When Something Unexpected Happens and Your Life Changes – Part 1

I have these squirrels.

The squirrels like to eat the bird food, and it drives my husband crazy if the squirrels get into the bird feeders.

We put up barriers on our bird feeders, blocking the squirrels. For the most part, it works. However, once in awhile we have that “one” squirrel that can jump beyond our wildest expectations, to get to the feeder.

Every morning, I see the little squirrels scurrying around, looking for food. I feel sorry for them. They look desperate. All the local birds come to the feeders and eat to their hearts desire, while the little squirrels on the ground, look up, with their big brown eyes… hoping, just hoping, those birds who can fly, will drop a simple sunflower seed to the ground for them.

Recently, I bought a squirrel budgee jump. It’s harmless entertainment that allows me to feed the squirrels. I admit, I also put a little food on the ground every morning, so the squirrels have something to hope for, but the budgee jump is awesome.

By now, I am sure you think I am crazy. But hang with me.

Then, because I am a bit silly, I started naming the squirrels. Once you start naming critters, you start caring for them too. Sir Mac and Dugger are my favorites. Sir Mac only has one eye, so he is easy to spot (though I haven’t seen him in awhile, so I am fearing the worst). Dugger is a smaller squirrel. He isn’t as aggressive as some of the larger squirrels, so I have personified him as a gentle and loving squirrel.

All my life, I have developed funny, quirky, silly little stories in my head about animals and critters. My husband kind of thinks its weird, but he has learned to live with my quirky humor, because he knows I am creative, and he loves me.

When my girls were little, I made up all kinds of stories for them.

One January, when Julia was about four years old, we had scheduled a trip to Hawaii for the family. For the life of me, we could not find a bathing suit for her  here in the Northwest. She was so stressed out. It became an obsession for her. Julia, a strong willed child, was falling apart over not having a bathing suit for Hawaii, at four years old.

So, one night at bedtime, I started making  up a story about two small mice. One mouse was named Freddie, and one mouse was named Christie. My stories always related to the events the girls were going through, and my crazy brain, came up with stories that would distract the girls from their issues. In my first story, to help four year old Julia with her bathing suit obsession, Christie (the imaginary mouse), was having a hard time finding a bathing suit too. In the end, Christie, the mouse, found a bathing suit in Hawaii. So Julia thought this was so amazing, she settled on waiting to Hawaii to buy her suit as well.

Every night, my girls would beg for a story. I didn’t always have the energy, or creativity to come up with a good “Freddy and Christie” mouse story that would relate to the day. Sometimes, I was just too tired. On those tired days, my story just went straight to Freddie eating too much chocolate and having lots of farts. My girls would simply laugh at the word “fart,” so I inappropriately overused this word with my girls, to appease their need for a story.

This last week, I was in Burkina Faso with a large group of people with Compassion. As many of you know, I work at Compassion. Our plans were changed when there was a terrorist attack at another hotel in the city.

My week changed. My perspective changed. My prayers changed. My expectations changed. My daughter changed. My phone bill changed. My job changed. My group changed. My relationship to God changed. My sleep changed. My sense of safety changed. My flights changed. My schedule changed. My transportation changed.

Honestly, if I were to tell a “Freddie and Christie” mouse story to my girls tonight (I am in Europe on a layover), it would be about farts again. Or maybe it would be about Sir Mac and Dugger (the squirrels), and their lives of adventures in squirrel kingdom.

Often, it’s in the small stuff that  helps me cope with the big stuff. Like the child in the airport that smiles at me. It’s the little puppy that I see in the park, or the Big Pink Bus on the mission trip that helps me laugh. What helps me cope is the awesome Belgium waffle I ate on the streets of Belgium, and then another awesome Belgium waffle I ate on the streets of Belgium.  Sometimes, its a hug from an elderly person named Rosela that helps me cope, or cookies from my mom. Sometimes, it a song that speaks to my heart that helps me, sometimes it’s bundgee jumping squirrels. The abundance of little blessings helps me with the big stuff, and all of these things become like a gift basket from Jesus.

Tonight, I am still processing the events of this last week, so thankful for the prayers, the concerns and the love. We are on our way home, safe and sound, and I look forward to getting back to a little more normal.

(Forgive me of grammar, spelling and everything else in my post that doesn’t make sense…and that you had to endure my squirrel stories. Just trying to process the big stuff still).



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Sandra Jones Counseling

Specializing in Marriage and Family Therapy


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