My husband is a taxidermist. I say that right off because… If you are bothered by this practice, the act of hunting for meat, and/or images of dead animals, this post is not for you. Also, this post contains Christian themes. I am not sorry for that.
My husband Brian is a taxidermist.
Taxidermists take the flesh of a dead animal and bring it back to a lifelike appearance.
They take its hide and put it over a mannequin, and work on making what once was dead, look alive again – as if it were standing before you still breathing… Being able to do that takes a lot of skill, and a lot of time. Brian started teaching himself this craft when he was 19 years old. He had help from a neighbor that knew how. Today, my husband is a good deer taxidermist and has built up a nice clientele. He isn’t shady – He knows the local wildlife laws and has a license to practice this. If you read my “3 Things I Learned in 3 Years of Marriage” post, you’ll know that my dad was a taxidermist also at one time, so I am very into this and it is our normal way of life. I also have no issues with the practice of hunting as long as the animal being killed is eaten, or is a threat to your life. Last Christmas, I got Brian a really nice set of antlers from a deer in Pennsylvania. I looked on ebay and bid on a set of antler sheds and I won that auction at $180. A few months after that for his birthday, I got him a whiskey barrel to use as a pedestal base. We had intentions to create a custom mount for our home – a “franken-deer” so to speak… About a month ago, a friend of Brian’s gifted him a hide he had from a deer he killed in Kansas years before. It was at that time that everything had fallen into place and our project could begin.
It was in watching this deer being mounted that I saw a similitude of God in the process. I’m going to be raw with you here: I understand the Bible and I believe it, but I have a difficult time elaborating on it. This is a taboo for me to admit. This has always been something hard for me because people expect quite the opposite, so I asked my dad for help developing my areas of focus for this post.
Taxidermists start out with a form.
Before ordering the form, the taxidermist must take care to measure the hide, and thus order the one that will be a close fit for that specific animal. Not every deer will fit every form, and sometimes, the form has to be customized by the taxidermist, and adjustments are made to depth of its skin creases, eye-sockets, and even sometimes its skull and snout. They do this by cutting away at the form with knives, drills, and even saws if the need arises.
Just as a taxidermist shapes the animals form, God is shaping you also.
Isn’t it amazing to know that before you were ever created, you existed in the mind of God? Just like this franken-deer had it’s parts decided upon and its purpose planned from the very beginning- it was the same way with you. 🙂 God had YOU in mind. The Bible tells us in Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee…” Think about that: BEFORE I FORMED THEE, I KNEW THEE. We’ve always existed, just not yet revealed. God knew what he wanted for you – What he wanted you to look like, sound like, your eye color, hair color, your purpose, your place, your job, your family… he put it all together. And He does this to make a beautiful picture only He can see.
The flesh is the biggest thing to overcome in mounting a deer because it is time-consuming, stinky, & disgusting. Lol. They have to remove all the flesh from the hide & wash it – and when they get done with all of that, the taxidermist has to preserve it with dry-preserve powder; otherwise, the whole thing will rot from the inside out.
We have the same problem with our own flesh. It takes God to preserve us from the inside out.
We are told in Psalms that “They are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one,” and later on in Romans, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh, the law of sin.”
Everyone battles the flesh. The ‘flesh’ is, quite bluntly, the part of us that doesn’t want to be told what to do – our sin nature.
The worst battle I’ve ever had with my flesh was in 2011 (or 12) when I captured the special attention of a man that was going to our church at the time. He was an older man, the father of small boys, separated, and a little rough around the edges to say the least… One thing led to another and before I knew it, I was caught up in a relationship with this dude, and it was ALL KINDSSSSSSSS of wrong. Contrary to modern belief, if a person is still legally married, they are MARRIED; and this hurts me DEEPLY to say, but it’s the hard truth: I was so messed up at that time, I didn’t care. Thankfully, I got what was coming to me, and I caught him soliciting someone else (why was I shocked?!), so I left him in the dust. My anxiety due to pressure I felt from the “glass house” being broken was immense, and I lost it for a second and almost did something really stupid. I wont go into that. I ended up having to leave my church for over a year. It was a choice I made myself. I felt like I had embarrassed myself so bad that I couldnt even face people. I mean, the preachers KID had an affair with a dude in the church. How much more humiliating can it be?! I had to pull a Jonah and run in my mind. Eventually, I regained a foothold in who I was in Christ and returned. You cant hide forever.
I learned that no matter who you are, or how grounded in your faith you think you might be, do not EVER think you are immune to your flesh because you are a Christian. I was sooooooo sure this was the man GOD had for me. I was THAT delusional and confounded. Newsflash: God’s not gonna give you another person’s spouse. I was so blinded by what my flesh wanted, that I warped the Bible in my mind to fit my life at the time. Ridiculous! I saw the light and turned my life around and got back on track. God chastised me for what I was doing because He saved me in 2004. He allowed me to go through public embarrassment and a lot of heartache because of the stupid decisions I’d made. I truly believe if you are a Christian, that God wont allow you to continue wallowing in your proud sin for long. He’ll straight up smack you back to reality. After that, I saw nothing in myself that was redeemable, BUT GOD saw that He still had a purpose in me & showed me a way out… I’m already rotten to the core because I am a sinner – This is why we all need the preservative, which is Jesus. Jesus rescued me and preserved me from that to a higher purpose.
