Changing the Tune from Taunts to Truth


All summer long, a toad has been taunting me. 

I can’t seem to pinpoint his exact whereabouts, but every night I hear his unmistakable chirps {think of a smoke alarm needing a battery change}, goading me into a frenzied toad hunt.

He’s been living somewhere on my screened courtyard, circumventing the strip I had specially installed on the bottom of my door to keep creatures like him out.

I’ve overturned planters, dug through dirt with my shovel, and blasted water into the corners of my courtyard.

This toad makes a fool out of me.


One morning I did actually see him emerge from underneath a planter so I grabbed my broom and swept him down the sidewalk. 

I slammed the door, elated that his annoying chirps would haunt me no longer. 

But my euphoria didn't last long when that night I sat out on my courtyard to read, cracked open my book and my calm was crushed.

The chirping began again and it sounded as close as ever.

How in the world could he have found his way back? Couldn't he go bother my neighbors instead of me?



I have a traumatic history with frogs and toads. 

From finding a bullfrog on my kitchen ceiling in the middle of the night, to experiencing a frog jumping down my shirt as I watered a hanging plant, to discovering tiny toads hopping under my bedroom curtains at midnight, they have successfully terrified me.

But this toad on my courtyard is mocking me. He's obviously scoffing at my efforts to evict him as he blithely chirps night after night. 

It's kind of like the derisive voices that want to drown out the softest of whispers rustling around in my soul. 

Because when I'm distracted by the noise of the foes {or toads}, I can't seem to hear anything else.



Maybe you hear the taunts in your life too? 

Those rumblings in the back of your mind that dare to ask who you think you are to consider doing that brave thing or explore that new possibility or take that first step out of your comfort zone. 

If they can cause enough of a distraction or rain down doubt on your aspirations, then maybe you'll shift your focus elsewhere and forget all about what's stirring in your heart.

I think those heckling voices are really trying to create a space between us and God. 

They seek to draw us away so we’ll think the gap is too big to bridge and we’ll give up our quest to move closer to his heart.

And if we're too far away, we'll miss all the glory, all the splendor, all the magnificence that there is to find when we seek God.


The only way I can drown out the taunts is to tune into truth.

There's the truth of how God sees me -- as a royal daughter, the beloved, a precious life -- but there's also the truth of how I see myself. 

And the truth is that I'm learning to be kinder to myself. In word and deed. 

I'm speaking words to myself that I usually reserve for others. It feels a little strange to make myself say, it's okay, or that was a great effort, or how brave of you, or dust yourself off and get back out there.



I'm also resisting the urge to berate myself for errors in judgment, embarrassing moments and the trifling missteps I make throughout my day. 

Because after all, what do I think I am? Perfect? 

{Said to myself in the silvery softest of tones.}

This a work I have needed to do for quite some time. 

Won't you join me in this quest to become the women God already sees {the God who calls into being what is not as though we were}, with a gorgeous array of gifts bubbling in our creative souls, with kind hearts and unique imperfections, purposing to live a holy life, wholly loved and fully known?


I’ve come to the conclusion that the toad on my courtyard must be hiding in the trenches of my storm drains. 

I plan to spend the rest of the summer ignoring him, even though his chirping tune is still maddening.

But if I happen to see him he should beware, because I’m coming after him with my broom, hose and shovel.

I'm on to his little schemes.

Toad-ally.



A little note on the photos: I captured them all at Leu Gardens, Orlando, FL.

I'm having coffee with my friends at Holley Gerth's place at Coffee for your Heart. Join me there for more encouraging words from my blogger friends.


Comments

  1. Ah, yes, armed with broom, hose, and shovel. I'm picturing you as I read and you've offered me a helping of laughter early this morning.

    Upon seeing that there was a mouse in her kitchen, my wise 7 year old granddaughter mused, 'I hope he doesn't have a wife and children.'

