“…Okay, so no one’s answering. Well, can’t you just let it ring a little longer, longer, longer? Oh, I’ll just sit tight through shadows of the night. Let it ring forevermore…Yeah, yeah, yeah…” (1976) Telephone Line. Recorded by: Electric Light Orchestra (ELO). Composer: Jeff Lynne
Frantically, in the chill of the frozen air, he yell out, “Kids, help me find it! Tabitha, you look over there where we were throwing snowballs. Megan, you look over by the Suburban. D’Anna, you stay here with me. Help me push the snow away. We’ve got to find it before we lose daylight.”
It was this week in August of 2001 when my family and I had experienced an unanticipated devastating blow in our lives. Today, it still hurts. Frankly, it lingers in my heart and mind all these years later. Truly, the person, which caused the groans in my spirit, to this very day, has accomplished that individual’s purpose. To dive into what occurred would just add to my painful memories, which I try to keep beneath my feet. Forgive me for keeping it from you just now. I will not bathe you here in the memory of it. However, I’ll describe a tad of the domino impact from the personal trauma.
The vicious personal event was quickly followed by America’s incredibly disturbing attack on September 11th. I must admit, the depths of my depression was a vast, velvet black abyss. I spent my days in bed, sleeping as if on a sedative. My marriage had ended years prior, but still living together for the kid’s sake. My filing for divorce was already being planned through much heartache. Thoughts of suicide knocked on my door a few times in stages of complete emptiness. (How honest is that?) The only thing God used to keep me living was my three precious daughters.
As the months rolled on, my depression continued to eat my lunch, but I was an experienced actor with the ability to hide the pain when needed. I noticed I had a tremendous urge to wrap myself up in my kids.
By December, I felt a new bravery to take the family on a vacation. We would wait for Christmas to come and go, and then pull out all the stops to begin a 12-day road trip starting the day after Christmas. My intention was to use it like a balm for our hurting hearts. It was money we didn’t have right after Santa’s visit, but it was so needed. Stupidity or not, I cashed in my 401K. (I know, it’s not a wise thing.) We rented a huge Chevy Suburban, packed it up, and off we went. We left Dallas for a day spent in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Then north to Colorado Springs, Colorado we drove. It would be our jumping point for all surrounding areas of note, and then up to Denver. What a blast!
R-L: Tabitha, Megan, D’Anna in front. Pike’s Peak in the faded background.
One by one we visited the normal sites of awe. We were holiday tourists and it showed. We even rode horses during a lite snowfall through the Garden of The Gods National Park. The red rocks were brilliant up against the white snow. The photos I rediscovered do not do it justice. While in the area the snow became heavy through the days. Yet, that didn’t slow us down.
New Year’s Eve came rather quickly. We decided to hit the great Seven Falls tourist attraction in the Pike’s Peak area. (Google Seven Falls to wet yourself down with its picturesque majesty.) Alas, they were officially closed on New Year’s Eve, but we still were able to drive to the overlook scenic platform, just across the canyon from the high, frozen long falls. As you can imagine, we had the place all to ourselves. Along with the frozen famous falls, I adored the silence in the air, also created by the audio-absorbing snow. The temperature was about 4 above zero that afternoon. That’s tough for any Texan to endure for very long. So we took pictures, looked at the frozen falls trough binoculars, until the girls started to beg for the warmth of the SUV. The fog of my long sigh rolled out of my mouth and up over my head. Oh, how I wanted to stay and soak it all in.
Megan & D’Anna, and your’s truly. (Tabitha was taking the picture.)
It was almost dusk, so we drove out of the opened gates of Seven Falls. (See cover pic over the title above.) With the tires crushing the hardening snow, we passed a little picnic area with a trickling brook close to the drive leading out toward the main road. We decided to stop and have ourselves a snowball fight, which the girls had been pleading for ever since we arrived in snow country. That’s exactly what we did. My camcorder was in full-swing as I climbed out of the vehicle. The snow was up to my shins in some places as we dropped to make snow angels with our arms and legs. Three year old D’Anna was getting too cold during our snowball fight, and didn’t want to stay out any longer. She wanted back in the warm SUV where her mom remained during our adventure. Her timing was just about right.
Tabitha and Megan in the park ready to launch snowballs at the man holding the camera.
It was beginning to get dark. The moonlight was spectacular bouncing off the sparkling snow. We took the time to climb a small 25foot-30foot hill in the park where we could see the trained colored spotlights skimming off the frozen falls off in the distance. It was just a magical moment for us. But all good things must come to an end. Whoever came up with that phrase must’ve been a recluse.
As I reached the vehicle, I began to search my coat pockets for my cell phone. Back in 2001/2002 cell phone casings were thicker, with antennas which rose above the scalp when pressed against the ear. I figured if it fell out I would feel it. There were only three pockets large enough for placement. I searched all of them. My hunt in the Suburban came up empty as well. I ordered everybody out of the vehicle to form a search party. It was dark, but the moonlit snow would be a big help in locating a hole in the drifts in the shape of a flip cell phone…or so I thought. We must’ve spent half an hour walking square foot by square foot of the area where we had been playing, even the roadside hill we climbed. We came up with nothing. Obviously, in our wintry frolicking it escaped quietly out of my coat pocket. We returned to the SUV wondering all the while how we would communicate with the outside world. In those days, it was the only cell phone we had.
After we fell into bed, back at the hotel, I called our family members in Texas to tell them of our adventures, along with the misfortune of the cell phone loss. We continued our snowy trip throughout the following days, thoroughly enjoying a life-long memorable vacation which was good for our souls. It was the right thing to do. No regrets, even now.
