Deane's Blog

When I'm 64

FamilyDeane Watters2 Comments

Back in the sixties while watching the Ed Sullivan show, my siblings and I sat mesmerized as a group of handsome guys from England sang their songs to a screaming crowd of fainting girls! We'd never seen anything like it! We loved their music, their long hair and oh that Paul McCartney!!

Little did i know, back when  When I'm 64 came out,  that one day I would actually be 64. It seemed so far away and so very old! Well the day has arrived and here I am.

I played the song for Brian this morning and he assured me that he'll be the one to still love me when I'm 64 but he wasn't sure about the feeding me part. He said he'd go get the groceries though! Ha! 

So here's to another action packed year! 

The highest highlight was the birth of Oliver James White on May 24th. And the harder highlight was the moving of Joel and Rachel and the kids to Costa Rica on August 21st. Both top my list as the most important, most heart felt, and most God infused events of this year.

The scripture that gives words to this year is Psalm 13:5-6: But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the LORD'S praise, for he has been good to me.

In honor of my day, I thought I'd post a few of my favorite photos from this past year. As I pick them out I sit here amazed at God's good work in the midst of my little life.

 

This is my favorite photo of the year: Thank you Hannah White Photography  for capturing this moment I never want to forget.

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Hungry for More?

Faith, RecipesDeane Watters2 Comments
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One night, as we sat in our cosy little breakfast nook, my husband and I dipped our spoons into steaming bowls of homemade soup. As we slurped away, Brian commented that it  was really good soup and I had to agree. Somehow the buttery, creamy base was a perfect compliment to the crunchy wild rice, sliced mushrooms and tender chicken. Paired with slices of sourdough bread slathered with butter; we enjoyed a tasty meal for a cold November evening. This deliciousness invited us to want for more.

Just the thought of those combined flavors and the nice satisfied feeling I had after partaking in that soup's offerings brings back some strong desires to get that recipe out and make it again because we want for more. 

I can't help but think through how my tasting soup relates to my tasting God's goodness.

Audrey Assad offers an idea. 

(Click title to listen.)

I Shall Not Want

From the love my own comfort...From the fear of having nothing...From a life of worldly passions.

Deliver me, O God.

From the need to be understood...And from a need to be accepted...From the fear of being lonely

Deliver me, O God...Deliver me, O God

 

And I shall not want, no, I shall not want

When I taste Your goodness, I shall not want...When I taste Your goodness, I shall not want

 

From the fear of serving others...Oh, and from the fear of death or trial...And from the fear of humility

Deliver me, O God...Yes, deliver me, O God

 

Our needs and fears seem to overshadow any of God's goodness but the refrain, reflecting Psalm 23, tells us that His goodness provides and  I shall not want. 

Hunger. Tasting. Desiring to be satisfied. All are human realities. But everything that we hunger for, everything we taste, fills us for a longing for more.

Except our Heavenly Father. 

1 Peter 2:2-3 "Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good."

How can we taste His goodness and find it to be so great that it shows us a glimpse of Him and satisfies our longings?  It seems that God has His ways of showing Himself. Do we have eyes to see and senses that taste and know?

  • A start would be to sit daily with our Bibles open to study deeply and chew on His amazing Word.  
  • Perhaps there's no money for a Christmas tree and one day you see the pastor driving up the long lane with a beautiful long-needled tree secured on top of his car. Ah...a glimpse of God!
  • Perhaps your loved one is very sick and people come in to pray and sing and recite beautiful verses over you. There He is again.
  • Perhaps your house floods and your church family pulls together $17,000 in one Sunday to help you get started on your way back to normal.
  • Perhaps a husband dies in an accident and the wife looks out the window and talks to God, trusting Him as sovereign.
  • Perhaps you have no job but at just the perfect time, your next door neighbor calls and tells you one of his employees has quit and, would you like a job? Ahh the goodness of God shining.
  • Perhaps your child is very sick and your church family prays, visits, brings meals, babysits for you - for several years. Thank you God for your goodness!
  • Perhaps a careless word was sent in your direction and you took great offense at it. But God gave you the grace to forgive and not hold on to the offense! His goodness is beautiful.
  • Perhaps you give birth or adopt a baby and you look deep into those eyes and see in them one so fresh from God. Taste such delights from His hand!
  • Perhaps you risk and share the gospel with a salesman on the phone. You feel you messed up the words but God uses those offerings in ways unseen. Oh the joy of seeing and tasting His goodness.
  • Perhaps you feel Him inviting you into a ministry far away. It is a big invitation but you say yes. You leave everything and go. Glimpses of his beauty speak volumes on a daily basis as you only have Him to rely on.
  • Perhaps you travel to a beautiful place...a national park or a rain forest or an ocean or the mountains. You see the beauty he has created and can only imagine the Creator of all this and find yourself mesmerized by such immense beauty. Inside you are somehow deeply thankful and greatly satisfied.
  • Perhaps your daughter has been found murdered and somewhere deep within comes the desire and the grace to forgive. Oh nothing but the goodness of God can allow such freedom.
  • Perhaps your church has been invaded and terrorized and many are killed. But your faith remains firm and God is your solid rock and extreme comfort.
  • Perhaps you see the frolicking of deer, the twittering of the birds, the chewing of the squirrel and the silence of the forest. Hello beautiful God! These are lovely gifts given by your hand. 

