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loved

Dwell - 2017

Faith, FamilyDeane Watters8 Comments

I  have always looked forward to going home. During my college years and forever afterwards I loved the moment when I could pop my suitcase into the trunk, hop into my car and head home. I was going back to the place, to the person I loved. There was nothing like that feeling of going home.

My mother was always there, consistently ready with a pot of hot tea served with a side of her gentle presence. This was a safe quiet place where I could share my thoughts and express my fears. We laughed and cried while I rested up after a heavy load of studying. She was unfailingly happy to receive me and to be with me, without judgement or the need to control. We spent many happy hours around that round dining table in her humble abode.

Even though I always cried when saying good bye to my mom, I headed back to school equipped and ready to face what ever was coming next. Her generous hospitality was healing and strengthening.

Psalm 91:1 tells me that “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty."

When I think of this shelter of God’s I get the image of my mother’s house:  safe and inviting. God lives in this place of rest, where I have been invited to move in to live with him, and to find relief. This is where He is and whenever I  stop and sit down, I find Him there. He’ll have his “cup of inviting tea” ready, hot and already poured. It is in this place where I find myself to be understood, strengthened, and prepared for the next thing.

 

I’ve chosen DWELL as my 2017 word.

For some reason, I am in need of a safe place this year. I need to know that God is near me and is actively involved with those I love. If I “move in” to his shelter, I have access to the Most High God!  It is in this house, this shelter, this safe place that I can find Him and what it is I need to face the coming unknowns with courage. It will be so because I will have talked it all out with Almighty God and He assures me that all will be well.

I often wonder how to actually "do" this dwelling in God’s shelter. Partly I understand it to mean getting up out of bed each morning to read the Bible and to talk with him. But I think it is more than that. It is also worshiping him on Sundays with other believers. It is stopping throughout the day to remember where I live, who lives with and in me. It is halting my incessant thoughts for a moment by glancing out the window to thank him for his amazingly creative work in the natural world and in my life. It is reaching out to fellow travelers in need of a place of hospitality.

Dwelling with God invites me to remember I am never alone. It reminds me that I have access to the One who is everywhere, always. My life becomes a place of growing in faith and being equipping to go out and become that safe place for other weary travelers in need of the same kind of dwelling.

The thought of going home will never lose it’s appeal. It will always bring up tender memories of all that home should be. So it is as I consider dwelling in God’s shelter. He speaks, "Come to me, all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."

That is home. That is where I want to be. Near to God, finding rest for my soul so that I am able to get up and go again, full of all that is needed to live the life I've been called to.

 

Have you chosen a word for 2017? I’d love to find it in my comments.

2016 Word

FaithDeane Watters1 Comment

At the end of each year I carefully and prayerfully search for a word to motivate and energize me. The words deliberate, flourish, write and embrace have been past favored words and  have encourage me toward positive changes. By putting a word out there, I hoped to find a way to be a better me. But this year I choose to not prod myself into being something other than I already am.  I don't want a word that presses me toward more. In my brokenness and need for approval, the question "Am I OK?" often surfaced in me. I often assumed the answer was "no" because I was really not what I could be.

But there is only One truly qualified to answer my OK-ness question.

Psalm 5 says, "For you bless the God-seekers, O LORD; you surround them with your favor as with a shield."

This creates a picture of being encircled and protected by God's favor. His approval,  love, acceptance and knowing,  hold me completely and  suddenly there is no need for more striving. No longer is the question, "Am I OK?"  I am Ok because I am completely loved. I exclaim with David in Psalm 139, "...you know me!" "You knit me together in my mother's womb." "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me."

Henri Nouwen writes in Spiritual Direction: "The voices that speak from above and from within whisper softly or declares loudly: "You are my Beloved son or daughter, on you my favor rests." In other words, relax, it's OK for you to be you because God loves you as you are.

My word, then, for 2016 is beloved. It is the truest thing about me. Beloved softens my heart because it is enough; it says I am enough.  All the freedom in the world is given within that word and the ok-ness question is no longer relevant. It leads me to risk new things, love freely, work hard, be confident, feel passionate, listen well and forgive, honestly unencumbered by the ok-ness question.

