Tag Archives: Lake Wobegon

Back away from the Doorbell, Buddy!


In my last post I talked about letting go of my fear of having our house broken into.  Today I’m going to be a bit more practical.  Yes, we trust the Lord.  Yes, we know that if someone wants in your house badly enough they will figure out a way to get in.  Yes, we have a daily peace, knowing that the Lord is with us.  However, that does not mean we no longer take precautions.  There’s no sense inviting the Fox into the hen house, so to speak.

Photo credit: bitzcelt / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Photo credit: bitzcelt / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

I actually feel safer inside my house here in San Jose, Costa Rica than I did when we were home on our last furlough and living in the suburbs of the Twin Cities.  My sense of space has changed.  Here in Costa Rica, our house has a big, tall wall around the whole property.  If someone wants to ring our doorbell, they stand on the street and ding the speaker phone.  I can choose to answer the phone or not.  They would never know if I was avoiding them like a Jehovah’s Witness or if I was simply not home.  In order to let someone into our house, I must walk down the driveway and manually open the door for them to enter into our yard first.

Compare that to how close a stranger actually comes to me when he rings my doorbell in Minnesota.  I remember the jolt of fear that I felt at seeing a perfect stranger standing right at my front door, looking shamelessly into my living room through the window at the side of the front door.  I wanted to click an imaginary speaker phone and order the guy back out onto the street.  “Hey! Hey! Hey!  You are WAY TOO CLOSE to my house!” I wanted to yell, “Back off Buddy!”

I had changed.

In addition to the doorbell out on the street and a wall around the yard, when we were negotiating our contract with the land lord, we agreed to install a security system with door alarms if he would beef up the security of the wall.  He gladly agreed.  A few weeks later we had a lovely electric fence on top of the front of the wall and barbed razor wire around the sides and the back of the wall.  Not very pretty, I admit, but MAN DO I FEEL SAFE NOW!  Everyone, and I mean everyone, has barbed wire around their walls.  Now we blend in.  And I like that.

So that explains how I actually feel SAFER living in Costa Rica than I did living in Garrison Keillor’s imagination (I’m referring to Lake Wobegon, in case you have no idea or have never heard Prairie Home Companion Radio Broadcast.  It’s hilarious, by the way.)  Here I know that no one can get close to my house just by ringing my doorbell.


Photo credit: just.Luc / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Photo credit: just.Luc / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

It is a horrible feeling to know that someone has been in your house, looking at your pictures, touching your things… robbing you.  I count that our house has been broken into 3 times, our car has been stolen twice, and less importantly, our garage has been broken into and our bikes and tools all stolen.  And only one of those home invasions happened overseas.

I am fully convinced that God knows our fears even better than we do.  I believe that He was preparing us for life overseas by forcing us to face our fears in our own beloved Minnesota.  We don’t live in Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.  But sometimes when we are overseas we tend to romanticize “home”.  We think, “This never would have happened to me if I had stayed in Minnesota!”

But that’s just not true.  Houses get robbed in Minnesota too.  Cars get stolen in middle class neighborhoods in First World Countries.  If someone wants to get into your house badly enough, no amount of locks and security systems will stop them.  They could drive a car through the wall of your living room if they wanted to.  Bad things happen in America too.

So I think the Lord knew that by facing my fears while we were still living in America, it would have the effect of releasing me from those fears.  It’s like facing your fear of heights by going rock climbing or facing your fear of public speaking by giving a toast at a wedding.  Once you see that your fear was survivable, well then it has lost its grip on your mind.

It took a long time after each violation for my peace to return to me, but eventually it did.  At the moment of our last break-in, in Mexico, my husband and I held each other and cried.  As I cried, I prayed out loud and thanked God that we were safe, that our children were at school today, that not much was stolen.  I repeated the scripture verse from Job, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.”  And I felt like we passed a test.  Deep in my heart I felt the approval of the Lord.  I sensed that we would not have to face this test again.

When we picked up our kids from school, we worried about their reactions when we told them that the house was broken into while we were away that morning.  They only asked if all their toys were still there.  They were not the least bit concerned otherwise.  I marveled at how the Lord had given them a resiliency that I didn’t even think to ask for.  I thanked the Lord for giving us peace once again.