One afternoon in late April of 2001, our landline phone rang. It had a Colorado Springs area code. I picked up the phone to hear a man’s voice asking if I had been in Colorado Springs recently. Curiously, I mentioned our Christmas/New Year’s trip. He then asked me if we had visited Seven Falls. The bell wasn’t ringing in my head just yet when I heard his question. With a confusing sound in my voice I said, “Yes, we were at Seven Falls. They were closed on New Year’s Eve, but we had a fun time hopping around in the deep snow just outside of the falls in a park. Who is this? Why are you asking?” He introduced himself, then explained he was a Colorado Springs police officer who jogged the same road alongside the park outside Seven Falls. He went on to reveal how he found a frozen mobile phone next to his jogging route and retrieved it. He had me describe the phone and when he was satisfied that I was the owner, we both had a good laugh about it. He said after the snow melted in April, it was sitting there in plain sight by the brook. He went on to tell me he took it to the police lab to charge it up, not knowing it would even take a charge after thawing. In his surprise, as he looked through the contact index, he found a number that was entitled, “Home”. He jotted down the number and called us from his cell. He then graciously asked if I wanted it back. By that time I had already replaced my mobile phone and really didn’t need it any longer. He offered to mail it to me at his expense, but I discouraged it. I thanked him, then gave my permission to use it as a trade-in for another phone for himself. He said he might just do that. I hope he did.
To this very day, I pray for guidance in various corners of my daily life. One subject I pray for are teachable moments in my own life. Later it hit me concerning an ancient truth written so long ago.
Have you heard about the old woman from Israel, some 2,000 years ago? She wasn’t a poor woman. She actually had ten silver coins stored up. In that day, it signified wealth. By deduction, she probably didn’t earn the silver coins, as most women of that time wouldn’t have had income reaching such a total. There’s no mention of a husband, so some surmise she might have been a widow. If so, in the Middle East during the first century, it would have been the inheritance from her dearly departed husband. The silver coins must have been precious to her heart, more than the marketplace.
On a cloudy day, the woman reached into a space in her hearth where she had hidden the small drawstring pouch of coins. Carefully, she poured the collection of silver pieces onto her small dining table for polishing. As she counted them she stopped at nine. She counted again, but stopped at nine. There were ten in the pouch, but only nine rested in the pouch. One had been stolen, or simply misplaced. Frantically, she lit a lamp and placed it just a hair’s width from the floor. With a roving sharp eye she explored every inch of the cold floor on her hands and knees. She then hastily grabbed her broom to slowly swept each corner, under every chair, bed and table. She was determined not to give up her search. With one swipe of her broom in a darkened place, she heard the sound of a coin slide against her stone floor. The neighbors and friends down the street were unaware she was in great distress, as she hunted for this one lost coin. She was so elated, she ran outside in almost hysterical laughter and yelled out to her clueless friends and neighbors, “Celebrate with me! I had lost this one silver coin and now I have finally found it!”
The parable of the Lost Coin is a story Jesus told. (I paraphrased and expanded it for a modern dramatic rendition.) He taught a few things concerning items lost from God’s arms. A sheep, a prodigal son, a priceless peril, etc. It must mean a lot to Him. It speaks of His heart toward those of us who are not close, or in tune with God’s love, along with the righteous rescue He offers. When He taught about “lost things” He describes them as out of sight, or in a hidden, darker place from clear view. Even now, I have a beautiful red sock somewhere in a darker, out of clear viewing locale. Every time I see the mate, I remind myself to turn my house upside down. Even though it’s here somewhere, I still cannot see it, touch it, or consider wearing it. In other words, my lost sock is useless to me. However, I love those red socks!
Unlike my choice, concerning the future of my lost phone, God treasures the soul who He sees as lost. He never “trades in” for another more fetching, or more accepting. Many who recognize the vacuum in their world to be a life without spiritual reconciliation, find peace and comfort in His arms. In God’s view, there are no lost causes. THIS, is the true purpose for the humble birth in Bethlehem. God’s way of searching out the lost precious ones.
“For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His…” 2 Chronicles 16:9a (NAS)
After many months under the Colorado snow, the frozen phone was without juice for communication. Yet, when plugged into the source of power by a rescuer, it gained life, a resurrected life, so to speak.
My old mobile phone and I have something in common. After the well-intended butchery of our lives that August, I froze-up. One might even say I was useless. For months I crawled into an emotional fetal position with the mental coil of wanting the bury myself in a snow cave somewhere, never to be seen or heard from again. In a way, I did just that. I even stopped doing chores, trips to the grocery store, and hid from friends and family outside my walls. Trust me when I say, it was difficult as I had a very public career as a radio personality. Climbing on the air became a dreaded thing to me. I had to “put on” a character, a character I once was. You might say I was frozen without a charge. Psychologically I was damaged, altered, and empty. It went on for years. I fought to stay alive.
Some relief began to diminish the bubble (somewhat) by 2004. You can align it to a snow-melt causing me to reappear. Thank God for the power of resurrection.
You might discover the falls may be frozen, but there’s always a scenic platform available. It comes with a free viewfinder prepared with the essence of fuel for the race.
“What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the pasture and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders, comes home, and calls together his friends and neighbors to tell them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my lost sheep!’ In the same way, I tell you that there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous ones…” – Jesus – Luke 15: 3-7a (Berean Study Bible)