Wednesday, September 4, 2013


A few nights ago, I woke to the sound of our three-year-old son, hysterically crying in his upstairs bedroom. Between Luke’s sobs, I heard a shrill sound, clearly the cause of his upset. The battery had died in the smoke detector outside of his bedroom. When a smoke detector needs a new battery, it produces an unbearably loud, high-pitched chirp, incapable of occurring outside the hours of 2am and 5am. It is also the most common cause of PTSD in canines (made up fact).                                                                          

The sound had terrified Luke but due to an ill-timed, pre-bedtime lecture about refraining from calling us unless he needed to go to the bathroom, he was trying his best to muscle through the terror without waking us. The lecture was the result of a several-night stretch, during which he had woken us multiple times in the night to adjust his blanket, which was not smoothed to his liking. We now know to qualify that particular talk with exceptions such as: dead battery in smoke detector, actual fire, extreme thirst, poltergiest. Three-year-olds don’t naturally think of those exceptions on their own. While the smoke detector sounded its final, dying whimpers, Luke, with tears still drying on his cheeks, and his hands still covering his ears, boasted that he had followed the rules and hadn’t called us even though his blanket had fallen completely off the bed. I told him how proud I was of him and kept my extreme guilt to myself.

As I sat, rocking him in my arms, I immediately felt him relax. He felt safe again. He asked me to lie down next to him, and although his bed does not easily accommodate a human over three feet in length, I obliged. As he fell asleep, I mused at the notion that this little boy felt protected, simply because I was next to him. It may have much to do with my huge muscles and my ability to reach the smoke detector (while standing on various pieces of furniture simultaneously) but I suspect, and hope, a portion of it has to do with his confidence in the love we bear him. “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…” I John 4:18.      

Today is a significant day in our family. It marks three years since our niece Ava moved on from this place to a better one. And as she marched toward that new life, she marched fearlessly. Ava was fearless, not simply because she was brave, but because she was loved. Lisa, Josh, and Noah couldn’t have loved her more and couldn’t have loved her better. And through that love, Ava was impeccably armored.     

God didn’t just give Ava courage, he gave her family. As I continue to violate fire codes in my home, and assume the fetal position to fit into a tiny Luke bed, I’ll be inspired by Ava’s mom, dad, and brother. My love isn’t perfect. I hope the day Luke realizes that, he’ll grant me grace. But for now, I’ll revel in my pretend-hero status.

Illustration of Ava by Katie Kelly

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