Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Surprised by thankfulness

I'm sure we'll never forget Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2011. 

Jon's been having some issues with his commuter car.  And although I hate the thought of giving up on our dear little Passat, it seems that it is giving up on us.  We think it's best to unload the car before the issues make it "unloadable" so we spontaneously decided to spend our holiday yesterday an hour away in Virginia, where Jon could test drive a potential new vehicle and then we could all take a stroll through IKEA and dream.

And by spontaneous I mean I stripped the bed, but never put the sheets in the wash, dumped the load of clean laundry in our room but never folded it, threw the clothes from the night before in a pile on the floor, and completely forgot to put away the huge bowl of peas I had just finished pureeing for Jude.  I packed dinner and snacks, bundled up babies and loaded everything in the car while Jon jotted down directions at the laptop on the dining room table.  I suddenly decided I wanted a picture of the boys in their new big boy car seats (Jack got a booster and Jude's growth is no longer being stunted by his infant seat straps!) so I ran in and grabbed my camera.  And I'm so thankful I did.



We had a good drive, the kiddos took a nap on the way there and while Jon checked out our potential new vehicle.  We drove through the IKEA parking lot, realized how crowded it was, and left.  Then changed our minds, decided to give it a shot and pulled back in.  We have some new dreams and came home with a few small goodies.

We pulled in the driveway around 6pm to a dark house.  Since we'd left in the daytime we'd forgotten to turn the porch lights on.  It was starting to sleet, and Jude had spent the last 5 minutes of the trip screaming, so I quickly pulled him out of his seat, covered him with a blanket and stood outside the door waiting for Jon to come unlock it.  It took Jon forever to get Jack out and finish doing whatever he was doing.  He let us in and then went back out to the car to unload.

The kids immediately went to work on the playroom.  They were playing so well and seemed happy to be on their own for a bit.  I thought it was strange that the pantry door was open and the light was on, but forgot about it as I started cleaning up the kitchen.  Then I remembered I was planning to make homemade ice cream that night.  I saved the recipe on my laptop but when I went to get it, I realized it wasn't on the table anymore.  Weird.  I assumed Jon must have taken it, but then I realized the power cord was missing too.  I had thought Jon was still outside, but maybe he had taken the laptop to the office when I wasn't paying attention so he could print something off.  But the laptop wasn't in the office either.  Then I realized the office TV was gone.  The DVD player was still there, and the cords that connected them, but no TV.  Also weird.  Maybe Jon had moved the TV earlier that day.

I went to the garage to ask.  "Hey Jon, where's the laptop?"  "I don't know."  "Well you were the last one to use it at the table, it's not there.  And where is the TV."  At this point, it suddenly dawned on us both - someone had broken in.  Jon immediately sent me upstairs to check my jewelry.  In hindsight, this might not have been the best idea, but we weren't thinking.  My jewelry was all there but he was right behind me and soon realized his watches were gone ... then I remembered my stack of Christmas cash - also gone, Jon's change jar, his iPod, and worst of all - his handgun.  All gone.  He told me to call 911 while he quickly searched the house.

I have never had to call 911 before in my life.  I was shaking and I had to ask the guy to repeat each question again before I could respond.  He kept asking me if I had been in every room in the house and I kept trying to explain that we had been robbed!  It never occured to me that the burglars could still be there hiding out.  Thankfully, they weren't.  We don't know when it all happened but they could have quite possibly fled when they heard us pull in.  They could have been leaving by the side door while I was anxiously standing out by the front.  Who knows.

The cops came, and a K9 unit checked out the area.  We found out the burglars kicked open our side garage door and clearly took only what they could carry.  They went through our closets and drawers.  They took specific keys off our key rack, dug our old, junky laptop out of the back of the closet, and handled Jon's rifle (which they ended up leaving behind).  By the nature of the "job" we're assuming they were teenage boys.  They stole Jon's cologne and watches but left behind all my handcrafted gold jewelry.  They took the small TV but didn't bother with the big one.  They took an iPod and weather station but left behind the Kindle sitting on the counter.  There's been some issues with crime in our neighborhood this past year and the cops seem to think it's just kids too.  And I take comfort in that.  I'd much rather think my house was randomly ransacked by a bunch of foolish, misguided, bored kids.  I feel a little better that way.

And life goes on.  In fact, it never stopped.  There were cops searching my house and a K9 team in the backyard, and I was still changing diapers, nursing babies and hushing little ones to sleep.  One policeman apologized for making it difficult to put the boys to bed.  A forensic team powdered our house for fingerprints and all Jack wanted to do was read some bedtime stories with his mom.   And that's so sacred to me - maintaining a child's innocence.  The boys have no idea of the evil in this world, that there are some people who want to do other's harm, that there are some people who will enter your house and go through your things without any regard to your thoughts or feelings.  My babies don't know this yet.  Someday they will, but for now I'm holding on to their innocence.  For now, I'm going to read Oh the Thinks You Can Think, for the quadrillionth time this month, and drown out all the footsteps, radio chatter, and muted, anxious conversations.  I'm so grateful my boys haven't tasted fear and can still sleep soundly in their beds at night, even if their parents are jerking awake at every creak and groan.  I'm grateful that their innocence is preserved, even just for one day longer.

