Wednesday Wisdom with Wyndham – 68

Wisdom Connects

Anyone can say words. However, wisdom can turn words into connections. Without connection, it’s impossible to communicate on a heart-to-heart level. Wisdom connects words to the heart.

Wyndham, for as long as I have known him, has been a great connector. As he connects deeply with individuals, he also helps them connect with each other. Connectors do this. Their connections are contagious. If connection is only with us, we build dependence instead of family. For years  I have studied Wyndham’s ability to  connect and have sought to emulate this gift as much as possible. 

Ironically, Wyndham’s body has a major connection problem. Though his mind is excellent, and his body should be physically able to function, it doesn’t. There’s a disconnect. It is as if a drawbridge has gone up between his head (or mind) and body. It doesn’t connect well anymore. Our nervous system normally does this connecting automatically…but unfortunately this connection is now missing for him.

Too often, the metaphorical drawbridge goes up when people try to connect. Words are spoken but they don’t bring about closeness or desired unity. They simply give information.

I’ve noticed several aspects of connection as I’ve “studied” Wyndham’s ability to connect. This connection comes not just from words said, but also from the emotional atmosphere and feelings that surround the words. These bring down the drawbridge so that connections are made. The following are attitudes I have watched Wyndham exude which elicit true connection.

You are important to me. I care about you and I value you. This attitude is a bridge between spoken words. The drawbridge is down when we know people care as they speak to us. Even now, though Wyndham can barely talk, he will ask, “Did you give them my love?” or, “How did her meeting go?” or, “Did Caleb catch a fish today?” Because he cares.

I want to hear what you have to say. We all want to be heard and understood.  We communicate this when we truly do want to hear what others say. This invites connection.

I will be vulnerable.  People connect to our weaknesses. It’s often humbling to share them, but we can likely think of people we have easily connected with because of their vulnerability.  Sometimes (often) these posts feel vulnerable. I always read them to Wyndham and ask if it’s okay to share. He always tells me that he knows that connection is in the vulnerability.

I want to have eye-to-eye contact with you.  Often a look from Jesus elicited connection and emotion. Truly the eye is the lamp of the body, as Jesus stated (Matthew 6:22). There’s just something about eye-to eye-connection that helps beget heart-to-heart connection.

I want to hug you.  Have you ever been speaking to someone and their kindness and connectivity just makes you want to get up and hug them? Wyndham knows the importance of affection. We all need hugs. More than we think. Lots of them. It’s hard to hug someone and stay disconnected.

I will be honest with you. And, I want you to be honest with me. There’s nothing like the truth that brings the freedom allowing connection. As Proverbs 24:26 (NLT) states,  An honest answer is like a kiss of friendship.”

I want to leave you encouraged, and with hope. No matter how difficult a situation or conversation, we connect to those who are able to offer hope (which is always found in Christ). I have noted that Wyndham gives hope even (and especially) in difficult situations and conversations.

I want to be approachable. I’m always inspired by the way Jesus easily connected with children and the poor. He was a the greatest leader ever, but easily approached by what some considered “the little (or less important) people.”  It takes extra effort to ensure we are easily approached. How can we ever connect with someone we can’t easily approach.

I’m so grateful Almighty God encourages us to approach him (Ephesians 3:12; Hebrews 4:16).

May we all grow in wisdom to connect as we speak and engage with others.

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 59

Wisdom Doesn’t Know What to Do

Wisdom means we always know what to do, right?

I don’t think so. In fact, wisdom knows that we often face circumstances and situations when we have no idea what to do.

That’s why wisdom prays.

In 2 Chronicles 20, the men, women, and children of Judah stood watching their King Jehoshaphat. Their land was being invaded. They looked to their leader to learn his well-thought-out plan of action. Yet, Jehoshaphat had no idea what to do to help his people. He had no answers.

In having no answers, he had THE answer.

He turned to God. He reminded God of his promises as he prayed:

Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” 

                                                                                                (2 Chronicles 20:12)

Wisdom doesn’t have to know what to do. Wisdom must know where to turn. Jehoshaphat displays great wisdom while not knowing what to do.

Wyndham has consistently set an example for me, and for our family by NOT always knowing what to do—yet always knowing who to turn to. You see, prayer is not merely something we do to check off our spiritual activities for the day. Prayer is dependence on God. Prayer is desperation. Prayer is relationship. Prayer is essential. Prayer is trusting even when we have no idea what to do next. Wyndham likes to begin and end the days with prayer. He would begin vacation times with prayer, begin car rides with prayer–even fishing trips with prayer. When he would visit with someone he would ask to pray with them, and when someone visits us he wants to pray with them.

