What This Silent Wooden Wiseman is Saying…

Wise-Men-are-Not-Always-Silent

Early in our marriage, Scott and I received a small, hand-carved nativity set made of olive wood from friends who brought it back from their travels.  It has moved across the country with us, survived little hands arranging the pieces over and over again, year after year. By some miracle all of the pieces are still together more than 20 years later.

_MG_9736A few months ago, I moved some furniture while cleaning and found a stray Wiseman that didn’t make it back into the Christmas boxes when we packed them up for storage. At first I tucked the little guy into a jar where I had corralled several other stray items before delivering them to their proper locations around the house.  He looked so out of place among the lost rubber bands and random trinkets. But there was no way I was crawling up into the attic to put him away.

_MG_9731

Yesterday I found him on top of the refrigerator. I picked him up to move him and, as I felt him in my hands, I couldn’t ignore all that this little wooden figure represents.

Just a silent piece of wood, carved into the rough form of a tiny Wiseman; yet he is part of a far bigger Story. One that altered the course of history. This piece of wood is part of that Story because, centuries ago, someone showed up far from home because he believed in something – Someone – even bigger than all his wisdom, or experience, or knowledge. That Story, told from generation to generation, is our greatest hope. Such hope, in fact, that even this lost little wooden man can help tell it.

In other words, this wooden man and I have a lot in common.

All my so-called wisdom, and even my most well-honed abilities, pale in comparison to what happens if I’ll just simply BE part of the Story. Only then can more-able-Hands put me exactly where I’m needed, so hope can shine into unlikely places.

I’m going to keep this silent little Wiseman out where I can see him; where I can remember that, whether my life, or talents, are on display for others to see or I’m all alone just being who I am, the Story is good and I am part of it. All day, everyday.

_MG_9737

When It’s Best to Receive…

We have all heard that it is better to give than to receive. And it’s true. But I especially prefer to give rather than receive when it comes to correction!

It never feels good to learn you are in the wrong. This week I had to suck up some pride on more than one occasion when some really good people in my life questioned me on things that needed to be questioned. Little things that I would’ve overlooked became important action items that I needed to look at and fix after hearing another perspective.

I have to hand it to the people who challenged my thinking. They did so with respect and grace. In each situation, the “corrector” simply asked questions and offered me the opportunity to rethink a choice. Totally different circumstances placed me in front of the proverbial mirror multiple times this week, but each situation required me to consider others’ feelings and proceed in a different direction.

When I get more than one or two situations at once that teach me the same lesson, I’ve learned by now to pay attention. So this week, my conscience is being stirred with the realization that being open to constructive correction is something I clearly need to do more of right now.

I ran across Proverbs 15:12 as I reviewed scriptures about what I’m learning, and it says, “Mockers resent correction, so they avoid the wise.”

Yikes!  I don’t want to be a mocker of wisdom, but a receiver of it. Easier said than done, though.

For perfectionists, receiving correction is especially hard. The entire infrastructure of perfectionism is held up by pride — on hoping people don’t see our imperfections. It’s tempting to even pretend WE don’t see them. So, hearing from anyone – kindly or otherwise – that I need to work on some area of my life can be a tough pill to swallow. Yet if I say I don’t want to live a life imprisoned by perfectionism, humbly receiving correction is something I’ve got to get used to!

So this week I got a bit of practice.  And you know what?  It actually felt good. There’s a wall that comes down when I don’t feel the need to become defensive.  Turns out, humility creates a better atmosphere for communication than my nasty pride.

Sure, the world can be cold and cruel. People can be critical and downright mean sometimes. But sometimes, when we least expect it, someone wiser than we are (or more than one person in my case this week) will come along and give us the chance to become wiser, more sensitive and more well-rounded.

I don’t mind admitting that there was a fraction of a second in each circumstance this week when I wanted to self-protect and offer a “WHATEVER” kind of response. I stopped myself, thank goodness. I would’ve missed the boat if I did what I really wanted to do.  But what came out of those conversations has been way better than trying to defend myself.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside (Re-post)

tongue-on-poleLast week, Indiana’s winter hit 5-year temperature lows, complete with wind chill warnings, school delays and cancellations due to the dangerously low temperatures.  I’ve found myself doing all the things my mom used to do during the winters we lived in Iowa and survived 40-below-zero temperatures.  I made soup and hot tea, baked things, lit candles, kept a fire going in the fireplace, ran the space heater in the bedroom an hour before time to go to sleep.  I bundled the kids in layers so they’d have no skin showing (and therefore wouldn’t risk frostbite) and we’re keeping the gas tank full so the line doesn’t freeze.  All the things “good moms” are supposed to do.

So, with all that in mind, I let Jackson and his friend walk to a nearby hill to sled and snowboard for a few minutes after school while the sun was still shining.  They bundled up good and I warned them not to stay long.  I felt so pleased as a mother when they were back just a few minutes later… they heeded my advice!  Or so I thought.

