Deane's Blog

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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A Bad(t) Encounter

Deane Watters4 Comments

Today is Halloween so I want to tell you a creepy story about something that happened in this old house that I can’t forget. Some of you have heard me tell this story but I want to see if I can write it as well as I can tell it.

If you read this, will you let me know how I did?

We have a history of an occasional bat entering the living space of our house. Every bat is unique and each story has its own twist and unusual turn. In fact, just a few months ago I wrote one of those tales here on my blog. I’ve got another account which is far more troubling.

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A Bad(t) Encounter

In the last week of August 2017, there were four bat sightings at the house on the corner of Grande and Forest. Usually only one or two bats each year would be found flying around inside the house; but this particular week beat the norms by a mile. The first three came as past bats did. The family was sitting around either talking, watching TV, eating or sleeping and all of a sudden, out of nowhere, a bat appeared. Just bam, there it was circling the room. It always startled the family and sometimes terrified them especially if Deane was woken up by Brian yelling in her ear, “Deane, I think we have a bat in our room!” But the good thing is that a well thought out and mostly successful plan was put into practice whenever a bat unexpectedly entered their space:

  • First they hid in a closet until bravery overcame their fear.

  • Then creeping out of the closet and crouching to avoid being hit by the bat who was continuously circling the room, they would close the door and stuff something under it to prevent the bat from escaping.

  • But before leaving the room themselves, Brian would open a window and remove the screen, all the while bending and swerving to avoid an unintended hit in the head by the swiftly moving creature.

  • Lastly, if this happened in the night hours, they slept in a bedroom down the hall. Well, after all the adrenaline that had rushed through their systems I should say they tried to sleep.

  • In the morning, the bat would be gone!

This formula for bat expulsion eliminated the need for any violence acted out with tennis rackets, fly swatters, brooms or blankets flailing in the air. Also, I should add, there would be no need to hire a bat-catching man who costs a lot. Believe us, we know.

The fourth bat sighting that week was not quite so text book. This one showed up the night before so technically this little guy was the second sighting of the third bat, but details really don’t matter here. Brian and Deane followed their prescribed routine. The bat entered the room while they were sleeping. It flew around clicking and flapping until Brian woke up. Deane didn’t wake up because she sleeps like a log but became wide awake with the familiar shake on the shoulder and frantic voice announcing the arrival of another black beast.

“What? Another bat? How can that be?”

Jumping out of bed, they hid for a second hoping it would choose to fly to another room but NO, it wanted to be where they were. So Brian scrunched down making his way to the window. It was dark but he opened the window, trying not to bend or break it in his hurry to get the thing up and the screen out. Together the two left, closing the door and stuffing the towels. Sleeping restlessly in a nearby room, they envisioned their bat friend eventually finding the open window and freedom into the outdoors while receiving his abundant mosquito reward.

The next morning the bat was gone! Whew. The plan had worked again!

It was a beautiful Saturday so Brian wanted to go to the Farmer’s market for one of those delicious Iowa grown watermelons. But, due to the wildness of their night, Deane decided to stay home. She wanted to take a hot bath, get a cup of coffee, have a quiet morning.

After Brian left, Deane ran her bath water and hung her robe at the door. Setting her glasses on the closed toilet lid, she stepped into the tub. Ahh! It felt just right. She laid back to enjoy the quiet and the warmth of a peaceful moment.

Finishing her bath, she stood, lifted the handle to let the water out, and reached for the towel from the towel rack just inches from her right side.

That’s when she heard it.

Tugging at the towel on the hanger, she heard a squeak and, wouldn’t you know, the Friday night bat fell out from the back of the towel where it had been hanging and dropped into the water at her feet! She let out a dreadful scream and threw her towel down into the emptying tub and jumped out as fast as she could. Who could blame her for this dramatic reaction? Grabbing her robe, she rushed out of the bathroom and blindly flew down the stairs, hoping Brian had not left yet. But she knew better; he was long gone.

What in the world just happened? And what should she do next?

Realizing, in the emotion of the moment, she had forgotten to pick up her glasses, without which she could not only not see, she felt she could not think without them either. So carefully she headed back up the stairs to retrieve them.

On her way up thoughts rushed through her mind. Where is that bat now? Did she drown the thing by throwing the towel on it? Do bats swim? Would it still be in the tub or would it be flying around the room?

Stepping timidly into the tiny bathroom she fetched her glasses and was able to see clearly that the bat was gone!

