Monday, December 29, 2014

The Plan Breaker

Have you ever watched the movie Evan Almighty, when Evan tells God he has all of these plans, and God just looks at him amused, then cracks up, laughing hysterically?

Right now, God is cracking up- at me.

The car died. There is no money for a new one. I really liked our Hyundais Elantra GLS wagon. It was like a purse on wheels. We took nine day camping trips up the mountains in that thing and managed to pack it to the brim with what we needed. I wondered of it used to be a clown car. But they don't make them anymore, and there was nothing else I really wanted- sedans don't have big enough trunks for a nine day camping trip, after all. 

Normally, I'd be a raving maniacal mess right now. But god gave me peace over it, so I thought that was the end of His blessing, and started making plans for living a carless life. 

I began looking forward to it, because we could take what we'd put into the car and put it into paying off debt and maybe have a little fun with the "extra". Granted, there wasn't going to be a lot of "extra", but if I pinched enough pennies, we could splurge a little once a month at the bookstore or going out to eat.

This is when God started laughing.

I started to get blessings. Little blessings- some of my crafted items had sold on Etsy. Someone is commissioning me to create a medley of personalized parody songs for her wedding. Other possibilities have been popping up here and there for expanding my humor ministry. Then someone gave us an unexpected gift to help towards the purchase of a new car.

After hugging them to death, I set the funds aside and still made my plans. 

I think God like messing our plans up, just to remind us that we aren't the ones in charge- He is. And when He messes up our plans, it's always to do something better for us. But sometimes we forget that or just don't see it. Like me. The more I think I'm in charge, the more God laughs and messes up anything I have supposedly set in stone, like this current situation.

We got a phone call.

It was from a dealership. Apparently my husband had contacted them about a vehicle he had only mentioned to me in passing, and I dismissed it because there was no way the dealership was insane enough to finance us. We were just keeping our heads above water as it is!

But after a few calls back and forth, we got the call. Financing was approved. We can go see and get the vehicle at any time. 


My husband grinned like a Cheshire cat. I could hear God laughing all the way from heaven. And my plans were completely useless. By the time all the financing is done, this should only cost about twenty dollars more than our old Hyundai. And we're not getting a car- this sucker is a mini van! We plan on checking out our used Hyundai Entourage mini van on Wednesday (because my husband is doing overtime for the next two days), but we hope to be the new owners as soon as we see it.

The Plan Breaker was at it again- messing with all my nice and neat plans. And if He's going to mess with my plans by letting us get this van, then He must also have a way to help pay for it. So I'm not going to worry and just accept the blessings He chooses to give me. (okay, so I won't worry as much because I'm really good at not listening to Him and worrying, but you get the idea.)

Though I'm still going to plan on how to use that mini van!

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Devil Wears Cleats

This has been a rough month.

It's bad enough that the budget in our household is tighter than an acrobats undies during the Christmas season, but with all the other wonderfulness on top of it ("wonderfulness" being the epitome of irony at this point), I have to admit- the Devil is wearing cleats and jumping on us with both feet.

In the beginning of the month, my husband had a bout of severe exhaustion and was out of work for almost a week. So when the plant shuts down between Christmas and New Years, he has to work part of the week because he used all of his allotted days off. 
I had pain in my right shoulder for a long time and was told over and over again that it was tendinitis, so no lifting for me with that arm, lest I rip something important and need surgery. So I overcompensated and wound up spraining my left forearm. When the MRI results came back for my shoulder, I was diagnosed with Osteoarthritis. So I didn't need to overdo my ding-dang forearm. It was going to hurt anyway, dagnabbit.

It wasn't all bad, however. We prayed for blessings and got them- God let the money stretch so I found some great stuff for Christmas at the thrift store, and then my husband was getting a Christmas bonus! YAY!

The next day, the car died.

When I say died, I mean died. Dead as a doornail. Kaput. The timing belt broke and decided to shred the engine. The family that does all the running-around for ministry was now stuck. How was my husband going to get to work? How would we go food shopping?

I know I prayed to God about the need to walk more, but this was not what I meant!

