The Year of 40: Musha & me vs. the crawdad

by Christie Browning

**Author's note: This blog series is a year-long installment which will chronicle the year that I turn 40 with some comical moments, retrospective insights and empowering calls to action.

Freak weather turned my driveway into a showdown of epic proportions Friday night.

On one side it was me and my little dog Musha.

On the other side.... a crawdad.

The weather here in Indiana has been crazy! One day the high is 68 degrees and the next it's snowing with a high of 33. We've had a run of warmer days that have felt more like the beginnings of spring, not the end of February in the North. 

Even the wildlife are confused about what season we're in. Animals that would normally be tucked away in their hibernating hideaways are coming out months early. Friday night as my family drove home in damp weather, frogs were leaping all across the road as if to stretch their legs and prepare for the new season. They were slapped in the face with snow flakes the next day and bone-chilling winds. 

Given this strange weather it is not surprising that little critters are confused....disoriented... and in the case of the crawdad.... agitated. 

I was taking Musha outside for her nightly visit to the yard to do business. It had been damp all day and warm. We live out in a rural area in small circle of houses on a small lake. Yes, we do get the expected wildlife, but they usually tuck tail and run when they hear us coming out of the garage. They DO NOT stand at the front door to greet us... as was our shellfish friend, the crawdad.

With Musha on her leash, we flung open the garage door to find a crawdad right there on our stoop. He was HUGE! By far the biggest crawdad I had ever seen. He could have carried us away on his back like we were a circus act. His big ol' claws were in the air... and he wasn't waving them like he just didn't care... he was ticked off that we had busted in on his snooze on the stoop. 

I scream. Musha can't figure out if she wants to attack or play and the three of us just stand in the doorway frozen. I am not kidding! There we were.... I am shocked to see such a crustacean on my doorstep. Musha is perked up and frozen in a stare down with the creature. The crawdad is poised, claws in the air, read to attack.

Growing up my favorite movie was an old black and white flick called "The Creature From the Black Lagoon." In that moment, there at my door, I felt like I was filming something like "The Crawdad from Old Lake" -- the lake we live on. 

I finally break from the shock and snatch Musha's leash away from the door. I run back into the house to wake my husband from his catnap on the couch with high expectations that his smarts and testosterone were better matched against the cranky crawdad in the drive. But I was not met with a hero's stance and a go-get-em attitude. My husband told me to take Musha out another door and come to bed. WHAT?!?!?! I wasn't going to sleep knowing that THING is lurking around in my driveway. What if he gets smart and figures out how to get in the garage, crawl in the backseat of my car, only to pop up when I am driving to work on Monday. Heck no! That sucker belonged back on the lake shore.... not in my driveway. 

Left to face the creature on my own, I cautiously walked Musha through the garage and this time, instead of heading out the door, I raised the garage door to go out. With a sigh of relief, the disgusting crawdad had moved from his perch at my doorway. In fact, he was no where to be seen. 

I was feeling pretty good and relieved that the crawdad had moved on. Musha was out in the yard tending to her duty and I was admiring the warm weather and night air when it suddenly hit me...... if I didn't know where this crawdad was.... he could be anywhere! He could be coming up behind me in a sneak attack, stealth mode. I mean, if he could remove himself so quickly from the premises between the time I left him on my doorstep and the time I brought Musha back outside, he could be ANYWHERE! 

With shivers and heebie jeebies that ran the length of my body, I yanked Musha's leash mid stream, told her to drip dry and high tailed it back inside. We never lock the doors at our house but that night, the lock, the deadbolt, and anything else that would bar the door to keep that crawdad outside and me safely inside was necessary. I am grossed out just recalling this story.

Now you might be shaking your head thinking I am halfway to crazy or you might be laughing out loud knowing you'd be the same way. But the fact of the matter is... at almost 40, I am still scared of the silliest things. There was a moment where I seriously considered not taking Musha outside at all because of that "thing." I was willing to let a six-foot crawdad (ok, in my mind it was six feet... maybe he was a mere four inches, but who's counting) keep me locked, trapped in my house. Seriously!?!?! 

In life, I have let fear keep me from so many new experiences and opportunities. Fear of failure, fear of rejection and the fear of uncertainty have all been bed fellows in my heart and mind. Even at almost 40, I still face fears of the heart. You know what I mean... it's not a fear of the dark or of the water ...it's fear that lives in your gut and in your soul that can paralyze you emotionally and spiritually.  

But each time a fear pops up in my heart, I have a choice to make -- let it trap me, lock me up inside and keep me stuck inside myself or fling open the door and face it head on or choose an alternate door to go through. You see, I wanted my husband to remove the obstacle that stood on my stoop, but in life, we have to conquer our fears for ourselves. Yes, we can have someone walking with us, cheering us on and pumping us up, but the reality is...fear is faced, fought and finalized by one person alone -- YOU!

I'm almost 40! This is not a time for fearful living, but a time for bold courage that brings color, excitement and spice back to life! Who's with me? Hey crawdad, put your claw down! You don't get to be a part of this party!  But everyone else is welcome to join me!

2 Timothy 1:7   "For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline."


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