We had gotten home late when she came into my room with pieces of a gold foil wrapper in her hand.

“I found this on my floor.”

“What is it?”

“It’s what’s left of the chocolate bunny.”

It was the week after Easter, and her stash of candy had been left where one of my two dogs had found it.

When you have more than one, and you know it could be either that have devoured something they shouldn’t, you have to collect evidence before making accusations.

In your wildest dreams, you cannot fathom that one of these two perfect creatures from God has transgressed against you when you feed them and take better care of them than yourself. You wonder where you have failed as a guardian over their well-being.

But before you guilt trip yourself too far, you see images of them eating grass and chewing up tree bark like the wild animals they really are. You have witnessed one licking the bathroom floor for no reason and the other dragging out dirty laundry from a basket and ripping it to shreds.

Who can forget the time you came home to a whole bag of flour pulled from the cupboard? You find that it has been ingested because of the dusty paw prints on the floor, and the two of them are lying down, not moving with a white substance caked on their faces.

And you recall how you got down on your knees and thanked God that one of them hadn’t had their lips forever sealed after they bit into a tube of super glue, puncturing it. You saved the day by wiping off the glistening sheen while they struggled to get away from you, not understanding why you were doing what you are.

This was another one of those moments that the drive to eat something they shouldn’t overruled all else. They don’t hesitate and think, “Hmmm. She probably wouldn’t want us to do this.” Oh, no. For those brief seconds of indulging in a forbidden item, I’m sure they believe they are not under the rule of anyone but themselves and it’s green lights all the way.

Because there were two of them at the time, you don’t want to assume. My daughter had previously put them to the test by leaving out half of a sandwich on a plate with a camera focused on it to determine who would be bold enough to scarf it up.

Watching the footage was like an episode of National Geographic.

It hadn’t taken long before the male species came along and swallowed it down whole with his sister looking on. She acted so guiltily afterward that we would have guessed it was her. We figured out that if anything was left unattended, he was most likely the offender even though she acted the part.

He was the one who could do the unthinkable and not bat an eyelash afterward.

One day after doing so, he looked out the living room window on high alert, making sure no prowlers would break in during broad daylight. This was his way of getting past the event. Avoid eye contact. Take up a post like you are the best defense against the bad guys, and all will be forgiven and forgotten.

I told my daughter how I had found an empty bowl on one of the tray tables that I knew had crackers from the night before. As I said this, I saw him swallow hard like he realized I was calling him out.

“Look at that,” I said. “I think he feels guilty for once.”

He burped super loud.

“That’s not guilt! That’s indigestion!” I said, realizing he wasn’t remorseful one bit.

Knowing his history, we figured we had our man pegged for indulging in a toxic food item. We both started the cross-examination anyway, knowing that this was high on the danger list. So while someone had thoroughly enjoyed their session, we now had to save a life potentially.

It didn’t take long to conclude that he was now on health watch as his fur had chocolate all over it.

He waged his tail and looked me squarely in the eye like usual—nothing to see here.

My daughter felt so responsible that she started looking online for signs of the after-effects so we would know what to do.

“How much does he weigh?” she asked.

“I don’t know. They go to the vet next week for their spring check.”

After reading the percentage of dark chocolate and body weight, she said,

“I have to figure out if the amount he ate will hurt him.”

She picked him up and got on the scale, subtracting her own weight from the total.

“He is about fifteen pounds, so he should be alright.”

She then put her hand over his heart.

“It’s racing,” she said.

“He’s probably scared now that you stood with him on the scale.”

She didn’t hear me as she timed the beats while watching the clock.

“It’s really fast.”

The only thing we could see that was different was he was drinking more water than usual. At midnight, I decided to call an emergency vet for advice.

“If he is acting okay, then I wouldn’t worry. If he starts throwing up, give us a call again.”

We decided to do as she said and go to sleep. Both of them had slept on my bed for years, so I would know right away if anything happened.

I shut off my light and laid down when the sound of all sounds that makes you immediately get up started happening.

It was the beginning of the deep heaving that usually gives you seconds to react so you can get them outside. I went to grab him, but it was too late to stop the first round. I knew I would be running the washing machine like I had done many times before because dogs and small children decided that where I slept was the perfect place to throw up in the middle of the night.

I sent him out before the next. He came back in, immediately laid down on his bed, and went into a deep snore. While he was peacefully resting, she and I sat up until six am with bags forming under our eyes, ensuring he was back to normal. We were exhausted by the time the sun was coming up, but he woke up energetic and wanted his food bowl.

He ran outside like he had found his youth again, and I fell asleep on my feet, waiting for him to come back in.

