Friday, April 5, 2013

You Alone, O Lord, Make Me Dwell in Safety

You know that moment when you're so scared you can't feel your body?  I didn't until April 3, 2013 at appx 1:45 PM. I'm physically trembling right now at the mere thought of what happened a little over 24 hours ago.  I was returning home from a babysitting job before heading to a job interview I had in a little less than an hour. I had just gotten off the phone with my husband and was about to pull onto my street. I hung up then pulled my front 2 tires into my driveway when my heart literally just stopped. I saw my front door frame literally ripped apart with bare wood showing. The door was barely cracked open. I threw my car in reverse and backed down the street. I called Matt practically hyperventilating. I told him our house was broken into. He calmly said "Don't go in and call the police. I'll be there in a second." I've never called 911 before. I, as calmly as possible, gave the dispatch woman my information and she said she'd send the police right away. I drove around my block like a mad woman. I ran a stop sign. I wasn't thinking clearly at all. All I could think about was my dog inside. I love my dog. Is she okay? I got back to my house and waited in my car in the front until the first police man arrived. The only thing I could get out was "My dog is in there." By now another police man had arrived. They told me to come with them to the front door and call for her. They said she'd probably be scared and they didn't want to scare her more with their voice and she'd probably come to me. She wasn't coming and the house was silent. I stepped back and they went inside looking for her. Meanwhile, I'm standing in my front yard just crying when my neighbor, whom I had never met, saw me and came over and gave me a hug and told me everything would be okay. Random but nice. The policemen came back out and said they found my dog and she was okay. I literally ran inside. The burglars had thrown her in our bedroom and she was buried in the covers on our bed (surrounded by poo, no doubt...I mean she is a Shih Tzu...bad joke?). All I could see was her little face and she was shaking uncontrollably.  I grabbed her in my arms and sobbed like I had never before sobbed in my life. I couldn't breathe. I didn't know I was capable of such an extreme emotion. I've sobbed before, but never like this. I couldn't believe she was okay. They could've killed her, let her out to roam the streets, taken her...they could've done anything. I wouldn't let her go. I didn't care about anything else. Meanwhile, Matt had called our dads and they called our moms etc letting the fam know what was going on. My mom called in this moment...when I was hysterical and freshly reunited with my dog. Of course she got in her car and came over right away too along with my dad and father-in-law. Matt literally got from his office cubicle downtown on the river to my driveway in 10 minutes (it normally takes at least 30). My dad was by Briarcrest on Houston Levee and was here within less than 15 (normally takes about 30 as well). I wasn't really surprised with what the burglar(s) took. I was more surprised at what they didn't take. They took a good number of electronics (laptops, tvs, etc) but I'm pretty sure they were spooked and left before they were planning to. Our bed was really dishoveled (I guess they were looking for money under the mattress or something...they didn't find any because who does that anyways?), our dresser drawers were open and our bedside table was totally rummaged through. We literally have nothing valuable in there and it's definitely where they spent most of their time. They didn't touch my craft room. They obviously have no appreciation for the finer things in life. The only thing they damaged was the door frame and my dad somehow had that repaired within minutes of arriving. It was traumatic for me. All I have to say now is that I am so thankful. Here's why:

This was a terrible situation, right? I can't even tell you how many ways that God showed himself to me before I went to sleep that night. 

