Wednesday, March 19, 2014

the girl who cried wolf

Remember the boy who cried wolf?

I’ve got a few of those. Only they’re girls. Girls who cry foul and false.  It’s remarkable what can be contrived to cry about--things I have never before considered are now cried about in my house on a somewhat regular basis. It's enough to drive me to permanent earplugs.

I have tears over the proverbial spilled milk. Tears over lost shoes. Tears over toys and bubble baths and dinner. Tears over band aids and markers and leggings. Really, if you can even imagine a possible scenario where tears might be able to play a role, I've got it covered.

And since there are so many tears in my house these days, my compassion meter may be running low because really, a mama can only handle so many silly tears before she needs a very long vacation on her own private island. 

So this night, I was making dinner after exiling all of them to their beds to play silently because my ears had started bleeding from all the bickering loud and mean.

Divide and conquer. Sometimes this strategic tactic works. 

The best defense is a good offense. 

I should remember this. Too many times I’m caught in the middle of a moment with my playbook gone missing and then I’m just playing self-defense and that’s when the sky starts to fall dark and cloudy on me.

Case in point:

The little girls three are exiled to their beds.
I've got my hands in chicken and veggies and my mind in the quiet…at least for this one breath to try and catch my breath so that I might be able to take another.

Peace in the middle of the storm.

And then my serenity is cracked, my ears jarred, my heart races. There’s all this blood curdling screaming. Over and over. And. Over.

I admit, I rolled my eyes. Like I haven’t heard the screaming before. And like any good mama, I stood in my kitchen with my eyes rolling and my unkind mutterings under my breath about what in the world is going on in my house and I waited. Because, and you mamas know what I’m talking about, if we wait sometimes the screaming stops by itself, sometimes the problem remedies without intervention. We pray for those times, those moments that disintegrate without our engagement.

And sometimes it just gets bigger and uglier. So I waited to see what side of the coin I would get.

The screaming didn't waver in intensity. It’s the child who has a proclivity for volume in her diva-drama. The same child who would rather sit and scream over something than use all the words the Good Lord has empowered her with to solve problems.

So I storm-walked out of the kitchen, my steps short and quick and angry and loud.
I was ready.
To blow up.
To wage war. 

My anger carried me fast and hard down the hall. I stopped in her doorway, put my hands on my hips and stared at the perpetrator. Yep, I copped some major attitude. Pretty sure I’m not gonna win any mama awards this week. She’s sitting on her bed with some crazy little toy in her hands, screaming at the top of her lungs.

Just. Screaming.

Somedays I just want to scream with her.

And I stand there, with my attitude and my hands on my hips, giving her my very best stink eye.

“Kadence, you have to use your words. I don’t know what’s wrong and if I don't know what's wrong, I can’t help you if you’re gonna sit there and scream.” And I said it with sass. The kind of sass that she would've gotten in BIG trouble for, but I doled it out with finesse. See…no awards here.

My blood is boiling. When will they learn? When will I learn?

She screams again. And in between gasping breaths and loud shrieks she starts to mumble.

“My finger….my finger…” More shrieks. More screams. More tears.

I fan the fire raging. “What about your finger?” From where I’m standing her fingers look just fine. It’s her shrieking that could bring down the house and her mama’s mind that I’m worried about.

And as I’m looking at this screaming child, I glance over to the other bed…not two feet away from Kadence... and Ryleigh, yeah, she’s sitting there playing with some lace up cards. Humming. 

Peace in the middle of a storm.

How is it that I am well and fully irritated, ready for war, and I was in another room and this child is sitting two feet away from the screamer completely unfazed?

Peace in the middle of a storm.

“Stuck!...It’s stuck.” Gasp. Sniffle. Sob. Scream. Repeat.

Oh. Rats. And double rats.

I look at that crazy little toy she has in her lap. And she tries to raise one of her hands and she can’t because her little ring finger is stuck, smashed, wedged. And her other hand is trying to hold the crazy little toy so it doesn't move and remove her finger.

Her tiny little finger was held captive between two plastic prisons: the handle and the cartridge that goes in the top of this crazy little toy.

I had a moment of panic for a multitude of reasons. The most concerning was that I had been standing in the doorway for a good 60 seconds with my mad on. And that was after the maybe 2 minutes I had stood in the kitchen up to my elbows in chicken fuming and festering.

