Wednesday Wisdom with Wyndham

As I showed Wyndham the first couple of posts in this series, he was eager to make sure his weaknesses were shared. He was quick to point out that any wisdom God has given him was also learned through difficulties and mistakes. So, there you have another piece of wisdom from Wyndham:

Share your weaknesses. Be vulnerable. Be humble. He has more to share on this subject (for a later time), but his thoughts appropriately introduce a post from our dear friend Gordon Ferguson, who taught us much on this subject. Yesterday Gordon sent me six extremely meaningful articles–all sharing wisdom from Wyndham. I was moved to tears. Thank you, Gordon. I’ll start with this one:

THE WISDOM OF HUMILITY

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. (James 3:13)

Nothing found in human beings is more attractive than humility. James put it well in the above verse. Wisdom will always be diluted by a lack of humility and enhanced by its presence. My good friend, Wyndham, has an abundance of both qualities. I could mention many ways in which his humility has been demonstrated, but the acid test of humility is always going to be found in how one receives critiques.

I’ve used in at least one of my books the example of a talk I had with Wyndham when I was yet very new in Boston. He was my new discipler, and I was the new kid on the block, so to speak, but I felt like one of his concepts about discipling was not on target. We had quite a talk as we walked around a lake, and at some point he agreed with what I was saying. Then, the very next morning in a leaders’ meeting at his house he took my idea to another level. His example almost took my breath away as I thought about now following that example. Humility shown? Yes indeed – in abundance! 

I’ve many other similar stories that illustrate his humility, but I’ll cut to the chase and give you my favorite two. Wyndham and I share a similar emotional nature; we are both very emotionally based. When my emotions get “hooked,” I struggle with working out of it. Wyndham has a way of doing it that few are willing or able to imitate.

In leaders’ meetings involving elders, Wyndham is almost always very even tempered. He can handle a lot coming his way without letting his emotions take control. Very occasionally, he would get hooked emotionally and keep pressing a point that wasn’t quite on target. Sometimes he would work it through in the meetings. On the rare occasions that he didn’t, he would talk to me after the meeting and ask, “Bro, what just went on in there?” In very clear terms, I would tell him that his emotions got hooked and he kept pressing a point that wasn’t going to carry the day. He would then ask what my thoughts were about the discussion topic, followed by a short period of silently processing what I had said. Then he would say, “Okay, I’ve got it. Thanks.”

Now stop and think about that one for a minute. He could process something in short order that was opposite of what he just prior been arguing strongly for. I have seen a few with enough humility to do that so quickly, but very few. I’m probably not one of the few, but watching Wyndham made me determined to work hard to imitate his heart.

Just for fun here, I will also mention an elders’ meeting, with wives present, that Wyndham was leading. He was making his point on some subject, and Jeanie was the main one who spoke up in disagreement. They went back and forth for a good while, with Jeanie being very respectful in spirit but very persistent in sticking with her viewpoint. Finally, in utter exasperation, Wyndham turned to me and said, “Bro, what do I do here?” I replied (with a twinkle in my eye), “I don’t know, Wyndham, because I agree with her!” With that, the room erupted in laughter, and Wyndham handled it with great humility and a nice dose of good humor as well. As I said, one of my great memories of a great man of humility! Thank you, my Brother!

__________________________________________________________________

I could fill a daily blog for years with wisdom I have learned from Wyndham. However, I’ll stick with one day a week. Each Wednesday I will share wisdom gleaned, not just from me, but from our family who saw him day and night and from friends near and far whose lives he has touched.

Many of you have already told me you wish to share wisdom you learned from Wyndham. If you wish to contribute to this collection please email me at shaw.jeanie@gmail.com with the subject line—Wednesday Wisdom. If you wish to receive these blogs in your inbox, feel free to sign up to follow the blog.

I’ll look forward to meeting you here on Wednesdays. And if you would, please remember us in your prayers. It’s a privilege to have you in our lives.

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham

Wisdom shows up in many ways. It’s easy to think of wisdom as mere “wise thoughts” coming from a guru in an ivory tower. Jesus challenges common views in Matthew 11:19 with profundity—The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, “Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” But wisdom is proved right by her actions. (emphasis added)

Wisdom is expressed, or vindicated, through our deeds.

