The Word Weaver
Deb Weaver ~ Communicating God's love, grace, & truth
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!

by The Word Weaver, Deb on December 23rd, 2015

​This time of year, thoughts of HOME overwhelm and carry me like the powerful, sweet scent of pie baking in the oven.

My Dad was a mechanic by profession, but a baker at heart.  After we’d left home, when we’d visit, he’d offer not just one kind of pie, but a counter-full of our favorites.  The fridge was stocked with delicacies and covered with our photos.  He planned activities and experiences for us to share; he made us laugh.  He gifted us with his yard sale finds and homemade crafts. We never left his house empty-handed.  He made us feel wanted and welcome.  He couldn’t help it.  Love oozed from him.

Don’t get the wrong idea about my Dad; he wasn’t a push-over.  He could be quite direct when he needed to be.  Even when he was correcting or teaching us, though, we knew that he loved us and wanted our best.  The sense of home and love that he instilled in us is one of my most treasured gifts.    
​​I’ve been thinking lately about how my Dad modeled the heart of God. You see, God’s desire is for us to be near Him.  He’s prepared a sacrificial feast of love, grace, and truth for us.  He’s given the best He has to offer—Himself, in the form of His Son, Jesus. 

He’s made room for us and set a place for us at the table.  Now, He’s standing at the door watching for us to draw near. 

Do you see Him?  He’s right here.  Waiting.  He’s waiting for us to come. 

At the edge of the yard, we hesitate and stutter out, “W-w-w-hat if I’ve screwed up?  I don’t have it all together.”

In pain and confusion, we cry, “I’ve made a mess of things. What if there’s no going back?” 

Then with our eyes fixed on our feet of clay, our hearts whisper, “What if I’ve disappointed Him?”

He knows us completely. He pierces us with a look of utter love and compassion radiating from His face and reaching for us.

He stands at the door, urging us to come in from the dark, cold outside.  “I love you.  I’m so glad you’ve come.  We’ll talk about all of that later. Let’s get you inside and let my love warm you.”

I don’t know about you, but I just can’t help myself.  I want—no, more than that—I need to be near Him.  He made room for me. 

So I limp inside, just as I am: sinful, half-blind, ragged, with nothing of lasting value to offer a holy God. I feel inadequate and unprepared. 

The Father assures me that there’s nothing I could have brought Him.  He’s just glad that I came Home.  With a grin, he reminds me that coming empty-handed is the only way to fully embrace Him back.  So I do.  We share a real, reviving hug.

Jesus came to make room. For me.  For you.  I just can’t get over it!

How do we know this is true?  Matthew 21 (The Message translation) tells the story of Jesus angrily overturning the tables of the money-changers and chasing them from the temple.  Verse 14 reveals, Now there was room for the blind and crippled to get in. They came to Jesus and He healed them.”

He came for the broken and the blind, the crushed and the crippled. 

He speaks lovingly to the weak and the worried, the disappointed and the defiant. 

He gathers us to Himself—the invisible and the ignored, the awed and the afraid, the insider and the outcast. 

He came to make room so that we could be near God and find healing in His presence.  He made room for me.  For you.

He stands, with open arms and nail-scarred hands, reaching for us. And He invites those of us who have entered to share His invitation. 

So that is what I am doing here—I’m praying that, like me, you will accept the Father’s invitation to come Home.  If you think there’s no room for you at the cross, in the pew, or at the table, look again.  

I’m scooting over and waving to you so that you know that there’s room for one more.  There is always room for you. 

Together, we may share a savory slice of heavenly grace. 
If this post resonates with your heart, would you please consider sharing it on your social media networks so that others may know of the Welcome that is found in Jesus Christ? Thank you.  Merry Christmas!

Convenient tweetables:

He's made room for us and set a place for us at the table.  Won't you come?  

God reminds me that coming empty-handed is the only way to fully embrace Him back.

Jesus stands, with open arms and nail-scarred hands, reaching for us. 

I limp inside, just as I am.  I feel inadequate and unprepared, but I am welcome--just as I am.
I'm linking with the following blogs this week:  Holley Gerth's Coffee for Your Heart & Jennifer Dukes Lee's #Tell His Story.  Please be sure to click on the links to read their beautiful words and those of other lovely writer-encouragers.  

by The Word Weaver, Deb on November 20th, 2015

​One of my deepest, most insidious fears is that I might waste my life. What if I do a lot of good things but fail to accomplish the things God intends for me to do?

