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Exercising is not my favorite thing to do.

That's why, when my sweet new neighbor asked if I might like to walk with her in the mornings a few times a week, I was quick to say yes. Accountability plus chatting time? Winning idea if you ask me. We meet between our homes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and walk either the neighborhood or a local park, solving most of the world's problems along with a few of our own along the way. It's been a great time of companionship as we share prayer needs and life stories, as well as a few giggles!

Last week as we rounded the last curve of our walk, I had to stop suddenly. "It's a sharp one," I explained as I bent to remove my shoe. A twig of some kind had worked its way in and was poking me with each step, demanding to be attended to. My friend laughed and said, "That's funny, isn't it? It's like a lot of things in life. You can ignore the small irritations, the little pebbles--if they're tiny and don't bother you too much, you sortof ignore them and figure you can always take care of them later. It's the sharp ones that demand you take care of them right away."

We laughed at our shared tendency to turn every detail of life into a lesson of some sort--typical homeschooling moms, perhaps? But I've thought about her comment off and on all week.

It's true, isn't it? There are many negative issues in our lives that we can just ignore, planning to get to them later. That roll of the eyes, the tendency to leave clothes on the bathroom floor; a couple of plates in the sink, that funny noise the engine is making.

Catch the foxes for us,

The little foxes that are ruining the vineyards,

While our vineyards are in blossom."    Song of Solomon 2:15

Because most of us are fairly removed from vineyard-tending culture, the concept of foxes ruining them is a bit outside our understanding. Do foxes care about fruit? I know foxes are trouble in a henhouse, but wouldn't have thought they were much into muscadine!

Apparently they do eat grapes--specifically very young fruit. They also dig holes which would damage the roots of vines. Since this scripture is found in the Song of Solomon we know the main thing the little foxes are in danger of ruining is *love*. Love of all types, I believe; between ourselves and the Lord, our marriage relationship, within our families, and of course that of church and our communities.

How often do we allow small irritants to remain until they a) work themselves into a more sensitive spot or b) turn to the sharper side? Have you ever had something in your shoe, decide to keep on walking and get it later, and that tiny pebble slowwwwwwllly manages to make its way to a spot that actually HURTS your foot? Or the little twig turns in your sock until the pointy part is sticking the right (wrong!) direction?

I do it all the time. And I've also allowed math homework to pile up unchecked until the mistake being made was deeply ingrained; smiled and remained silent when a friend said something that bothered me but pulled that statement out later in order to look at it from a zillion angles until I was really annoyed, and allowed misunderstandings to fester because I was too busy to get to the root of what had really happened.

Little foxes will ruin a vineyard just like a pebble in the wrong spot can ruin a walk. 

So how do we "catch" them? First I suppose we must be sensitive enough to notice them in the first place. Then we must determine to do something about them right away! If a small fox can make a little mess, bigger ones can only cause more damage. The fruit of our lives comes from our vineyard--Jesus said "I am the vine, you are the branches." He told us that we have been called to "bear much fruit." So lets watch out, shall we? Let's catch the little foxes before our crop is destroyed.

Let's catch and correct the beginnings of negative attitudes and behaviors--in ourselves and our children! Let's study God's word so we know when something is "off" within our own lives--so we can recognize the foxes! Let's let others into our lives whom we trust and can point out little red noses when they see them.

Consider sitting down with the Lord and making a list. What are some foxes that might be prowling around your vineyard--your home, your family, your church, your community? What does He want you to do in order to catch them?


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