God sent me the perfect policemen. They were so sweet to me and cheered me up and made me laugh. They were so excited to tell me my dog was alive. Once I grabbed her they were petting on her and asking what her name was. They were so genuinely excited that she was okay. One of them has a Shih Tzu and was telling me stories about it. They were so good at lightening the mood and making me smile. When I was sobbing uncontrollably I kept trying to get out the words "I'm sorry" to them because it was just kind of an awk situation, ya know? They just kept saying "Honey you're doing exactly what you should be doing. It's alright." Also, they kept commenting on my crafts and misc decor. Not just one of them, all three of them! What kind of big, burly policemen notice a girl's crafts?? One said "tell me about that green room you have in the back there." He was referring to my craft room! It had nothing to do with the police report. He was just curious. He thought it was so cool that I had a craft room and said "you must go back there when you wanna be like a kid." That's exactly what I do! That room brings out my inner child and my creativity and he noticed. In the midst of my sorrow I was trying to make a joke and I pointed at my front door and said to one of them "At least they didn't steal my burlap carrot" (I made it for Easter). He looked at it and touched it and said "You're right! That is so cute. You made that out of burlap?" Again, so genuine. One also spent a good minute looking at my wedding shadowbox I made and he said he got married 3 days after us. While one was filling out the police report at our dining room table he said "I love this Easter decor on this table. It's really cute." When the burglars stole the tv, a picture from the tv table fell on the ground. It was a wedding picture of Matt, his sweet grandmother who passed away, and me. The police man said "Will you please pick that up before it gets hurt? That's such a nice picture. I like all of your wedding pictures." They I'm sure had no idea what an impact all of those words had on me. I spend so much time making crafts and working on my house making it my own. The fact that he was noticing my little details and complimenting them meant so much to me. It made me feel so comfortable with them and I just know that God had something to do with who came to my house that day. If they had been scary and cold I would've been even more freaked out. I should've told them the name of my blog and to follow me on Pinterest! Coolest policemen ever. Thank you, God.

They hardly took anything compared to what they could have taken. They didn't take anything that would've allowed them to steal our identity and the actual items that are most important to us weren't touched. 

We weren't home. When people knock on my door, I never answer. It's always someone who wants to rake my leaves, sell me something, or tell me about Jesus (whom I obviously already know). I just let them stand there and leave. What if they rang the doorbell to see if I was home and I didn't answer? They would've assumed I wasn't home and maybe would've broken in with me home. I was thinking about that in bed last night and my whole body literally went numb and my heart started beating out of my chest. I. could've. been. here. What would I have done? It happened at appx 10:30 AM. If I didn't have to babysit that morning I may have still been in bed. I though that when my doors were locked my house was invincible. That man kicked my door right open in broad daylight. God was protecting me. He also protected my dog. If she had been gone or dead I don't know what I would've done. I'm serious. I have an unnatural love for her. She's part of our family! I know she's a dog, that still didn't keep me from apologizing to her incessantly once I gained back my voice after my sobs subsided. 

This brings me to one of the many lessons I learned. I had this strange belief before that I was invincible. I'm not scared of anything. I'll go to sketchy parts of town alone and think nothing of it. I'll stay home alone all the time and I'm totally cool. Nothing is going to happen to me! Burglaries only happen in Home Alone movies and on those forensic shows. Not ME! AND if it were to happen to me...I could take down anyone. I may not look scary but I could tear a person up if I had to. I guess you could call this big girl little girl syndrome. I'm not invincible. These things can and do happen to people like me. They did. Everything is not under my control. If someone had broken in with me home, I may have died. I'm freaking out right now just thinking about it. One strong man's foot against my door could've ended my life. With one kick he was in my home.  God is in control, not me. This is probably a healthy fear that was instilled in me yesterday that should've been instilled in me a long time ago. I will be so much more careful now. I needed that wakeup call.

They didn't touch our camera. It was on a tripod right inside by the front door. They picked it up and threw it on the couch. Why didn't they take it, first of all? I was so sad that they took my laptop because I just took some good Easter pictures (I love pictures) and I downloaded them onto my laptop 2 days before. Literally every time I download pictures onto my computer I delete them off of my memory card. This time...I didn't. All of my pictures were still on my camera that they touched but didn't take. Why?? I think I know why I "forgot" to delete  them that day. Well, I mean I actually did forget but I know someone else who knew what He was doing by making me forget. Again, He knows me. He knows the little things that will make me the happiest. I had also spent an entire day backing up my computer like 3 weeks ago. I have most of everything on my harddrive that they didn't take.So I was so thankful for that. Matt's stuff is all backed up too. Another thing I was sad about, relating to my laptop being taken, was my tabs and saved searches on my web browser. I have all of the blogs I like to follow, etc. I like to keep that stuff as organized as I keep my sock drawer. Hold the phone. I just realized something! Those jokers stole my box o sunglasses!!! I knew I kept something else in my bedside table. I hope their girlfriends enjoy cheap, knock off eye wear. What in the world!!! Gahhh. Anyways, when I downloaded Google Chrome on my new computer, all of my tabs and saved searches and websites I found for my research papers this semester are ALL THERE!!!!!! I was elated. I guess I was signed in under my Google username/password on my old computer and it remembered it all. What a's the small things.

