Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

A few nights ago our carbon monoxide detector went off.   It is a device that acts like a smoke detector but it alarms when there is a possibility of carbon monoxide, not smoke. We have a gas furnace and I have always been a little leery of the chance of a gas leak.

Well, back to a few nights ago, I was sound asleep as it was one o’clock in the morning when the detector started making a chirping sound, a loud chirping sound. Once I woke out of my deep sleep and figured out what was going on, I forced myself out of bed and staggered into the living room to see what the problem was. I stood there and stared at the source of my frustration, plugged into the wall, and waited for it to chirp again; but it didn’t. I was relieved but not convinced it was finished.

Reluctantly, I went back to bed.

I laid there wide awake knowing I would never be able to go back to sleep for wondering why the thing went off. Just as I was about to get up for a second time, it chirped again. I went back into the living room and unplugged it. At first I just held it, then I decided to walk over in front of the closet that houses our gas furnace. I figured if it was really a problem it would detonate if I got close enough to the supposed source of the problem. And that’s exactly what it did. It was a loud solid piercing whistling sound, kind of like a tea kettle that’s ready to boil over on the stove, only higher pitched and louder, so much louder. I turned it over and read the instructions on how to reset it. Basically press the “reset” button (no rocket science here) or get it to fresh air and that would stop the alarm. So, at one-ish in the morning I was out on the back screened-in porch in my pajamas, in the freezing cold waving the detector around trying to get it to stop screaming.

No luck.

By this time my ears are hurting and I am desperate to get this thing to quit. It suddenly occurred to me that there must be a battery since it was still “alarm-ing” and it was disconnected from its power source. (I know, clearly I was meant to be a brain surgeon, missed my calling.) I ran to the laundry room and tore it apart looking for a screwdriver. At last I found one and performed surgery on it to get the battery. Finally! It was silent. I stood there looking at it, what do I do now? My ears were ringing, it’s one thirty in the morning and I have to work tomorrow.

That is, if I don’t die of carbon monoxide poisoning.

I had a decision to make. Go back to bed and assume that the detector was faulty or call the gas company and have them come over and check for the silent killer. All I could think was “why does this stuff happen at one in the morning?” It didn’t take me too long to decide that I would need to have the house checked out before I was going to be able to sleep a wink.

So, I reluctantly picked up the phone and called the water and gas department. Of course at that time of the morning the number was transferred to an answering service for the police department. “Brewton City Police Department, can I help you?” she said. I was so tired and stressed that I’m sure she wondered if it was a prank call. I just kept saying, “I’m just not sure what to do” and “this is NOT an emergency” over and over again. Once she was finally able to quiet me, she asked me for my address, which I gladly gave to her.

I stood at the living room window, by this time it was two AM. Waiting, just waiting for the fire truck to come blasting down the road, sirens blaring, lights flashing, waking the entire street. I was hidden behind the blinds in my window, except for the small opening that I was sticking my nose through, so I could see the road. I kept whispering to myself, “this is NOT an emergency.”   You can imagine my relief when the truck appeared at the end of the street with no red lights or obnoxious sounds. It parked in front of my house and turned on flood lights. The entire front of my house was exposed in the night.

Great, not red lights, but I looked like a suspect of something far worse than a potential carbon monoxide victim in the shadow of the four thousand watt flood lights.

I walked over to the front door and waited for the firemen to knock. As soon as they did, I opened the door and suddenly remembered I was wearing my black robe and my red fuzzy slippers. This is not to mention my bed hair, and I don’t even want to think of what my breath smelled like. I just hoped bad breath wouldn’t set off the portable carbon monoxide detector that one of them held in his hand.

No worries though, I would keep my distance.

They were so kind as I explained my unusual situation. I’m really not sure how many times I said “I’m sorry.” After hearing my story, they went right to work checking and inspecting every room of my house with their specialized equipment. The whole time they were asking me questions about what was gas and what was electric, all I kept saying was, “I’m sorry.” Not sure why I thought I had to keep saying it. Finally one of them said, “it’s okay, ma’am, it’s our job. You did the right thing.”