Normally news like this would send me into a panic. Yes, I only got the car once a week to go food shopping, but this was our only car, and we've been living paycheck to paycheck- so it's not like we can just go to Bubba's Auto Mart and pick up a couple more Hyundais.
That night, I was lying next to my husband and something occurred to me. "I don't remember when the Devil had jumped on us so fast after being blessed," I said. "We must be doing something really right."
He chuckled and held me closer. 
I sighed. "Remember that movie, Facing the Giants? The guy said 'in the good times I will praise You, and in the bad times I will still praise You.' Let's do that right now."
And we did. We praised Him for the peace we felt in this mess, We praised Him for the blessings of being able to work during the holidays when the company could have said "No" and suffer the loss of income, We praised Him for the Christmas bonus, the fact that I got the gifts before the car died, and all of the little things God does for us each day.

Then we went to sleep.

I'm going to confess something. As true as this story is, That doesn't mean I'm happy about it. I'm so not happy. I really liked that little Hyundai wagon, and they don't make them anymore. I run a bread ministry and I'm the main driver for picking up the bread. Our church and the local families need that bread. I cried when I was praising Him because my husband works so hard just to keep our heads above water and doesn't need anymore stress. 

I'm hating the situation, but I'm not going to hate God for it. The Devil would be dancing in his cleats if I did that. I'm not a perfect Christian- I'm not even a fantastic Christian. I'm just your semi-normal calorically-challenged individual that loves God and needs Him on a daily basis, or I'll fall apart. 

This has been a rough month. If I wasn't leaning on God, I'd be a hot mess right now. Trust me.

When I told a family member about my situation, she asked "Are you sure you're doing things right? Maybe God is telling you you're doing things wrong by letting all this bad stuff happen."
I gave that some thought. Was he trying to punish us? I didn't think so- if He'd wanted to punish us, why were we feeling so peaceful, like God was smiling on us? I think if God was upset with us, we'd know it- big time.

There's good news though! When my church heard about all this, someone lent us his truck for the weekend so we could get our food shopping done. Because of my husband's bonus we could buy enough food for several weeks (since we don't know when we can go shopping again). People offered to do some bread pick-ups for my ministry until we can wrangle up another vehicle- and my husband found that he can get a ride to work and take a train home, so he can work those overtime hours during the holiday.

The devil wear cleats. But God's cleats are bigger and have the devil's name on each spike.

God is indeed good. And I praise Him for it.

Happy Birthday Jesus! And thank You for all the gifts!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Ham Radio

I was invited to be a guest on an internet radio station.

At first I was terrified. Who was I to be on a radio interview? I've never done a lick of stand-up, no TV commercials, and haven't even made it on to the news. But he wanted me on his show anyway, because he thought I was funny. What I really am is a complete and total ham- and he wanted me to be funny on the air.

Egad, the pressure!

He listed me a a comedienne- Me? Oh, no, no, no..I'm a humorist. Comediennes need to be funny every few seconds, while I'm a storyteller- I need a few minutes to be funny. But he insisted that i would be good enough for his show. 

I studied on how to be a good radio guest. I learned tips and tricks to keeping up the conversation. I learned what not to do, like say a lot of "ums" and leave dead air by pausing too much before answering. I was ready. When the time came, I called in.

At first I thought we had a bad connection, but the hosts mike was on the fritz and only worked sporadically. The co-host was good to go though, and all I had to do was repeat what I though the host said, just to make sure I and the listeners understood before I answered. He sounded like he was stuttering, but we managed to muddle through 40 minutes of the hour-long program. I thought I did only a few "ums" but all in all, I was doing well. I even spouted a poem I'd written called "Ode to Baldness".

Then the air went dead.

"John?" I paused a moment. 
Nothing. I tried to buy time. "Come on, John, the poem wasn't that bad was it?"
Nothing from the co-host either. Egad.
"Okay folks, I think we lost John."
Then the co-host popped on "I'm here!"
"Aaugh! I think I killed John!" (unfortunately this part was edited out of the broadcast)
"Nah, his mike probably died." the co-host replied. Then we continued the show.

John popped on a few minutes later- he had to call in on his own show! But at least his voice was clear now, and we completed the interview, having some laughs along that way.

Apparently he liked what I did, because he suggested I start my own radio show. "What would you call it?" He asked.
"Oh that's easy- Footprints in the Mud!" I replied.
"I'm going to keep egging you on to do this Beth", he said. "You have a great radio voice."
I, being the ham I am, lowered my tone a few notes, doing my best "announcer" persona, "Why, thank you, John!"