After it happened all of these Bible verses were flooding into my brain. The main one was Psalms 4:8. It says "In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety." This crazy unfortunate event shouldn't make me scared. Although I'm still a little frazzled, God didn't forsake me. He protected me. I was dwelling in safety because I wasn't there when it happened. Of course it took me a little longer than usual to fall asleep last night and I woke up at every single little thing I heard, but why? God's words are the truth. He is the truth. He and a multitude of angels are sitting with me right now as I type this. They are always with me. Why am I ever afraid? I have the greatest guardian with me and on my side at all times. Which brings me to my life verse and Senior quote. It has never meant so much to me. It's Psalms 27:1, "The Lord is my light and my salvation--whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life--of whom shall I be afraid?" But seriously though, whom shall I fear if God is the stronghold of my life? He is so much more powerful than that man who broke down my door. That verse was written on the ring bearer's ring-delivery box at our wedding. His sweet mom Lisa made it and painted my favorite verse (Psalms 27:1) on it. It lives in my dining room and I never get tired of looking at it and being reminded of God's presence in my life. 

After the events of yesterday I decided to wind down and try to relax via a nice, hot bubble bath. I turned on my John Mayer Pandora station to play quietly in the background and I spent my time praying amongst the bubbles. I was evaluating my life and what is really important. Like many, I am so guilty of giving things more value than I should. It's just stuff. It's going to burn in the end. In the grand scheme of life, are those things really important? No! I was reminded that day how everything I own could be gone in a blink of an eye. Thank goodness everything I own wasn't, but some of it was. We have insurance that will replace it but even if we didn''s just stuff. What should I be focusing more on in my life? Get this. I hadn't been paying attention to my music the whole time. It was nice background noise to my quiet time with God. While I was praying about that, John Mayer's song "Why Georgia" was playing. As I was praying I just stopped and started randomly paying attention to the part of the song that was playing at the moment on my Pandora. It just stood out to me out of the blue while I was talking to God. Here's what John said "Still 'Everything happens for a reason' is no reason not to ask myself if I'm living it right. Am I living it right?" I know I'm taking that song out of context and I know he wasn't singing about God but I am 100% certain that God was talking to me through his words just then. It was so obvious. Not John Mayer, but God was saying to me first: "Everything happens for a reason." It does! I'm already starting to realize what those reasons are. Second, He was asking me "Are you living it right?" Am I? Am I living my life totally pleasing to God? What's important to me? Is it the right things? How should I live a life that's pleasing to Him? It's so cool when he physically, or I guess orally, lets you know that He's listening. He's there. I have tears in my eyes just thinking about it. He's so powerful and mighty and He's mine! We just celebrated Easter last Sunday. I sang in the choir at church and we sang a song called Mystery. I couldn't get that song out of my head all day today. He is the light!!! Jesus is a mystery! It's so fun and exciting trying to figure Him out sometimes. I mean sometimes it's scary, but everything He does is for a reason. Everything. You may ask, if God exists, why do bad things happen to good people? Because we live in a fallen world! Sin is the reason, not God! Also, if nothing bad ever happened, we would think that we didn't need God. We see him most when we're cleaving to the cross and we're in a bind and we don't know what to do. We've lost control and He is the only one we have. We should be able to see Him in the good and the bad. He makes the good moments good! He is always teaching us. Every good and perfect gift is from above. Even what we consider bad, He is somehow using it for the good of those who love Him. I could go on and on. I mean my house was burglarized yesterday and literally everywhere I've looked since I've seen Him. What an awesome God we serve. 

