Deane's Blog

Word of the Year

Opening the Door Again

Recipes, Word of the YearDeane Watters1 Comment

Throughout our marriage, my husband and I have been pretty hospitable people. In our thirty-eight years, we have hosted three high school exchange students and two college students, each living with us for nine to ten months. These lovely individuals have been a rich addition to the color and depth of our lives and our awareness and appreciation of the bigger world has been expanded as a result. We care deeply for our past students (now adults) and continue to be in touch with them in a variety of ways.

I love to cook and bake. So having people over for a meal has been another part of our bent toward hospitality. We have often hosted our small group from church on Sunday afternoons. Every Christmas we have hosted a big meal that can stir up enough memories to fill the whole house. There have been showers and parties and meetings and end of the year school gatherings throughout the years and week-end guests for us to serve and enjoy.

The past several years, though, we feel like we have done less asking, less inviting. People are busy. With families growing and grandchildren coming along there just isn’t as much time or energy to put into having people over. 

But I miss good conversation around the table. Not just any go-where-it-will chit chat. I mean rich connecting discussions that leave you with plenty to think about the next day. I absolutely love this kind of give and take. And yet, I find that not everyone wants to engage in this way. Or they don’t quite know how. Or perhaps it is becoming a lost art. There is definitely an intentional skill to being curious, asking good questions, listening and offering your own thoughts and ideas back.

Shauna Niequist writes it beautifully in Bread and Wine,  “What’s becoming clearer and clearer to me is that the most sacred moments, the ones in which I feel God’s presence most profoundly, when I feel the goodness of the world most arrestingly, takes place at the table.”

Shauna is more eloquent than I but I agree that time around the table is where God enables great relationships get their start and where they continue to grow, for those who are willing to give of themselves in such a way.

Shauna goes on to write, ”It’s not, actually, strictly, about food for me. It’s about what happens when we come together, slow down, open our homes, look into one another’s faces, listen to one another’s stories.”

I agree with her because as much as I love to cook food and feed it to people, the conversation is worth so much more. Food is just the way to get people to the table so this kind of exchange can take place.

 

IMG_7479.jpg

This year my word is OPEN THE DOOR. I explained here in a past post what that means to me spiritually. Today I share what else it means to me. It means coming back to inviting and opening the door of our house to people we want to get to know better. To offer ways to deepen relationships through the telling of stories and laughing together. To not staying too busy to host a gathering in our living room just for fun. To taking some risks and seeing if there are others wanting such fellowship.

IMG_7536.jpg

 

 

 

 

Last week we invited some folks over! It was a last minute invitation because I felt good after 2 weeks of not-so-good and I was eager to fill the house with people. I whipped up a couple of soups, baked fresh focaccia bread and some amazing brownies and we were good to go. A salad and fresh vegetables (added by our guests) brought everything to a beautiful completion.

After dinner we headed to the living room where we used a box of story starters to help us get to some of the stories of our lives that just might have never come up in “normal” conversation…like one guy’s stories of riding a bull in the rodeo, or of the first date of another who thought his date lived in a cemetery! (or at least that’s the address she gave him). Or the way one couple met when both were working at a Taco Bell. These were fun stories and their telling lead us all to know each other better. Isn’t that what we all want, really? 

 

Do you invite people in? Do you wish for closer friendships? If so, I encourage you to go for it! Don't wait to be asked. Be the one to ask. Make something simple or order in a pizza. It's really about relationship and there's no need to get stressed. Let's not let the art of good conversation be lost in the crazy of busy lives.

And if you get a call from us, know that we're just opening our door to friendship with you and, if possible, we hope you will say yes!  

 

Here's one of the delicious (and easy) recipes from our meal last week: Cream of Potato Soup

 

IMG_7406.jpg

Melt 4 Tbsp butter in soup kettle; stir in 2 Tbsp flour and add 2 cups milk.

Add 4 cups potatoes peeled and diced, 1/2 cup minced scallions, 3 cups beef or chicken stock, salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, simmer 15-20 minutes.

Using a hand-held blender, puree the mixture in the pot. Stir in 1 cup sour cream and 1/2 cup parsley, chopped fine; sprinkle with cheese; serve.

What's Your Word for 2018?

Word of the Year, FaithDeane Watters7 Comments

 

I woke up late one morning and instead of going right to prayer with my Bible open, I went straight to my morning walk and then on with my day. I found throughout the morning there was something that kept pulling at me, a thought or an image, but I didn't actually pay much attention to it. Soon I remembered I hadn't gotten up early enough for my usual quiet time and maybe I could stop and do it now.  But when the thought would come, I would by-pass it with what ever I was doing at the time and before I knew it, the day was over and it was time to go to bed.