Ann Voskamp writes in One Thousand Gifts, "Do I have eyes to see it's Him and not the thing?"

Do I? Do we?

When we taste your goodness we shall not want. We can only worship and sit in amazed thankfulness.

 The satiating of this kind of hunger is a far cry from tasting a delicious bowl of homemade soup. It finds and meets a deeper longing, one we absolutely cannot satisfy by our own doing. Only God can give us himself through Christ. Only He stops that excruciating poverty of spirit we cannot fix in any way except to come to Him and be filled... so full that we just don't want anything else, except more of him.

Taste and see that the Lord is good.

 

And if you're interested, here's the recipe mentioned above. Delicious. (Just ask Brian.)

 

Chicken, Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup

 

Prep: 15 minutes Cook: 45 minutes

 

3 14.5-oz. cans chicken broth

1 cup chopped carrots

½ cup chopped onion

½ cup chopped celery

½ cup uncooked wild rice, rinsed and drained

½ tsp. dried thyme, crushed

3 cups sliced fresh mushrooms

3 Tbsp butter

¼ cup all-purpose flour

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp black pepper

1 cup heavy cream

2 cups chopped cooked chicken or turkey

 

1.    In a 4-qt Dutch oven combine 2 cans of the broth, the carrots, onion, celery, wild rice and dried thyme. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, 40-45 minutes or until rice is tender but still chewy, adding mushrooms during the last 5 minutes of cooking.

2.   Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour, salt and pepper. Add the remaining 1 can of broth. Cook and stir until slightly thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir 1 minute more; stir in cream. Add cream mixture to rice mixture, stirring constantly. Stir in chicken, heat through. If desired, sprinkle with additional black pepper.

 

How to Prepare For Thanksgiving Day

Family, ThanksgivingDeane Watters3 Comments
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I was talking with a friend recently who reflected sadly, “How do we get ready for Thanksgiving? There are no carols for us to sing and that turkey dinner is pretty predictable…and of course there are all those relatives….” What can we do? How can we prepare our hearts before the day arrives so that Thanksgiving Day is the final event to a rich month of preparation?

 

Have you ever wondered how to get ready for Thanksgiving apart from the food thing?

 

I don’t know about you but when a big event or holiday is coming, I have a tendency to hyper-focus on it. I busy myself making lists, planning meals, shopping, cleaning and preparing! When the day or weekend actually arrives I have done little to  prepare my own heart, because I was too busy preparing everything else. I want it to be different this year so I’ve got some ideas for you and me to stir up our hearts, souls and minds so that on the big day, we are ready to celebrate and give thanks.

 

We all know how to get ready for Christmas. For four weeks before the big day we light candles, read devotionals and open Advent calendars.

 

We all know how to prepare for Easter. For six weeks before Resurrection Sunday we remember. We lament. We search our souls throughout Lent and then we celebrate!

 

But, it is not quite so easy to get ready for Thanksgiving, due, in part, to the fact that it is not a religious holiday. 

 

Because I am one who loves God and who remains thankful for all He is and all He has done in my life, I choose to make my Thanksgiving Day a day to celebrate that which I have been practicing for weeks ahead. Here are a few ideas. Does this spark any ideas in you?

 

  • During my quiet time, each morning in November,  I will think about one thing for which I am grateful. I will talk to God about it and thank him. I remember James 1:17 that tells me "every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights…” so I think He would enjoy my thoughts on one of his good gifts each day. Then I will listen and reflect on some aspect of His great goodness, the gift I could never be thankful enough for, ever.

 

  • Since my birthday is in November, I plan to write in my journal about the people who have made my life what it is. They are the ones who have richly blessed me with their time, kindness, understanding and encouragement. These journal entries will be fun to write and I know I will feel a deep sense of gratitude for God’s knowledge of what I have needed to grow into who I am and into a deeper faith. It can only end in worship.

 

  • In November I love to sing the hymns, We Gather Together, and Come Ye Thankful People, Come. Perhaps you have other songs or hymns that hold Thanksgiving memories and could be added to your morning devotions or evening bedtime routine.

 

  • As the day approaches I think of questions I can present to our family for discussion around our Thanksgiving table. I usually forgo the list of “three-things-for-which-I-am-thankful" because I prefer stories over lists!  Last year I asked each person in our family to think of one thing that happened in the past year for which they were truly thankful. It was a super discussion filled with meaningful memories. Ahh…I love that kind of meal time. I almost forget to eat!

 

  • Our church puts together Thanksgiving boxes for people in the neighborhood of our church. Buying nice food and adding it to the boxes is a way to remember that we are not hungry as some people are. We can do something to help others. Perhaps there was a time when we had less than we needed. We can reflect on the provision of God during this time.

