Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Skunks Under My House

I wish my blog title was just a made-up attention grabber.  It's not.  I really do have skunks under my house.

We figured they moved in around July 1st.  Our oldest was home from KU over the weekend of the 4th and actually named the mama and her two babies.  All I can remember is that one of the babies is named "Travis."  I specifically told Kaleb not to name the skunks as that would cause us to become more attached.  I was being funny.

My youngest first noticed Travis and his sibling on our front porch on July 3rd.  In my sweet, Mayberry-of-a-town, it was the night of the city fireworks.  My hubby had already gone over to the high school football stadium to start popping popcorn with fellow Lion Club members.  (I told you I lived in a Mayberry kind of place...)  Anyway!  We were waiting for dark and also for the horrific lightening storm to let up before we trekked over for the big fire in the sky when Klay spotted Travis and...Tootie.  (We'll call her Tootie, but don't let yourself get too attached.) He started yelling and quickly ran out the other end of the house so that he could somehow "get" them.  I know, "getting" a skunk sounds like a grand idea.  He didn't "get" them, but he did "get" them worked up.  Yes, they sprayed under our house.

So, it's hot.  100+ degree hot for the next several days and we feel that we should turn the air conditioner off to somehow keep the smell from blasting throughout the house.  Good times.  No, really.  Good times!  As our oldest left the house late on the 4th he exclaimed, "Best 4th ever!!  So fun!  I love the skunk thing!  Awesome!"  Okay, this is probably a strange time to plug my book, but come on.  It's got a lot of parenting stuff in there and if it's written by a gal who has raised children who are just as happy with skunks as they are with big, blow-out fireworks that cost an arm and a leg...she's doing something right!

We have heard the nuttiest stuff since the skunks have moved in.  I found out that it isn't that uncommon of a thing we're experiencing here.  At least three teachers I am working summer school with have crazy skunk-under-the-house stories that are way better than mine.  Friends from church have brought traps (settle down, PETA friends, live traps) and suggested everything from apples to tuna for enticement.  Go on the web and search it yourself.  Seriously.  Just put something like "how to get skunks out from underneath your house" and you will be entertained for hours.

Thankfully, we only had a skunky smell around for a day or so.  The air is back on (as it is still 100+ out) and my home smells lovely (thank you horrible candle habit!)  But, Travis, Tootie and Mom are still here.

I hope they don't stay forever, but this is what I've learned from having skunks under my house.  Skunks = distractions.  And while we may not all have skunks (just us lucky people!)...we do all have distractions.  I have been very, VERY distracted the past few years by a plethora of things.  What things?  Oh, everything from sinus infections to houses that won't sell.  Skunks all.  The skunks are under my house and I have no idea for how long.  They could exit in two months without a trace of odor, or they could say "so-long" tonight and leave us reeking for weeks.  We may have to get help in getting them out or we may not even have to lift a finger ourselves.  But, will go on in the house above.  The sun will rise on my pretty, little, yellow, Norman Rockwell house and it will also set upon it.  We will go to work, school, church and the occasional baby shower, baseball game and cook-out.  I mean, I don't like the skunk ordeal, but they aren't going to knock my house over in the night.  They aren't going to turn my friends against me.  And I'm pretty sure they aren't going to get me fired from my teaching job.

The enemy brings distractions.  Life brings distractions.  Sometimes, we are the distractions.  They may be big and stick around for years or small and fleeting.  They may go as quickly as they came - without a trace - or, they may leave a stink for a while.  Regardless, God has a purpose for each one of us, no matter what the distractions.  We must keep focused on what the Lord can do in and through us - in the worst of circumstances -  and stop spending so much time thinking about what's under the house!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Take the Church Lady Challenge!

I may be showing my age when I speak of The Church Lady, but she really does inspire me.  And by the end of this blog, I hope that regardless of whether you are a lady or a dude, an adult or a teen...if you associate yourself in any way with "church"...that you, too, will be inspired by her. 

For those of you wondering what corner of crazy I am coming from today, I will try to explain.  Several years ago, comedian Dana Carvey portrayed a character who was a church lady.  The church lady.  Anyway, Church Lady made a lot of people laugh with her over-the-top uppity, self-righteous hilarity.  My personal favorite is a bit where she is highlighting the evils of including Santa at Christmastime, and really drives it home by showing us all that if the "n" in "Santa" is moved to the end of "Santa", well...come on!  You've got it!  That's right...spells SATAN!  And the look on Church Lady's face is priceless.  She has Sunday-schooled us again!

