The Wisdom of Experiences

I’m driving my niece home and listening to her talk about how her third-grade class has more boys than girls and the classroom gets a little rowdy sometimes. She demonstrates how the teacher tries to get their attention and says her voice sounds pretty loud to her ears.

“At least that’s how it’s always been in my experiments,” she concludes, sounding wise beyond her years, but still charmingly childish.

I can't see her face in the backseat but I try to gently tell her, “I think you mean experience, not experiments."

I imagine the depth of an eight-year-old’s experience is fairly shallow, but then I think that maybe she’s onto something.

Our experiments make up our experiences. Doesn't that give us wisdom for the future? 

My one-time experiment to paint every room in my condo a different color only made me wish for indoor sunglasses. I realized that it was much wiser to add a pop of color from accessories than to live in a sunflower yellow den, a mint green dining room and a deep purple bathroom. 

{Thanks to that experience, I’m now a huge fan of neutral wall colors.}

I think of the time I threw a party and experimented with outdoor decor by hanging a lit candle chandelier over my punch bowl that dripped wax all night long into every guest’s beverage. After they left, I discovered the clumps of wax floating in their punch cups. 

{I now keep my punch bowl indoors and away from fire.}

Then there was the experiment of dating a man I met at work. After a few dates he told me it was nice that I went to church, but he really had no interest in God. I knew for me, it was important that someone I dated share my faith. 

{After that conversation, we amicably parted ways.}

My experiences have taught me that I need wisdom often and ongoing. I’ve always wanted to apply the wisdom found in the book of Proverbs in a practical way for my life, but I often get bogged down. 

Just this summer, I sat in church listening to a speaker say reading a chapter from Proverbs every morning and night for a month would change our lives. I was eager for change, but I didn’t even make it past the fourth chapter.

But now I think I've found some help.

The new book Proverbs Prayers, Praying the Wisdom of Proverbs for your Life, by John Mason, takes the 31 chapters in Proverbs and combines it with an accompanying prayer. 

His words are like poetry as he recasts the Proverbs passages into a more casual, familiar style, rephrasing these lovely verses from Prov. 24:13-14:
Your wisdom is like honey; it's so sweet to my soul. It assures me of a good future and that you will never abandon me. 
I'm learning to appreciate scripted prayers and how repeating the words can bring changes I'm just beginning to understand. So I'm praying these prayers out loud so my ears can hear them and they can sink down into the depths of my heart. 
Your word is the greatest thing I can imagine. It is the apple of my eye. It's so incredibly precious that I eagerly receive it into the deepest part of me. I choose to see, know and understand everything from your perspective. - Prov. 7:1-3
The more I read of the time-honored and God-breathed wisdom of Proverbs, the more I realize that it doesn't always align with what seems smart and right and intelligent and forward-thinking today. 

The wisdom of Proverbs asks us to believe that God's words can come alive, changing us to be more like him. 

But prevailing wisdom puts the focus on ourselves. 

If we make decisions that most benefit us, then we wouldn’t need courage to take that blind leap of faith into the unknown where God's calling us.

If it seems as if we're too washed up so maybe we should take it easy and retire, then we wouldn’t hope in a God who can take what’s dead and breathe it back to life.

If prevailing wisdom says what we've been trying hasn’t worked yet so maybe we should just quit, then we wouldn’t need to persevere with trust in God’s purposes for our lives.

If prevailing wisdom says we should clearly understand all that’s around us, then we wouldn’t need faith to believe without seeing.

I think I'll follow the ancient words and let them breathe life into my soul.

{How about you?}

My niece didn't quite understand the difference between experiments and experiences. When I told her she meant to use the word experience, she agreed with me.

"Exactly! That's what I said," she asserted confidently.

Maybe there's not much difference between the two, after all. 

As long as wisdom is gained from them both.

I'm part of Revell publisher's blogger review tour for Proverbs Prayers by John Mason. I received a complimentary copy of the book, but the opinions are completely my own.

I'm linking up with my friends at Holley Gerth's place at Coffee for your HeartJoin me there for more posts from my blogger friends!


  1. A fresh coat of white paint on every surface will be the order of the day mid-winter. That picture of your home only confirms my choice, friend! I can't wait for a fresh start. I've always felt that once you paint a house it truly becomes yours. I'm so ready.

    And wax in the punch bowl? As ever, you bring a smile!

    And the link between experiment and experience is spot on. I need to sit with that a bit. Truth springs forth easily from those kiddos in our lives. We need only ears ... and a bit of an imagination ... to hear them well.

    Hugs to you today.

    1. Linda,
      Yes, when you get that paint on your walls, it will be a breath of fresh air! I love creams and whites and beiges on walls. I love your recommendation of a little imagination to hear those young voices in our lives -- they can enrich and tell us so much!