This week I received the description (below) of this vindication of wisdom from our former neighbors, Frank and Rhoda Astone. When we moved to the area, the Astones lived two houses down from us. We became friends, studied the Bible together, and they were both baptized. Today, Frank leads our family group. Soon after meeting them, Wyndham asked Rhoda how their daughter’s condition affected her faith and view of God. Rhoda insisted, before continuing conversations, that we watch a video of what it meant to have a child with Rett’s syndrome. This was the beginning of our deep friendship. Their daughter, Kelly, is nearly 30 years old and can do no more than a small child can do. She can’t walk, talk, use the toilet, etc. But, she can love and be loved. The Astones are inspiring examples of compassion and self-denial. We have learned much from them, and without words, from Kelly.

Each week, Frank carries Kelly from her wheelchair to a seat in the auditorium where we meet for church.

One day last year at church my friend snapped this picture. This particular day, I was recovering from a horrible 2 month long virus and could barely hold my head up. Kelly must have felt similarly. We both leaned on “wisdom.”

Here is Rhoda’s description of Wyndham’s wisdom. I find it convicting and inspiring:

 One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24)

When thinking of wisdom from Wyndham, I think of his gifts of empathy and love. He has been with us through some of the most painful times in our lives.  For example, at 7 years old, Kelly was rushed to the hospital while having her first ever seizure. She stopped breathing, and we were asked whether we wanted her intubated—put her on a breathing tube. The hospital called Children’s Hospital in Boston, and they decided to send a team to pick up Kelly. At this point, the door opened and there stood Wyndham, Jeanie, Carl, and Rebecca (Christensen).  Wyndham and Jeanie stayed with us until we were ready to leave the (Lahey) hospital and travel to Children’s Hospital. Before we left, an emergency room nurse came and said, “Mom and Dad, come kiss Kelly and say good bye before she goes to Children’s’ Hospital.”  She left the obvious unsaid, “in case she doesn’t make it.”

At Children’s Hospital, Wyndham stayed with us while Kelly, still unconscious, was having test after test— trying to determine what was happening. It was about 3:00 am when the doctors suggested we all go home for a while and rest, because she was stable, although still unconscious. Wyndham supported us by being with us…by sharing our pain and by loving us. His presence made the unbearable, somehow bearable. He showed us God’s love.

This same experience with Kelly happened 2 more times, maybe 3, at Mass General Hospital when she was admitted for what was supposed to be a week for surgery. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. At one point, Frank was with Kelly who had been rushed to ICU when she stopped breathing after another seizure which, prior to this surgery, had been controlled for years. I was praying, but I was angry, exhausted, frightened, and so anxious. I thought, ‘Lord, I can’t do this anymore. There’s too much pain.’

The door opened, Wyndham came in, and I just sobbed. Again, he got another emergency call and came immediately. I never knew who called him, but was so grateful when he came. He showed us God’s peace.

Kelly came home from Mass General three months after her surgery in a full body cast. Wyndham came by when we were trying to figure out how to wash her hair. Frank and Wyndham lifted her onto the kitchen counter and we washed her hair in the kitchen sink. It was a three-man job, or maybe a 2 man and 1 woman job. Because she had been so sick, Kelly was very weak and had no head control. We were very crowded around the kitchen sink, but were able to get the job done. Talking to her, holding up her head, and shampooing was a great team effort. Wyndham showed us God’s humility.

Frank was often invited to play basketball or football with Wyndham and the gang, and afterwards Wyndham would help Frank as he came into the house limping, sometimes joking, and sometimes not. Wyndham showed us God’s friendship and humor.

 Wyndham also has such a gift of loving and caring for people. He loves all of our kids, and they all love him. Wyndham showed us the meaning of God’s family.

Wyndham used to come to our house every morning and carry Kelly onto the van for her preschool program. That’s just who he is. Wyndham showed us God’s character.

When I see Wyndham in his wheelchair, I see courage and strength.

I don’t believe that God ‘gave’ Wyndham his illness any more than I believe that God  ‘allowed’ Kelly to have her illness. In my humble opinion, I believe with all my heart that God loves his children with a love that is immeasurable in human terms, and that He feels our pain, wants to dry our tears, and rejoice in our victories.

Wyndham is still Wyndham.  His light shines through.

Thank you dear Rhoda. Okay, I cried big ugly alligator tears reading this. I hope this description helps paint a vivid view of a vital aspect of wisdom—our deeds. May we all be wiser.

________________________________________________________________I could fill a daily blog for years with wisdom I have learned from Wyndham. However, I’ll stick with one day a week. Each Wednesday I will share wisdom gleaned, not just from me, but from our family who saw him day and night and from friends near and far whose lives he has touched.

Many of you have already told me you wish to share wisdom you learned from Wyndham. If you wish to contribute to this collection please email me at shaw.jeanie@gmail.com with the subject line—Wednesday Wisdom. If you wish to receive these blogs in your inbox, feel free to sign up to follow the blog.