Just as I opened the door, I noticed Jackson was sticking out his tongue.  He said, “Hey, Mom.  My tongue is bleeding.”

“Why is your tongue bleeding?” I beg.

“Oh.  I stuck it to a pole.” he said matter-of-factly.

I froze in my tracks for a moment, unable to believe that this smart child of mine (who, by the way, has seen A Christmas Story at least a hundred times) didn’t believe eleven years worth of stories and warnings about what happens to kids  who try this age-old stunt!  I quickly ran for warm water to soothe his tongue.

“Wouldn’t warm water have been helpful BEFORE he ripped it from the pole,” I lamented to myself.  I asked him how he missed the part in A Christmas Story where the school called the fire department to rip the kid’s tongue off the pole, and he replied, “I thought it was a myth.”

“I told you it wasn’t a myth!” I persisted.

“I didn’t hear you.” he said.

Just when I found myself completely unable to believe his unbelief… I was reminded that I am exactly like him in that way.   I figuratively “stick my tongue to the pole” all the time.  I want to EXPERIENCE the answers, I don’t just want to hear about them.  I want to KNOW that I KNOW what’s true.  Sometimes it hurts.  But at least I don’t have any questions about it later!   And neither will Jackson.

Sometimes learning is messy.  But I guess as long as we’re still learning… we’re headed in the right direction!  The world can be colder than an Indiana winter… and life experience doesn’t come easily.  So I’m finding that I not only want to make our home warm and comfortable physically, I also to create the kind of safety where my kids can come home bleeding and know that someone understands.  The harshest lessons will eventually birth wisdom.  I have to trust that and not expect my kids to be wise just because I say so.

Dealing with Disappointment (edited repost)

disappointedSometimes life is disappointing. We can do everything we know to do and hold on to
everything we believe to be true, but sometimes people will let us down, or our plans won’t work out, or the thing that seemed so perfect suddenly becomes abundantly imperfect. It’s part of the
human experience… dealing with the unplanned, uninvited moments when we’re left wondering why we dared to hope.

Here are a few things I’ve gleaned from disappointment that I hope will help you survive disappointment with your soul intact.

1.Disappointment is an effective teacher. Don’t waste the experience.  Glean from it perspective or truth that inevitably hides inside every maddening moment of disappointment.

2. Disappointment does not make you a fool. It just doesn’t. You wanted to believe the best and that’s a good thing. Don’t lose that adventurous spirit. You’ll need it to carry on.

3. Disappointment does not make everyone else a fool. People are flawed and so are you. Don’t let a chip on your shoulder rob you from the experience of being able to extend grace.

4. Most disappointments aren’t even about us… they’re about our expectations. We can’t control life, but we can examine whether or not our expectations are realistic.

5. We are not defined by our disappointments. That said, experiences that dash our hopes can be defining moments. We can either shrink away from
really living because of some person or circumstance we couldn’t have changed anyway, or we can let the experience build our determination to be a person who can be counted on.

6. Disappointment makes heaven sweeter. When you live on a fallen planet with human beings, things are going to get messed up, even among good people. When that reality comes crashing down, imagine the day when you will fall into the arms of God with the relief that comes from knowing you finished the race well.  In heaven, there will be no disappointment. Count on that.

7. Expressing the pain of your disappointment through art, music, writing or other creative works can be therapeutic and, ironically, can produce the most inspired, passionate work you will ever do. Instead of fighting the pain, capture it creatively and it might actually help others!  At the risk of sounding opportunistic, I have friends who did this and wrote award-winning books and/or songs. Go figure!

8. Don’t be sucked in by the blame game. We can point fingers all day long when we’ve lost our faith in someone or something, but placing blame is not conducive to healing. Spewing venom about who is “most” to blame is unfruitful, fuels frustration and hinders us from moving on.

9. Dealing with disappointment is disheartening; but it’s especially devastating if your sense of well-being rests in the hands of other
people or circumstances. I urge you to not to give people or circumstances that kind of power over you. They can’t handle it and neither can your heart.

10. All the disappointment in the world cannot change God’s nature. He knows how much we can handle and He uses difficult circumstances to shape us in ways that nothing else could have. His love drives everything and can heal anything. Anything!

As much as I hope you will never need this little disappointment management guide, life will most likely deal you a harsh blow before it’s over (unless you’re reading this from Heaven.. and if you are, please comment below because I’ve got some questions!)

Disappointment never feels good, but faith is not about how we feel… it’s about Who we trust. Trials tend to blaze a path through which we become more purified and more prepared to face whatever lies ahead.

Who knows? Some disappointments might happen just so we can “trade up” to a better plan… perhaps the one that was meant for us all
along.

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: