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Proper Falling Etiquette And The Hotdish Angel
by Dan Vander Ark
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We were almost on our way to church. The kids and I were waiting in the car for my wife as she took care of the last minute preparations with the Au Gratin potatoes. There was going to be a potluck meal following the morning service.
The sidewalk was icy.
When she came out the front door in a rather hurried fashion I quickly got out of the car to help her down the sidewalk.
But she motored out the door and toward the car faster than I thought and so I didn’t get to her side in time to help.
She was clutching the not-yet-cooked Au Gratin potato hotdish (which meant it was still pretty watery) with both hands.
Then it happened.
She slipped. Her feet went right out from under her in sort of a cartoonish fashion and she landed on her back.
In slow motion I uttered, “OHHHHH NNNNNOOOOOOOOO!
In just a split second she was in the prone position lying flat on her back on the icy sidewalk.
I don’t know if everyone does (I probably slept through that class in Bible school), but for sure my wife has some sort of hotdish guardian angel. And that hotdish angel must have taken an elective in “How to catch the hotdish casserole in mid air and make it land without spilling a drop.”
Because the hotdish landed on her JUST AS IF IT HAD BEEN GENTLY SET ON THE TABLE! And not one single drop of those watery Au Gratins was spilled!
She got up as though nothing had happened, got in the car, and said, “Let’s Go!”
I could hardly believe what I had just seen. A few people have witnessed firsthand a genuine miracle of someone rising from the dead, but I’ll bet no one has ever witnessed a greater hotdish miracle!

I have fallen on numerous occasions, but never with such class and grace.

When I was about 14 or 15 I slipped and fell down the entire flight of stairs that went into the lower level of the old White Drug in downtown Fargo. That’s where the restaurant was and I guess that’s where I needed to get to in a big hurry. I am guessing the patrons thought, “Wow, is that kid hungry!”

Several years ago three of my coworkers and I made a day long tour of the regional clinics that we ordered supplies for. When we stopped to fill up with gas, I got out and began to work the pump. The pavement was a little icy where the water dripped off the canopy over the pumps (make that -- right where I was standing).

Whoosh…Kersplat! Down I went. I think my coworker said something like, “I was looking out the car window…you were there…and then you were gone!” I didn’t get too dirty, but I landed smack dab on my ego.

Another time I fell getting out of the car at work. Again, it was that dreaded invisible ice. Down I went. And when I fall, my first reaction isn’t, “Is blood spurting from my head?” Or, “Is my arm supposed to be in this weird angle?” Its, “DID ANYONE SEE ME?!” I just want to make sure nobody witnessed my triple klutz sow kow (or whatever that figure skating term is). I quickly surveyed the parking lot and it didn’t seem like anyone was looking. But I lay perfectly motionless for a few moments just to make sure the coast was clear. And if someone had seen me and said, “Sir, sir, sir!!! Is this a piece of your arm? Are you OK?” I was just gonna crawl partway under the car and talk in a real loud voice, “Yep, the muffler bearings appear to be ok!”

But perhaps my most dramatic fall occurred on a cold wintry evening one winter. The snow was pretty deep on the roof of our double-wide mobile home and I needed to shovel some off and make sure the vents were clear. I leaned the top of the ladder against the roof edge but the bottom was positioned on the rather slippery deck surface. (Note the word “slippery.”)

I got onto the roof and shoveled off some snow and cleared off the vents. On my way down the ladder it happened. The bottom slipped out away from the house and toward the edge of the deck. That motion allowed just enough clearance for the top of the ladder to move rapidly past the roof edge and toward the side of the mobile home. And that motion caused one side of the top of the ladder to crash through the kitchen window. And that motion caused me to flip upside down with one of my snowmobile boots stuck on a ladder rung. (Read that again very slowly…”I flipped upside down!”)

Gravity seems to be stronger in northern Minnesota in the winter because during my rather rapid swing to upsidedowndom, I severely bruised my arm.

My wife came outside to see if I was ok. “You broke the kitchen window!” were the VERY FIRST WORDS out of her mouth as I hung upside down on the ladder.

By the time I got unhooked from dangling upside down on the ladder on that cold wintry night, I was one mad preacher. My form of retribution? I went inside and didn’t speak one single word to her…I just showed her my ginormous black and blue contusion. (That sounds a lot more dramatic than when I first wrote this story and typed, "...my ginormous black and blue owie").

I have often wondered since then, “How come my wife gets a really gifted hotdish angel, but my ladder angel seemed to be a bit of a klutz?”

“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12)

Dan Vander Ark

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