    What a super post, what keen observations, as always, Valerie. I love Wednesdays.

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    1. Hi Linda,
      I'm sure I look like a comical mess out there trying to track down a toad (hopefully my neighbors aren't peering out their windows)! I love what your granddaughter said about mice -- how wise, because that's usually the case, isn't it?! And I love visiting with you, too, my friend! xo

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  2. Valerie, I prayed for rest a few minutes ago and then I came here. :-) Your pictures are lovely, your toad tales made me smile (toad-ally--I love it!), and your thoughts about drowning out the taunts were just what I needed to read today. I don't to miss God's glory, splendor and plans for me because I'm too busy listening to those heckling voices. Your words have been a respite this morning, my friend.

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    1. Lois,
      Oh I'm so glad you enjoyed the photos and my harrowing experiences with amphibians! :) Your very kind words have encouraged me today and I'm so grateful you are here today, friend. Your writing is a must-stop for me on Wednesdays!

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  3. Yes, it is okay! My hope for you is that the ignoring of the 'toad' will eventually render him bored trying to annoy you, and then 'poof', gone! In my experience, another may come back but each time it becomes less of a distraction. Beautiful pictures. They have added refreshment to my morning along with your inspiring words.

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  4. Hi Lynn,
    I've missed your posts lately! But I love your new profile photo on your blog -- so lovely! What a wonderful thought -- to have that toad gone! :) But maybe he's teaching me more than patience (which I also need) and the art of ignoring what's insignificant. Thank you for your always encouraging words here!

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  5. you toad him! :)
    Yes, these small annoyances can take up a big part of our attention. Ugh. Good luck evicting him!

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    1. Hi Sarah,
      Little creatures can turn into big annoyances, especially when I'm afraid of them! :) Thanks for the good wishes!

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  6. Oh, toads! Mine is busyness - and it can so easily grow barren. I'm taunted and nagged to keep up that pace, but it drives me further from God. I love your position in truth - it's the only remedy. To just sink in, linger, and savor the fact that nothing can truly separate us from God!! Such great application here today, friend.

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    1. Hi Tiffany,
      I understand that busyness can get us quite distracted! And sometimes what we're all busy about can be so good yet pull us away from what's really important. Hope your summer is bringing you rest and relaxation!

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  7. Hi Valerie,
    Those Toads remind me of the "Family of Fearing" in "Hinds Feet" Just yesterday I was reading the portion where Bitterness lurked in the distance continually taunting Much Afraid! And, just as the Lord spoke to you to cling to His Truth, the Shepherd came quickly to the aid of Much Afraid! How good He is to us little shepherd-girls! Oh, and I loved your final picture of the sweet and free girl in the garden statue! --Hugs and Blessings to you Friend!

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    1. Hi Bettie,
      I loved the statues in the garden too! Hinds Feet on High Places is such a good read with beautiful symbolism, I can see how we are like Much-Afraid and how the Shepherd guides us as only he can!

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  8. Toad-ally a great post! You crack me up. I think this toad has it in for you!

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    1. Brittany,
      All puns aside, I think this toad is incredibly clever! But maybe I give him too much credit?!

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  9. "..and forget all about what's stirring in your heart." Oh yes - those distractions. I love this, and I wrote about receiving grace for myself today too, because I am also hard on myself. It is funny how God's timing in things are perfect, in a way we could never image. I had to chuckle at the end, so thanks for the grace message today and the laugh!!

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    1. Hi Meg,
      I think distractions are much more damaging than we can imagine, since they seem harmless until we notice what we've missed while we were consumed about something insignificant. I enjoyed your post about our high expectations and I completely agree! :)

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  10. Valerie- I toad ally loved this post! hahah! So perfect and so good for me to read and think about- I think I could be kinder to myself- I find that hard :( I love your story and it fits so perfect - I get so distracted on the scary stuff and loose my focus on what is true and all the the things God says about and to me! Well I hope your friend finds a new place to live and you can get some sleep!!! sending love and hugs- Thankful for you Valerie!

