God Save the Fish

This has been a crazy week.

Crazy as in: 1) Staying up late every night for days on end painting, repairing, caulking, cleaning and packing because the real estate photographer comes Thursday, the movers come Saturday (for the first load), and the house goes on the market Monday. 2) Scrambling to stay literally one room ahead of the photographer in staging, rearranging, wiping down and throwing stuff in boxes, while imposing on the window washer to move his ladder and get off the roof several times to avoid being in the shots. 3) Having the movers scheduled a few hours before the carpet cleaners, resulting in (of course) the two crews being in the house at the same time. 4) Having four small and somewhat unruly children thrown into this mix. 5) Knowing that every scratch and ding and dirty handprint is going to have to be painted over every day before potential buyers tour the house.

In the midst of all this, we had to find a babysitter for our guinea pig and two goldfish. We acquired each of these pets (as well as ten chickens, at one point) on a whim when Daddy had days off and suggested we go out and find something fun to do. We had considered giving them away to lessen the moving chaos, but decided in the end that relationships with pets should be committed ones. Besides, it would be rather ironic since we are giving up life in the city to pursue life in the country, partly so the children can have pets.

All that to say, yesterday we decided at the last minute to drive Daddy to work in the morning. So I put the fish (Nemo and Charlene) and the guinea pig (Max) in the car with plans to drop them off at my Dad’s and Sister’s on the way home. I hadn’t made specific plans with them to come by early-ish in the morning, and figured I’d just get ahold of them on the way to let them know I was coming. But neither answered my repeated obnoxious calls and texts, so the kids and I were stuck heading back home with the animals.

Which was fine until I rounded a curve on the freeway onramp and the entire heavy fishbowl (a large glass cookie jar) toppled over in the car, spilling fish and rocks and fake plants everywhere. Amid the dreadful sound of water gushing and rocks toppling and fish screaming silently, I quickly pulled to the side of the ramp, jumped out, and ran around to the passenger side. When I opened the door, little Charlene came swishing out in a torrent of water and landed in the gravel. I scooped her up and put her back into the jar, which still had some blue rocks in it and one gasping Nemo, but no water. No water. Two gasping fish. I wracked my brain … was there any water in the car?!? Kids, do you have any water?!? Nope. Nothing. Oh, oh, our poor fish!! Should I pour my coffee in there?? Would the liquid save them or kill them? It didn’t seem like a good idea, but I knew they wouldn’t survive the drive home. It was awful to think of them just laying there, helpless and dying. And in front of all the kids!

Then I looked down the side of the road and there, about ten feet away, was a bottle of Nestle Purified Drinking Water. No kidding. The lid was on and it was about half full, discarded by some careless soul under the apparent direction of a very careful God. I ran to it and dumped it into the fish jar, which, tipped diagonally, gave Nemo and Charlene just enough water to lay in sideways. They survived the drive home and seem as mentally sound as before. (Ha ha ha.)

We were all very happy Jesus saved our fish. And very delighted by the reminder that we have a God who is big enough for the tiniest details amid the chaos.

P.S. In the excitement of rushing the fish into the house when we got home, I forgot Max the guinea pig was still in the back of the car. So he went on a play date with us to our friend’s cozy apartment. While unloading, I realized we had a total of three shoes to share among the four kids. And also that my three-year-old had decided to skip the underwear part when he dressed himself that morning. Our friend is also a mother of young children, so we just laughed. But later, as the boys were hopping in their single shoes across the parking lot to the car, the three-year-old hopped his pants down. Some unknown persons got to see this whole scene as they waited to pass through in their bright blue SUV. I sheepishly pulled the pants up and avoided eye contact. Once the kids were contained in seatbelts, I went back to get Max out of the apartment. And, of course, as I walked across the lot with a large guinea pig cage hoisted onto my shoulder, the same bright blue SUV had to wait for me again crossing back the other way.

I told my friend, “This is probably the weirdest visit you’ve ever had.” And she replied, “Yes, I think it might be.”

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