I also started wondering something else. How do people who don't have a relationship with God who go through these situations do it? Without God there is no hope? If I didn't know God and I didn't know that He has a bigger plan for me and my life, I'd STILL be in the fetal position (and believe me I was...with my my living room floor...surrounded by police men fingerprinting my house). Before I went to sleep last night I prayed for the soul of the people who broke into my house. They may have stolen my things and they may have made me feel more vulnerable than I have ever felt and they may have made me feel incredibly violated, but they didn't steal my hope. That may sound cheesy but I'm serious. My hope is in God and there is nothing that could take that away from me. They could've broken into my house and taken my life, but they could never take away my peace I find only in God. I pray that they soon can experience that same kind of peace. Pray and love your matter how hard it may be sometimes. And right now it is HARD.

Matt went with me today and I got a new laptop computer. I can't go long without one because I have know...papers and things to write (did I hear someone say graduation in 37 days???). I'm sitting here with it other computer was a good ole friend, but he was old and dingy and falling apart. I'm sitting here on my shiny, new, updated laptop and all I can think about is heaven. I got robbed. In my mind in the moment I came upon my house, nothing could've been worse. I, right now in life, am my old, dingy, outdated laptop. I went through an unfortunate situation (life on Earth) but WAIT! Once I finish my life here (burglary is over) I will be made new (in heaven)! (Ignore the also cheesy and somewhat forced metaphor but it makes perfect sense to me). We think that we are the best we can get now. Just wait till we really are perfect. I know that we are made in the image of God, but wait until we're actually staring into His eyes in glory surrounded by mountains of Mod Podge and scrapbook paper and clouds covered in Shih Tzu puppies and a river made of chocolate (this is my view of heaven...go with it) and THAT, my friends, is when we will be the best we can be.  It might be a rough road to get there, but we will get there because we have hope in God. 

Remember that time I was telling you that I was driving my car around the block, after finding my front door open, like a mad woman? I wasn't kidding. I was peeling around corners. I was paying 0 attention to the road. I blew through a stop sign where the other traffic didn't stop. When I'm at that intersection in my car I always have to wait for a car to pass. There very easily could've been someone coming. There was no one. I could've wrecked my car 100 times in that literal 15 seconds it took me to drive around the block. Picture Spongebob Square Pants at his first driving school lesson with Miss Puff. I'm serious. I should've died but the Lord cleared the roads of people, creatures, and other vehicles that otherwise would've been a pancake. Oh, and I rescheduled my job interview, thanks for asking.

I can't believe how far I've already come emotionally since yesterday afternoon. Of course I'm still a bit shaken and I'm trying to figure out why someone would do this, but I know why this happened to me. God has already told me, through John Mayer's voice of an angel, the reasons why...why, Georgia, why! Only He said "This is 'why, why Katie, why.'" I'm so thankful. I could be mad at that guy. I am mad at that guy, actually. I am human. But I'm more thankful that it wasn't what it could've been. I'm also just thankful that I have God. With Him, all things are possible. Without Him...I honestly just don't know what I'd do.

