At Least I’m Warm…

I just completed a feat that made me give myself a little pat on the back.  This girl spent two weeks in archery season and two weeks in rifle season trudging through the woods and up a ladder and into a stand waiting for a big buck.  Through wind and sleet and snow (no hail), I sat and froze my bippy.

Somewhere in there, I decided that it’s not surprising that I love this hobby.  I am the same girl that made and loved tree forts, spent every afternoon in the woods after school, and loves to stockpile food.  I also love and respect firearms and the shooting of them.  🙂 And after getting my deer last year, I was hooked.  I look at the whole thing with ultimate respect — the giving of life so my family can eat.  And I thoroughly enjoy the process of waiting and watching Deer TV — the slowest show you’ll ever watch in your life.

hunting pic 2

I love how the experience changes me.  It begins each day with a wardrobe change from work clothes into hurriedly changed warm-weather gear, my backpack, my rifle, and it transforms me into one who sits still.  One who sets her phone down and breathes.  One who has chapped hands and face and hat hair.  One who returns breathless each night with stories of sunsets and deer and maybe a squirrel who jumped into my stand with me or a woodpecker who knocked at my door and scared the willies out of me.  It might involve stories of pee-pee pants as I learned that my new device which allows girls to urinate on the go does not work unless one completely drops her pants.  Quit laughing.  I had to sit in said pee-pee pants for over and hour so as not to disturb the deer.  This is how tough I am.

It reminded me of the famous family story that gets told and quoted time and again at our house.  We were on a family trip and we were at a restaurant and it was a location that should have been warm so when our clothes were inadequate to keep us warm, I had a shivery baby.  I think she was about five and so so cold.  We were at a Japanese steakhouse so we were at a table with strangers — all of us facing each other.  My little one managed to spill an entire bowl of hot soup in her lap.  I say, with all gentleness, that at that age, this particular little one may have typically had a rather strong and dramatic reaction to soup in the lap.  This time, with everyone looking on, she surprised us all by simply saying, “Well.  At least I’m warm!”

That phrase gets repeated over and over around here when things seem dire and we choose to look at the bright side.

With two days left in hunting season, our meat freezer died.  Sadly, it had died a couple days before we realized it and by the time we noticed, we had already lost a lot of meat — specifically, almost an entire deer, almost an entire grass-fed cow, almost a whole pig that we had purchased, 5 chickens and more.

Needless to say, with Christmas coming, having just finished 6 birthdays, and with a pretty neat tax bill due, the timing — and the basement — stunk.  “Well, we have two days left to get a deer!  So let’s get a deer!” we said.

No deer.  Yeah.

We had prayed and we had asked and no deer.  So many collective hours freezing and waiting and watching over the course of 2 months, and nothing.  We left our stands the last night and met at the geese and duck and chicken coops to do chores and fist bumped each other — proud of how hard we’d tried.  Determined to put a good face on things.  And with the most thankful of hearts for all we have.

Friends, we don’t have a happy ending yet.  Usually, this is the part where I tell you something neat like I hit a deer on the way home from work and look at that!  Provision!! Or how one just walked up to my door and died and woohoo!  Meat for everyone!  God has done those type of things for us before.  Checks in the mail at the very moment we needed it.  Business deals that go through when things felt really dire.

This time, the miracle is that we have joy anyway.  Even when things are frustrating and we can’t see the ending for the curves in the way, we firmly believe God has something just beyond our sight-line that is waiting to come into our view and finish the story in the way only He can.  He has proven Himself more times than I could possibly count.  Our family is healthy and happy and together and we have warm homes and will have a beautiful Christmas.  Things are not dire.  They are just inconvenient.  We are 100% choosing to be thankful for everything and excited to see what is in store.  We aren’t even allowing ourselves to complain or worry.  Just not gonna do it.

Because, sometimes, the soup (or maybe the pee-pee) just spills all over your clothes.  But at least you’re warm.

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Put your behind in your past…

At least that’s what Pumbaa said.