Oh no! Now what??? She scanned the room and found nothing so she decided that this job would be best left for her dear Brian. She anxiously shut the door hoping to keep the bat inside (if it was still in there). And, in need of sympathy, she sat down to send a few frantic texts to her adult kids, who probably had a really good laugh over their mom’s predicament.

* * * * * * * * * * *

I’m happy to report that all ended well because hero Brian came home and after a brief search found the little tired bat sleeping in the corner on top of the door frame, drying his wet wings. And you know I told you about that bat-catcher guy who will come and retrieve your bat for a cost? Yeah. That’s how we know. And you know what he used to take that bat away? A Parmesan cheese container! He simply stepped up on a chair, put the open container in front of the bat and the sleepy little guy just scuttled right in, ready to continue his morning nap.

As far as we know that particular bat has not returned, but his effect continued to be felt for many months because I was a bit traumatized by this very unconventional, disconcerting, too-close-for-comfort bat encounter.

Maybe that’s why my sister hand-made this Halloween card just for us.

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It kind of creeps me out. But, hey, it’s Halloween after all.

Do you have a scary wild animal incident of your own? I’d love to hear it!

Ten Little Things

Deane Watters12 Comments
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I’ve got all kinds of friends. I know you do too. Do you have some who are “feelers?” I’ve got several. They stand out because they are the ones with a box of kleenex ever near because tears are ready to spill at any moment and they need to be prepared. Some of my closest friends are deep feelers and almost anything enables them to shed a tear or two. I love those people.

There are others I know who find it harder to dwell anywhere near their feelings and are comfortable only talking about what they think. I love those people too, but when we talk it is a different kind of communication. I seem to always be asking, “Yes, but how do you feel about that?” 

It is fine to be where ever you are on that spectrum, of course. I find that I’m somewhere in the middle of those two extremes but I do know I love to feel the feelings when they come. 

What about you? Where do you find yourself on the broad range of feelings?

I decided today to just stop and think about what makes me feel happy. Here’s a list of ten little things that give me big time feelings:

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  • Finding a voice message from one of our grandchildren living in Costa Rica saying, “I love you, Grandma. I miss you. I can’t wait to see you, Grandma."
  • When my mom shows up in my dreams. It’s only happened a few times since she died ten years ago. She rarely says any words but she is there and I see her. It feels like she’s come for visit and my heart is warmed. I love her so.
  • A hug from our littlest grandchild, Oliver. He is 15 months old but already he knows the power of a hug around his grandma’s neck.
  • A meaningful and deep conversation over coffee when someone is willing to talk with me about faith and honest struggles. I know I’ve been trusted with something very fragile and extremely private. I hold it close to my heart.
  • The sky: oh my, how I love the sky and the ever changing beauty God shows there. Of course, the Psalmist told us that the heavens declare the glory of God! Why should I be surprised? If I’m not emotionally shaken by the glory of God, perhaps I need to wake up!
  • The bouncy barky welcome from Moby, our daughter’s dog. That little guy knows how to say hello! Every time I come to his house he lets me know that he is SO glad I’ve come to visit! He never disappoints.
  • Any kind of road trip with my husband. We have such fun getting away. (When you’re married to an extra hard worker, it is great to get them away from the constant pull of one more job to complete.)
  • Being in the middle of a really great book. Oh, I love the possibilities of imagination or learning one more thing. I can get all riled up by a new idea or the next great writing tip. 
  • Sparkly white lights do it every time, no matter where they are. I see them and BAM, my heart feels the rush of emotion - I think they sparkle with a warm welcome that gently makes me feel invited in.
  • When someone “gets” me, reminds me of who I am and makes me feel loved and cherished. Ahhh, there is nothing better.
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This is just a short list; there are millions more!

Aren't you glad you can feel? It seems to me that feelings are gifts from our great Creator God that enable us to fully participate in life and celebrate being human in every sense of the word. The hard ones too. It's all a part of the package of this abundant life.

What little thing invites you to feel happy? I’d love to know. 

A Perfectionist and a Peacemaker Make It Through 39 Years.

Deane Watters3 Comments
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It was August, 1995. Jonathan, 14, Joel, 10 and Hannah, 7 and I had all our stuff loaded up in our van and were ready to begin the long drive to Washington DC, our single, two-week vacation of the year. The kids were tucking in the last of their toys and books when all of a sudden (it seemed to me) my husband decided that, instead of getting in and heading down the road, first we needed to re-roof the walk-way between our house and garage.