I’ll look forward to meeting you here on Wednesdays. And if you would, please remember us in your prayers. It’s a privilege to have you in our lives.

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom with Wyndham

Often we meet individuals who have particular and obvious gifts from God. Such is the case with Wyndham Shaw. When people encounter, watch, and interact with him, his wisdom quickly becomes obvious. I believe God has given him a generous portion of wisdom, which has been oft and well used to help change many lives. His desire is always to please God, from the inside out.

I first met Wyndham at the University of Florida when he was a Resident Advisor on my “then-boyfriend’s” dormitory floor. Even then, as a 19 year old, I respected him as a man of wisdom and integrity. As he studied the Scriptures and learned more accurately and adequately how to follow them, he humbly responded, was baptized in 1972, and has been changing lives ever since.

The “then-boyfriend” and I felt badly for Wyndham on the weekends, as his “then girlfriend” lived out of state. So, we often invited him to join us on our Saturday night dates. The rest is history. We became best friends, fell in love, and were married in 1974. 

Forty-three ministry years, many houses, four children, eight grandchildren, countless adventures, and eight dogs later we have experienced life to the full, as promised by Jesus in John 10:10. There have been many dips and thrills on this roller coaster of life, but we are blessed and grateful. I would heartily recommend this life and marriage to anyone, and we bow in gratitude to God for making this possible. Without his love and mercy, and his living and active words…we would not have anything resembling this “life to the full.” 

For a long while I have wanted to express some of the wisdom gleaned from Wyndham’s life in writing, so that as many as possible can gain from the life I have observed, shared in, and loved for over four decades. After seeking input from several friends, I decided to gather and share pieces of Wyndham’s wisdom each Wednesday.

Wyndham’s physical voice is now soft and weak, but his life and example is loud and strong. He suffers from a rare neuro-degenerative disease called Multiple System Atrophy. To be honest, it’s a horrible disease we would wish on no one. Over the past two years, my agile, athletic, and active husband has become wheelchair bound, unable to carry out normal activities of daily life on his own. God faithfully hears our many prayers, and we are confident of several things: He loves us, he hears us, he is all powerful, and he does not make mistakes. He will give us exactly what we need, and this world is not our home.  Every day is a gift. We begin our prayer together in the mornings with Lamentations 3:21-24.
  Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
  Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
  I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”

Wyndham’s prayer and resolve as he lives with this disease is to be grateful, courageous, and cheerful each day—which he does amazingly well. I told you he was a wise man.

The first piece of wisdom I will share has exuded from his soul since his earliest days as a Christian. It comes from his all-time favorite Bible verse,  1 Timothy 1:5:

The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

This is the wisdom he lives by: Living a life for God begins from the inside out. It begins and ends with integrity. Living daily with sincerity of faith, purity of heart, and a clear conscience results in a life of love. Such is the wisdom I have watched him live… day after day.

I could fill a daily blog for years with wisdom I have learned from Wyndham. However, I’ll stick with one day a week. Each Wednesday I will share wisdom gleaned, not just from me, but from our family who saw him day and night and from friends near and far whose lives he has touched.

Many of you have already told me you wish to share wisdom you learned from Wyndham. If you wish to contribute to this collection please email me at shaw.jeanie@gmail.com with the subject line—Wednesday Wisdom. If you wish to receive these blogs in your inbox, feel free to sign up to follow the blog.

I’ll look forward to meeting you here on Wednesdays. And if you would, please remember us in your prayers. It’s a privilege to have you in our lives.

What Are You Hanging On?

It seemed a good idea at the time. It began late one night as I changed the bed sheets while watching an episode of “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” It was a funny episode. Somewhere between the twisting and tugging of sheets and my laughter during the show—I pulled one of my ribs out of place. I’ve done this before so am familiar with the pain. I knew right away what had happened.

Grimacing as I made my way down the stairs to the dark basement in order to throw the sheets into the washer—I had an idea. In the door frame that leads from a room in the basement to my washing machine hangs (what I thought was) a pull-up bar. I often hang semi-dry clothes on this bar to finish drying. I conjectured, for some insane reason, that perhaps if I hung from this bar I could somehow self-adjust my painful displaced rib. Like I said, it seemed a good idea at the time.

Turns out it was not actually a pull up bar, but instead a “tension bar” that is meant to hold nothing heavier than a few shirts on hangers. So, as I jumped up to the bar in the darkness I immediately came crashing down into the laundry basket below, landing awkwardly on my left arm and spraining my left thumb. hangingThe good news was that the rib pain seemed less in comparison to the writhing pain in my now huge, darkened, and throbbing thumb.

