Beautiful Monsters

Beautiful Monsters
Beautiful Monsters

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Don't Chase the Chickens

When we moved to the new town, we found out that we could have chickens at our house…so of course, we split out a little group of 8 hens and a roo,  put roosts in a shed that serves admirably as coop, and installed a chicken wire pen.  All was well for a few weeks, until my girl who is neither stupid nor, well, chicken kept breaking out and exploring the Great Beyond – the yard.  This began the week of Chicken Discontent, where one girl, who we have dubbed “The Brain” (What are we gonna do tomorrow night, Brain?  Same thing we do every night Pinky – try to take over the world!)  roamed the yard with impunity, while the others stood at the fence and yelled at her in jealous frustration.  

So, we let them out into the yard.  They l.o.v.e.d. it, but the real winners were my dogs.  Oh man.  They just run from window to window to window, tracking the poultry-in-motion.  I don’t have to look to know where the girls are in the yard, I can see by which window the dogs are staring out.  Being the what-would-happen-next kind of person I am, I wanted to see how the dogs would do with the chickens out.  

The first time out, I thought it was going very well.  My dogs are really good at “with me” where they walk very near where I am.  And they did stay “with me”, until one of the chooks tried to flap up to the top of the feeder.  It was on.  My littlest dog took off, and of course the two medium dogs weren’t about to let little Barkley have all the fun.  Two girls cornered and upset, and a third missing a snout-full of tail feathers later, I had learned my lessons.  We went inside, and I started to do my research. 

I can’t ever let the dogs out alone with the chickens.  Never.  No matter how good I think they are doing.  Their base nature is to chase and catch, and the chickens’ base nature is to run and then be caught.  

I can’t let them fixate on the chickens.  I have to watch for the staring, dead still behavior that says, I am thinking about how much fun it is going to be to chase and playing the chase and capture over and over and over and over in my head.   OOOOOOOOOOOO…. 

If they start to show any sneaky, looking-to-see-if-I-am-looking actions, they have to come right to me, and stay there.  

If they start to head towards the chickens, even in their general direction, it is time to do something else.  Throw the stick, tug, anything.  Maybe even go inside for a break. 

What is the point?  


I have been wrestling again with the wanting-things-I-don’t-have issues.  Specifically, lately, marriage.  I am a single mom, and usually, life is good.  I enjoy my boys and this time of our lives.  I am fairly comfortable with life, and if I need help, I have a phone book to call a plumber or light-fixture fixer, or whatever.  

But every so often, discontent creeps in.  I want a partner, a companion, a love.  I want someone to talk about the day with or watch the game with or figure out the bills or to be in charge of checking the oil.  And you know, other stuff too.  But mostly, I want that closeness, that knowing that in all the world, this person is your partner, they are special and they love you.  I want someone who will pray for me.  

And yet, life goes on.  Usually.  This week, a whole wide variety of things have come up, and the issues are brought to the forefront again and again.  And I am jealous, and discontent and wanting something I don’t have.  So what do I do? 

Funny, there isn’t much difference between me and my dogs in this.  I fixate.  I imagine-loop how awesome it would be.  I start thinking about chasing.  (How many freaking commercials do we NEED for online dating? REALLY?)   I read stupid romance novels (That just make me feel worse.  I HATE window shopping), which brings around the does-anyone-see-me-reading-this-trash behaviors.  

The warning signs are all there.  I am living in my head, and my Master wants me to make a wiser choice.  (I am not saying that pursuing a marriage relationship is wrong, at all.  Just that God and I have had this talk, and IF it comes around for me, it can’t be because I chased after it or forced my will for a relationship into reality.  I will play the hand He gave me, until He gives me another one.  I tend to be pushy, so I get to be submit that natural make-it-happen-ness in this area also. I can’t pursue the earthly relationships as a priority over my heavenly one. )  And this applies, I believe to all of us, in all of those things that we want to do, but shouldn’t.  James 4:17 says “For him who knows what is good, and does not do it, that to him is sin.”  We all go through these stages, in one form or another, for the sins we are thinking about committing.  

We fixate our eyes on the thing that we want.   God wants us to fix our eyes on Him.  Colossians 3:2 tells us to set our mind on the things above, not the earthly things. 

I let my brain auto-loop how great I imagine it will be, I will feel, it will look, the praises (of me) will flow .. whatever it is.  God tells us, when He is talking about living in the flesh and being at war in the spirit, to cast down our “vain imaginings” and anything that would be in conflict with Christ, and to take all of our thoughts captive in 2 Corinthians 10:5. 

If I start feeling like I wouldn’t want to tell EVERYONE what I am doing, where my thoughts are, that I am being a jealous little snit in my heart by thinking (fill in the blank!), that is a HUGE warning sign that I am in the wrong place in my heart, my head and my soul.   Do I want this on a billboard in Times Square?  Then I probably need some prayer time and to check myself.  Ecclesiastes 12:14 needs to be my go to verse here.  Nothing I do, even the things in the secret of my home, or the secret of my heart, is secret from God.   It is all subject to His judgment.  The good news there is even the secret victories, the choices I make to be content, to submit my will to God’s, to pray for someone I don’t like, to tithe without complaining, things I might never tell another soul about … those are things done in secret, too, and God knows those things also.  That is pretty cool.  