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    1. Hi Susie,
      I'm so glad to hear from you and hope your rest and break from blogging is bringing you a much-needed respite! I am not sure that toad is my friend but I guess he is lucky I am letting him live rent-free on my courtyard! :) Maybe if he sticks around long enough, I'll grow fond of him?!

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  11. I love this post, Valerie. Toadally. :) You know how I love frogs and toads, so you're welcome to send the little guy over here. I'll take him to a pond. :) But seriously, I hope he stops annoying you. What a great analogy! I am so hard on myself. Yes, I will join you in "this quest to become the women God already sees." I definitely need to practice what you're doing - to speak to ourselves the words we usually reserve for others. Thank you for this encouragement today. The photos also are so refreshing to my soul as well. Blessings and hugs to you!

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    1. Hi Trudy!
      I was afraid you'd miss this post since you're on a blog hiatus and I do know how much you love these amphibian creatures so I'm oh-so-happy you're here! If only I could ship that little toad (with his suitcase) off to you in the Midwest where he'd have a happier time at your home! But I am letting him live on my courtyard in your honor, my dear friend! xoxo (I miss your words on your blog!)

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  12. So I am huge fan of frogs and toads but I think anything falling in your face and down your shirt would make anyone scared and annoyed with them. : ) I feel the same about spiders yuck : P
    But I love the analogy of this. There are many haunting voices in my head that do stop me from truly believing that God could ever bless me despite my circumstances. all lies but I know when I do tune into truth, it is like music that brings peace. thanks for stopping by. I am loving our "visits".

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    1. Hi Kristina,
      I love our visits too! I generally am afraid of creepy crawling things so I think Florida may be the wrong state for me to live in! :) I love it that you love frogs and toads, though -- I'd love to learn from you! xo

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  13. This is just beautiful.

    I'm learning to be kinder to myself too. It has to be because we are growing more in Him.

    That toad story and all your happenings are stories I am glad I haven't had to share. A cricket can get in the house and drive me nuts so know what you are talking about.

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    1. Hi Deborah,
      Thanks so much for stopping by and I'm so glad you can relate when you deal with crickets! How in the world can such tiny creatures shake up our worlds! :) I wish I were braver!

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  14. I know I sound like a broken record, but your writing is just so stinking good! I look forward to your posts every week. I still have the heebie-jeebies after imagining a frog jumping down my shirt. No thank you!! I can totally relate to those voices that bring space between you and God. I've been trying to face them head on this week and tune into his voice which is more quiet than the taunts of the world, sure, but overflowing with grace and tenderness and so much more beautiful. Learning to be kinder to ourselves is a process, but one that's worth engaging in, and one I'm jumping into with both feet!!

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    1. Hi Kylie,
      Oh I am so glad you're with me on listening to the voice of God and practicing kindness to ourselves! And of course, no fright intended about the frog (just be sure to never water plants that are located over your head!) but I am so grateful for your very kind words. I know we haven't known each other for long but I am already a fan of your writing! :)

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  15. So I 'toad-aly' thought I had commented on your post last week but alas I must have been distracted by something (equally as annoying as your frog friend) and never hit publish... :( So better late than never... your observations of how we can let little annoyances draw our attention away from God-- even our own chirping in our head- are so appropriate. Here's to sending froggy back to the pond! But if he remains MIA, I'll share my friend's acronym (who by the way loves frogs!?) - Every time she hears or sees one, she thinks this---> Fully Rely On God. (F.R.O.G... get it? haha!) ♥

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    1. I love that acronym Heather! That's brilliant! And your words are never too late here for you are always welcome here! xo

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  16. It’s looking beautiful! As far as I’m concerned, the point of all the hard work is to get to the point where being in the garden is “relaxing, therapeutic and restorative.” Enjoy!

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