Man, I sure know a few of us that need to turn our heads forward sometimes.  I honestly wonder how we get around at all with our eyes firmly fixed on what is behind! You’ll notice that I am including myself in the mix.  It’s a pattern I can quickly fall into if I’m not careful.  It’s the pain.  It’s always what hurts that keeps us turned the wrong way.

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We have a ridiculously fat, old cat named Rhetta.  She is embarrassingly large — so large, in fact, that she can no longer wash her own back and has mats that form in her fur.  We call them dreads so as not to make her feel ashamed.  We feed each of our cats the same amount of food per day.  Rhetta, however, is sneaky and discovered the dog food years ago, and helped herself a bit too often.  She is also scared of everything.  She’s been kind of a nasty personality for years now.  You just never know when you’ll get bitten — even if she seems pleasant.  She HATES the other pets and prefers her dark, little corner of the world where she hides and growls and spits at anyone who gets too close.  We think the addition of each pet and each life change (including the 12 hour drive to a new home a few years ago) really messed with her.  She just seems broken.  We just love her and shave her back now and then and try to get her through.  Sad, isn’t it?  She just can’t step out of what hurt her into enjoying even a little bit of life.

I look around and realize we all have things that scarred and tried to break us.  Tricky mommy and daddy issues, folks who promised to love us and didn’t follow through, physical and emotional abuse, folks who pointed out our flaws and created ugly thoughts that seem to stay on repeat, the loss of someone we loved deeply, insecurity…this list could go on ad infinitum.

No one is immune.  But some have found a way to move on.  Have you noticed that?  Some folks seem to take it stride or heal faster or something.

As I’ve looked around with this in mind, I realize that folks tend to use their pain to either justify their behavior or as a catalyst to change.  Yeah, that’s tough stuff, but if we’re being honest, we know it’s true.  Either we repeat patterns or we break the chains.

I have cross-country skied since I was three years old.  It has always been just for fun and I’m too out of shape now to want to let anyone see me trudge/glide along.  I had stopped for decades and recently came back to it thanks to my kids and their gift of equipment.  Then some stupid health stuff gave me excuses to sit instead of ski.  My husband got me out the other day and in the middle of a winter weather advisory, we went for a walk/ski together.  We got about 16 inches of fresh snow that day.  The plows couldn’t keep up, and since we live in the middle of absolute nowhere that was no surprise.  Our area is mountainous.  I was on the last day of one of the worst colds I’ve ever had and had been coughing ridiculously for days.  Perfect set-up to get back into things.  Haha.

A half mile in, huffing and puffing, I had a decision to make.  I could turn around and go home (which sounded mighty good).  Or, I could commit to the next three legs of equal length and make *the square* which would bring me back to my driveway.  The square consists of huge inclines and I was already sucking some serious wind.  But darn it, I wanted to have proven it to myself that I could do it.  So I committed.unblazed trail

I've got this

halfway

{I had to document it with photos because I could just feel my thoughts brewing as my lungs burned!}

This journey we are on is daunting!  Pitfalls and mountains and the overwhelming-ness of it all can make us just want to go back to somewhere safe and easy!  Sometimes, we gloss over the pain of our past and live there emotionally just to not have to face what is in our front view!  Often, it’s just too hard to breathe where the path hasn’t been broken for us, and we quit and take off our gear and camp out.  I get it!  I’ve done it!

But the past has passed!!!  It’s just our catalyst to a great story!  It’s not a dwelling place or a camp or a place we even want to stay!  The mystery, the beauty is in the new trail!

The triumph is in only the glance back where we see our tracks and rejoice in the accomplishment!  When we see that there was always at least One Who walked alongside us, cheering us on!  When we get a new story — a renewed sense of victory and hope.

a glance back

No one wants to continue to hear my sad stories.  I have a million.  They’re getting old though, and it feels just like stench at this point.  Those stories are just my stepping stones into who I stepped up to be.  Yes, they hurt, but I worked hard to survive and I am determined to look forward to the new, unblazed, fresh and beautiful path into who I am now — despite and because of those obstacles!

I glance back only to be thankful for how far I’ve come.  I refuse to trip over them any longer.

Anyone with me?