Thursday, October 11, 2012

Grace for a Chicken

This is a chicken.
This is me, holding a chicken.
(I laugh when I'm nervous.)
This is me, the chicken.

I confessed to my husband last week when I picked him up from the airport.
I confessed I was nothing but a big, old chicken.
I confessed and watched a smile play with the corners of his mouth.  He took me in his arms, right in front of the terminal and the taxi stands, and whispered into my hair, "You tried really, really hard not to be."

My man, "the chicken whisperer."

This past September 7th I sabotaged myself.  I celebrated my birthday with the best gift I could think of, and to guarantee I wouldn't chicken out I made it a public celebration.  I had no idea how hard it would be to go through with!

I have carried and delivered four beautiful babies.  I remember with our last son, Ken driving me to the hospital at 4:00 AM, my heart contracted between the contractions as I realized I really, really knew what the next steps looked like before I would hold Sam.  I know, the final stages of labor and less than an hour before he was born, the process of delivering my fourth child shouldn't have been such a "no duh!" moment.  I have to confess I was dreading the pain of the process.

Last year I had surgery.  It was a well-informed decision with an outcome that has dramatically improved my life.  The process leading up to surgery in a foreign country, the actual event and following hospital stay, and even the recovery period required a firm stance and a vision that saw through and to the other side.  I dreaded the process but was resolute.

I have had my hair cut three times in the last four weeks.  Finding a good hair-dresser is one of the many challenges we face in the military.  A hairdresser and a dentist, that's all we ask references for.  And maybe a piano teacher. The first hairdresser destroyed three inches of my margin.  The second hairdresser identified that, then cut another three inches off, leaving me with this...
Seriously.  Looks like safety scissor work, right?

It's just hair.  I really, really get that.  And if you read my birthday story you know the main reason I wanted to stop coloring my hair was to use the money elsewhere.  Two haircuts down and I was having to sit in another chair and hope, hope, hope this person knew what she was doing.  This whole idea of not recognizing the person in the mirror has filled me with dread, not as great as surgery or childbirth, but enough to invade my dreams and have me ask God to please let me feel pretty when it's all over.  

So I cried in Jenny's chair three times last week, when she said I was special.  When she said I had touched her with my desire to help as many children as I could instead of coloring my hair.  I cried again, when I told her I really didn't want to be salt and pepper at my daughter's wedding next summer.  A perfect stranger extended grace with hugs, a gentle hand on my shoulder, and she smoothed all those ruffled feathers right back down.  Jenny had me write on a card a special price to fit my budget instead of the regular fee.  And as I paid for the third hair cut in four weeks, she whispered she wanted to know how she could help the children like I do.

Favored One, I am a chicken.  I guess you might think I failed.  At least for now.  But as I think on Prottashi, her sweet face framed in brown, I know if my birthday wish this year had not been to participate in rescuing her from poverty through sacrificing my own hair color, I would not have searched for her.  One life redeemed?  As the story's desire has spread, who knows how many more will whisper, "how can I help the children?"

As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower
and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from 
my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. 
Isaiah 55:10-11

Grace for a chicken.  That's all I'm in need of.  Grace for a chicken. 


  1. Aw honey, not chicken. You are allowed to change your mind. You are allowed to make the best choices for you. I'm proud of you!

    1. Oh thanks for the hug, Stacey! You've been my hero and "go-to" girl this entire month. I kept looking at your beautiful curls and thinking I could do it! But I can't : ) and I'm so grateful your smiling on me.

  2. Oh Tobi...this makes me like you all the more ! :)

    1. I'm such a quirky girl, aren't I? But I'll always try to be honest, no matter how embarrassing it might be. : ) I can't wait to meet you Kara. You and your lovely self!

  3. I adore you. and love that your husband gets you like that!
    It can still be all about the children, friend. even with beautiful hair! ;)

    1. Sorry! logged into my wrong's nikki @ simplystriving ;)

    2. NIkki, Nikki, Nikki - I SO wish you were going to be in PA! : ) I'm still cracking myself up about my "chicken whisperer" husband. I am beyond blessed that he knows me so well. Thank you for sweetness and acceptance. You all are such a blessing to me.

  4. No chicken here! It takes a certain amount of bravery: first to decide not to color, then to go to three different hairdressers, and to share your intent with someone you don't know-Girl, that is bravery 101. I'm sure I couldn't do the three hairdressers let alone the rest of it, well, except for the hair color- i already did the no hair color thing and as a result I'm in between not fully grey and not my old hair color anymore. Who knows where your bravery will take you? I bet they will let you take the little red hen along as a reminder.
    Seriously though- your bravery inspires me, dear friend! And just think of where your sharing will lead- more precious children will be sponsored! God will bless!

    1. Oh thank you, Nancy! Well, I guess it was courageous on all accounts (though the haircuts HAD to happen, courage or not. That or wearing a ball cap for the next three months!) I love your little red hen comment! I hadn't even thought about her. Yes, friend, I just finished praying again that God would bless these words even though I didn't follow through and prompt more people to sponsor children. I'm smiling, because I do believe Him when He says His word will not return empty. I CAN'T wait to meet you in a couple of weeks. Hopefully you'll be over your wonderful European travels-jet-lag! : )

  5. Tobi, I love your authenticity. Wrestling is something we all do. I think it takes baby steps sometimes to become more than a chicken. You are taking those steps and being real along the way. He's blessing that.

    I'm also smiling a bit over here because I can relate to hairdresser woes. I have often been terrified to try someone new and have been known to grow my hair out to ridiculously ugly lengths to avoid a bad cut. I am glad to say that I have found a stylist since we have moved back to Cincinnati though. It is the person who cut Jason's hair. Jason came home telling such fun stories of how Michael said "he could do so much" with his hair...his crazy thick and bushy hair. His hair has never looked better and I've never had someone cut mine so that I can wear my thick wavy hair without much more than a brush. I'm so thankful for that. :)

    1. I just love you, Jessica! You have such a gentleness and wisdom you share. I'm so happy for you that you've found a hairdresser! I think it's too fun that your husband found him! : ) Way to go, Jason!! See you soon, Friend!

  6. I completely understand the tearing in your heart and would give you a great big hug if I could. Your choice is not wrong, by any means. Love you!

    1. You and I need some coffee/conversation time. I think we could spend a few hours sharing heart words. I'm so grateful we'll have a chance in just a few weeks. Love you - and SO happy for the blessings these last weeks have been to your life.


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