I recently was getting ready for an event which required makeup and taming of my unruly hair. I’d just clipped the final hot roller in place when I heard a commotion outside my window. I glanced out and saw my buffoon of a poodle tearing around the barn while my daughter and the neighbor girl shrieked and chased him. I rolled my eyes in exasperation and turned back to the mirror.
But then I saw it. A blood red trail in the snow. Chickens running wild.
The scene slowly registered in my brain. The dog was chasing chickens. One must be bleeding. This was not good. I flew downstairs, jammed my bare feet into the slip-on shoes near the door, grabbed a coat and stumbled outside.
Down at the barn, my daughter was apoplectic. She wailed that Mully was trying to kill a chicken and wasn’t responding to his shock collar. I took off after him, determined to show that poodle who’s boss.
For all of his stupidity, my dog is quite athletic and he was in no mood to mind. So I spent the next ten minutes chasing a giant poodle and bleeding chicken across the pasture, screaming like a crazy woman while hot rollers bounced off my head.
The chicken darted to safety behind an old fence rail and I finally captured the dog, but only because he’d managed to get tangled in a burdock bush. As I dragged him back towards the house, I surveyed the damage:
One chicken bleeding behind the fence. Likely dying.
One long trail of blood across the snow.
One poodle, straining to get away, wild-eyed with a bloody snout and burdocks matted into his fur.
One mom, slip-on shoes full of snow, sweating off her makeup and curlers falling out.
Two fifth grade girls huddled together, crying and looking on in horror.
I wish I could say I handled it well. I wish I could tell you that I calmly reassured the children and deftly disciplined the dog and we all came back inside, held hands and sang Kumbaya. But thats not what happened.
I was livid. Sweating. Now Late. Ready to murder my dog. And I lost my mind.
I berated the dog as I dragged him back towards the house. As I passed the girls, I angrily snapped at them to go find the bleeding chicken because the last thing I needed was a coyote to come around.
When I got to the house, I phoned my teenage son who was out with friends. I raged at him that if I’ve told him once, I’ve told him a million times that it was his responsibility to keep the shock collar charged and I was selling his dog.
I called my husband and downloaded on him. I knew full well I’d have an ally in the “we’re getting rid of this blankity blank dog” camp because my husband is the only person in the family who likes having a dog less than I do. But I didn’t give him a chance to respond before hanging up on him.
I called my aunt (by this time I was almost in tears) and told her the torrid tale. She listened calmly as I rambled on about how my dog rabidly tried to kill a chicken and in asked if, in her professional opinion, does this means he is now a vicious animal who can no longer be trusted around children? I lamented that my hair and makeup were ruined and I was going to be late to my speaking engagement and I was nasty to the kids and between my epic melt down and watching the dog try to kill a chicken, I might have scarred the neighbor girl for life.
My aunt took a deep breath and proceeded to talk me off the ledge.
She reassured me that my dog was still affable ole Mully and animal instincts were to blame for this detour in his behavior. She told me that my kids would survive their mother looking and acting like a stark raving lunatic … even the neighbor kid. And she told me to put my hair in a pony tail because for Pete’s sake who cares if its curled.
Taking my cue from her reassurance and direction, I pulled myself together.
I called the kids inside for hugs, hot cocoa and a movie. I assured them that Mully isn’t dangerous just because he had blood on his snout and tried to kill a chicken. The neighbor girl didn’t look convinced so I sweetly reminded her that her dogs killed our baby chicks once and she isn’t afraid of them. (In hindsight, maybe that wasn’t the best way to calm the traumatized neighbor girl. I clearly wasn’t on my A-game.)
I called my son and my husband respectively to apologize for dropping my basket. Then I wiped the mascara from under my eyes, pulled my hair into a ponytail and marched out the door to speak at the event.
Poodle or not, everyone is plagued by Murphy’s Law from time to time. And we might not always handle it perfectly. But thankfully, God teaches a simple but profound way to offer encouragement in times of stress.
Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad. Proverbs 12:25
In the midst of my frustration, anger and even self-loathing over how badly I’d responded to the fiasco, someone spoke truth and grace over me. These words of encouragement were a balm to my anxious heart and bolstered my spirits.
Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24
Encouragement is a powerful agent of change which reflects God’s heart towards us. Just as He lovingly restores his children when we are anxious, so should we gently restore each-other. And sometimes all it takes is a kind word.
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