Life can be like this. While trying to “fix” something that feels uncomfortable we make things worse if we grasp something not meant to hold us. Fear is stifling. Anxiety can be crippling. Life circumstances often weigh us down. When difficulties in life happen, what do you grasp for? What do you hang on to?

What others think of you? Your job? Your bank account? Your strength and physical appearance? Your identity as a parent? Your friends?

Will these hold you into eternity? Will they hold you up when others disappoint? When health fails? When kids grow up? When hard times come? When we breathe our last?

If we hold on to things that are not secured by God’s strong hand, we will eventually crash to the ground, sustaining casualties far superseding sprained thumbs. Casualties with eternal consequences. Nothing, no one but God is strong enough to hold us “into” eternity.

When I’m fearful, insecure, or anxious—God’s truths are able to hold me. His truths are backed up with power—from the creation of the world, to the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, to the way he fills my soul.

When I feel my hands are slipping, nothing helps me more than reading and meditating on truths from God, and truths about God.

When you feel weary…hold on to God’s word, his truths:
 Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand,
  through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you—unless you have come to believe in vain.

(1 Corinthians 15:1-2) NRSV (emphasis added)

  He called you to salvation when we told you the Good News; now you can share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
  With all these things in mind, dear brothers and sisters, stand firm and keep a strong grip on the teaching we passed on to you both in person and by letter. (2 Thessalonians 2:14-14) NLT (emphasis added)

Hold on to the hope and confidence of eternal life:

Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have confessed so well before many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6:12) NLT
 We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. (Hebrews 3:14) NIV (emphasis added)
  Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:23) NIV (emphasis added)

Holding to God’s truths, eternal life, confidence in God, and hope will keep us from falling.

When it gets hard to hold on, never forget that we are not grasping a metal bar—but the hand of a strong and loving God. He will help us, for he delights in us. He is plenty strong to hold us, as long as WE don’t let go.
  He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.
  He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me.
  They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the LORD was my support.
  He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. (Psalm 18:16-19) NIV

  For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. (Isaiah 41:13) NIV

Trusting Through the Stink

Every so often you receive an email that resonates in a particularly meaningful way. The following is from one of our friends who wages a daily battle with her oldest daughter’s health challenges. Her daughter suffers from a brain tumor that was diagnosed in her second year of life and which can’t be removed. She suffers daily and intense seizures. Now twelve years old, she has been through numerous surgeries, chemo, and myriad treatments. Daily life is a challenge.

Angela sent the following note to my husband. Her perspective is valuable, and I asked her permission to share these words of encouragement—as I believe this message needs to be shared:  

“I can’t know what life is like for you right now. I am sure it is disappointing and ever so distressing to have your life end up like this. It is not fair. It flat out stinks. So many have depended on you for so much. You are an amazing minister and elder. Our family has benefited from your kindness and spiritual gifts many times. I hope that this email will in a small way return the favor.

When Alexa first got sick I thought sooner or later our lives would go back to “normal.” I would return to being a lawyer, Alexa would return to being a healthy kid, our finances would be restored, and my marriage would no longer be stressed. It is now 10 years later—none of those things are true.

However, what I once saw as the complete ruining of my life, I now realize has led me to a true and deep relationship with God. As a result, there is a closeness in my family that can only be born from the struggles between life and death. From experiencing high hopes to spirit crushing defeats, God has held my family and our faith together. He will do the same for you.

I will not sugar coat words or say that everything will be fine if you just pray or think happy thoughts. In these type of situations there will be disappointments and heartbreaks. There are times you may feel you can’t go on, times when you think, “Where is God?” But he is there.

Proverbs 3:5-6 helped me immensely “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit your ways to him, and he will make your ways straight.”

This Scripture helped me come to the realization that I could never understand why all this disappointment and heartache was present in our lives. God’s understanding surpasses mine by miles. Once I truly surrendered to the desire to know and understand why all of this was happening I was freed. It was no longer up to me to return our lives to the way they once were.

You have an incredible spirit Wyndham—one that has helped so many through so much. Your spirit will help you through this. It is so easy to think down about yourself during these times. Once I was no longer able to practice law due to our daughter’s needs, I felt useless for years.  I thought there was no way for me to help the Kingdom and that my God given talents would be wasted. I was so wrong. When you are dealing with a chronic and debilitating illness you have the opportunity to truly show the depth of Christ’s love for us. Psalm 34:18 was my mantra for ages. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

I have felt closer to God in the past few years, honestly more so then when I first became a disciple—because I am brokenhearted. You may be too. There will be so many opportunities for you to show doctors and other patients the completely healing love of Christ through your faith and belief.”

