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And the rooster lived…

We live on a ministry base with one other family – Josh’s brother’s family – and they keep chickens. Previously, many chickens, now just one hen and one rooster. They left this week for a sabbatical, and our girl Esperanza was given the job of caring for the fowl while they’re away.

So two days ago, I’m sitting in the living room playing a game with Jack, and Esperanza bursts in.

“Where’s your phone?” she practically yells.

“Why?” I calmly ask.

“I have to send a message! Where is it?”

“What message?”

“Can you just give it to me?” she is freaking out.

Josh comes in. “What’s going on?”

She starts crying, “I’m really frustrated.”

“Why? What’s wrong?”

Finally, she gets to the problem: “The rooster escaped.”

I get off the ground. “Well, let’s go find it! Sending a message isn’t going to help.”

She continues crying. “I already tried. I can’t get it.”

“Well, let’s try together…”

So we all troop outside, and find the rooster up on the terrace. Those things are fast! The four of us spend about a half an hour trying to corral it – chasing it this way and that – opening the cage door in case he’ll go back in of his own accord. But no luck.

Meanwhile, our dog Taz is very excited. This is interesting. He knows he’s not supposed to chase chickens, but he does like to. As we tire out, we try to get him to chase it to wear it out. He’s confused about this. I’m not supposed to chase the chicken, he reproves us with his eyes. You’ve only yelled at me for it a thousand times… So he stays happy just running around with us and sniffing at the rooster if it goes under the car.

So we keep going. I get a trash can and try to toss it over the creature, but he always gets away. Finally, the kids, the dog, and I have him cornered in the front yard against the fence, and this time I think I have him. With a mighty yell, I toss the garbage can right where he should be, and…

He’s gone again.

I think it’s the yell that did it, but something snaps in Taz, and he’s suddenly on the job. She yelled – that thing must be her enemy. He streaks after the rooster and in short order is wrestling it to the ground against the fence. I think he’s already killed it. Now we start yelling at him again. “Taz! Drop it!” I grab the nape of his neck and pull him off the bird, who has poked his neck through the wires of the fence in his desperation to get away.

While I’m dragging the dog away, I’m thinking, “That’s it. The rooster’s gone. What a horrible way to start the job.”

Meanwhile, back at the fence site, Jack and Esperanza are staring at the bird. Esperanza’s already been pecked twice and has almost given up hope. The rooster is just sitting there – thoroughly shocked by the encounter with the dog and finally not thinking about his escape. Esperanza has an idea: “Jack – grab it’s wing and pull it out.”

Is this a good idea? No, not at all. Either the bird is dying from internal injuries or it’s still eminently capable of pecking and kicking in self-defense. But I’m not there to mention these things. I finish tying up the dog and return to see Jack holding the very large rooster up in the air by its wing.

I run over and grab the trash can to receive him gently inside. There’s no blood. Maybe he’s not hurt.

Jack and I victoriously walk the bird in can back to the coop and set the whole ensemble down inside, Esperanza having already collapsed on the steps in frustration, beginning to hyperventilate from the stress of the whole thing.

And two days later, there he is: alive.

What lesson can I pull out of all this? Well, things go sideways sometimes. The rooster gets out. And even if it was your fault, usually you need help to fix it. Sometimes your helpers have different gifts than you – like Taz – and it’s anxiety inducing to even let them help because they way help doesn’t look great. And it’s a gamble! Maybe their help will make it worse; but maybe not. Maybe when Jack pulled the rooster out by the wing, he could have killed it. But he didn’t.

Do you sometimes feel crushed by the weight of responsibility you’ve been given? Are you freaking out because things are out of control and you’re just not fast enough – or good enough – to get your mess back into its place?

We’ve all been there. I’m there a lot. I’m trying to follow my advice to my nervous girl: Take a deep breath. Ask someone for help. It’s okay to mess up.

And for me and you if you’re in that situation, I pray that God sends the equivalent of a fierce dog and a reckless boy to do the things you can’t. The team you need is out there. Let them in.

Love from Mexico,


P.S. It has rained! The green has returned to the earth, and our hearts rejoice in new life.

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