To Care Well

Was it possible that I could love others without the corresponding, crippling pressure to source their current need?


For a while now, the Father has laid a series of words in my heart. When I first heard them, I understood them immediately. They carried a scent of freedom in them, like the smell of the sea and of open skies. I knew I was hearing Him, but I immediately felt my stomach cramp.

Here’s what He said: It’s OK to say “I don’t care.”

Wait. Give me a minute to translate.

Some of my walk deeper into Jesus included healing out of a really ugly performance mentality. I felt that to be loved, I had to perform. When others left slack, left things undone, left things uncarried and unfinished, I felt the impetus to carry them. When others said no, said later, didn’t say anything at all, I filled the void, determined not to let the thing fall, determined to be faithful so others could be where they needed or wanted to be.

I’ll say it straight: I liked to be the hero, even if I was the only one who knew it.

(And I want to be clear in saying that I still have a strong standpoint in which I feel the Father’s sons carry weight. They commit. They labor and produce. They serve at great personal expense. Jesus really modeled the convergence of selflessness and identity perfectly.)

But over time, I realized my day-to-day life had somehow become comprised of things I didn’t want to carry, things that didn’t feel alive inside, and things that weren’t fun, important or inspired. Most of what I spent my life for seemed invisible, lonely and even wasted. It seemed there was no outlet for the enormity that lives in my depths. I started to cry when I reviewed my week and saw only glimpses of myself in it. All the rest had been spent bravely trying to stay faithful in the fog, happiness be damned.

I looked again, purposefully reminding myself that I’m a mom of young ones and so a certain amount of mundane repetitiveness is non-negotiable. And that helped, when I took away the dishes, diapers and laundry from the equation. No one gets fulfillment out of cleaning toothpaste off the bathroom counter; it’s the price of being Mom. And Paul himself recognized to Timothy that the duties of being mom brings about our sozo salvation.

But from that, I realized that some monotony, some mundane-ness, is important for all of us. The dull, dispassionate moments of plodding faithfulness are incredible times of refinement, discovery and development. Just as boredom is important for children, tedium tends to force our creativity to surface.

So could it be possible that the Father had brought me to this time of yawning doldrums, like a ship without wind, so that something new could be propelled up?

I sat over my kitchen sink, with all of this rustling around inside. I was unsure how to make room, to make space, for fresh new things without somehow becoming unfaithful to the things I had already given my word to. All of my give-a-damn was used up. That’s when He said it: It’s OK to say “I don’t care.”

I want to share this thought, but I know how most people will likely read that statement. But Jesus knows how to talk to me–and I get that this one might need translation for many other people. I knew what He meant, immediately. He wasn’t giving me permission to divest myself from the burdens of giving my heart to humanity. He was liberating me in how I think about it, so that I could do it well. Let me explain.

It was time to, thoughtful bit by gentle bit, and in the right spirit, lay aside actions and expressions that weren’t mine to begin with. They were scripts, shoulds and sacrifices not compelled by the Spirit in the first place. Not that it was wrong on occasion to pick up something just for the heck of making sure it got done. But it was time to lay aside the savior complex, the hero complex, the assistant complex, the hey-can-I-play? complex, and especially the obnoxious hey-do-you-see-me? complex.

Like you, the love of Jesus alive in me cares about everything. Everything. He cares about it because we do. So if someone has a loss, a fear, a concern, a question, a need, or a thought, He cares. I hear His voice and I know how much He deeply cares. And so, many times, I respond in what I should could must do to participate in caring. I also feel their emotions and I empathize with them, so I feel a fleshly urgency to comfort that.

And gosh, I want to be all things for everybody. I want to pray about everything, help with everything, participate with everyone, show up for everything, support everyone… but here’s the thing. Sometimes, honestly, inside: I don’t really care.

That’s not to say I don’t care about the person. OH MY HOW I LOVE PEOPLE. I mean, deeply, people are my wealth. It’s still very important for me to stay. Stay in relationship, stay in participation, stay in faithfulness, stay in love. But the pressure I put on myself to express what is not inside of me drove into a renewed performance act that left no room for really me in Really Him. The pressure just left me at my kitchen sink, crying that I was not enough, that I could not care any more than I already had, tender though I was.

Literally, trying to care about everything was making it impossible to care anymore.

It’s OK to say “I don’t care.”  The spirit of His words to me being: Diane, I trust your heart. I know who you are. I know you’ll engage well with your whole heart at the right time. Care when My Spirit takes you right into My purposes in you for them.

I heard His words to me and they shocked me, even while a deep breath opened up. Was it possible that I could love others without the corresponding, crippling pressure to source their current need?

Immediately I realized what we do: in our haste to prove we care, we leave the Spirit behind and respond in ways that calm the flesh of one another, soothes the need, throws the emotional life raft, carries the obligation—but often at the cost of entirely betraying our identities and our Source.

I wondered how many times our care-feigned response actually worked against the purposes of the Father inside a child that is crying for life in every place but the True Vine? I wonder how many times my response to the pressure to care was in reality theft against the very real, caring love He was endeavoring to reveal–in Spirit and in Truth, by identity and in full power, through living sons and daughters in their right places.

Look, here’s what Papa wasn’t saying: cross your arms and let your heart get cold. Tell them you don’t care. Be harsh and unfeeling. Don’t invest. Move on by like the priest and the Levite, elite and religious and dispassionate. 

No. That’s not it.

Daddy was teaching me that we are all compassionate Samaritans–and each of us must fulfill that in the exact way He made us. If we, bravely and trustingly and faithfully, offer the custom blend of care that is genuine and generous in us, we will find that the full picture and revelation of His reality will be startlingly clear and powerful and glorious. But as it stands now, we keep stepping on each others toes trying to care in the way we feel we should, instead of in the who we are. And we are painfully abusing a vibrant symphony with a single, feebly-strung violin.

Some of us are going to always minister tenderly, with hugs and tears and comfort. It’s who we are. Some of us are going to bandage, heal and offer beds for rest. It’s who we are. Others of us will make sure needs are met. It’s who we are. Some will observe, some will carry, some will anoint. It’s who we are.

Some of us are huggers–it’s who we are. (And I wasn’t–but you are on notice that I have been converted and now need hugs quite regularly.)

And Jesus Himself–His love in us–will always be increasing, growing and becoming more and more fruitful and abundant. That is Who He is in us.

But it’s ok–in fact, I think it’s important, to know when it isn’t our time to care. Meaning, we quiet our flesh and talk to Holy Spirit: is this my window? Are you compelling me to respond, to act, to be, to do? Love, alive in me, be unleashed! What is love here–stillness or motion? Compel me into alignment with the heart of my Father. Pour Your nature and reality through the reality of me in this moment–either by doing something, or by doing nothing at all. I trust You to provide all their needs, to meet their heart, to join us together as one body. I care about them–show me where and when and how to put my care in motion. I lay down “should”…help me to trust my heart.

I think when we are compelled authentically in this way, we will only ever be moving in synchronization with His best ideas–imagine the harmony! We will be in beautiful partnership with His possibilities–for them, and for us, because truly, His grace is fully employed to ensure both of us are empowered to overcome and arise.

This clears the table inside of us, to care well, to give ourselves, to serve, even to participate faithfully in the mundane.  The pressure is off—in fact, can I say, the time is over—for fake caring. For gestures meant to meet demand. For playing the part not alive in our heart. In its place comes a fantastic opportunity to care well, to love in Spirit and in Truth. This is true worship. And in my opinion, that is far, far more valuable.

Hey, Are you Getting This?

I asked Him to fill it. I asked Him to be my source for it. And then I fell asleep.

Last night in bed, I read for a while and then turned out the light. The cool dark settled around me as my heart turned to talk to Dad.

