Thursday, July 14, 2016

Peace Produce

Well, my first update on our negative neighbor has come much quicker than I anticipated! But it's a good one!

I was mowing yesterday in the early evening--the part of the yard that is close to the dreadful fence, the breach that Wendy crossed on that fateful day! So as I made laps around, I couldn't stop glancing toward the neighbors' house, which I knew was either going to make me very angry or cause me to feel compassion for them. One thing about being God's kid is that He likes to talk to you, even if you are honest and don't really want to hear from Him in the moment and would rather sulk around in your kiddie pool of misery and bitterness!

I kept feeling this nagging on the inside that maybe I sorta kinda got a little bit hot and maybe I sorta kinda shouldn't have. And if you've ever felt that way, you may agree that it's a rather uncomfortable feeling. I knew that I needed to talk to God about it and see if He wanted me to get rid of any feelings I was carrying around (but boy, they sure were justified feelings!). So sure enough, when I asked Him if maybe I let my anger grow a little much and needed to ask forgiveness, the answer was a quick YES. (Don't you hate when that happens? You might ask God a question for weeks and not hear anything and then you ask Him something you don't want the answer to and He yells it at you right away!) So I started asking Him to forgive my anger and replace it with love for her. I asked Him to give me a new heart toward her, to help me see her the way He sees her.

But let me tell you, I had no idea how quickly He would delight in answering that prayer!

I rounded the field I was mowing once more and I saw movement to my right. Here she came on her four wheeler up my driveway. I thought, "Oh boy--here we go! Lord, give me strength and patience and please guard my tongue!" She came to a stop and pointed at me to come to her. I killed the engine of the mower and reluctantly peeled myself off the seat to go see what punishment I needed this time!

She had a 5 gallon blue bucket sitting on top of the four wheeler, and the closer I got to her, I realized she had brought something to me in the bucket. I waved and said Hi as I reached her, still not completely sure of what on earth she was about to say or do!

It may be that new heart I prayed for, but y'all, I swear she almost smiled at me! She pointed to the bucket and said, "These are terrible tomatoes, but I wondered if you'd want 'em. I was just going to throw them away."

I maybe could have wet myself with excitement! I didn't care how terrible those tomatoes were, I wanted them! Look at that--peace tomatoes!

I took the handle of the bucket and lifted it off the four wheeler as she said to go put them in something else and bring her bucket back. Yes, ma'am! I literally ran up to the house to grab a container for the peace offering (I mean, I didn't want to take too long and make her mad, right?!). I laughed the whole way. God absolutely cracks me up! I dumped the tomatoes into a different bucket and then hurried back to her. Kate and Caleb had kept her company while I was gone (I'm sure she was delighted about that!). Caleb told her, "We keeped the dogs away" to which she almost smiled and said, "Thank you."

I handed the empty bucket back to her and said thank you probably 29 times. She isn't much for social banter, but I learned several things in the next few seconds that are very useful and will indeed help me love her more. She actually said, "I shouldn't tell you this, but just below those trees is a garden spot. My mother gardened it for years when she lived here." I grinned and pressed for more information, just to be sure, you know. "On the other side of those trees?" I asked. "Yes, all you have to do is break it up. I don't know why I'm telling you that." I can't figure out why she wasn't supposed to tell me about the garden spot! Maybe she's worried I'll have a better garden than her one day? LOL! But she did tell me, and that seems like a pretty solid neighborly thing to do, don't you?

She is funny, y'all. She's so serious, and I realized that it's like she couldn't figure out why she was doing something nice. It was against her will, I think. But something made her come over and be nice. :) She shouldn't tell me about the garden spot, and the tomatoes are horrible ("I don't know what the h*** is wrong with them this year" she said!), but she did tell me about it and she did bring tomatoes!

Isn't God funny and also really nice to us? I hopped back on the mower to finish mowing after she left and I could not stop grinning! I hoped she wasn't sitting over there watching me and thinking what is wrong with that girl?! God answers us when we ask Him for help, doesn't He?

I'm thinking of 2 Chronicles 7:14-16 "...if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that my name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time."

Wow. I know that's a little out of context, but I also believe the Word of God is living and active and relevant in all situations and can speak of many things at once and at all times. I think God was asking me to be humble, and almost the very moment I obeyed and humbled myself and prayed, He answered me with tomatoes! Tomatoes! Ha! You might think that was just a coincidence, but I don't believe in coincidences! I believe in a sovereign God who is alive and listening and who has a sense of humor!

I rode around the next half hour thanking Him and saying, "You sure do like her, don't you, Lord? All right, all right--I like her, too."

"And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace." James 3:18

 Peace of Christ to you,

Monday, July 11, 2016

Mountainside Mayhem and our own little Ninevah

Okay, okay--I may have deserted you for a time, but I'm determined to bring you back into the loop with this post!

So, we have moved to the mountainside, and let me just say: God is so good to us! Our entire family absolutely loves it here! We are still wrapping our minds around the way God brought this place to us out of thin air and with a big grin landed it squarely in our laps! Thank you, Lord (and my parents who hugely helped us with this dream!).

Something hit me the other day: You know we lost all of our possessions and home in May of 2013 in a whirling tempest (sorry, tornado--been reading in Jeremiah lately!). Well, Matt's aunt Karen said something to us on that shock of a day--before we even had seen the devastation--that I believe was prophetic and I'm so grateful to look back on it now. She reminded us of Job and how though he lost everything he owned and even his children--which we did not thank you, Jesus--the Lord restored to him everything in a double portion. The Lord has done the same for the Yakel family, y'all. We now own TWO homes after losing ONE home. He is so gracious, and it knocks my socks off!!

