I have so much to say and don’t know where to begin. So much has happened over the last couple of months in our state and in our family that it gets just a little bit overwhelming. I’ll do my best to make sense and make my 1971 High School English teacher, Mrs. Carter, proud. But I have some pretty deep thoughts to share. This is going to be a little different from my other posts.
You know that my community and others around me were devastated by three tornadoes that were so huge and powerful that very little stood up against them. Families have experienced the loss of homes, cars, personal belongings, pets and even loved ones. The immediate aftermath was a call for better safety measures….mandatory shelters in schools and homes, better warning systems and stronger homes. All across the land, “safety” has become the new “in” word. And I have to admit that sitting in our storm shelter on the night of May 19th, I felt snug, safe and strangely calm in the midst of the wind storm above me.
Then, yesterday, a video was sent to me. It had gone viral on the internet and was of a young student from my alma mater in Murfreesboro, TN who had been stopped at a DUI checkpoint, not because he was drunk, but because he was young. I think that he must have been a law student because he knew the legal terminology and the Constitution backwards and forwards. With his cell phone camera turned on and laying in the front seat, the young man recorded a most horrible and astounding episode of police intimidation, corruption and just plain meanness. At one point, one patrolman announced to the kid that the Constitution can be suspended in the name of safety. The very ones who have been charged with the duty to “keep us safe” had become people FROM whom one would want to be kept safe!
Last week was our country’s celebration of July 4th – Independence Day – the day that we set aside to remind ourselves of our escape from tyranny, of the blessed freedoms that we enjoy in this land and to think on those of the past who stood up for those freedoms. Many people, including myself, feel that a lot of those freedoms are being eroded away, but still, all-in-all, we are a people in a nation that enjoys the most freedoms of any other country in the world. Unfortunately, however, we keep giving up freedoms in the name of ‘safety’.
Ironically, in the same week as our Independence celebration, just two days prior to that day, my family experienced something that made us all feel that our freedom AND safety had been snatched right out from under us and it is taking some time to overcome that feeling. On Tuesday afternoon, shortly after 1:00 pm, in the middle of the day, my daughter, Mrs. Dance-A-Lot, drove into the driveway of her new home. She and her hubby (Mr. Guitar Guy) had moved into this house just weeks before and, though it is new and wonderful, the house isn’t quite home yet. Mrs. Dance-A-Lot had been on a special lunch date with Mr. Guitar Guy, taking a moment together while their little Miss Snicklefritz, was visiting the other grandmother and recovering from the very contagious Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease. Mrs. Dance-A-Lot had only been gone from her house for 45 minutes. As she pulled into the driveway, she noticed that her garage door was open and that a car was sitting in the drive. The door from the garage to the house was open as well and in just a matter of milliseconds she was asking herself why everything was open, whose car was in the drive and if the new pest control man was back without calling her. But then, how could he get into the house without her there? She pulled up next to the strange car to exit hers as a very large man came toward her car, carrying her laptop, with two more men attempting to carry her big screen television behind him. Of course, she and the men all jumped out of their skins at the same time and as Mrs. Dance-A-Lot slammed her car door to back out of the driveway as fast as she could, the men carrying the television dropped it behind the man with the laptop and ran to their car . My daughter was on the phone with 911 as she vamoosed out of there, heart pounding and feeling like she was in some kind of alternate universe. All she could think was, “I have to get away.”
A home full of police, fingerprint dusting and providing their own fingerprints later, my loved ones had to face a ransacked house covered in clingy, fine, black fingerprint dust, a front door that had not only been kicked in but had taken the door frame with it, some missing personal items including jewelry and electronics and a feeling that everything in their “space” had been violated. Of course, the anger set in and pretty soon, the paranoia and fear – and that affected ALL of us. All kinds of things run through your mind like, “What if they come back?” “They know what I/she looks like.” “They know what they left.” “They know that I/she can identify them and their car.” An unsettling lack of peace followed. It wasn’t helped by the fact that on July the 4th Mrs. Dance-A-Lot’s Netflix account showed that someone was watching pornography on her computer!! Just one more violation.
