Moments ago we had an exciting adventure. I threw left over pizza in our oven to heat for lunch (reheating pizza in a microwave does not produce good results, in my opinion). Four minutes into the heating my youngest screamed, "FIRE!!!" I ran into the kitchen to find our oven full of flames.
I looked straight at Elijah, our middle child, and said, "Go outside now."
No one moved. Instead they all started screaming. Great. Thinking I've totally dropped the ball on my kid's fire safety education I grabbed a bag of flour, slowly opened the oven, threw some flour at the burning element, closed the door, yanked the oven away from the wall and unplugged. Children screaming, fire still burning, smoke filling the kitchen, I grab more flour to throw on the flames more concerned about the drama ensuing around me and frustrated that I forgot to clean the oven in the first place.
Elijah screams, "Why you throwin' that, Mom? THROW WATER!!!!"
Lily, our oldest, "WHERE'S THE PHONE!!!"
Our youngest vanished completely, but I hear him crying.
I turn again to ask Lily to get Micah and get everyone outside rather impressed with myself for staying calm considering three screaming children and a flaming pizza staring me down.
For the last month my children have attempted to destroy one another physically and emotionally. The last few weeks have been tough for me not to completely fly off the handle and send every one of them to military school in Russia. They do not like each other. They rarely show love to one another. We force them to hug and say bedtime "I love yous". They are mean and nasty and intentionally cruel to each other. Since we don't allow any kind of hitting in our house even at play, my children utilize verbal artillery rather often and those word wounds hurt much worse than a black eye, and the pain from them certainly lasts longer than a bruise. At any rate, my prayer life over the last month has included the fractured relationships between my kids. Today I witnessed an answer to my prayer in our charcoaled lunch.
Finally after my third pleading, Elijah ran outside the house into the backyard. I could hear him crying out there alone. The flour finally and thankfully snuffed out the last of the flames. I turned to find my youngest standing in the middle of the living room sniffing and snuffing and my oldest sobbing about not being able to call the fire department to save our lives (no drama here, not a bit!).
I grabbed both of them and went out into the backyard. Immediately we formed a family hug. Everyone was clinging onto each other and sobbing into one another. They revealed their true love for each other as I witnessed each of them look into their sibling's eyes crying and squeezing each other tighter into the hug. I knew what was going on. They were thankful we were all OK. So am I! We stood there for a good fifteen minutes without one fuss or whine about personal space or someone's bad breath. I finally started a prayer and thanked God for saving us from the fire and always providing so much for us. Micah finished the prayer thanking God for all the firemen in the "werld". No one wanted to let go of our little family hug.
In truth, it wasn't a big deal. I've had friends who lost everything in a house fire or natural disasters, but to my children a big fire in our home was terrifying. God used this moment to first and foremost prove his provision of safety for our family. Secondly to reveal to me that my children DO love each other. They LOVE each other!!! And finally, God worked in our lives to reveal and remind us how quickly life can change. I'm so glad HE is our constant, our Rock, our Safe Place.
We walked back inside the house to find our pug finishing off our salad and, of course, the pizza was no more than a black powdery mess. Everyone had to run to their rooms and check on special stuffed animals, and I got to work on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I guess I'll clean out the oven today and probably buy a new element. Life goes on.