Dena Johnson Martin Christian Blog and Commentary

When Cows Drive

Cow Appreciation Day has become one of our favorite days of the year!

In case you aren’t familiar with Cow Appreciation Day, I will tell you a little about it. Every July, Chick-Fil-A hosts this wonderful event where they encourage their customers to dress like cows in exchange for free food. Over the last ten years, we have made it an annual even for the Johnson Herd.

As a single mom, Cow Appreciation Day was a great opportunity for a few laughs and cheap food. You can’t beat free food! Some years, it has just been me and my calves. Other years, it has been expanded to the larger Johnson Herd (aunts, cousins, nieces, nephews). At least one year, I loaded up the neighborhood herd. I had teen boys (dressed like cattle) hanging out every window of my vehicle mooing at every car we met. When we finished at the first Chick-Fil-A, the cattle were still hungry. So we went to a second location. When they were STILL hungry, we went to yet a third Chick-Fil-A. I don’t know how much free food we consumed that year…

This year, we loaded up the car with Roy, me, Cassie, and her friend Jolie. We took our custom-made Johnson Farm spots (complete with an embroidered cattle brand) to my sister, her daughter, and her granddaughter. The seven of us headed up the road to the local Chick-Fil-A.

Now I must pause and tell you about the incredible find I made last year. I happened upon these inflatable cow costumes that were marked down to half-price…and I couldn’t resist getting one for Cassie. I ended up purchasing them for several of her friends, too. They were meant to be Halloween costumes, but have also been special entertainment at Chick-Fil-A…and absolutely perfect for Cow Appreciation Day.

As always, we had a great time and made lots of memories. We got lots of stares as we drove down the road mooing at everyone. And we enjoyed our free chicken (free always tastes good). Eventually, after a couple of inflatable cows doing the chicken dance in the parking lot, we loaded up and headed home.

At this point in the story, I am going to simply use the term “Bovine” to refer to any individual. You see, if I use the term cow, heifer, bull, or steer, it could inadvertently disclose the identity of the individual in this story. If I use the more generic term “cow,” my 17-year-old son will forever disown me for failing to use the proper terms for various types of cattle. So I have chosen the generic term Bovine which refers to any member of the cattle group.

As the herd of cattle drove home, all was fine. We were enjoying every moment of our little outing, laughing and joking about our adventure. As we drove up to our home, one Bovine seems to have mistaken the gas pedal of the car for the brake pedal. The next thing we know, we had a herd of cattle sitting in our car with the garage door laying on top of my car. We were partially in the garage, but it seems that a particular Bovine chose to enter the garage WITHOUT PUTTING THE GARAGE DOOR UP.

Slightly stunned and not sure exactly how to respond, the car was placed in park as cattle began exiting the vehicle to survey the damage. The Bovine in the passenger seat had to crawl to the driver’s side to extricate itself from the vehicle. Eventually, the bull lifted the garage door off the car while I backed the car out of the garage and away from the garage door. I guess our little Bovine outing had a not so fabulous ending.

Roy messaged his boss to say he wasn’t going to be at work the next day because he was going to be getting a replacement garage door and trying to buff some of the damage out of the car. We began our search for a reputable and reasonable garage door replacement. This herd of cattle had definitely not planned on spending its time (or money—seems our free food wasn’t such a great deal after all) on this type of situation. The joys of the unexpected...

So what can we learn from this little story?

One, don’t let cattle drive your vehicle. Ok. Maybe this one is a given, but it is kind of humorous.

Two, one thing we can always expect is the unexpected. We certainly didn’t foresee this little situation. It seems life is constantly throwing us the curve ball. No matter what we experience, we can be certain God knew it was coming and He can carry us through. He is bigger than anything we face.

Three, there’s always room for grace. We could have chosen anger. We could have chosen punishment. We could have chosen any number of reactions. I guarantee the Bovine responsible for the accident felt horrible about the situation. There were more apologies and offers of help than we knew what to do with. The hurt in this Bovine was way worse than anything we could handle. By extending grace, we (hopefully) were able to help alleviate some of the pain and help this Bovine forgive himself/herself.

Four, eventually this will be a funny addition to our Cow Appreciation Day stories. However, I certainly don’t want it to become a part of the tradition. I am praying we don’t have a repeat next year…or ever.

Five, it could have been so much worse. We could have hit the boat. Or the brick house. Or Roy’s dad’s truck. We could have caused so much more damage. We are thankful it was just my car and the garage door. We might be looking for a new car for me sooner than we expected…

Six, God is always sovereign. We’ve had several situations arise in the last few weeks that we anticipate will make a huge difference in our financial situation. They haven’t materialized yet, but we see God stepping in to provide. It’s been a rough summer financially, but we trust He is still in control.

Seven, cattle are pretty good at gossip. At least the Johnson herd is. The text messages began flying. My oldest is in Colorado for the summer, and I received a text simply asking how the drive home was. My sister texted to see how our evening was (even though we had been with her at Chick-Fil-A). My niece had a good laugh at our expense. I don’t even know how the stories started flying as I was trying to protect the guilty Bovine! Maybe we need to learn not to “share prayer requests” so readily…although we will take all the prayer we can get.

Eight, Chick-fil-a will always have a special place in our hearts. It would be tempting to avoid our favorite chicken place in light of current circumstances. Instead, we will take every opportunity to eat the delicious chicken and dress like cows. Long live Chick-Fil-A!!

Nine… surely some of you can encourage me with your own ridiculous stories of embarrassing moments and stupid things you’ve done. We could use a few more laughs.

I guess with that, it’s time to pack our spots away for another year. Hopefully, next year’s Cow Appreciation Day won’t be quite as eventful…or expensive.