Our story part 2, continued from yesterday.
In 2001 we were living in a little house on the East side of St. Paul, MN. I was 9 months pregnant with our second child. A girl that we had prayed and cried over for 5 years. We were nearing the end of the pregnancy when the St. Paul Police started a crack-down operation in the neighborhood south of us.
This flushed bad guys into our normally nice neighborhood all summer long. Our mail man was held up at gun point. Our garage was broken into and our bikes stolen, even Taylor’s tricycle! And one morning we came out to go to church only to discover that our car was stolen. The police found it later that day, window smashed, hot wired and still running, abandoned in a parking lot. We dropped it off at the repair shop. The icing on the cake was that I was over-due to deliver this baby and now we had no car. We borrowed the church van to go to the hospital.
Baby Emma finally came and it seemed like everything was settling down… then 9/11 occurred. I remember standing at the television set and screaming when the first building went down. It felt like the whole world was ripped apart at the seams. Over the next few weeks, five year old Taylor kept building tall towers with his Legos and knocking them down with toy airplanes and cars. I had nightmares about being trapped in an elevator and feeling the building swaying then free falling. Everyone everywhere was tense and on edge.
Trying to move on with our ordinary lives, we planned a baby dedication for Emma on Josh’s birthday, October 7. Early in the pre dawn hours while the whole family slept, terror was stalking our house. Coming up suddenly from a deep sleep I heard a loud banging. In my sleepy mind, I thought it was Taylor turned around in his little bed kicking the headboard in a wild dream. I was on my feet and running down the steps as fast as only a Mommy can run while still being half asleep. My husband who normally sleeps through tornado sirens was on his feet and running down the steps behind me without being fully aware of what he was doing. That surprised me.
At the bottom of the steps, I stopped dead in my tracks and my knees buckled. I collapsed on the floor. There was a MAN standing in our living room! My mind raced to catch up with reality. Who is this? What is he doing here? What’s going on?
“I didn’t want to do it.” He said, “They made me do it. I didn’t want to hurt you, but they made me do it.” He kept saying. Oh Dear God, we’re going to die. I looked around within the radius of my arms to see if there was anything to use as a weapon. There was a piece of paper lying on the steps and the phone on a side table. We would need the phone to call the police, so we couldn’t fight with that.
Josh just kept calmly saying, “Go, get out of here. Just leave, get out of here.” All of my senses were totally alive. My eyes etched every detail of this man into my memory. No weapon in his hands. I smelled. No alcohol, probably he was strung out on drugs. I’ve heard that drugs can make people feel no pain and freakishly strong. I wanted to pray out loud but I didn’t want to draw his attention. Time was meaningless. Had we been standing there face to face for years?
My ears were alert to any noise from my kids’ rooms to my right. Not a peep. Were they laying in bed scared, too scared to call for me? I had to get to them. But maybe the man didn’t know we had kids in the house. Would he hurt my kids? A steal rod entered my soul at that thought. OVER MY DEAD BODY! This guy will literally have to step over my dead body to get to my children, I determined. Slowly I stood up and slowly I slid into the hallway were there was a fire extinguisher in the closet. I was going for it when my Mommy instincts took over. The second I was out of view, I ran into Taylor’s room. I scooped up the sleeping child… dead weight, he was out cold… and heavy! Sleeping through the whole thing, thank God.
By the time I plopped both children safely in my bed upstairs and returned down to the living room the man had fled. I found Josh standing in a daze in the center of the living room. Where did he go? I asked, “I don’t know.” Josh said. “He just turned and ran.”
I looked at the door. Our big, solid wood door with the dead bolt still in locked position lay flat on the floor, hinges torn off the jam, ragged wood all over the place and plaster from the wall snowing down on the carpet. My jaw dropped. After the police left, we used the couch to prop the door shut and we sat there for the rest of the night waiting until daylight when we could call our parents without scaring them to death with a middle of the night phone call.
That was the last night we stayed in that house. We moved into my parents’ basement that day. When the door was fixed, we put the house up for sale. I was scared of the dark for months. As the sun would begin to set I would start to shake. I refused to leave the house unless I absolutely had to. I jumped out of my skin at every bump in the night. We all slept piled together in one tiny bedroom for almost 3 months. On December 23 we moved into a new house and tried to close the chapter on that horrible experience.
But here’s what I learned:
1. Bad things happen here in America too. You don’t have to live over seas to be robbed or attacked or scared out of your mind or to face death. It happens everywhere.
2. God is still in control even when it feels like everything is out of control, even when things don’t happen like you thought they would.
3. And God is still good, even when he allows bad things to happen.
It’s very scary to put your trust in something that is bigger than you and so unpredictable, but no matter what happens, He’s still good. It’s like what Mr. Tumnus in “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” says when Lucy asks if Aslan the Lion will come back. He says, “He’s not a tame Lion, but he is Good.” God is not a tame God, but He is good. Through it all I have arrived at a deeper trust of God. He may kill me because he’s not tame, but he’s still Good… no matter what. Yet though He slay me, I will still trust Him.
More of the story tomorrow…