Thank you for sharing your heart, Angela. I believe it will minister not just to us, but to many others.  I close with an excerpt from a song by Lauren Daigle entitled, “Trust in You.”

“…Mighty warrior, king of the fight
No matter what I face you’re by my side

When you don’t move the mountains
I’m needing you to move
When you don’t part the waters
I wish I could walk through
When you don’t give the answers
As I cry out to you
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in you

Truth is you know what tomorrow brings
There’s not a day ahead you have not seen
So let all things be my life and breath
I want what you want Lord and nothing less

You are my strength and comfort
You are my steady hand
You are my firm foundation
The rock on which I stand
Your ways are always higher
You plans are always good
There’s not a place where I’ll go
You’ve not already stood

When you don’t move the mountains
I’m needing you to move
When you don’t part the waters
I wish I could walk through
When you don’t give the answers
As I cry out to you
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in you.”

On Being a Woman

The youngest of four girls. Two daughters. Six granddaughters. There’s a lot of estrogen in my family (at least for the younger ones).  On this International Women’s Day, and every day, I am grateful to be a woman, created by God with value and purpose.  I long for every woman to know the life giving freedom and soul fulfilling love that God designed for his daughters. As sisters around the globe have shared in a day of prayer and fasting, and today are living boldly, I am more encouraged than ever. More filled with hope. With passion. With determination to change this world for the good. Thank you for your faith. Your comments have spurred me on.I am grateful for the women who have gone before me, overcoming “impossible” obstacles for my benefit.

I posted this blog, “Jesus, the Value Giver,” on another site earlier this week, but it seems particularly fitting as today the world celebrates women.

Certainly, no one was more of an advocate for a woman’s value than Jesus Christ. He was radical in the careful, purposeful, and counter-cultural, priceless worth he gave to women—shocking the social norms of his day. He was attentive to their deepest needs, and strategic in who saw these interactions. He gave women true value and purpose—spiritual bread for their hungering souls and unending, life-giving water that quenched their thirst. And his offer has not run out or expired. His desire for a life giving relationship with us is meant not just to quiet and save our souls…but is the solution for every longing soul.

With the ever-present and deep-rooted need for purpose and value—will we, as Christian women who are truly liberated in our souls, be silent to the outcry?

Jesus was not.

No matter the social freedoms offered or missing—never forget—we are all enslaved without Jesus.

Enslaved to all kinds of guilt and shame; enslaved to hurtful and harmful habits; to insecurity and to bitterness; to money; to men; to success; to gossip; to alcohol; to what others think; and to all kinds of sins and worldly thinking.

Listen carefully, truly see, initiate, and share scriptures that have changed you. Share your life. Open your mouth. Pray.  Everyone you encounter has a story. Many are suffering quietly. Others are unaware of their needs. Either way, Jesus is the only happy ending.

We have many examples of women who prayed, were purposeful, and bold. We are not alone.

When Esther understood the plight of her nation, Mordecai’s words resonated and called her to action.

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance from the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this? Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai:
  “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”
 (Esther 4:14-16)

When the Israelites were saved from the vast army of Egyptians, crossing the Red Sea on dry land Miriam picked up a tambourine and led the women in song, “Sing to the Lord for he is highly exalted. The horse and its rider he has hurled into the sea.” (Exodus 15:21)

The time is now. We have a song to sing, a sea to cross, and the greatest message ever to share. Together. As one.

We could go on…with Rahab, a courageous prostitute who God used to save many as she trusted his plan and his desire to use her—a once-broken woman.  And the woman from Samaria (from the wrong side of the tracks in everyone’s eyes—except the eyes of Jesus) who told her entire town about the man Jesus who liberated her. Jesus gave her his ear and his heart. He gave her value, forgiveness, and showed her respect. He gave her a purpose.

The woman caught in adultery—Jesus showed compassion and grace. He shut down the evil and judgmental thoughts (and rocks) aimed her way. He said “go and sin no more” and convicted the hypocritical, demeaning and smug attitudes that had flowed from the once assembled crowd.

God has done great things in our lives, most importantly, saving us.

It’s time to act. Together. Purposefully. Boldly. Let us speak as one, loud chorus that offers hope to women around the world. Teens are needed, grandmothers are needed….as is everyone in between. You can make a difference in this troubled world—in someone’s eternity.

Words can be many. We can post, we can carry signs, and we can tweet. But the question remains, what will we do?  As the Scriptures state, Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue, but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:18)

Who will step out on faith and boldly share Jesus’ life giving words?