When I start to feeling the nibblings of dissatisfaction with the many and amazing gifts I have rear up, I need to get back to my Master’s side and do something else.  Something interactive, something that puts my eyes back on Him.  I need to sing worship, or read my Bible.  I need to phone a friend!  Or take a walk and remind myself to see the beauty in the world He created.  I need to spend time with someone He has put on my heart, or even do a chore that I know I have been putting off but needs done (everything you do with your hands be done to the glory of God).   I am back to Phillipians 4:8 … taking the thoughts and things that do not honor God, and replacing them with the things that are pure,right, noble, praiseworthy, etc.  I have to turn my mind in the right direction, by giving it the right directions!

And I need to know my limits, my boundaries, those things that are just not safe for me.  If I struggle with gossip, I need to not put myself in a position to start “sharing news”.   If I struggle with murder, sharp objects and people I am angry with shouldn’t be in the same room.  (Joking, but you know?)  I can’t ever be left alone with my strongest temptations.  I need a friend willing to take a call, someone to be accountable to, and to be smart enough to not put myself in  a situation where I might be my own worst enemy. 

It is funny how God uses the daily things, the life things, to really reinforce the things He is teaching us.  I think sometimes I see things clearer when I am able to see it play out in front of me, and I am so thankful that He does that for me so often. I am very much a relate it to something I know or give me a word picture kind of learner.   His ways are timeless, and He will teach us if we are open to listening to what He is saying, and how He is saying it. Three brainless dogs, and some really smart chickens, and application for me, right in the middle of it. 

God is good.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

I can't please everyone all the time..

But I CAN upset most of the people some of the time!

This is funny.  I see it with the kids... I can make one or two of them happy,but never all three at the same time.   Whether it is picking a reading book, or a day in town, or arbitrating a disagreement... someone doesn't get what they want.  It is there with my schedule. I can work, I can volunteer at the church, or get my schoolwork done, or be team mom, or keep my house clean, or walk my dogs... but never all at the same time.  And very rarely on the same day.  I can read, or try to write, or quilt ... and if I just had 12 hours a day to myself, I could keep me happy and do all three!

I have this running list in my head of all of the things I should do to keep people happy, to keep me happy, to be the perfectly wonderful person I want to be.  Sometimes, I even keep a list of things that the boys should do.  Because they need to be perfect too.

I am sooo glad that God isn't waiting around for me to be perfect.

Romans 5: 1-
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.  You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

This one is so hard, because I struggle with feeling worthy.   I feel every shortcoming like it is the end of the world.  I expect me to be perfect, so why wouldn't a Holy God?   But on the other hand, I get it, because no matter what my kids do, I love them fiercely.  Really, when they are struggling, I kind of love them harder, not more, but closer to my surface, more fiercely on my mind.  

We are justified through faith!  We aren't justified by our own righteousness, or our perfection, or by what a great grip we have on the whole "Christianese" thing... we are justified by faith.  Faith is my all access pass to grace ... and grace lets me grow and fall and get back up and not walk around in fear of being zapped by holy fire while I am still working out my walk.  Grace lets me live my beliefs and not have to hide away, afraid of making a mistake. Grace lets me walk into a group of believers and say "I am thinking this, and wrestling with interpretation of that" and let myself be corrected where I am wrong.  

Grace is also what ensures that I am in for the hard work, and not just resting on my (very few and verrrrry smalllllll) laurels.  Grace is the ladder that beckons me on from where I am suffering (the things that are uncomfortable or where I am incomplete in my walk) into perseverance.   And grace makes sure that I am not just basking in the martyrdom glory of perseverance.  Grace keeps me walking from martyrdom to character. And lest I get too comfortable in the praise of my character, it moves me right on up into Hope. 

The world we live in celebrates suffering, perseverance and character ... and not because of the journey to godliness.   You KNOW we do this. We tsk and care and pick up a cause and love to commiserate on how HARD things are for folks, how MUCH they go through, we can't imagine ... We love a good suffering.  

But that is *nothing* compared to how much we love a perseverer ..  Oh ... life is hard ... but I do what I can ... one step at a time ...just gotta keep going ... **sigh**.  We coo and oooh and ahhh and sympathize and glorify martyrdom ...  and when it is our turn, we eat it up.  With whipped cream and sprinkles.

And character?  Who hasn't heard how MUCH someone has been through, and how (fill in the blank) they are now?   How strong, or kind, or cheerful or whatever they are, despite what they went through (did you hear?  can I tell you? can you believe?) ... 

