God's Funny Sense of Humor

Sometimes I think God has a funny sense of humor.

Today, the kids and I were in a neighboring city getting gas before my son's guitar lesson. After I'd finished filling the tank, a woman approached me, explained that her card was declined, and asked if there was anything I could do to help her. For some reason, it didn't occur to me at the time that I could go inside and pre-pay for a few gallons of gas for her--enough for her to get home. All I could think of was the $1 I had in cash. When I explained to her all I had was $1, she repeated her question. I reiterated that I really only had $1. For some reason, I just assumed she was asking for cash. It really didn't occur to me that she was asking for more. She walked away, and I got in the car. Now, our weekly tradition is to get beverages to take to the lesson. But I felt funny about going inside and getting drinks for everyone when I'd just told her I only had $1 in cash. So we went to another gas station. I have to admit that it still hadn't occurred to me that there was more I could do for her. Yes, I was that dense. As I was paying for our drinks, however, it finally hit me. And I felt horrible. We had to drive by the first gas station on the way to the church where our son has his lessons, and I noticed her car was still there. To be honest, I knew God was nudging me to help, but I was being stubborn at that point. My stubbornness lasted the rest of the way to the church. Once we realized we were there ahead of the teacher, I knew what I had to do. We turned around and drove back to the gas station. I got out and was walking over to her car when I saw a man filling her car for her. Someone else had done what I should've done to begin with.

The whole way back to the church, I apologized to God for being so dense. He gave me the perfect opportunity to help someone, and even some extra money with which to do it, but I just didn't get it. I wasn't prepared. So I told Him I'd be more prepared to help the next person He sent for me to help.

And boy, He didn't let me forget it. Here's where I think He has a sense of humor. In a recent blog post, I admitted to my tendency to be selfish with my belongings, or share them only grudgingly. Especially with our neighbors. Just whom did God send for me to help? The neighbors. Troy was out with a friend, and a dear friend of mine whom I hadn't seen in several months was hanging out with me at the house. We were just trying to decide which movie to watch when the neighbor's daughter came to the door. Her Mama wanted to know if I'd drive her to the nearby Fred's for a few items before they closed. With Troy gone, I wouldn't have been able to do it. But as my friend was visiting, I knew there would be someone with the kids while I was gone. And yet, my first reaction was to roll my eyes and grumble about taking 20 minutes away from my time with my friend.

Then, God gently (He's always gentle with me--even when I don't deserve it. I should take that lesson to heart with my own children. But that's another post for another day) reminded me of my promise from earlier in the day. To be ready to help the next person He led my way.

See? Sense of humor. I think it might take awhile before my first reaction is "sure, I can help".  I'm a work in progress. And I'm thankful that God is patient.

With a wonderfully funny sense of humor.


Cancun Chronicles

What started out as a stand-alone novel (and could still be, really) will end up being a series. I hope. As of now, I am tentatively planning on calling the series "The Cancun Chronicles", as all of the stories will be based in the imaginary town of Cancun, Colorado, and will involve some of the same characters. Not very original, I know. But thinking of creative story titles has never been my forte.

The second book in the series is actually a story I began writing when I was sixteen years old. I dearly wish I still had those notebooks. It would be interesting to read what I wrote over 20 years ago. Anyway, today I am plotting out characters and story-line details to this second story, to be called "The Roommate" (keeping with the R-words in the title).

I'd really love to have at least a third book in the series, but right now I'm fresh out of ideas. When I first began writing the second book back in high school, I'd originally intended for the lead male character to get in a wreck, develop amnesia, and disappear, with almost everyone believing he'd died or abandoned the family. The next two stories would be about his daughter's search for her father. But I've since decided that is way too soap opera-ish for my taste.

Considering the fact that I have yet to finish the first book and write the second, I think I have some time to figure things out.


What's Mine is Yours

On Friday the kids and I were listening to the radio while running errands. The DJs were talking about households in which married couples have separate checking accounts and each pay a designated amount of the monthly bills. To be honest, I’m not a big proponent of this. Granted, I understand there are circumstances where this is necessary. And can be healthy. But in a typical marriage, I just don’t see the point. What if one of the spouses makes more than the other? Do they have to pay more of the bills? How do you determine who pays what? And once bills are paid, how do you split the extra left over at the end of the month (assuming there is). What about homes where only one of the spouses has an outside job? You can’t put a monetary value to what the stay-at-home spouse does in the home. Cooking. Cleaning. Taking care of the family. And, in many families we know, educating the children at home. How do you affix a price for all that they do, especially when they’re not contributing anything financial to the pot? This just places way too much emphasis on money, in my opinion. I prefer to see all money earned deposited in a shared account with all expenses coming out of that shared account. That way, it’s not my money. It’s not your money. It’s our money.

Today, I’ve been thinking a lot about sharing. We drill into our children’s heads from a young age the importance of sharing. But no matter how many times we tell them, it’s something they struggle to comprehend. I mean, let’s face it. Sharing is hard. My 37th birthday is coming up in about a month and it’s a concept that is still hard for me! You want to borrow any of my movies, books, or CDs? Fine. No problem. What’s mine is yours. On the other hand, if you expect me to share my stash of M&Ms with you, you’re gonna get your hand slapped. For real. Jenny doesn’t share chocolate. So when I say, “what’s mine is yours”, I don’t really mean it, do I?

But aren’t we as Christians supposed to hold our possessions loosely? Including our chocolate? (As painful as this notion is.) If this is so, then I need to quit glaring at Troy whenever he helps himself to a handful of M&Ms. I need to quit hiding “my” goodies from the family. And here’s another one that is personally hard for me: I need to stop rolling my eyes and heaving that deep sigh when our neighbor comes to the door again to borrow some sugar, the phone, salt, batteries, toilet tissue, or any of the many items I’ve loaned over the years we’ve been here. Yes, I often feel like her own personal convenience store. But that’s something I’ve got to work on. Something God’s been speaking to me about (and with sometimes multiple-times daily knocks at the door, He’s had many opportunities to do this) over these months. The painful truth is, if I view everything I have as His--which it is--then I shouldn’t have a problem giving it away or lending it in the first place.

Because it was never even mine to begin with.

And that includes M&Ms.


Deceptive Appearances

We've heard all of our lives never to judge a book by it's cover. That appearances can be deceiving. So why is this a lesson many of us have still to learn? Recently, I witnessed someone critically eying our electronic devices and the TV screen we were using to project missionary video clips. Without even bothering to ask me about them, I heard a muttered "must be nice to be a rich missionary".

Appearances are deceptive, after all.

What they didn't know was that almost all of our electronic devices have been generously given to us over the years. And the TV screen we were using? Purchased used from a friend of ours for a price below retail to replace our 20-some-year-old TV. The one device we actually purchased was for work purposes, to be used in place of the iPhones and Blackberries so prevalent today. Like the iPhone owned by the grumbler, in fact. But what do I know? Maybe someone gave them that phone and is paying the monthly fees on their behalf.

Appearances are deceptive, after all.

When you see someone using their iPhone or iPod during church, do you assume they are playing games or texting? I know I've been accused of such behavior. (First of all, I don't text. It annoys me. By the time pick out a message, it would've been faster to just call.) Perhaps, like me, they are using the Notes app and taking notes. Or keying in prayer requests as they are made. Or perhaps they have a Bible on their device and are following along in the Scripture passage.

Appearances are deceptive, after all.

We judge people on height. Weight. Level of fitness. By how much or how little money they have. By the clothes they wear. By their race or color. We judge people based on their appearance. But what if we're wrong about them?

Appearances are deceptive, after all.