Why Did It Have To Be Snakes?

We have a problem in our yard. It slithers and is holding our front yard hostage. As in, every day for the past 5 days, it finds a spot to lie right in the middle of the front yard. Exactly whenever the bus lets Sweetgirl and company off.

And the first time we discovered this thing had taken up residence outside our abode, I was treated to the rare and delightful show of three screaming seven-year old girls each jumping two feet in the air. They proceeded to hop and scream for the 30 seconds it took them all to make their way to the back yard where the swing set is.

Because, surely, there are no snakes in the back yard!

And poor Sweetgirl has had nightmares about this dad gum thing every night since!

Not only is this creature terrorizing us in the daytime, it’s wreaking havoc at night, too.

I wish I were kidding.

Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes? I’ve watched my fair share of fish being gutted, bucks being skinned, and turkeys being plucked.

But snakes?

My palms are sweaty and shaky even as I type out the word!

I took to The Facebook today, to share my distress, with a picture, hoping someone would at least tell me it was a harmless kind. One neighbor jokingly informed me that this particular reptile is called a Scarus Wettus Pantsus. INDEED! My pantsus are wettus!!!

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Thank you iPhone for zoom capability!

Today, in fact, I took a stroll through the front yard to the mail box. No sooner did I get halfway across than the blasted thing slithered right in front of me and stopped. As if to say, “Go around, or else!”

I went around.

Far FAr FAR around.

My nearest neighbor’s teenage daughter happened to come driving down the road at the same time as this catastrophe took place. She slowed as she came upon me hopping and screaming in my driveway.

I calmly walked over to HER yard and overstayed my welcome. I did, however, ask her to babysit for us. I’m pretty sure her answer will be no.

Here’s the thing, I come by my abhorrence of these scaly things by birth. The Nana… you have never seen someone as terrified of snakes as she is. Never. She’s been known to pass right out because one had the audacity to sneak up onscreen in the midst of some television show or movie.

So, back to my slithery misery… I braved Mr. Google and found that there are actually very few poisonous varieties of snakes up here in New England. Furthermore, I found that there are three distinct ways to determine whether a snake is a “pit viper”, AKA bad snake. (Although, are there any good snakes? I think not.)

  1. Does the thing’s head have a deep pit between the eye and the nostril? (I don’t know and I don’t intend to find out.)
  2. Is the pupil (the black part of its eye) vertically elliptical? (Again, I don’t know and I have no desire to get anywhere near that close. Also? If you can say vertically elliptical 5 times fast, you win the Internet!)
  3. (And this might be my favorite…) Do the scales on the underside of the tail go all the way across? (I can’t even. WHY WOULD I BE LOOKING UNDER THE TAIL? Why?)

Here’s another fun fact: If you are on a “snake watch” for an hour and a half to track its movements, that 2 minutes you have to visit tinkle town will be precisely when it chooses to slip away.

And then, YOU DON’T KNOW WHERE IT IS!!!!!!

So, in conclusion, I detest snakes.

 

I’m filing this one under Lessons. I’ve learned that I’d rather play “wettus pantsus” than “where’d the snake go?”

And, I might never leave my house again.

Bring Devil Dogs.

*Update since this post started! Another kind facebook friend said we should definitely find a way to “relocate” it (Can that be code for kill it, please?) or else it will raise a family in our yard.

And then, I died.*

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How to Deal With the “What Ifs”

How many times have you heard the saying, “God will not give you more than you can handle”?

If you said “too many”, same here.

Nothing can strike fear in my heart quite as quickly as any situation where the word “if” is involved. It can be one of the most terrifying words in the entire English vocabulary. I’m guessing it can be for some of you, too?

Often, if hangs in the air like a bomb waiting to detonate. That bomb might sprinkle confetti or rain down disaster.

But, OH! How terrifyingly if hangs there.

If this baby has a disability, too. If this precious egg sticks within me.

If I win the competition. If I don’t even place.

If the job ends. If I get the job.

If.

IF.

IF!

What’s your if?

Because, I can tell you this, whatever it is, there’s an answer to it. An answer that every religion, since religion became a thing, tries to answer differently.