To counteract that fear this year, I chose LISTEN for My One Word. Eleven months into the calendar, I can assure you that it sounds easier than it actually is. 

First, it’s time-consuming and requires solitude and silence. Surrounding myself with constant noise is more comfortable than the silence that first assaults me in the void.  Still, it is essential to my soul’s well-being.  

Second, it requires humility. I must bow before the altar and sacrifice my selfish desires, scattered ideas, and prideful opinions in order for God to fill me with the humility necessary to truly hear.  Only then are the whispers of God’s thoughts able to penetrate the clanging of my own. It’s instinctual to go with my gut, relying upon myself, or to float from day to day than to hear and heed God Almighty.  To recognize His authority and to listen to Him first—purposefully, persistently, intently—is a humble act.

Third, in the quiet I must trust in the unseen, sovereign hand of my Savior.  When I don’t see a lit path or hear His clear voice, then I must trust that He is in control.  He will accomplish His purposes AS I seek and trust Him. Instead of letting my dreams and desires twist together with my fear until they rope me into the corner—instead of allowing them to shame me for being unproductive or unresponsive to the needs around me, I can rest in His sufficiency, His plan, His timing.  I do not need to be all things to all people.  That brings tremendous relief.

The most pressing directive I got from the Allume blogging conference was that I need to fall down on my face before the Lord—sometimes literally, but always figuratively.  Life originates on my knees.  I need to invest time loving Him and receiving His love, pressing in to perceive the Divine.

Sara Haggerty, author of Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet, spoke profound truth that underscores what God has been teaching me.  She said:
​“When we bask in God’s pure love, we will see ourselves and other people differently. Don’t take your empty cup to people to have them tell you how valuable you are—who liked this post? Did this go viral?  Is my writing valuable? Am I valued?—Take it to God. He is the Only One who fully loves you. He is the Only One who fully sees your heart  . . . When we’re filled by God’s delight, we don’t need others to fill our cups. . . In private conversations, as you are tucked into His arms, He will whisper His love and His thoughts to you. . . We do horizontal relationships so well when our vertical relationship is rich and deep.”
I don’t know about you, but I can easily spend time in God’s Word with an eye on the clock and a foot out the door.  Checking my most important relationship off my list for the day and barely attending to what He’s said. 

Picture the God of the Universe—the One who created me and knows my every thought, need, and deed—beckoning me closer:
  • inviting me to splash around in the great rushing current of the Living Water
  • urging me to sink down into the soothing depths of His healing love
  • cleansing me with His lavish mercy
  • delighting me with His heavenly thoughts.  
​Amazingly, He does so.  Daily.  But instead of allowing the Spirit to saturate my soul, I ask for a quick sprinkle and lurch into my day

Then, because my soul is in desperate danger of dehydration, I repeatedly siphon encouragement and purpose from any puddles I find regardless of how dusty or muddy they may be. 

This is what that thirsty desert mirage looks like:  clicking and commenting on post after post or mindlessly binge-watching show after show because it’s easier than the tasks at hand. Begging for dribbles of others’ attention and validation. 

Always thirsting, never tasting.  Always pleading, never satisfied What a tragic waste! 

I’m grateful God is patient and loves me so.  He is the answer to my greatest fear.  He is the Source of all life and offers Himself in abundance. He desires to transform my life with His words, His direction, and His presence. 

Writing, influencing, and relationships are not my greatest focuses.  The Lord is my one true priority.  And when I grasp the hem of Jesus’ robe and refuse to let go until I hear His voice: the words will get written, the messages will be spoken, and the relationships will be enriched. God will accomplish His sacred Kingdom purposes from the rich well of His love for me. 

Perhaps you understand and can relate.  Perhaps you'll join me in confession and prayer?

God Immanuel—"God With Us"—You took our sin and reconciled us to the heavenly Father; therefore, we’re not sentenced to live numb, darkened, fearful, or isolated lives.  That is Good News! 

Please forgive me. I have tossed the crumbs of my time and attention heavenward while I’ve been consumed by my desires and captivated by lesser things.  Please spark my calloused heart back to life.

Your Word tells us that perfect love casts out all fear. You are that Perfect Love. And it is when I am completely saturated in Your love, truth, and presence that life overflows. May I listen in gratitude, wonder, and anticipation as You continue to speak.

May I live awash in Your love. Amen.