 

  • On November first I always bring out my CD called: Thanksgiving A Wyndham Hill Collection. The songs on this CD bring back memories of so many years of very special Thanksgivings when our family was growing up, of students who lived with us, of dear ones who are no longer around our table. I have to be careful because this music stirs up my emotions and gets me in the mood to get into the kitchen and start stirring up Aunt Alice's Oatmeal Rolls and pumpkin pie! Now I listen to it on Spotify where I happily found other Thanksgiving music and now I have a Thanksgiving Playlist! (I’ll have to tell my friend.)

 

  • And finally I might suggest a yearly November reading of Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts, a book that explores the deep soul search for joy with thankfulness at its core. Ann writes: “The practice of giving thanks…eucharisto…this is the way we practice the presence of God, stay present to His presence, and it is always a practice of the eyes. We don’t have to change what we see. Only the way we see.”

 

Oh that this November would open our eyes to truly seek and find God’s very real presence in our lives. 

 

There are many other ways to prepare our hearts for thanksgiving to fill us up to the brim long before the turkey and stuffing fills our stomachs. Do you have an idea to share? I’d love to find it in the comments of today’s blog. There are many days left in November to prepare our hearts to adore Him in very concrete and soul-full ways. Let’s get started.

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My Neighbor's Lovely Hickory

FaithDeane Watters2 Comments

Sitting in my study this morning, I glance out my second story window into our neighbor’s back yard. There I notice, for the first time, a towering hickory tree that obviously has been in that same spot for many years. What has been an average green-leafed tree, one among many, now stands out as its golden leaves seem to shout, “Look at me! I am here!” I just can’t help but stare at it, mesmerized.  The leaves have thinned somewhat and parted  to reveal the thick black trunk with branches stretching upward, showing it's insides as trees do when green has given way to color.

It is glorious. 

But, in this happy moment of savoring, I begin to notice something else.  If you watch carefully, leaves from this tree are oh-so-silently falling to the ground, creating a soft yellow blanket below.

Of course all my senses say, “NO! Stop that falling! I want this glorious goldenness to stay! I never would have noticed that tree except for this beautiful moment. Please, God, can it stay just a bit longer?"

Don't you just love to bask in beauty? I know that I do.

I am reminded of another time when I had a similar feeling. Two hours into a four hour trip I received a phone call. A nurse from the hospital where my mother had been admitted the day before, let me know that she had died, unexpectedly. Devastating as that news was, I found myself thankful for two more hours alone in which to grieve the loss of this dear, dear mother of mine. I had questions for God that needed to be cried out and sadness that needed to be felt.

Turning west for the last hour of my journey home I noticed that the early April sky was as dark and gray as my heart was heavy. Being late afternoon with a sky full of grayness, I set my mind on the mother to whom I was saying good bye. Who was going to pray for me, now that she was gone? Why didn’t I leave several hours earlier so I could have been with her? What was it going to feel like to live without my mother?

Suddenly a brightness caught my eye and I looked up to see a huge orange disc in the sky peeking between the clouds. It was beautiful and I found a moment of joy in it’s color and size. I settled in to just watch and enjoy it  as I drove. As I was savoring that brief moment, I realized, with frustration, that soon the glowing afternoon sun was going to slip below the horizon and disappear.

I shouted to the sky, “NO! Stop that falling! God, I want to enjoy it longer…It is beautiful I want it to stay. I love it...no, I love her... I want her to stay.” I realized that what I truly wanted was never going to be. This is not the way of life. This is not how creation works. This is not how God works. He put everything in motion and these were part of it: death, loss, separation.

A sense of peace came to me in that moment and I realized that I was ready.

So how do we respond to the losses…the stopping of the magnificent color? The dropping of the leaves? The death of someone so special to us? The disappointments that come along the way.

Shelly Miller writes: “We can’t realize the beauty in seasons of life without tending to brokenness, whether that’s looking in the mirror or into the eyes of someone else." I would add…or watching that same brokenness in God’s creation.

We can’t realize the beauty. We can’t savor the color. We can’t examine the hickory that all of a sudden stands out among its tree peers without also realizing the brokenness behind all that spectacular glory.

The good news is that brokenness is a part of God's glorious PLAN!!

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Romans 8:19-21 MSG

The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.

 

There is something wonderful to look forward to after this life is over! Even creation knows it.

In the past year, several of our friends have lost someone very dear to them. These people were believers and are now in heaven, having completed their time here on earth. This confidence comes through faith in the grace of God and in Christ as Savior.  They lived beautiful lives and we would have preferred that they stayed longer, but God, in his Wisdom, knew that this was not the way of life. It has a beginning. It has an end. And then there is eternity.

Life. Brokenness. Death. New life! That gives us all a deeper willingness to "let the leaves fall" or to "let the sun set." It is the natural order of things.

Meanwhile, I think I’m going to turn my eyes to the lovely hickory sunbathing in my neighbor's yard and remember that the brokenness is only for now, for here. There is much more after this life is over and if we think that golden hickory is great, just wait!

But for now let's live fully in each moment thanking God for it all because very soon, all that delicious golden-ness will be raked into a brown crinkly pile at the side of the street, waiting for the city vacuum to come by and sweep it all away..