Chips for Sale

I wish I could blame all of my dizzy blonde moments on my inner ear disorder. Then, at least, I’d have an excuse…

Every fourth Monday of the month, we’re going to just take some time to laugh at, well, mostly me. And it’s okay, because I’ve learned to laugh at myself, too.

Let’s start with my daughter’s soccer meeting.

During high school, my daughter played soccer for the freshman, JV, and varsity teams. Each year, the coaches would call a meeting of all soccer players and their parents to go over the upcoming season. When she was a sophomore, I attended this soccer ballmeeting and listened to her coaches discuss the rules, expectations, schedule, and busing issues. Since most of this information was the same as last year, I also looked through paperwork and filled in emergency information as the coaches talked. But, when they announced an upcoming fundraising idea, I was instantly all ears.

Our high school has a “Pay to Participate” sports program. That means, if our children make a team, we parents must pay a fee in order for them to participate. Therefore, anything that would help defray the cost had my undivided attention.

Two girls from the varsity team presented the plan: selling chips at our local bowling alley. They explained that, if we could find enough volunteers to help out for a weekend, the soccer program could make thousands of dollars.

I imagined myself sitting behind a table, encouraging bowlers to purchase bags of Doritos, pretzels, and other assorted snacks. It didn’t seem like selling chips could potato-chips-448737_960_720raise so much money, but what did I know? The girls had given us examples of other organizations that had made a bundle, so the idea had to work. And maybe bowling made people hungrier than I thought.

So, after the meeting, I marched right over to the sign-up sheet and wrote down my name. Selling chips didn’t sound very hard, and it might actually be fun. And, of course, it was for a good cause—my daughter’s soccer team, and my bank account.

Later that week, I received an email from the woman who was organizing the soccer fundraiser. I began reading the information, and suddenly stopped and stared at the words. As it turned out, our team wasn’t selling potato chips.

They were selling poker chips.

“How did I miss that?” I asked my husband that night.

He bit his lip, trying not to laugh. “You really didn’t know our bowling alley has a poker room?”

“I never saw a poker room when we were bowling.”

Of course, I’m not the most observant person, as my husband will attest.

I folded my arms. “No way am I selling poker chips. I’m not sure I like the idea of our teenage girls making money from other people gambling.”

“Then call up the lady who’s running it and tell her you don’t want to help out anymore.”

“I can’t do that! I’ll die of embarrassment!” I told him.

The only thing worse than having a dizzy blonde moment is having to tell someone else about it.

“You don’t have to tell her why,” my husband assured me. “Just tell her you can’t do it anymore.”

But the woman who had sent the email was a soccer mom, like me. I’d seen her in church, and we’d bonded over the years watching our daughters battle and occasionally bleed during their travel soccer seasons. I knew, if I got on the phone with her, that I’d feel uncomfortable being evasive. So the next day, I swallowed my pride, dialed her number, and told her everything.

My friend either has remarkable self-control or a very handy mute button.

When I had finished, she cleared her throat. “That explains it. To be honest, I was kind of surprised when I saw your name on the sign-up sheet.”

That made me feel a little better. A little.

“Please, just cross me off the volunteer list. And, please, please don’t ever tell a living, breathing soul how ditzy I am.”

And, since the other soccer parents and coaches never started giggling in my presence, I don’t think she never did.

As it turned out, we never had the soccer fundraiser. Maybe the other parents were just too busy to volunteer. Or maybe the bowling alley backed out of the agreement. But I like to think that it fell through, because the other moms and dads thought they were selling potato chips too.

But probably not.

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Bathtub Dreams

cropped-img_3836.jpgIn 1996, my husband and I bought our home. It was a cute 920 square-foot house in the perfect location with a fireplace, almost two acres of property, and room for an addition. The only drawback—it had a single, tiny bathroom.

A year later, we added a family room and dining area, but we decided we could live without a second bath until we had saved up enough money to finish the basement. But while the second bath could wait, we needed to do something about our first and only bathroom. Pronto.

“These bathroom tiles are orange,” I told my husband. “And not even a nice, Brady Bunch orange. They’re yucky orange.”

“I can rip those out,” my husband said, “and put in a new sink and toilet. If I do most of the work myself, it won’t cost much.”

“Then we should get a new bathtub, too, while we’re at it. That’s definitely seen better days.”

tiles-1501782_960_720So while I took the kids to visit my family in Pittsburgh, my handy husband tore our bathroom down to the studs. I talked to him the morning before we planned to drive back home.

“I’m getting ready to put in the tub,” he told me. “Then I’ll put in the tub surround this afternoon, and the toilet and sink tomorrow, so we’ll have a functioning bathroom when you get home.”

“Great!” I said. But when I phoned him that evening, things were not so great.

“I can’t get the surround in the bathroom,” he said, sounding discouraged. “It’s one big piece, and the only way it fits is to rotate it, and it always ends up backwards. So I tried going through the back bedroom closet, where I put the tub in through a hole I made in the wall, and it won’t work that way, either. I’ve tried everything, and I don’t know what to do.”

“Honey, we’re coming home tomorrow. We need a bathtub.”

“Don’t forget, the toilet is out, too, and I can’t install that until I get the surround in.”

I might be able to deal with one bathroom. But no bathroom?

“So what are you going to do?” I asked.

“Keep trying, I guess. I may have to knock out more wall or rip out the tub and return both pieces tomorrow and start all over again.”

I could tell he was exhausted and frustrated. “If we have to, we can stay in Pittsburgh for a few extra days. Just call me tomorrow, and let me know what to do.”

