Mice in the Attic

The house we now call home wasn’t always inhabitable. As a matter of fact, it had sat abandoned for a couple of years before we bought it. During the remodel and up to almost a year after moving in, we spent much of our time taking it back from the wild.

For example, early in the remodel phase, I had brought the kids over to see the progress on the house. They tramped around outside for about an hour that day, exploring the brush and looking for creatures. Several days later all four of my kids came to me covered in tiny red bites, itching, scratching, and unable to stand still as I tried to assess what sort of plague I was sure they had. I finally convinced myself it was bed bugs. I went through my house washing every item I could possibly fit in the washer. Bedding, pillows, couch cushions, the dog. I vacuumed, mopped, sprayed, and fumigated. In the midst of my cleaning, research google frenzy, a routine doctor check for one of the kids revealed the source of those annoying bites was actually just chiggers. I could have kissed him. Much to my child’s relief, we danced all the way out of his office instead. Me, because I was relieved I didn’t have to burn down the house and the small child because, well, chigger bites itch and also because I’d refrained from giving the doctor a smooch. So knowing that our new property obviously had some bugs, we set out to take back the yard. 

The chiggers turned out to be the tip of the iceberg, however. We soon discovered some brown recluses had made themselves a nice little nest in our fireplace and rats had an entire community built under rotting wood under the sink, complete with subway infrastructure. Slowly but surely we rid the house and yard of vermin making us feel pretty confident in our wild kingdom abilities. 

And then one night about a year after we had moved in, the scratching in the attic began. 

The first time I heard it, I was jolted awake in the middle of the night. I lay in my bed convinced there was a serial killer making himself a nice little hidey-hole up there. “Honey!” I whispered as quietly as possible, gently nudging my oblivious Hubby under the blanket. No response. So I poked him a little harder. “Honey! Do you hear that? I think there’s someone in the attic!” This elicited a grunt, a roll, and a cranky, “There’s no one in the attic.” “What do you call that noise then?” I asked in my stage whisper. “I read a book once about this family that lived in these people’s attic and borrowed things while they were….wait, no, that was The Borrowers, which was a very good book by the way, but seriously, there was this movie about a guy who lived in the attic…” Without letting me finish, the Hubs interrupted me, “There is no one in the attic.” Needing more reassurance I persisted, “How sure are you about this?” His sleepy response of  “I am 90 percent sure, ” did little to calm the anxiety.

I didn’t sleep much that night. Instead, I lay there contemplating the pesky 10 percent that could possibly be a lurking psychopath. The next morning, as I was downing a pot of coffee, my chipper hubby informed me that he had called an exterminator to come take a look in the attic. Several hours later it was confirmed that we had some free-loading mice up there and not an ax-wielding lunatic.

Two weeks, a dozen mouse traps, and $350 later, we were declared “critter-free”. 

Relieved that we were only infested with mice and not a psychopath, I gripped over how much exterminators charged (apparently I had picked the wrong career path) but otherwise moved on with my life. 

I had all but forgotten about our rodent escapade until one fateful Saturday afternoon. On this particular day, I decided to tackle the dumping ground that had become our bedroom. Laying on my stomach, half under the bed, I was waging war against a dust bunny the size of my head, swinging away with a Swifter duster in one hand and an empty water bottle in the other, when I heard it.

That familiar scratching.

I scuttled backward from under the bed, scraping my head on the metal frame in the process, and stood to my feet, listening intently while trying to slow down my ragged breathing from the dust bunny battle. 


Came the sound above my head where the ceiling meets the wall that separates our room from the 2 youngest Coconut’s room. I raced down the short distance to their door, and burst in, startling both of them as they played on their bunk bed together. By the look on their faces, I knew I was a disturbing sight. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror on their dresser and my thought was confirmed.

Hair sticking out in every direction with a trickle of blood making its way down my forehead from the attempted scalping by my bed frame. I was covered in dust and sweat with a random sock stuck to my chest. Breathing heavily and brandishing my weapons from earlier, the Swifter and water bottle, with the dust bunny I had been fighting stuck to my face, I stood in the doorway. “Shhhh!!! Shhhh!!!” I ordered them, ear cocked up to the ceiling where I could no longer hear the squeaking.

No one moved. Except for the twitching of a nerve under my eye. No one breathed. The three of us just stared up at the ceiling for what seemed like an eternity. Silence. I walked out of their room with myself convinced I was hearing things and my two girls convinced I’d finally lost my mind. But just as I was about to walk back into my room,


I flew back down the hall and into their room just in time to see them climbing down off their bed. “Stop, stop, stop!” I falsetto whisper-shrieked. Both girls froze. The smaller one had made it to the bottom of the ladder, and the older one was on the top step, both of them staring at me with a mixture of fear and mirth at the fact that mommy had finally lost it.

Utter silence again. Until the bigger one tried to take a silent step down on the ladder, shaking the bed ever-so-slightly. 


“What is that?!” I yelled, eyes darting all over the ceiling, my nerves on edge with every scrape. “That noise!”

“It’s the bed moving?” My older daughter cautiously answered. “It always makes that noise.”

“Always?” I asked. “Yes, when we climb up or down the ladder or just move around at all. I think it rubs on the wall.” Came the brilliant answer from the small child. “Always?” I asked again? 


I walked out of their room and back down the hall like a zombie. “Always?” I mumbled to myself, trying to soothe my PTSD anxiety from past adventures with rodents. “Always!” Both girls yelled from their room, annoyed that I kept repeating it.

Later I tracked down the Hubby to let him know that we had paid $350 due to bad furniture placement. He assured me that there were indeed mice in the attic that had been taken care of, maybe just not the infestation I had been so sure we had.  

But it made me realize something about myself…

I had been convinced there was something terrible in the attic. I had obsessed over it.  I’d lost sleep over it. I made my husband a little crazy over it. I had a little bit of PTSD over it.

Yet I’m always the first one to lecture others about the importance of not worrying. How many times have I said, “just give it to God”, quoted Phil 4:6 at them, patted them on the shoulder, and walked away smiling smugly?

Why is it so hard to do when it’s our own free-loading rodents that we’re dealing with?

Maybe that’s just the way our selfish human nature works. The proximity to our problems makes them either insurmountable when they’re ours or insignificant if they’re someone elses. 

If we’re honest, it’s hard to let go of some things. To completely take your hands off of whatever it is and say, “Ok Jesus, I’m gonna release this.” Because it’s about giving up self-reliance and control and trusting completely in Him.

Thy will instead of my will.

It’s about laying aside our own will and desire while caring more for our brothers and sisters than ourselves. I mean, if we really trusted Jesus it wouldn’t matter the proximity to the mountain (or mouse in my case) we’re facing, because we would simply trust Him to move it or take us around it (or send an exterminator).

And then without having our own issues to obsess and worry about we could truly do what we’re called to do. 

Love one another.

Care for one another.

Encourage one another.

Honor one another.

So yeah, those pesky rodents taught me a thing or two. 

First, always check the placement of your furniture.

And secondly, I should have chosen exterminator as a career path.

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