December 1

Finding the Wizard Within

We gathered in the family room, sprawled out all over the place to enjoy our post-Thanksgiving food coma. Our unconventional group this year grew to include Max, a black and brown Weiner puppy, and Taylor, an 18-year-old Air Force girl who is the daughter of one of my brother’s life-long friends from the Midwest.

Aunt Maureen, who we call Auntie M, Saydee and I were sitting on the love seat searching for the boomerang, the golf club, and the crown on my Highlights, Hidden Pictures app. Nanny, Chelsea, and Natalie were attempting to organize the Christmas gift exchange and my brother was making inappropriate jokes and movie suggestions.

“You wanna watch It?”

I looked up from my phone screen, “No.”

“Why not? It’s not scary. It’s the old made for t.v. one.”

“No. It’s Thanksgiving.”

This has become a common holiday argument ever since I got mad one year for being forced to sit through Planet of the Apes on Christmas. In a non-sports watching family, the after meal movie is almost as important as how moist the turkey came out.

We finally agreed on a favorite childhood tradition, The Wizard of Oz because Saydee is almost five and has yet to be haunted by the memory of flying monkeys.

The questions I had at that age were different than the ones I thought to ask during this most recent viewing. “How did the ruby slippers get on Dorothy’s feet?” was overshadowed by my determination to understand the pig-tailed girl in the blue and white gingham dress a little better.

Dorothy’s directions were simple. They were just five words.

Follow. The. Yellow. Brick. Road.

But then she meets the scarecrow at this pivotal crossroads moment. I don’t know that I’ve noticed that before, but she actually had three yellow brick roads she could have followed! I’m sorry, but seriously. That’s just wrong. I would have plopped my butt down with the wicker basket, my little dog too, and had a meltdown right then and there.

“Which yellow brick road?”

That is so jacked up. You can’t just tell someone or sing to someone in tiny little people voices to follow the brick road and then follow it until you find three! It’s just not right. You thought the tornado was bad? Dear God. How did she know which way to go?

It makes me crazy. I wanted to start throwing apples at evil, grabby trees.

And then, while shoving my face with two different kinds of pie AND cherry cheesecake, I remembered that bible verse about not moving to the left or the right, but to stay straight on the path and another that talks about not letting yourself be blown all over the place like a reed on the water.

Stay focused. Stay intentional. Stay straight. But you still have to take risks. Dorothy’s adventure to Oz was risky.

A few weeks ago I was listening to Minute with Maxwell. He mentioned something that has stuck with me when I find myself in a jam or out of my comfort zone. The good fruit is out on the limb. You have to stretch yourself to get it.

I stretched myself the last 30 days in making an attempt at a 50,000-word manuscript completion but failed. I failed in committing myself to a structured schedule and solid plan of exactly how much I would have to do in such a short amount of time. Progress was made, but at some point, I just wanted to go to sleep in a poppy field and take a frickin’ nap.

It was much easier for me to gravitate back to the fun, light children’s books I’ve been working on than it was to write about those regretful times when I found myself so far off the path, continuously wrestling with so many monkeys on my back.

I long for the wizard to tell me I’ve had it all along and I want to go home.

At the crossroads, when I’m asking myself which way to go, what direction do I take, or what way do I respond? I’m learning to ask better questions. What is the right thing to do? What answer or solution gives God the most glory? What is the story I want to tell?

I’m learning to lean into my insecurities and get directional strategies from leaders I trust even more than Glenda the Good Witch. I listen to Andy Stanley’s Your Move podcast, John Maxwell or Joyce Meyer and other people I admire and have been through some stuff. We all need help finding the right way to go.

Thankfully, I find God is more accessible than a wizard. My brother always says it’s the wizard, not the wand and I’m pretty sure he’s talking about something totally inappropriate as usual, but still…

In our attempts to follow those yellow brick roads, we need sound advice and people who love and support us, knowing and accepting we are all flawed with imperfections. We still need a scarecrow, a lion, and a tin man.

And we need to know how to use what we already have, within us.

A hot air balloon ride out wouldn’t hurt either.