I had been sort of wrestling all day, in a place I didn’t really understand. He already knew, but I’ve learned to trust how He restrains Himself to encounter me, letting me reveal myself. He’s such a gentleman and makes no assumptions about us.

His Presence was renewing and I took delight in His attention. I was honest about my heart and asked for a pretty specific thing–not stuff, but supply for an empty place in my heart.

I asked Him to fill it. I asked Him to be my source for it. And then I fell asleep.

This morning, I honestly didn’t give any thought to the empty thing in me. That’s the thing about giving an empty thing to a Faithful Father: His heart is to fill us. His heart is to perfectly complete us. When we know His nature and goodness, we can pay Him the compliment of drawing upon His goodness–waiting confidently in steady trust. It’s faith of sweet aroma to Him.

what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a bread, will give him a stone?…If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him…  (Matt 7:9-11)

I went about my day in the regular routine. But a moment came mid-morning when I heard Him whisper to me Hey, are you getting this?

And my head sort of popped up–Huh?–not sure what He meant. I was sort of preoccupied in the groove of busy-ness. But immediately to mind came my prayer for supply for that very specific thing. I looked around at the moment I was in, the conversation I was part of, and the people I was sharing it with. And suddenly I understood.

In that moment, He had pieced together an unlikely moment of perfect supply. It was so seamlessly provided that it was almost hidden within what seemed to be an ordinary conversation. I had almost missed it, so neatly packaged. And it wasn’t at all what I had pictured when I prayed. But there it was–rather, there He was, holding out bread for the vacant place I had brought to Him.

I smiled so wide, and I knew He was too. I felt Him take delight in being again discovered as perfectly faithful, in being Himself for me.

Seek Me…You’re gonna find Me.
Ask me…You can’t make Me weary. – (Matt 7, paraphrased by Jess Ray)

Let’s ask Him, brave and honest and open. And then let’s trust Him in the space between the empty and the full. He’s perfectly faithful. He is perfectly good.

Home: The Most Powerful Seat On Earth

God established parenting before sin entered into the world. “Be fruitful…multiply!”

To me, this means our ultimate endeavor in parenting is not to instill a set of mechanisms that manage sin, but training up each child as a unique individual who powerfully understands and wields the unique and finished work of Jesus. 

This triggers a ripple effect: generations of families who are truly free and pure, operating by the law of love, boldly ruling well by the Spirit. 

This makes parenting a passionate, powerful, exhilarating adventure. Any seduction of sin in us or our kids is overcome by the nature of the Father practiced actively and transparently in the family unit. 

We do not fear sin and we do not fall into sin prevention strategies. We watch it lose hold of us as relationship with Jesus takes preeminence. We repent and deal with thoughts and appetites and practices that fall short. Sin holds no power, has no foothold, in our home and shared life. Rather, we find that even sin reminds us that we prefer to live in the freedom we have tasted, rather than chained in suffocating slavery. All roads lead home. 

Parenting establishes the Kingdom of Christ, in purity and practice, at the most powerful seat on earth: AT HOME.

Basically–our best parenting is done when aligned to the genesis heart of our Perfect Father for family. We walk bravely, firmly rooted in the reality that Jesus fully redeemed what Man could never repair, and that our children are made to walk side by side with us in reclaiming the wild land. We trust our kids and empower strong identities and good decisions. We prize love and its ability to put every broken pattern into order. If we fear sin and what the world might expose our children to, we are thinking too small. We fear no evil, for He is with us. The Light in us dissolves all darkness. 

We are the parents of the Kingdom, kings aligned to the King, multiplying, filling the earth, subduing it. We are presiding over homes of reconciliation, righteousness, peace and joy, growing strong and working out the kinks. There ARE kinks, but we are not caught behind them. We do not become tangled in the weeds. 

To parent is mighty work. It is holy work. It’s important we understand the stakes, and the glorious possibilities. 

