Friday, August 7, 2015

Fenced Up

We're in the midst of some unexpected summer maintenance to our fence and roof.  It seems the wind prefers to come full mach 10 force at the front of our house.  And blow straight through to the backyard, which now has our fence leaning forward.

This would explain why we've already had to replace the windows and roof on a house that is only about 17 years old.  The fence is less than ten.  But, after reviewing our latest damage and general wear and tear, fixing them both is inevitable.

Why is it they don't make things like they used to?

My grandma had her appliances, even furniture all of my life.  She only recently replaced her couch, just because she finally decided she was ready for a change.  And she gave her antique stove away because she didn't even realize it might be worth something.  Today we live in a disposable age, where everything is just tossed away when it is no longer useful.  Or a better model comes along.

But that's a story for another day.

As I've ben watching Tim take down our back fence, it's brought back many memories of when the boys were little.  It's hard to remember a time when we didn't have the fence but for the first few years we lived in the house, it was just a giant back yard of green.  At the time, there wasn't even a house behind us.

We're the first house you see in neighborhood so there was no hiding the day we bought our pool.  It was just a large inflatable oval but to little boys, ages two and seven, I'm sure it seemed Olympic size.  As it did to every other child in the area.

For many years our backyard was the playground for our cul-de-sac.  Kids would swim, play hide and seek, camp out, make smores, and gather in a "clubhouse" that was really Tim's shed.  They didn't have to ask to come over, kids just ventured behind our house for an adventure.

But I worried the pool was a liability and feared a child would jump in when we weren't home to watch them.  I was nervous enough watching them ride their bikes up the hills from the dirt mounds awaiting new construction.

As much I enjoyed interacting with the neighbors, with more houses being built we saw a need for a bit more privacy.  Actually, it was the house that would share a backyard with us that led to a final decision of building a fence.

Since the fence, the neighbors behind us have come and gone a couple times.  The current family is one I've written about before.  It inspired the story found in the book, 360 degrees of Grief.

We know them but not well.  Tim and the man of the house know each other better, mostly because they are outside more and they chat about yard work, hunting, or whatever guys do.  For myself, I'm more of an observer.  I smile at the family, wave when we pass on the road, and they've been included in my prayers for their own losses and joys.

Hoping to have sunshine and the length of extra time this weekend, Tim's been taking the back section down when he arrives home each night. As each piece is removed, more of our neighbor's home can be seen.

Our dogs are not fans of this situation. Knowing they get in trouble when leaving the fenced in area, they'll hover on the deck and softly growl or stare at their dogs.

But I've enjoyed seeing a glimpse of their life.

With toddlers running around, it lets me reminisce about our own early days.  One night, I sat on the deck, listening to their little boy talk about our dog to his mom.

"Momma, come see Roscoe!" he said, bouncing to her.  "He sits pretty, Momma. Come see!"

It was a sweet interaction I would've missed, had our fence not been down.  And I wondered, how often do I put my own personal fences up to guard myself - and miss the reward?

I've been described as an onion, from friends that took the time to peel the layers.  A defense mechanism I created years ago as a child, I keep my distance, only sharing bits and pieces based on trust.  If I'm hurt, I'm quick to re-patch the fence and step back, protecting my heart.

But I know that isn't what Jesus wants me to do.

Not that he wants to see me hurt, but if always guarded, protected by the fence or walls I put up, how can I really see with His eyes?  Help with His hands and feet?  Love with His heart?

Help me, Lord, to take down the fences that stand in Your way.


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