(Please note that I recently saw a bit of the Lady again, and my, she could be pretty raunchy.  Because I only saw clips here and there...many years ago...I think I had blocked out the questionable.  So, please know that I refer to her because she is character that we aspire to be "unlike"...thus, the inspiration!)

When not raunchy, the lady can make me laugh.  But, she also - even sans raunchy - makes me a bit uncomfortable. I mean, I laugh because I know her. We all do.  The judgmental, hypocritical "Christian" who lacks pretty much any quality that Jesus possesses.  Horrible, right?  Well, this is where it gets uncomfortable.

Not only is the Lady's image one that many hold when they think of church or a Christian...there probably isn't a one of us claiming Christ who hasn't been guilty of contributing to said image in some way.

I just had a talk with an old friend this week about judgment.  We didn't water down standing for right and wrong...we just discussed how the real Satan (not in any way related to our beloved Santa!) seems to be very busy and out to get the human race (not in any way a new concept!) and we have to be more intentional about bringing the hope of Christ to those around us. 

This is where the challenge comes in.  Read the following and think about joining me.  It could revolutionize the world. At least our worlds.

For the month of July,  I am purposing to:

  • Pray, not gossip.  For instance:  You get a call that someone needs prayer and that someone has requested that you pass the prayer need along, but you end up just passing and not praying.  Um, that would kind of defeat the purpose.  Before you make your next call, stop, drop and pray.  Also, beware of conversations that begin with, "You know who we really need to pray for?" and then don't end with someone actually praying.  "But, Cavewoman! People just come to me with stuff!  I can't help it.  I don't start gossip, it just finds me!"  It may not start with you, but if it finds you, make sure it ends with you.  A good friend once told me that when people come to her with a "prayer need" or concern or even a gripe about someone, she stops them immediately and says, "Let's pray right now!"  She says you instantly can see motive.  If the person is happy to pray and then go on, their heart is right.  If the person wants to keep explaining, talking or complaining first, then their heart is right...of center. I know my own heart needs some "shifting" on occasion.
  • Praise, not pout.  There are a lot of miserable looking Christians walking around.  I'm afriad that I, at times, am one of them.  We live in some rough days and it's easy to get down. As Christians, we know we're blessed, I mean...hello, God sent Jesus to die for us...that's blessed!  But, we tend to look horizontally more than vertically and then we think, "Wow, why don't I have what they have?  Why isn't God allowing me to do that?" and next thing you know, we're pouting.  Get in the a Psalm...remember all that God has done for you and get your praise on!  Why would anyone want to know Jesus if all they know about Jesus is what they see in a pouty Christian?  I stand as convicted as anybody out there!
  • Proceed, not retreat.  I am at the point in my walk with God where I am sure of Him.  For the most part.  Okay, I'm sure of Him being Who He says He is.  I am sure of Him creating me, saving me and someday taking me to Heaven.  I am not always sure of Him sustaining me in my day to day and that is the very thing that keeps me from being what I need to be for those around me!   Just because we are Christians doesn't mean we won't have trouble. It certainly doesn't make us better than others, giving way to our doing a Church Lady "Superior Dance"... please!  Most of our heroes in the Bible endured hardships that would make me jump off of a cliff.  Yet, I tend to think that my life should be easier.  No, I tend to think that if I appear perfect (not Church Lady perfect, but my version of perfect...which is perfectly together in every way without flaw) that then people will want to be a church person, too.  They will see how amazing I am and then want to know why I'm amazing and I'll say, "Jesus!"  and the angels will sing in Glory.  But, I am a human.  I am flawed.  I have troubles.  It's when others see me proceed through my troubles because I know that Christ sustains me...that's when they want to know what makes me tick.  If I retreat now, well, I am a hypocrite. And there ain't no dance for that one at all.
So, what do you think?  Will you join me?  Let's give church ladies (and all church goers) a good name! Let's see what could happen if we all prayed, praised and proceeded spite of our circumstances!

No "Superior Dance", but no "Inferior Dance" either.  How about an "In Spite of My Exterior, God is Holding Together  My Interior" dance?  People will notice.  People just might see Jesus in it all.  And that, as the Lady might say, would be very "special" indeed!  Cue:  dance.