Monday, October 13, 2008

Little Toad a.k.a. "I Need a Hero!"

I'm terrified of frogs and toads. Have been my whole life. I know, it's silly. Go ahead and laugh.

My mom thinks she passed it on to me. But I believe it also may have something to do with being raised in Colombia, the country with the most species of frogs in the world. I have memories of living in the boarding school for missionaries' kids in the middle of the Andes foothills. During rainy season, the frogs and toads came out in droves (or so it seemed to me.) They found their way in everywhere.

You'd go to take a shower and be washing up, all vulnerable and exposed. Then you'd turn around and see, in the folds of the shower curtain, a tree frog!! So now there's the dilemma of "How do I get out of here without that THING jumping on my little naked self?!!"
I learned to pray fervently in those times. "Please, Jesus, don't let it jump on me! Please, Jesus, get me out of here! God, why did you create frogs?? What were You thinking?" Really devout prayers for a 9 year old girl.

It didn't help that I lived in the dorm with a bunch of MK boys known for their mischeiviousness. If they had discovered I was afraid of frogs/toads, my life would have become a living hell. But fortunately, I wised up early on and acted all nonchalant when one of them would hold up a disgusting specimen of toadhood right in my face. Some comment like, "Oh, cool toad!" would take the fun out of scaring me with them and I was able to walk by inwardly shivering in revulsion but keeping my phobias to myself.

As an adult living in the midwest and southwest US, I've been able to avoid amphibians for nearly 20 years. But now that I'm in Florida with a home that is surrounded by nature, they're in my face again. Every time it rains, the cutest little toads start hopping through the yard. I say they're cute as long as they stay away from me. But last night was a different story.

I had tucked the kids in bed and they were already sound asleep. When I walked into my bedroom, there was one of those little toads! He was still cute but in a sinister way. I watched in horror as he hopped under my desk. I had some work to finish up on the computer and how could I sit there at that desk knowing at any moment, he could hop his repulsive little body onto MY FOOT??!! My mind raced as I frantically thought of how I could get him out of here and still stand safely on the bed. There was no way. I had to do something.

I toyed with the idea of spraying it with roach poison. But what if that didn't work but only made it really sick?? I didn't want the creature to suffer needlessly. I thought of my son's machete. I could try to kill the thing. But more than likely I would hack the floor to pieces in the process and then would have a disgusting murder scene to deal with. (Not to mention the guilt.)

So I did the only thing any phobic loving mother would do. I woke up my brave 10 year old son and patiently waited for him to come to full consciousness. Then I earnestly begged for his help. He valiantly came to my rescue and caught that toad with a cup and piece of paper. I stood on a chair and opened the front door while he tossed it out safely into the night. I told my son he was my hero and I meant it from the bottom of my heart! He said, "Sure, Mom" and went back to sleep.

I realize that some day I will have to face my fears. Who knows? Maybe I will grow fond of frogs and toads and even let my kids keep one as a pet. Someday, when Jesus comes back and there is peace once again between woman and amphibian. But for now, me and my phobia will keep a watchful eye out for little hoppers in the night. And if I see one -- well, I know where I can find a hero.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


It's hard to be going along, everything seems to be normal or at least okay. Then out of the blue I get blindsided with grief. It can be the smallest thing that sets it off. But it just hurts and there's no getting around it. I guess the good thing is that it's not so overwhelming or constant as it used to be. Now it's more of an occasional thing.

Sometimes I get angry that I'm in this limbo place -- married, but not. For all intents and purposes, I'm a single mom, but with none of the freedom or benefits, (if you can call them benefits.) I'm angry that my husband gets away with sinful irresponsibility and there is no justice, and I have no recourse. Yet at the same time, I don't want full justice because then the kids and I would lose out forever. He would be gone. So I want God's justice, but with mercy. Mostly I just want God to change everything and make it all new.

I find myself beating my head against God's brick wall. He has allowed these things into my life and He keeps me hedged in so that the only place I have to run is to Him. And so I pour out my heart to the Lord:

"O Lord God of my salvation, I cry out to You by day. I come to You at night. Bend down, O Lord, and hear my prayer. Answer me for I need Your help. Protect me, for I am devoted to You. Save me for I serve You and trust You.
You are my God.
Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am calling on You constantly.
Give me joy, O Lord, for I give myself to You.
O Lord, You are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for Your help.
Listen closely to my prayer, O Lord, hear my urgent cry.
I will call to You whenever I'm in trouble and You will answer me.
For You are great and perform wonderful deeds.
You alone are God.
Teach me Your ways, O Lord, that I may live according to Your truth.
Grant me purity of heart so that I may honor You.
With all my heart I will praise You, O Lord my God.
I will give glory to Your name forever,
For Your love for me is very great. You have rescued me from the depths of death.
Send me a sign of Your favor. Then those who hate me will be put to shame, for You, O Lord, help me and comfort me."

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Backyard Symphony

The other day I was sipping coffee in my favorite chair, venting to God about -- well, lots of things. So He invited me to go outside to my backyard. I sat on the weathered picnic table in the mid-morning sunshine and continued with my complaints and worries. He said nothing, just sat there next to me, listening. After a while, I stopped talking and started to listen too.

That was when I noticed a sound that had been in the background while I was busy talking. It was the sound of hundreds of hidden cicadas playing a symphony. The music swelled and rose to a huge crescendo and then faded to almost quiet.

I thought they were done. But a small group on the left side of the yard continued playing. Soon they were joined by more until the sound filled the air with this amazing insect music. Occasionally, they were joined by a blackbird solo or the buzzing of a bee. The song rose and fell again and again.

I was completely fascinated. We both sat there listening to this beautiful concert of hidden musicians. I didn't see a single one, not even the bird. The only creature life I could see were a couple of butterflies chasing each other around the yard or the occasional lizard rustling through the grass. But even that sound seemed to fit in with the rest of the music as if it were planned.

Then it began to dawn on me how much enjoyment the Lord was getting from the music of His little creatures. He listens to them all the time and never gets tired of it. He pointed something out to me as we sat on that table. Every single one of those cicadas were simply being themselves. They weren't doing anything out of the ordinary, only what they were created to do. Each one by itself would still make amazing sounds. But when they all joined together, being themselves, living their lives to the fullest, the beauty of their symphony leaves you filled with awe and wonder.

I sat there for a little longer enjoying the music and reflecting on what He showed me. It was a lot to take in. I don't think I realized how much the Lord enjoys it when I'm being myself, especially with Him. But how much greater is His delight when His children are being themselves together, living freely in His love. To Him it's the most beautiful music in the world.