Wednesday, August 28, 2013

#TellHisStory: Boats

But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile.
Exodus 2:3

The voice on the phone was professional, friendly even.  He introduced himself to me.  It wasn't the first time I had been contacted by the police in this town.  

The first had been a visit to my door - the night before.  The officer had introduced himself then, too.  In a professional, friendly voice.  My husband was away.  Out of the state.  Working.

I didn't wholly grasp the message until the next day.  I was teaching.  Fifth-grade. In a portable along the fireroad, behind the school, next to the playground.  My daughter was in the portable next to mine.   We called those portables our little cabins in the woods.  The office had called me to take a phone call. They sent the school counselor to watch my class.

Walking up the stairs to the deck overlooking the back of the property, I thought about my daughter going to school in this beautiful setting - pine trees right in the playground - a school with decks and railings and stairs.  She loved stairs.  Such a difference from the city schools we had left behind.  And I wondered about being pulled from class to take this phone call.  I wondered if it could possibly have to do with those unexpected questions delivered by that police officer, at my door, the previous night, with my husband gone.

Are you and your family ok?  He had asked.  There was an incident with your ex-husband at the courthouse today.  He had said.  We're just checking to see that you're ok.

I hadn't been surprised, and I thought it was kind of sweet that the officer had come by to check on me.  That's what living in a small town meant, I thought.  The police check to see if you're ok.  I hadn't asked about the incident.  There wasn't a lot that surprised me about my ex-husband.  He had quite the temper. 

The office secretary directed me to take the call in our principal's office.  Hmmm... I thought.  The voice on the phone was professional, friendly even.  

"This is Captain so and so," the man's voice was crisp sounding, and oh-so-clear.  "I'm just following up on our officer's well-visit last night."  

Wow, this small-town police-thing is amazing, I remember thinking...

"Did the officers tell you why they came to see you last night?"  The man on the phone asked.

"They said my ex was responsible for some kind of disturbance at the courthouse,"  I answered - I know my voice raised at the end of my sentence - California-girl speak.

"He threatened to kill you."  The officer on the phone said, in his professional, friendly voice.  Crisp sounding and oh-so-clear.  "They were checking to see if you were ok.  Are you ok?"

Still not shocked, still not surprised, still not fully comprehending, I answered again.  "I'm fine." 

"Do you know," he asked, "if your ex-husband owns any firearms?"

I guess that was when it hit me.  What this officer was concerned about.  Why the police had been checking on me.  A grenade of thoughts fell from the sky in my mind.  And exploded in my head.  My ex-husband was ex-military.  His back-story included being trained as a sniper in the army.  His back-story included tales of working for the Phoenix Project in Viet Nam years prior.  His back-story included using a crossbow to kill a neighbor's cat that was bothering him.  And, even though I had reason to doubt his back-story - it didn't matter.  If it was true, there was a problem.  If he had made it up and passed it off as true, there was a problem.  Either way, yes, my ex-husband owned firearms, and that was a problem. 

"Yes."  My heart was pounding.  My little cabin in the woods was visible from so many places.  My daughter's little cabin in the woods was accessible in so many ways.   I couldn't say anymore.  My whole body was shaking.  The secretary had come in - I couldn't hide the tears.

"If you file charges against him; we can confiscate his firearms."  The officer told me.  "And you might consider an order of protection."

When Moses's mother didn't know how else to save her child from Pharaoh's edict, when she couldn't hide him any longer from his soldiers, she built a boat out of reeds.  She covered it with pitch to waterproof it.  Imagine her fear.  They could have found Moses at anytime.  Anytime in the three months prior, anytime during the making of the little boat, anytime during it's launching.  I have to assume that consequences to her and her family, if they had been caught, would have been dire.  Death to Moses, possible death to the entire clan.  Through her fear, through her trouble, she found a way to do something.  She wouldn't be a helpless victim.  

I'm sure she prayed.  Like I did.  When I was afraid for myself and for my daughter.  When I felt helpless.  I'm sure she had family support.  Like I did.  Not only my immediate family, but my school family and my church family.  I'll bet she was a force to be reckoned with - after the Pharaoh's daughter found Moses, when she was asked to be his nursemaid.  After all, she had been forged by difficulty.  All because she built a boat.

I built several boats after that phone call.  I went in front of a judge for an order of protection.  I filed charges.  I changed my and my daughter's schedules; I randomized them so it would be more difficult to track and follow us.  I informed my church and they prayed for us.  My family's churches prayed.  

Unfortunately, the story wasn't over.  And one day, I will be able to write the rest.  The good news is that my daughter is with me.  We are safe.  God was and is our refuge and our help.

He will always open a door - sometimes it's in the form of a boat - a boat to be built to keep from going crazy with waiting, to keep from perseverating, to keep body and mind busy, to keep Him in mind.  Sometimes, when hands are tied in every other way, building a boat is all that can be done. 

Linking with Tell His Story 


  1. Whoa-what a story! I can't even imagine, but yet I can. This world is so full of such evil, that nothing surprises me anymore. I'm glad you are both safe.

  2. Alecia,
    Yes, there is evil, but there is also joy, and I know that the battle has already been won. Thanks to God; we are safe. And doing well. I'm glad to hear about your now-seventh grader, too! May she always find haven in your home.

  3. Oh my word, Janet. What a frightening tale to read. I can't even imagine living it. I pray God's continued protection over you.

  4. Jennifer,
    It WAS frightening. And still is in some ways, partly because even across the span of years since THIS chapter, we still haven't had complete 'closure'. Partly because my story is SO like so many other stories - some with much different endings. I have a wonderful prayer-warrior friend who helped pray me through some of the 'rest of this story'. There were so many places, in the midst of all the dark times, where the light of Jesus was SO evident. This friend told me that I would write about it all one day - and in writing, would help those others. I hope so! Thank you for your prayers -


I know we probably haven't met in person, but I believe that the sharing of our ideas and thoughts, sometimes our hearts and souls, makes us more than strangers. I would like to say friends. Thank you for taking the time to contribute to my little space - I appreciate you.