Nose Chicken: Dealing with the Battles You Can’t Win

Sometimes you just can’t help but play along. When our middle child was a toddler, his blue eyes could trump my reason. Each bedtime snuggle he declared, “Nose Chicken!” The golden boy pressed his face into mine, nose to nose, until my grown up smeller yielded, whimpering. His laughter rang out in big, belly peals. Squishy youth always triumphed over my bone and cartilage. Each time I thought I could hold out. Each time my eyes watered and I had to surrender. I lost the battles, but won sweet memories with my son.

Life can be like that, too. How often do we play games we can’t win? Like Boggle against my husband, there is no chance of victory, only opportunity to either enjoy the journey or set a healthy boundary.

Oh, there are dream destinations: the clean house, our goal weight, a happy marriage. The thing is, those end goals aren’t the end. When we get there, no golden buzzer sounds to bedazzle the stage with confetti and launch us to the final round. Ultimate wins are rare. More often, success is a moment on a stream that we paddle up. We can stay there with effort, but setting the cruise control will likely sweep us back downstream.

The cardio to hold our ground in these areas is worth it. The empty laundry basket, some extra space in our jeans, a smile shared across the table—each is a reason to celebrate. Conquest may not be possible, but management is. Every effort in the journey makes today a better place and breaks trail for tomorrow.

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Then there are tangles that never admit a truce: quicksand zones, where our struggle digs us deeper. Pleasing everyone. Trying to be perfect. Social media debates where everyone is yelling and no one is listening.

Surrender can be the best course correction even without roadblock flashers. There is only so much of us to go around. Saying yes to one thing means saying no to others.

There is no shame in admitting a battle isn’t worth the fight, and choosing not to engage. Hard work is necessary to live and love well–we know life isn’t all about us or what makes us happy. But sometimes it’s more helpful for everyone if we care from a distance rather than jumping into the mosh pit.

Our strength and focus are worth saving for the right battles in God’s timing. We have to follow the Spirit’s leading to know when to invest ourselves and when to guard our pearls from death by bacon.

So clean out your email inbox, keep praying for breakthrough, put on your deodorant. Fight the battles that make life sweeter in the process and release the ones that come only to steal, kill, and destroy.

Eventually I had to find another way to laugh with my son at lights out. We abandoned the game, but held onto the joy.

 

Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. Matthew 7:6 NIV

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John‬ ‭10:10‬ ‭NIV‬‬


How do you see this at work in your life? What battles could you leave behind to gain victory?

Toss Photo by Thiago Cerqueira on Unsplash

Walking Through Fireworks: A Father’s Day Blessing

We pushed the garage door opener on our life as a family of three, just released from the hospital with our baby girl bundle. The house felt huge after our cubby in the postpartum ward. Ladybugs and clouds danced the walls in her nursery.

The sunshine and celebration outside beckoned us. A short stroll before nap time? Why not?

For a first time father, there was nothing newbie about you. A physical therapist, babies were the brightest spots on your clinic schedule. You cooed and chuckled through our miracle’s first-bath-fussing, then confidently laid her back in my arms. I searched your eyes for reassurance. You smiled that everything was alright.

Finally home, the whole neighborhood was in party mode. The 4th of July was sparkling out there. Fresh air and freedom called. Shunning the infant carrier, you scooped our girl up freehand, and through the door we went.

Slowly we climbed the hill, my momma-legs wobbly. Rounding the corner, we saw the street lined with open garages and lawn chair gatherings. We qualified, too, now, a full-fledged family.

Ambling closer, the landscape shifted. The smoke and sparks, crackles and pops hit a crescendo, considerably less festive at close range. Fireworks exploding everywhere, no one paused to welcome the newest neighbor. We decided to run for it—or at least waddle.

close up photography of fireworks on the street

Photo by Markus Spiske freeforcommercialuse.net on Pexels.com

Baby toes tucked in your elbow, we plodded through a gauntlet of ground flower whirls and fuming fountains. It felt like a battle zone. I fought panic that some spark or tipped-over rocket would sting our sweet girl. You spoke peace and curved like a shelter around her. Toddling along as quickly as possible, we made it back safely inside our walls.  It had been the longest block of our lives.

First parenting fail on the books: testing out that verse on walking through the fire without being burned. Check. God must have a special ops unit for new parents.

All three of us exhausted now, you introduced her to the crib with a few pats for comfort. She fussed for a minute, then dozed off, trusting you. It was only when you came out of her quiet room that I saw you rub your shoulders. You had worried, too, along the sidewalk craziness. Afraid of dropping her, tense in the midst of sparks and noise, you had held her so close, your muscles cramped.

Somehow, that strain spoke your love more clearly than anything else. We weren’t business as usual,

We were yours.

We were heart-deep underneath your calm wisdom, and you would do anything to keep us safe.

We could trust you.

2004_1221AA crop cdocAlmost sixteen years later, our controller opens a gate part way around the world for our family of five.

You are still the adventurous one, speaking peace over my mothering flutters. You are the forward thinker, encouraging me to open the kitchen to our daughter’s exploration, placing the lawn in the care of our son’s hands on the trimmer. You carry us through the shifting landscape of new culture, language, and how-to-do-everything.

Sometimes it puts you into knots, but you are wise and strong. With the Lord’s help, you keep us safe.  We love you with everything we are, everything you help us to be.

Happy Father’s Day.


To all the ones we trust, to the pillars of our families, whether by blood or by spirit:

We would not be the same without you. Thank you for launching our babies into the sky and making moms everywhere catch their breath. You teach us all how to fly.

May the Lord be your strength as you walk us through the fireworks.



When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;

Isaiah 43:2-3a NIV

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Linking this post up to VelvetAshes.com at The Grove: Family

 

The Larabar Experiment

Somewhere along the way yesterday, I came across a blog about making your own homemade Larabars. I have never tasted a Larabar, and I’m not a nutritionally noble sort of person. But I do love to learn how to make things, and I figured this could be a good snack to grab in the jello-limbed, post-workout moments of my morning. Thus began my latest learning rabbit trail: How to make a Larabar!

After a lot of time looking at online recipes, and some study of my pantry and Walmart shelves, I was ready. Dates, check. Nuts, check. Lemon extract, check. Food processor, check. Saran wrap, check. I set forth into the kitchen while my husband was happily engaged watching a manly movie with our Ibex student, Solomon. Strains of epic battle music drifted up from the basement.

And it was a battle, though not with dates and nuts. It was a battle with myself. You see, my track record is to make a huge batch of something new and hope we happen to like it. (Ask the 80 breakfast burritoes we made for the freezer, in blind faith that they would be good. Thank the Almighty they were!) Or hoping that I can learn to like it. I really do mean “I” because my family defects when one of these projects goes south, while I linger on in “gotta use this up” purgatory.

So I am proud of myself as I survey the three types of Larabars chilling in my refrigerator, because I only made TWO BAR’S WORTH of each kind. This is the culinary equivalent of looking before you leap! Hooray! And another victorious circumstance: I came out of the experience without purchasing an enormous bulk package of anything, and without letting my heart demand a high quality replacement for my obviously inferior food processor. Where is the soccer announcer screaming “GOOOAAALLLLL!!!!”?

I hope that I like the Larabars, but it really doesn’t matter. I’m just blessed to be learning to temper my enthusiasm with some wisdom. At least THIS time.