The next morning, I waited to hear from my husband. By nine o’clock, when he still hadn’t phoned, I toyed with calling him. But, to be honest, if the bathtub surround was sitting in the living room, I knew I would have to stay longer in Pittsburgh. I missed my husband, and I wanted to go home.

A few hours later, he finally called.

“You sound pooped,” I said. “How late were you up last night?”

“Till midnight. I tried everything I could think of, and nothing worked. I was so upsetman sleeping I just went to bed.”

I squinted as I held the phone to my ear. For a guy who had just spent most of yesterday trying to stuff a tub surround into a dinky bathroom, he sounded remarkably peaceful. “So, should I stay here then?”

“It’s finished.”

Uh-oh. What was finished? His efforts to get the bathroom done? His sanity? The tub surround, which was now a flattened white mass in the middle of the road after a midnight car rampage?

I bit my lip, afraid to ask. “What do you mean?”

“I mean, the surround’s in the bathroom.”

“It is? How?”

“You’re not going to believe this, but God told me how to do it in a dream.”

“A dream.”

“Yeah. I gave up trying at midnight, and I was so tired and mad I just went to bed. But before I fell asleep, I said my prayers and asked God to help me figure out how to get the surround into the bathroom.

“At three o’clock, I sat up, wide awake. I’d just had the most vivid dream, and I now knew the secret to getting that crazy thing into the bathroom. So I got up, and fifteen minutes later, it was done. I was so relieved I went right back to sleep and just got out of bed now.”

I have to admit, I was a little skeptical.

“Honey,” I said. “Are you sure that was God? I mean, maybe it’s like, when you can’t remember something, and then when you quit thinking about it, all of a sudden it just pops into your head.”

“I prayed about it, and I’ve never had a dream like that before. It was God, all right.”

Even now, twenty years later, my husband is certain that dream came from God. But I’m still scratching my head—not because I don’t believe God speaks to us today through dreams, but because, after all the difficult and urgent situations we’ve both faced, the one and only time God chose to speak to either of us through a dream was to instruct my husband about how to solve his bathroom remodeling dilemma!

But our big God has his reasons. And I trust him.

Perhaps the tub surround was a small issue, but it was important to my husband.  He knew that his wife and children were counting on him to provide a finished bathroom for our family when we returned home.

We now have a second bathroom. But when I’m showering or cleaning the tub my husband installed, I often think about how our big God worked in my first, small bathroom.

Maybe the tub surround had trouble fitting.

But, as always, our big God didn’t.

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Pass the Celery, Please

I can’t eat chocolate.

I know, I know. Perhaps admitting this sad truth isn’t the brightest way to begin the first post of my new blog. After all, I may have just lost most of you ladies, who have fallen senseless to the floor from the shock that this could actually be someone’s lot in life!

It’s not that I’m allergic to chocolate. Like any living, breathing woman, I scarfed down chocolate by the bucketful until early 2008. That’s when I came face to face with the abrupt realization that, along with sodium,  my caffeine consumption was intensifying the symptoms of my recently diagnosed inner ear disorder.

Nine months later, God provided a wonderful doctor and the right combination of medications to return my hearing and balance back to normal. But I knew, if I didn’t want to revert back to being a literal dizzy blonde, that meant not only staying on a perpetual low-sodium diet but giving up caffeinated coffee, tea, pop…

And chocolate.

As a woman who loves chocolate, that’s not easy. After all, chocolate is everywhere. In the check-out lines. On the Bible study snack table. In church on Mother’s Day. Smeared on my kid’s faces. On Valentine’s Day, I have to settle for a heart-shaped box of white chocolates—which I’m here to tell you isn’t chocolate at all.

At weddings, banquets, and fundraisers, often the dessert choices all contain chocolate. chocolate dessertsBut when I find myself yielding to the temptation to grab a triple-chocolate torte, I pray for strength, march back to my table, and content myself with a piece of celery.

Although these chocolate moments can be the perfect opportunity to wallow in self-pity, I consider them precious reminders of God’s grace, providence, and attentive ear. You see, after God answered my prayers and I no longer suffered from dizziness, vertigo attacks, and hearing loss, I found myself still in the habit of talking to him about everything. And it confirmed something about our amazing heavenly Father.

No prayer is too small to lift up to him.

Like most people, I usually face pretty commonplace issues—I can’t find my phone, I’m running late, I picked up a virus, my computer picked up a virus. But I also know people who have cancer, fathers who have lost their jobs, children with challenges, couples facing divorce, families ravaged by alcohol abuse. And at times I wondered—am I bothering God when I pray about my everyday problems when there are so many more important prayer requests for him to handle?  Does he even care about my everyday problems?

I’ve heard that a lot, and that’s why I’m writing this blog.

How Does He Fit? Our Big God in Small Places showcases our everlasting, immeasurable Father who listens to every prayer—the prayers we consider God-sized, and the prayers we hesitate to lift up to him, because we think they might be toobeach-1868772__340 insignificant. It’s about being confident that our mighty God wants to be part of our everyday lives and our everyday struggles. If something is important to us, it’s important to him. No matter how small.

We’ll find out how God has revealed himself and his ways, through both urgent and ordinary requests.

And, because God has a sense of humor, I’ll post The Dizzy Blonde Chronicles every fourth Monday of the month so we can spend some time laughing.

I like the New Living Translation’s wording of Philippians 4:6—”Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.”

Everything. Because, no matter how trivial, no matter how silly, no matter what other people think—if we care about it, God cares about it.

Yes, God is infinite, mighty, and powerful. He is, indeed, a big God. But we can be certain that, in all those small areas of our lives that are important to us, if we ask, he’ll be there.

In those small places, our big God will fit.

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