Some of you are thinking, “Why would you put this out there?” – and my answer is this: To detail the dangers of thinking it won’t happen to you, and to demonstrate what I used to be, and where God brought me from. I used to be a very different person than I am today. I am the prodigal that was dead and is alive again.
Some will say, “Oh, well, you werent saved if you did that.” I beg to differ. King David had Uriah killed so he could hook up with Bathsheba, and He was a man of Gods own heart… Simon Peter denied Jesus 3 times… Jonah ran away from God, and we all know how that turned out! Just because you’re saved, doesn’t mean you can’t be an idiot! Lol
God isn’t looking for great people – He’s looking for great sinners.(Pure Life Ministries)
We wanted something about our deer to be different.
A little off.
So, we decided on going with auburn colored eyes for our mount, which isn’t seen much in Whitetails.
Taxidermy suppliers make all kinds of eyes for deer mounts – including albino and even blind eyes. Most hunters prefer the animal to look just the way it did in life, so that why these items are manufactured. It retains the originality of the animal.
Taxidermy had many ugly sides though…
When the inside of the hide is washed, fleshed out, and covered in dry-preserve, it it then ready to be placed over the form, and MAN is it DISTURBING. Lol. Like something straight-up out of a spook movie.
After your nightmare dissipates, its time to “fit” the hide into a more stable and lifelike appearance. The back of the neck is sewn up, and pins and staples are used to tighten the hide onto the form. You can really mess up a deer at this critical time if you don’t know what you’re doing. Every decision you make at this point can make the animal look either more alive, or even more dead than before. In the picture below, the animal still looks dead. It has no ’emotion’ to its features, no color… You can tell he gone. Lol He looks stiff. The end-goal is to make the animal look more fluid / flexible.
(Yes… those are Food Lion bags up his nose. He has allergies don’t judge him!)
After the deer is fitted, Brian works on things that involve more depth, like muscle-tone, flared nostrils, eye-lids, natural expression, ear placement, etc. He fine-tunes it and adds details…
The change may be subtle, but a difference is there now. The deer now has eyelids, more of an expression, a fixed ear position, muscle tone in his neck, fullness to his brow, etc. He is fitted with many pins, needles, and cardboard to hold him in the correct position as his hide begins to dry and shrink a little.
A week now into the drying process, the animal really begins to look as if he could almost be breathing . Finishing touches are added, which will make this animal trophy-ready.
Looking at the near-finished product – now you know just how much goes on behind the scenes to create a trophy like this. It’s an insane amount of attention to detail, careful planning, and decision-making. Brian’s uncle Randy welded a piece that had to be made in order to attach the mount to the whiskey barrel.
It’s the same with us: Think of all the people you come in contact with every day. EACH one of those people has a special behind-the-scenes story God is putting together for them, and all this time, we’ve probably never even thought of all the thought and care that God invests.
1 Corinthians 13:12 says, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” We cant see it all now, but someday God will explain our lives to us, and why he orchestrated it the way He did. 🙂 This is a lovely realization.
-and now for the finale reveal of all the investment, hard work, and detail…
When our life has been spent, Jesus will present us as a trophy too.
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) & hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-7)
God want’s to take the bad in our lives and use it to restore and raise us to life.
The trophy we have in our lives now is our testimony. A trophy, in order to keep looking presentable, must be polished, dusted, repainted… constantly be cared for.
Our testimony is the trophy we carry daily, whether we realize it or not. It is the story of a Christian’s redemption. How we came to know Jesus. How our lives have changed. How we aren’t the people we used to be. How God chastises us when we walked away. Your testimony may be that you came to know God through a health crisis, or by suffering a great loss. You need to take care of your testimony. It’s the most important thing you have.
Here is Jesus’ trophy concerning me:
I was raised in a preachers house. I knew about God and believed in Him, but I never really went any further than that. I knew ABOUT God, but I never KNEW Him. I had never repented of my sins and asked Him to save me. I heard Rev. Craig Edwards preaching about the thorn, using the same verses and topic from my previous bloh post entitled, “The Thorn.” This really grabbed my attention due to it largely being considered taboo by ‘the circle’ (eyeroll) to talk about this from the pulpit. A Christian has no reason to be sad, right? We should have no stress, right? If we do, we have pathetic faith in God, RIGHT??? Forget about Job covering himself in ashes when he lost everything he had – he had no faith at all (sarcasm). Craig addressed this ridiculous thought pattern in the sermon & boyyyyyy did I listen. This dude was going there! During that sermon, it hit me that I had never repented of my sins & actually asked Jesus to save me, so I made sure of my salvation that night on June 24th, 2004. Later on in my life, I dealt with a lot of hurt from relationships, and as a result, I acted like a sheep and went astray and went my own way. God chastised me and I came back to Him and turned my life around. I am a living, breathing example of God’s grace and how much He cares for your individual situation. There are things that have occurred in my life that have made me stop and say, “I know 100% that was God.” I have no other explanation. God right now is helping me overcome a medical issue that took over my life since I was 15. He has orchestrated it all according to His timing and put me with a great care team. I’m going through a difficult time right now, but I trust God will get me through it too because He has every other time before. There are other parts to my testimony that are too personal to share at this time in my life – incredible things.
I know people in my life I have looked up to that destroyed their testimonies. Preacher’s that have walked away from the faith entirely… People who went off the deep end and never got back on track… They didn’t polish their trophies. They let it tarnish.
Christians – people are watching your lives. Especially now!
Don’t let your trophy tarnish.