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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....


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