And yet, each answer is essentially the same. Because The Creator of All knows our questions before we ask them. And He is faithful to answer.

In His timing, of course.

Ultimately, that’s what irks this If Asker, the very most. The plotter and planner and want-to-know-right-now-er in me is annoyed that I can’t always know what happens if.

I crave certainty. Stability. Dependability.

“If” provides none of those things.

Sometimes, an answer is for me to know. Other times, times I dread, it’s not. Anxiety could set in so easily, during those times. Two verses that I cling to during a time of waiting for an answer are:

“When doubts fill my mind, your comfort gives me renewed hope and cheer.”

“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you.”

Comfort comes in knowing The One who made each one of us does, indeed, care what happens to us. And, he knows what happens “If”. Not only does He know, He’s got a plan for whichever side of this two-letter word the answer falls on.

Remembering that truth provides a measure of relief, as I consider my desperation for the finality of an answer. It also lifts the burden of trying to figure it all out on my own. There is a time and place for figuring it out, of course. Someone has to decide if we are going to Dairy Queen for dessert or not.

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In the grander scheme of life, though, I’m able to breathe a sigh of relief as I remember that most of what I worry my heart over isn’t for me to decide. God’s ability is higher, longer, wider, and deeper than my inability.

So is His love for me.

And you.

He knows if this is what I can handle.

God knows if this is what you can handle.

“Blessed be God; he didn’t turn a deaf ear, he stayed with me, loyal in his love.”

I’m resting right there.

Yes indeedy.

The Worst Four Letter Word

Fear can instill some mighty heavy feelings in this heart of mine.  I keep kicking the can down the road, where some of this fear is concerned. But, dang it all if it doesn’t so one little thing to help soothe that erratic heartbeat of mine!

If I know anything, (and let’s just agree that I know next-to-nothing), it’s that when fear grips, faith grows.

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Faith in being an Overcomer.

Faith in The One who overcame all.

Faith that this grand story that I get to be a part of turns out Beautiful.

Next weekend, I will be swimming that quarter of a mile that I committed to swimming, a few careless weeks ago.

Sweetman asked me if he and the kids could come cheer me on.

I said no.

I’ll let that hang in the air a minute.  It’s okay.  I’m as ashamed to write it as I was to be feeling it.

Why in the world did I say no?

Fear.

I didn’t want them to see me fail.

I didn’t want them to see me struggle.

I didn’t want them to see me come in last.

Fear really is the worst four letter word, isn’t it?

How dare I say that My People can’t come see what all of these morning “work” swims have been all about.  Why shouldn’t they see me work hard and follow through on a commitment? Why shouldn’t they watch as I try?

Because, actually, to try is to win. I’m halfway there just by giving it a go!

And, you know what? I want them to see me give it a go!

Did you see what just happened there?

My faith… it just grew.  It out-gripped that fear and overshadowed it and made my heart beat a little more steadily.

God, you tell me that I can do all things through you. And, that it’s You who gives me the strength to scoop and cup that water and slice through it with enough power to see me through to the end.  Get me there, God. See me through, in Your power.  Let my family see that I can indeed do all things through You, who strengthens me.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen!  (taken from Philippians 4:13)

Oh God, what you can do with some Words.

My no has become a yes.

Oh, yes indeedy!

Rip It Off

“Only God knows how many dreams have been killed at the altar of fear.”

-Derwin Gray, Limitless Life

Fear is no respecter of circumstance.  It just isn’t. It will have its way no matter how well prepared one thinks they are.

Like, when I wax my upper lip.  (Yep. I’m going there. Just for a minute.)  I can ice that area.  I can repeat my mantra, “I’ve birthed two babies. I can DO THIS!”.  I can do everything I can do to prepare myself for that rip.

Until it comes time to do it.

And then, it sometimes takes a knock at the front door by the UPS man to get me to just do it, for crying out loud!

There are other things in my life that I let fear keep me from doing.

The author of Limitless Life, Derwin Gray, goes on from the quote I used up there to say, “It must break His [God’s] heart to see dreams He has placed in so many people’s hearts go unrealized because we have more faith in fear than in Him.” 

