parenting, personal, religion

Marijuana grow houses and divine providence

I talk a lot in life about how His ways aren’t always our ways. How just because something doesn’t turn out the way you want doesn’t mean it isn’t turning out the way it should. That applies not only to the big things in life, but sometimes to the small things too…

This past weekend we took the boys skating at a roller rink. I am 38 years old and truthfully hadn’t been on roller skates in over 25 years prior to Sunday. I was doing fine until I decided to take a lap around the rink without the kids slowing me down… and promptly fell flat on my arse 1/5 of a lap later. It hurt. Bad. Thankfully my iPhone was in my back pocket to break the fall (sort of). Thanks for saving my phone, Lifeproof (::waves::).

I hopped up, brushed myself off and kept on skating. I was a little sore, but I had to put on a good show for my boys. We fall, we get right back up and we keep on going. About four hours later I could barely move. I’m talking immense, sharp, shooting pain anytime I even breathed deep. I iced my back all night and went to the chiropractor the next morning. My hip was out of alignment (related: I am getting old).

Two days later I was still hurting so I made an appointment for a massage. The massage ran late (very late) and consequently I was forty minutes behind picking up my oldest from school. Now before you start calling Child Protection Services on me, the school has a fantastic after-care program that he went directly to. In fact the after-care is so much fun, Benji often asks (begs) for me to let him stay late. So don’t you judge me.

As I turned onto the school’s street I passed one of the teachers leaving. I parked and looked over at the building across from the school. My son’s school is on a dead-end, across from a large open field. In the middle of the field is a two-story building with no windows and a large bay door. It’s surrounded by a locked fence, numerous “Keep Out” signs, and until recently a large dog. And the building was on fire.

Not fully engulfed with cool orange flames, no. No where near that exciting. In fact at first I was trying to figure out what exactly would cause steam to rise from a roof like that. Then my former-cop brain must have kicked in because I thought “Gee, that’s not steam it’s smoke. Holy Guacamole that building is on fire!”

I called 911. Six fire engines, three fire trucks, the district chief, a police lieutenant and two patrol deputies later and the fire was out. Come to find out the building was being used as a marijuana grown house. It is right across the street from where my son goes to school.

So, how does all of this tie into divine providence? Easy. I was at Benji’s school for about an hour between calling 911, waiting for the fire department, watching the rescue personnel work and waiting for them to take my information for their report. No other parents came for their children in that time – in fact no cars drove down that road at all. The teacher who left as I pulled up noticed nothing unusual.

Had I not fallen, I would not have been hurt. Had I not been hurt, I would not have needed a massage. Had I not needed a massage, I would have been on-time to pick up my son. Had I been on-time, I would not have seen the smoke. Realistically, no one would of for at least an extra hour. Who knows how massive the fire would have been by then? Who knows what dangerous equipment was in there that could have exploded. Who knows how high the neighbors would have been? Did I mention I live two blocks away? MY GOD, THE MUNCHIES!

Everything in life has purpose. All things happen according to a plan. Every little detail — even the annoying ones you think are inconsequential — are not meaningless to HIM. Our ways are not His ways, and His ways are always so much better. So really, me being a crappy skater and falling, and a derelict mom who was getting a massage while I was supposed to be picking my kid up from school was divine providence. Like how I spun that?

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On an aside, how ironic is it that the retired narcotics detective discovered a grow house on fire? Four years gone and I’m still making cases!

Here is a not-very-impressive, crappy iPhone photo of the fire.

Here is a not-very-impressive iPhone photo of the fire.

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Catholicism, personal, religion

Christmas decorations beyond the 25th

It’s December 29th and our halls are still decked. All of our Christmas lights are hanging proudly outside. Our tree still stands, fully decorated, with more than a week to go before it comes down. Am I just too lazy to bother with it? Normally the answer to the “too lazy” question would be a hearty YES, but not in this case. No, our house remains decorated a week into the new year for two reasons – one important to our family, the other important to our faith.

First, we start late and I like to get a good month out of the decor I spend so much time putting out. My oldest is a December baby and two of the most exciting days of the year for a kid happen practically back-to-back for him. He was actually due on December 25th – so I guess it could be worse – but as it is his special day usually competes with holiday parties and Santa appearances. As a result, we don’t decorate at all until after his birthday (or after his party, if we host it in our home), so there is at least a little segregation between the two events. This year we didn’t even buy our Christmas tree until December 12th, and didn’t decorate it until the 15th. Ten days of pine-scented, tinselly goodness just isn’t enough time.

On the first day of Christmas…

The second reason, the really important reason, is historical. Christmas doesn’t actually start the day after Thanksgiving and end on December 26th. That’s how it works in the retail world, a world where Christmas is a time for boosting sales and spending as much as your credit limit will allow. To me, that is a very sad, cynical view of the season and one that focuses on all the wrong things. Instead, religiously Christmas starts on December 25th, the first day of Christmastime for Catholics and most Eastern Orthodox religions. It starts on the day we celebrate the birth of Christ, the first day of the Twelve Days of Christmas. The four weeks leading up to the 25th is actually a time of anticipation, as we wait for the Light of Christ to enter our world.

O come, Emmanuel 

Visit a Catholic church during Advent and you will see a stark church with very few adornments. Purple accents will be placed here and there – purple traditionally being the color of royalty and used during Advent to announce the coming of the King of Kings – but very few flowers or other decorations will be seen. But visit on Christmas and the days leading to Epiphany Day and you will see a church in full regalia – decorated trees, nativities, wreaths and candles abound as we celebrate Christ made man.

We three kings

This celebration lasts through January 6th – Epiphany Day – the day we celebrate the arrival of the three wise men to Christ. A religiously significant holiday, Epiphany really doesn’t get its due respect by most. Christmas Day celebrates the Light of Christ arriving on Earth, but Epiphany Day celebrates that Light being seen by the world. Prior to Epiphany Day only a select few had witnessed the Christ child. Mary, Joseph, a shepherd, his flock – but really no one knew He had arrived. Then come the Magi, three wise men – kings themselves – who went initially as nonbelievers seeking proof. Traditionally the three were a Greek, a Hindu and an Egyptian, following the Star to the Christ child. Once they arrived and witnessed first-hand God made man, they took this knowledge with them back to their kinsmen – the Light of Christ spreading through the occupied areas of Earth at that time.

Joy to the world, the Lord is come

For Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Greek Orthodox and others, Christmas doesn’t end until the word begins to be spread. Until the Good News of Christ starts making it’s way out to the masses. Until the twelve days have passed and Epiphany Day has arrived. Christmas should be about Christ, about the miracle His love for us provides, the redemption we ultimately receive because of His sacrifice on the cross. The season tends to get overshadowed by the gift giving and getting (another throwback to the gifts of the Magi) – which is fun, but not the reason for the season.

So, when you pass my house on January 5th and my lights are still proudly glowing, if you get in my car and I’m still blasting “White Christmas” by Bing Crosby, if you stop by and see my tree still up and my nativities still on display – know it’s my way of outwardly continuing to celebrate the birth of Christ and the light of love His birth shined on the world. It isn’t just me being lazy.

Me still in my jammies at 3pm on the 5th is an entirely different story though…

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allParenting, parenting, religion

Church cry room = parent time out

With summer ending, families will be getting back into their school-year schedule. For many, that means the return to weekly church. For some, especially those with small children, it can mean a weekly, hour-long sentence in the parent purgatory known as the Cry Room. I hate the Cry Room and refuse to take my kids in there — regardless of how many evil looks I may get when they are less than silent.

 

Read more here in my AllParenting.com article “Why I reject the church cry room”

 

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