Flying Fear

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“That bird does not want to eat you.”

Mango squawked his disagreement. Our moody Sun Conure perched on his homemade wooden stand on the lanai, the relentless Florida sun pressing through the screen, even in early April.

Mango had just enjoyed a warm lanai shower, via the hose, and now anxiously watched the dark brown bird gliding overhead. We live near a large cluster of woods, and various birds and creatures visit our bird feeder all times of the day and night.

Vultures often fly overhead, long jagged feathers outlined against the bright blue sky. I wonder if they see our dog’s battered, stuffed animal toys dotting our fenced backyard and inspect them to make sure they’re not potential meals. ūüôā

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But whenever the vultures appear, Mango sets up a loud cry, his purring warning cackle followed by loud squawks. No matter if I stand beside him and reassure him, scratch his head, or offer to hold him (all on the lanai), he’s done. He wants inside, soaking wet or not.

His fear of the huge birds overwhelms him to the point he can’t function, despite the fact that I’m right there, vultures don’t eat live animals, and he’s safe inside the screened lanai.

Fear. 

Fear has a big place in my life. Too big, at times. I detest it because I’m familiar with its crippling hold on my heart and actions. How many times has it held me back from stepping out to obey the Lord in something outside my comfort zone, or kept me from trying something new.

Fear keeps us frozen in place, or running backward. And that’s the opposite of God’s plans for us.

I appreciate 2 Timothy so much. The Apostle Paul’s words to young, beloved son in the Lord Timothy have kept fear at bay many times in my life.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (1:7) 

If you have vultures flying overhead–know they’re not a threat. Don’t be fearful.

You’re already protected under the shadow of the Almighty, believers. You are privileged to dwell in the secret place of the Most High. ‚̧ And that’s the best place to be.¬†

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Habits: the Good & the Bad

Habit [NOUN]: A settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.

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Habits.

We all have them. Some are good, others are bad.

A couple of mine? I pick at my lips and stay up waaay too late.

One of my sons never, ever, ever closes drawers. And my other son is a dirty clothes artist–aka, he leaves his school clothes in rather artistic piles… always on his bedroom floor.

‚̧ (But on the flip side, one of them gives warm, fuzzy hugs regularly and the other reads whatever and whenever he can.) ‚̧

Often, we agonize over breaking bad habits.

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Recently my younger son stumbled into our bedroom at 2am. He’s eleven, so unless he or his brother are sick, they’re tucked in their beds between 9:30pm and 7am.

If you’re close to me, you know that I’m 95% human and 5% beast. My beast mode kicks in between midnight and 7am. No joke, my sister had to {carefully} wake me up¬†on Christmas morning when we were kids. I do not do mornings unless provoked and/or coerced.

Anyway, Chase stumbles into our bedroom at 2am. “Can I sleep with you guys?”

“Grfghrgrlk?” We’ve never been big on the boys sleeping with us. As babies they did occasionally, and during illness as toddlers, but overall we keep our bed ours.

He tries his dad, who thankfully remains human in the deep, dark hours of the night. “Can I sleep in here?”

“Did you have a bad dream?”

“No, I just want to sleep in here.”

My wonderful human husband climbs out of bed, guides Chase back to his bedroom (which he shares with our older son), and lays down with him for several minutes. Thankfully Chase remains asleep and the night continues as normal.

Until the next night.

And the next night.

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“Waking up at 2am has become a habit.” I mention gently¬†on the third¬†day. He nods in understanding.¬†He didn’t want to wake up, but¬†couldn’t help it anymore.

At bedtime on the fourth evening, I asked about bad dreams again. None, he reassured me. We prayed and they got an extra long back scratch. Just as my hubby and I walked out, Chase unraveled from his blanket cocoon.

“Can you lay the clock down? It’s too bright and when I wake up it reminds me that I’m sleeping.”

Ah. The proverbial lightbulb flashed on.

A few days earlier, I purchased a small silver¬†alarm clock for the boys’ room.¬†Huge green letters filled the screen so that Cole could see¬†it¬†on his bookshelf, from his bed (his eyesight isn’t great, and he takes his glasses off at night).

So I laid the clock on its back, and sure enough, Chase slept through the night. And again the next night.

The bad habit was broken.

The situation got me thinking about habits. Bad ones, and good ones.

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NaNoWriMo 2017 has begun.

For those who don’t know, it’s a write-a-thon set during the month of November. “National Novel Writing Month.” Thousands of writers across the country (world?)¬†pound out 50,000 words of a story by November 30th. You don’t have to finish the story, just the 50k words.

Some make it, some don’t. The point is to Write. Every. Single. Day.

I enjoy the camaraderie on social media and the internal & external incentive to get words on a page. NaNoWriMo always readjusts the good habit of writing every day.

{NO EDITING ALLOWED}

If you’re on this NaNoWriMo journey, best wishes on adjusting to this new, good habit. Figure out what helps you write better and faster (plotting beforehand, writing at night when your house is silent, consuming nine cups of coffee¬†& an entire bag of M & M’s, etc…)

Then write. Because writers write.

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YOU. CAN. DO. THIS!