Deane's Blog

Let's Be Curious

Deane Watters9 Comments
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Has this ever happened to you?

You invite someone you've been wanting to know better over for dinner. You serve up the lasagne and everyone passes the salad and green beans. Food is all on the plates and conversation begins. Since you are the host you ask the guests a question and they politely answer. Awkward silence. So, being friendly and curious about people, you ask another question at which the guests happily answer. Conversation continues like this throughout the evening and when the guests leave you realize that you found out a lot about them, but they seemed uninterested in you!

I think some people love to talk about themselves but really don't know the art of interesting give-and-take conversation. Sometimes I wonder if cell phones have made us more uninterested because we have so much information coming in all the time. Or perhaps we just aren't that interested in people we don't know. What do you think?

I know I can find myself in a chat with a friend and realize that I have answered several questions and I better wake up and ask a few myself! 

So to help you and me remember to be curious and interested in others, here are a few suggestions for us in conversation.

  • When you see someone you know coming, try to remember her name.
  • Let your mind flash back to what you know is happening in her current life.
  • Greet her by name. And if you can't remember it, be honest and ask her! (I did this just yesterday. Saw an old friend at the grocery store. I kept sifting through my brain files but just couldn't come up with her name so I just asked her, with an apology, of course. She was very gracious and admitted to the same thing happening to her at times.)
  • Be curious about more than "how she is." Ask questions about the thing that you are genuinely interested in and take time to look her in the eye.
  • Try to think beneath what she is telling you. How is she feeling? What is she NOT saying? 
  • Pray and trust God to guide your conversation. If there isn't enough time, set up a coffee or lunch date for later in the week.

Hopefully she will reciprocate: but if she doesn't, remember that it's OK. She just needs you to be kind and to be a good listener. Sometimes, if necessary,  I offer information about myself. It is a way to connect and will help spark more interest and questions from your friend so your time doesn't turn into an interrogation. That's no fun either!

Friendships are precious and it is easy to lose touch when life is full and busy. Perhaps these tips can be a way to stay current with people who you care about but don't see real often.

 

Unhitching from the Crazy Train

Faith, FamilyDeane Watters8 Comments
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It was late in the day during my visit with our son & daughter-in-law and grandchildren in Costa Rica. The kids came into the house after school extra tired that afternoon. Something happened that made Charles need time in his room so his mom went in to hold him while he worked it out, loudly and mournfully. Annie was with her dad, seemingly heartbroken and powerfully making her feelings known.  Lucy moved to the front porch and started crying loudly about something that felt dismaying to her in that moment.  I followed her there and asked why she was desperately unhappy about this seemingly unrelated thing, but of course, she couldn't logically think about why and continued to melt down. All three were SUPER miserable, all at the same time. I felt like we had just taken off on the crazy train.

Realizing that this was not my responsibility to fix, I quietly sat down. Joel and Rachel are experienced at calming storms and before we knew it, all was back to normal, smiles on faces and peace in the house. (How do they do that?)

Unhitching from the Crazy Train is a book I haven't read, so I'm not recommending or reviewing it, but I LOVE the title. Joel and Rachel have learned to manage their young children without acting crazy themselves and I admire them greatly.

But I wonder sometimes about how I manage my own crazy.

Living in a house with only two people in it is very different from a home with young children.  But crazy knows no age limits; the source just changes. Mine has to do with boundaries, priorities, schedules and my own overwhelm. Maybe that is why these verses spoke so gently to me this week:

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside still waters.

He restores my soul.

He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

Psalm 23:1

These words slow me down and open my heart to being led to quiet and rest instead of the constant need to get something done, figure it out, or accomplish the next task...only to forget about my own soul.

How do you unhitch from crazy and let God care for your soul? 

I find that starting the day with intentional quiet leads me toward the one who truly cares for the soul he created within me. My alarm goes off and I wake, feeling unwilling or unable to move. But a thought enters my mind that persuades me to get up and out of that comfortable bed.

I get to meet with God!

I wonder what He has for me this morning?

Starting with coffee, a lit candle, my Bible & my journals, I head to my quiet place and open up to what's next. 

Because my word for 2018 is open the door, I've been starting my time by reciting the verse from Revelation 3:20 

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)

I love the image of Christ standing at the arrival of each morning, knocking at the door of my determination and resolve. Hoping to hear from him, I find myself eager to open the door and invite him in. Saying yes to his divine whisper I wait for him to speak. Sometimes I hear him in the Psalm I read, or in the prayers I pray, in the liturgy of other people's prayers, or in the silence of the early morning hour. 