I cannot tell you how good those words sounded right then. At two o’clock in the morning to a slightly (that’s generous) stressed out mom with bed head and nighttime breath who needed confirmation that she had done the right thing. Sometimes we just need to be reminded that we made the right call, we did what we thought best and it was RIGHT. In the midst of living a life where it’s sometimes hard to see the right thing and harder still to do it, that is a glorious feeling.

After fifteen or twenty minutes, they gave my house the all clear. Again I found myself babbling, this time it was “thank you” over and over again. It is more than clear to me now that I am a complete ninny in the wee hours of the morning. No doubt about it.

Just ask the local fire department.

Once the door closed behind them, I turned off all the lights in the house and dragged my weary body back to bed. By this time it was two thirty in the morning, and did I mention I had to work the next day? Well, let me mention it again.   I knew I had to get to sleep and fast if I was going to be able to make a coherent thought in the morning. But, my body didn’t seem to understand that. As soon as my head hit the pillow, my eyes flew open. I had so much adrenaline flowing through my veins that I didn’t think I would ever fall asleep. I tossed and turned, until finally sometime after three thirty I fell into a restless sleep.

The alarm was loud and clear a couple of hours later and it was time to get up and at it and start my day. That night actually competes as one of the worst nights of my life. I was and am so thankful for the help of our courageous fire fighters, they aren’t thanked enough, but I was so exhausted I wondered how I would keep my eyes open.

It is amazing how resilient we can be, because I made it and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. You just have to keep moving; that’s the secret. Of course, I don’t remember half of the day, but that is beside the point.

I purposely haven’t mentioned one tiny little fact about all of this that I think you will find rather amusing and potentially unbelievable. My seventeen year old son never woke up during the entire affair. Not once. He was sound asleep in his room the WHOLE time. Oh to sleep like a teenager again. Right before I went to bed, I went in his room to check on him.   I put my hand on his shin to see if he was too hot, and he opened his eyes and looked right at me and said, “Hey mom.”

What??!!

He slept through the night from hell and woke up when I put my hand on his leg? All I said was, “hey sweetie, love you. Night.” He rolled over and was back asleep in a flash. When I inquired about whether or not he heard anything the next morning, he had no idea what I was talking about.

Unbelievable.

Oh, and by the way, the detector had a bad battery. That was the problem. The kind firefighters had a spare nine volt battery in their truck, so my problem was solved. I don’t think I’ll forget that night for a long time, maybe ever.

But, I can rest in the nights to come knowing there is a new battery in the carbon monoxide detector and that I did the right thing.

Advertisements

Ninety Seconds of Light: Love Your Neighbor, All of Them

I sat in church this morning and listened to the pastor talk to us about the apostle Paul. If you’ve read any of my work, you know that I am a big fan of Paul. He was wordy like me. And also like me, he got himself into trouble with his words. He meant well, he just didn’t know when to quit sometimes.

Just like me.

As the Pastor spoke he began to talk about what a difficult person Paul must’ve been before his big light on the road experience. (Acts 9:1-19) From what we can gather from scripture, he was a loud mouth, a know it all and a snob. Pretty nice guy, huh? Basically he was hard to get along with and even harder to love.

But, Jesus still did.

Thank goodness for that. He loved Paul and saw in him what others could not. Oh how grateful I am for this bit of knowledge. He loved this man when he was at his worst. That is a true love. Seeing the best even when it is not evident.

Boy, that’s hard.

Last Sunday night we watched the movie “Woodlawn” at our church. Once a month or so, we gather together in the fellowship hall, pop some popcorn, drink soda and watch a good inspirational movie. It is a great time of fellowship and I always leave there feeling happy and challenged. This night was no different.

If you’ve seen this movie, I bet you would agree with me that it is highly motivating. It spurs me on to be genuine and hardworking. It reminds me to refine my gift and not to keep it trapped inside. I love how the Pastor of the church in the movie tells the members to “let their gift out because the world needs it.”   We need each other. We each bring something different to the table of life.