Until I had children and pets, I never realized the lengths of self-sacrifice a person could go to—all for their survival regardless of your own.

And God does the same for us.

When we wantonly disregard all warning labels and put things in our bodies that could cause harm, we are designed with a clean-up system where everything goes to work on our behalf, striving to keep us alive for one more day while we sleep it off.

When we act impulsively, thinking we are not under the observation of heaven, God reacts as we did; correcting a wrong choice and making it right even if we don’t deserve it.

In Isaiah 55:8-9 it says:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”(NIV)

It’s a promise that we will never be left or forsaken in our trouble. God will be up all night to be sure you are okay.

Lying In It

She showed me the bruises that were developing in random places. It looked like she had been in a boxing ring and not on her bed.

“Let me see where else.”

I couldn’t believe the purple marks that were on the backs of her arms and legs.

She had purchased a new mattress from a retailer with locations all around us. We had gone to a furniture store together, but there wasn’t anything that interested her.

I tried to dodge the salesperson at first, but he eventually caught up to us like a heat-seeking missile. He wanted me to understand how forgiving the mattress was by having me lay on my keys.

“You can’t even feel those, right?”

“I do still feel them,” I said.

“Well, you are small, so a heavier person would probably have a better result of what I am trying to demonstrate.”

Who sleeps with their keys underneath them anyway? That’s like the commercials where they cut a tin can in half with a kitchen knife to show how sharp it is. What crazy person would do that?

“This reminds me of the princess and the pea story,” I said.

A potential wife for the prince is put to the test by the queen to see if she is sensitive enough to carry on the royal blood. So a pea is placed under twenty mattresses, and if the would-be bride feels it, she is approved for marriage.

My house key was leaving a mark.

He launched into a discussion about his own back problems and medical issues. Meanwhile, my daughter and I were stretched out like we were in a therapy session, except we were forced to listen instead of baring our souls. Generally, I am sleep deprived, so I ran the risk of falling asleep during his rundown of all of his physical ailments. My keys kept digging into my back, keeping me from drifting off.

We left the store, and she decided to seek out something else the following week. And she had done a great job of it. What she picked she was happy with financially and comfort-wise. Within days, I opened the door to two workers who whisked her new purchase down the stairs.

Everything appeared normal. The adjustable base made it so she could sit up straight or sleep comfortably and not wake up with stiffness.

“What is causing the injury to you?” I asked, perplexed. It appeared she had been sleepwalking and falling repeatedly. I had never seen a person get up in the morning as if they had been in a street fight.

She explained that springs were pushing into her skin the entire time she slept. It wasn’t difficult to see that this was a design flaw that the company would have to resolve.

I went with her to the location where she bought it. I stood by as she explained her case. She wanted to return all of it and get a refund.

The man assisting her looked at the paperwork regarding her items and said,

“You could upgrade to a better bed. You bought one that isn’t the highest quality that we sell.”

It took everything within me not to unleash on this person. The day she had been in the store, her choice was praised, and only good was said about it. He was giving the impression that she hadn’t spent enough money to receive a regular functioning product. In other words, she was the problem, not their faulty bed. I saw the scam, and so did she. Sell a damaged piece of furniture, convince the customer that it’s their fault and rob them of more money.

“Do you want to look at another one?”

“No. I want my money back,” she said. I was grateful she was going that route with the mattress mafia.

He looked at his calendar and said they could pick it up in a couple of weeks. There was no urgency in this for him. I am sure the truck was booked, using it to dump off other beds to victims. And he hinted that there might be a restocking fee. I stayed quiet, but inside I could not believe that he thought we would fall for the bait and switch game that was going on.

Within the week, I helped her move the mattress off to the side while she went with a completely different company for something better that wouldn’t inflict pain on her.

After speaking to the original salesperson, her attempts to return it revealed that a portion of her money would not be given back after they came to retrieve the mattress.

She felt terrible about her decision, even though none of it was her fault. She discovered others who had the same problem. We began to see that in their business model, they were peddling beds that, to some, were perfect, but then, like in her case, they would try to upgrade when the consumer had complaints. Blaming and shaming were the key to keeping business flowing.

A friend of ours decided to take matters into her hands and started a formal complaint, acting as my daughter’s aunt. I followed up by helping my daughter write an email with threats of contacting agencies that could investigate and shut the business down. All of this worked in her favor.

She received a call from the corporate office and another call from the guy who helped her purchase it. They could not move quickly enough to get their product out of my home.

And she slept happily ever after.

The biggest struggle was that she felt she should have seen the warning signs before signing on the dotted line.

