The Word Weaver
Deb Weaver ~ Communicating God's love, grace, & truth
by The Word Weaver, Deb on September 21st, 2017

​The thought of superpowers thrill me.  I’m not talking about web-slinging or flying at hyper speed (although I’d absolutely treasure either of those abilities!)  I’m referring to those incredible, unique gifts that impact the world for good in small or in big ways.  We all have them whether we recognize them yet or not. 

(I didn’t recognize mine for a long, long time.  If you don’t know your superpower yet, let me encourage you.  You will discover it.  Keep showing up to your life, learning and growing, and I promise you will eventually begin to see and embrace your unique skill.)

I have one.  Are you ready for it?

I see people.

That’s it.  No, seriously.  It’s one of my purest contributions to this world.

At first glance, this might seem insignificant.  You might even be thinking, “Big deal.  Most people can see.”

          But do they?

When I look around, I perceive two predominant tendencies in our culture:
  • People silently (&/or not so silently) screaming—desperate to be seen—to be noticed and recognized for who they are, what they feel and experience, and how significant they are

OR
  • Individuals skirting the edges, avoiding eye contact and hiding—terrified someone will actually look closely enough to see them, their pain, their weaknesses, their fears, or even their strengths.

The world is used to not being seen. 

And it’s difficult for us to pay attention and actually see others.  I get it.  It’s scary to look out and receive the raw messages that people unconsciously telegraph.  Many times it’s easier and feels safer to close your eyes and keep striding past rather than create connection. 

Many things prevent our sight—fear, anxiety, preoccupation, crazy schedules, the rapid pace of life, exhaustion, heavy responsibilities, our own pain and needs, anger, bitterness, depression, awkwardness, apathy, or the cacophony that constantly surrounds modern life—all of these things can blind us. 

 So, honestly, I believe that seeing—really seeing—is a rare and sacred gift.  

​Perhaps I see others because I know what invisibility feels like.  It has been an enduring theme in my life. 

I grew up a watcher.  I was quiet and, for the most part, happily blended into most backgrounds. My second grade teacher warned that my “extreme shyness would severely inhibit me throughout life.”  At the Halloween party, the third grade teacher told my Mom she often forgot I was there.  Daily during seventh grade, in the crowded hallways of our middle school, I fervently wished to become invisible. 

Early when I was in high school, my Mom had a paralyzing stroke and had to relearn basic skills.  Many months later as she held onto my arm, slowly walking down the street, she expressed her great emotional pain and overwhelming fear that her disabilities were glaring and were all anyone else could see of her.  
Terrified that she had irrevocably become invisible.

These painful experiences--and the isolation they triggered--shaped me with sensitivity and compassion.  This perspective alerts me to the body language, tone of voice, and feelings of others.  
Instinctively, I’m able to read between the lines and to see what one may be unable to speak aloud.  I see those who feel invisible and those who wish they were invisible. 

It’s forged a deep passion within me to notice others and communicate with them in ways that underscore that they are seen, welcome, included, appreciated, and honored.
It’s my gift to the world around me.
 

So imagine my surprise...

​Yes, imagine my surprise when I realized ​that I had faded into invisibility. 

It happened subtly, over time.  
Oh,  I wasn’t completely transparent, but I could no longer see myself wholly or accurately. 

I could clearly still see my failures; those were hard to overlook.  I had wrestled enough with shame and regret over the years that I didn’t need to pinch myself in order to know that I was still here. 

Most vividly I saw those “nice, responsible girl” qualities that I and others had come to expect from me.  Though these wonderful qualities are definitely part of my personality, they’re only a part of me. When they became my focus, I faded away.
 
The most important, essential parts—those parts that make me wholly me—things like creativity, pondering in solitude, laughing aloud, playfulness, being a noticer and worshiper of God—must stay clearly in focus or I lose my vital significance and perspective.
​The journey back to 20/20 vision has been long and winding, full of stops and starts.

It takes time to discover who you are in a new season.  To focus on new possibilities.  To adjust to the new prescription lenses. 

I’ve begun to really see myself again and to discover that I like being me!  My skin finally fits! And there’s room to grow!

Which brings me to the topic that the title of this post suggested:   

A much-needed makeover...

