Friday, July 15, 2011

Strange Day In The Neighborhood

     The morning had been delightful.  Harris and Keaton were gone to Pella; Heath and Kelsey had already left for work; Haley and her friend Ashlyn were quietly sleeping in the basement.  The serenity of the morning was the perfect scenario for me to leisurely enjoy a little iced coffee and some Jesus time in our screened-in porch.  There are always a myriad of things to pray about, and one of the more "trivial" ones on my mind was my computer.  I woke up to some issues Monday morning already, so this was my one final chance to pray over the thing again before taking it to my favorite computer technician who lives just down the street.  He called while I was still in my pajamas, saying that he was ready to take a look at it, so my clothes were quickly changed, the computer was unplugged, and once again, I found myself carrying a computer to Chuck's house.  (I've done this a few too many times and always feel like kind of a dork but am always so thankful God gave me this connection.)  His wife and another neighbor lady were just pulling out and going for their Friday morning coffee date, so we chatted a bit in the street. 

     I came home, logged into Facebook on Harris's laptop, and proceeded to have a wonderful chat with a friend who had seen my frustrated gardening status and was offering us some veggies.  Soon enough Chuck was calling to tell me that he had my computer fixed, so the retrieval was made, and I came home just feeling so grateful for the answered prayers.  All my data and pictures were still intact!  It wasn't till later, though, that I discovered that there is still an annoying fix that I have to manually make to each and every single picture on my computer, but at least they are there.  Backups had been made to an external hard drive, but even those had been affected.  The whole thing was just rather bittersweet. 

     My mind was forced to shift gears and start working on some brunch to be served before taking Haley's friend to the airport.  I called downstairs to make sure they were up and told Haley that muffins were in the oven and sausages patties were being cooked.  They each hopped in a shower, and I went back to cutting up strawberries.  All of a sudden, our doorbell was ringing off the wall, and my initial thought was that one of our kids' friends must be at the door feeling a little crazy for a Friday morning because I'd never heard our doorbell ring quite like that before.  I walked through the living room and glanced out the window and was shocked to discover a fire underneath our pickup!  Our neighbor Bill was obviously just trying to get someone's attention, and he was frantically grabbing our hose and turning the  faucet on.  He stood in our front yard and battled the flame that was underneath the front of the truck near the tire and told me that his wife was calling 911.  All I could think about was how on earth something like that would start and wondered if someone had thrown something under the truck to cause a fire.  Heath's car was parked in the street right in front of the truck, so I tried to call him, but he didn't answer his phone initially.  I was pretty sure he had the keys with him at work, but I came inside to do a quick search for them, turned my stove off so our house wouldn't catch on fire as well, and hollered for Haley, but she was still in the shower and didn't hear me. 

     Before I knew it, Bill's wife was hollering from their yard and telling him to get away from the truck because the fire was under the hood, and at that point we both just backed away and watched the fire get more and more out of control, taking over the front of the truck.  Very, very scary.  Haley and Ashlyn came outside about the same time the police and the firetruck arrived on the scene.  By the time the truck was doused pretty good, the whole hood had melted right on through and onto the street.  Somewhere in there, Heath had returned my call and told me he'd come right home so he could get his car moved out of the way, but the fire had been extinguished by the time he got here.  Thankfully his car was not damaged at all, but if the firetruck had gotten here two minutes later, I'm convinced that the fire would have ravaged the whole pickup and it would have exploded.  We definitely had the attention of the neighborhood at 11:30 in the morning!

     The fireman gathered lots of details from Haley and me and told us that he was pretty sure it was an electrical short of some kind under the hood.  The last time it had been driven was the previous night, and no, no one had been smoking in it or around it.  He showed us where the fire had started and told us that we would need to get it towed away within a timely fashion because it's considered an eyesore on the street.  The kids both talked to Harris on the phone before I had a chance, but there was little he could do from where he was anyway.  The neighbor ladies came back from their coffee date and told me that the exact same thing had happened in that spot to one of the previous owners' vehicles before we moved here, so that's a little crazy to think about. 

     Until further observation by someone else, we accepted the fireman's explanation of a short under the hood, but Bill came back late afternoon with an internet printout detailing a cruise control recall that was declared on a few Ford vehicles back in 2008.  That was before we had the truck, so we obviously would not have known that it was something that needed to be corrected.  From what I read, it makes sense to me, though, that that could be the cause.  I thought the first part of the week had lots of random occurrences, but this one definitely topped the list!

     By the time the whole thing was said and done, all we could do was choose to look at the blessings.  Haley and Ashlyn could have driven that pickup to Coralville on Thursday to meet up with Beth from Pella, but we had opted to send them in a different vehicle because of the poor gas mileage it would get.  This is the second close call Haley has had with a vehicle in the last couple of months, so we're very thankful for God's protection over her!  The truck could have been in the garage or in the driveway and caught the house on fire, but it wasn't.  It could have exploded while we were out there watching it burn, but that didn't happen either.  It could have been setting anywhere else and exploded and caused serious damage or injuries to others, but we were spared from that nightmare as well.  And besides all that, God definitely gave us opportunities to talk with all our neighbors! 

     I was just thankful that I was home at the time and that our neighbors were proactive when they sensed the problem.  It's an old truck with over 200,000 miles, but it was a good, functional truck that rarely gave us any problems.  It's a disappointment and a loss for sure, especially since we only had liability insurance on it.  Haley was rather depressed because it meant the loss of her beloved "Hank, Jr.," that she had been driving for the last year.  It was always available for hauling things for us or others; it was our truck we used to pull our camper; it was just a good ole truck to have around for the kids to drive or for Harris to use for all those things that guys need trucks for.  It's a sad day, and we have no idea why this had to happen, but finally all you can do is smile, move on, and be very, very thankful for God's protection over all of our lives.  It could have been much, much worse.  It could have had all of us in it next weekend on our way to our big family campout.

