Deane's Blog

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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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.

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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!