Creativity and ego

Creativity and ego cannot go together.
If you free yourself from the comparing and jealous mind,
your creativity opens up endlessly.
Just as water springs from a fountain,
creativity springs from every moment.
You must not be your own obstacle.
You must not be owned by the environment you are in.
You must own the environment, the phenomenal world around you.
You must be able to freely move in and out of your mind.
This is being free.
There is no way you can’t open up your creativity.
There is no ego to speak of.
This is my belief.
– Jeong Kwan, a Buddhist nun, as quoted on Chef’s Table

Things & Time

I took down the long curtains in the dining room and let the light pour in.

A few weeks ago, Nick and I pulled 4 black bags of Things from our room. We both remarked later that if we had to suddenly pack up our room, we would each only need one large box. Our room feels restful and simple now, like us.

Two days later, I went through every cabinet in our kitchen and gleaned two full bags of Things from the shelves and drawers and cranies. I took every single appliance off the counter except for the coffee maker (because let’s be honest). I gave real analysis to if I’ve ever used the nut chopper, or if I always just mulch through them with a sharp knife (consequently, I got rid of the nut chopper, and many such “conveniences.”)  Nothing stayed just because a kitchen should have one. Because of the open counters, clutter-free shelves and easy cleanup, cooking is much less frustrating–and even sort of relaxing–these days. It looks like me.

A few more days later, I emptied 10 black bags of Things from Aly’s room and the back room. I realized I had been unfair with Aly: hard on her about a clean room, but filling her room so full of Things that the job was often overwhelming and complex. She says her room is now much more fun and she sleeps better (and it’s now fair for me to set a standard for her tidy room).

This week,  I took 2 full bags of Things out of the boys room. Theirs was least neglected, because we painted last fall and I set up some good organization for them at that time. However, I removed toys that it was time to admit we were never going to find the pieces for, and even one expensive toy whose annoying clicking noise put Nick and me on edge every time we heard it. I threw away books that had been torn or damaged. Clean up is now a snap, and even Tyce can do it.

I went through a big armoire in our dining room that was used for storing Things and quickly determined we did not it–the entire piece of furniture–at all. Some of the stored items were decorative, which I put in a yard sale box. Some were kids games, which I found another recently-emptied drawer for. Some was filing and paperwork, which I found a convenient new (and smaller) place for.  Oh, and our common theme: 2 black bags of Things. We’re going to remove the entire piece of furniture from our home and bring our digital piano up from exile in the basement to take its place.

I took down the long curtains in the dining room and let the light pour in.

I removed all the decorative items from my big farmhouse table. I was surprised to realize how much they factored into my use of the table. Before, the cute little green topiaries sat right in the middle, and mentally divided my table in two. I was less likely to spread out a simple task on it because in my mind, the table was in two small pieces, divided by decor. Silly–but I just didn’t realize how my mind works. Now, I have really enjoyed my table that much more–spreading laundry, paperwork and groceries out in quick easy sorting.  (The kids’ legos, too, stress me out less because there’s nothing for them to shove off the table or mess up).

Last night I did a really important clean up–my phone. I deleted 50% of the apps off my phone. The idea came from my sister Steph, and after some thought, I realized my phone, too, was cluttered with Things. I kept a few recreational apps that I enjoy, but I put them all in a folder labeled “Time.” Every time I go to them now, I see that word Time and it causes me to pause: do I really want to give Time and my mind to this? Am I on autopilot? Is this really where I want to go?  Sometimes yes, its a good moment. Other times, I become aware of the quiet moment, and reach out differently, into my heart and into my Father.   All of my phone apps now fit on one screen, and I lay it aside much more regularly.

We have more places and Things to dig ourselves out of. The basement, ugh. The garage. The back porch. The bathrooms. But it’s not overwhelming anymore to grab a box of trash bags, a broom, and a canister of Clorox wipes and begin. It’s becoming exhilarating to excavate our family home from Things. As I get better at it, I’ve begun to give things away or prepare a yard sale box, but in the beginning I was overwhelmed by the task before me. So it was important just to begin. I couldn’t comprehend donation boxes or give aways (though Nick did take 2 bags to Goodwill). I decided just to begin where we could, as we could, and let ourselves gain strength.