In the book, Invitation to a Journey, M. Robert Mulholland Jr. writes about God's desire that we be conformed to the image of Christ. This is not an easy task as that conforming must take place in the places that are very un-Christ-like! Our call is to come out of brokenness into wholeness. This means we must die in those broken places in order for God to transform us into the image of his Son.

Who wants to go through the process of dying to the things that already hurt?

Mulholland goes on to explain using a picture of God standing at the closed doors of our hearts where we have shut him out. The love and grace of God will knock and knock and knock, wanting us to open the door, to face the truth of our brokenness, but he will "not force open the door."

God watches to see the door move from within.

As George MacDonald writes: 

 

 

This image reminded me how sometimes I feel a nudging toward something... like, being alone with God. Or perhaps giving someone a call, choosing to not be offended, stopping to pray, not letting that unnecessary or unkind word come out of my mouth, letting fear harass me, my desire to nestle in with a bad attitude or the need to forgive someone (the list could go on...) but I resist. I'm busy and I have things to do so I push away the gentle soft suggestion and continue on my way...and say the thing or hold on to that which should be let go.  It is subtle. It is not pushy or loud. It feels like my own thought that I can quickly un-invite.

But the picture of God at the door of my brokenness has opened in me a stronger desire to be open to opening the door when I sense the Spirit's asking. It seems to be something I resist. I naturally want my way in those hardened areas.

In Proverbs 8:34 Wisdom calls out: Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway.

If I want to grow wise, more mature in my faith, more like Christ, it is time to identify those moments and nod a yes to what I'm being asked to do.

In Revelation 3:20 the Spirit earnestly announced that the church in Laodicea was lukewarm in their faith. They were so tasteless He desired to spit them out! He wanted to discipline them and find them earnest and willing to repent!  He went on to say, "Behold 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." 

He's knocking at the door of their brokenness, their sin, their places so unlike Christ. And somehow I see him asking me to open some doors that have comfortably remained closed these many years. Deeper places of the heart where he asks me to not be afraid or unwilling to trust him.

IMG_7481.jpg

So my word for this year is OPEN THE DOOR. I know it isn't a word, it is a phrase, but it is my choice for a reminder to be open to a deeper "yes" and to stop the resistance in areas where I am unsure, unclear, lacking in confidence or unwilling to welcome Christ.

It's a big task, a lifelong one. But for today I have this image: my hand is on the door. Will I pay attention and be willing to respond so God can do His deeper work in me? That is my desire.

 

 

 

 

Do you have a word? I'd love to know it and why you have chosen it. Please leave it in the comments.  Maybe I'll make you a cute word-picture like mine!

 

Dwell...half way through

Word of the YearDeane Watters6 Comments

Six months ago I chose DWELL as my focus word for 2017. I loved re-reading  my blog post  where I first wrote about my hopes for this year and for the power of this word. How about you? Did you pick a word?

  • Has your word slipped into a forgetful place?
  • Did you set up ways to keep your word in mind?
  • Have you found yourself making the changes you hoped for?

Well, it if you haven't thought about your word in a while, it surely is not too late. That's what I'm telling myself because it takes a ton of intentionality to keep a word in front for a whole year. How about you?

This might help:

Yesterday, while leafing through magazines at Barnes and Noble, I found an article in the current issue of  bella grace entitled, 10 Easy Ways to Add Hygge to your Life. Well, hygge is a friend's word for this year, so I was interested in reading it. After looking at the ten easy ways, I wondered if I could make up 10 easy ways to be a "dweller."

1 John 2:6 Those who say they live (dwell, abide)  in God should live their lives as Jesus did. (NLT)

That is no small order!

So here's my take on living as one who dwells with God.

  1. Rest in God alone. Listen to him and do what he tells you.
  2. Love the life you're living. Know that you are understood, loved, seen by the God Most High.
  3. Seek out and give full attention to the beauty in your current season.
  4. Know you are never alone and always safe with God as your Father.
  5. Show much kindness, always.
  6. Forgive quickly, don't hold on to offenses.
  7. Trust God's timing.
  8. Meet with God many times a day to talk with him about everything and everybody.
  9. Use words to bless others.
  10. Be intentional as you step toward people, not waiting for them to step toward you.
  11. Oh I thought of one more: Be GENEROUS - extravagant generosity is so Jesus!!

Did I call this ten EASY ways to be a dweller? From this point I feel there nothing easy about any of these. But I have a life time of learning and growing ahead of me, as always, trusting God to do for me what I cannot do for myself. I know that's what a life of faith is all about.

I had a little fun today with some of the 2017 words friends have given me. If you'd like me to do a little setting for you, just let me know your word in the comments. It was fun to play with these words and isn't rest/creativity part of healthy dwelling?

(I found this idea from the daily tourist, an Instagram friend.)

Have a wonderful day.