That’s exactly what God intended.

But, there’s always that one person who isn’t easy to appreciate. The one whom we duck when we see them coming. Not that we should, but often we do. THAT is the person I’m guessing Paul was to some folks. Harsh, abrasive, straight shooter, not tactful nor did he seem to care to be. He refined his gift by pouring it out on others all the time, whether they liked it or not. And even though it was all motivated by love, it probably didn’t feel that way to the person he was pouring it on.

Here’s the rub.

We must love those folks. The “Pauls” in our life. The Pastor in Woodlawn went on in his message to say, “If you only love those who love you back, what kind of love is that?” My eyes welled with unexpected tears at the question he was posing to his church. It jumped right off the screen and struck me right in the depths of my heart.

Who am I loving that is difficult?

And an even harder question occurred to me, who is loving me out of obedience because I am difficult at times too? Ouch! I don’t like to think of myself that way, but if I’m honest I have to admit that I can be selfish, overly opinionated, and a lot of other unpleasant things. I need to be thankful for those who are loving me. ALL of me.

Look around, who are you loving? Really loving, not just tolerating. Let them know it. Pray and ask God to show you the good in them and ask for grace to help you with the rest.

He will give you what you need.

Prayer: Father, it is so much easier to talk about loving a difficult person than it is to actually love them.   But, talk is cheap. I’m asking you for supernatural power to look beyond the difficulty and into the deeper issues of their heart. So many times a hurt is in there that needs your healing touch. There is not a person alive that has not needed a deeper healing at some point. Give me patience, grace and help me to keep my mouth shut when necessary. I am trusting you to walk me through this one day at a time. I need you. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.

Scripture: “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.” Luke 6:32

Ninety Seconds of Light: Run On to Victory

Jeff and I ran in the Azalea Trail Run this weekend. We woke up at 5AM, showered, dressed and headed out the door to Mobile where the big race was happening. Excitement and exhaustion greeted each other in my stomach as we made the drive. Once we arrived, we picked up our registration packets, pinned on our numbers and headed to the start line.

We were packed in the starting line-up like sardines, literally standing room only. Well, except for that one runner who bent over directly in front of me to tie his tennis shoes. That was unpleasant for reasons I’m sure you can imagine.

Anyway, among those packed in around us was an older couple giving each other a pep talk. They did not look like the athletic type, she with her scared to death demeanor and he with his jogging/leisure suit attire. Of course, Batman was there too. Or a guy dressed just like him. To each his own I guess. But, no matter about all of that, it takes courage just to be there, so my best wishes were with them.

The older couple was standing so close and he was talking to so loudly that it was impossible to miss the end of the pep talk he was giving his running partner. I don’t think I’ll forget it for a long time. He said, and I quote, “if I fall down, you keep running on to victory.” At first I chuckled at how serious he was when he said it. It sounded so “warlike,” like those around me were going to be dropping like flies so I better be on guard and be brave.

But I was also captured by his statement and I thought to myself, that is exactly what I want to tell those in my life. Keep going! If I am suddenly not there, keep going. Sure, check to see if I’m okay, and then keep going. I will have my ups and downs, my good and bad days, keep going. That’s the road to victory, and all who are dedicated enough to make it to the end will be winners.

Champions in Christ.

I have no idea where you are in your in your race, the circumstance that God has placed you in. If you are at the start line or well into the mileage, don’t quit. Don’t be dismayed by who may or may not be running beside you. Just keep your pace, stay strong, breathe, pray, stay in the Word and run on to victory.

I never did see that old couple again, there were so many people there. I kept looking for someone who might’ve fallen, but there were none. I have to believe they both made it to the end and kept on going.

Right on to Victory.

