We are visiting our daughter Holly and her family on the Oregon coast. Holly, Lois and the kids just left for town to get some things. I was left alone here to think in the quiet. I sat down in a chair and picked up my daughter’s worn Bible and thumbed through it. I looked at the parts especially worn and marked. It moved my heart.
I’m filled with deep gratitude now over a conversation we just had before she left and I mouth and quiet prayer to the Lord.
“Lord, I want to thank you from the depths of my soul today for something I did not know until today that would have devastated our lives and maybe even destroyed our family.”
We flew out to the coast yesterday to visit our oldest daughter, Holly.
Just before they left for town Holly told us about an incident neither of us knew, something that happened in about 1993 or 1994. Our son Daniel was born in November of 1991 in a farmhouse we were leasing on a dead end road in Knox County, Ohio. The house was a wonderful answer to prayer. We have always been grateful for the years we were able to enjoy with our growing family there. Daniel is the sixth of eight children. I was starting a church. Lois was a homemaker. Lois made crafts and dolls non-stop and I drove Amish to help pay the bills. We were busy trying to make it all work.
We were having a conversation today and Lois said, “I have not heard anything from the children for a while, should we check on them?”
Holly chuckled and said, “They are fine, I’m sure. Sometimes we just let them play around the house outside. They are safe. They know not to go past the end of the drive. Then she said something that made us all laugh.
“Do you have any idea the crazy, dangerous things we did out on that old farm on Rutledge Road?”
It sounded to me like she had a story to tell.
I knee off some of the dangerous things they did. I was involved in some of them myself. I remembered that the kids would take a toboggan or sled to the top of a long, steep hill and careen down when the snow fell. God protected us from trips to the ER during those times. In warmer months the kids would take their big wagon with the pneumatic tires to the top of the hill and ride it down. That was dangerous, but God protected them.
I remember Kyle mentioning that he and Chuk played in the barn loft, and that was dangerous. We didn’t really know it at the time. There were things done with the BB guns and the canoe that could have ended badly. Heidi had a some emergency attention at the doctor’s office one Saturday evening. Kyle jumped on a nail in the barn that was hidden in some old manure. The nail punctured his shoe and made a deep, clean puncture wound in his foot. Miraculously no tetanus.
Holly was a little thing and she was swinging from a bar in the closet once. It broke and hurt her head. A clear-thinking friend talked us out of running to the ER on that one. Holly healed up fine. I remember some scraped knees, a few bike crashes and yellow-jacket stings, but no broken bones for hospitalizations, and thank God, no serious injuries or tragedies, even with Kyle and Chuk playing baseball every year. There were some heavy farm implements we were not particularly good at operating on the dangerous hills, tractors with PTO’s, wagons, and dangerous mowers. I lost control of a big International “H” on a hill and had to bail off of it. It came to rest when it slammed head-on into a tree a hundred yards down hill but I was not hurt. I ran over an oil line on one occasion but God spared us from injury. Once I caught a wicker wastebasket on fire and that was really not safe. I burned on old couch that could have reduced the house to hot ashes, but we avoided tragedy. Once the hood on my van blew up and smashed my windshield when Chuk pulled the latch. I had hit a deer, so there was no safety latch. Still no one died.
“Do you have something to tell me, Holly?” I said.
“I just remember having Danny back at the creek playing one afternoon. It was way back the lane from the house. I don’t know how old he was but he was in a diaper.”
Well, I said, “He was born in 1991 and we were living on Apple Valley Road in December 1994 when Wesley was born, so he had to be about 2 and half years old.
Holly continued, “He fell into the creek and Kyle was there. Kyle jumped in to get him. Danny was drifting down toward a tangle of branches. Kyle was always horsing around and joking but that day he was very, very serious. He grabbed Danny and got out of the water.”
Holly said, “I remember that he was shaken and he was very, very sober and right away he took him back to the house. That could have been tragic.”
Lois said, “This is the first time I ever heard that story.” My blood ran cold at the thought.
Shortly after that conversation the family left for own and I sat down quietly and began to page though Holly’s Bible and think about what she had said. Dan is a strapping specimen of a man now, a married father of three boys in robust good health, living and working in West Texas, but he could have drowned that day. What would have become of us? I shook my head as if to shake the thought from my mind. How would his brothers and sister have ever processed his loss under those circumstances? How would his mother have ever dealt with just a tragedy. What would I have done?
I quietly and sincerely thanked the Lord for the first time for something I did not know until today. I thanked him for Danny, for the mercy of God on us, for his protection and care. I wonder how many things I have to thank him for that I will not know until all the stories are told on earth and then in heaven.
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