A Smoldering Danger

The dishes had been washed and dried and were ready to be used again. The dishwasher cycled to the automatic shut-off function—and failed. Something went wrong, and instead of shutting down, the motor kept whirring, doing nothing but whirring, and began building up heat. The wires started to smolder, and one by one they snapped, burning and melting away from the circuit boards. The house began to smell like burnt plastic, a pungent, acrid smell. Mere feet away, the two children slept on the couches as was their weekend ritual. On weekends, Mommy and Daddy let them fall asleep watching tv.

This is what I woke up to at 1:13 a.m. Sunday morning. Only half alert, I left the bathroom and remembered to shut the door since the cat was on the loose. (The bathroom is home to one of our two dwarf hamsters, a home of necessity and convenience in order to avoid a pet-becomes-the-prey disaster.) My hand had barely left the doorknob before I noticed it: a smell. Something was burning.

Following the smell, I entered the kitchen and thought that, somehow, a stovetop burner had been left on and was scorching one of my dollar-store burner covers. (I’ve turned on the wrong burner enough to recognize that smell.) I spent a good ten seconds inspecting the burner knobs in the dark, trying not to wake my children sleeping in the family room just on the other side of the kitchen island, before realizing the burner lights weren’t on. That’s when I heard it. The dishwasher was still running, but after four to five hours the dishes should have been sparklingly clean.

I pulled the dishwasher open, only registering a few moments later that the “clean” light was on—another indication that the dishwasher should have been off. Nothing. Clean dishes, dry dishes—meaning that motor sound hadn’t just continued washing the dishes—but no evidence of anything burning. I knew this had to be it, though, so woke up my husband. Smoldering fires that go unnoticed can turn into big ones, and it was only a few years ago that the neighbors three houses down lost their house in a fire that started smoldering in their chimney while they slept. When I told him that the dishwasher hadn’t shut off like it should, my mechanically-minded husband knew it had to be a problem with the wiring and shut off the breaker to the dishwasher. Then he opened up the control panel, and of three sets of wires soldered to circuit breakers, two of them had burned completely away from the breakers themselves. He snipped the wires, doused them in water, and took the part outside for good measure. All I could do was hold the flashlight—we still were trying not to wake the kids—and say, over and over, “Thank you, God.”

Without God’s protection, we could have very well lost our house. Our pets. Our children. Our own lives.

Yet God protected us. He woke me up and brought that smell to my attention from the other end of the house. He helped me locate the source of the smell and then gave my husband the knowledge and ability to locate the problem and ensure it wouldn’t continue. So yes—over and over again, the prayer of my heart and lips was a prayer of thanks.

The next night when my son was a bit scared to go to sleep, I reminded him that God kept us safe the night before, God takes care of the baby birds that just vacated a nest outside our bathroom window (Matthew 10:29), and God will continue to take care of us—that God even has angels watching over him (Matthew 18:10). Then we put on our oils (I’ve recently started using doTerra essential oils, and the kids have some of their very own—that night he used Brave and Calmer) and prayed, thanking God for keeping us safe and asking him to do so again. We slept through the night without incident and God has kept us safe every night since.