That phrase is a “backwoods” euphemism I heard more times than I can count growing up from my grandmother who very much tended to concentrate on the negative side of life. Often she had a scowl on her face resulting from the blows of widowhood and poverty. She seemed to expect the worst and often got it, living a very defeated life.
This phrase, “Chicken One Day and Feathers the Next” was used by my grandmother to express how life was always giving her something that looked real good, hence the “chicken” and then spoiled her good fortune (or what she perceived as good) with nothing more than the “feathers”.
At times I’ve gotten the “bait and switch” – when it seems that the “chicken” is mine all cooked up and ready to enjoy, I look around to find that it has quickly been devoured and I’m left with a pile of “feathers”. Yeah, I’ve been cheated out of a lot of things that could have and should have been mine in my marriage. I’m tired of it. Tired of the well-doers that quote scripture and the hypocrites that keep some kind of drama brewing at all times. They have no understanding of my plight and honestly I get really angry when people like that try to give me shallow advice having no understanding that me and Jesus have quite a few talks during the week that far outweigh a star on the attendance chart on Sunday morning.
Even though I guess I am correct in some of my interpretations of the hurt I’ve experienced in the last few years, I also know that God seeks to change me first before He considers my marching orders for Him to change my husband, even when I am sometimes right in that he really needs to change! Changing “me” when the other person has done wrong does not necessarily change the circumstance, but it does change my attitude and makes me more capable to act like God wants me to when He gets ready to work on them.
That’s when God does things like bring out the “chicken” and the “feathers” in a different perspective than that of my grandmother.
See there was a certain circumstance that God watched happen years ago that hurt my husband’s feelings and He did nothing to fix it or intervene. It may have seemed very trivial to others, but to my husband, it was just another sign of carelessness and disrespect to add to many other such instances over a period of several years.
My husband owned a feather pillow that he had used for years and was quite attached to. Then, the day came without warning or notice that the familiar feather pillow was discarded, never to be seen again. It had been replaced by the “finer” pillows of life. The (now) ex-wife had carelessly and thoughtlessly thrown it away because it didn’t meet “her” needs or decorative taste. Of course he felt disrespected and mad that the pillow was gone. Now good grief, its a pillow you’re thinking! Get over it! He did, but never forgot the disrespect. Maybe because it was just one in a long, long line of examples of times that she discarded his feelings and his property in more than one way.
God didn’t force the (now) ex- wife to respect her husband and didn’t make her stay committed to the marriage. God didn’t break her heart over the years of disrespect and unfaithfulness to her husband nor force her to change her ways, but He did make some chickens for me and that man who is now MY husband. Chickens that would give us “feathers.”
Before my husband knew who I was he had three big poofy throw pillows. Like any woman would do I retired those pillows to the basement when I moved in because I didn’t want ANYTHING in our bedroom that was left over from his or my previous marriage. Yeah, it’s a woman thing. I had the pillows stacked up with full intention to take them to Goodwill….but I kept forgetting. I forgot for 2 years.
I have been trying to figure out how to redecorate our bedroom on “no budget.” I have been without a job for two years so, as with many households these days, money is tight. Despite my perceived constraints, I decided I wanted new decorative pillows on our bed. That’s when I remembered the throw pillows in the basement. I reasoned with myself that I would remove the fine fabric, launder the pillow forms, find remnant pieces of fabric, and recover the pillow forms. No one but me would know the origins of the pillows and it would be like new pillows with no ties to the past. So, I promptly ripped open the fine fabric to find, you guessed it….feathers…there were NO fluffy pillow forms, just tons of chicken feathers still encased in the protective lining that had kept them clean for many years.
That’s when God began to speak to me.
He reminded me of my husband’s story of his discarded feather pillow. In just a few minutes time, “my” plan for the pillows in the basement changed and He formed a new idea for the pillows in my mind giving me an urgency that “today” was the day to get the pillow finished and ready to give my husband that night. I had 5 hours to get it all together…..and it happened without a hitch. God showed me how the three throw pillows had been packed so tight with feathers that there would be more than enough for not only a pillow but a “king” sized pillow.
I remembered that a few weeks ago we had bought a new set of sheets for our bed which is queen sized, but for some reason the sheets came with king sized pillow cases…just the size I needed. I took one of the pillow cases to a local embroidery shop and had my husband’s initials placed on the pillow in the simple font I knew he would prefer costing me only $5.