Talking to the boys, my husband encouraged them to "Take your shirts off, guys, climb up there and let's get that old stuff off!"

I could hardly believe my ears. I may have blurted out a quick, "Are you nuts?" (or perhaps, I just thought it.) Sitting down on the back step I was ready to try to understand what was happening. "Do you not see that we're all packed up and ready to go?" "Do you not realize we have a l-o-n-g drive ahead of us?"

Those were rhetorical questions because yes, of course, he knew these things. But he mumbled something about this project needing to be done and this being the first day of his vacation...

We stopped packing and the several hours it took to complete the project did not kill us or throw us off schedule that much. I could accept it. I moved to the kitchen, pulled out the bread, and proceeded to make some sandwiches...

The way we handled this little scenario might be typical for perfectionists and peacemakers but we knew nothing about our personality types at the time. His ability to zoom in on that project, even though everyone would be affected, was part of his perfectionism. I would have NEVER rocked the boat in that way because I zoomed out  and focused on keeping everyone happy, the long drive, the tired kids, the beginning of what would obviously be a long vacation.  

Looking back, that WAS a long vacation. But that's another story for another time.

What I'm wondering is how this marriage has been able to keep on trucking for 39 years. Here are a few thoughts I have about this:

 

  • CHERISH We get along...well, most of the time. We truly like each other and I often tell him I don't know what I'd do without him. He calms me down and I am able to locate all the stuff he can't find. What can be better than that?? The core of his being is precious to me. He is worth more to me than I can explain here and I know he feels the same way about me. Being cherished produces a humility almost beyond description. And being thankful becomes my only response.

 

  • TRUST I need his perfectionism and he needs my peacemaking. So what does that mean? I soften his rough edges and he helps me find direction. I need his black and white-ness and he needs my gray-ness. I need his ability to know where he is in time, which is all. the. time! He needs my ability to forget time for awhile. I need his slow and steady. He needs to understand my inability to concentrate sometimes. I need his leading and he needs my following. He needs my leading and I need his following as well. I need his willingness to create conflict. My uncomfortableness with conflict gives him opportunity to soften. I need his voice and he needs mine. I need his structure. He helps me when I need to organize. He needs to see someone who doesn't need that amount of structure. His self-criticism needs my soft affirmation. He likes to be right. I can see several points of view. We're good for each other in this. I need his strong opinions. He needs my amazement at such intensity. I need his preaching. He needs my stories. He knows what he wants. I often do not know what I want, but he helps me. Somehow our trust has allowed these differences to bind rather than tear apart. 

 

  • FAITH We share a common hunger and love for Christ. When we first met I had just come off a 15 month mission trip and he could see that he and I practiced our faith very differently. He was attracted to my strong faith and together we found a place to fellowship where we could worship and make friends and find our belonging within the family of God together. And we have grown. God has led us, matured us, soothed us, helped us forgive, softened us and taught us how to love each other well.

 

  • RESPECT I let him be him and he lets me be me. But it wasn't always so. I wanted him to be the dad to our kids I didn't have growing up. I wanted him to call me when he was going to be home late for dinner. I wanted more low-key-ness in our house. But I certainly wasn't perfect either. In a huge moment of clarity  I realized I was focusing more on who he wasn't than on who he was.  He's got so many great qualities that I missed because I was so focused on what I felt needed changing. I prayed for grace and for love for this man who was consistent, faithful, honest, full of integrity, and brimming with solid common sense. Sometimes one loses the forest for the trees.

 

  • HOPE We keep getting better together.  Both of us are responsible, honest and hard-working people. We share a common love for our children and a need for each other so we cherish our time together. I love to sit with him at church and keep my shoulder tucked under his because it feels like a physical picture of unity, warmth and agreement about our God, who is way more important than any thing else.  We're a lot older now. We see that our years are numbered so we do our best to enjoy every day. Our years have melded us into a mutual hope and a freedom to be who we are. 

 

The flat roof didn't last very long and had to be redone several years later, a testimony to the quickness of the impromptu vacation project.  We laugh at this story now even though it had an almost unbelievable beginning and might have led to a super crazy anger and arguments . Although we see through very different filters, we are looking in the same direction and have only grown closer and more thankful for the life we've been given and for each other.

Happy 39th Anniversary to my Brian

 

#photos by Hannah White Photography, taken in Costa Rica

#photos by Hannah White Photography, taken in Costa Rica