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The Message translation puts it this way in Deuteronomy 33:12

God's beloved;

God's permanent residence.

Encircled by GOD all day long,

within whom GOD is at home.

my pen reveals

Deane Watters3 Comments

Last night I completed an interesting task. Over the past week, I read through seven spiral notebooks written in from January 1, 2015 through December 31, 2015. I meticulously read or carefully skimmed and took notes from the past 12 months of pages written almost every morning throughout the past year.

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There is nothing grand or amazing about this assignment. It took hours to complete. My eyes got tired and my highlighter ran dry. But I was looking to find as much as I could about this past year. Not content to simply "remember," I wanted to truly find out what was important to me and how I had changed in 2015.

Morning Pages are simply a writer's way of dropping his or her angst on the page first thing every morning. I wrote them to check in, to listen, to invite dialogue, to pray. I simply got up out of bed, shuffled to the coffee pot and then to my "writing studio," opened my current notebook and started writing. My goal was purely to take note of my heart. What was I thinking or feeling each morning, fresh from a night's sleep? What, from the day before, needed to be thought through?  Could God use my pen as his voice to help me? Would I hear it?

As I read through this year's notebooks, I searched for a few specific things.

  • Was I honest with myself? Did I tackle how things really felt, rather than how I thought they should be?
  • Did my word, embrace, change over the year? Why did I choose it?
  • Were there consistent themes of angst?
  • In what ways did I talk to God about my kids using their chosen words?
  • Did I ally myself? Was I a friend; or was I a bully? Was I on my side, or not.
  • Had God spoken to me through this daily practice?
  • Were there changes in me over a year's time?

I will simply say that I have learned much.

Many websites and various ministries offer ways to "evaluate your year" but none better than this. It's like going to the horse's mouth, so to speak. I went straight to the source to hear from my own pen, how my heart was faring on a daily basis. I wanted to know how I  had responded to myself and the concerns that showed themselves on the page. I was digging to see if I lived out what I teach others about the amazing work of Morning Pages.

I came to some conclusions.

  1. I think I will always be tempted in some way toward inadequacy. Recognize my words - tempted toward - not sucked in, not taken over.
  2. I have fussed enough about writing. Get in the chair and WRITE, already!!
  3. I have prayed well for my husband and children.
  4. 2015 was the year I journeyed in prayer. Books read, sermons heard,  prayer meetings attended, and daily personal practice have taught me more than I ever intended to seek out. Prayer seemed to find me.
  5. Desperation leads to magnificent growth.
  6. God speaks when He wants to.
  7. Sometimes "depression" is part of "preparation."
  8. "Dark seasons stop me. They make me small so He can be big."
  9. I am brave and rarely back down from an opportunity to grow or to try.
  10. I am surrounded by God's favor as a shield. He knows me. He delights in me. I can rest in being His beloved. This is big. It changes everything. It stops the lurking question, "Am I lovable?" "Am I enough?" "Is what I do or write or say, significant?" Of course it is. I am held close and safe by the One who knows and loves me. How can I not move freely and confidently within that haven of protection?
  11. My favorite and most powerful ministry, the one I am best equipped for,  is one-on-one across the table with a cup of coffee and a scone in my hand. Some of the most delightful moments in my year were lived out in this way.
  12. Spiritual attacks happen when we risk for God. But when we know how the enemy custom designs his assaults, we can be prepared.
  13. I am a servant here. I am not called to shine or perform. I'm here to serve, to love and to shower grace.
  14. Joy arrives in unexpected packages. Oh yes.
  15. When God gets the first word, we get an earful.

I could go on and on. These pages are FULL of wisdom, questions, fussing, fear, lament, joy, discovery, delight and truth. God has indeed used my pen to reveal himself. Being a good friend to myself, I feel I have listened well. This end of the year review has led me to remember that I am loved, known and protected, even as I walked through some long, hard and desperate days.

This task was well worth my time and a new highlighter. I'm stepping up to another year of Morning Pages.  Are you interested in learning more about them? Let me know in a comment and I'll get back to you!