As I carefully stuffed the pillows with the freshly fluffed feathers, God gave me lines of words to actually write on the pillow. In my best handwriting, I carefully wrote each letter on the pillow protector with a laundry marker so they would not fade:
“This feather pillow was made just for you. It will never be taken away or carelessly thrown away.
I made this pillow to bring you comfort and rest, and to remind you that I appreciate
how hard you work mentally and physically for ME and our family.
I chose to use a King-sized pillow case to acknowledge & remind you that you are, & I want you to be
THE well-respected leader of our marriage and our family.
This pillow will have to be cared for & sometimes even mended, but it will never be cast aside or
thrown away. I want that to remind you AND me that sometimes this pillow, like our
marriage may suffer wear & tear, but the pillow & I will always be yours. – even when
restoration is needed.
I also chose to make a King-sized pillow because it is the proper size for a “man”. You always
have been & still are a real “man” to me. Period.
I take no credit for the idea of this pillow for you. God gave me the idea & all the words &
details because He loves you- and He knows how much I love you too.
Soon everything was finished and my husband’s NEW feather pillow was ready. Everything had come together and each component had significance.
- The laundry marker formed letters that “would never fade” through wear or laundering.
- The King size would remind him of my desire to respect him.
- Even the initials on the pillow case would shout loud and clear that his pillow belongs to him and it is not to be taken away.
As simple as a feather pillow may be, God used it to minister to my husband, to me, and most especially to our marriage. Like I said, I’ve been hurt and have felt for so long the sting of being cheated out of so many things and experiences. I’m sure my reactions – whether just or not – have left my husband feeling disrespected and useless. It’s human nature for people to focus on their own pain and minimize that of others.
Sometimes it’s hard to feel empathy for someone when you feel like they have “made their bed”. Hurt feelings and so many attacks have been sent our way that were meant to leave our marriage in shambles…….. But, God made some chickens.
God made those “chickens” and they gave up their “feathers” years ago before my husband knew that I even existed. God knew that the first marriage that was put together by two “people” and would not last. He saw it all ahead of time. What was meant for evil in my husband’s life, God worked out for good. God didn’t intend for my husband to have an unsuccessful marriage with an unfaithful, disrespectful wife. That’s what she chose. That’s what decisions outside of God’s direction chooses for us. We’ve all been there.
But, God didn’t allow that to bury my husband despite the hell on earth he has faced in the past. God brought us together out of the ashes of heartache and mistakes to give me and my husband a marriage that He is working out for my husband’s good and for my good as well. The way God intended it to begin with. When the Bible says that He will give us ‘beauty for ashes’, I think that means that those who have been burnt emotionally will be given something beautiful if we allow HIM to put it all together and not keep trying to put something together ourselves or make something work that He didn’t have anything to do with from the beginning.
The effect that pillow has had on our marriage the last few days has been a quiet one, but full of unspoken healing. Don’t you just love how God knows every minute detail? Clear down to the size of the pillow cases that would be enclosed with our new sheets that would be the exact thing those feathers needed to accomplish His plan?
Now I won’t say that we have a perfect marriage. It’s not. There is still work to be done in the marriage. There is still work to be done in my husband. There is still work to be done in me. Just this evening, a slip of the tongue on my husband’s part drudged up old feelings of hurt in my mind but we got through it which was not the norm of the past. I believe that now we are truly trying because God has enabled us and that feather pillow refueled some of the love and respect that needed to be restated. He made the “chicken” a long time ago. He’s already worked out all the details and paid the price for our marriage allocating to us the “good” in advance. He gave us the “feathers” last week. From now on, I think I will remember to thank God for “Chicken One Day and Feathers the Next.”
Tonight I watch my husband sleep with HIS feather pillow as he has since I gave it to him. I will never forget him saying that it was “awesome”. And by the way….it was my anniversary present to him.
I entertained the idea earlier today to make another feather pillow since I had plenty of feathers left over and I also grew up with that kind of pillow under my head. I was making my list of items to pick up at the store, adding “king sized pillow protector” to my list. That’s when God reminded me that the king size was reserved for my husband as a reminder to him that I respect him. Given that, I’m happy to stuff the left over feathers into a “queen” sized pillow protector.
God has strongly affirmed to me that what I do and the respect I show my husband (even when he does not deserve it) I am actually doing for God himself. He’s also reminded me that sometimes wives have to just hang out with God for a while and let their husband’s “catch up”. We will wait for my husband in confidence that he will continue to make me the “queen” God intended me to be.