We began praying with our kids when they were newborns, and we still pray with them. We love to pray with our grandchildren, because we, like their parents, long for them to know the Presence of God.

One of Wyndham’s favorite scriptures is in Exodus 33. Moses is faced with the “I don’t know what to do or where to go” dilemma. So—he prays.

Moses said to the LORD, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’
If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”
The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. (Exodus 33:12-15)

Wisdom knows that when God’s Presence is with us… we will be okay.

If God’s Presence is not with us, we can have all kinds of fabulous or not so fabulous ideas and plans…but we had best not move forward.

God with us, God’s presence, God’s wisdom—is everything.

Wisdom prays.

I took this picture a few nights ago because it’s a common scene. Whenever Sam comes (a couple times a week) to help with some of the routines like showers and getting Wyndham into bed this scene is familair– Sam praying with his dad last thing at night. (I have also learned that he and our daughters pray by phone together very early in the morning once a week.) No one asked them to do this. They have learned wisdom, because they don’t know what to do.

We can’t fix our situation. We don’t know what to do. But our eyes our on him.

God’s Presence is what really matters.

 

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 43

Wisdom Understands Buckets and Funnels

Nor’easters. They are fierce. For those of us living in New England these mean high winds—accompanied by hearty downpours of rain or hefty droppings of snow.

Today’s forecast calls for a foot of snow. Last week’s nor’easter was a rain event (where we live). That storm was unusually strong—an “every few decades” happening.

Two weeks ago we (for the second time) had our kitchen ceiling “repaired” from damage caused by a nor’easter a couple of years ago. Water had dripped through the ceiling and light fixtures, through the floor, and into the basement. This recent repair was done just in time for the past week’s storm to undo all that had recently been fixed. (Actually, the repair only consisted of sanding and painting the ceiling, and obviously did not deal with the root of the problem.) The damage from this storm redamaged our ceiling—causing it to look just like it did before it was “fixed.” The water once again leaked out of the ceiling through the floor and into the basement. I placed a bucket on the floor to catch the drips. 

This unfortunate and true scenario reminds me of wisdom Wyndham has often dispensed as he (and we) have worked with individuals, marriages, and families. He has referred to this lesson as “buckets and funnels.”

In other words, the contents of the buckets that have been poured into us (by our families, our experiences, our hurts, our pains) will be funneled out from us to other receiving buckets (spouse, children, work associates, family members). When someone’s toxic bucket (full of harmful and sinful patterns) is funneled into ours we get hurt, and the contents of our own buckets can become rancid—filled with bitterness, envy, and all sorts of unresolved relationships and feelings. These, in turn, get funneled into others’ buckets. This keeps on happening—unless we stop the madness.

Wisdom knows we must each recognize what has been funneled into our bucket (both good and bad). We must then stop funneling and leaking harmful thoughts and practices into others’ buckets. We can’t just sand and paint over our buckets. We must fix what’s inside, find the root of the bad, and do repair work. We can’t control what has been poured into our bucket, but we can control what is funneled out.

Toxic becomes pure only through the grace and forgiveness found in Jesus, and the power of his Spirit to change our lives. He allows us to recognize the sludge and empty it from our buckets. Only then can we refill our bucket with the fruits of God’s Spirit, and experience his healing forgiveness. Then, when these purified and refilled buckets are funneled all kinds of good results—and many lives are blessed.

How often I’ve listened as Wyndham has patiently helped men and women discover what has (unintentionally) been filling their buckets and then spilling out and hurting others. He has helped them identify the poisonous contents, dump them out, and by God’s power replace them with what is good, true, and right. Then, they can pass on what is good and true and right.

The storms will continue to come. The water that goes through our roof and into our ceiling will come out, just as what goes into our bucket will funnel out. We can’t just sand and paint over problems and expect our lives to be fixed. They must be repaired and changed from the inside out. The only repair comes through Jesus and his words. He can empty our trash and fill our buckets with his treasures.

Today a big storm is coming. I will need to catch any leaks with a bucket until I discover the real problem. Meanwhile, check your bucket. The contents will be funneled into others.

43  “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit;
44  for each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush.
45  The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.
Luke 6:43-45 (NRSV)

10  Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11  Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12  Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
         (Psalm 51:10-12)


17  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
18  All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:
(2 Corinthians 5:17-18)

 

 

 

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.