Who will find ways to serve the needy?

Who will live as examples of righteousness?

We will.

 

Thanks for the Underwear…I Think

Expectations were high as the family of four gathered for Micah’s seventh birthday dinner. (Birthday celebrations bring wide-eyed excitement for most seven-year-olds, and my grandson is no exception.) The festive table had been set, the cake had been made, and the gifts had been placed beside the table. After extinguishing the flames (as much as seven candles produce) with a burst of wish-laden breath, Micah was presented with his gifts. Gracie was thrilled to present him with Pokémon supplies.

Next, mom and dad handed him his eagerly anticipated gift. He quickly unwrapped the paper to expose the exciting gift of— underwear. img_0797He was gracious and thankful to his parents—but they could tell that underneath the grateful response stood unexpressed disappointment. They shared their love for Micah, and the evening continued, with happy kids.

Earlier in the week Micah’s room had been declared “off limits” for the week. He thought the reason was that something toxic was being removed from his room—something which he needed avoid. He took the warning seriously, and never even thought about opening the door before he was given the “okay.”  The day before his room went “off limits,” mom had gathered his needed belongings for the next few days. Micah temporarily moved into his sister’s room—an arrangement they both thoroughly enjoyed.

About ten minutes after opening his gifts Micah heard his mom’s voice calling for him. He inquired as to her whereabouts—to which she responded, “Just follow my voice.” The other three family members followed his lead as he followed her voice which led to his room.

He stood outside the door as his mom assured him he could now enter. As he walked through the door he looked around in disbelief.  He had no words to express his pleasure. micah-birthday-1

Actually, I’m not sure who was more excited. Micah or his parents!

You see—the “work” that had been done that week was a complete remodeling of his room. This was his birthday surprise. His broken flimsy bed had been replaced with a full sized bed dressed in vibrant New England Patriot coverings. An old desk from his parent’s room had been painted and refreshed just for him. Pictures of his favorite sports heroes donned the walls along with meaningful pictures of family. The room was filled with all that was special to him.

He had graciously accepted the underwear as his gift, never imagining the elaborate and painstakingly planned room awaiting his arrival.

How often in life we feel we are given underwear when we were hoping for something different. Our needs are met, but often not exactly in the ways we may have hoped or dreamed. Disappointments, loss, health challenges, financial troubles, and relationship difficulties in our lives can feel sort of like receiving underwear for a gift.

God never has it in his mind to hurt us. It’s just that in this temporary world can not yet experience life without the effects of the prince of evil…and this world is in a fallen state. Even so, no matter what we face, God lavishes his love on us. The internal blessings of the comfort of his love (Php. 2:1), hope that does not disappoint,  joy that he pours into our hearts (Romans 5:5), and peace that passes human understanding (Php 4:7) can’t be replaced by any objects, circumstances, or things.  God is preparing us for the day when no “toxicity” can reach us and is refining our character so we can follow his voice.  He knows this life is short, and is eager and excited to call to us to find him—and to enjoy the amazing eternity with him. Prepared just for us.

 
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.
In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there  to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
You know the way to the place where I am going.”
(John 14:1-4)
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.
For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope
that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.
(Romans 8:18-21)

No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.
None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”–
but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.
(1 Corinthians 2:7-10)

 

You may feel like you have opened underwear, but life is way bigger than underwear. Listen for God’s voice as you learn from him through his word. Let it lead you to a new perspective, a heavenly perspective that will last forever. An eternity with him that nothing can take from you. It’s going to be inexpressibly perfect. No words are sufficient to describe what he has lovingly prepared for us.

 

 

 

 

You Mean You Don’t See That Mountain?

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. day, I edited this recent post. Would love your feedback:

 

Do you see a colorful, spiraled mountain in this ocean view? 20150323_133750

I don’t either.

 

 

 

But he does.

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“Uke” (the unicorn) pastures by the ocean. Day after day he sees this multi-colored, spiraling mountain as he looks out toward the sea.

 

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Hmmm. I wonder why. Could it be that he can’t see past his own forehead?

Actually, he is not so unusual. I certainly have my view of the scenery around me, and I suspect that you have your view as well. I think it is fair to say that our views are often altered by our unique “unicorn horns.”

What do you see? It may or may not look the same as what I see.

Our perspective changes everything. We view life through the eyes of our beliefs and experiences (our personal unicorn horns). It’s quite hard, at times, to see another’s view, because it doesn’t match our reality. We see that colorful, spiraled mountain in the middle of the sea and wonder why others are so blind! Can’t they see it?!!

