresh vegetables (added by our guests) brought everything to a beautiful completion.

After dinner we headed to the living room where we used a box of story starters to help us get to some of the stories of our lives that just might have never come up in “normal” conversation…like one guy’s stories of riding a bull in the rodeo, or of the first date of another who thought his date lived in a cemetery! (or at least that’s the address she gave him). Or the way one couple met when both were working at a Taco Bell. These were fun stories and their telling lead us all to know each other better. Isn’t that what we all want, really? 

 

Do you invite people in? Do you wish for closer friendships? If so, I encourage you to go for it! Don't wait to be asked. Be the one to ask. Make something simple or order in a pizza. It's really about relationship and there's no need to get stressed. Let's not let the art of good conversation be lost in the crazy of busy lives.

And if you get a call from us, know that we're just opening our door to friendship with you and, if possible, we hope you will say yes!  

 

Here's one of the delicious (and easy) recipes from our meal last week: Cream of Potato Soup

 

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Melt 4 Tbsp butter in soup kettle; stir in 2 Tbsp flour and add 2 cups milk.

Add 4 cups potatoes peeled and diced, 1/2 cup minced scallions, 3 cups beef or chicken stock, salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, simmer 15-20 minutes.

Using a hand-held blender, puree the mixture in the pot. Stir in 1 cup sour cream and 1/2 cup parsley, chopped fine; sprinkle with cheese; serve.

What's Your Word for 2018?

Word of the Year, FaithDeane Watters7 Comments

 

I woke up late one morning and instead of going right to prayer with my Bible open, I went straight to my morning walk and then on with my day. I found throughout the morning there was something that kept pulling at me, a thought or an image, but I didn't actually pay much attention to it. Soon I remembered I hadn't gotten up early enough for my usual quiet time and maybe I could stop and do it now.  But when the thought would come, I would by-pass it with what ever I was doing at the time and before I knew it, the day was over and it was time to go to bed.

In the book, Invitation to a Journey, M. Robert Mulholland Jr. writes about God's desire that we be conformed to the image of Christ. This is not an easy task as that conforming must take place in the places that are very un-Christ-like! Our call is to come out of brokenness into wholeness. This means we must die in those broken places in order for God to transform us into the image of his Son.

Who wants to go through the process of dying to the things that already hurt?

Mulholland goes on to explain using a picture of God standing at the closed doors of our hearts where we have shut him out. The love and grace of God will knock and knock and knock, wanting us to open the door, to face the truth of our brokenness, but he will "not force open the door."

God watches to see the door move from within.

As George MacDonald writes: 

 

 

This image reminded me how sometimes I feel a nudging toward something... like, being alone with God. Or perhaps giving someone a call, choosing to not be offended, stopping to pray, not letting that unnecessary or unkind word come out of my mouth, letting fear harass me, my desire to nestle in with a bad attitude or the need to forgive someone (the list could go on...) but I resist. I'm busy and I have things to do so I push away the gentle soft suggestion and continue on my way...and say the thing or hold on to that which should be let go.  It is subtle. It is not pushy or loud. It feels like my own thought that I can quickly un-invite.

But the picture of God at the door of my brokenness has opened in me a stronger desire to be open to opening the door when I sense the Spirit's asking. It seems to be something I resist. I naturally want my way in those hardened areas.

In Proverbs 8:34 Wisdom calls out: Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway.

If I want to grow wise, more mature in my faith, more like Christ, it is time to identify those moments and nod a yes to what I'm being asked to do.

In Revelation 3:20 the Spirit earnestly announced that the church in Laodicea was lukewarm in their faith. They were so tasteless He desired to spit them out! He wanted to discipline them and find them earnest and willing to repent!  He went on to say, "Behold 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." 

He's knocking at the door of their brokenness, their sin, their places so unlike Christ. And somehow I see him asking me to open some doors that have comfortably remained closed these many years. Deeper places of the heart where he asks me to not be afraid or unwilling to trust him.

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So my word for this year is OPEN THE DOOR. I know it isn't a word, it is a phrase, but it is my choice for a reminder to be open to a deeper "yes" and to stop the resistance in areas where I am unsure, unclear, lacking in confidence or unwilling to welcome Christ.

It's a big task, a lifelong one. But for today I have this image: my hand is on the door. Will I pay attention and be willing to respond so God can do His deeper work in me? That is my desire.

 

 

 

 

Do you have a word? I'd love to know it and why you have chosen it. Please leave it in the comments.  Maybe I'll make you a cute word-picture like mine!

 

It's a New Year!

Deane Watters1 Comment

Hello my dear readers,

I hope you had a blessed holiday and time to reflect in the midst of your celebrations. I usually take time between Christmas and New Years to do a bit of planning and preparing for the coming days. But this year, we were busy in a different way.! Brian and I flew to Costa Rica to be with Joel, Rachel, Lucy, Charles and Annie Pearl for Christmas in San Jose! On Christmas morning we got to hear the pitter patter of little feet and bright exclamations of excitement as they opened their eyes to the twinkling lights and presents under the tree. Oh they could hardly eat their breakfast as those packages called out to them, a scene we all remember so well. 

After a week we were joined by Jonathan and Greg, Hannah & Oliver and our whole family spent a week together at a beautiful vacation rental house south of San Jose.  From there we took off to various adventures either at the seaside or in the rain forests.

We went to Costa Rica to be with our family. But we came away with much more. We became family bent on encouraging our missionaries on the field who are in preparation for their work by going to language school while living with three very little children. (Ages 2, 3 and newly 5) They left in August and have adjusted to the many changes that come by living in another culture and language. Life has its hard moments there. But there were many more moments of joy and a deep contentment as they live out God's invitation to get prepared and serve. 

I'll let you in by showing a few of my favorite photos.

                                                                          

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