     We made it to the airport on time, said a little prayer together, and sent Ashlyn on her way back to North Carolina.  It was definitely not the perfect ending I thought we'd have to the wonderful week we had together, but she was very gracious and kind.  Her family came home after church to a house fire one time, and they were out of it for a year, so our little dilemma pales in comparison to what they experienced. 

     Our minds were rather consumed with the whole situation the rest of our day, and we found ourselves having conversations with a few more of our neighbors, which was unusual because oftentimes everyone is just so busy and wrapped up in their own little world.  Not today though.  Today was a day of reaching out, and there was a little more camaraderie than usual.  I liked that.  I liked that part a lot.  It's just too bad we had to lose our pickup in the process. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Random Musings

     The list setting on my desk beside me is long.  It's filled with errands and phone calls to make and household tasks.  You know the kind, right?  The kind where every time you go to cross something off, you end up adding two more things to the list.  It's got things scratched out, marked with an asterisk for super important, and things that surely could have been accomplished in a day's time but never got touched.  It somehow found its way into the kitchen at one point and has a few grease stains shining through it.  It's that time of night where I could either decide to keep it and see how much more could be crossed off tomorrow or it could be transferred to a new sheet of paper, reprioritized, and looking all nice and neat for tomorrow.  Instead, something keeps beckoning me to this computer tonight.  Writing a blog entry wasn't even on my list for today, but it's something that I can't get out of my mind.  Sometimes I just need to write . . . to journal . . . to share.  Nothing real deep on my mind but yet a whole bunch of random and bizarre things that someone might find interesting.

     So . . . one day last week Haley came home and said, "I saved a life today, Mom!"  She was riding with a friend of hers, and they saw someone faint and just fall over, so they pulled over to help this man who could have just as easily fallen over in the middle of the street he was about to cross.  Another woman stopped to help as well, and amongst the three of them, they came to the conclusion that he was drunk, so they called 911.  Before Haley could even get off the phone with the operator, there was a police car, a firetruck, and an ambulance on the scene.  Who knows what became of it, but at least he was no longer out roaming the streets and putting himself in more danger. 

     And God bless these children of mine.  Last night when Heath got home, he told us he had picked up a hitchhiker who supposedly had gotten left behind by his girlfriend and then had cut his foot by walking in some glass.  I may not have my story straight, but I'm not real sure that guy had his story straight either.  I think I'm thankful my children are feeling the need to be so compassionate, but my goodness, my heart does a few flips and turns when I hear these things. 

     Earlier this week, Haley's friend Ashlynn from North Carolina flew in to visit us for a few days.  These two girls met while they were in Africa last summer, and we are certainly enjoying her and her sweet southeastern accent.  She is just the sweetest thing, and you can imagine all the fun they're having as they recount their African adventure together.  To make it even more interesting, Haley invited another girl over to our house last night who had just recently come home early from a missions trip to Ethiopia because of a break-in situation that she had experienced there.  Her dad "happened" to be there visiting her at the time, and while he was there, someone broke into the home they were staying in one night and lashed out with the machete that he brought in with him.  Both this girl and her dad had some pretty severe injuries, but they escaped the situation alive.  Haley had met the dad at a graduation party, so Haley's been trying to get together with the girl ever since then, so it was pretty interesting to have three girls sitting in our living room last night who were all able to share their African stories and their ultimate trust in God. 

     So today we end up with this girl at our door who supposedly came all the way to America from Estonia, which I guess is a country in Europe.  I'd never even heard of it!  She was pretty bound and determined she was going to come in and sit down at our kitchen table and show me this 500-page math textbook that I could buy for my kids.  I try really hard to be kind to people who show up at my door, but this one almost had me slamming the door on her to get her to leave!  Tonight one of Haley's good friends showed up to drop off a thank-you card, so we got to talking about her plans to attend a school in Sweden this fall.  She, on the other hand, was invited right on in, and we just had a delightful time visiting for the next 45 minutes to an hour. 

     Let's see.  I could tell you that Heath is now working for my brother up in Eldridge . . . that Kelsey is detasseling from 6:30 to 3 every day and then heading to swim practice in Clinton at 5:30 in the evenings and not getting home again till about 10 . . . that Keaton got to celebrate his 4th of July birthday at the campground this year and how we had to pull the camper out there four days early just to get a spot on a holiday weekend . . . that Haley quit her job at Fareway because she was tired of getting about three random hours of work per week.  I could tell you about waking up early Monday morning to about eight messages on my computer saying "hard drive failure" and how I'm praying for my computer guy to have all the answers and know how to fully restore all my data and pictures.  Or about the fact that shortly after I woke up to that dilemma, the power went out for three hours.  Or about our first-ever visit to a school board meeting on Monday night and how we about witnessed a fight break out in the parking lot afterwards over the issue which brought us there.  Or about the call we got at 8:30 Tuesday morning from our company's auditor saying that she would be arriving at our office at noon for our "no-notice" audit that we knew would be coming sometime this summer because those happen every other year.  Thankfully we just strive to keep a very compliant office on a daily basis anyway, but there's always that panic that sets in when the call comes in, and then there's always that sweet relief that comes over us as she walks out that door, knowing that we passed all the tests, once again, and knowing that next year's audit will at least be a scheduled one.   

     It's now Thursday morning.  My blogging session got interrupted at that point last night, and my mind can't seem to think of what all else I was going to add.  I was kind of on a roll!  That grease-stained list is still setting beside me, and God has just given me a new day full of possibilities of how to spend my time.  Oh, how I love my life!  I guess we'll start with a shower and the trip to Sam's Club that didn't seem to happen yesterday.  Enjoy your day, everyone!