It was one of those mornings that your mother warns you about.  I’d left to take Chase to school wearing my pajamas which insured there’d be trouble.  Fortunately, I didn’t have an accident but when I got home and heard air raid sirens going off I thought maybe I was waking up from a bad dream.  I scanned the neighborhood and didn’t see anything out of the ordinary so I headed inside to get another cup of coffee.  That’s when I discovered the noise pollution was coming from my house.

Walking in the back door I hit a wall of sound.  The only thing louder than the sirens was Buddy crying in his crate.  I scooped him up, put him outside, and set-off to find the problem.  Which alarm was it—security system, smoke detectors, or carbon monoxide sensors?  All have equally irritating chimes that refuse to be ignored.  Was there a fire?  An intruder?  Would I be asphyxiated?

With no smoke or signs of a break-in I couldn’t figure out the problem but when I couldn’t get any of the systems to disarm it was time to call for back-up.  Was there a storm brewing that I couldn’t see?  Fortunately help arrived quickly.

It took some investigating but the fire department found the problem.  It turns it was off-gassing caused by some renovations that had just been done.  Who knew having all the wood trim in my house re-finished would leave formaldehyde vapors floating through the air two weeks later?  With a diagnosis made the fireman could safely disarm all three systems and show me why I hadn’t been able to.

It was embarrassing.  You hate to roust the firefighters out of the station for something that turns out to be a non-emergency.  As the crew chief was heading out the door I apologized for the trouble.  My cheeks were as red as his fire truck so his warm smile lessened the humiliation.

“Miss,” he said, “don’t be sorry.  You should never ignore an alarm that won’t go off.”                                                                                  

“I know but I hate to be a bother.”

“You weren’t.  Trust me, I’d rather come out and tell you everything is fine than tell you to run for your life.”

The normal color came back to my face while I waved goodbye to Grand Junction’s finest.  Now it was time to calm Buddy down.  Knowing he was frazzled I thought a prayer walk was in order for both of us.

On the way I couldn’t help but think about the fire chief’s comment.  I’ve always considered myself a fairly good problem solver.  Personally and professionally I seem to have a knack for putting out fires.  If a situation presents that chirps like a failing smoke detector I go to work.  Ignoring warning signs is not my style or at least I don’t think it is.  However, with the fireman’s comment I had to admit that for the last couple years when it comes to my health I’ve been doing just what he advised against.

When the mysterious bruising rash appeared I didn’t go to the doctor.  Instead I tried every self-care tip I could think of.  Only when it got exponentially worse did I see a specialist and then when I heard the word biopsy I would only agree to every non-biopsy option available.  If I’m too afraid to try Botox for fear of complications a scalpel sounds deadly to me.

Mulling all this over I asked God why I had been working so hard to get around the alarm going off with my body.  Why did it have to get deafening before I would respond?  Why was I willing to endure every imaginable remedy some of which stung more than the rash itself?

Rounding the last corner on our walk the answer came.  You’re afraid of the change “knowing” will require God said.  Something might have to end and you don’t want the loss.  Sensing the nail had just been hit on the head I wasn’t surprised by the penny laying in the street where I’d paused.  Point taken Lord, I hear you.

Loss in life is unavoidable.  I know this and yet like many I’m very capable of retreating into a world of denial even when the signs of trouble are staring me in the face. After all, denial is a powerful tool that comes in various forms—avoidance, minimizing, blame-shifting, etc.  All of which are great ways to work around a burning bush and that’s what I’ve been doing.

Subconsciously I have avoided the dermatologist’s biopsy knife because it might mean something would have to be cut out of my life.  I’ve not been afraid of losing my life, as much as losing my “way of life” which is so good right now.  That’s not to say it’s without challenges but through them I have a deep sense of gratitude.  Where most folks my age have a midlife crisis I have midlife peace and I don’t want that disrupted.  Who would? Nobody.

But what I have to remember is that the tomorrows I want to enjoy may never come to pass unless I end something today. Finding out what that is—is exactly what the alarm in my body is for.  It’s ringing so I’ll pay attention. So I’ll get help and I am.  However the next trick will be can I bring an end to more than just my denial?  Can I change whatever I need to in order to put out the fire?  I don’t know.  I hope so. Can you?


  1. So does that mean I have to take my doctors advice and get my neurology check up because one eye is not dialating? Rats… you pulled my fire alarm!

  2. Thank you for this. Thought provoking.

  3. I don’t comment enough to let you know, how consistently – when I do SL O w down to read – I am comforted by your writing.

    More than thought provoking; feelings come right to the surface and cannot be denied 😉 Yup.

    AND, I want to know what you find out about that ‘rash.’ Love, G

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