I would be crying too.

The little girl who cried wolf really had a wolf to cry about.

After some quick looking and some quick thinking, I pushed that cartridge down fast and hard to free the finger. I rushed that girl to the kitchen to find some icy love for that smashed little digit.

And five minutes later she was fine.  Because isn’t that how kids roll? Life rolls off them like so much water off a duck. And they keep on trucking. And they keep on believing. And they keep on loving. And they don’t even miss a beat.

Mamas on the other hand? We fester and obsess and flog ourselves. We cut our own selves short and low because we let nothing roll off us like so much water.

Instead we wallow in our lacking, we swim in our mistakes, we glory in our regrets, we insist on torturing ourselves with all the coulda, woulda, shouldas. We wander endless in our own lacking. There's no grace for us. Nosiree. 

Jesus isn’t the one condemning me. I am

And how, exactly, does that fix anything?

Seriously, I should borrow a page from my kids’ book.

But here’s the Truth. And I gotta remember the Truth. So the lies don’t win a battle in a war Jesus already won. So that I can find harbor in Grace and Redemption and Forgiveness. So that tomorrow I can claim His new mercies and be mercy-full.  

The truth is this. God has not called me to be a perfect parent. He has called me to be a Christ follower, a Jesus lover, a Grace giver, a Truth teller. Sure, I’m a mess. Last time I checked though, Jesus wasn’t afraid of messes.

In fact, most of the Jesus followers in the Bible were messes. Let's remember King David who had a thing with Bathsheba who wasn't his wife or Peter who denied Christ three times or Martha who believed that doing good was better than just being with Jesus or Moses who thought he wasn't fit to be the mouthpiece of God or Jonah who ran away instead of obeying God.

My mess is nothing new to Jesus. He's not appalled by it or repelled by it or worried by it. Instead He's working to redeem it. To turn my mess into something beautiful, to make something glorious out of my ashes.

Really, I’m just a mess of redeemed mistakes and redeemed moments so that I might know Jesus more and love Him more deeply.

I know what my triggers are that send me spinning and flipping. I am my own worst enemy and when I’m in the thick of it and I can’t see {or hear} the cries of pain over the cries for attention, I make the choice. Oh, maybe not on purpose. I’m sure most mamas don’t purposefully choose to flip their lids and toss their tempers all over dinner, but we do.

I choose in to the madness and the crazy and the volume and the temper tantrums. I choose those things over the Fruit of a Living God.  And what kind of example is that showing my little people? 

It all comes down to what I want more of. I want more of Jesus. I want to know Him more and love Him more. And I want my kids to see Jesus in me and want Him. Heart transformation in my little people begins in my heart. With me. This seems to be a theme with me.

I have to exhibit self-control which means I have to be the branch that sprouts the fruits of the Spirit so that I can exhibit self-control. Which means I have to know Jesus so that branch can grow strong and healthy.

Because the more I know Jesus, the more He prunes away the dead and decaying and destroyed so that the real Fruit can grow strong.

And then I can refrain when the urge to act like a four year old hits hard in the middle of a screaming storm. 

Peace in the middle of a storm. Jesus in me. 

I know. We’re human. We’re tired, worn out, busy, frazzled, hard-loving, hard-working mamas. We get caught in the moment and caught by surprise and caught in the tangled web that the enemy tries to catch us in. And we have a momentary lapse of, you know, sanity. And we engage. With the emotional capacity of a small child. Because we weren't prepared. We were caught off guard.

Go back to that whole “the best defense is a good offense.”

Jesus is the best offense. 

Grace Always Rises,

Thursday, March 6, 2014

How to make a deer angry...

I remember looking at my clock. 1:34 am. An unattractive hour to be sure.
There was some very dramatic pandemonium involving the dog and the husband downstairs.
So like any normal human being, I went back to sleep.

I asked the husband the next morning.
"What happened last night?"
"Titan scared a deer."

Titan is our German Shepherd. He's got some neuroses but hey, who doesn't? He's been part of our family since before the Eldest was born.

And he's a senior citizen. Emphasis on senior.

His hearing is selective. I think. 

His seeing is also selective. I think.

