Deane's Blog

Ten Little Things

Deane Watters10 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

What's That Noise?

Deane Watters2 Comments
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To my readers: Here is a fun piece I wrote yesterday. It's a whimsical bit of the ongoing history of this house. I hope you enjoy it.

Have you ever found yourself late at night with a mystery to solve? One that seems a bit frightening, but you need your sleep so you toughen up and go to bed anyway, against your better judgement? I have. Just last night! Here's a story for you.

Last night I was sitting at my desk in my writing studio, finishing a few things on my computer. The second-floor sun porch, where I do my writing, has 7 windows that fill a good part of three sides of the room.  It sits snuggled in under a towering hickory tree where squirrels play, nuts fall and welcomed shade guards us from intense summer sun. A huge elm that I can see from where I sit, looms above our back yard amidst the mighty oaks and maples this old neighborhood is known for.

My small lamp lights up my desk area, a cozy little scene.

But I encourage you to not get too comfortable with this idyllic setting because suddenly I hear two bops against  the outside of one of the windows.  I jump up, my eyes nervously scanning the windows from which the sound seemed to come.

What was that? 

Couldn't be a bird; they don't fly around bumping into things at 10:00 at night.

Couldn't be a locust: they don't have enough mass for that amount of bump and there was no crackly wing noise with it.

All I could come to, based on past experience, was that this noise indicated that there was a bat trying to get in our house. Of course, it freaked me out but there was no movement inside the room that would confirm that a bat was indeed there. But when another bump hit, I quickly shut off the light and scurried over to our bedroom.

"There's a bat trying to get in the house, Brian!" I reported anxiously. 

We talked through the fact that it is August, the month when we have historically found bats flying around inside our house. I tried to figure out why a bat would be banging into our windows though because they are supposed to have such a great radar system and no bat has ever run into any of us when it is perusing our rooms late at night! (Oh but we do have stories!!)

But that noise.

We decided that the best plan was to sleep with our door closed and a towel stuffed into the open space at the bottom of it. One thing we know for sure is that bats are social because they love to be where we are. If they find a way to get into our house they end up finding and flying around our bedroom, waking my husband who seems to have a "bat radar" of his own, who then wakes me up with a shake.  "Deane, I think we have a bat in our room!" (Oh yes, we do have stories.)

In spite of this late night scare, because the door was closed, we slept well. No nightly visitors made me wonder if I maybe had been mistaken and perhaps it was some other weird thing bumping into my window.

I thought that....until I took the clothes to the washer this morning.

There on the dryer, all by itself, with no fanfare but with a LOUD VOICE, sat a little piece of bat poo, confirming my prediction of last night's scare.

I ran upstairs frantically reporting to Brian that I was sure I was right! There was a bat bumping into our window and somehow he found his way in and he was in the basement last night so WHERE IS HE NOW? Bat season has started and, I wondered out loud, when is that bat-man going to come and bat-proof this house?

Brian assured me that we never see bats in the daytime so I could settle down and be in the basement without worry. Right. But I repeated. WHERE IS HE NOW?

Sigh.

Living in a one-hundred-year-old house in the midst of towering hundred-year-old trees and generations of bats who love the space within our walls make for unpredictable nighttime adventures.  

The kind I could happily live without.

So, WHERE IS HE NOW?

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.