Saturday, August 30, 2014

Every Breath You Take

Yesterday I got motivated and cleaned the whole house, top to bottom, by myself while Brian was at work and the two oldest were at school.  Generally, I wait for a Saturday when they are all underfoot and in my way.  You know, it’s a lot more fun to vacuum when your kids are screaming at you that they can’t hear the tv.  Also, my husband mops floors.  Enough said.  But I just wanted it done so at 8:30 in the morning I went into my storage room, Hunter following close behind me, to get my vacuum.  Upon opening the door I could smell gas.  I figured that maybe the water heater had just kicked on or something so no big deal.  But when I went back to put the vacuum away the odor was still there.  A few other rooms in the basement smelled funny as well.  

And then somehow I forgot all about it.  I blame it on the cleaning chemicals.

Brian got home from work and the kids got home from school and we had supper early.  It wasn’t our best evening.  The kids were fighting and the parenting was hard and at one point I stood in my living room and said, “Jesus, we need you now.  We need you here!”  No one heard me because they were all downstairs, all yelling.  I don’t do that pray out loud thing a lot.  But I spoke the words this time.  Because I was in serious need of some divine help.

Then, because we are crazy people who want to punish ourselves, we loaded the whole family into the car to go grocery shopping.  Nothing spells fun Friday night like toting whiny children up and down the aisles of Walmart, HyVee and Fareway.  We considered me just going home with the kids after our first stop, but Brian convinced me to go to Fareway too.  And then after that we figured we might as well just keep going and hit HyVee.  We buy all of our groceries (except for perishable items) for the whole month in one shopping trip.  So these once-a-month grocery extravaganzas are big deals.  It takes us a while.

Obviously, this is not a task that is easy on children.  By the time we hit that first aisle of the last store I was on my last thread of sanity.  The kids were melting down over everything.  We soldiered on but it was a challenge.  And when they couldn’t get their seatbelts on by themselves (good grief) I may have sort of had my own meltdown.  This was way more stressful than I wanted it to be.  And I prayed a little bit of an angry prayer.  “Where are you?  Why aren’t you helping us?  This parenting with love and grace is too hard.  I need some solid evidence that you care about us because right now you feel a million miles away.”

Somehow, we made it home around 8:30.  Got the kiddos some ice cream while we unpacked groceries.  Brian helped them brush their teeth and I tucked them in at about 9:00.  We were standing in the kitchen and I motioned to a pile of groceries still on the counter and said, “Those need to go in the freezer.”  I don’t know why but this is Brian’s job – to put things in the freezer.  It’s just one of those family nuances in our house.  So he loaded things up and went downstairs.  Seconds later he calls up, “Hey, I think it smells like gas down here!”

And then I remembered.  He was right, of course.  It did still smell like gas.  Strongly.  And there was an odd sound in our storage room, but we couldn’t figure out where it was coming from.  There were a few minutes of debate.  Was this really something to worry about or were we freaking out about nothing?  Could we leave the kids in their beds where they were sleeping while we addressed the problem?  At some point I said, “We can’t risk this” and Brian agreed.  So Brian called the gas company and I woke sleeping children and piled them in the car.  They were horribly confused and trying to explain a gas leak to a 5 year old is like trying to explain computers to a pioneer.  I, fearfully, started the car (I know you’re not supposed to do that) and backed it out of the driveway and parked just down the street from our house.  I wasn’t sure how long we would need to be gone and I needed a place to gather my thoughts.  Brian was going to wait outside at a safe distance for our gas company.  He backed his car out of the garage as well and when he got out he heard something.  A loud something.  A loud hissing from the side of our house where the gas meter is located.

He ran, really ran, to where I was parked and said, “We need to get to somebody’s house and call 911 now!”  So we drove just a tiny ways to one of our new neighbors.  He knocked on the door and bless her she opened it even though it was 10:30 at night.  She let him call 911 and then invited us all into her home.  So the kids and I sat on her living room floor and chatted with her while Brian watched for the necessary parties to arrive.  We could not see what was happening and I think that was a good thing because they sent a police car and an ambulance and that surely would have worried my kiddos. 

I couldn’t stop waiting for the giant explosion.  I practically expected to feel the earth shake with the sound of my house erupting.  And this awesome thing happened then.  In the complete silence, I realized that as much as I loved that house (and I do), I could let it go.  And even though it held so many special things, what I had with me, sitting in my lap, was my treasure.  Though it would be hard, I could let all the rest go.  I don’t say that lightly.  I have friends who have lost their homes to fire and that loss is felt for years so I understand it is one thing to think about it and another thing to go through it.  Even so, I had great peace as I literally left everything behind except for the clothes on our backs.

Brian came back after a long while and said, “Well, there was a hole in the gas line.  They’re fixing it now.”  Evidently our house settled and threw the gas meter off kilter.  We had noticed this one day when we were at the park.  “Why is that so terribly crooked?” I asked Brian.  He wasn’t sure and neither was I and we SHOULD have asked someone.  But we didn’t. 

We do not know how long we had this leak, though my so hospitable neighbor told me that a day or two ago she had been walking past our house and smelled gas.  It could have been days.  We just aren’t sure.

Two hours after I woke my kids, I kissed their little heads and tucked them back in bed.  The house was safe, the line was repaired and I crawled in bed.  Exhausted.  At midnight.

Then came the fear.  What if they hadn’t fixed it well enough?  Could it, would it break again?  If it did, and something ignited it, well, then I would not survive because it was located right by our bedroom.  The fear train started rolling and horrible images and thoughts entered my mind.  So I turned to Him again, but I had no words.  I listened.

You asked for my help, child.  You called on my name and I heard you.  I heard your prayer in the car as well when you were begging me to show you how much I love you.  I’ve done that before.  I did it once in a way that will never be matched or questioned.  And even though you doubt me, I did it again tonight.  I did it when I protected you as you drove around town.  I did it when I ordered your life that your husband would have a reason to go in the storeroom.  I did it when I gave you the conviction to wake up your children and leave the home.  I calmed you in your fear tonight when you put all of your worldly possessions in my hand.  I provided peace and protection for you and your children when the Enemy was trying so hard to attack all of you.  And dear one, I do it Every.  Single.  Second.  I am always with you, whether your house is standing or not.  I am holding you in the palm of my hand and you will not fall.  You wanted to know where I was.  I was so close you couldn’t even see me holding you fast. 

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind, but now I see

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed

My chains are gone, I’ve been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood his mercy reigns
Unending love, amazing grace

The Lord has promised good to me
Hi word my hope secures
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures

My chains are gone, I’ve been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood his mercy reigns
Unending love, amazing grace

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow
The sun forbear to shine
But God who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.
Will be forever mine.
You are forever mine.

1 comment:

CureSMA4Stella said...

Praise the Lord!! So glad you guys are ok!!!