Anyhoo...there is this one little bitty problem, though. And that's why I'm blogging today. I have a feeling God is up to something either awesome or hilarious or both, and I thought it'd be a blast to drag you along on the journey...

Everything is absolutely perfect out here on the mountainside. Everything except this one little thing: our nearest neighbor. (I'm not at all concerned that she has Facebook or blogging, so don't panic about her reading this. Just trust me on that.) She's an older woman who we hope lives many many more years here on the mountainside, but as my husband noted, her ability to panic in minor situations could possibly be a slight health hazard. We'll have to do more situation assessment and get back to you on that.

Let me paint the mountainside picture from my vantage point for you, mkay?:

I'd say there is approximately 1 acre between our home and hers. (We have 10 acres in all, some woods and some farm, which is super funny because I had lamented to my husband only days before finding this place that my dream plantation would be 1/2 woods, 1/2 farm land! I love the Lord and His care for details, don't you?) Ok focus, Cara: I have two little dogs, one whom you know as Tornado Wendy, Wendy who survived the Big Windy, Wendy the Tornado Dog, Wendy the Weather Channel Celebrity among other titles! And also recently to enter the picture was Ginger Snap, the Easter gift. Ginger is feisty to say the least (she is none other than a Feist breed after all)! So, she's a hunter. Yep, a very very very speedy hunter. Did I mention, she's fast? And not exactly, shall we say, trained? ahem. The dog doesn't obey ANYONE. She is hilarious, though, and actually really cute.

See? Adorable.

Anyway, it's apparently NOT adorable if she wanders over into my precious neighbor's yard and asks the cats if they want to play. I didn't know this, but cats don't like to play with dogs. Who knew, right? Okay, so that unfortunate incident happened once. And believe me, I foresaw the calamity and doom that would be birthed from it and ran my posse right over to retrieve said adorable playful very very very fast disobedient dog. Of course this was no easy task, and I wish I had a video of my chasing the little devil around in circles yelling really loving affections at her the whole way. I finally caught her, patted her gently, and returned her to her fenced in yard. But of course not before precious neighbor came out and with shock and awe spread on her face, educated me on how expensive her cats are and that they may have just had a heart attack, which would be the end of her existence...or that's what I came away from the situation with. Moving on: Sweet Ginger Snap has not left her yard or gone over there since that day.

But y'all, yesterday was a fateful day, and you won't see this one coming. While Ginger Snap sweetly sat snugly in her back yard, Wendy the Tornado Dog somehow became disoriented while outside and horrifically and unforgivingly wandered over onto precious neighbor's back yard. Yes, she did. I actually watched this go down with the appropriate response of shock and horror on my face, and I promptly beckoned her back to safe ground, our side of the barbed wire fence. Let me insert here that if you don't know Wendy, well...I'll just show you and you'll probably guess what I'm about to say.

Okay, it may be hard to discern from this shot, but Wendy has a bit of a weight issue. She's fat, y'all. And lazy. I've never in my life seen her chase a cat. There's really no point in her because they won't give her kibbles. So, anyway, Wendy the Tornado Dog did not indeed chase a cat while her paws were on the other side of the fence. She was looking for me and most assuredly was in a mild panic attack since I was nowhere in her line of sight. Once she heard my voice, she galloped back to my presence where she desires to be anyway--not with fluffy cats.

I put her in the house, but I had a bad feeling Armageddon may be around the corner.

I was right.

I heard the engine of the side by side coming up the driveway and I knew I better either go get my husband or quickly dig a bunker to hide in.

The woman was hot, guys. And possibly a little drunk, but that's beside the point. We were chewed out, threatened, pointed at, glared at, despised, told of the gun that will be used on the dog, etc., for a good solid 5 minutes (which is a long time when you're being verbally destroyed mind you!). I nodded and agreed that yes this was surely an atrocity and it won't happen again. I even asked her to forgive us, to which she was obviously quite bumfuzzled. She will NOT be tolerating or putting up with this ridiculousness. She simply will not, and that's that.

My in laws were present for the circus, and my hilarious father in law almost made the fatal mistake of trying to be friendly to her, to which my mother in law kindly brought him back over to safety by a stern warning to sit down in the lawn chair. He caught on and made it out safely, so don't worry.

So our family stood together and made a determination: we will not repay meanness with meanness. We will heap coals on her head with kindness instead. And this is why I thought you'd like to ride along on the adventure! God has such a sense of humor, I have figured out. He totally did this. He set this whole thing up, grabbed his popcorn and lawn chair and said, "Let's see how this goes down!"

This morning I read Jonah. Mmhmm. Jonah. No Compassion Jonah. Love that guy, bless his heart. He cared more about a plant than 120,000 people who were doomed to die. I'm just saying, God may be doing something here, and my Ninevah is a little closer in proximity than Jonah's was to him. I checked and there's no body of water for me to jump in and escape, so I might as well head on over with some homemade cookies probably, right?

We had planned to bake some cookies and deliver, but then the first time we met her, her first words to us were that she was coming over to say hi and be neighborly because she's not, but she just wanted to make sure we knew that snakes live on the mountainside. :D

Don't worry, I won't be sitting under a plant and calling for her destruction. I'll kill her with kindness. And it's sure to be a fun ride, so stay tuned!

"If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you." Proverbs 25:21-22

Peace of Christ to you,