​The night before I was scheduled to get a haircut with a new stylist, I read portions from Staging Your Comeback ~ A Complete Beauty Revival for Women Over 45
​by Christopher Hopkins. 

Hopkins posed an important question:  “If you could list five qualities you’d want someone to know about you, what would they be?”   In the quiet, soothing space of my home office, the question resonated and reverberated within me as I considered the answer. Shortly later, I settled on my list of what I value and know to be true.

In another chapter, he introduced a quiz that helped me understand my basic styles and the words to communicate my needs to a hairstylist. I discovered I gravitate toward Casual-Romantic. 

Had I not read these chapters, I’d have showed the stylist a folder of pictures and probably would have walked away with a decent cut.  Instead I entered with information and confidence, and I floated home with a precious gift.

As Kalla, manager and stylist at NewStyle Salon in De Pere, WI seated me, we smiled and made brief eye contact.  Then I took a deep breath and said,

“I need you to know these important characteristics about me: 
I am friendly, approachable, and kind.  I live with a sense of wonder and gentle fun. 

Some words that fit my style include:  comfortable, down-to-earth, easy care, soft, charming, and pretty."
 
If she was surprised by my lists, she didn’t show it.  I felt safe; Kalla was listening, understanding, and tracking with me.  Her open response enabled me to dare even further. 
 
With tears crowding the corners of my eyes, I offered these naked truths: 
  • How I was emerging from a long decade of ignoring myself.  Of questioning myself.  Of hiding from people behind helpfulness, cheerfulness, and busyness. 

  • How the shift in roles from Hands-on Mom to Empty Nest Mom has been an intense, lonely, emotionally-upheaving, rocky transition. How God is transforming me from the inside out during this hard, necessary, significant journey of discovery.

  • How I’m finally cherishing who I am, not just what I do.  How I’m valuing and expressing my thoughts, feelings, experiences, desires, and preferences.

  • How I’m learning that when I feed my soul and heart with rest and creativity, I’m better equipped to feed others.  How much happier I’ve become as a result.

  • How I’m emerging from the struggle in passionate, strong, beautiful ways.

  • And lastly, how I now love my skin but hate my hair.  How keenly I wanted them to match.

Kalla tenderly peered behind the heavy, outdated, unevenly-colored curtain of hair I was sitting behind, and she saw me. 

She really saw me. 

Then with tenderness and skill, she clipped away the layers that no longer fit and found a way to help me express my real inner self to the outer world. 
​Sometimes a haircut is just a haircut. 

But sometimes--in the right hands and with the sacred, supernatural gift of sight--a haircut is MUCH, MUCH more than just a haircut. 

Sometimes it’s a celebration unveiling hard-won victory and inner radiance.  
I am profoundly grateful.

by The Word Weaver, Deb on August 1st, 2016

​The malignancy, Sin, poisons within earth’s inhabitants,
Nature infecting,
Communion corroding,
Identity devouring.
My spirit trembles in the desolation,
And so I pray
Bemoaning the Light.
 
The sword, Death, pierces across earth’s core,
Betrayal twisting,
Soul severing,
Agony decimating.
My spirit trembles in the horror,
And so I pray
Gasping for Light.
 
That fire, Pain, ravages throughout earth’s depths,
Insides recoiling,
Isolation igniting,
Fear engulfing.
My spirit trembles in the wreckage,
And so I pray
Searching for Light.
 
His sacrifice, Blood, releases from earth’s curse,
Wrath satiating,
Salvation securing,
Forgiveness liberating.
My spirit trembles in the mercy,
And so I pray
Acknowledging the Light.
 
The transplant, Grace, regenerates within earth’s essence,
Heart tranforming,
Relationship restoring,
Peace empowering.
My spirit trembles in the wonder,
And so I pray
Receiving the Light.
 
The bridge, Truth, spans across earth’s ends,
Belief undergirding,
Safety securing,
Power enduring.
My spirit trembles in the holiness,
And so I pray
Cupping the Light.
 
Our hope, Life, shimmers beyond earth’s horizon,
Love enveloping,
Compassion conveying,
Purpose radiating.
My spirit trembles in the beauty,
And so I pray
Extending the Light.

by The Word Weaver, Deb on May 11th, 2016

​God has an effective way of teaching me.  Ever since Jesus Christ gave me the gift of salvation when I was eighteen, He’s revealed different facets of the same truths over and over to me through different avenues.  He knows I’m hardheaded and need to be confronted by principles a number of times before they begin to sink into my brain or impact my behavior. 

