It was 5:37 a.m. Early for even my daughter.
The smell of an unfamiliar smoke greeted me as I opened the bedroom door. Fueled by adrenaline and anxiety, I descended the steps in two giant leaps. I knocked over a picture and twisted my right ankle as it slammed the entry way to our home. A thick haze consumed the kitchen where my daughter stood, clinging to the counter tops and screaming in sheer panic.
I couldn't process it all right away.
"Where's the fire, Mary?" I yelled as our eyes met.
"What fire, Daddy?
"What do you mean, 'what fire'?" I asked. Inspecting the surroundings, I noticed a frying pan on the stove. Smoke billowed from inside it. "The fire you're screaming about," I continued.
"I was screaming about the mouse that ran across the floor," she explained.
The tension stored in every tiny muscle suddenly left in my explosive sigh.
"You scared me to death, sweetheart."
"We wanted to surprise you with breakfast."
"Well, you certainly did surprise us," I said, trying to get control of myself and proceed into the rest of the morning a little more gracefully.
In the fifteen years we've lived in our house, mice have taken up residence a couple of times. The late winter snow melt and early spring rains usually account for their appearance. This provided Mary's first encounter with a real one.
After finally collecting my wits, I walked to the pan and inspected the breakfast fare. The turkey bacon stuck to the bottom of it and hardly resembled something actually edible . I heard no sizzling at all because, what little fat it may have once had, was now scorched to oblivion.
She had prepared the scrambled eggs first with no lubricating agent applied to the non-teflon coated pan. The remnants of that along with the nuked bacon made for a heinous mess.
She had already put the eggs on two little plates for her mother and me. On top she sprinkled pepper and what she assumed to be salt. Mary had requested the boys pitch in some to share in the glory and so ordered Luke to retrieve the salt from the cabinet. He saw a small container with white insides and gave it to her.
It was cream of tartar.
Before realizing it, she covered the eggs. I tried to eat it.
I have a strong stomach and pride myself on cleaning my plate no matter what finds its way onto it. But, through the smell and haze, my queasy guts just couldn't take it.
"You don't like it do you, Daddy?"
The moment of truth came suddenly. She knew it was bad so my credibility account would be severely drained if I answered yes. I did the only thing I could.
"No, honey. But, I like you and your brothers. I think you're all really sweet."
We all had a good laugh as Lisa arrived and took a few pictures destined for future scrapbooks. I was looking for some kind of Godly lesson in this all, but it escaped me for a while.
It does make me wonder about our relationship with God Himself, though. Obsessed so much with the outcome, I often lose blessings inherent in the process. The truth is, choking down the charred concoction was of little consequence (other than some incredible heartburn later). Children, consumed enough by their own burning hearts to even try at all, made the morning special to this father.
God is my father too. He loves me more than I could possibly love my own children. Surely he feels the same about my efforts no matter how fruitless they sometimes seem to end.
Maybe the lesson I'm looking for isn’t so obscure…perhaps I could see it better if I quit leaning too much on me. Maybe that is the lesson itself. Less of me, more of Him. Step out in faith, do what's right and let Him sort it all out in the end.
In an odd twist of "faith," maybe God used some fowl bacon and tartared eggs destined for my waiting stomach to open my heart instead.
Maybe, just maybe, He tried to show me what really matters most.
P.S.-who ever invented turkey bacon anyway? I'd rather eat the plastic it's wrapped in...give me some good old pig anyday.