“How would you have known that?” I asked her, trying to help her understand that while it wasn’t a pleasant experience to go through, she had gained new insight into how to deal with an issue. She had come out of the entire thing with a full refund, plus she ended up getting a fantastic deal on her second option. With pillows included.

It’s easy to beat ourselves up over mistakes and decisions that we wish we could go back and undo. I felt that way when I moved to Arizona for eleven months. I had come from a bitterly cold climate into a land of sand and heat. Everything that could have gone wrong did. And scorpions.

A lot can be said about the blizzards and harsh temperatures in Minnesota, but the scorching sun can be just as bad. It would be before noon with the air conditioning running full blast, and I would break out in a sweat just making my bed.

The water never ran cool in the shower. Your choices were warm and hot even though there was a cold icon on the label. I had so much to learn and adapt to.

It seemed there was something new every day. We had an exterminator come once a month, but I kept finding scorpions throughout the house. They were small and tan, the same color as the carpet. I wore flip-flops everywhere.

I was given excellent advice to freeze them with hairspray and then send them to eternity. But caution had to be taken even in that process because apparently, the others know and seek revenge if you kill one.

The worst was the night my daughter was sitting at the kitchen table and happened to look up. Directly over her head was a rather large one crawling along the ceiling.

I was across the room with my back to her, but the rapid repeating of “mom” always indicates that horrific things are occurring.

I had heard that the bigger they are, the less poisonous. Like everything that causes me alarm, I study it to know every detail so I can face it. Being in the dark only adds to the fear.

I had gotten to the point of reassuring myself that it wouldn’t kill me if it did sting me as she darted away from it, potentially falling into her hair. I grabbed my can of spray, jumped up, stood in the middle of the table, and blasted nearly the entire contents. It was necessary. I was exhausted by this never-ending war. If I had a gun in my hand, I would have had no problem blowing a hole right into the sky.

The stain it left would just have to come out of the deposit put down during the signing of the rental agreement. It wasn’t as bad as a bullet hole.

I took care of the intruder, but more eye-opening experiences surfaced, like the hornets that would dive into the pool and swim alongside us, undeterred by the chemicals and chlorine. Not to mention the photo I received in the mail of a tiny weed growing in the front yard with a warning that there would be a fine from the HOA coming quickly if I didn’t eradicate it.

Then there were the gunshots and police that showed up just houses down frequently, the neighbor next door who let their dog bark below my bedroom window all night long until it finally slept when the sun came up, and the cockroaches that materialized out of thin air.

A cattle ranch nearby caused the worst smell to drift into your lungs and massive hordes of flies that enjoyed taking up your personal space.

The final nail in the coffin was when we visited a dentist who claimed we all had cavities. It was the weirdest experience after coming from one who we trusted completely. I had made sure our insurance would cover the one visit, but then the bill came. Nothing was covered, so I decided not to pursue the treatment that the three of us had been told was imperative.

After losing the battle over the money, I decided it was time to return to my house in Minnesota and leave this experiment behind. I was in the wrong place, and every door was slammed shut.

It was not easy to pack up everything again in less than a year and return. It cost a lot, it was labor-intensive, and it messed with me mentally for a long while. I thought I was doing the right thing, but it failed. Decision making for me became tough as this incident would rear its ugly head and remind me how stupid I had been. What else could I mess up?

In time, I reestablished myself and found that one error in judgment does not make a person. I saw how my elderly parents needed me back close by, there were other people that God wanted to bring across my path in Minnesota, and my dentist saw us and confirmed that our teeth were perfectly healthy. Not a cavity in sight. Had I stayed, that would have been trying to make something work that was long over. You can choose God’s way or yours, which is your ego.

If you find yourself in a circumstance where you realize that you cannot turn back the clock or just flip over the mattress, realize that this is something everyone has experienced. It can feel isolating, as if no one has ever been as screwed up as you are. But that’s a lie.

I did find in Janes 4 a good piece of advice to implement regularly to avoid future problems for myself.

You’re nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing. Instead, make it a habit to say, “If the Master wills it and we’re still alive, we’ll do this or that.”(Message)

That sounds a little harsh, but when it comes to making a decision, it’s good to realize it shouldn’t be done without asking for some divine guidance. And then you will see this from Proverbs 3,

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! (Message)

Don’t automatically react or respond to something out of obligation, peer pressure, or mass hysteria. Above all, don’t disregard the help from the unseen realm. This is the way of regret.

But if you take a minute to ask God what to do, an answer will come, and it will be the best one. Gone will be the days of remorse for making your bed and lying in it.

(It didn’t win)