The K9 team wasn't able to get any leads, nothing was found in the neighborhood, and although the forensic team was able to pick up two fingerprints, they could very well be ours.  Our next door neighbor said he saw two boys walk along the path (we have a network of paved paths in our neighborhood) and cut across his lawn towards our house, but beyond that he saw nothing else.

Monday night was a little rough.  Sure, there was a little bit of fear.  It's unnerving to know that you have an unsecured door in the house, and someone out there with a gun has keys to your car.  But we did manage to get a little sleep ... until the neighbor took what seemed like an hour to scrape ice off his windshield at 4am.  But what made it even more difficult to sleep were all the thoughts running through my head.  All the what-ifs.  All the unanswered questions.  And the knowledge that someone out there entered my house and touched my stuff.  Walked by the pictures of my smiling boys, stepped over the pile of clean, cloth diapers, glanced over Jon's list of healthy habits for the new year, skipped over the One Year Bible laying on my bedstand, and completely violated our privacy.  How could you?

Thankfully, other than the door, there was no damage done to the house. And, other than the engraved watch that Jon received as an award from the Coast Guard Academy, and all the documents and projects I failed (yet again!) to back up on my computer, everything else is replaceable.  It's just stuff, and truth be told we don't really miss it.  Well, except the laptop.  Work was a bit challenging today.  But we're just thankful to be safe.

I'm grateful Jon had off school the next day.  The past 36 hours have been a blur of insurance calls, changing passwords and attempting to deactivate my computer programs with someone in India.  (Note to self:  We'll be installing LoJack on our next laptop) and the constant pressure of trying to remember all we own, racking our brains to make sure we've listed every missing item. Jon went out and spent a small fortune on door and window alarms, a new safe, flourescent bulbs, shells for the gun that was left behind ... and a baseball bat.  The boys had fun playing with the empty boxes and we all slept great last night in our snug home, which is now lit up like a Christmas tree at night. 


Life is slowly returning to normal.  It feels like it's been 36 days, not 36 hours.  And soon it will just be a piece of our history.  The kind of story that starts out with, "This one time our house was robbed ..."  But you know what, despite the things they did take, there's plenty more they didn't steal, and a whole lot more they couldn't steal.  Those other things were just that, "things."  They can't steal our joy (Jude's 5am giggles are testament to that!), they can't destroy the intense love I feel for my family, and  I'm determined to hold onto my peace. 

Today I find myself surprised by thankfulness.  Thankful for what we do have. Thankful for what can never be taken from us.  And so thankful for everyone's messages, phone calls and most importantly prayers!  We feel them and we're overwhelmed with God's grace!

If you have a moment please pray.  Pray that the criminals are caught.  Pray that no one else experiences this kind of crime and that our neighborhood can once again be a safe place for families to raise their little ones.  Pray that the gun isn't used to bring anyone harm.  Pray that someone spills orange juice all over the laptop and the perps can't gain any access to my personal files (hey, why not?  I've been thining up some pretty creative prayers these past two days!)  And most of all, pray for the salvation and redemption of "our" thieves.  I hope God catches them in a big way and never lets go!  I hope their lives are changed forever for good.  And I hope they can't sleep at night in the meantime.

Thanks again for all your prayers.  I think 2011 is shaping up to be a good year. :)


Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness, I'm soo glad you guys are all safe! And sorry to hear about the break in. =( It is very unnerving to know that someone was in your house, touching and taking your things. My grandparents house got broken into in Phx and it's such an awful feeling.
But thank God that you are all safe and, like you said, it's only material things that can mostly be replaced!

J9 said...

Thank you! We really are so grateful too be safe!

Katie said...

Wow, what a story... and you told it beautifully, if you can call a story about a break in beautiful! Glad you are all safe! Thanks for sharing.

Deborah said...

O my word! I can only imagine the fear. So happy you are all OK, thank God! Will pray for continued safety for you and your beautiful family. And for a peace that passes all understanding:) This is exactly why we have a german shepard! although he couldnt hurt a fly...but shhh his bark sure sounds scary:)

J9 said...

@Katie - thanks for your comments!
@Deborah - I think you're on to something! I was just thinking last night as I was going to bed that a dog would be great security! I think I'll mention it to hubby when he gets home! :)

Mauby said...

Oh wow, my heart completely dropped out of my chest for you! I am so very happy you are all safe.

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