Ouch.

That quote couldn’t cut deeper into the heart of the fear issue in my life, if it had been written only for me.

But it wasn’t written just for me. This book is a powerful tool written for any of us that are looking for ways to live life unbound by the labels that have no place in our lives, anymore. And maybe, they never had any place in our lives, at all!

This book is helping me to see that I still, after all my blustering on about following dreams and being redeemed, I still haven’t ripped that “Afraid” label fully off!

It’s like that tender little bit of upper lip that’s right under my nose. I’ve already gone and done the whole blasted thing, except that one last area.  But, I can’t make myself rip that last bit off.

And, why not?

Fear.

It is time to rip off that last bit of the old label of “Afraid” and be willing to let God replace it with ones that He deems worthy.

Because He has redeemed me!

He has declared me worthy of a new label!

And I am, finally, fully aware that I need new labels stitched into my heart.

True labels.

I’ve written before about the power that I think words have to help someone sort out the messes in life.  I’ve also talked a lot about the importance of following the dreams that seem to have been planted within our hearts.

And I’ve slacked off of doing either one of those, lately.

Seeing those dreams start to push through the hard crusty fear that took up residence for too long in my heart is a gift. I want to claim the labels of “Worthy” and “Able”. I want to let them propel me toward more of living the life that God has given me to live.

For me, that means that I want to keep writing my story.

For some of us Writerly types, courage comes not in the knowledge that our words will end up out in public, but in the knowing that we finally got them out.  Somewhere. Out of the shrunken heart-shaped prison that held them there. Enslaved.

But I am free.

It’s high time I let my words prove it!

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Yes, indeedy.  I do believe I will.

How about you?  Do you need to move from Afraid to Courageous?  If you’d like some more inspiration to do just that, consider joining in with the newly begun Proverbs 31 Ministries’ Online Bible Study of Limitless Life, by Derwin Gray.  Click the button below to see what others thought about the labels we wear and the community we share!

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How To Chase Your Demons

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I don’t know about you, but I find that anytime I determine to move forward in a positive direction, in any area of my life, pesky little demons come out of the woodwork.  The very act of declaring that I’m going to attempt success seems to be a clarion call for them. I’m becoming wise to their ways, though. 42 years of living and 10 times that number, in failures, will help you do that.

Demons are crafty. They know that the best time to rear their ugly heads are when you are feeling… ugly. And, even though I’m well aware of the times they most like to pop up, they still have the ability to take me completely by surprise.

It’s annoying.

This… human condition thing.

What are your most consistent demons called? I can tell you, right now, that mine are Fear, Envy, and Disappointment.  Those little buggers love to hiss “What makes you think you have what it takes to succeed?”, “You can’t ever be as good at this as so-and-so.”, and “You’ve failed every time you’ve tried this.”.

Lifting my eyes heavenward for help, which is where my Help truly comes from, seems to issue my demons a special kind of challenge.  They are just as determined to keep my eyes downcast as I am to lift them heavenward.

I am happy to report, though,  that Fear hasn’t been getting near as much airtime as usual.  I’m feeling less afraid of its ability to derail me from my goals.  I’m becoming more confident in this truth:

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

If…

I keep my eyes firmly attached on Him.

And that little stinker Envy? Well, I’m learning that every time I make the choice spend time desiring what someone else has, it only serves to take my focus off what God has for me. Quite frankly, ain’t nobody got time for that!  I’ve got words to write, and books to read, and letters to send.

As for Disappointment, I think I might actually feel sorry for that one.  I’m  not only a member of The People Pleaser Club of the Western Hemisphere, I’m also The President of it. And I’ve come to realize that the person I most often let down is myself.  Now, I don’t want to dis myself here, but allow me to dis myself here – it doesn’t matter one withered fig whether I let myself down.

Because, seriously… how many times do I state that all is Grace around here.

It’s high time I start living like it.

First order of business?

Chase those demons down and smother them silly.

With grace, of course.

Grace galore.

Yes indeedy.

Want to join me in my chase?  Or, even better, what demons can I help you chase?

A Beauty in Truth

There is such a beauty in truth, isn’t there?

