Children, Lizards, and Life Lessons

Posts 04

I thought it was plastic.  The “it” being the lizard in my son’s room.  There he was, captive, underneath an upside down drinking glass on the nightstand.  It was not what I expected to find when I went to check and see if my son had cleaned his room.  Maybe this is just part of being a boy mom?  My girls only played with bugs and critters outside.  Outside, where God intended them to be!  My son, on the other hand, thought he had procured a new pet. He named him and everything.  And this is how I met Timothy the lizard.  He was bright green and had his feet plastered to the walls of the glass.  So stiff and still I assumed it was a plastic toy.  Until I leaned down and got my eyeballs close enough to see that he was breathing rapidly.  Oh my! Umm.. son, that’s a lizard.  In my house.  Why?  Why is there a lizard in my house?


And so began the battle over Timothy.  My son had captured (or in his words, “found”) Timothy in the front yard.  The boy earnestly desired to keep the lizard as a pet. He showed me how he left a space at the bottom of the glass as an airway and how he put some blades of grass in there for food.  “See? I’m taking good care of him.  He likes me!” It’s hard to explain to an 11–year-old that the lizard, in fact, does not like his current circumstances.  The poor thing was desperate to escape. Timothy had a long road ahead of him.


I had my son take the lizard and release him in the front yard.  My son failed at this first attempt to free Timothy.  He released the lizard and then scooped Timothy back up about 15 seconds later.  He couldn’t bear to watch his newfound friend scurry away.  We went through this exercise a few times and then Timothy escaped. Or so I thought.  Half an hour later I found my two youngest kids, their friends from across the street, and Timothy all gathered on the side of my house. Timothy was center stage with all 4 kids circled around him and trying to pet him.  I told them to let the lizard go.  They did.  And then they recaptured him.  I found them in the front yard.  Let the lizard go!  They agreed and then came up with a clandestine plan to make him a pet at the neighbor’s house.  Not only was Timothy plucked out of his natural environment but he was released and recaptured multiple times.  He eventually landed across the street in a cardboard box.  They renamed him Bob.  The indignities had no end…


Poor Timothy/Bob just couldn’t catch a break.  Do you ever feel like that?  Like the problems have no end and no matter what you do you just can’t win?  I remember one of those days last year.  It had been a long day consisting of whiny children, homework battles, traffic problems, and all the general irritations that go along with them.  I was worn out and aggravated.  I texted my sister and complained about the day.  Shortly thereafter I stopped and did an attitude check.  I remembered Psalm 118:24. This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.  Be glad in it.  Deep breath. This is truth: I need to be glad in my day.  I am blessed. Even more than that, I was without any serious problems.  I took a few minutes to ponder these things and went on about my evening.  Right about the time I started to feel centered, I heard my son cry out, “Mom!”  I hustled to his bedroom and discovered that he had thrown up in his bed.  Just like that, my new attitude flew right out the window!


I was so quick to return back to my flawed, but very human, way of thinking.  To feel frustration and defeat.  To cave in to the idea that this had been a terrible day and the feeling that I just wanted to be finished with it.  If only I could have taken a lesson from Timothy.  I was lacking in endurance.  It was nearing the end of a very long day.  I was worn down.  I hadn’t taken time to bolster myself up during the day.  Self-care was last on the list.  I’m sure many of you can relate.  We recognize that the plants need watered, the dog needs fed, and little children need bedtime stories.  We know deep down that we also need to be fed, to be poured into, to be nourished in our bodies and our minds.  We often skip it in favor of caring for others.  It’s hard to have endurance when we haven’t filled up our own barrels.


Sometimes we know a hard time is coming.  We have time to prepare.  A scheduled surgery.  An out of state move.  A busy time at work.  The birth of a baby.  We anticipate the difficult changes and plan accordingly.  But life does not operate within the bounds of our carefully crafted plans.  We often need the most endurance to get through things that we didn’t see coming. A health crisis.  A sudden job loss.  A broken relationship.  We are likely to be carrying our heartbreak while shouldering new responsibilities.  It is difficult to endure.  But here’s a secret: we don’t have to do it by ourselves. Most people have giving hearts and want to know how to help us.  Endurance does not have to equal solitude.  We are made for community.  What better time to draw on available support?


My first real trial with endurance still stands out in my mind.  I was in high school and had just joined the cross country running team at the urging of my friend.  I went from never having been a runner to participating in my first race in about a week.  My friend gave me well-meaning advice at the starting line.  She instructed me to sprint so I could get up front and then pace myself.  So I did.  Big mistake.  I took off at the starting gun and did get to the front of the group.  But guess what?  I did not have any endurance for this sport.  I fell farther and farther back in the pack of runners.  At some point, I got a stitch in my side and started to feel like I was going to pass out.  I had a very strong urge to stop running and lie down on the grass. Unexpectedly, I heard people cheering me on.  Bystanders could probably see my difficulty.  Encouragement sometimes comes from strangers.  I struggled for the entire run.  I made it across the finish line eventually (amazingly, not even last place).  I continued practicing with the team.  I was never a top finisher, but I learned not to sprint from the starting line.


Much like encouragement, sometimes lessons come from unexpected places.  I am happy to report that after being abducted repeatedly, forcibly relocated, and even renamed, Timothy/Bob found freedom.  He spent a day or two in the cardboard box at the neighbor’s house.  I’m not sure if he secured his own release or if a parent let him go, but the cardboard box ended up without an occupant.  Timothy endured.  We could all learn a lesson from the lizard.


For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.

Romans 15:4

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  1. DSM says:

    Thanks Amy for another great read! Maybe you’ll publish a book one day! You certainly have talented kids also to do the illustrations!

  2. DIane says:

    Thanks Amy for another great read! Maybe you’ll publish a book one day! You certainly have talented kids also to do the illustrations!

  3. Gigi says:

    There is Never a dull moment at your house. Entertainment every day of the week. I love the stories of what is going on but most of all I love the way you can tell them.

  4. Ellen Stubbs says:

    You have great talent I wish you could help me write a book. I love reading what you write.

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