The problem with this is that it is all glorifying the person, not the God taking them through that.  But Hope?  Hope is scoffed, scorned and mocked.  People who have hope, who are counting on hope, who are desperate in their hope are obviously delusional. They need a reality check!  Put on your big girl pants and make something happen, right?  God, in His goodness, takes me past the pitfalls where I might be taking the glory, and gives me something more.  Hope.  

And, although the world doesn't understand, can't understand WON'T understand, I won't be disappointed by hope.  Because God's love is poured, lavishly, into my heart by the Holy Spirit.  Because no matter what else I might face, whatever the suffering I was experiencing, regardless... when I was weakest, when I had the least to offer, while I was actively flaunting His law, breaking His heart and rebelling in sin - He died for me.  He gave His very life, His all, for me.  He gave up His life to save mine.  

So I can move up the grace ladder, out of my suffering, through my endurance, building my character and soaking in hope, because when I deserved it least, He gave me most.  

 I don't have to walk in the knowledge of all of the ways I fall short.  I have been given forgiveness of my sin and eternal life while I didn't even know I needed it.  So I can give myself a little leeway and allow myself to learn as I go.

I can't please everyone all the time.  I am human and I fail.  But even so, God loves me all the time, every time, for all time.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Just on time

I was sitting on the bleachers, surrounded by people I have met, but don't know, you know?  We have moved this year, and getting to know other parents isn't as easy as it was when the kids were little.  The new town is a small community, even smaller than where we were before, and these folks have not only grown their kids up together, they grew up together themselves.  Tough crowd to break into and belong to.  So I go sit near the other parents, and hope someone talks to me.  This was one of those days where no one did.

I pulled out my book (that I always bring, in case no one talks to me), and at that minute where I am about to decide no one loves me my phone vibrates.   And my dear friend, at 10:39 in the morning, had a prompting to send a two sentence note of encouragement, that I was loved and thought of.  It turned the day around. 

She was right on time.  She didn't worry about seeming silly or "bothering me" - my usual two excuses for not acting spontaneously. With 30 seconds of effort, she quite literally saved my day.

More, God was right on time.  He reaches out with the hands of His people to cheer up His children who need it.  He didn't even call me out for the pity-party ... that came later!  I am grateful for the way that God ministers to me and the various ways He does.  I am encouraged to be more alert going forward to those small niggles of inspiration.  Go say hello to this person, send that one a card.  My prayer is that by doing so, I can be right on time for someone else to, and show them the love God pours out on us both. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Mom Rant - Man Candy Monday

So there is a thing going on with the kids on Facebook (shocker, I know).  Each day has a "theme" and the kids post pictures of people for that day.  I think "Throwback Thursday" started it all, and people would post really old pictures of themselves.  Enter WomanCrush Wednesday, Selfie Sunday, Flashback Friday, and on and on.

I own a few teenage boys, and had seen their pictures come up a few times on "Man Crush Monday".  I was okay with it all, it seemed harmless enough.

Until four letters changed EVERYTHING.

Man Crush Monday morphed into Man Candy Monday.  And still, there are pictures of my son.  I figured it was one girl, and it would go away.  Until it wasn't, and it didn't.  The last straw is seeing some Girl I had never met or heard of before, posting pictures of my son for Man Candy Monday.  I don't know why.  It is the wrong day, the wrong time, the wrong nerve.

If I had daughters, I would object vociferously to "Sex Object Saturday". As the parents of boys, I HATE "Man Candy Monday". 

I am CONSTANTLY telling my boys that women are not to be referred to as "sexy" because that reduces them to little more than brainless toys useful for one purpose only. When you call someone "candy", the implication is the same. 

You discard their intelligence, their personality, their faith, their soul, if they are polite, or a good friend or kind to animals or helpful to their gramma. You reduce them to a two-dimensional object, regardless of whether they are tenacious, or soft-hearted, or shy or crazy good at music or sports or chess, whether they read Asimov or the Bible or Rowling or nothing at all. My boys are many, many things. 

They may be crazy smart, or an amazing friend, or have a quirky and dark sense of humor, or love their dog more than just about anything. 

They might cry over kids who are homeless and starving in India or go out of their way to make sure that everyone at the gathering has a good time, or spend time thinking deeply over politics and faith. 

They might keep their rooms like a disaster zone or fanatically neat, they may have one pair of jeans they love all the time or more clothes than will fit in their closet. 

They might be insecure one day and everyone's best friend the next, they might be too shy to show their true personality or be perfectly content to just be quiet, or play music, or take a run, or be the life of the party, or all of these things in one afternoon. 

 They might be handsome (and make no mistake, I am constantly amazed at how good looking my children are. Heaven knows that didn't come from their dad or I), but that only scratches the barest surface of who they are. To reduce them to "man candy" kills me. 

 They have been raised to be men of faith, of conscience, of thought, of compassion, of community. If heard them referring to one of these girls in such a denigrating way, I would not allow it. Amazing man Monday, Marvelous Man Monday, Good Man Monday, even Man Crush Monday - go right ahead. Man Candy Monday - no. As a mom, as their mom, it sits on every wrong nerve I have.