Friday, March 18, 2011

The "Tail" of Mr. Leepers

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
Matthew 6:13

Rural living, while a glorious break from the hustle and bustle of city life, has its pitfalls. I have heard this from neighbors of mine and have found it to be true: When you live in the country, you have one of two choices. One is to feed and house a barn cat. The other is to get the occasional visitor in your pantry-- especially in early spring and fall. Not so long ago, a little visitor popped into my laundry room, lured by an open doggie door and and a bag of dog food ...

It was a typical post-dinner scene at the Munson house; the boys were clearing the table, while I was attempting to clean up the aftermath of the food preparations (my mother says I cook like a whirling dervish-- I'm afraid she's right). Since we all had full tummies, I asked little Alan to feed his puppies, as well. Alan agreed, and ambled into the laundry room. A few minutes passed, and the typical rumbling sound of dog food being scooped was absent, as was the *clang* of the food hitting Bela's metal bowl. Alan returned to me, empty scoop in hand, with a puzzled look on his face. "Um ... Mommy," He slowly uttered, "I think there's a tiny baby mouse in the dog food ..."

Knowing that the laundry room can be a foreboding area with mysterious shadows and the odd clump of Tanky (our lovable red-tri aussie who sheds enough to build another dog) hair, I thought perhaps my little darling could use some reassurance that the bag was, in fact, vacant. I strode confidently into the laundry room; hoping my bravery was contagious to my mislead little boy. About a foot from the dog food hamper, however, I began to waver. What if the dog food container's lid had been left up? (It had.) What if nobody closed the dog food bag? (They hadn't) Undaunted (mostly), I looked into the bag. Two teensy little dark, shiny eyes looked back!

With the aforementioned "great confidence" and "undaunted courage" ... I screamed at the top of my lungs. (Yes, I know. I would have been buzzard meat on the frontier. Moving on ...) Once my breathing resumed, I peeked into the bag again. Alan was right; this was a baby mouse. Scarcely an inch long, this little fella (I presume, I wasn't gonna check!) clasped his little paws together, as if to beg me for mercy. Once I got over the shock of a living animal in the dog food, I saw how absolutely adorable he was! His fur was not "lab rat" white, but a soft-charcoal gray. His eyes were the same color as Wyatt's. I knew I couldn't let Miss Cabela (the mighty huntress disguised as a black tri mini-aussie) get to him. I scooped him up in a cup and brought him to show my husband.

From the buck antlers on our family room walls to the rat traps in the barn, it is evident that my husband doesn't have a problem with "doing what must be done" to keep things in check around here. The venison from hunting season feeds our family all year, and rat traps are a must if you have grain in the barn (and wish to keep it that way). Just the same, he also has a soft spot for many of the critters around here. He fills the bird feeders, leaves berries on high branches for the squirrels and avoids over-trimming bushes that he knows are wild bunny homes. I knew he would spare this little guy, so long as he didn't return. I was right-- he took one look in the cup and said, "Oh my goodness, this guy is REALLY CUTE!" When I asked him to put him just past the property gate, he agreed.

Concerned that our little furry friend might not have enough room in the little paper cup, hubby grabbed a "Mrs. Leepers Gluten-Free Macaroni and Cheese" box and put him in it. As we were heading to the door, he decided we should get a picture of this little guy. Please, if you remember nothing else from this story, remember this: if a brand resembling the word "LEAP" is on a box and you put a wild animal, DO NOT OPEN THE BOX BACK UP TO TAKE A PICTURE! Sadly, this is hindsight, so we did just that. Once that lid opened, "Mr. Leepers" LEAPT out of the box and scurried beneath the couch.

Frustrated, but not ready to send in 'Bela to do the poor little guy in, hubby made a barricade around the couch. We had what looked like the perfect plan. While the boys manned their stations, I lifted the couch. As hubby tried to catch the mouse with a mixing bowl, he ran between his ankles and under the entertainment center.

The next 30 minutes played out like a slapstick comedy. Every time we thought we had him, we didn't. The one time I thought my husband hadn't caught him, he haphazardly lifted up the bowl, only to watch Mr. Leepers run out from under the bowl and into the entry way closet. Of all the places he could have scampered off to, this was probably the worst. As my husband tried to cut him off at the shoe bin, the exasperated love of my life pleaded, "Mr. Leepers, I am TRYING TO SAVE YOUR LIFE!"

Shortly after that sentence was uttered, Mr. Leepers was back in the box. As we walked him out past the gate to a nice little shrubbery, the poor baby mouse was breathing as hard as we were! We placed him gingerly on a leaf, where he curled up and went to sleep; exhausted from the ordeal. Hubby and I wanted to do the same!

Since that happened a few weeks back, I yell, "Ollie, Ollie oxen-free!" before feeding the dogs in the morning. The mouse trap just behind the freezer (which is right by the doggie door) which has been there since last fall, is now baited and set. I certainly don't want mice eating my dog food, but I really don't want to find anybody in the trap, either!

There are seasons in my life when I am headed in the wrong direction, lured by something very appetizing. I see all my desires being met. My Father, however, sees the trap. Time and time again, He scoops me out of the mess, attempting to bring me to safety. I know I'm in the wrong place, but I want to get out my way. Running and hiding from the God (who only wants to protect and provide for me), I end up stuck in dark little places, living in fear. Sometimes I get a toe stuck in the trap, and My Father attempts to free me. Gently, but deliberately, he puts a firmer hold on me; avoiding further injury. Oh, how I holler and bellow, complaining that nobody warned me about the trap! Far more patient than I would ever be with a baby mouse, God continues to spring me from traps, tend to my wounds and lead me to safe places.

One of my favorite names for God is, "El Yeshuatentu," which is Hebrew for, "the God of our salvation, deliverance and victory." When I stop running (usually, due to exhaustion or being stuck) and I see who He Is, I am so humbled. He knows all, sees all and yet, He takes the time to look after me. He never loses patience with me, in spite of my arrogance and rebellion. Knowing the power, intellect and holiness of God only makes His grace extended to His people that much more amazing!

If you're grumbling under a Rhodie bush, feeling bored with clover and seeds, know there is safety there. Wait for the bounty of Spring and Summer. God will provide! If you are in a bag of yummy treats, napping with a full belly, do not fight when The Father wants to get closer to you and scoop you out of your comfy little spot. He loves you. He wants to rescue you from the trap you can't see! If you're curled up in a dark little corner, or worse- your tail's stuck in a trap, call out to Him. The God who never gives up on me will never give up on you, either. :)

In Lenten Love and Friendship,

1 comment:

  1. How cute :) Your family sound much like ours... we hunt, but when it comes to "helping" a Mr. Leapers out, we have done the same :)