For a week now, many in our family and even close friends have been running through plans of what can be done to avoid this type of situation again. Alarm system companies are loving us as they are getting new orders, doors have been made more secure using the EZ ARMOR door security systems from Lowe’s (they cost $68), video cameras are being considered and discussions on what can be learned from the incident are underway. The issue of “safety” has come up again and a feeling of freedoms lost permeates conversations. And as usual, I’m looking on the bright side in the hopes that these sorry individuals are in agony with high fevers and blisters because they were exposed, in my daughter’s house, to the numerous. stuck on everything and highly contagious germs of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease!! Would that not be sweet justice?!
Laying aside that vengeful part of my personality, it has occurred to me that all of us need to recognize something about freedom and safety that often gets overlooked. In the Declaration of Independence, those great men who wrote that great document stated that our freedoms are ordained by God. We forget that our safety is in His hands as well. Yes, bad things happen but that does not negate the fact that ultimately, our great God who is the authority over all things is our protection and our safety when push comes to shove. We can plan until doom’s day, but all the plans in the world are just man’s efforts to stop something that is totally out of his control. We can monitor every phone call from overseas and still have some nuts blow up the innocence of a marathon race. We can install burglar alarms and fire alarms only to have them irritatingly announce that our home is burning down or that burglars were quick enough to grab and run before the police could get there. We can store up food for a crisis only to have it tossed over the countryside by a tornado or burned up in a fire or spoiled by varmints of some type. We can live in the country with farm animals, gardens and fruit trees to provide our sustenance, only to have drought, bugs, accident or disease wipe out every ounce of that provision. We can use wind power, solar power and generators to offset the loss of electricity only to have God’s electricity – lightning – destroy it all. “The best-laid plans of mice and men go oft awry.” (Robert Burns) The fact is, using man’s schemes, we are never truly “safe”. If any person promises to keep you “safe” from anything, he is a liar. And if he promises you safety in exchange for your freedom, he is a tyrant.
Proverbs 28:26 says, “He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe.” And what is wisdom? “The reverence for the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Proverbs 1:7 What kind of safety is scripture talking about? It can be physical safety, but more important, it is about spiritual safety. It is a safety from fear, unease, depression, discouragement, dread and all of the other negatives that cloud our joy and steal our peace. I have experienced moments when God has given me wisdom and warning that if I had just listened, I would have avoided a lot of physical heartache. But more important is that if I had just listened to His promise that He is my safety and salvation, I would have avoided a lot of spiritual turmoil as well.
God truly does have our best interests at heart. He is our calm in the midst of calamity, peace in the midst of chaos and joy in the midst of pain. Even when bad things happen to us, if we let Him, He keeps us “safe” from ourselves. He is the tornado shelter for our hearts that shields us from the winds of our fear and anger, the surveillance for our minds that keeps us safe from thinking we are in control and the burglar alarm for our souls that warns us of stolen joy or pilfered peace. It’s pretty amazing. “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to your life.” Mathew 6:33
As I said, a lot has happened in our state and family that has messed with our perception of “safe”. And now that it has been a week since a first experience with the nature of people who don’t understand the concept of “this ain’t yours”, it has been hammered into my brain that when all is said and done, God is in control, God is the actual Justice and God is our protection from our own worst reactions. But I have to admit, in the dark recesses of my heart, I still catch myself hoping that those three men contracted Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease and are scared to death that they have the Black Plague or something!
But speaking of steps that you can take to better care for your family, I want to show you our wonderful, stainless steel Berkey water filter that I absolutey love. Isn’t it pretty?
When ordering a Berkey water filter, you have a choice of charcoal or ceramic filters, as well as special ones for arsenic and flouride. We’ve had this Royal Berkey, which holds a total of 3.25 gallons of water, for three years, and the spigot makes it so handy to just keep on the counter for a quick drink. We pour new water from our well into the top half with the filters once a day and enjoy the clearest, sweetest water you can imagine. They are a little pricey, but the filters last for years if cared for properly. We did the math and determined that in the long run, the Berkey was the better deal for water filters.
So there’s my sales pitch. We don’t sell Berkeys or get a commission or even know anyone who sells the systems, so I can truthfully say that our endorsement is unbiased and for real!
And Stay Safe!