  2. Thanks for the smiles, Valerie. :) The colors of your rooms, the wax drips in the punch, and your niece's "experiments." :) I really love the paraphrase of Proverbs 7 - "Your word is the greatest thing I can imagine. It is the apple of my eye. It's so incredibly precious that I eagerly receive it into the deepest part of me. I choose to see, know and understand everything from your perspective." Blessings and hugs to you, my friend.

    1. Trudy,
      Thanks for sharing my mundane moments with me every week! So grateful for you, my friend, and look forward to sharing our posts for a long time in the future! xo

    2. You always give encouraging spiritual lessons out of what you call "mundane" moments, Valerie. :) And you have a unique way of making everyday experiences interesting and humorous. You often make me smile. :)

    3. Trudy,
      Encouragement is your gift!! So appreciate your affirming words!

  3. " Our experiments make up our experiences. " Gosh when you put it that way, what's life but one big experiment?? And God is in CONTROL after all...see how I threw in that science term there...? : ) I'm all in for ancient words (and things!), neutral walls (I agree with Linda above-- my kitchen walls are going white as soon as I can get my hands on a can of paint!) and wisdom found in all things-- even 3rd graders : ) Love, Your friend with the light purple bathroom, green kitchen and blue bedroom.... xo ♥

    1. Heather,
      Love that science term you're using . . . and that's about the extent of my science knowledge (word-girl here!). I don't know what I'd do without the wisdom of a third-grader giving me plenty to think about! Oh -- I'm sure your paint colors are just lovely, by the way! xo

  4. Wait I can't believe he said he had no interest in God, wow. I've never heard that one before. But you're absolutely right, it's important to be around people who share what's important to you. And you so have to believe in God's word. Having faith is just crucial. I loved this post Valerie.

    Kia / KTS

    1. Kia,
      Always makes my day when you stop by - -your words are so encouraging! Love welcoming you here, my friend!

  5. Valerie- This is so cute- I love the story of your niece and can completely relate to those experiences with my daughter :) I love it when that happens -And how wonderfully you pull beautiful meaning and point my heart towards God with your stories too! ( You are so good at that!! ) That book sounds really good too- I have found it so good for me to write scripture like that and rewrite it in my own words and make it mine- I love that you read it aloud- I need to do that more- very powerful to do that- something about speaking out the truth changes my heart in ways quiet reading just doesn't! I think it helps my heart hear better or something - Anyway loving these stories and words and mostly your beautiful heart that always makes me want more of Him! xox

    1. Susie,
      It's so unusual how making sure our ears and hearts hear God's words make a difference. It makes me try even harder to turn my thoughts and words to him, but this is an extremely difficult thing for me! Thank you so much for your sweet words about my niece and nephew stories and I'm so grateful that you're here to share this life journey with me! xo

  6. I enjoy reading the nuggets of wisdom found in Proverbs. I'm going to add this to my book seems to being growing :)
    I once did the same thing, with paint colors. And like you, found it's better to have a neutral wall color than to have your house look like a box of crayons :). Our experiments do become our experiences.

    1. Alecia,
      This was a GREAT book -- I really thought it was insightful. You're right about my walls looking like a box of crayons -- I never thought of it that way -- but so true!

  7. Hi Valerie, without doubt this book will be a good read for me.

    I agree in many cases it is better to get wisdom than get the experience.

    I'd rather listen to someone's life experience learn a thing or two instead of being the experience in it self. Just as I disagree with "Experience is the best teacher".

    My hubby says why wait to be the experience? why not learn from an experience and improve your life especially from the book of proverbs?

    I hope I made some sense Valerie...What do you think?
    God bless

    1. Hi Ifeoma,
      I heartily agree that we can learn a lot from someone else's experience -- I think that's why our paths intersect with so many different viewpoints and experiences than ours -- so we can share and learn! And Proverbs is the best source for the wisdom of life! Thanks so much for sharing these thoughts -- always grateful you're here!

  8. Great post, Valerie. Love the wisdom shared here... from your and your niece! Experiments and experiences... they are connected more than I realized. Thanks for this. Stopping over just to say hi! Have a blessed day!

    1. Hi Julie,
      Thanks for popping over! I always enjoy reading your words and glad to have your thoughts here, friend!

  9. Been there with the paint thing. My worst decisions were bright yellow and poo brown.
    I love the wisdom of children-they are dead serious, even when they get the words wrong. We should probably listen to them a little more :)

    1. Sarah,
      I think we all have some paint experiences where our hearts just sink when we take a step back and look at the walls! It sure makes me know what I don't like after I see it! :)

  10. Hello :) I just wanted to share I thought this post was profound and so beautifully written.

    1. Christy,
      So grateful you took the time to stop by, especially in the midst of your busy days right now! xo

    2. It was a bright spot in my day :)


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