Yesterday got off to a brilliant start. We spent the weekend in Missouri, so I decided to let the kids sleep in while I sorted laundry, picked up the house, and planned lessons for the school week. I was efficient and productive. The house was quiet and peaceful.
I had a pumpkin spice latte on one side of me, a Doodle Dog on the other, and three sleeping children above me. Celtic harp music played softly, and a brand new cinnamon spice candle flickered on the homeschool table. It was bliss.
Then it all went up in smoke. In the blink of an eye.
Everyone got up and rolling and school was off to a great start. I was working on the computer and Emma was coloring in her brand new, oversized coloring book. I was only a foot away from her when she yelled that "the candle got on her book". I turned my head in time to see the whole thing curl into a flame that raced around the edges of her book and spread onto the lace doily on the table.
I knew if I picked it up to carry it the oxygen would feed it, but I wasn't sure what else to do, so I carefully hurried to the sink in the guest bath only a few feet away. Seconds mattered.
The boys rushed in. The flame was too big for the sink, and all I could think about was the beautiful wooden vanity that my father in law crafted by hand for me out of old barn wood. It is one of my very favorite things. Max instinctively grabbed the book while Hayden threw open the shower and started the water. It wasn't helping. The fire seemed to "float" on the surface and grow exponentially. Within seconds, the boys had retrieved the fire extinguisher from the kitchen and put out the flame.
I knew it was going to create a huge mess, but in the moment I wasn't sure what else to do. A mushroom cloud of extinguisher dust and black smoke and ash billowed over the top of the shower and erupted in the tiny bathroom, spilling out into the hallway.
No one was burned. My children were safe. Our home was spared. My boys were calm and decisive and incredibly capable. I was humbled beyond measure. It was a matter of mere seconds; yet each one packed with a spectrum of emotions, decisions, and motion.
We stood, wide eyed, gawking at each other....smoke alarm blaring and a thick, murky haze hanging in the air. I was completely overwhelmed by the "what if's" and "what could have been's". I was also completely mesmerized by the enormity of the mess, and immensely grateful for the helping hands who were so willing to help clean it all. The size of the mess paled in comparison to the size of our blessing.
In fact, it provided a big dose of perspective for our second bathroom disaster of the day. Penny assassinated my bath poof. Any other day that probably would have annoyed me. Yesterday it just made me laugh.
What if I wouldn't have been a foot away and Emma had to come find me?
What if she would have set that book down and left the room and no one was there when it caught fire?
What if that flame would have leaped onto Max's shirt, or the boys would have suffered burns trying to help me?
Yesterday I didn't need to find the answers to any of those questions, but by the grace of God.
So, today has been rather reflective for me. Today also got off to a brilliant start, although it was entirely different from yesterday. We were up with the sun, racing to pack lunches and fill backpacks and gather swim gear for a play date all before dashing out the door by 7:30 to drive across town in a tangled mess of traffic. We had worldview class and preschool and a Ranger game and a homeschool mom's meeting to host. I did one last wipe down in the bathroom and ironed and starched my shower curtain.
Then we gathered memorial stones from our yard, and we gave thanks. We intentionally marked God's provision of safety and protection of our family. We purposely stopped to acknowledge all the things I fear we take for granted, for it is in those moments that true brilliance is precisely understood.