When I open the door  I'm not in control. I'm not directing or even searching. He and I are "eating" together and he is nourishing my soul. Not in ways that I understand or that I can check off a list, but in ways that he sees fit.

This quiet and calm time seems to be the "key" to dealing with the "crazy" when it comes at other times of the day. I have some "still waters reserves" from which to draw. I don't always choose to lie down and be still, but I know it is an offer, a place to go, a way out. I only need to remember and step toward what he is offering.

How about you? Have you found a time to "unhitch from the crazy train?" It can be a time where the Shepherd of your soul leads you to be internally quiet and there you can remember who he is and how he created you and what he has to say to you. There he is rest and rejuvenation for your soul. 

The way Joel and Rachel help their children come back to calm is very much like the way the Spirit leads us to our Shepherd...with quiet assurances, without condemnation and with an ocean full of love. It starts with his invitation to step off the crazy and to step into the quiet assurance that he is near and eager to commune with you.

It's how I want to live. I pray he will enable me to say yes whenever the offer comes.

Unafraid - a book review

Good Reads, FaithDeane Watters1 Comment
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Many years ago a friend said to me, "You have a lot of fears. You should take care of that!"

At the time I knew he was right but I had no idea how to not be afraid. 

What about you? Would you consider yourself to be a fearful person? Do you know how to not be afraid? Sometimes we think it is weak, wrong or sinful to be afraid and so we want to change...but we don't know how.

As a teenager, I was afraid I was a loser because I was so shy.  All through high school and college, I was afraid I'd never get married. After I got married and we started our family I was afraid my baby might stop breathing in the night. I was afraid that I wasn't good enough.  And let's not even talk about when our kids were playing basketball or running track or performing in violin recitals! But being afraid felt natural because I embraced it so often. The pit in my stomach stood in testimony against me. 

As I have grown in my faith, I have found myself seeking ways to better trust God. If Christ is who he says he is, then I must trust that in whatever happens he will provide what I need to get through it. I've heard many people say that it was during the hardest times in their lives that they felt closest to Christ. Their faith was strong and they sensed his care and his love.

If he has something more for me, I truly don't want to miss it. Really.

In the book, Unafraid, the author, Susie Davis, recalls the moment fear entered her life. One day a classmate came into her sixth grade classroom and shot their teacher in front of everyone. She tells how that one event changed her and how fear came in and took control. Her journey toward being unafraid and trusting God has been long and difficult. But today she knows what to do when it comes knocking on her door. 

She has some enlightening things to say about FEAR:

"Fear infects your life in weird ways when you believe in it, always think on it, worship it. You become a fear-er. Only I didn't think I was a fear-er. I thought I was c-a-r-e-f-u-l. I thought I was being a good mom. A caring wife. But really, I was afraid. I couldn't see how fear changed me - and how the Enemy took advantage of me."

"Fear makes you blind...and deaf and dumb" to what God is doing in your life. 

"I must daily walk away from fear. And the only way I can hope to do that is to think of fear the same way my Father thinks of fear. As an idol in my life. Fear is an idol that robs me of believing God can manage my life without my help."

The Bible has much to say about fear as well:

In Mark 6:50 we find that after letting his disciples get in their boat and experience difficulty due to a strong wind, Jesus walked near them on the water and nearly scared them to death! He quickly spoke to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."

In Genesis 15:1 the LORD came to Abram in a vision and said," Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward."

We can read in John 14:27 where Jesus assured his disciples, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."

Obviously God wants us to know that he is with us. He desires our trust and when some fear- enticing-thing comes into our lives, Christ gives us every assurance that he is near with love and affection, ready to walk through it with us.  

If you are interested in this topic and are looking for some strategies for not being afraid, I would encourage you to check out this book!

 

 

 

 

 

Four "Ways to Think" for a Great Summer

Friendships, FaithDeane Watters5 Comments
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Have you heard this quote? The words you speak become the house you live in. (Hafiz)

I totally agree with this but I believe a few words need to be added for it to become true for me: The words you speak to yourself become the house you live in. 

How we think and how we talk to ourselves has everything to do with the house (the life) in which we reside. Our thoughts affect how we view ourselves and the world we live in, how we feel, interact and react. The "walls" of our interior life can be plastered with wallpaper made of thankfulness and joy, or, in contrast,  posters of anger, fear, and bitterness.

I would like you to have a great summer living in a most lovely summer home, beautifully decorated. So here are a few suggestions on what you can say to yourself so you can have a meaningfully rich summer.