Often, even after we have become Christians, we can be tempted to view life, circumstances, and even others through our “default” perspectives—a human and worldly perspective compiled from our past experiences and viewpoints. We can miss the fact that reality might actually be somewhat different.

(You mean a unicorn horn is not really on the horizon?!!)

Perhaps you come from a background of broken trust and/or abuse that affects your sight lines. Other views might be observed through the “horns” of poor health, suffering, or financial difficulties. Certainly, our ethnic backgrounds can affect the ways we see and process the views on our horizons.

I have learned so much from my youngest son who grew up (until his teen years) in poverty and without parents. His ethnicity has exposed prejudices and profiling–the likes of which I have never had to experience. I have never been stopped by eight patrol cars with rifles raised because I fit the description of a crime someone in a town nearby had committed. (Yes, years ago he experienced a “My Cousin Vinny” situation on the way back from teen camp.) I’ve never been “watched” while shopping. He has.

While his responses to numerous situations can frustrate me and cause me to (smh…shake my head), they make sense to him. The most loving thing I can do is to try to understand him, and learn to respect him. I know I still have much to learn.

We have grown closer and closer as I have tried to understand his views. I learn so much when I ask him what he sees and understands–and when I try my best to wrap my head around his perspectives. Our pasts, training, and experiences are far apart from each other. I have needed to learn to respect him, and he has had to learn to respect me. And thanks to God, we do love and respect each other.

How do you view family members when they don’t think the same ways you think? Your extended families? Your work associates, your neighbors, friends, or even the sharers of highways you travel? What’s your perspective as you face challenges they bring to you, or as they share their own challenges? Are you annoyed and resentful when they don’t think just like you…or do you push prejudices aside and strive to love as Jesus loves. Do you pray and work to see through Jesus’ eyes? I certainly have been (and continue to be) challenged by these questions.

Try asking someone unlike you (and who you don’t really understand) to share with you about their life…and really listen. Instead of trying to point them to your way of thinking…look to Jesus and his words. He is the only one that can bring real unity through shared convictions based on his truth, forgiveness, and will-directed, sacrificial love.

I am convicted and called higher by Jesus’ example…and the Scriptures’ call:

14  For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.
15  And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
16  So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.
17  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!  (2 Corinthians 5:14-17, emphasis added)

What an encouraging, challenging, and hopeful scripture! I am a new creation through Christ…with a new way of thinking.

I must also ask another question…along with the question of how I view others.

How do I view Jesus?

Really.

From the ways I have “pictured” him, or by who HE says he really is?  When our perspective of Jesus stems from what he says about himself, rather than who we think he is or should be..our life and perspective changes.

When we view life through “truth” as the Scriptures teach, rather than through our own backgrounds and thoughts, we can become more and more like Jesus. Only then can we see life, our circumstances, and others through the eyes of Jesus.

We all have our “unicorn horns,” but Jesus can show us his true and beautiful view.

The view from that vantage point is heavenly…in the truest sense.

 

 

At Least It’s Not Lice!

The questions kept coming as Micah and Gracie were eager to know more about their Papa’s neurological disease. It’s a tough one. He has lost all mobility and is wheelchair (or scooter) bound. His speech is somewhat affected and he experiences intense fatigue every day. Life as we have known it has changed. As my daughter sought to answer their questions her daughter, Gracie, was thoughtful. Then, with her eyes widened and hands gestured outward Gracie triumphantly proclaimed, “Well—at least it’s not LICE!” gracies-expression

I love children. I need them in my life. Their points of reference are limited to their few years of experiences. Their perspectives are innocent, simple, and pure. You never know what crazy wisdom might come from their mouths.

For Gracie, her perspective was likely shaped from a family vacation at a lake, fondly known as “the one with lice.” The entire week was spent searching heads for nits (aka nitpicking), lathering with special expensive shampoos, and laundering loads of linens and clothes for 16 people—several times a day. img_1210We can laugh about this time now (2 years later), but it obviously had a profound impact on Gracie (whose head, fortunately, never housed a nit to be picked). img_1250

 

 

Currently, when Wyndham and I feel the very real and difficult realities of this current challenge, we often look at each other and say…”Well, at least it’s not lice!”  (I believe a sense of humor is not only helpful, but necessary.)

How do you view your current circumstances? Do you see them through a spiritual, Christ-like perspective…or from a self-focused,  world-focused, and hopeless point of view?

It is impossible for me, as a human, to understand the workings of God (Isaiah 55:8-9). My life doesn’t always follow the script I would write. I do know that I can completely trust his love and rely on his power (Psalm 62:11-12). I am keenly aware that my joy level springs from my ability to choose an eternal perspective. I am trying hard to hold to God’s view as I enter this new year…praying not to be fearful or discouraged. Praying to view life through Jesus’ eyes.