The absolute coolest thing just happened to me. Everything written prior to this paragraph I wrote on Thursday night. It's now Friday afternoon. After I shut my computer last night I went to bed and slept so soundly. I was so thankful. This morning was a little bit of a different story. I had to be at school Thursday morning at 8. Matt normally leaves for work at 6:30 but he's stayed home with me until I had to leave for school. It made me feel so much better knowing I wasn't alone that morning. This morning, however, I told him that it was fine if he went ahead and went to work at his usual time. I'd be fine. I would've normally gotten out of bed at 8 and left by 8:20 to go work. When he left this morning at 6:30 I suddenly became a nervous wreck. All I could picture in my mind was a stranger busting down my door and standing in my bedroom rummaging through my things. I kept repeating those Bible verses to myself and praying. I felt better but for some reason I was still a bit shaky. I got up and sat at my dining room table staring out my front window all morning. I couldn't get the image of a burglar standing in my home out of my head. At 8:20 I walked to my car. I'm paranoid now that someone is watching me. I'm guessing the burglar watched me leave to go babysit on Wednesday. I think the fact that someone was probably watching me is scarier than the actual action of them coming into my house. So that was on my mind while I was getting in my car. I even drove around the block and back to my house before I left for good. This is where it gets just so unbelievably cool. I work at the parent's day out at Second Presbyterian Church. I went and parked in my usual lot right along the left side of the sanctuary. The door leading to the sanctuary lobby is ALWAYS closed and locked. I normally walk around the whole sanctuary to the day care lobby entrance. Today was different. They were doing construction right above the door into the sanctuary lobby right where I park and the door was propped open. I decided to take the shortcut. When I walked in the lobby of the sanctuary, the sanctuary doors were open and PDS was having chapel. There was a speaker. The second I walked in the door this is what the speaker was saying: "God is always with you. Why do you ever fear? The demons are trying to make you lose faith in God and be scared." I stopped walking, turned and stared at the speaker from the lobby with my mouth hanging open. I was just walking thru and this is what I hear? It was so clear. Again, God was actually SPEAKING to me. Why do I fear? He's always with me! I started to tear up on my way in. Right when that happened (note: the speaker had no way of seeing me so I didn't prompt what he said next) I heard the speaker say to the children "You know, it's okay to cry. Releasing emotions is healthy and Jesus doesn't mind one bit. Don't worry about what others think when you cry." OMG! As soon as I was about to burst into tears I was getting so self-conscious about what others would think if I walked in all swoll-faced. People will know that I cried if I lose control of my emotions right now. I don't know what that crying thing had to do with the speaker's lesson or why he said it right then. It didn't even really fit where he said it from what I heard him say before. He abruptly went from talking about fear and trusting in God to talking about crying. God was telling me that it's okay to cry. I've never heard God audibly speak to me in such a powerful way. I'm shaking just thinking about it. I did manage to hold it together until I got to my preschool room. The other teachers were talking and I just burst into tears. Like I couldn't speak. Of course they were concerned. I told them what had happened on Wednesday and what I had just witnessed God saying to me after my morning of fear. They were amazed. God shows himself to us in mysterious ways. Just like that Easter song we sang on Sunday. How cool is that? Every detail down to what are the odds that they were doing construction right there and that door to the sanctuary was randomly open for me to walk through? What are the odds that the speaker was saying what he was saying right when he was saying it? What are the odds that he started talking about crying right when I began to cry? There were no odds. God was just telling me that He's with me and He hears me and I have no reason to fear. Our God is an AWESOME God.

In the past 48 hours my faith has grown tremendously. Like seriously. He has shown Himself to me so many times. Satan is constantly trying to tell me that I need to be afraid but God is constantly shutting him out and pointing me to the truth. If God is for me, who can be against me? If this is the worst thing that ever happens to me in my life I'll be doing okay. God is my fortress and my strength. This terrible situation has changed my outlook on my life. I thought I was "living it right" before, but was I really? My preacher on Easter Sunday spoke briefly about how we shouldn't put our faith in things of this world. I heard him and understood him but now...have you read all that he has taught me in the past 2 days? That was another thing that God placed in my ears and that was before any of this even happened. God is good.

 Thank you, Lord, for my life and my blessings. Help me to not take one thing for granted. Help me to see You in the good and the bad. Help me to live more like You with my every breath. You are my treasure...not my tv, or my laptop, or my thermostat (yeah they took our thermostat). You are my life and the only reason why I am alive. You are the reason for me to live. Thank you for my little family and for keeping us safe. And thank you for Matt and my dad because anyone who breaks into my house from here on out will definitely be regretting it (let this be a warning to you all). 

"The Lord is my light and my salvation--whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life--of whom shall I be afraid?" But seriously though, whom shall I fear if God is the stronghold of my life? Thank you, Lord.