Prayer:  Father, help me to keep my eyes on You. There are many good people in my life, but none who can compare to You. They will let me down, whether they mean to or not, and I will most certainly let them down. Help me to keep putting one foot in front of the other and to stay the course. I need Your strength and wisdom each and every day, each and every step. You are the prize I run for and my Champion. I love you. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Scripture: “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” I Corinthians 9:24

Ninety Seconds of Light: Working It All Out

It was still dark outside when the alarm went off. I despise waking up to an alarm clock. Oh how sweet it will be when I can sleep until my eyes just pop open all on their own, fully rested and ready for the day. Those days are far from my present reality so I reached over and hit the snooze button. I’ve calculated exactly how many times I can hit snooze into my wake up time, the thought of a few extra minutes of sleep helps me to cope with the early hour.

Anyway, I woke up to the blaring alarm, hit snooze and rolled over dreading what was next. You see, I started a workout routine in the early morning hour to help me combat the aging process. I have found that my muscles are turning to jell-o these days and I am on a campaign to slow down the process. The only real time I have available right now is five AM. I know, right? That is so early and it is still dark out and I’m tired and the covers are so warm and yes, I’m whining.

After hitting snooze a couple of times I perched myself on the side of the bed and allowed my body to acclimate to the upright position. I didn’t sit too long as I am on a tight schedule to get it all done and get out the door to work. I quickly changed into my lycra workout apparel and wiped my wild bed hair out of my face. I’m so glad none of you are able to see exactly what I look like by the time I am ready to press play on the DVD player.

It’s not pretty. I’ll just leave that image up to your imagination.

By the time I hit the play button and Chalene begins her perky warm up segment, I am somewhat coherent and probably a little in denial about what I am about to do. I remind myself repeatedly that I will love myself for this when I am done. But, while I am turning myself into a human pretzel and listening to her remind me that I could do more if I tried harder, all I want to do is go back to bed or cry. Or both.

I want to quit.

I’m no rookie to workout videos or early mornings. I’ve started more fitness routines than I care to admit and stopped short of completing most every time. But, this time I am determined to finish the one hundred and twenty day plan.   I am on a mission to defy gravity or at the very least slow it down, and I desperately want to finish what I’ve started here. My goal is really not to be skinny or look like a body builder, I am very realistic about my limitations. I just want to keep improving and not to give up. I’m tired of being a quitter.

I want to be a “follow through-er.” (Is that a real phrase? I think I just made it up, oh well, you get the idea.)

I’ve quit a whole lot of things in my life and the older I get the more determined I become to hang in there and finish. Just finish. I could think of a thousand reasons not to get out of bed early tomorrow morning, but I am going to. As long as I am well and able, I will finish this period of exercise and hopefully see some results.

This is exactly what I’ve decided about my relationship with Jesus. I am going to go all the way with this thing. You know what I mean?   I’m not giving up on Him and me. I am going to get out of bed each day and face it knowing that He is within me reminding me that I can do it and I am not alone. Hopefully by the time my days on earth are over I will be able to look back and see a difference. My spiritual self will be stronger because I made the daily decision to allow him to make me tougher and more mature through spiritual exercise.

Allowing Him to turn me into a pretzel on the inside so I can see some results.

As they say, no pain, no gain. (That expression makes me kind of scared inside.)

Well, I plan to wake up tomorrow and get to work, physically and spiritually. As a matter of fact, I need to go to bed now because Chalene, my cyber trainer, will be as perky as ever at five AM.

Lord, help.

 

Prayer: Father, you know I have struggled with quitting in my life, especially when things get too hard. Help me, encourage me and train me to be a finisher. To run my race of life and finish the course with good results at the end. I need your strength because I have already proven that I am weak on my own. When it gets nearly unbearable, teach me to dig deeper inside and hang in there, the difficulty won’t last forever. And one day, when I get to heaven, I will rejoice in knowing that I finished what I started. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Scripture: “Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14

Your Love Never Fails

We are a family that likes to sing in the car. Loudly, if the setting and the people riding along permit. And this morning was no different than any other. I was headed to work singing loudly making a “joyful noise unto the Lord.” It was a very familiar song but as I got to the chorus, I stopped short of singing the words. It was as though I suddenly realized the power in them and the moment felt holy to me. I didn’t understand why it hit me the way it did at the time, I just felt so thankful for the love I was singing about.