Over a period of time, these individual pieces layer and fit together in broader ways that finally make sense to me.  I call it dove-tailing, and I’m ever so grateful that He patiently teaches me in this way. 

Let me share some significant quotes from the books influencing my thoughts these days. I’m thankful for the accompaniment of these fellow faith travelers.
​Last autumn, long before I realized how tired, frenzied, and dry I had become, I read Laura Boggess’ experiences in Playdates with God: “We are stretched thin—to the point of translucence. Hold me up to the light, and I will disappear. All you will see are the things I do. I need more Sabbath keeping than moments snatched here and there. Those short patches of peace have begun to feel like stealing time. So I let the Sabbath moments graduate into longer breadths of time. Once a week, I schedule a regular playdate with God. It is a deliberate time of slowing down, a time to focus on the One I love. When I schedule the time, the moments are not rushed. Rather, they advance slowly as I tune my senses to every detail. Even the way I breathe changes. The playdates I keep have become my antidote to the frenzy of time stretching.” (p. 167-8)

Logan Wolfram challenged me to live with less tight-fisted controlling of a faith GPS and more faithful following of the Map Maker in her book, Curious Faith: “We may think we’re on one road doing one thing. We allow outside circumstances to tell us who we are and define our purpose and value. But, maybe God stops us dead in our tracks, removes our ability to see where we’re headed and tells us to walk a ways farther with no clue where we’re headed. Maybe, just maybe, we get over ourselves because God wants to take us to a new place, with a new name, and a new purpose that we won’t know until we get wherever it is that He is leading.  The identity that the Lord had for me is clear, even if His plans for my life aren’t. He calls me by name, redeems the regrettable in my life, and gives me new purpose.”  (p. 54)

I’ve found direction for my soul in greater trust in and intimacy with God Almighty as I’ve soaked in His Word and as I’ve journaled my heart before Him. 

Secrets of the Secret Place by Bob Sorge has been an invaluable tool in this process.  It’s gotten so heavily underlined it makes me think of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. “…During crisis seasons, the secret place becomes our source of survival as we come aside to cling to Him and cry out for help…There are times when my soul is being blown about with winds, and I don’t even understand the nature of the warfare…But I’ll find myself caught up in a swirl of emotions and uncertainties, and I won’t know what to do next.  The only thing I know to do in those times is to get away to the secret place, tremble before Him in my vulnerability, and cling to Him desperately…I have found the stronger I feel in myself, the easier it is to move right past God. The weaker I feel, the more desperately I reach out to Him for direction and insight. Therefore, when I’m weaker, I usually follow Him more closely. (p. 190-1)

You know how something is so much a part of your life that you don’t recognize its unhealthiness until someone or something points it out?  That is what Pure Pleasure by Gary Thomas did for me in highlighting the dangers of exhaustion and the resulting lack of joy.  I read it while spending two weeks with a dear friend in Hawaii where I was immersed in her regular schedule.  And though she has a full life, she’s not spent day after day.  It was an eye-opening contrast to my own life.   

“Douglas Weiss wisely suggests putting a “lock” on our pleasure, that is, protecting it from being the first thing we pass over when life gets busy. If you’re the responsible type, you may allow yourself to enjoy pleasure if every chore is done, the house is spotlessly clean, no one within a hundred miles of you is sick, no one needs anything, and the planet has finally achieved world peace. That’s not going to happen… A convicting quote from Elton Trueblood regularly challenges me: ‘The person who is always available isn’t worth much when he is available.’ (p. 97-98)

Smack!  Truth that pierced.  Let me tell you, if I weren’t such a weeny about needles, I’d have that last statement tattooed on my forehead!

This final selection is from an excellent resource that I’m reading very slowly because the author either stalked me or read my mind before writing it.