This morning, alone and walking back from Aly’s school drop-off, I pulled out my phone by habit. The app I wanted was tucked there neatly in a sparse folder labeled Time.

But something was different inside of me. The morning air was strangely crisp and friendly, and I felt clear and light. The breeze nipped at my hair. A song drifted through my heart that I hadn’t heard in a long time. The swirling morning hum of things I need to do, remember, and think about seemed neatly compiled into manageable and even inspiring categories. I felt the perpetual furrow in my brow relax. And this moment–the 3 minute walk from Aly’s school to our house–was all mine.

I didn’t see just three minutes. I saw three whole minutes.

And there stared at me the reminder, in my hand. Time, and a mind open and free, unencumbered by piles of old Things. I tucked the phone back in my pocket and strolled easily home all those three minutes not caught in a cyclone of voices. Just me, a simple morning walk, and three whole minutes.

When I got to the house, the quiet inside of me continued. Even with the boys there playing, I still felt wrapped in peace and I relished it.

The peace is coming from inside of me now.

The End of Treason

The noise is designed to capture my fascinations, and I don’t notice the invisibility cloak by which the sounds of hell are disguised.

I don’t know how to begin, except that I must.

I cannot get away from these words from John 15: Abide. Abide in Me.

It’s been cycling around in me for weeks. Months. Abide in Me.

Eventually, it has become obvious that I am double-minded and full of hypocrisy. And frankly I still need help accepting what I have been trying not to hear: that the reality of my life is short of what I say I’m after.

I’ve developed a hybrid life that seems holy but isn’t. I like it because it allows to me keep all the things I don’t want to overcome, and lay claim to an shell-game inheritance that requires little from me. What’s more: few challenge me on it, because my half-life validates theirs–and there we commune, teetering jovially between love and death.

Abide in Me. Unless you abide in Me, you cannot bear fruit.

Recently, some friends—beautiful Jesus lovers—shared with me a decision that cut me deep, because their choices were so detrimental. And yet they were indifferent, even defensive, of their sin. Didn’t they realize how expensive their callousness would be? I raged inside, hurting and sad, until the Father’s Spirit cut me wide open: Are you so different?

Abide in Me. I’ve been saying it to you, over and over. Abide in Me. I am Home. I am Source. I am THE Bread of Life. There is no other. Abide IN ME. I am the Standard–come higher!

It’s not that I’ve been involving my life in some sort of deeply terrible activity, or that I’ve got a dark secret. I don’t have a skeleton to expose. But once the Spirit calls you out of a thing—anything—to stay in it is sin.

And I had stayed far too long in silly things that were going to keep me from everything I’ve been longing for. I have been double-minded in my repentance and resented that love would constrain me. If it was really Freedom’s voice, wouldn’t I like its sound?

No. Freedom’s voice is always sandpaper if the son has grown sleepy.

Abide in Me. If you abide in Me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done…

But the smorgasbord of the earth is wide and glittering. An entire world system screams for my attention and lures me with entitlements and distractions. It numbs my heart and seduces the euphoric release of my opinions, fueling division and anger and belittling righteousness. The noise is designed to capture my fascinations, and I don’t notice the invisibility cloak by which the sounds of hell are disguised.

The more time I spend in there—in the matrix of it all—the more I think like them. I share their perceptions and limitations. My relationships encounter foolish and tragic wounds. I spend my money in their systems and expand their influence. I adopt their fears and worse, I adopt their false identities. I give life to something that is destined to be destroyed. Eventually I begin to negotiate my rebellion, trying to justify a living that by definition can never be Life.

Jesus, forgive Me. I was blind, but now I see.

And it’s all like sugar–once we are addicted, it’s incredibly difficult to pry the mind free. The taste buds become numb to what real bread tastes like, and frankly, our spirit develops a layer of fat and falls out of shape, completely unable to scale the mountain of the Lord.