The song went…“Your love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me…”

His love is so complete and so unconditional.   So unlike mine.

It was later in the week, when I remembered this encounter in the car, that I realized  the Lord was asking me to live out what He had revealed to me.  His love really is unconditional and mine should be too. That is so easy to say but so much harder to live out each day.

Let me try to explain.

The Lord has been dealing with me about words. The words I say, to be exact. He’s not encouraging me to use more words. Oh no, more like less is more. I’ve had to deal with some disappointments lately, the kind that leave you wanting to “speak your mind” if you know what I mean. And in the not too distant past I would have. But, these days I am more and more convicted about what comes out of my mouth. I’ve ignored that small voice inside telling me to “hush” enough to know that when I don’t listen to it I am left feeling guilty and sometimes needing to apologize.

All of it completely avoidable, if I would just speak less.

Even as I am writing this, I am wrestling with so many emotions. It feels as though I am being tested to see if I will actually follow through and really pray about the hurtful situations instead of talking about them incessantly. These are tough days for me.

Unchartered waters.

Learning to give grace to someone who is asking for it and desperately needs it without receiving anything in return. That’s the goal. Not saying “I told you so,” or “if you had only listened.” Not scratching that itch way down inside that wants to speak a thousand words. But choosing to be a listening ear because I have made my own share of mistakes. I want to remember how soothing it felt when someone heard me, really listened and understood a deeper place in my heart, without ever having to remind me that “I should’ve known better.”

Grace.

What a beautiful word. The undeserved kindness or forgiveness of God. Devine love or pardon.   What better feeling than to be forgiven, even when we don’t deserve it? It’s so easy when we are on the receiving end, but to GIVE grace, well, that’s a little bit tougher. Or a lot tougher. Sometimes it even feels impossible. We all want to be forgiven and pardoned and shown kindness, but, at times, we struggle to offer that same grace to others.

That’s where I’ve been this week. Knowing I need to give grace, and technically doing it. But, inwardly in the private places of my heart, fighting it. I want to speak my opinion and maybe even dish out some chastisement, but that would only please the fleshly side of me.   I know the Lord is asking me for a different response and I am asking Him for help moment by moment. I know He will help me to do the right thing here if I will only let Him.

Easier said than done.

I know, and I am reminding myself right now, that there is a reason for ALL things. Nothing is without purpose and He desires to use these things to develop me into the person He knows I can be. Knowing all of this, why do I hesitate? Why do I struggle to obey?

Because I love my own way.

Can anybody else out there relate to this? Can you understand the feeling of knowing the right thing to do and struggling to do it? I am thankful for Paul.   He had some of the same struggles. (Romans 7:15, see below) I love his honesty and willingness to be transparent so that a needy person like me could read his words all these years later and be touched deeply by them. It encourages me to press on.

And I love that Paul was “wordy,” I can relate.

So, has my situation changed? Not really. Am I still struggling with disappointment? Yes. But thankfully, I am at this moment offering grace and not expecting anything in return. Well, that’s not entirely true.   I do expect the Lord to work this all out and bring good from it like He promises in scripture.

And I am thanking Him all day long for all the grace He’s extended to me.   Undeserved kindness and love. Forgiven and pardoned.

Beautiful grace.

And now, I think I’ll just be quiet for a while.

 

Prayer: Father, Help me to keep quiet so you can do the work you need to do. I know there are times to speak and times to remain quiet, help me to know the difference.   Give me wisdom and discipline to do whatever it is you ask of me. I am so thankful for your grace, help me to rejoice in it and to freely offer it to others. It is because of your unconditional love and undeserved grace that I am able to survive in this difficult world I live in. You are my safe place. Help me to example this great gift to those in my life.

Scripture: Romans 7:15 NLT “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.”