After we finished the show and I hung up, I gave his suggestion some thought. Could I be a radio show host? The idea has merit.

Though if I did, they might have to redefine the definition of "Ham" radio!

What do you think?

Here is a link to the show if you want to listen :

Monday, December 8, 2014

Meowy Christmas

It happened. As an early Christmas gift, we now have a new kitty added to our chaotic family. I named her Tinkerbell.

I should have called her Schizo. Or Sybil.

I first saw her at the shelter when I took Scootch in for a checkup. This little kitty had pure black silky short hair, with golden orange eyes. She reached out with her little paw, playing with me without using her claws, and I was enchanted. I asked to see her and we were put in a room. She was a total doll, playing and letting me pet her- even her tail. She was sweet but not overly friendly- she was more interested in playing, not cuddling- but that was to be expected since she was only 2.5 years old and stuck in a cage all day. 

After a few conversations with my husband to form a game plan, I went to the shelter to take her home. She entered the carrier without a fuss, and didn't utter a single sound on the way home.

The second we brought the carrier in, our boys wanted to see what was up. She hissed. We took her upstairs. She was going to reside in my daughter's room for most of the time until they got used to each other. Cats don't get along at first- she needed to get used to the sights and sounds of a new home, and my boys needed to get used to a new girl in the house.

We let her roam about when everyone is home for just a few hours each day- eight eyes are better than two, and the worst that's happened so far is growling, hissing and a few staring contests. The funniest part is that our boys are scared of her!

She comes down the stairs and they run. Yet when I come near her she runs. Tinkerbell seems to be bonding with my daughter (which is what we wanted), but she doesn't seem to like me. At least not yet. I hate this part of the bonding process because I have to be patient- and I'm not a patient person. I'm used to being able to charm animals, but Tinkerbell is slow to warm up to me. She likes my husband though- at least, until he pets her too fast- then he's rewarded with a swat.

She'll lay down with us one minute, and the next make a dash upstairs for no reason. Crazy cat.

I found her lying on my daughter's bed the other day and reached out to pet her. She was into it at first, but then tried to nip me. I tried easing my hand near her and she placed her paw on my hand, claws extended just enough so I could feel them. I got the hint and removed my hand. Slowly.

I know it will take time for her to get used to us. She was adopted before and returned, and I won't allow that to happen again. But I really do hope that she calms down and becomes the sweet little cat I met in the shelter. But for now, I'll have to play Kitty Referee and Master of Distractions to avoid any serious fights.

Maybe if I rolled myself in catnip...?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Boomerang Blessings

Unexpected blessings are awesome.

A friend of mine is caring for three children, and was feeling a bit overwhelmed. So we invited the whole bunch over for dinner and encouraged the kids to play games that didn't involve any techy gadgets. The three kids (two girls are tweens, one boy is mid single digits), rolled their eyes when my kids sat down with them to play cards and board games.

The eldest girl wasn't paying attention much to the jovial chaos, playing a game or texting on her phone. But after thirty minutes, all five kids were into a hilarious bickering over the rules of one particular game, because my son was trying to change the rules in his favor- and everyone knew it- including my son.

He didn't care. He's sixteen, has Aspergers, and thrives on conflict. His grin was wider than the Mississippi River as he went toe to to with each of the kids, including the youngest boy. When the first hour was over, they were having a blast! They switched to a new game, this time it was Battleship- though all three kids were surprised that the game didn't have all the sounds and electronics that the newer versions have. 

Yes folks, we actually have games that don't require batteries. Call Guinness World Records. 

In the beginning, we were blessing my friend and her kids. In the end our kids were blessed with company, we were blessed with the sounds of laughter and kids who weren't bored, enjoying themselves. By the end of the night, everyone went home or to bed tired, but smiling. Even the youngest had been begging to come over the next day to play again. 

We invited them back two days later, and this time we made homemade french bread pizza. They had a blast playing all kinds of silly card games and spent the next four hours at our house like they were there only a few minutes. Oh there were some snarky remarks made during heated debates over the rules, but since we adults were in the next room to hear everything (and correct any bad behavior), things settled down pretty quickly and fun ensued once more.

By ministering to others, they had in turn ministered to us. Which was an unexpected but delightful boomerang blessing!