Abide in Me. Every branch that does not bear fruit, He takes away…

I’m sitting here writing and it’s abnormally hard. I think that’s because I’m writing to you instead of doing the thing I’d rather be doing. The void is obvious. The empty habit is nagging the mind for attention, and the spirit has taken a stand, allowing the craving to continue. It feels cruel, but also, right.

Abide in Me.

In Jesus. Dwell in Him. Allow His bread to be the answer to every void that is pried open by the Spirit. Trust Him to perfectly satisfy me.

It seems extreme, that I would cause Him to become my source. No one really does that, do they? 

But this is where I am, in the purest, most unreligious way I can express. I cannot let go of the invitation…Abide in Me! I am the Perfect Context and Fulfillment for everything that is in you. If you have appetite for someone or something you can’t find in Me, look again. Look again! I am laying My chest open to you.

It seems drastic to depart from the hypothetical, where I could still convince myself of a realm in with all things are permissible and beneficial. But I was made for kingdom life, and that appetite for treason carries the now-repellant hiss of death.

It’s a little hard, sometimes, to eat “Bread” I can’t touch, and “Abide” in a place I can’t see. It feels unnatural to choose invisible over tangible. But I think it seems hard because I have spent more of my life training my physical senses than my inward spirit. But I have pursued the sugar-laced factory food long enough to gag at its smell. Invincibly, things of Him just for me bubble up that are priceless and perfect and transformative. The pure fruits of the Spirit etch themselves upon my soul.

So these days I am learning to allow all my appetites to lay in front of me, examining each without loyalty. What is it seducing me to want? Where will this hunger lead me? Is it as harmless as it appears? Is it more expensive than it would ever allow me to recognize? Am I commanding the stones to be made into bread?

Will it fuel life, or will it leave me sleepy and fat?

Because I AM climbing the mountain of my Father. I hear Him calling for me.

Tyce is 2.

He’s inquisitive, into everything, outgoing, determined, endearing and finally learning some words.

The best part? He’s healthy.

I haven’t posted about Hirschsprungs in a long time, largely because he began to thrive and we were mercifully able to allow it to sink into the background of living.

We have experienced another bout with enterocolitis in December 2015 (when he was 13 months old) and this time we ended up admitted to Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. We were there 3 days, total. We get incredible treatment there and he overcame the infection after some consistent IV antibiotics and routine irrigations.


We were informed that the likelihood of infection decreases measurably after age 2, and though we keep a faithful eye, we have found that he does indeed seem to be less susceptible. Before age 2, with any fever or sickness, we found he seemed to tend toward a slower colon. The hospital gave us a standing prescription for Flagyl (because we live at a distance), which we only used once. On that occasion, we saw warning signs that another infection was developing (the odor of his stool triggered a sensory warning in my instincts, he was lethargic, less appetite). On their own these symptoms can be circumstantial, but together and in a Hirschsprungs baby, they are cause for alertness. After a day or two of oral antibiotics, we found those signals to have subsided (though we completed the prescribed course). But this winter, he seems to be stronger, in general.

Really, Hirschsprungs is sort of old news for our family, but that might be beautifully therapeutic to hear if you’re just beginning on journey of your diagnosis and treatment. And while every story and case is different, let me offer this: allow yourself to stay at peace. Allow yourself hope and vision that extends beyond the sick baby. Keep everything in proportion and carry it gently, with calm. Teach your soul to be still.

Here is a hand to hold from across the valley you have to walk through: there is healing. It is abundant and thorough for your child, and for your heart as you carry your child and family. It’s in you, and you can do this well. Just one day–one hour–one moment–at a time. Worry will lend you nothing but emptiness.

Tyce will potty train soon. He’s slowly starting to signal interest. On that day, I will be taking a me-day. I will take myself to lunch, get a manicure, take a nap and do a selfie-dance through the diaper aisle. It will be a day worth celebrating, and I promise to come back and post again, as another beacon in the night that your Hirschsprungs baby can too.