In Walking with God, John Eldredge shares: “Sitting here on the porch with God, I return to what I have forgotten—that there is a life out of which everything else flows. A life that comes to us from God. Jesus gave us the example of the vine and the branches. He is the vine, we the branches (John 15:5). The essential point of the imagery is that life flows from the vine through the branches, and only then do we get fruit. The branches are merely channels. They cannot make abundance happen…Now, rest is just one of the ways we receive the life of God. We stop, set all of our busyness down, and allow ourselves to be replenished…I’m back to the shepherd and the sheep. When the sheep follow the shepherd, they find pasture. They find life. Life doesn’t just magically come to us. We have to make ourselves available to it. There is a lifestyle that allows us to receive the life of God. I know that if I will live more intimately with Jesus and follow His voice, I will have a much better chance of finding the life I long for. I know it. If I will listen to his voice and let him set the pace, if I cooperate in my transformation, I will be a much happier man. And so a new prayer has begun to rise within me. I am asking God, What is the life you want me to live? If we can get an answer to that question, it will change everything. (p. 27-8)

This is the question I'm echoing and leaning in to listen for the answer:  “God, what is the life you want me to live?” 

by The Word Weaver, Deb on May 5th, 2016

​​I’ve been on a bit of a journey with a learning curve that is steep and, well, highly curvy.  Much of it has been under water, as I was tipped over and tossed about in the tide. 

Since January, I’ve experienced recurring and increasing health concerns.  The most consistent symptom being:  Exhaustion. Every. Day.  

Though doing several things I believed God called me to in a critically important season of our local church, I’ve felt spent.  A headache shadowed me. Despite spending time daily soaking in God’s Word & presence, accomplishing other goals took pretty much all I had. And more.  I’d surface, sputtering for air.   

About a month ago, after feeling terrible during and for weeks after a beautiful vacation in Hawaii (who feels rotten in Hawaii, for goodness sake?), I crashed.

Finally 2 + 2 started to make sense, and we connected the symptoms with an alarming spike in blood pressure.

I am addressing my issues medically, but a long, hard look at my lifestyle has been deemed most critical.  This wasn’t quite what I expected when I chose My One Word this year: Explore.  It’s been a good thing though.  Hard and unsettling, but ultimately good.

Being beached forced me to really look at my life—my past, personality, and tendencies—to lean in and listen closely to the God who created and calls me. 

Thoughts and realizations I’ve been sorting before the Lord:

*My shoulders are not equipped to carry the worldFor a girl who knows she’s not the Savior, why do I act like it?  

*Perfectionism & People-pleasing pervade more of my decisions than I ever realized.  Perhaps it’s time to revisit Jennifer Lee’s excellent book on the matter, Love Idol:  I am preapproved; you are too. 

*By default, I rely upon momentum, the passionate force of my personality, and stubborn determination to accomplish things more than God’s clear direction and divine power.  Sobering discovery.

*The strengths God has given me are tied to the things He’s given me a heart to do.  Focusing more on my strengths (connecting & expressing ideas and loving people) may be a more productive approach than continually practicing my weak skills (managing details & people) which drains my energy.

*My needs are valid.  They’re not just preferences. They are important. That is a newsflash that came with the crash. I cannot regularly neglect my necessities and desires without consequence—even if it’s to meet urgent needs of others.  In addition to time invested daily in the Bible and in prayer, my critical needs include:
  • regular care of my body in consistent exercise, stretching, & rest
  • learning to pace my time and schedule rather than careening full-tilt day after day, week after week, month after—yeah, you get the idea.
  • providing for and protecting regular “free-range, non-productive hours of solitude” in which I explore ideas, places, and creativity without pressure or apology. Intentionally filling the well of my soul, so to speak. 

I am deeply grateful that our gracious God called me into greater intimacy with Himself before revealing these things.  Spending more time in His presence, contemplating His Word, and journaling my thoughts prepared me for this tumultuous exploration trip.

Yes, it’s been hard.  But it’s also been important and essential.  And ultimately, I anticipate, very freeing.   

Thanks for walking with me.  ​Join me next time for a peek at significant quotes from books that have been influencing my thoughts. 

by The Word Weaver, Deb on January 20th, 2016

She didn’t mean to hurt my feelings. 

During my college years, an acquaintance often plopped down next to me and spilled vivid details from the drama called her life.  I’d listen and respond compassionately.

After spraying all the colorful droplets, she’d shake her blond curls, smile and say, “That’s why I like talking to you, Deb; you’re always so steady.”