1. I will not be offended.

If I could have a soapbox to stand on all day long, I would shout out one thing for all to hear: "Be determined to NOT take offense!!" I have learned this the hard way and know how easy it is to feel offended. Being offended is a rampant reaction from our interstates to grocery stores and family members to church members. I wonder how many times in the past month these words have come out of my mouth.  "Don't be offended!"

Taking an offense only hurts the one who is offended! I encourage you to choose instead to talk with the person (if you can) about what hurt you, quietly and respectfully. Express yourself and then forgive. Each time it comes to your memory, forgive again. Don't water the seeds of offense. They will grow up to be nasty weeds that steal what is good from you. YOU will be the one who misses out. You will miss the joy of being free of the burden of anger or unforgiveness. And, worst of all, offense causes division when gossip invites people to take sides and unity is broken. Oh, for goodness sake, and for the love of God, STOP taking offense. (Don't mean to yell, but when I'm on a soapbox I can get going.)

2. I can be the inviter.

Instead of thinking that no one likes me or wants to be with me, I want to be the one who invites others to join me. How about you? If you have nothing going on next Friday, get on the phone and invite someone to do something with you. Our daughter talks about being someone who is building the life she wants. She doesn't wait for it to come to her.  Invite!          "Come sit with me! Let's meet for coffee! Would you like to go to that event with me?"

I love to be invited and I know most people feel the same way. Someone recently said to me, "I'd like to get to know you better." It was a super inviting thing to say. This friend and I got together and drank lots of coffee while engaging in good conversation. I encourage you to be an inviter this summer.

3. I can step into a room ready to be a giver. 

Shauna Niequist writes, " When you bring a grace-soaked, grounded soul to any room you walk in, you are offering yourself as an instrument for healing." 

I often tell myself on the way to church, to be sure to be on the lookout for women who might need encouraging. That cheering can be as simple as a smile. Perhaps it means stopping to chat and ask a few questions. Sometimes it will lead to praying over something that is difficult.

To do that though, I need to get to church a bit early (which is HARD for us) or stay a while after church to look for people to talk to. The purpose is to show love. To offer myself as an instrument for healing.

That means I do not rush right out of church after the last worship song. It means I look up and around searching for people who need to be noticed and reached out to. And then I step toward them with the intent to connect in some way. 

It means to practice the art of asking questions and being curious. People love to talk about themselves. My husband and a few friends I know have mastered this amazing way to show that they are interested in people ! I have to remind myself, but I work at it.

What can I give of myself to make this workplace, this church, this picnic, this neighborhood, this line at Walmart, a welcoming place?

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4. I Can Show Love in Unique Ways.

In the book, Everybody Always  Bob Goff, an exceptionally outgoing man, writes about how he has taken the love of Christ seriously. He is on a life mission to love people openly and confidently by doing the unexpected in unusual ways. In this guest post on Ann Voskamp's blog, Bob tells about one of the many times he showed outlandish love - the kind that builds people up and does not expect anything in return. It's a fun read.

You and I may not be as outgoing as Bob, but in quiet uncommon ways we can be encouragers and cheerleaders to the regular everyday people we come in contact with. Those in our homes as well as those we meet at the grocery store, at the car dealership, on the street, in the coffee shop, at our workplaces, anywhere we encounter people - everywhere people are hungry for affirmation and kindness. Let's be the ones who do the reaching out.

A friend at church said the other day that her boss was not one to show kindness to the women who worked under her. So my friend said that she herself  took on that role with her co-workers, complimenting them on a new outfit, asking about their weekend or noticing a change of mood and being an encourager. That kind of healthy interest is needed for a healthy workplace. My friend stepped up to be that person instead of complaining about her boss's lack of interest. I love this! Let's be the one we want others to be to us! (What a mouthful!)

 

 

 

I'm mostly preaching to myself here, so please, don't be offended. :)

If we are ever going to find change in our circumstances, we must start with our own thoughts and actions. Let's be people who live in warm comfortable "homes" full of invitations to relationship and friendship. Let's stand for kindness and be lovers of people because that is the only way for change to get started in our places and in our own personal "houses."

1 Peter 1:22 encourages us to "love one another deeply from the heart."  This encouragement spurs us on! We are doing it for Christ who loves us and gave himself for us. The kind of love I am talking about is almost impossible using our own steam, our own self effort. But we have help from the One who loved us first. It is His love that we freely give away.

Let's have a great summer!