A week ago, our house was filled from top to bottom with a toxic yellow gray smoke that originated from a hot oil fire on the stove. It wasn’t the oil fire that the smoke was from. The smoke came from the melted, yep, MELTED microwave that the oil fire had fried.
I was the culprit.
Yep, me. Usually careful, safety conscious, mom of a me was the culprit. I was wiped out when I had come home from a full day of school in a season of state audits, health concerns, and financial challenges. So, I came home from school one day at 4 and did what I never do. I took a nap. My husband made a simple dinner that included home fries and hot dogs, so I didn’t need to worry about cooking that night. I slept like a baby, and then woke up at 8 and did laundry and all of the job at home after the job at school stuff.
By about 10:30, I realized I was hungry and hadn’t eaten dinner. So, I thought that home fries sounded really good.Am not usually big on fried food, but the sliced potato was sitting right on a plate on the counter and I thought that I might as well finish it off. I turned the stove on and waited for the oil in the pan to get hot. I waited a minute, and then got side tracked with something. Not sure what it was. Maybe the dinger on the dryer or a text or an “oops”, I forgot to do that. But I got sidetracked, and pretty soon, forgot about that oil that was on its way to hot. In fact, I got sidetracked all the way to the couch and laid down.
I woke up and thought, “What is Josh cooking?” You see, my son has a kitchen downstairs and sometimes cooks late at night. I shut my eyes again, but pretty soon, I heard a loud bang. I jumped up and realized there was smoke filling the living room, and then I ran to the kitchen. Melted chards of glass greeted my feet as I ran to the sink to get water to put out the fire.(Turns out the glass door from the microwave had burst…) My first words were “no, oh no, oh NO, OH NO, OH NOOOO!”…. as I had absolutely no doubt that our house was on its way to going up in flames. I threw water on the walls and ceiling, and screamed for my husband with everything in me. He was asleep upstairs. “BUDDDDYYY!! CAll 9-1-1!!! Call 9-11! BUDDYYYYY!”
He came running down, and reminded me to put the lid on the hot oil pan and pretty soon, the flames that had reached the ceiling and burned the microwave and cabinets had died down. Then came the smoke that filled our home with toxic fumes from the melted microwave. Anyway, there will be a lot of details in coming weeks and months of cleaning up the damage, but there’s something that I hope forever stays with me from this incident. There’s an awareness that I hope I never lose sight of.
You see, I’m usually pretty steady. My six kids have trained me. My recovering alcoholic husband has trained me. Our lives have been full, very, very full. Full of amazing moments, and full of intense, terrifying times. I have stood by the side of an ambulance and watched my son emerge seizing and curled up after he suffered cardiac arrest and was “out” for 5 minutes. I have seen the red lights of an ambulance with my daughter inside after 4 deer ran in front of her car, she swerved, and flipped the car three times. I stayed steady. I have seen the photos of a car that nobody should’ve survived…a son that had a terrible car accident in which the car flipped 6 times ended up topping a tree 15 feet up. I stayed steady. Months later he showed me the sight and there were still metal parts in the trees. I stayed steady. Tears rolling down my face, but I stayed steady. I have birthed babies without pain medication and compartmentalized pain. I have had 6 teenagers in the house…and stayed steady (for the most part!!) But the night of the fire? Not steady a bit. Nope, not one little tiny bit. I was crying oUT LOUD!!
Yep, I was crying out loud. Not crying with tears, but screaming with passion for help. The photo used above is of a little one photographed a few weeks back. Not sure what was going on in her little mind, but she was crying out loud with everything she had. And even though it may have seemed a bit calloused of me to take a photo of her in this moment, I’m so thankful I have the shot because it’s such a visual of crying out loud. And when she did? I just wanted to rush in and pick her up and meet those little needs. She was too cute. As she was crying out loud, her needs were bound to be met. I know God knows the needs before we do…but maybe, sometimes, the crying out is more for our awareness than His. Maybe our crying out emphasizes the dependence we have and our awareness that maybe we aren’t so very self-sufficient after all. So yes, like Little Evi, I was absolutely crying out loud.
And the lesson? Sometimes I need to absolutely CRY OUT LOUD. I realized the next day that I hadn’t even breathed a prayer as I fought that fire. (Or, maybe it was all prayer, but it wasn’t conscious.) But I was trying to handle it all on my own and realized I couldn’t. I called my husband. I called him to call 9-11. I cried out as loud as I had ever cried in my life. The next morning, my husband said, “Heather, I don’t think I’ve ever heard you scream like that.” I told him, “I don’t think I ever have screamed like that in my life. Ever.”
And maybe that’s part of my problem. Maybe I need to do a lot more crying out loud. Maybe there are areas of my life that I need to see as so beyond my control that I need to cry out for Jesus to save and heal and repair. Maybe there are times when staying steady is so not the right thing. Maybe faith doesn’t always look like staying steady but looks like a frantic woman crying out to the Lord for help. Maybe crying out loud is just what Jesus wants me to do. Sometimes faith is quiet, reserved, steady, handling situations with grace. But sometimes, maybe sometimes, faith is like the woman screaming for help to someone who can help her. Maybe sometimes faith is knowing the intensity of the need, the awareness that I can’t meet that need, and absolutely CRYING OUT LOUD to the ONLY one who can meet that need.
So, there’s my lesson, my beautiful, beautiful lesson from the stupid destructive fire that should never have happened had I not been so daggone tired and a bit hungry at 10:30 at night. But, God uses it all. He draws me nearer in the fire. He uses pain to help me see His hand. His hand of protection. His hand of provision. His hand that comforts and leads and guides. He uses all things in our lives if we would but bring them to Him. He teaches me through these moments and helps me see that He is the steady one, steady steadfast one, and I am so not.
And me? I’m stepping up the ‘bringing things to Him’. I’m stepping them up and being so very thankful that in the midst of ANY thing, there is One whom I can run to with all of the needs, the pains, the joys, and the moments of this amazing and ordinary life. I am so very thankful that when I cry out, there is One who hears, who comes, who rushes in to meet the need, sometimes in ways that I would never expect or want, but meets the need, nonetheless. If I am His, then my story is part of His Glory. My story is part of His Glory of showing up and being all there when all I bring is need. I bring need. He fills, moves, comforts, inspires, and leads. He is the steady one, and I can rest in that.
Oh and one more thought. Our world is in dire, dire need. There’s destruction and intense needs at every single solitary turn. It is difficult not to see it. Am thinking that crying out…really CRY-ing OUT, is a good thing.
“Trust in Him at all times, O people. Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.” Psalm 62:8
Greeting Card available with this photo and “this too shall pass” theme available at Greeting Card – This Too Shall Pass $2.50