At the time, though she said, “… so steady,” and meant it kindly, this is what I heard: “You’re always so . . . borrrring.” 

In the years since, I’ve discovered that the phrase no longer stings. It evens rings true.  I am steady.  Boring even.  And I prefer it that way:
   
I am a rule-keeper (with the exceptions of frequent jaywalking and occasional speeding.) 

Curiosity has never even scratched me, let alone tried to kill me. I was not one of those kids who took things apart in order to figure out how or why they work; I merely appreciate that they do.

I hate getting lost.  I hate feeling lost. I hate not knowing what to do. Sometimes I long for my preadolescent wish of invisibility to come true.

Routines make me feel secure. I don’t experiment. When I find things I like, I stick with them faithfully: restaurant choices, menu items, book genres, beauty products, recipes, driving routes, or ice cream flavors. Day after day, the same things.  Happily.

I detest tense discussions. I’d rather listen than tell you my opinion. 

Messy overwhelms me.  Messy rooms.  Sticky conversations. Messy relationships.  (Don’t get the wrong idea—I’m certainly a mess in certain ways.  I just tend to sweep my issues into a tidy pile.  Looking in from the outside, things may appear neat and under control, but I’m often a tangled knot of insecurities, emotions, and uncertainty.)    

I like to color quietly inside the lines.  Preferably those within my box.

Left to my own devices, I’d lead a tragic, shrinking existence.  My world would consist of people who looked, talked, acted, and believed a lot like me.  Those who fit into my box.

This box is quiet and calm.  Manageable. Familiar. Easy.  I don’t have to stretch to understand a completely different point of view in my safe, little existence. 

But it’s lonely there too.  Predictable.  Yes, you could even say, boring.  (And if it’s too boring for my tastes, something is wrong!)

How grateful I am that God refuses to let me stay too comfortable there. 

Jesus is outside the box, and He calls me to follow Him daily.  And He instructs me to love others where they are—which is often outside the box as well.  He’s peeling back the flimsy walls I’ve erected around my life and introducing me to people with different beliefs, lifestyles, and opinions. 

He’s compelling me to love past barriers—deeply love despite the messiness of our differences.  Urging me to develop honest, reciprocal relationships with individuals.  Leading me to discover why He’s so crazy about them.

This transformation evolved over years as I studied God’s Word and prayed with compassion for others.  I began reaching out, listening to others’ perspectives, and sharing my thoughts with humility, openness, and trembling.

Then the lessons I was internalizing and beginning to practice in the world became intensely personal and essential to master within my own household.

Our then college-aged, precious daughter haltingly expressed her desire for women and her intention to pursue a homosexual relationship. The shock and our differences in beliefs first shook the foundations of our family, but we have discovered that it is possible to disagree deeply and still love completely.  To respect one another’s journeys. To delight in one another.

I’ve learned that it is not my job to change others—not even my own kids! Only Jesus Christ can transform lives.  But He calls me to love—in sincere actions and in words steeped in grace—because that is my job.

Here are the only parameters given:
  • Jesus’ command to love others as much as I love myself
  • His sacrificial example of passionately pursuing people in relationship and truth
  • God’s instruction to let my words be filled with grace and seasoned with love
That leaves extensive gray areas as I walk in the Spirit and amongst others.  I don’t always get it right. But I’m trying. And I’m stretching and growing.

Love is like paint.  You need to get close to the surface you want to paint.  Invest time. Patch hurt feelings. Ask questions.  Demonstrate care.  Listen.  Be honest and kind.  

Love will dribble and splatter and feel out-of-control in the process.  But, in the end, love transforms.  Me.  You.  Everyone it touches.  
​Quite honestly, there are still moments when I panic, wiping off the drips of love and retreating with a jumbo-sized roll of tape to vainly try to re-erect my cardboard refuge.  But, deep down, I want to be where He is.  

I want to be a part of His sacred work of redemption in this weary world, don’t you?

Is it messy? Yes. Time-consuming? Absolutely. Hard? Beyond belief.  But also breathtaking.  And worth it.   

Ponder this privilege with me:  God has invited us to be a small part of His kaleidoscope of grace, mercy, and truth spun out of divine love and human willingness.  A brilliant blur of beauty.

Let’s say yes!