And if by chance my thinking is off, he's deaf and blind. And the husband would argue, occasionally dumb.

He can sometimes manage stairs, and other times he plays the helpless victim. He's a piece of work, this dog. But he's got a heart of gold and he really loves the husband.

So on either side of our front porch we have these deep planters. It's like a three foot drop into the planter from the porch. Because the husband is who he is, most of the vegetation in these planters has been removed or cut back. He likes things tidy and these planters were anything but when we first moved in.

So now these planters sit rather lonely, empty, and terribly inviting since they are also out of the weather.

In addition, I feel it's also important to note that in the last several weeks, the husband has also seen fit to remove and cut down a lot of the ground brush on our property. Apparently the husband discovered that we have very amorous deer who have been using these overgrown areas for, ummm, making baby deer.

The husband has taken a personal offense to this and has waged a small-scale war on baby deer-making on our property.

I know. First-world problems.

But since he can solve these with chain saws and fire it's all good. And I think it makes him happy. The husband. Not the deer.

In fact, I think the deer are angry.

Titan sleeps by the front door. At 1:32 he started whining and fretting and pacing.

It's annoying when he starts with this. To put it mildly. Part of that neuroses thing.

 My husband, thinking that Titan had to use the facilities, opened the front door at 1:33.

At which time several things happened simultaneously.

Titan slipped, slid, and stormed out the front door. Not only do stairs give him some trouble, but getting up quickly and finding purchase on hardwood floors gives him some trouble, too, thus the slipping and sliding. Hazards of being old.

In all his slipping drama, he knocked the front door wide open which caused the bells the girls have hung on the door knob to jingle, jangle, and crash to the floor with another louder cacophonous jingle-jangle.

This is what woke me up at 1:34.

The door hit the wall and then slowly swung back closed--which was fortunate only in that it kept the deer from storming the castle, so to speak. Because then I wouldn't have been able to go back to sleep. And that would have been quite the inconvenience.

The poor deer who had foolishly made her bed down in one of those planters was rudely awakened and terribly disoriented by our elderly dog who really didn't have to use the facilities at all.

Instead, Titan lost the few marbles he had left because there was a deer right there for the taking and he was freaking out, in the way only a dog can who has the hindquarters of a deer right there in front of him, the mind of a 16 year old saying "get it," and the body of a 95 year old which completely dictates the speed and agility with which he can't move.

Not that Titan would know what to do with the deer if he actually had the deer...and really, he's's more about the idea of the deer than actually gaining possession of the deer. But there he was, completely freaking out...

And his freak out caused that deer to have a major panic attack.

Ever wonder what a deer having a panic attack might look like?

Yeah, me neither. But the husband could sure tell you.

So the deer is trying to get out of the planter. The dog is trying to get into the planter to get the deer, but he's old so imagine an arthritic, hunched over, very elderly gentleman who may also be partially deaf and somewhat blind trying to catch a squirrel and that might resemble what this scenario may have looked like. Meanwhile, the husband is trying to get the dog, stay away from the deer, and get in the house. But the dog is now selectively deaf and the deer is in the flight part of "fight or flight" so the husband is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Or a dog and a deer. Take your pick.

The only successful thing was the deer who managed to avoid the arthritic jaws of the dog, get out of the planter, and then managed to knock that crazy loud dog right over because the dog is now selectively dumb and didn't get out of the way.

I think it was out of spite, but who really knows the mind of a deer.

Unfortunately, the husband was in the way because he was trying to hold on to the dumb deaf dog who'd been knocked over by the deer. So the deer mowed him down next as she was trying to make her escape because why wouldn't you knock over the guy who cut down your frolicking grounds? I mean really, how insensitive.

And then she disappeared into the starry, moonless night. Probably to plot her next attack. Or to find a less chaotic bed.

Deer               1
The Husband 0

Did I mention that I think we have angry deer?

This morning, the husband was walking down to check his burn pile from yesterday.
As I was driving down the driveway, I noticed three deer hanging out by the pile of ash. 

You know, in protest because he cut down their love nest.

I rolled down my window, held up three fingers, pointed down the hill, watched the husband pull up short and cautiously fix his approach, chuckled, and drove away.

Grace always Rises {yep, even with angry deer},