Feeling the need to find my people, be purposeful, create beauty… it’s all percolating in my heart.  And I long to do these things without being rejected.  Without having my purpose be cast aside as unimportant.  I deeply desire to see others appreciate the words I create.  I do, indeed, long for these things.

And yet, I am afraid.  I’m afraid to fail, to not matter, to produce words that do not reach into hearts.

But, I go ahead and do these things afraid.

I do them because if I don’t, what is true of me will not be seen.

And what is true of me?

I am a sinner, the worst among them.

I will fail, many times over.

What I create may well end up being of no consequence.

But what is also true of me?

My Audience of One tells me that what is true is that I am already accepted.  I am already created with a purpose.  I was, in fact, already a thing of beauty creatively made in the image of One I can only pray to be more like every day.

I’m reminded that all that matters is that I believe these things – that I believe Him!

And that is a beautiful truth.

And it sets me free.

I’m linking up with the beautiful hearts over in the Five Minute Friday Community at Lisa-Jo Baker’s blog.  They had some words to share about TRUE. Maybe you’d like to share your thoughts, too?  Click the button below to hop on over there and check some of them out or add your own.  Or, even better? Do both!

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I Need To Remember

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I’ve been giving My Story quite a bit of thought lately.  We all have one. Some of us long to share ours. Some hide it deep in the recesses of our hearts, hoping that we never have to.  And still others seem to be able to tell theirs with abandon.

Which one are you?

God seems to be settling the weight of my task more firmly in my heart. Those Petal Soft Whispers are coming more and more frequently.  Through them, He’s been making it abundantly clear that I am to bring my story to Him, first.  I can honestly state that I am well and truly scared.  I need to remember that Perfect Love casts out fear.

Why do I struggle so mightily to step out in faith, in defiance of that fear?

Sifting through memories places me squarely in the sinking sand of emotions.  I find myself getting stuck on a particular period of time, and then on an exact year, and eventually, I feel like I’m sinking in the quicksand of a Specific Memory. I need to remember that God can pull me out.

Who is my solid rock on which I stand?

I’m at the point where I’m weeding through the parts of my story that aren’t mine to tell.  Obviously, my story can only be told from the perspective of the very heart that taps out the words.  But, I’ve started fretting over the wording of certain thoughts for fear of offending.  I need to remember to heed God’s whispers, not those of men.

If God is for me, whom shall I fear?

I’m going into the deepest darkest places.  But here’s the thing – God keeps shining the light of His truth into those places as I continue to learn to trust Him.  He keeps banishing the fear that tries so desperately to cripple me. My trust becomes more fully formed the more He loves me. I need to remember that it’s a matter of eternal perspective.

How do I refocus on the eternal in the midst of the daily?

It would seem, for me anyway, that this is also a maturing process.  The more words I present to my Audience of One to be sifted through, the more I realize that He has lessons for me that I haven’t mastered yet. I continually have to go back to Square One and ask Him to keep maturing me. I must keep asking Him to fill me with more Love to drive out the fear.  I need to remember that He is a Patient and Merciful Teacher.

How do I learn those lessons more quickly, Teacher?

At the end of the day, my only job is to submit what I feel He’s allowed me to see.  Those glimpses of heaven I’ve been given, here, on earth.  Those insights into grace seen on this side of glory.  Each piece of my story that I bring to God, He tenderly shapes and edits to fit His good purposes.  I need to remember that it is His Story, after all.

What about you? Do you long to tell your story?

May I encourage you to start getting it down?  Or to keep putting it down?  Or to bravely step out, with story in hand, knowing that if God’s been laying it on your heart to share it – then He will use it for His glory.

Or, maybe the desire of your heart isn’t quite fully formed in you. Yet.  I’d like to encourage you to keep praying for your desire to line up with God’s will until it becomes clear.

The truth is, that none of us, no – not a one, is fully formed yet.  We are all a work in progress.  Whatever that work may be.

And our job is to trust, but be ready. We must wait, while holding tight to the belief that God will reveal all in His perfect timing.  Not ours.

Oh Lord, form us fully in Your Love and help us to see Your Light in our story.