Skip to main content

Vagabond Security

A few months before the twins were born I was confronted by a young couple who wandered into the church looking for some financial assistance. Since I didn't have any money on me at the time, I gave them my number and suggested that they come by my house the next day and I could put them to work helping me paint the shed in my backyard and I would pay them for their time--a win-win.

I was legitimately surprised to hear the phone ring the next morning and the voice on the other end report that they were walking this way from the place they were staying at, Picadilly, about 8 miles away. They arrived around lunch time, so Katie and I fed them some PB&J sandwiches before putting them to work. We made great time and transformed a rather shabby looking yellow shed into a nice little red barn in my backyard.

While we were painting together, I was quizzing the young couple about their lives: their hobbies, previous jobs, how they ended up in the homeless bind they were in, etc. The guy said it was a shame because they would line up a place to stay only to have that person take them to a drop-in shelter. Many nights they slept out on the streets because they didn't have anywhere else to turn to. In a moment of mindless compassion I told them that if they ever found themselves in a bind like that again where they didn't have anywhere to sleep, they should just come over to our house and we would put them up for the night. There was a little catch in my spirit as I said this, but I remembered the words of Jesus in Matthew 25 so I went ahead and truly meant it.

I didn't hear from our friends for the next several weeks, and so gratefully I began to forget about them. Until....

The twins were born late June and after a couple nights in the hospital we were home trying to adjust to the "new normal" that involved nightly feedings for most of the wee-morning hours and little rest during the day. One evening came a knock on the door as Mike (my vagabond friend from Picadilly) came by wondering if my offer to put them up for the night still stood. I told him that we were in transition with the new babies but that I definitely meant what I had said and that if there truly were no other option that they should come by our house before sleeping on the street. So it came as no surprise when 2 nights later....

A knock came on the door again as our vagabond couple was looking for a place to spend the night. Initially I was going to offer them the basement, but Katie felt very uneasy with this arrangement. My next idea was fool-proof: give them a sleeping bag and a tent and they can sleep on the front porch (covered and well-lit). While I am outside giving them a drink and talking about sleeping arrangements, Katie is inside praying verses about "fear not" and peace while going into a mild panic attack.

I went so far as to talk to the neighbors and let them know that my "friends" needed a place to crash and that I was offering them our backyard so as to not let the dogs out to attack them. By the time I had gotten them settled in the backyard and went back inside I saw Katie crying out in physical pain as she was torn by the want to help these strangers but also not let them anywhere near our babies (fear mixed with postpartum mixed with careless husbandry I think is what it was).

At this point I realized that I needed to back out of my word to put them up for the night. This was going to be physically destructive for my wife and my family if I let them stay, so I knew I needed to ask them to leave. I gave them the tent and sleeping bag to keep and pointed them about a mile away where there were some woods they could camp out in. They expressed tremendous gratitude and went on their way.

Katie eventually settled down to the point where I was allowed to touch her again and she cried some more. She had felt unsafe in her own house and that was not acceptable for me as her husband to allow. Therefore it was that very same night that I hopped online and googled a home security system that my brother-in-law had recommended a couple years back: Simpli-Safe . I ordered the basic home security kit that evening and had it installed a week later when it arrived by mail. We have had pretty comforting sleep each night with this new watch guard in place, except....

...for a couple weeks ago. I woke up to the sound of the alarm going off at 1:44am. My first thought was that I was annoyed and wanted it to stop beeping and waking me up. My immediate next thought was to grab a weapon and stand at the top of the stairs, daring anyone to come up and attack my family. My third thought was to turn off the alarm to hear whether the noise had scared off the intruder or whether they were still stirring around downstairs.
I heard nothing.

Slowly I checked each of the children's bedrooms with my maglight and ensured that nothing was out of place. Then I creaked my way down the stairs to get a better ear on whether I could hear anyone moving around on the main floor. I painfully checked each room of the house and even the front and backyards for traces of anyone having come by. The alarm was tripped by the motion sensor and all the windows were locked, so I knew no one had come inside, but still, my heart was racing.

I have tried to recreate a number of possibilities for what would have tripped the alarm and still to this day I have not solved what made the alarm go off. I do know that I slept only about 2 hours that night, between the hours of 5 and 7am.

Lately I have seen a lot of stink bugs flying around the windows so maybe our intruder just loves to bug me....

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Protesting ChristMass

During a meeting with several other Cincinnati area worship ministers last week we got to talking shop about Christmas/Christmas Eve services; who was doing them, who was not, how many and what time. I was intrigued (neither positive nor adverse reaction) to find that roughly a third of the churches represented were not having any kind of Christmas Day services, even though Christmas morning is a Sunday this year. Yet there was one leader (Reggie) who said that their church has a Christmas morning worship service every year regardless of whether it falls on a Sunday.

Initially this shocked me. How could this be? Why would this be? Why have a church service every Christmas? Why not stay home and eat cinnamon rolls and open presents like the rest of America? Reggie said many of the people who expect this from his congregation are not native North Americans. Initially Reggie was against the idea, but once he realized how many people from his congregation wanted to have a Christmas mornin…

The Home School Game

Today is the Feast of St. Nicholas. Our family has started a tradition of celebrating this day by opening gifts from our stockings on this day and remembering the historical figure of Nicholas, who was a humble and generous person. It is a wonderful compromise for our family backgrounds to both celebrate Santa Claus and at the same time keep Christ-mas about Christ. It has become a tradition I look forward to every year.

This year, we decided to add an element of teaching our children to be generous by choosing toys they want to give away to other girls and boys who are less fortunate than our children. Katie lined up two dozen toys they had not been playing with for some time now and laid them all out on a table. One by one, our kids examined the toys on the table and were instructed to pick out onetoy they wanted to keep for themselves. After each kid had picked out a toy to keep, they were told to go back through the toys and pick another toy they wanted to give away. It was heart-…

Imitation: Diets, Houses, and Faith

There were 3 options for my preschoolers to choose from: Honey Bunches of Oats, Cocoa Pebbles, or Raisin Bran. I set all 3 on the table and asked each child which cereal they would like to eat for breakfast; all three chose 'Honey Boats.' After pouring their cereal and getting each kid situated, I poured myself a bowl of Raisin Bran and we all got to munching.

When Isaiah (my oldest) finished his cereal first he asked if he could have more. Sure thing, which one do you want? 
"That one" *pointing to the Raisin Bran*
Surprised I pour him a bowl of Raisin Bran, surprised that he ate the entire bowl.

As we were cleaning up our bowls from the table after breakfast I realized that the Cocoa Pebbles were not touched this morning, not even mentioned. Odd, I thought, typically the chocolately-sugary cereals don't last a week at our house. And yet this is the same [big] bag of Cocoa Pebbles that we opened over a month ago. Why the sudden lack of interest?

****************…