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The ESCAPE Button

By May 8, 2020April 26th, 2024No Comments

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just push an ESCAPE button?

That’s how I felt on a particular evening in 1998. My kids were 10, 8, 6, and 3, and we lived in a house with white carpet. For dinner that night, I made spaghetti, green beans, garlic bread, and milk. Nobody whined, complained or made obnoxious sounds until it was time to do dishes. But that was normal. No big deal.

After dinner, my husband settled in the recliner. My oldest daughter lounged under a blanket on the couch, and the younger kids wandered off. The house seemed unusually quiet. I patted myself on the back—good job, Joy! Of course, I never suspected what would happen next…

In my mind now, it plays like a movie in slow motion. My oldest daughter jumps to her feet. The blanket billows to the floor. My daughter looks crazed, desperate, wild-eyed. She leans over. A ghastly sound escapes her lips—blaaarrrrrghhhhhhh—as a red goulash of spaghetti pieces, meat droppings, soggy bread blobs and curdled milk spray from her mouth like a fountain. Sppppllllllatttt!!!!

I suck in a large amount of air. “Get to the bathroom!”

But who listens to their mother?

My husband jumps up. “Get to the bathroom!”

But who listens to their father?

She hops to the right, hair swishing—blaaaarrrrrgggghhhhh. She hops to the left, hair swishing—blaaaarrrrrgggghhhh. She hops to the right again, hair swishing—blaaaarrrghhhhh. She continues this serpentine-hair swishing dance, each time assaulting the poor, writhing carpet with a fresh spray of goulash.

A hundred questions run through my mind: Who invented spaghetti? Why did we buy this house? Where is my bleach bottle?

The other kids appear. The dog runs in. It’s standing room only.

After what seems a zillion years, she finally reaches the kitchen. Relief floods my soul. I bless the person who invented easy-clean linoleum. But it’s a moot point: the fountain of red goulash is now dry, a trip to the bathroom unnecessary, and my daughter feels much better…

At this point, ‘the movie in my mind’ becomes a time-lapse video starring me. I clean up, pick up, suck up, douse, blot, soak, pour on and rub on every chemical on the planet known to modern man.

But sadly, this movie turns out to be a tragedy…at least for the white carpet.

As the film rolls to an end, we the parents are in shock, baffled, perplexed—why didn’t our daughter RUN for the bathroom and WHY did she do the serpentine-hair swishing dance?

She answers simply: “Oh, I didn’t want to get my hair dirty.”


We eventually laid the white carpet to rest in the local landfill.

It seems mankind has always wanted an ESCAPE button. I would have loved one that night. Even the psalmist David wrote “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.” (Psalm 55:6)

Doesn’t that sound great? Just fly away from all your problems.

To be sure, David’s life was full of upheavals and contradictions, just like yours and mine, and he was human, just like you and me. But he was also a remarkable warrior king who could soundly defeat his enemies.

How? By staying. And fighting.

Are we any different? Don’t we have enemies? Don’t we face battles every day? (Kids, co-workers, spouses, neighbors, pets, fires, storms, hurricanes, crime, loneliness, depression, anxiety, illness, pandemics…vomit!)

It’s helpful to note that David didn’t go to war unprepared. He had a Secret Weapon-a Power greater than his own. That was how he won.

Later in Psalm 55, David writes this:

As for me, I call to God, and the Lord saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and He hears my voice.

(verses 16-17) 

In conclusion, he writes:

But as for me, I trust in You.

 (Verse 23b)

I’ve wanted to run away many, many times. Perhaps, you feel the same way. But the truth is, we don’t have to face any day alone. God has promised:

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

Hebrews 13:5

With that kind of promise, who needs an ESCAPE button? We’ve got Him, fighting for us. Stay in the battle, Friends!

Until next time.


P.S. AND a very Happy Mother’s Day to all the Moms out there!

P.P.S. AND a little advice: say ‘no’ to white carpet!


Author Joy Cleveland writes Small Town Contemporary Christian Romances that will warm your heart, feed your soul, and quite possibly tickle 'your funny bone.' A product of small town living, Joy strives to craft characters that feel like family and places that feel like home. Currently, she calls Iowa home. When she's not tapping computer keys, she's playing with grandkids, mowing grass, or chasing her dog. A lover of words, she's published short stories, plays for children, and quirky newsletters. "To Call My Own' is her first novel.

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