This past week Micah spoke with us about some of the questions he mused, and of a talk he recently had with his dad. His dad had explained to him that life on this earth can be hard, but we live for a home with God that lasts forever. That changes things. God has a bigger view than we do. Micah then shared that the Bible is what makes this clear to him. He told us that he will remember that talk with his dad for the rest of his life. Smart kid, right?

After the apostle Paul endured many great hardships he wrote from his “God-perspective:”

13  It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak,
14  because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence.
15  All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
16  Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
17  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
18  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:13-18)

This is my goal for 2017. To fix my eyes on Jesus…to see what is unseen and eternal.

I’m not gonna lie….it’s hard sometimes. But it is true and right, so I’ll hold on to that.

And after all…

“At least it’s not lice!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Can’t I Buy You Shoes?

I waited upstairs while my husband was crowned. Temporarily, that is. He will get his “permanent” crown in a month. While he is always royalty to me, my husband’s new crown was actually bestowed on him by our dentist.

Yeah, not as much fun as a jeweled crown.

Upstairs in the food court, I worked on my computer during the two hour “dental crowning” wait. I found a cozy sofa area on the perimeter of the food court, and as I typed I overheard lively conversation. Strangers introduced themselves to each other as they sat across from one another and then engaged in spirited talks about current and challenging political situations. The conversation was certainly entertaining. I mused over the possibility of visiting food courts and coffee shops around the country–while writing about the conversations I might hear and people I would meet. People are fascinating. Everyone has their own story, and it’s weird/amazing to think that each individual is living the details of his/her life as specifically as I am. Yet God created us all—and longs for a relationship with each one of us. That reality supersedes my thought capacity—it’s in a dimension beyond my capability to process.

I took one small break downstairs after a shoe store caught my eyes. I thought of the brown boots I “needed” and took a quick look at the store’s inventory. However, I don’t like really like to shop, so soon talked myself out of spending money on something I really didn’t need. (Besides, I didn’t see THE brown boots.) So, I went back to my sofa-turned-workspace.

Then–he walked by, revealing a slight shuffle in his stride. I first noticed him because I smelled him. He had obviously gone without a shower for a while. His coat was tattered. His shoes looked like those belonging to a clown. The upper parts of his shoes flapped, displaying their disconnection to the soles. I wondered about his story. He was likely homeless, and my heart saddened as I observed his look of “lostness.” Perhaps he was as disconnected from his soul as were his shoes from their “soles.” Had he lost his family? Endured a tragedy? Lost a job? Suffered in war? I don’t know. However, I did know it was cool and rainy outside, and his feet would surely stay cold and wet as they were.why-cant-i-buy-you-shoes

I remembered the shoe store downstairs, got up and quickened my pace so I could walk beside him. I didn’t want to startle him, so spoke quietly ensuring that no one else could hear.  “Sir, I see that your shoes have holes in them and it’s rainy and cool outside. Could I please buy you some shoes?

He looked down and quickly shuffled away as he said, “no.”  I watched out of the corner of my eyes as he found a chair and adjusted his shoes and socks. I felt badly for noticing them, as I wondered if I had caused him embarrassment. He then proceeded to a food counter but quickly walked away. I tried to sneak ahead so I could prepay, but he eluded me, seemingly on purpose.

Seeing he did not want my “help,” I gave up and prayed for him. Why wouldn’t he let me help? Why couldn’t I buy him shoes?

I’ll never know. I felt sad. I know I can become too easily discouraged when my offers to help aren’t received. How about you? I like to “fix” broken shoes, broken dreams, and broken hearts. However, I can not. I can’t fix anyone (I’m busy enough working on myself), but I can point every one to the only one who can fill their soul–and who is the lover of their soul.

5  Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.
6  He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
7  My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
8  Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. 
 (Psalm 62:5-8)

God sees our shame, our broken dreams, our fears, our longings. He sees our disconnection and comes beside us as if to ask, “Can I buy you some shoes?” It would be wise (and warmer and dryer) to answer yes, but it is tempting to respond the same way as the man I met today…and elusively shuffle away. Maybe we are ashamed, maybe we aren’t sure we can trust him, or maybe we are just too busy walking to hear his offer.

I know when I feel fearful, I can fail to notice God walking beside me, longing to connect to the deep recesses of my soul. I pray I won’t be elusive, but will quickly and decisively (and figuratively) say, “Why yes, I’d love new shoes.”